… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #667: Productions: What the Icons Mean

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The icons tell the story of file status and ownership in the Productions folder.

A typical Productions folder, showing file status and current owner.

Topic $TipTopic

Productions are a new way for editors to organize and collaborate on projects. This is a summary of what the icons and colors mean in the Productions panel in Adobe Premiere.

  • Hollow rectangle. The project file is not open on any system.
  • Solid rectangle. The project file is open on at least one editor’s system.
  • Name. The owner of the file, or, if the file is open, the name of the editor with read-write access.
  • Red lock. The file is currently locked as read-only. However, if no one is using the file, it takes only a single mouse click, after opening the file, for an editor to switch the project to read-write.
  • Green pencil. The file is open on your system and you have read-write access.

Productions allows multiple projects to be opened on multiple systems at the same time, though only one editor has read-write access to a project at a time.


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… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #668: Productions: Toggle Read-Write

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Switching between read-only and read-write is a single mouse click.

Green indicates you have read-write permission. Red indicates read-only.

Topic $TipTopic

Switching a project between read-write and read-only (and back) is a single mouse click. Here’s what you need to know.

First, if someone else has the file open read-write, you can’t take over the file, you can only have read-only access until the other editor releases it to the group.

Open the file from the Production panel. If someone else has the file open or if you are the only person who has the file open but were not the creator, it will open as read only.

To switch a file between read-write (green pencil) and read-only (red lock) simply click the pencil or lock icon in the extreme lower-left corner of the Premiere interface.

EXTRA CREDIT

A good reason to switch a file to read-only is to allow another editor to add graphics or titles to an ongoing project.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #660: Test Yourself: 25 Common Grip & Electric Terms

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

How many of these terms do you know?

A still photo studio.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Matt Webb, first appeared in IndieFilmHustle.com. This is an excerpt.

Have you ever been puzzled by the lingo floating around the set? Or, do you want to test your knowledge? Here are 25 grip and electric terms used on virtually every set.

  • Apple Box – A wooden box that can be used for almost anything. Comes in various sizes and is commonly used as steps, seats and to raise props, dressing or actors.
  • Barndoors – Folding doors that are attached to the front of lamps so they can be opened and closed to control the output of light.
  • Bazooka – A camera mount similar to a tripod but only has one center shaft that raises the camera up and down.
  • Beef – The output of light.
  • Best Boy – The second in command of the grip or electrics department. They often do most of their work off set in the truck as they plan for the future shooting days.
  • Black wrap – Black aluminum foil that is used to cover light leaks or shaped into flaps to cut the light.
  • C-stand – An extremely versatile metal stand used for holding lights, floppys, cutters and anything else you need stabilized.
  • Dance Floor – When it’s impossible to lay a track in the set or the camera move is more complex than a simple push in, the grips will lay smooth timber or plastic sheets down onto the ground to create a perfectly level floor. The dolly can then be pushed in any direction with minimal bumps and vibrations to the camera.
  • Diffusion – A white material used to soften the light source.
  • Dimmer – A device used to control the power of the lamp.
  • Dingle – A piece of cut-off foliage to provide the lighting effect of a tree shadow on the subject.
  • Dolly – A heavy piece of equipment that the camera can be mounted onto to give a smooth moving shot. The dolly slides along a track that looks just like a train track. This is extremely heavy; avoid being too close to the grips when they are looking for a hand carrying this up the stairs.
  • Duvetyne – A thick, black cloth used for blacking out windows, and covering equipment and crew members when they are in reflections.
  • Floppy or Flag – Square or rectangular frames with black material used to control the light. They can be used to cut the light off a certain subject or to black out an area for the director’s monitor.
  • Gaffer – The head of the electric department.
  • Gel – A transparent colored filter that is applied to the front of a light to manipulate the color output.
  • House Power – Using the location’s power as opposed to power supplied by the electrics generator. Always good to check with the electrics department that it’s okay to plug into house power.
  • Key Grip – The head of the grip department.
  • Key Light – The main source of light on a subject.
  • Lamp – Just another word for a light. The electric department tries to be all fancy and such.
  • Scrim – A type of material similar to diffusion to manipulate the intensity of the light source. Typically scrims are quite large, either 10’x10’ or 20’x20’ and used to diffuse the harsh sunlight when shooting exteriors.
  • Shot bag – A heavy bag full of lead shot used to weigh down stands. Looks like a sand bag.
  • Stinger – A single extension power cord left ‘hot’ by the electrics for occasional use.
  • Track – Steel or aluminum track that the dolly glides along to create smooth camera movements. The track is laid level by the grips across all types of terrain using apple boxes and wedges.
  • Wedge – Small timber triangles used to level the dolly track.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #654: What is a B-spline curve?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The key benefit of B-spline curves is their smoothness.

