… for Apple Motion

Tip #806: Adjust Projects with Project Properties

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Every project setting can be adjusted after you start, except for frame rate.

The Project Properties pane in Apple Motion. Frame rate can only be adjusted for empty projects.

Topic $TipTopic

Once you’ve created a Motion project, you can always go back and adjust its basic settings. Except… Well, let me illustrate.

Select the Project in the Layers panel.

Then, go to Inspector > Properties.

This is where you can change frame size, duration, and other settings.

NOTE: Keep in mind that you can only change frame rate in an empty project. Once even one element is added, frame rate is locked.

EXTRA CREDIT

Changing the duration does not extend or contract the timing of any elements. This is a good reason to set the duration before you start creating a project.

Also, when you change the duration, Motion sets an In and Out to match the duration of the original project. This means that you will need to remove these marks, as well as manually adjust the timing of any clips that need to extend beyond the original duration.


Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Visual Effects

Tip #812: BorisFX: Tips to Improve Green Screen Keys

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Creating the perfect key starts in production; not post.

Screen shot from the BorisFX Guide to Green-Screen Keys

Topic $TipTopic

The folks at BorisFX (Continuum, Mocha Pro and Sapphire) have published a guide covering production techniques that improve green-screen key results.

It starts:

Think of all the top movies from the past decade. What do they all have in common? Epic worlds that are so stunningly realistic you feel like you are really there. These films are created in no small part thanks to the power of the chroma key and a visual effect artist’s ability to “pull a perfect key,” i.e. removing a subject from green or blue screen footage.

In this guide, you’ll get a brief history of the chroma key, how to prepare your green screen set to avoid common shooting pitfalls, a glossary of terms, and discover why Primatte technology delivers the best solution to accomplish seamless composites fast whether a subject is placed over live-action or a CG background.

Here’s the link


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #813: What is Handbrake?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Handbrake is a free, general-purpose media compression program.

Topic $TipTopic

HandBrake is an open-source video transcoder available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. Everyone can use HandBrake to make videos for free.

HandBrake takes videos you already have and makes new ones that work on your mobile phone, tablet, TV media player, game console, computer, or web browser—nearly anything that supports modern video formats.

HandBrake does:

  • Convert nearly any video to MP4 or MKV
  • Crop and resize video
  • Restore old and low-quality video
  • Remove combing artifacts caused by interlacing and telecine
  • Pass-through audio without conversion for certain audio types
  • Downmix discrete surround sound to matrixed surround or stereo
  • Adjust audio volume levels, and dynamic range for certain audio types
  • Preserve existing subtitles, and add or remove soft subtitles (subtitles stored as text)

HandBrake does not:

  • Combine multiple video clips into one
  • Pass-through video without conversion (video is always converted)
  • Create Blu-ray, AVCHD, or DVD discs

HandBrake also does not defeat or circumvent copy protection of any kind. It does not work with video files employing Digital Rights Management (DRM). This includes but is not limited to, copy protected content from iTunes, Amazon Video, Netflix, or other online providers, and many commercial DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Here’s the link to learn more.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #814: What is the VP9 codec?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

VP9 is a replacement codec for HEVC.

Topic $TipTopic

One of the complaints heard after WWDC was that Apple did not make mention of VP9 during the two keynotes. Still, this got me wondering what VP9 is?

According to Wikipedia:

VP9 is an open and royalty-free video coding format developed by Google. It is supported in Windows, Android and Linux, but not Mac or iOS.

VP9 is the successor to VP8 and competes mainly with MPEG’s High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC/H.265).

In contrast to HEVC, VP9 support is common among modern web browsers with the exception of Apple’s Safari (both desktop and mobile versions). Android has supported VP9 since version 4.4 KitKat.

An offline encoder comparison between libvpx, two HEVC encoders and x264 in May 2017 by Jan Ozer of Streaming Media Magazine, with encoding parameters supplied or reviewed by each encoder vendor (Google, MulticoreWare and MainConcept respectively), and using Netflix’s VMAF objective metric, concluded that “VP9 and both HEVC codecs produce very similar performance” and “Particularly at lower bitrates, both HEVC codecs and VP9 deliver substantially better performance than H.264”.

Here’s a link for more information.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #815: Download the Safari Technology Preview

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Safari Technology Preview provides an early look at “what’s coming.”

The Safari Technology Preview logo.

Topic $TipTopic

Apple’s Safari Technology Preview provides an early look at upcoming web technologies in macOS and iOS. It showcases the latest layout technologies, visual effects, developer tools, and more, so users can provide input on how they are implemented.

Designed more for web developers than end users, this free software:

  • Previews the latest web technologies. Get a preview of the latest advances in Safari web technologies, including HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.
  • Easy to update. You can update Safari Technology Preview right from the Mac App Store. Updates occur every few weeks.
  • Access powerful developer tools. Use the latest version of the powerful Web Inspector and Responsive Design Mode to modify, debug, and optimize your websites.
  • Provide feedback. Use Feedback Assistant to send feedback directly to Apple about issues and enhancement requests. Simply select Report an Issue from the Help menu in Safari Technology Preview.
  • Run side-by-side with Safari. Safari Technology Preview is a standalone app that works side-by-side with the current version of Safari, so you can continue to use and reference the current release.
  • Surf seamlessly with iCloud. Safari Technology Preview works with iCloud, so you can access your latest Safari Favorites, bookmarks, and Reading List.

Here’s the link to learn more and download the latest version, or beta copies of upcoming versions.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #802: Remove Attributes vs. Remove Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Remove Effects is faster, Remove Attributes provides more control.

