… for Visual Effects

Tip #1034: 60 Years of NASA – in 60 Seconds

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Creative teams don’ t need to be together to be successful. If they communicate.

The Oxcart Assembly logo.

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, Frame.io published a blog detailing how a new team of creatives – Oxcart Assembly – collaborated to create the identity package for NASA’s Launch America. As Frame describes it: This “covers the creation of NASA’s new Launch America brand by a coast-to-coast team of visionaries who enjoy pushing the limits of what’s possible—and how they overcame the boundaries of time and space by using Frame.io.”

This detailed blog covers how the team met, how they pitched NASA and won the project, how they were able to winnow 60 years of NASA video to fit into 60 seconds, and their creative approach to the project.

This is a fun article to read, with plenty of illustrations and inside insight.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #1044: What Does “Clamp Signal” Do?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Clamp scopes when doing creative work, unclamp when evaluating images technically.

The Clamp Signal checkbox in the Lumetri Waveform Monitor.

Topic $TipTopic

The Lumetri video scopes have a “Clamp Signal” checkbox. As I was researching my recent webinar on “New Features in Adobe Premiere Pro,” I talked with Adobe about this.

What the Clamp Signal checkbox does, when turned on, is compress, or clamp, any grayscale levels over 100 IRE or below 0 IRE that are displayed in the scopes. This means all grayscale values fall between 0 – 100 IRE.

NOTE: These excess values are called “super-white” or “super-black.” Both are illegal values for broadcast, DVD or digital cinema.

This clamping does NOT affect any clips in the timeline or browser display; or media being exported.

In general, when doing creative work, turn clamping on. When evaluating your final project technically, turn clamping off, then make sure no values are above 100 or below 0.


If your color grade is done, and you still have illegal levels, apply Video Effects > Color Correction > Video Limiter to clean them up.

Here’s an older tutorial that explains what the limiter does.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1041: New! See What You Are Missing

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Smart Conform allows you to see the portion of an image being trimmed – and adjust it.

(Image courtesy of Model Railroad Builders (www.franandmileshale.com)
The white button displays the hidden portions of an image.

Topic $TipTopic

Smart Conform is new with the 10.4.9 update, which is a quick way to reframe existing clips for the different aspect ratios of social media.

NOTE: Here’s a tutorial that covers this in detail.

However, there’s a very cool button that makes Smart Conform much easier to use. (See screen shot.)

After you trim a clip using Smart Conform, look in the top right corner of the Viewer. When you click the white button indicated by the red arrow, Final Cut displays a dimmed version of the entire image which allows you to see what will be cut from the frame.

Using the Transform > Position settings in the Video Inspector, you can adjust the X position to move the image horizontally. Or keyframe the X position if you need framing to change during playback.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1026: Creating Video in Lockdown

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Four webinars presenting how to create video during a pandemic.

Image courtesy of IPV.com.

Topic $TipTopic

The team at IPV, which makes media asset management software, just published four free webinars on “Creating Video Remotely in Lockdown.”

Featuring conversations with Sky, Sesame Workshop, Warner Media and Biola University, these discussions focus on how each company navigated lockdown to create “amazing content under extraordinary conditions.”

  • Sky. How one of the largest broadcasters in Europe kept on creating through the pandemic
  • Sesame Street. How one of the world’s most beloved brands continued to create content through Covid
  • Warner Media. How WarnerMedia became one of the world’s largest remote video production teams.
  • Biola University. How Lockdown affected video production workflows in Higher Education

Here’s the link.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1027: Writing Tag Lines that Work

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Tag lines sell your films to audiences.

Minions tag line: “Uh oh.” (Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Darrin Bradley, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

A tagline is a short phrase marketers use to sell a product experience to a customer. They’re usually pithy or clever, often employing puns or other turns of phrase that can grab your attention and get you to start asking questions, like “What’s this . . . ?”

Some of the most famous include Nike’s short-and-sweet “Just do it” or Apple’s “Think different.” They condense the entire consumer experience with these two brands into a grand total of five words. It’s marketing witchcraft, and it works.

In this post, we differentiated the logline from the tagline — the two often get confused, but they’re doing very different jobs. The load-bearing logline works in isolation, usually according to a formula, to quickly summarize your script for potential producers. It’s the elevator pitch that identifies exactly what your movie is about and why it will be interesting — if done correctly.

The tagline, on the other hand, is one element of an overall marketing strategy to attract viewers for your movie. Loglines sell your film to producers; taglines sell it to audiences. They often capture one-liners from trailers in a joint effort to keep your movie front-and-center in a viewer’s mind. You’ll also see them on promotional posters, and they can appear in programming guides for film festivals. Now that marketing a movie is largely a digital affair, the tagline has taken on new roles, appearing as a social media post, as ad copy, or as a headline on a promotional website.

There’s no magic answer for how to write a tagline that accomplishes everything you want it to, but you can position yourself for success by following a couple of tips. First, write a lot of them. Bad ideas can yield good ones, so don’t be afraid to record every stupid thing that comes to mind until you nail it. Second, bring other brains into the process. You may have only your director’s or cinematographer’s view of the movie. Bring in other members from the crew — bring in outsiders you trust. Develop a hive-mind, and don’t be precious about your ideas. You never know who’s going to come up with the winner.

