… for Apple Motion

Tip #465: What is a Rig?

Rigs simplify controlling effects in Motion.

A new Rig added to a Motion project.

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Rigs are used to pass controls for Motion template effects from Motion to Final Cut Pro X. But they are also useful in Motion, itself, to simplify the control set of a complex project. Instead of making changes by manipulating individual parameters in various Inspectors, you can modify the Motion project using just a few widgets in a single rig.

NOTE: A “widget” is a single control contained in a rig.

A rig is especially helpful when you need to share a complex project with multiple users or when the project is designed to be updated each time it’s used. For example, you can create a basic project for an animated lower-third title that incorporates two text objects and a background replicator.

Each time the project is used, the size and position of the lower third (a replicator in this example) must change to match the length of the text, and the color must cycle through your project’s color scheme. By adding a rig to the project, you can create a small set of controls that modify only the parameters such changes require.

EXTRA CREDIT

To learn how to build a rig in Motion, open the Help files and search for “Build a Simple Rig?”


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #459: Improve Your Visuals with Pre-Viz

The more you think about your shots before you start production, the better your production will be.

Original concept art for “2001: A Space Odyssey;” courtesy of Dr. Robert McCall.

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This article first appeared in RocketStock.com. This is an excerpt.

Pre-visualization is critical for any visual project. The script is your foundation, while the art for pre-production is the frame that rests upon that foundation. Previsualization, or Previs, is a process of visualizing the scenes of a film before production even begins.

Concept art enables the producer and director to think about the look of a scene, as well as use it early in pre-production as an asset for the pitch, which is the process of selling your idea to a production company.

Concept art is the overall look and feel. Storyboards provide a shot-by-shot breakdown. The great thing about storyboards is that you don’t have to be a master artist to create them. In fact, all you really need is enough visual information that makes sense to you as a director. There is a great interview from AFI with Steven Spielberg where he talks about the importance of storyboarding. He also discusses how he begins the process by using stick figures and cues and then gives this rough draft to his sketch artist, George Jensen, who fleshes out the final storyboards.

When developing concept art and storyboards, you aren’t just developing them for the director and production crew. You’re also developing them for the VFX team that will work to make things happen in post. In order to make sure you film everything correctly during production, sometimes you have to take those concepts or storyboards and run tests to see if it will all work.

The article in RocketStock is filled with examples and film excerpts. It is worth reading.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #469: What is a Bump Map?

Bump maps provide texture to objects based on grayscale textures.

(From L to R) Bump-mapped image, source image, gray-scale texture.

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Typically, bump maps are used to apply texture to a smooth object.

Bump maps are 8-bit grayscale images. This means that they only have 256 values between black and white. These gray-scale values are used to tell the effects software how to texture an object.

In this screen shot, a texture (right) is applied to a smooth image (center) using a bump map effect to give the final image (left) texture.

In this example, to create the source texture for a bump map, a high-amount of visual noise was applied to a mid-tone gray background using Photoshop.

Bump maps are highly useful in creating texture, but they don’t change the actual shape of an image. This means that if you are creating cast shadows, the shadow will mirror the source object, not the bump-mapped finished effect.


… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #389: Two Fast Ways to Configure a Sequence

While you can customize your settings, these tips are faster.

The Change Sequence Settings dialog in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

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Premiere’s Sequence Settings panel is daunting. Even experienced editors scratch their heads over some of these options.

Fortunately, Premiere has two fast ways to configure a sequence – provided you have a clip that’s in the format you want to edit.

OPTION 1

Drag a clip from the Project panel on top of the New Item icon in the low right corner of the Project panel. This creates a new sequence, configures it to match the clip and edits the clip into the start of the sequence.

OPTION 2

Create a new sequence using any setting option. Then, DRAG a clip from the Project panel into the new sequence.

A dialog appears asking if you want to change the sequence to match the clip.

NOTE: If you use a keyboard shortcut to edit a clip into the sequence, the clip will match the sequence settings.

EXTRA CREDIT

Once a sequence has a clip in it, many of the Sequence settings can’t be changed.

For those situations where the first clip you want in your project does not match the sequence you want to create, edit a clip that does match into the sequence first. After you add a few more clips, which locks the settings, you can delete the first clip.

These two tricks are far faster than wrestling with the sequence settings themselves.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #452: What is OGG

Ogg is an open-source container format for media assets.

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Ogg is another compression format you may have heard of.

According to Wikipedia, Ogg, like MXF and QuickTime, is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation, which is based in Massachusetts. The creators of the Ogg format state that it is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high-quality digital multimedia. Its name is derived from “ogging”, jargon from the computer game “Netrek.”

The Ogg container format can multiplex a number of independent streams for audio, video, text (such as subtitles), and metadata. Versions of it are supported on Windows, Mac and other platforms.

Because the format is free, and its reference implementation is not subject to restrictions associated with copyright, Ogg’s various codecs have been incorporated into a number of different free and proprietary media players, both commercial and non-commercial, as well as portable media players and GPS receivers from different manufacturers.

