… for Visual Effects

Tip #785: A Good Green-screen Tutorial

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Quality green screen keys focus on lighting, background and separation.

Image from B&H green-screen video.

Topic $TipTopic

As this video tutorial makes clear, the worst thing you can say on set about a green-screen effect is: “We’ll fix it in post.” As this video tutorial from B&H makes clear, by the time you get a green-screen to post, it is often too late.

This video tutorial illustrates key concepts to improve the quality of green-screen work on set; from lighting to background to staging. While the entire video is filled with tips – and only runs about three minutes – the most useful are examples to help you pay attention to your lighting.

Here’s the link to watch.

Please rate the helpfulness of this tip.

Click on a star to rate it!

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #781: What is Debayering?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Virtually all cameras only record partial images. Debayering is required to make them whole.

A camera sensor Bayer pattern (Image by en:User:Cburnett – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Topic $TipTopic

Debayering, or demosaicing, is a digital image process that reconstructs a complete image from the incomplete color samples recorded by virtually every video camera.

In this screen shot, notice that the camera records twice as many green pixels as either red or blue.

Wikipedia writes: Most modern digital cameras acquire images using a single image sensor overlaid with a color filter array (CFA). This has alternating red (R) and green (G) filters for odd rows and alternating green (G) and blue (B) filters for even rows. There are twice as many green filters as red or blue ones, catering to the human eye’s higher sensitivity to green light.

Since each pixel of the sensor is behind a color filter, the output is an array of pixel values, each indicating a raw intensity of one of the three filter colors. (The camera sensor itself only captures luminance data.) Thus, an algorithm is needed to estimate for each pixel the color levels for all color components, rather than a single component. Demosaicing is part of the processing required to render these grayscale images into a viewable image.


Many modern digital cameras can also save images in a raw format allowing the user to demosaic them using software, rather than using the camera’s built-in firmware.

Here’s a Wikipedia article to learn more.

… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #765: Customize Your Timeline

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

This control only affects the timeline display, it doesn’t change any clips.

The Clip Appearance button in the top-right corner of the Timeline.

Topic $TipTopic

Final Cut offers several ways to customize the look of the timeline. Over in the top right corner of the timeline is an icon that looks like a film strip. This is the Clip Appearance button. This provides a variety of controls over how the timeline looks in Final Cut Pro X.

  • The top slider zooms into or out of the timeline. (For me, it is faster to use keyboard shortcuts: Cmd + [plus], Cmd + [minus], and Cmd + Z.)
  • The six icons on the second row determine the ratio of waveform to image. Far left is waveform audio only, second from the right is image only. The far right icon reduces the height of all tracks to thinner lines so you can see the overall organization of your project.
  • The slider on the third row determines the height of all clips.

The four checkboxes at the bottom enable the display of:

  • Clip names.
  • Multicam camera angle names.
  • Clip Role names.
  • Lane Headers. These only apply when you are displaying Roles.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #762: How Lens Focal Length Affects a Video Image

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Too wide and too tight are both poor choices for lens angle.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Mike Wilkinson, first appeared in fstoppers.com. This is an excerpt.

We can learn a lot from studying what happens to an image at different focal lengths. Here, I’ll discuss the visual effects created when choosing a wide versus telephoto lens for documentary-style interview productions.

While using wide-angle lenses can be helpful when working in tight spaces, especially when filming B-roll for a project, rarely are they an ideal choice for capturing interviews.

With a focal length of less than 28mm, not only will you have to stand very close to the subject, but if the subject approaches the edges of the frame, it’s quite possible that barrel distortion or keystoning may happen to parts of their body. Facial features can become exaggerated, and that’s usually not desirable.

Another byproduct of using wide-angle lenses is how much more apparent the background becomes. It can appear further away, and your viewer will be able to see much more of the surrounding location

Focal lengths between 35mm and 50mm can be a “safer” choice when you still want to include some of the background, or don’t have a large space to work in.

My go-to choice for most documentary style interviews is usually between the range of 70mm and 110mm, depending on the space and how much background I want to show.