A simple B-spline curve, emphasizing it’s smoothness. (That corner isn’t a corner, it’s where two lines cross.)

Topic $TipTopic

A B-spline function is a combination of flexible bands that passes through the number of points that are called control points and creates smooth curves. These functions enable the creation and management of complex shapes and surfaces using a number of points. (That’s what it says here, not that I fully understand it.)

The term “B-spline” was coined by Isaac Jacob Schoenberg and is short for basis spline. B-splines are more general curves than Bezier curves. More simply, a Bezier is a special case of a B-spline.

The big difference between B-splnes and Bezier curves is smoothness. B-splines are made out several curve segments that are joined “smoothly.” Bezier’s on the other hand, can have corners.

A B-Spline curve can be a Bezier curve whenever the programmer so desires. Further B-Spline curves offer more control and flexibility than a Bezier curve. It is possible to use lower degree curves and still maintain a large number of control points. B-Spline, despite being more useful, are still polynomial curves and cannot represent simple curves like circles and ellipses. For these shapes, a further generalization of B-Spline curves, known as NURBS, is used.

EXTRA CREDIT

I’d share the math of B-splines with you, but, frankly, I don’t understand it. A Google search will turn up lots of university references.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #647: What is ffMPEG

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

FFmpeg cannot be sold, it can only be given away.

Topic $TipTopic

FFmpeg is a free and open-source project consisting of a vast software suite of libraries and programs for handling video, audio, and other multimedia files and streams. At its core is the FFmpeg program itself, designed for command-line-based processing of video and audio files, and widely used for format transcoding, basic editing (trimming and concatenation), video scaling, video post-production effects, and standards compliance.

FFmpeg is able to decode, encode, transcode, mux, demux, stream, filter and play pretty much anything that humans and machines have created. It supports the most obscure ancient formats up to the cutting edge. It runs on Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, the BSDs, Solaris, etc. under a wide variety of build environments, machine architectures, and configurations.

The FFmpeg project tries to provide the best technically possible solution for developers of applications and end users alike. Wherever the question of “best” cannot be answered we support both options so the end user can
choose.

FFmpeg is used by software such as VLC media player, xine, Cinelerra-GG video editor, Plex, Kodi, Blender, HandBrake, YouTube, and MPC-HC; it handles video and audio playback in Google Chrome, and Linux version of Firefox.

FFmpeg is free for personal use, however, it does not have a user interface. Graphical user interface front-ends for FFmpeg have been developed, including XMedia Recode and ffWorks.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #650: What is a Raw file format

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Raw is not an acronym, it simply means “unprocessed.”

Topic $TipTopic

Raw is an image and video file format used by many high-end and professional digital cameras. RAW files are considered to be the best form of image file, since it does not process the picture, leaving total control of the editing to the user.

A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of either a digital camera, a motion picture film scanner, or other image scanner. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited.

Raw image files are sometimes incorrectly described as “digital negatives”, but neither are they negatives nor do the unprocessed files constitute visible images. Rather, the Raw datasets are more like exposed but undeveloped film.

Like undeveloped photographic film, a raw digital image may have a wider dynamic range or color gamut than the developed film or print. Unlike physical film after development, the Raw file preserves the information captured at the time of exposure. The purpose of raw image formats is to save, with minimum loss of information, data obtained from the sensor.