The Remove Attributes window. Blue checkboxes indicate applied effects or changed effect settings.

Topic $TipTopic

In the Edit menu for Final Cut Pro X are two options, both of which relate to removing effects. The key question is: what’s the difference?

  • Remove Attributes
  • Remove Effects

Here’s the difference:

  • When you select Edit > Remove Effects, all effects settings applied to all selected clips are instantly removed. This is the fastest way to reset one or more clips to its default (native) settings.
  • When you select Edit > Remove Attributes (screen shot), you are presented with a screen where you can select which effects you want to keep or remove from all the selected clips.

Remove Effects is the fastest way to totally reset a clip. Remove Attributes gives you more control over what is actually reset.

NOTE: It is important to note that both of these menu options can apply to one or more clips. Simply the select the clips you want to reset before choosing one of these two menues.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #792: Stunning Light Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Fully-animated, colorful textures for multiple applications.

A lighting effect created by Spectrum, from Luca Visual Effects.

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, I was playing with the fascinating Spectrum plugin from Luca Visual FX. This generates fully-animated, full-screen light effects that can be used as backgrounds, illuminated text fills, or anywhere visually appealing, yet amorphous, backgrounds are required.

Spectrum is a bundle of two very customizable generators designed to create stylized light and color effects. Light Effect Generator can be used either to create unusual backgrounds or subtle overlays. Light Transition Generator allows the user to create freely interpreted quick light and color transitions over a given cut point.

Available from FX Factory, this generator supports:

  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Motion
  • Premiere Pro
  • After Effects

This plugin offers 1,400 (if I did my math right) different presets, plus tons of customization.

The plug-in costs $89 (US), however, a free trial is available to give you a chance to experiment. And, ah, giggle. This creates some very cool looks.

Here’s the link.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #777: Keyframes vs. Behaviors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Use Keyframes for precise control over specific parameters.

Keyframes illustrated in the Motion Timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

When should you use keyframes instead of Behaviors? This Apple KnowledgeBase post has the answer.

As an alternative to animating with behaviors, you can animate most text parameters using keyframes. The text animation method you use (keyframing or behaviors) depends on your project, or more specifically, your timing needs:

  • Use keyframes if you need an action to happen at a specific point in time in your project. For example, if you want text to be completely transparent at frame 1, become completely opaque at frame 60, become transparent again at frame 90, and opaque again at frame 120, use keyframing. Keyframes apply specific values to an object’s parameters at specific frames.
  • Use behaviors if the timing of the animation doesn’t need to be precise. For example, if you want the text to be completely transparent at frame 1, become opaque over frames 60–90, and become transparent by frame 120, use the Fade In/Fade Out behavior. Behaviors generate a range of values that are applied to an object’s parameters.

You can combine keyframing and behaviors to animate any object in Motion. For example, if you keyframe text opacity, you can then apply the Tracking behavior to animate text tracking, or you can keyframe the Tracking parameter. However, if you keyframe the text Opacity parameter and then apply a Fade In/Fade Out behavior to the text, unexpected results may occur.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #780: What’s a Proxy File?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Proxy files are a tradeoff: faster performance with lower image quality.

The proxy file (green) has 1/4 the pixels of the source media, but with the same geometry. The pixels aren’t bigger, just fewer.

Topic $TipTopic

At its simplest, a proxy file is a “stand-in,” a proxy, for another file. However, when it comes to media, a proxy file is a smaller version of the original file.

This reduced size provides several benefits:

  • Smaller storage requirements
  • Slower bandwidth requirements
  • Ability to run on older or slower systems

However, while smaller files are a good thing, the real challenge is to create proxy files that provide a similar geometry to the source file, otherwise, any effects you create with them will need to be altered when you switch back to the source media.

For this reason, proxy files, by intent, are 1/4 the size of the source image but with the same aspect ratio as the source file. This decreases file size and bandwidth by 75%, but matches the geometry of the source.

The easiest way to create this is to divide each frame into a series of 4-pixel grids, then remove 3 of the 4 pixels in each grid. This means that a 4K (3840 x 2160) becomes 960 x 540. Often, many proxy files use 1280 x 720 because this is already a common video format.

While not providing the same image quality as the source media, the image is good enough to use for editing, until the time comes for final effects, color grading and output.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #781: What is Debayering?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Virtually all cameras only record partial images. Debayering is required to make them whole.

A camera sensor Bayer pattern (Image by en:User:Cburnett – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Topic $TipTopic

Debayering, or demosaicing, is a digital image process that reconstructs a complete image from the incomplete color samples recorded by virtually every video camera.

In this screen shot, notice that the camera records twice as many green pixels as either red or blue.

Wikipedia writes: Most modern digital cameras acquire images using a single image sensor overlaid with a color filter array (CFA). This has alternating red (R) and green (G) filters for odd rows and alternating green (G) and blue (B) filters for even rows. There are twice as many green filters as red or blue ones, catering to the human eye’s higher sensitivity to green light.

Since each pixel of the sensor is behind a color filter, the output is an array of pixel values, each indicating a raw intensity of one of the three filter colors. (The camera sensor itself only captures luminance data.) Thus, an algorithm is needed to estimate for each pixel the color levels for all color components, rather than a single component. Demosaicing is part of the processing required to render these grayscale images into a viewable image.

EXTRA CREDIT

Many modern digital cameras can also save images in a raw format allowing the user to demosaic them using software, rather than using the camera’s built-in firmware.

Here’s a Wikipedia article to learn more.