… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1417: Use Multiple Drives for Libraries & Media

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Final Cut has no problems accessing files stored on multiple drives.

Topic $TipTopic

Here’s a question I get asked a lot; this example is from Berta:

“Using FCP X, can I save my library and project files to one external drive while using a second external drive to retrieve the original 4k media?”

The answer is: Yes, with a caution.

As you know, media files are large and require significant bandwidth (data transfer speed from storage to computer) to play smoothly. As long as your drives are large enough to hold your media and fast enough to play it – generally Thunderbolt speeds – using multiple drives is fine.

NOTE: If you are getting dropped frame errors, that means that your storage is too slow.

For my webinars, my media is stored on either a server or a RAID, while my libraries are stored on a separate drive. Final Cut has no problem keeping track of multiple files stored on multiple drives.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1397: Shure Requests Dedicated Wireless Mic Channel

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Shure asks FCC to reconsider & dedicate channel to wireless mics.

The Shure BLX14R/B98 wireless system.

Topic $TipTopic

Shure Inc. has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to reverse its decision and guarantee that at least one 6 MHz UHF channel in each market be reserved for wireless mic use.

The company told the FCC that now more than ever wireless mic users need clear spectrum. On one hand, reallocation of 600 MHz spectrum for mobile phones and the repack of stations into 500 MHz spectrum has reduced available spectrum. On the other, continued growth of broadcast, performance and sports production is requiring more wireless mic channels than ever, Shure said.

Without clear spectrum for wireless mic use, the integrity of a variety of productions, ranging from professional sports and concerts to live TV and theater, will suffer, Shure said.

More information is available on the Shure website.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1399: DPP: Predictions for Media in 2021

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The media industry continues under heavy pressure. This report outlines key drivers.

The DPP logo

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The DPP, a London-based think-tank focused on media, published its annual predictions for 2021. The DPP 2021 Predictions, enabled by DPP member company Zixi, were drawn up by more than 30 senior leaders from across the DPP membership. They paint a picture of an industry focused on survival and redefinition.

The full report is available – free – to anyone interested. Here’s the link.

The top eight predictions are, in order:

  1. The purpose of the workplace will be redefined
  2. There will be market disruption and consolidation
  3. Unpredictability will be the new normal
  4. Security will become distributed
  5. Businesses will better assess both sides of the risk equation
  6. AI and automation will become pervasive across the supply chain
  7. Global will impact local
  8. Businesses will understand and manage data through the value chain

These are some key take-aways:

It is difficult to overstate the extent to which new ways of working currently dominate the thinking of senior media executives.

The elephant in the room is that some companies won’t survive this year

“I think where we are right now is quite difficult to predict as well. For me the only predictability is that there’s big changes coming up.”

“It’s hard to understand what we need to do, because I don’t know what consumers want. And that’s tied up with not knowing what COVID is going to do to us, right? But the point is, it’s going to change what we all have to do. Because when the floodgates are open, consumers are going to stop watching your network and my network, and they’re going to be just desperate to get out of that house. So then how do we adapt to that?”

Things are risky – but not doing anything is also risky.

What was striking about the views expressed this year was the observation that 2021 will be the year in which we see AI beginning to impact the whole media supply chain – including production.

:While our technology has accelerated, the cyber threats have also increased at speed. We are way more at risk now we have these remote workforces. We had an incident recently and it was just the craziest two weeks watching that unfold and dealing with how we responded. We just weren’t set up to do it. And the effect of that is that we know we’ve got to up our approach and response.”

What perhaps was most striking about this year’s discussion was the degree of unanimity. This may in part come from every company, of every kind, sharing the common experience of the pandemic – and every company, of course, being obliged to work remotely.

But that remote working has not only brought extraordinary changes to work culture. It has also led almost all companies to turn to virtualisation and the cloud. Technology and operations have been abstracted from physical locations, and companies
– whether content providers or suppliers – have become much clearer about the opportunities and challenges this change represents.

The entire report is free and well worth reading.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1374: Unions Approve Resuming Production

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Media production resumes in Los Angeles – with strict safety protocols.

