Media Composer Tips & Tricks

by kesakalaonu on January 28, 2015

Avid AppAdrenaline 300x300 Media Composer Tips & Tricks

Of the non linear editing systems I blog about, I rarely discuss Avid, unless I’m comparing it to other NLEs or highlighting new features in updated versions. I decided, that for this article, I want it to be Avid-centric with tips and tricks because there are a ton of them available. In fact, I can honestly say there are more tips for using Avid Media Composer than there are for other editing software. I’m going to highlight a few that stood out to me while using the program. Professionally, I’ve only used Avid about five times, and, in most situations, it was because it was a freelance job that required it. Currently, I don’t use it as much, but I have a lot of respect for those who do, considering it is used to edit major episodic television shows and Hollywood feature films. So, let’s learn some tips and tricks of using Media Composer.

Create Quick Transitions Bin

In this quick tutorial, Genius DV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how easy it is to create a bin for commonly used transitions. First, choose a transition of your liking and apply it to your edit point. If you want, you can customize it in the Effect Editor window. Next, navigate to the Bins tab and create a new bin called “Quick Transitions.” Make sure you type this out case sensitive or else this process won’t work. In the Effect Editor window, drag the custom transition into the Quick Transitions bin. With that in place, you can click on the Quick Transitions button, click on the drop down menu, and you’ll see you custom transition there.  I have to say that this is one feature I wish Premiere and FCPX had emulated. I know in Final Cut Pro 7 you could create favorites bin and put effects/transitions there, but to have a button able to call them up whenever you’d like would be a timesaver.

Batch Rendering Sequences on Export

render sequences export setting 259x300 Media Composer Tips & Tricks

This is a handy tip for those projects that have multiple sequences that need to be rendered. With the work I do for a living, multiple sequences are an every project occurrence. To batch render sequences on export in Media Composer, select all your sequences in their respective bin. Open the Export Settings window and select Quicktime Reference Movie. Click on the Render All Video Effects and hit OK. Now, all your sequences will be rendered in a small Quicktime file to check if things are correct or need to be fixed. You can create a preset out of this in the Export Settings window to save time in the future.

Mapping Editing Workspaces

In this informative tutorial, editing guru and Lynda.com instructor Ashley Kennedy breaks down how to map the Media Composer workspace to your needs. She shows us how to create a custom editing workspace, as well as a workspace for audio editing. Saving a timeline view is as simple as a click at the bottom of the timeline, clicking on Untitled, and choosing Save As. From there, you are presented with a dialog window where you can name your timeline view. She goes into detail explaining how managing the Settings tab can assist in workspaces you may use at various stages of the edit. In my opinion, this is a great video to reference for the times when you step away from Media Composer and forget how to manage workspaces effectively.

Overall, this is a small collection of tips and tricks you can find out about Media Composer. With their active forums and user groups across the internet, you can easily get more acquainted with Media Composer than most NLEs out there. In my opinion, it pays to know Media Composer if you have plans to edit episodic television or major feature films. It is still the dominant editing platform when it comes to delivering those type of projects, and for good reason.

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Text Styles & Animations in AE

by kesakalaonu on January 22, 2015

after effects cs51 300x296 Text Styles & Animations in AE

One of the things that has me coming to After Effects quite often is its ability to handle text. Within this program, stylizing and animating text has infinite amount of possibilities. I can make text animate in intricate ways. No matter the situation, creating text in After Effects is one of the reasons it is an industry standard software. I want to highlight the animation capabilities of After Effects as well as break down layer styles which can help you create amazing styles.

Layer Styles Breakdown

In this quick tutorial, After Effects guru Evan Abrams breaks down how layer styles work in After Effects. Similar to Photoshop, layer styles allow you to add shadows, gradients, strokes, and more. Evan explains each layer style briefly while giving a real world explanation of how it would be practical to your workflow. One of the things I like about using layer styles over filters is the ease of use with gradients on text. A lot of times, it can be a painstaking process to get gradients inside of text, so using the Gradient Overlay layer style makes it much easier. I believe this tutorial breaks down layer styles in a way that a new or seasoned user can grasp quickly.

Create Multi-Color Gradients

In this quick tutorial, Creative Congo shows us how to create multi-color gradients using layer styles and the gradient ramp filter. First, he creates the background using a solid layer and the Gradient Overlay layer style. Next, he uses multiple text layers with varying layer styles to get the look he wants. He also breaks down the shortcomings of using the Gradient Ramp filter. Moving the text layer messes with the gradient’s location, whereas using Gradient Overlay moves with the layer. Overall, this is a solid tutorial to get a unique look you can use on any project.

