… 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.

EXTRA CREDIT

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.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #323: Practical Tips to Avoid Film-making Stress

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Common sense saves time and reduces stress.

Topic $TipTopic

Lewis McGregor first reported this for PremiumBeat. I’ve summarized his key points here.

Often, stress during a project starts as a small thing that can be easily managed. Sure, these ideas might be common sense tips, but it’s the type of advice you don’t really think about until you find yourself in a particularly stressful situation.

  1. Set up as much as possible before you arrive on location
  2. Minimize the amount of “winging it”
  3. Store and label equipment like a grip truck, even if you drive a small hatchback
  4. Quash what-ifs with backups

Perhaps the causes of your stress are a little different than listed above. Regardless, you can minimize the general stress of shooting solo by focusing on setting up gear ahead of time and the organizing your equipment.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #343: Move Motion Assets to a Different Computer

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Copy a Motion project file to another computer.

Collect media options in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

This first appeared as an Apple KnowledgeBase article.

To move a Motion project file to another computer, you must also move all media that the project uses, including all QuickTime, still image, and audio files. In addition, any third-party Motion plug-ins or nonstandard fonts used in the project must be installed on the new computer, or they’ll be unavailable to your project.

Similarly, when you finish a project and want to archive it, it’s a good idea to archive the project file and all media, graphics, fonts, custom behaviors, filters, and third-party add-ons used in the project. If you need to restore the project for later revisions, you’ll have everything you need to get started quickly.

  1. In Motion, save the project file using File > Save as, then choose the Collect Media option and collect all project media into a folder.
  2. Copy the folder containing the saved project file and all media used in the project to another computer or location.

As you can see in this screen shot, archived projects can be saved anywhere.

NOTE: If you move a project to another computer without selecting the Collect Media option, media can go offline (even if you’ve manually moved the media files) due to broken links.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #346: Compressor is Not Faster in Catalina

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

No speed improvements for H.264 or HEVC in Catalina

In all tests, average compression speeds in Catalina are slower than Mojave. (Shorter bars are faster.)

Topic $TipTopic

One of the new features in macOS Catalina is a revised graphics engine called Metal 2. Both Final Cut Pro X and Compressor were recently upgraded to support it.

Last week, I did an initial test comparing the speed of Apple Compressor running in macOS Mojave vs. Catalina. I ran these tests on the same computer (an i5) using the same data files and same compression settings using Apple Compressor. The Mojave tests used Compressor 4.4.5. The Catalina tests used Compressor 4.4.6.

NOTE: Additional tests indicate that H.264 compression is faster on iMac Pros and Mac Pros which use the T-2 chip. As well, compression speeds vary depending upon the number and type of applications open at the time of compression.

The short answer is that the latest version of Apple Compressor running on Catalina is slightly slower across all tests than Compressor running on Mojave. I will look at compression results using Adobe Media Encoder in the next Codec Tip Letter.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s the full article.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #227: Place Audio Before Video in Motion Graphics

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Motion graphics and animation need a different audio workflow.

Timecode - or frames - display in Apple Motion.
Click arrow to change between frames and timecode in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

When it comes to creating animation or a motion graphic video, the hardest thing for folks new to the art is to figure out the timing. How long should a scene last? Or a piece of text hold on screen? How fast are the transitions? Here are some thoughts that can help.

The short answer is that the audio track for anything animated is built BEFORE you create the video, while the audio track for a “normal” video is built after the video is edited.

You could determine timing by dividing a motion graphic video into specific scenes by the clock, then create a storyboard for each scene. But, the problem is that music is not based on the clock. If you are adding a music bed, you need to respect the rhythm of the music, as well as make sure the end of the music in the video is at the end of a musical phrase. This makes your motion graphic sound complete.

NOTE: It is far more important to focus on where music ends than where it begins; because audiences remember the end of something more than the beginning.

Once you start adding dialog or narration, you have two different rhythms working: music and voice. There’s no way you can animate that without carefully listening to and setting your timing based on the actual audio. Which means the audio needs to be complete before animation starts.

This is a key reason why animators prefer to work with frame counts, more than timecode. Frame counts provide a very specific reference that ties perfectly to the sound track. Timecode is better suited to watching video.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #329: Blurs and Mosaics are No Longer Safe

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Blurs are no longer safeguards against protecting identity.

New graphics technology, combined with AI, recreates high-resolution images from blurry, low-res source files.

Topic $TipTopic

For years, editors have used mosaic and blur effects to hide the identity of on-screen talent. However, recent research has found a way to reverse-engineer a high-quality image of the speaker’s face from a low-resolution blur. Here’s what you need to know.

Research published in Sept. 2018, from universities in the US and China has revealed a technology that “learns to reconstruct realistic [image] results with clear structures and fine details.”

Using a low-resolution image (on the left), their technology creates a high-quality result using off-the-shelf computer hardware and nVidia GPUs. Using AI, the researchers discovered an algorithm “to directly restore a clear high- resolution image from a blurry low-resolution input.”

“Extensive experiments demonstrate that our method performs favorably against the state-of-the-art methods on both synthetic and real-world images at a lower computational cost.”

Here’s a link to their scientific paper. The text is highly technical, but the images are frightening, if you are a producer charged with protecting someone’s identity.