The SAG-AFTRA Logo

Topic $TipTopic

SAG-AFTRA, the Producers Guild of America and JPC, a bargaining group that represents commercial advertisers and advertising agencies, agreed to resume media production in Southern California effective Feb. 1, 2021, consistent with the expiration of the pause recommendation by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Learn more about the agreement.

“While commercial and independent production may return to Southern California at this time, the parties maintain that film and television productions must abide by the industry-issued COVID-safety protocols and will continue to monitor and consider orders or recommendations issued by the Public Health Department,” the groups said in a statement.

NOTE: The pandemic caused the lowest number of production days in Los Angeles in 25 years, down 48% from 2019.

The Producers Guild of America’s (PGA) Production Safety Task Force published a comprehensive safety guide for producers as they go back to work titled “COVID Safety Protocols for Producing Independent Productions.” These guidelines offer a comprehensive and detailed recommendation of the steps independent producers should take to help secure the safety of cast and crew during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the safety protocols.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1378: Faster Ways to Edit Audio Files

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Editing sound bites using text transcripts is faster and more accurate.

Philip Hodgetts (Left) and Dr. Greg Clarke, co-founders of Lumberjack System.

Topic $TipTopic

The big problem with editing a documentary is the VAST amount of material you need to sift through. Or, perhaps you are a podcaster or creating oral history projects. You have the same problem – tracking your content across an almost unlimited number of files. There’s only so much you can keep in your head.

The team at Lumberjack System has created a tutorial on some dynamic features in Lumberjack that can improve your editing and speed finding the right clip. For example, live logging to help you get organized by combining Builder NLE with Premiere or Final Cut, etc.

The key is using Builder NLE. This allows you to put together an entire project from transcripts to finished audio file. There are tools for trimming and fine-tuning an edit within Builder’s Story mode, and it would be entirely feasible (and frankly quite feasible) to finish an audio-only project there.

However, they recommend assembling the story (or “Radio Cut” as they call it) in Builder NLE and then use the many trimming tools available in Final Cut Pro X, or Premiere Pro to make your edits.

Learn more.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1379: Keys to Success from an Executive Producer

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Be prepared, build relationships and leave your ego at the door.

Image courtesy of PremiumBeat.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Tanya Jones, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

From being prepared to checking your ego, here are a few industry lessons from an executive producer to help you stand out and always make the cut.

Be Prepared for Things to go Wrong and Be Ready to Fix Them. Be ready to think of all possibilities and ask your team to weigh in. You don’t have to come up with the exact solution, but you have to take the lead and gather the players to solve it. You must exercise the maturity and ability to stay calm and keep everyone else calm. Timing is key, as well. Move fast and think on your feet.

Be Likable, Smart, and Have a Good Attitude. My motto has always been this, “It’s not who you know, it’s who you know and how much they like you.” Relationships really matter!

Always Be a Student. You don’t have to master every skill. Just listen and make an effort to understand why every piece matters in the story. How we tell stories and how we deliver stories is changing all the time. Be the first to see how content is changing and why platforms and services are making money.

Know the Audience. It’s important to understand the why. We can’t just tell stories without a vision in mind to lock viewers in. Understand how the content pulls in the audience and the dollars, especially if you want to pitch your own piece of work.

Check Your Ego at the Door. Don’t allow insecurities or fear to take priority over getting the job done. Always try to play well with everyone in the sandbox. Be mindful of your tone and how you speak to folks.

Your Job Isn’t Who You Are. No matter what celebs you work with or how hot your show scores in the ratings, these jobs aren’t our identities.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1375: Red Giant Offers Free Color Training

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

These sessions can help demystify color grading in post.

Image courtesy of Maxon.com.

Topic $TipTopic

Red Giant, now a part of Maxon, announced “Demystifying Post-Production: Shooting for the Grade.”

Join the Maxon Color Training Team every Monday in February, as they investigate grading workflows for your camera gear. They’ll look at key aspects of production, such as how the sensor can affect your grade, and how colorists can take advantage of different picture styles, including paint, shade and raw settings. They’ll provide practical recipes to help in post-production, and also show how you can leverage the new color handing features in Magic Bullet Looks inside DaVinci Resolve.

They’ll feature DaVinci Resolve techniques for color correction, but the concepts we’ll be covering are applicable to multiple applications and workflows, including Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X.