Here’s a link to learn more: xiph.org


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #455: Audio Compression Settings for YouTube

YouTube always recompresses media, so send it a larger-than-normal file.

Audio compression settings for a stereo MP3 file for YouTube.

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Last week, in Tip #451, I presented compression settings for audio you were posting for a podcast. YouTube and other social media settings are different, however. Here’s what you need to know.

YouTube, and other social media services, always recompress your data. This is necessary to support all the different playback devices, software and codecs in the real world.

If you send YouTube a perfectly compressed file, it will still recompress it – because it has to convert it to all these different codecs. In doing so, because there is not enough data, it will damage the quality of your audio.

To prevent this, we need to create a “mezzanine,” or middle, compression file so that when YouTube recompresses the file it has some bits it can throw away. MP3 is an excellent choice for audio-only files. AAC, which is part of H.264 compression, is a good choice when you are compressing audio with video.

Here are the settings:

Setting Mono Stereo
Codec for audio-only MP3 MP3
Codec for audio with video AAC AAC
Sample rate for audio-only 44.1 KHz 44.1k Khz
Sample rate for audio with video 48 KHz 48 Khz
Bit-depth 16-bits 16-bits
Data rate 160 kbps 320 kbps

EXTRA CREDIT

Tip #458 explains video compression settings for YouTube


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #458: Video Compression Settings for YouTube

Compensate during compression for social media recompressing your files by adjusting bit rates.

Social media compression defaults in Apple Compressor.

Topic $TipTopic

YouTube, and other social media services, always recompress your data. This is necessary to support all the different playback devices, software and codecs in the real world.

If you send YouTube a perfectly compressed file, it will still recompress it – because it has to convert it to all these different codecs. In doing so, because there is not enough data, it will damage the quality of your audio. To prevent this, we need to create a “mezzanine,” or middle, compression file so that when YouTube recompresses the file it has some bits it can throw away. H.264 is an excellent choice for this intermedia codec, provided you use a high-bit rate. Higher bit rates won’t hurt, they’ll just create larger files which will take longer to transfer.

NOTE: Both Apple Compressor and Adobe Media Encoder have default compression settings for social media. In most cases, their defaults should be fine.

Here are the settings:

Compressed Frame Size Bit Rate
720p At least 10,000 kbps / 10 mbps
1080p At least 15,000 kbps / 15 mbps
4K At least 20,000 kbps / 20 mbps

NOTE: These settings work for all frame rates up to 60 fps.

EXTRA CREDIT

Tip #455 explains audio compression settings for YouTube


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #442: Find the Funny

Funny takes work.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

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This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

The art of the comedy short film is actually nothing new, and can be traced back to the earliest days of film and cinema with the works of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Here are some tips to finding the funny and creating quality comedy shorts and videos.

The initial planning helps set the tone. The goal is to explore ideas. You can do free association with just yourself and a piece of paper. Ideally, once you’ve “found the funny,” you can start putting those ideas to paper by planning your outline, script, and shots.

A good way to work is to cover your bases and make sure you have every shot you’d need to put together an edit. Then, once the rigid work is done, loosen things up and do as many takes as you can stand.

Another simple trick that can help out in the edit is to shoot several reaction shots. Comedy very much lives in faces.

When is comes to editing, comedy lends itself to quick cuts, especially to reactions.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #450: What Does Sharpening Do?

Sharpening adjusts the apparent focus of a clip.

The top is unsharpened, the bottom is significantly sharpened.

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Sharpening adjusts the apparent focus of a clip, without actually changing its focus.

Sharpening adjusts the contrast at the edges of objects in an image to improve their apparent focus. What our eye sees as “focus” is actually the sharpness of the edges between a foreground object and the background. If the edges are sharp, our eye considers the image in focus. If not, we consider the image – or that part of the image at least – blurry.

Unsharp Masking (which is the preferred method of sharpening) enhances the contrast between two adjacent edges. Our eye perceives that improved contrast as improved focus, though nothing about the focus of an image has changed.

When using Unsharp Mask, a little goes a long way. A Radius setting between 1.5 and 4 will yield perceptible results without making the image look like bad VHS tape.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #453: What is WebM?

WebM is supported by Mozilla, Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome.

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Developed and owned by Google, WebM is an audiovisual media file format. It is primarily intended to offer a royalty-free alternative to use in the HTML5 video and the HTML5 audio elements. It has a sister project WebP for images. The development of the format is sponsored by Google, and the corresponding software is distributed under a BSD license. There is some dispute, however, if WebM is truly royalty-free.

According to Wikipedia, native WebM support by Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome was announced at the 2010 Google I/O conference. Internet Explorer 9 requires third-party WebM software. Safari for macOS which relied on QuickTime to play web media until Safari 12, still does not have native support for WebM.

VLC media player, MPlayer, K-Multimedia Player and JRiver Media Center have native support for playing WebM files Android also supports WebM.

Here’s a link to learn more.