… for Apple Motion

Tip #433: Why Display Alpha Channels

The alpha channel displays the transparency in a clip.

The top image is in color, the lower image shows its transparency.

Topic $TipTopic

One of the options in the top right corner of the Motion Viewer is the ability to display the alpha channel of the current project. (You’ll find it in the menu under the color square.) But, why would you need this?

The alpha channel, like the red, blue and green channels, displays the amount of transparency associated with each pixel. For instance, in this screen shot, does the gradient in the top, color, image fade to black or transparent? It’s impossible to tell.

However, when you look at the bottom image, which displays transparency, it is easy to see that the image fades from solid black (transparent) to solid white (opaque). (Shades of gray represent differing amounts of translucency.)

Remember, the alpha channel doesn’t show color, it shows transparency.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #403: Blue or Green: Which Keys Better?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Green and blue background yield different results.

Typical green-screen background and lighting.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Charles Yeager, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

Chroma key compositing is the actual technique of layering two images together based on color hues. The solid color background essentially acts like a matte for your footage. Later, in post-production, you can remove the solid color background to make it transparent, allowing for compositing.

We use green and blue backgrounds because they are the furthest colors from human skin tones. But the two colors don’t give the same results. In an EXCELLENT article, Charles Yeager explains when to use green and when to use blue backgrounds. Here are the highlights:

Green Screens Pros:

  • Results in a cleaner key because digital cameras pick up more information
  • Requires less lighting
  • High luminance is good for daytime scenes
  • Uncommon color in clothing

Green Screen Cons:

  • Color spill can be too heavy, especially on fine details and edges (or blonde hair)
  • High luminance is not great for dark or night scenes

Blue Screen Pros:

  • Less color spill is great for subjects with fine details and edges
  • Lower luminance is good for dark or night scenes

Blue Screen Cons:

  • Requires more lighting, which can be expensive
  • Common clothing color, making it difficult to key in post

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #295: Save Time – Use Master Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Master effects apply to all related clips in the Timeline.

Effects applied to clips in the Project panel, also apply to segments of that clip edited into the Timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is an excerpt. You’ve edited a flock of clips into your sequence in the Timeline – only to discover that all the segments from Clip #23 are a bit too blue; or need some other effect applied to all of them.

Fixing all these clips at once is what master effects are designed to do. A Master clip is a clip in the Project panel, from which you edited clips into the sequence in the Timeline. Apply a change to the Master clip, and all clips derived from it change as well.

  • Drag the Effects panel somewhere else in the interface so that you can see both the Projects panel and the Effects panel.
  • Apply an effect to a master clip by dragging the effect from the Effects panel on top of the clip in the Project panel, Source Monitor, or Effect Controls panel.
  • To apply an effect to multiple master clips, select the items in the Project panel, and then drag the effect on top of the selected clips.
  • Double-click the Master clip to load it into the Effect Controls panel.
  • Adjust the effect parameters using the Effect Controls panel.
  • All the effects applied to the master clip instantly ripple through all portions of the master clip edited into sequences.

  • … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #416: Closed Caption Formats for Social Media

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    As you might expect, there’s no one subtitle format that works everywhere.

    Topic $TipTopic

    Erin Myers, at Rev.com, summarized the closed caption formats used by social media. Here’s her article. This is an excerpt.

    Closed caption file formats vary depending on which site you’re using to host your videos and which platform you use to obtain the closed caption transcripts.

    Adobe Premiere supports:

    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • MacCaption (.mcc)
    • XML (.xml)
    • Spruce Subtitle File (.STL).

    Apple Final Cut Pro X supports:

    • iTunes Timed Text (.iTT)
    • SubRip (.srt)
    • SCC (CEA-608 format)

    YouTube recommends Scenarist (.scc) format. But is compatible with:

    • SubRip (.srt)
    • WebVTT (.vtt)
    • DFXP/TTML (.dxfp)
    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • SAMI (.sami)

    Vimeo recommends WebVTT (.vtt) but is compatible with:

    • SubRip (.srt)
    • DXFP/TTML (.dxfp)
    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • SAMI (.SAMI)

    Facebook recommends the SubRip (.srt) format.

