… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1710: Tips to Avoid Filmmaker Burn-out

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Burn-out is real – but you can take steps to avoid it.

Image courtesy of Luis Quintero, of Pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jourdan Aldredge, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

For those who have worked in film and video for an extended amount of time, eventually you’ll hit some roadblocks. Work will occasionally dry up, clients will have unreasonable deadlines and demands, and you’ll face problems that don’t always have a simple solution.

I’ve seen more than a few fellow filmmakers and video professionals drop out of the industry altogether. However, while you’ll never completely avoid feeling tired or dragged down from time to time, there are options and resources out there to help you battle burnout.

Always Be Working on a Passion Project. I don’t think I’ve met a single person working in film and video who’s simply doing it for the money. That’s why it’s important to always be working on a passion project. You don’t have to schedule shoots every weekend for your feature film, but try to stay in touch with what got you into film and video in the first place.

Vary Types of Projects. Try to find ways to vary the types of projects you work on. Logically, focusing on one type of work can be helpful for building clientele and increasing your rates and income. But, don’t let it completely burn you out!

Get Connected with a Community. Another helpful way to battle burnout is by simply connecting with a solid film or video community. They can also help you build out your own network for finding more work and other projects to collaborate on.

Experiment with New Technologies. If there’s one consistent theme in the film and video industry, it’s that there’s always going to be new cameras, drones, rigs, or gear to check out.

Keep up with Online Resources.

EXTRA CREDIT

The article contains links to more resources, and more details on how to avoid burnout in your life.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1711: NBC Announces 7,000 Hours of Olympics

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

7,000 hours of coverage, 5,500 hours of streaming.

Olympics logo courtesy of NBCUniversal.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Jon Lafayette, first appeared in NextTV.com. This is an excerpt.

NBCUniversal said it will have 7,000 hours of coverage of the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The Tokyo games will include 5,550 hours of streaming, including all sports and medal events

The Olympics will appear on NBCU’s broadcast and cable networks, its digital platforms including Peacock and Telemundo Deportes. NBCU cable networks USA, CNBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel and Golf Channel will present more than 1,300 hours of Tokyo Olympic coverage. USA’s coverage starts with the USA playing Sweden in soccer.

An NBC Sports spokesperson said the organization has been doing remote production for many Games and already planned for a very significant home operation for Tokyo. “After requests by the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee for everyone to reduce their footprint, we moved 300 additional workers home and will now have 1,600 in Tokyo,” the spokesperson said. Asked what impact diminished live attendance might have, the spokesperson said “as we have seen over the past year, coverage of sporting events can be very successful even with reduced capacities.”

Read the full article here.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1712: Tips on Restarting Production

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

An in-depth interview with cinematographer Ben Richardson.

Ben Richardson on the set of “Mare of Easttown.”

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This article, written by Matt Mulcahey, first appeared in FilmmakerMagazine.com. This is an excerpt.

With the entire season of “Mare of Easttown” now available on HBO Max, cinematographer Ben Richardson talks the difficulties of a six-month COVID-19 pause, the benefits of Leitz Summilux lenses and his tricks for assigning the right level of suspicion to your red herrings.

Filmmaker: Were the scripts for all seven episodes of the series completely finished when you started shooting?

Richardson: Yes. This was a somewhat unusual scenario in that we didn’t actually start shooting with the first episode. Instead, we cross-boarded the entire season, visiting many locations only once (and shooting every scene there) for all seven episodes. Because there was a single DP and a single director, there wasn’t any need to go in strict episode order. To make the logistics work with actor availability and some of the locations that were featured throughout the whole show, it made sense to block shoot everything.

Filmmaker: That plan makes a lot of sense, but it definitely complicated matters when you had to shut down halfway through the shoot because of COVID. When you went back to finish, now you still had scenes from all seven episodes to shoot.

Richardson: The challenge was that we had set out to make something not only scheduled more like a movie but also with that same sort of scale, which is something I think the story demanded. The real challenge was maintaining that scale we’d been able to establish while working within the new restrictions that COVID required.

Filmmaker: The interiors and exteriors really blend seamlessly. How much of this was shot on stage versus practical locations?

Richardson: I think it’s probably about 50/50. Though the exterior is real, the interior of Mare’s house is a build. Actually, the little stairwell [next to the split-level home’s front door] was duplicated on stage to match the one in the real exterior location, so we were able to do stairwell scenes looking out the real location’s front door to get the background, then do the reverses on the set build. Frank and Faye’s was entirely practical. Lori’s was entirely practical. It was a real hybrid and that ends up being a little bit challenging in a fun way, because there are some logistical differences between shooting location interiors versus stage interiors. You don’t want the stuff done on stage to feel much more controlled or contrived compared to the location stuff, which may have a few more rough edges. But I like the rough edges, so I’m always looking for ways to break the lighting a little bit and make it imperfect on stage.