Learn more. All sessions are free.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1383: New Ways to Educate Tomorrow’s Pros

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

In-person classes are better, but here are some good alternatives.

Vancouver Film School Makeup Design for Film & Television student Aerien Steadman works on a clay sculpture after limited groups of students resumed campus activities last August. (Image courtesy of Vancouver Film School)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Chris McGowan, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

Once the pandemic hit and turned classes into virtual events, VFX and animation schools scrambled to get their curricula online, make classes glitch-free and dynamic, and offer remote access to workstations.

“As the world changed, so have we,” says Miguel Rodriguez about Vancouver’s InFocus Film School and its response to COVID-19. Rodriguez, Head of the 3D Animation and VFX program, comments, “It definitely was a rough process of adapting to the new normal. During the first week of the quarantine we worked hard to set up online learning tools and remote access to the class computers. It gave [students] 24/7 access to their workstations without leaving home.”

USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) animation and digital arts classes are using Zoom, Blackboard, SyncSketch and Slack, according to Teresa Cheng, Chair of the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts at SCA, plus “our Creative Technology department has worked out virtual desktop access for our students via Teradici.” However, she emphasizes that “our value is in our faculty. Zoom is just a tool. Of course, there are limitations [in not] being physically in the same space, but good teachers always find inventive ways to reach their students and deliver good content.

The College of Motion Picture Arts at Florida State University pursued a hybrid model for the fall of 2020, going remote when possible, according to Ron Honn, Filmmaker-in-Residence, Visual Arts. He notes that the school went the extra mile for its students when the pandemic began. “We were determined that our students would have the equipment necessary to continue work on their projects. So we shipped professional camera packages, lighting and grip gear, as needed, to students in their various locations.”

InFocus Film School’s Rodriguez observes, “These are difficult times for everyone, but it’s also a great opportunity to look into developing your career. People will keep watching shows, movies and playing video games, much more so during these crazy times. That means more work needs to be done, more hands and talent are needed.”

EXTRA CREDIT

The article includes many more interviews, photos and details on specific software tools used to enhance teaching.


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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1376: Avoid Image Degradation

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Scaling an image smaller is fine, avoid scaling an image larger than 100%.

Topic $TipTopic

I get questions every day about how to maintain image quality while changing the size of an image (aka “Scaling.”)

The answer is simple, in theory, but tricky in practice: Bitmapped images, which include all digital video, are fixed in resolution. That means that each image is composed of a fixed number of pixels. As well, the projects into which we edit these images/video are also fixed in terms of pixel dimensions.

Assuming focus and exposure are good, the best an image will look is when it is scaled to 100%. You can probably scale an image to 110% without much damage, but beyond that typical audience members will start to see a difference.

When you make an image smaller, you are removing pixels, which, in general reduces the resolution of an image but doesn’t damage the perceived “quality.”

However, when making an image larger, you are duplicating pixels to fill the extra space. Duplicating a pixel means no new data is created. This makes a bitmapped image look fuzzy, soft or blurry.

  • In Final Cut Pro, you can set an image to 100% size by changing Video Inspector > Spatial Conform to None.
  • In Premiere Pro, you can see how much an image is scaled by Control-clicking a clip and enabling “Set to Frame Size.”

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… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1380: Quantum Acquires CatDV

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Quantum acquires CatDV to better track all the data we are collecting.

The Quantum logo.

Topic $TipTopic

In December, Quantum announced that it has acquired Square Box Systems Ltd, a specialist in data cataloging, user collaboration, and digital asset management software. The acquisition builds on Quantum’s recently expanded portfolio that classifies, manages, and protects data across its lifecycle by adding technology advancements to further enrich video, digital images and other forms of unstructured data.

Square Box Systems’ flagship product is CatDV, an agile media management and workflow automation software platform that helps organizations with large volumes of media and metadata to organize, communicate and collaborate more effectively. CatDV leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to make it easier for businesses of any size to catalog and analyze digital assets such as video, images, audio files, PDFs, and more; enable advanced search across local and cloud repositories; and provide access control across the full data lifecycle for secure sharing and data governance.

Press Release.


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