    Netflix has two recommended formats. The EMA Closed Captions Working Group has identified Scenarist (.scc) as a preferred format due to its status as the de facto standard for CEA-608 and CEA-708 data.  SMPTE-TT is also recommended as, under the applicable laws, it is considered safe if captions are compliant. It is also compatible with:

    • SubRip (.srt)
    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • Timed Text (.ttml)
    • DXFP (.dxfp)
    • WebVTT (.vtt)
    • Cheetah CAP (.cap)
    • MacCaption (.mcc)
    • Quicktime Subtitle (.qt.txt)
    • Spruce Subtitle File (.stl).
    • XML (.xml)

    Amazon Video Direct requires closed captions on all new videos uploaded to the service, but has not recommended a favorite. It supports:

    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • SMPTE-TT (.xml)
    • EBU-TT (.xml)
    • DFXP Full/TTML (.dfxp)
    • iTunes Timed Text (.iTT)

    iTunes asks for a Scenarist-formatted file (with an .scc extension), or a QuickTime file with a closed captioning track. Compatible formats:

    • Scenarist (.scc)
    • DFXP Full/TTML (.dfxp)
    • iTunes Timed Text (.iTT)

    … for Apple Motion

    Tip #387: Motion Tracking Strategies

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    These tips from Apple can help improve your motion tracking.

    Image courtesy of 2ReelGuys.com.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This is an excerpt from the Apple Motion User Guide. Motion tracking in Apple Motion isn’t always perfect. Here are some tips that can improve the quality of your tracks.

    Find a Good Reference Pattern

    In Motion, play the footage several times to locate a reference pattern that satisfies as many of the following rules as possible:

    • Contains perpendicular edges, such as dots, intersections, and corners. (Lines and straight boundaries should be avoided.)
    • Is a high-contrast pattern.
    • Contains smooth or even changes in brightness or color. An example of an uneven color or brightness change is a sharp-edged shadow that passes over your reference pattern.
    • Appears in every frame of the clip (does not move offscreen or become obscured by other objects).
    • Is distinct from other patterns in the same region in the clip.

    Ask Motion for a Hint

    You can have Motion display suggested tracking points. You need at least one tracker in the Canvas to display suggested tracking reference points.

    • In Motion, press and hold the Option key, place the pointer over a tracker in the canvas, then press and hold the mouse button.
      The suggested reference points appear in the canvas and in the magnified inset as small red crosshairs.
    • When you move a tracker toward a suggested point, the tracker snaps to the point. The suggested points are not necessarily ideal tracking reference points for the feature you want to track in the clip. Motion merely picks locations in the current frame that meet the reference pattern criteria, such as an area of high contrast.

    Other tips include:

    • Manually modify track points
    • Delete bad keyframes in the Keyframe Editor
    • Delete bad track points in the Canvas

    … for Apple Motion

    Tip #377: The Record Button Easily Adds Keyframes

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    The Record Button simplifies adding keyframes to projects.

    The Record Button in “add keyframe” mode.

    Topic $TipTopic

    This first appeared in an Apple KnowledgeBase article. There are two ways to apply keyframes in Motion: Automatically and manually. Here’s the automatic method – using the Record button.

    Turn on the Record button (Shortcut: A), located at the bottom left of the Viewer, to create a new keyframe whenever you adjust any parameter. This method is useful when you want to create keyframes for multiple parameters in your project.

    Here are the steps:

    1. In Motion, do one of one following:

    • Click the Record button on the left side of the timing toolbar.
    • Press A.
    • Choose Mark > Record Animation.
      The Record button is highlighted.

    2. Select an object in the canvas, Layers list, or Timeline.

    3. Drag the playhead to a new position in time.

    4. Modify one or more parameters by doing any of the following:

    • Use the onscreen controls to move, scale, or manipulate objects.
    • Use the controls in the Inspector or HUD to move, scale or manipulate objects

    Keyframes are added at the current playhead position for any parameters you modified.

    5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to add additional keyframes.

    NOTE: As long as the Record button is enabled, any parameter modifications your make in your project are recorded as new keyframes. In the Inspector, all modifiable parameters are highlighted red to remind you that parameter changes are being recorded as keyframes.

    … for Visual Effects

    Tip #382: Stacking Order Makes a Difference

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Effects process from top to bottom

    Two effects are applied to this clip: On the left, Sepia on top, Border under. On the right, the order is reversed.

