… for Visual Effects

Tip #1215: Create a Crash Zoom from Two Shots

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

A crash-zoom rapidly zooms from one shot to the next. Here’s how to do it in post.

A crash-zoom in action. (Image courtesy of PremiumBeat.com.)

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This article, written by Jason Boone, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

The crash (or snap) zoom is a cinematography technique you’ll see quite often in big-budget films. Quentin Tarantino frequently uses it to snap the viewer’s attention to specific items on screen, such as the tip of a shotgun or the blade of a Hattori Hanzo sword.

Here are the steps to create this effect in post using After Effects:

  • Step 1: Capture a WS and a CU
  • Step 2: Align the clips so the object centers match
  • Step 3: Animate the Crash Zoom
  • Step 4: Cover up the cut
  • Step 5: Add Camera Shake

The great thing about this technique is that you can quickly add motion graphics elements, as the Crash Zoom is already animated separate from the layers. To add an element, just parent it to the Crash Zoom and switch on the motion blur. Some anime speed lines might work nicely here as well.


The article includes step-by-step instructions, along with two demo videos.

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… for Visual Effects

Tip #1218: Free After Effects Courses from Adobe

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Simple steps to help build After Effects mastery.

After Effects composite (Image courtesy of Adobe, Inc.)

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Adobe has created a series of courses to help After Effects users become more proficient. These include:

  • After Effects Get Started
  • Understand Layers
  • Animating Essentials
  • Paint, Clone and Rotoscope Layers
  • Build and Animate Custom Shapes
  • Isolate and Remove Objects
  • Export from After Effects
  • Beginner Projects

And many more. Each runs 2 – 10 minutes and all are free.

Here’s the link.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1200: Filmic Pro Adds 10-bit Dolby Vision HDR

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Filmic Pro has become an iPhone movie-making standard.

Image courtesy of NoFilmSchool.com.

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

Filmic Pro is a versatile tool that is a must-download for any mobile filmmaker who wants more manual control over the native cameras found on smartphones. With v6.12.7 of the iOS app, it now supports 10-bit Dolby Vision HDR on the iPhone 12 series.

Whether you’re just starting out creating content or looking for a low-budget way to shoot your next short, FiLMiC Pro has the essential tools to help dial in your image. The intuitive app has options to adjust white balance, focus, exposure, resolution, frame rate, and even aspect ratio. Want to shoot 2.76:1 or 2.39:1? No problem, the app can do both.

If you’re looking for more advanced features, it has options for focus peaking, a histogram, zebra lines while supporting flat/Log gamma curves, anamorphic lenses (like the Blue Flare lens from Moment), gimbals from DJI, Movi, and Zhiyn, and Bluetooth microphones. You can even record using a clean HDMI output for livestreaming or to an external recorder. So, yeah, it’s versatile.

Dolby Vision is supported by Netflix, Amazon, and Apple iTunes, so it didn’t come as a big surprise when it was announced the iPhone 12 series supports it. The drawback to creating Dolby Vision HDR content is that you need a compatible display to watch it, so at the moment, not everyone is going to see your punchy blacks and sweet highlights. But at least as a creator you can start learning the benefits of HDR as an image pipeline.

The update is free to existing users. For new users, the app has a $15 price tag.


This article includes several videos showcasing Filmic Pro, along with a variety of supporting links.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1195: Create a Watermark That Moves

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Watermarks are like a footnote in a book – used as a reference, not as the subject.

A sample moving watermark in Motion – tucked into the lower-right corner near Title Safe.

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We first looked at watermarks, a logo that’s added to a compressed video, in Tip #1191. Here, I want to explain more about how to create a moving watermark in Motion.

Most watermarks are stationary – a logo that sits quietly in the corner of your video to identify the source. Stationary watermarks are easy to create in Photoshop. But, a moving watermark is more visually interesting and might fit the style of your video better.

  • Create a Motion project at the same size as the video to which you want to apply it. Motion creates all projects with an alpha channel, meaning that any part of the background that’s black is transparent.

NOTE: Apple Compressor allows you to scale the watermark to fit the source file, but this changes its size, position and resolution, which you may not want.