There are dozens of raw formats in use by different manufacturers of digital image capture equipment.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s an Apple White Paper to learn more.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #639: All vs. any

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Any is inclusive, All is exclusive.

The Search Filter dialog, showing options for keyword searches.

Topic $TipTopic

When searching for files using keyword search you have two main options: “Any” and “All.” Here’s what they mean.

When using keyword search – which is a great way to organize and find clips and ranges within a clip – there are four key search options. Here’s what they mean.

  • Any. This displays every clip that contains even one of the search criteria. For example, the screen shot displays clips that contain either “People Video” or “Dancing.”
  • All. This displays every clip that contains all the search criterial. For example, this displays only clips that contain both “People Video” and “Dancing.”
  • Does Not Include Any. This displays every clip that does not contain even one of the search terms. For example, this displays all clips that do not contain either “People Video” or “Dancing.”
  • Does Not Include All. This only displays clips that do not contain all search criteria. For example, this would not show clips that contain both “People Video” and “Dancing,” but would show clips that contain one of these.

EXTRA CREDIT

Search results are displayed instantly, as soon as you select them. Experiment with these on your own media and discover how they can help you find the clip you need when you need them.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #632: Crop vs. Trim: What’s the Difference?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The difference is what happens to the original frame size.

The Crop vs. Trim options in Apple Final Cut Pro X.

Topic $TipTopic

It’s a simple thing that confuses a lot of people: What’s the difference between crop and trim?

Well, first, they have a lot in common:

  • Both remove portions of the image.
  • Both use rectangles to work their magic
  • Both allow us to concentrate the viewer’s eye on a certain part of the image.

The big difference is that crop always reduces the image size to match the cropped area, while trim does not alter the image size.

EXTRA CREDIT

If you trim an image on the lowest layer, you’ll create black areas for the removed portions of the original image.

Generally, trimming is used for elements on higher layers/tracks, while cropping is used for the lowest layer/track/background.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #636: Compressor: What is a Job Action?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This only applies when one setting is applied to a video.

The Job Action menu at the bottom of the Job panel in Compressor.

Topic $TipTopic

A Job Action in Apple Compressor is an automated activity that occurs when a compression task is complete. It is assigned to the job, not to a compression setting. Here’s how it works.

  • Select a movie (called a “job” in Compressor), not the compression setting.
  • At the bottom of the Job panel is the Action section. This describes what can be done with a compressed file when compression is complete.
  • There are ten options, as illustrated in this screen shot. Save only means the file will be saved and nothing else done to it.

For example, choosing Publish to YouTube, asks for your log-in credentials, project title, description and tags. When compression is complete, the compressed file will be automatically transferred to YouTube with the tags you specify.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #614: What is the Alpha Channel

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Alpha channels allow us to combine multiple images into a new single image.

Topic $TipTopic

An alpha channel is essentially any channel other than the channels that define color values for pixels in an image. In graphics, the alpha channel is the part of the data for each pixel that is reserved for transparency information. 32-bit graphics systems contain four channels — three 8-bit channels for red, green, and blue (RGB) and one 8-bit alpha channel.

NOTE: 8-bit color channels means that each channel can display up to 256 shades of that color.

The alpha channel is really a mask. It specifies how the pixel’s colors should be merged with another pixel when the two are overlaid, one on top of the other. In a 2D pixel which stores a color for each pixel, additional data is stored in the alpha channel with a value ranging from 0 to 1. A value of 0 means that the pixel is transparent while a value of 1 means the pixel is fully opaque.

Typically, alpha channels are defined per object. Different parts of the object would have different levels of transparency depending on how much you wanted the background to show through. This allows you to create rectangular objects that appear as if they are irregular in shape — you define the rectangular edges as transparent so that the background shows through. This is especially important for animation, where the background changes from one frame to the next.

Rendering overlapping objects that include an alpha value is called alpha blending. Blend modes provide a variety of ways to do this alpha blending.

EXTRA CREDIT

The concept of an alpha channel was introduced by Alvy Ray Smith in the late 1970s and fully developed in a 1984 paper by Thomas Porter and Tom Duff.


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