KEY TAKEAWAY

If you want to protect the identity of an on-camera speaker, don’t shoot their face. Today’s technology makes blurs, mosaics and low-res images completely ineffective.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #308: Archive Active Versions of Compressor

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Archives allow future access to earlier versions.

Apple Compressor logo
The file icon for Apple Compressor.

Topic $TipTopic

It is often necessary, especially if you are working with different clients, to have earlier versions of Compressor available to you. However, only one version of Compressor can be active on your system at a time. Recently, I read an Apple KnowledgeBase article that explained how to create archives.

NOTE: While this won’t get you access to earlier versions of Compressor, it does mean that you’ll have access to all versions going forward.

To back up the currently installed Compressor application:

  1. Create a new folder in the Applications folder, and name it after the application (for example, “Compressor 4.4.6”). To check your version of Compressor, open the application and choose About Compressor from the Compressor menu.
  2. Select the Compressor application in the Applications folder. Choose File > Compress “Compressor.” It will take a few minutes to compress.
  3. Move the resulting “Compressor.zip” file into the folder you created in step 1.
  4. Move the folder containing the .zip file to a backup drive.

EXTRA CREDIT

These ZIP files can be stored anywhere, but I generally try to keep all my program archives in the same place. Remember, before you revert back to an earlier version, archive or delete the version of Compressor currently stored in your Applications folder.

Also, if you revert to an earlier version of Compressor, it may also require an earlier version of the macOS, so keep a note of which version of Compressor uses which version of the macOS.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #306: Archive Active Versions of FCP X

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Archives allow future access to earlier versions.

Topic $TipTopic

It is often necessary, especially if you are working with different clients, to have earlier versions of Final Cut Pro X available to you. However, only one version of FCP X can be active on your system at a time. Recently, I read an Apple KnowledgeBase article that explained how to create archives.

NOTE: While this won’t get you access to earlier versions of Final Cut Pro X, it does mean that you’ll have access to all versions going forward.

To back up the currently installed Final Cut Pro X application:

  1. Create a new folder in the Applications folder, and name it after the application (for example, “Final Cut Pro X 10.4.8”). To check your version of Final Cut Pro X, open the application and choose About Final Cut Pro X from the Final Cut Pro X menu.
  2. Select the Final Cut Pro X application in the Applications folder. Choose File > Compress “Final Cut Pro X.” It will take a few minutes to compress.
  3. Move the resulting “Final Cut Pro X.zip” file into the folder you created in step 1.
  4. Move the folder containing the .zip file to a backup drive.

EXTRA CREDIT

These ZIP files can be stored anywhere, but I generally try to keep all my program archives in the same place. Remember, before you revert back to an earlier version, archive or delete the version of Final Cut Pro X currently stored in your Applications folder.

Also, if you revert to an earlier version of Final Cut Pro X, it may also require an earlier version of the macOS, so keep a note of which version of Final Cut Pro X uses which version of the macOS.

[Thanks, and a tip of the hat to Mark Spencer for telling me about this.]


… for Apple Motion

Tip #307: Archive Active Versions of Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Archives allow future access to earlier versions.

Apple Motion logo
The file icon for Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

It is often necessary, especially if you are working with different clients, to have earlier versions of Motion available to you. However, only one version of Motion can be active on your system at a time. Recently, I read an Apple KnowledgeBase article that explained how to create archives.

NOTE: While this won’t get you access to earlier versions of Motion, it does mean that you’ll have access to all versions going forward.

To back up the currently installed Motion application:

  1. Create a new folder in the Applications folder, and name it after the application (for example, “Motion 5.4.5”). To check your version of Motion, open the application and choose About Motion from the Motion menu.
  2. Select the Motion application in the Applications folder. Choose File > Compress “Motion.” It will take a few minutes to compress.
  3. Move the resulting “Motion.zip” file into the folder you created in step 1.
  4. Move the folder containing the .zip file to a backup drive.

EXTRA CREDIT

These ZIP files can be stored anywhere, but I generally try to keep all my program archives in the same place. Remember, before you revert back to an earlier version, archive or delete the version of Motion currently stored in your Applications folder.

Also, if you revert to an earlier version of Motion, it may also require an earlier version of the macOS, so keep a note of which version of Motion uses which version of the macOS.


… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #285: Tips for Library Management

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Library is the master container for all Final Cut projects.

Final Cut Pro X Project Properties settings displayed in the Inspector.

Topic $TipTopic

The Library in Final Cut is the master container that holds everything related to a specific set of projects. However, what you may not know is that you have a lot of control over where FCP X actually stores files for that library – and many of them don’t even need to be in the Library!

To see your options, select a Library in the Library list on the left side of the interface. The Inspector then displays the image shown on this screen shot.

These options include:

  • Media Storage Locations. This allows you to specify where media, Motion templates, work files and Library backups are stored. All but backups can be stored in the Library, however, you can choose to store them wherever you want.
  • Motion Content. If you have Motion templates scattered across different locations, this allows you to consolidate them into the location specified in the Media Storage Location, above.

The next three segments are display only:

  • Cache files. The amount of space occupied by render, analysis and other work files.
  • Backups. Displays the location of Library backups.
  • Storage used. Displays the volumes where media for this project is stored and how much space is involved.

Overall, Library Properties provides you the control you need to know how much space your project takes, where files are stored and the ability to move them if needed.