I find that for a 2-camera interview shoot, my lens kit will include a 24-70, 70-200, and an 85mm prime. These lenses should provide me with all of the options I need for both a medium shot and a closeup.


The article includes more lens detail, as well as photos illustrating the author’s production process.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #750: What Are Simulation Behaviors?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Simulation behaviors are very simple ways to create complex motion.

The Simulation Behavior submenu in Apple Motion.

Topic $TipTopic

The following text is from the Apple Motion Help files.

Simulation behaviors perform one of two tasks. Some Simulation behaviors, such as Gravity, animate the parameters of an object in a way that simulates a real-world phenomenon. Other Simulation behaviors, such as Attractor and Repel, affect the parameters of objects surrounding the object to which they’re applied. These behaviors allow you to create sophisticated interactions among multiple objects in your project with minimal adjustments. Like the Basic Motion behaviors, Simulation behaviors also affect specific object parameters. Examples include Attractor, Gravity, and Repel.

Important: Several Simulation behavior parameters contain object wells into which you drag target objects used as attractors, repellers, orbiters, and so on. Dragging an object to a well can be tricky—be sure to drag the object name (or thumbnail) from the Layers list to the object well in the Inspector without releasing the mouse button until the pointer is over the object well. If you click the object in the Layers list and release the mouse button, that behavior object is deselected its parameters are no longer displayed in the Inspector. This applies to all object wells, including mask source wells and image wells.

… for Apple Motion

Tip #752: 3 Highly-Intriguing Simulation Behaviors

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

These behaviors have lots of uses – and are fun to play with.

Orbit Around and Align to Motion behaviors applied to the arrow.

Topic $TipTopic

Here are three behaviors that are fun to play with – and useful at the same time. (This text is from the Apple Motion Help files.)

  • Align to Motion. This changes the rotation of an object to match changes made to its direction along an animation path. This behavior is meant to be combined with Simulation behaviors that animate the position of an object or with a keyframed animation path you create yourself. Unlike the Snap Alignment to Motion behavior, which produces absolute changes in rotation that precisely match changes in direction, Align to Motion has a springy reaction and creates a more lively effect.

NOTE: The Align to Motion behavior does not work on objects animated using the Motion Path behavior. Instead, use the Snap Alignment to Motion behavior (in the Basic Motion subcategory).

  • Orbit Around. This causes the affected object to circle around a designated target. Similar to the Attracted To behavior, the Orbit Around behavior’s default parameter settings give the object sufficient initial velocity to orbit around another object in a perfect circle.
  • Repel. This pushes objects away from the affected object. If you apply the Repel behavior to an object, that object pushes away all other objects within the area of influence in the canvas. The strength with which objects are pushed away can be increased or decreased, as can the distance repelled objects travel. I find this simulation works really well flying an object through a field of particles, pushing the particles away from the object.

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #742: The Best Advice to Keep Your Cool

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Don’t argue – just address the note.

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Todd Blankenship, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is an excerpt.

NOTE: This is an OUTSTANDING article on dealing with clients. Click the link above to read all of it.

It’s funny how a simple conversation can change everything. A colleague or a friend says something that just sticks. You probably don’t realize the power of the moment while you’re in the moment, but then, even years later, their words pop into your head when you’re driving or working or in the shower.

I was working on a project with a producer from L.A. who had produced a ton of actual television shows. He had definitely earned the right to tell me what to do. Alas, the young and obnoxious creative that I was at the time, I argued with him. I didn’t want to make his changes. I thought my ideas were the only possible way things should go. I thought his input would absolutely ruin the project. It was the wrong call.

I pleaded my case. I explained to him why his ideas wouldn’t work and how my way was the better way. Instead of firing me on the spot, he said three simple words: “Address the note.”

I stared at him, wondering what he meant. He continued:

Just address the note — that’s all you need to do. You don’t have to do it exactly as I said it, just make me happy. I’m not a cinematographer, I’m a producer — you’ll know better what to do, specifically. My specific way may not be the best, but now you know something that’s bothering me as a producer and all you gotta do is find a way to address it and make me happy. Just address the note.