Filmmaker: The only handheld shot I remember in the show is the episode six flashback to the suicide of Mare’s son, which tracks from outside to inside her house.

Richardson: That shot actually ended being quite a complex thing to pull off, because it’s two shots stitched together between the location and the stage set, and also there’s a speed ramp at the end. It became a very interesting technical challenge to be able to marry those shots in a way that, hopefully, nobody will ever notice and I think we pulled that off pretty well.

EXTRA CREDIT

The interview goes into much more detail. Read the full version here.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1709: Being Queer in… Motion Design

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Stories of the queer experience in the creative industries.

Image courtesy of Motionographer.com.

Topic $TipTopic

Motionographer has created a new series: “Being Queer in…” They have “hand-selected some incredible people to tell their stories and give us candid accounts of the queer experience in the creative industries. Being Queer in… is inspiring, raw, and dripping with authenticity.” (This is an excerpt.)

NOTE: Here’s the link.

For our first article, we spotlight the queer experience in Motion Design. To help us, we’ve enlisted Ed Kevill-Davies, Senior Motion Graphics Artist at Coffee and TV. Ed shares his journey giving us a window into the life of a gay man navigating his way through the industry.

You can file this one under “essential reading.”


I came out as gay in the mid-noughties at the age of 22. It’s funny, within my queer friendship group, we joke that at some point or another, whether on a date, or outside a club, or at a dinner, we’ll always find an opportunity to share our “coming out stories.” To those of us in the queer community, they are recollections of the moment we changed our lives forever, when we took a leap into the terrifying unknown, regardless of what the consequences might be. Will my family reject me? Will the people I love stop loving me? Will I fit in? How will it affect my career?

My coming out story certainly isn’t a best-seller – I did it in a restaurant with my parents. Strangely, I had met the waiter the night before on a dance floor in Soho, so I took that as a sign. I knew I was ready, but I was still terrified.

My mum cried (a lot) but was ultimately happy for me. My dad was supportive but found it hard to talk to me for a while. My friends were great, truly great, but their experience of the gay community was limited, so I went on a journey to find some answers that might help me navigate this new life for myself. I became very good at going to clubs on my own and making friends with people. It was exciting, and it was scary.

Around this time, I discovered another thing that was to become a huge part of my identity: Motion Design.

Read the rest here.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1708: More Efficient Invisible Effects

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

As effects become more invisible, new tools are needed.

Content-aware fill in Adobe After Effects.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Trevor Hogg, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is an excerpt.

Despite the ability to create fantastical worlds and creature digitally, the majority of the work for the visual effects industry is focused on making unnoticeable alterations, whether painting out rigging, extending sets and locations, or doing face replacements for stunt doubles. Leading the we in creating the tools and technology to create and execute these invisible effects are software companies Autodesk, Adobe, Foundry and SideFX, along with Epic Games and Cinefade.

Where the technology has evolved most recently is with in-camera visual effects. “It’s a process that is changing the future of all visual effects,” notes David Morin, Industry Manager for Media & Entertainment at Epic Games. “With in-camera visual effects, the greenscreen is replaced with LED displays on set while shooting live-action elements. This can enable in-camera capture of both practical and digital elements, giving the director and cinematographer more access to the final look of a scene earlier than ever before. This is an important step forward for invisible effects.”

“I look at machine learning as the assistant you wish you could hire rather than the thing that is going to replace you. We don’t want to replace people with robots,” said Victoria Nece, Senior Product Manager, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects, Adobe

“Creating invisible effects has always been much of the ‘bread and butter’ of Foundry tools, including Nuke, Katana, Mari, and even in the early days of Foundry’s Furnace toolset for rig removal and clean-up tasks,” states Christy Anzelmo, Senior Director of Product at Foundry. “Nuke’s underlying ethos is to give the artist technical and creative control of what is happening in their shot to achieve those high-quality results.”

EXTRA CREDIT

The article includes a variety of interviews from leading softare developers, along with production stills showing the process in action.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1689: Frame.io Announces v3.7.1 – Boosts Premiere Pro

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Frame.io beefs up its support for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Adobe Premiere Pro running the new Frame.io extension (courtesy of Frame.io).

Topic $TipTopic

Last week, Frame.io announced version 3.7.1. This update features new Adobe integration extensions along with dozens of other performance improvements and enhancements that customers have asked for.

Frame.io 3.7.1 includes redesigned Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects extensions with intuitive new user interfaces. Editors and motion graphics artists will find the most commonly used controls and commands at their fingertips. Navigation controls have been moved from the bottom of the screen to the top, giving customers a larger and clearer view of assets. Switching between projects and teams has been streamlined, file path breadcrumbs have been added, and the download button now lets you import media directly into Premiere Pro or download it for later review. It’s also easier to upload active sequences into Frame.io, so sharing the latest version of a cut is faster than ever.

The new Adobe extensions are free for all Frame.io users and are available for download in the Adobe Creative Cloud Marketplace.