  • Add whatever text and animation you prefer (see screen shot). Don’t add drop shadows or fine detail, watermarks are designed to be semi-transparent. Go for clarity, readability and non-distracting colors.
  • Export the project as a movie, not as a Motion project.
  • Then, following the instructions in Tip #1191, combine it with your video using Apple Compressor.


Keep in mind that, while color is more interesting, be careful to pick colors that don’t clash too severely with your main movie.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1196: Replicators Can Use Multiple Shapes

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Replicators duplicate selected objects into geometric shapes, then animate them.

A group of elements, each with different color and movement, all replicated.

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Replicators are a great way to duplicate an element. What you may not know is that replicators can contain multiple elements.

To create a replicator, select it, then click the Replicate button in the top right section of the Motion interface.

Select the Replicator element in the Layers panel, then, adjust it using Inspector > Replicator. Basically, change something and watch what happens.

However, the key point is that a replicator is made from whatever you first select. If you create a group – as I did in this screen shot – then, select the group, all the elements in the group are then replicated.

Plus, each element in the source group can have its own style, position, color, and movement applied to it.

This makes replicators far more versatile than you might at first think.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1203: What is OFX?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

OFX: Improve interoperability, reduce support and development time.

The Open Effects Association logo.

Topic $TipTopic

OFX. Many visual effects tools reference this – but what is it?

The OFX Image Effect Plug-in API, is an open standard for 2D visual effects or compositing plug-ins. It allows plug-ins written to the standard to work on any application that supports the standard. It is widely used for visual effects and video processing and is supported by numerous hosts, including Assimilate, Blackmagic Design, Digital Anarchy, FXHOME, NewBlueFX, RE:Vision Effects and more.

Bruno Nicoletti of The Foundry created it in 2004. The OFX API was established because each developer had its own proprietary interface, so developers at different companies couldn’t work together or share code very easily. Developers had to create their own method of porting their plug-ins into each host, which, as you can imagine, can be expensive and time-consuming.

Out of this confusion, the Open Effects Association – and OFX – was born.

Here’s an article from ToolFarm with more details on which software supports it and what plug-ins are available.

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1191: Create Watermarks That Move

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Moving watermarks can be created in Motion, then added using Compressor.

Watermark effects settings (top) and the inserted watermark (bottom)

Topic $TipTopic

We are all used to video watermarks, those small images in the lower right corner of a video that identify the source of the video. But, did you know those watermarks can move? If you use the right watermark, it can.

In Motion, create a project the same size as the video it will be added to. Position the watermark at both the size and position you want. Remember this video will loop so be sure the first and last frame match.

Motion automatically creates motion graphics with alpha channels, which means it will key into any video perfectly.

NOTE: I generally set watermarks to sit right at the lower-right corner of Title Safe.

  • Add a video to Compressor, then apply a compression setting to the clip.
  • Select the compression setting, then scroll to the bottom of the Video Inspector.
  • In the Add Video Effects menu, select Watermark (top red arrow).
  • At the bottom of the Watermark effect, click the Select button (bottom red arrow) and select the moving watermark you just created in Motion.
  • At the top of the Watermark effect, change Position to Center. This matches the framing of the watermark to the video.
  • If the watermark and the video are created at different frame sizes, check Scale to Frame Size to get them to match.
  • Finally, because the video needs to loop for the duration of your video, click Repeat (video only) to create the loop.


Any application that creates video with an alpha channel can be used to create moving watermarks.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1183: Make a Film Using Zoom

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Remember, Zoom is both a technology and a character in your film.

Image courtesy of Paula Goldberg & PremiumBeat.

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This article, written by Paula Goldberg, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

Let’s explore the important elements you’ll need to know to make a successful short film using Zoom technology.