… for Apple Motion

Tip #722: Apple Motion: The Move Behavior

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

The Move behavior moves an element to or from a target.

The green arrow is moving toward the target, which was placed inside the blue ball.

Topic $TipTopic

The Move behavior (Basic Motion > Move) moves a selected element to or from a target. This is a really easy way to create directed movement. Here’s how it works.

The Move behavior provides more control than a Throw, but less than a Motion Path.

  • Select a layer in the Layers panel.
  • Choose Behavior > Basic Motion > Move
  • Position the playhead at the start of the effect
  • Drag the element to its starting position
  • Drag the target (white circle) where you want the element to move

When you play the project, the selected object (green arrow, in my example) moves in a straight line to or from the target.

NOTE: You can’t add curves to the Move behavior.


Select the Move behavior. In the Inspector, you can change the direction of the movement (To or From), as well as the acceleration.

… for Visual Effects

Tip #728: Improve Landscapes with Gradients

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Apply the Overlay blend mode to a B&W gradient to add magic to exteriors.

Clockwise from top left: Source, blend mode, gradient, finished image.

Topic $TipTopic

This trick was invented by Ansel Adams almost 100 years ago; when used with a lens, it’s called a “grad filter.” You can use it yourself to improve exterior shots. Here’s how.

  • Using Photoshop, or the NLE of your choice, create a smooth gradient the same frame size as your project, shading from black, at the top, to white, at the bottom.
  • Stack it on top of an image.
  • Apply the Overlay blend mode to the gradient.


NOTE: Vary the results by adjusting the width of the transition between the two colors, as well as rotating the angle of the transition.

Note how the darker portions of the gradient emphasize the texture and color of the clouds. While the lighter portions of the gradient highlight the foreground.

The overlay blend mode alters highlights and shadows, but not midtones, which is why the middle of the image looks the same in both shots.

This is a powerful effect that I use frequently.

… for Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Tip #736: Auto Save Secrets

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Auto Save Preferences in Adobe Premiere Pro 2020.

Topic $TipTopic

Auto Save makes backups of your projects. But, what do all the Auto Save preference settings do?

  • Automatically Save Projects. By default, Premiere Pro automatically saves your project every 15 minutes and retains the last five versions of the project file on the hard disk.

    You can revert to a previously saved version at any time. Archiving many iterations of a project consumes relatively little disk space because project files are much smaller than source video files. It’s best to save project files to the same drive as your application. Archived files are saved in the Premiere Pro Auto-Save folder.

  • Maximum Project Versions. Enter the number of versions of a project file you want to save. For example, if you type 10, Premiere Pro saves the ten most recent versions.

NOTE: When you specify auto-save to occur at regular intervals, Premiere Pro auto-saves a project on detecting changes to the project file. The auto-save occurs irrespective of whether you manually save the changes to the project or not. Earlier, Premiere Pro would not execute auto-save if you manually saved within the interval setting. If the system goes idle for a period beyond the interval setting, Premiere Pro forces an auto-save.

  • Save Backup Project To Creative Cloud. To let Premiere Pro auto-save your projects directly to your Creative Cloud-based storage, select this preference.

    When Premiere Pro auto-saves a project, a directory named “auto-save” is created in your Creative Cloud online storage. All the backed-up projects are stored in the “auto-save” directory.

    You can access your backed-up projects from the Files tab of your Creative Cloud desktop application.

  • Auto Save also saves the current project(s). When this setting is enabled, Auto Save creates an archived copy of your current projects, but also saves the current working project. This setting is off by default.

    Auto saved versions have a suffix with the date and time it was saved (yy-mm-dd-hh-mm-ss) appended to the project name (for example, ProjectName-2018-08-31_09-53-41.prproj).

    When an auto save occurs, Premiere Pro creates a new backup project file and adds it to the auto-save folder as an emergency project backup. This file is always the latest saved version of that project. Here are some of the characteristics of the emergency back project file:

    • The backup file has the same name as the project, it does not have any suffix.
    • Premiere Pro produces only one emergency backup file per project, and it is overwritten at each Auto Save interval and when you save the current project.