The article continues with examples and analysis from ten different popular films.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1028: 4 Tips to Better Natural Lighting

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Natural lighting does not mean “hands-off.” It just means “unplugged.”

(Image courtesy of pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

This article first appeared in MotionArray.com. This is a summary.

The capabilities of digital cameras today make this style of shooting easier than ever because of their high sensitivity. ISO 800 has become a standard rating for most cinema cameras, and some are pushing even further, like the Panasonic Varicam which has dual native ISO’s of 800 and 5000. At 5000 ISO, you can likely get a proper exposure with simple street lamps.

But just because you can get a proper exposure doesn’t make it good lighting. Here are some things to keep in mind as you set up for your next scene using the sun as your primary light source.

  1. Maximize the Natural Light with Tools. There are lots of tools that can help you harness or shape the light you have. Bounce boards, reflectors, and diffusion frames can all help soften a source or redirect it.
  2. Location, Location, Location. A DP friend once said that 90% of his job is a good location. An interesting location can make simple, straightforward lighting look amazing, while the most interesting lighting in the world won’t save you from a drab or blasé set. When it comes to natural or available light, you should have three concerns: exposure, depth, and quality.
  3. Time. Available light is ruled by the time of day. If you’re shooting outdoors, midday can be very difficult; the light is generally softer and more even in the “golden” hour after sunrise or before sunset. On the other hand, shooting indoors with window light can be a lot better in the middle of the day simply because the light coming through the window will be stronger, giving you a better exposure inside. This all means that shooting with available light is an exercise in patience and scheduling.
  4. Use LED Fixtures. Okay, so this one is a bit of a cheat. But thanks to LED technology, it’s getting easier and easier to sneak relatively bright sources into a scene with just a small LED panel/strip and a battery. Even if you can’t set up a “regular” light, it might be a good idea to rig up a couple of battery-powered LED fixtures and use them to accent your available light.


The article, linked above, has more details, examples and links.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1021: Effects Playground: Sunset Butterfly

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Most effects are not complicated. Rather. they combine multiple settings to create something cool.

A composite of a butterfly, clear vase and a sunset, in Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

OK, I confess. I didn’t plan this effect, I just kept asking “What happens if I do this?” … and I ended up with this sunset butterfly.

Here’s what I did. In the same group in Motion combine:

  • Library > Content > Images > Folio > Clear Vase 01
  • Library > Content > Particle Images > Butterfly

Make sure the vase is on top then select the Clear Vase:

  • Apply Inspector > Properties > Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Apply Filters > Color > Gradient Color. Then set the gradient to Burnt Ember from the “rectangles” icon to the right of the gradient itself.

Adjust the size and angle of the butterfly so it looks good to you.



Apply Filters > Color > Levels to the butterfly and adjust it, again, so it looks “right” to you.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1019: Effects Playground: Circle

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Circle filter converts any image – still or moving – into a series of circles.

Source image (left), then with the Stylize > Circle filter applied.

Topic $TipTopic

This week, I decided to explore some of the filters included with Apple Motion. This article looks at Filters > Stylize > Circle.

This converts an image – the more color variation the better – into a grid of circles. You can adjust the circle size, the amount of blur (falloff) and whether to invert them which shows the underlying grid.

For this image, I used:

  • Size: 147
  • Falloff: 0.22
  • Invert: Off
  • Mix: 100


You can animate this effect by setting keyframes for Mix (part of all filter settings in the Inspector) from 0 to 100.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1020: Effects Playground: Add Textures

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Stencil Luma provides the illusion of texture mapping in 3D – provided nothing moves.

A flower image “mapped” to the Spiral 3D object using Stencil Luma.

Topic $TipTopic

While we can’t apply textures to 3D objects in Motion, then move with the object, we can create the illusion of texture mapping, The problem is that we can’t track how the surface of a 3D object moves in Motion. But… if we don’t need an object to move – or move much – we can easily fake it.

  • Add a 3D object to the Layers panel. (A solid white one will work best.)
  • Below it, in the same group, put the texture you want to “map” to the surface.
  • Select the 3D object and choose Inspector > Properties > Blend mode: Stencil Luma.

This blends the background image into the foreground shape based upon grayscale values. I found Stencil Luma preserves the 3D effect of the shape better than Stencil Alpha.


Make this even more interesting:

  • Replace the lower image with a video or animated background and watch as it moves inside the shape.
  • SLOWLY rotate the group containing the 3D image. You can’t go far with this because you’ll lose the effect, but a small, slow spin – especially with moving video under it – should work fine.
  • Add a Stylize filter to the underlying image.

You get the idea – experiment!

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1031: TotalFX: NewBlueFX Effects Bundle

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

A new subscription bundle – 1,500 presets in 177 effects.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

Topic $TipTopic

Last week, NewBlueFX announced TotalFX – a collection of over 1,500 presets in 177 effects in 30 different products. This is a comprehensive suite of titling tools, transitions, filters and video editing plugins.

This includes Titler Pro 7 Ultimate, the “industry-standard in tiling software for video editors. Deliver exceptional production value with stunning 3D animated titles and motion graphics without sacrificing productivity. Titler Pro 7 integrates with all of today’s leading NLEs.”

Available via monthly, quarterly or annual subscription; or perpetual license. The annual subscription is $239 (US).

Here’s the link to learn more.