Frame.io 3.7.1 also adds a resizable navigation panel to the web app. Simply click and drag to show additional folders and text, or shrink it to leave more room for assets. New shortcut menus let customers quickly move assets up one folder, making it even faster to reorganize clips. Files can now be uploaded directly from Google Drive on iOS devices. This makes it easier for customers to add assets, no matter where they are.

Here’s a link to learn more.


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… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1690: Lights are Getting Smaller – And That’s Great!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Advances in technology offer new options and expanded usage.

Aputure MC-4 Kit (Image credit: Julia Swain)

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Julia Swain, first appeared in TVTech.com. This is a summary.

There are so many reasons why the use of larger lighting sources is preferred a lot of the time on set. The ability to cut, soften and shape a larger source tends to be much easier than a smaller one. Output is not lost as quickly as from a smaller source and these bigger lights can be used to cover a large surface area and create ambience. I have written on the versatility of smaller sources before, but technology is advancing so quickly that new options have since become available and the ways to use them have expanded.

Popular small lights that have held up include ARRI’s AX5 smaller fresnels and the Dedolight. Small tungsten units such as these for uplights or as extensions of practicals that already exist in the frame are so useful.

Other small units are panels such as Aputure’s MC-4, which can act as a replacement for a bulb in some instances. Like the AX5, the battery-powered MC-4 can be controlled via an app.

Using a large source is great but it becomes a bit of a “grip jungle”—so many stands and flags and diffusion have to surround a large source in order to focus it on a subject. Sometimes it is appropriate to downsize your key, and in my experience it’s usually when you don’t have much space.

If you have your subject close to walls or other elements in space that light would spill onto, key with something smaller.

A popular lighting approach right now is one that is minimal. Smaller units play into more specificity. When we think minimal, it’s just a couple large sources doing all the work for a space. The use of smaller lights lends itself to adding interest in the frame and creating separation.

EXTRA CREDIT

The author provides practical examples from her lighting experience, which makes the entire article worth reading.

Here’s link.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1692: 61 Seconds of Beautiful Nonsense

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Let’s be humorous and dance with the fruits!!

Composite image from “Fruitless,” from Yeti Pictures.

Topic $TipTopic

Fruitless, a 2020 Motion Awards Winner, is a 61-second short form project “exploring novel aesthetics, production methodologies and/or technologies.” In other words, it’s a bit weird.

DESCRIPTION

As the summer is getting closer, we felt the heat and changed our diet into a massive fruit daily attack. We are not used to pop colors and playful tastes, so it was a great challenge to stay disciplined on our new daily routine. This is the moment where we decide to have fun with our situation and try to see the bright side of it. Let’s be humorous and dance with the fruits!!

YETI Pictures handled the direction, design, animation and simulation duties, using Cinema 4D, Octane Render, XParticles, Realflow and TFD.

Watch it here.

EXTRA CREDIT

Motionographer.com is celebrating all the winners by displaying their work. Here’s the link.


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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1693: Top 15 After Effects Alternatives

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

After Effects is great, but not perfect. Here are some alternatives.

Image courtesy of Pexels.com.

Topic $TipTopic

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

After Effects is an amazingly powerful piece of software, but there are many reasons why you might want to look for an alternative; perhaps AE doesn’t suit your budget, or you can’t achieve what you want to within the program. There are many tools and plugins that can help increase After Effect’s capabilities, but there are also a lot of other programs you could use instead. In this guide, we’re going to talk you through 15 alternatives for Adobe After Effects and what might just make them better.

Here’s the list – and the article includes a video, pricing, supported platforms and best use examples for each of these software tools.

  1. Natron
  2. Blackmagic Fusion Studio 17
  3. Wondershare FilmoraPro
  4. Moovly
  5. Nuke
  6. HitFilm Express
  7. Apple Motion
  8. HitFilm Pro
  9. Sony Vegas Post Suite
  10. Blender
  11. Pixel Conduit
  12. Corel VideoStudio Pro X6
  13. PowerDirector
  14. Autodesk Smoke
  15. Wax

The second part of this article, linked above, provides recommendations on how to select the best alternative for the work you need to get done.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #1676: Create A New Library from an Event

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Transferring files does not affect the current project.

Every Event has a secret menu simplifying media handling.

Topic $TipTopic

Final Cut has a very useful utility that allows you to create new libraries from existing events. A good example of this might be an event in your documentary that contains all the drone footage (or other B-roll) from your current project that you want to offer for sale on stock footage websites.

Clearly, you don’t want to keep opening your documentary just to access B-roll footage. On the other hand, manually transferring all those clips is a pain.

Instead, let FCP transfer the footage, along with all keywords and other metadata, for you.

  • Control-click the name of the Event in the Library List.
  • Choose Copy Event to Library > New Libary.

Done.

NOTE: You can also use this technique to move media or projects from one library to another.

All the contents of that event, including media, projects and metadata, are copied to the new location. Because this is a copy, your current project is not altered.


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