    Topic $TipTopic

    Whether you use Adobe Premiere or Apple Final Cut, the stacking order of your effects makes a difference. Let me illustrate.

    In this screen shot, the clip has two effects applied: Sepia and Border. On the left side, Sepia is above the border. So the image is first colorized, then the cyan border is added.

    With the image on the right, the Border is on top. This means that the border is added, then both border and image are converted from full-color to Sepia.

    If you apply more than one effect to a clip, remember that effects process from top to bottom. You can see the order of your effects in the Inspector (Final Cut) or Effect Controls panel (Premiere).

    … for Codecs & Media

    Tip #380: Apple Compressor vs. Adobe Media Encoder

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Adobe Media Encoder is still the fastest.

    AME (green) is faster than Compressor (blue) in 2 out of 3 compression formats. (Shorter bars are faster.)

    Topic $TipTopic

    Recently, I compared the compression speed of Adobe Media Encoder with Apple Compressor, both running on the same 27″ iMac (i5) and macOS Catalina. Here’s what I learned.

    • In general, Catalina is a shade slower for both apps than Mojave for compression, ranging from 0% to 14% slower, depending upon the task.
    • HEVC 10-bit compression is still extremely slow because it is not hardware-accelerated in either app.
    • Compressed file sizes are the same for both apps between Mojave and Catalina.

    As you can see from the chart, while Media Encoder and Compressor are the about the same speed for HEVC 8-bit, Media Encoder is much faster for H.264 (50%) and HEVC 10-bit (180%).


    Read the full article with all the details here.

    … for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

    Tip #283: AAF vs. EDL vs. OMF vs. XML Export

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    Different applications require different export options.

    Export options in Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

    Topic $TipTopic

    Most of the time, when the time comes to export our finished project, we select File > Export > Media. Sometimes, though, we need to move our project to a different program, say for color correction or audio mixing. Which export option should we choose?

    • EDL. This is the oldest, and most limited, transfer format. It only supports 2 video tracks and 4 audio tracks. Unless you are working with VERY old software, this should not be your first choice.
    • OMF. This is an audio-only format. Unlike EDL, which simply points to your media, OMF includes all audio files in the OMF. This guarantees that your audio, along with your edits, will successfully transfer.
    • Final Cut Pro XML. This XML format is based on FCP 7. This is the best choice for moving projects to or from Final Cut Pro 7 or X; though FCP X requires conversion using a utility. Like EDL, this only points to your media. This is also the best choice for many 3rd-party media management systems.
    • AAF. This is the best choice for moving files from Premiere to Avid ProTools or Media Composer. An AAF contains links to audio and video files as well as editing decisions that are to be applied to the audio and video data.
    • Avid Log Exchange. This is the best format for moving Avid Media Composer bins into Premiere.

    … for Apple Final Cut Pro X

    Tip #331: Export & Translate Subtitles

    Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

    The key is to work with your subtitles as plain text.

    Topic $TipTopic

    Carsten Ress sent this in:

    I was looking for a way to export subtitles (in a closed captions format) from FCP X as text, send it to translation, then import it back again as subtitles. I found this workaround that saved me a lot of time.

    1. Export the subtitles as an SRT File
    2. Change the file extension from .SRT to .TXT (ignore the warning that appears). This gives you a text file with the timecode to position the subtitles
    3. The translator substitutes only the text lines within this document with his translation
    4. When translation is finished, change the file extension from .TXT to .SRT
    5. Then import the SRT file into a new language Role and you have all the subtitles translated and with the right timing.

    You need to be careful with the TXT document as small changes in the format (for example, adding additional text) can result in error messages during the reimport of the subtitles.

    Also, there is a great plugin called “X-Title Caption Convert” from Spherico that allows you to convert closed caption into FCP X titles. This is really helpful if you want to burn the subtitles into the video file and want to have more formatting options.


    This workaround is delicate. In my last project the translator used double quotations marks which are not supported in SRT files. This led to an error message during the import.

    You have to make sure that no “unpermitted” characters are used or search for them and replace them in case you get some error messages while importing the SRT into final cut or if only a part of the subtitles are imported. But if it works, you can really save a lot of time.