  • Storytelling. The platform might be unusual, but the content demands remain the same. You can’t fix an idea in post. Everything starts with the material. With any short film, you’re looking for a simple plot and complex characters, a compelling conflict, and a surprising, but truthful, resolution. The extra consideration with Zoom is that action will be limited, and your screenplay will be dialogue driven.
  • Casting. Don’t cast your roommate. Good actors want to work on good material. If your script is gripping and your artistic vision clear, chances are you’ll find actors willing to do your project. So much can be forgiven technically, but a bad performance can kill any script.
  • Minimize the Tech. Built-in computer webcams are compact and so are their lenses. This sets a limit on the amount of light that they can capture—a problem especially for low-light conditions. External webcams provide better performance. Some even feature wide-angle lenses. They’ll also give your actor the ability to adjust resolution, frame rate, color, and brightness.
  • Preparation. Time is on your side and a spectacular return on your investment is to spend that time in pre-production. I’d approach it three ways: set/costume, filmmaking, storytelling. The most important part of the preparation is artistic. This is a very unnatural way for actors to work. You may want to suggest that they put a piece of paper over their own image on the screen. This will help them be less self-conscious—in no other medium is the actor able to view themselves while shooting. Once Sasha suggested that, both actors felt much more comfortable playing off each other.
  • Production. A perk about Zoom is that the director can record and watch each take live by muting their audio, disabling their video, and selecting “hide non-video participants.” When the video is processed, there will be no indication that anyone was present except the performers. You can pause between takes and discuss, then hide yourself again and resume another take.
  • Editing. If recording on Zoom, a [close-up] can be quite compelling, especially if the storytelling has numerous reveals and twists. It encourages multiple views to catch moments you didn’t get on the first view. However, don’t be afraid to edit. Most people are used to jump cuts and you have three angles you can use—a split screen two shot and the two singles. What will help the flow is if you cut on action, which can be as simple as a shift in seating position, interaction with a prop, or hand movements.

The article has a variety of technical tips and lots of screen shots, as the author follows her production from first idea through to editing. It is well worth reading.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1184: Music Videos, Point Clouds & LiDAR

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Sometimes, the greater the restrictions, the more inspired the creativity.

A detail from “Clove Cigarette,” courtesy of NoFilmSchool.com.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Colin Medley, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

The video for Andy Shauf’s song “Clove Cigarette” has received a fair amount of attention for its unusual visuals and complex workflow. The creators of an amazing new music video share their complex, imaginative process with Unreal Engine and photogrammetry.

This is the time of COVID-19. Colin Medley (co-diretor) said, “I remember our first meeting, we were sitting in your backyard and I think the first idea came from just being there and thinking, ‘Okay, what can we do safely?'”

Jared Raab (co-director): Tristan Zerafa is a good friend of mine who works as a visual effects supervisor on much higher budget operations. I asked him about the LiDAR scanning part of it and whether or not he would be interested in being involved, and he said, “For sure.” And like I said, you, Luca, were the original reason why I even thought we had a chance at pulling this off because of the amount of Kinect scans that you were doing.

Luca Tarantini (technical director): I’d been experimenting with Kinect scans and animation for a couple of years at that point, so I guess that’s what made you think of point clouds.

Jared: Yeah, but you brought up something much more interesting, which was the ability to use photogrammetry, which is the process of taking overlapping photographs of something and turning them into a 3D model.

See the results in their video “Clove Cigarette” here. And their discussion of how they created it is equally fascinating.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #1177: First Look: The New Motion

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Everything you know about Motion still applies – but with bugs fixed and Apple silicon support.

The new icons in the Motion Project Browser.

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The most important note about this update is that it can be installed on macOS Catalina. The operation of Apple Motion remains pretty much the same, aside from supporting Apple silicon and Big Sur – which is quite a lot, actually.

Still, the Project Browser has a new look (see screen shot). As well, here’s what I noticed during a quick look-around the v5.5 interface:

  • Lots of new backgrounds – Goo, Lab Wall, Misty Light – while some of the more egregious backgrounds have disappeared.
  • The number of behaviors and filters seem to be the same.
  • It seems like there are more shape styles, but most of the rest of the content in the Library is the same.

The interface seems pretty much untouched. No new buttons, or major changes to the look of the application that I spotted on this first look.

Everything we already know still applies – except with more speed, Big Sur support and that exciting step into the future: Apple silicon.