Understanding Text Animators

In this wonderful and in depth tutorial, Joey Korenman breaks down the intricacies of creating text animations in After Effects. Going step by step, he shows us how to create some complex animations which we can use for fun or profit. The first animation he shows us involves making your text bounce like a wave or ball. The next text animation he shows is making your text glitch out which is very popular in promos and trailers. The final animation involves making your text appear and slide from the side; which I have used a few times in my work. Overall, this is a must see tutorial for any After Effects user who wants to get a better handle on creating and customizing text animation. I highly recommend it.

Falling Kinetic Text

In this quick tutorial, Rendaa Studios shows us how to create a kinetic type animation using text animating parameters and expressions. Using text animating parameters like position, scale, and rotation, we are able to create a commonly seen kinetic animation which we could use in our workflow. Kinetic typography can be a daunting task when you first try it, and they are many ways to create the look you are looking for. I like this particular tutorial for its length of time and step by step explanation.

Here are a few videos outlining how layer styles and animations can work in your favor when using text layers in After Effects. In many projects I do, I find creating a unique text look and animation can be as time consuming as finding the perfect music track for your project. Knowing how to manipulating a layer style and text animations can definitely speed up the workflow. I recommend you watch these videos to master text layers in After Effects.

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Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects – Part 2

by Garrett Fallin on January 14, 2015

interview icon 410x307 Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects   Part 2

 

Visual Effects, VFX for short, is a big ocean and covers numerous jobs. Last time, in part 1, I explored several roles including previs artists, data wranglers, research & development, math moving, compositing, roto/paint artists, and technical directors. Each plays a smaller part towards a larger goal. I’m here to help make sense of all those roles to give you a better informed decision if you plan to heading into VFX, or at the very least, offer some clarification to some of those more obscure sounding roles. So with that, let’s start with the fur groomer!

*Take Note* Each role header is a link that leads to a related creative reel or article going more in depth on the material. Enjoy!

Fur Groomer

This title kind of makes me giggle whenever I read it, but actually this name is quite apt given their role. A grooming VFX artist is the person who specifically focuses on fur, hair, and feathers. Designing them in 3D, controlling how they move throughout the elements, and all other physical parameters surrounding those points. Most grooming artists are well versed in Maya and similar 3D modeling and shading programs.

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Modeler

This artist, as you might have guessed, is the person who creates the 3D models of people, creatures, etc. using various 3D modeling software such as Maya, Cinema 4D, or 3DS Max.

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Environment Artist

Similar to the Modeler (and most modelers market themselves also as environment artists), this artist develops the digital 3D landscapes found in some CG films, TV shows, and video games.

Texture Artist

As the title sounds, this artist creates the textures that go on the 3D models and environments. This can be anything from human skin, scales, cobblestone roads, or a brick and mortar castle exterior.

Matte Painter

A matte painter creates digital paintings of a landscape or set and is then composited into the background, giving the illusion of an environment that did not exist at the time of filming. Sometimes, the scene could have been shot in a green screen room, and an environment artist could develop the 3D foreground. Then a matte painter would create the 2D painting composited in the background. Sometimes, instead of flying to Paris for that one shot, a matte painter will develop a French landscape that is then composited into the background of a live action shot giving the illusion the actors are sitting at a café in Paris with the Eiffel Tower perfectly positioned in the background.

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Rigger

The rigger then takes the 3D model created by the modeler and creates the skeleton – the physical structure, joints, flexibility, range of motion, etc. – that defines how the model moves and interacts with its world.

Animator

The animator then takes the rigged model and breathes life into the object by moving it around as required for the specific scene. This can be anything from walking, talking, blinking, breathing, pointing, or any number of specific movements and actions. It is not uncommon to have a team of several animators working on a single model to create the most realistic motion.

Motion Capture

Aside from an animator, motion capture is another process to breath life into a rigged model. This process is a bit more physical as a performer wears a motion capture suit that is covered in marker points that correspond with similar marker points on the models rig. Therefore, when a motion capture artist moves their arm in real time, the model moves its arm. This method has been gaining popularity over the last decade with memorable performances from actors like Andy Serkis playing the role of Golem in Lord of the Rings.

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Visual Effects Supervisor & Coordinator

Visual Effects Supervisors work directly with the director on and off the set to ensure planning and execution of the final image is achieved. The coordinator works directly under the supervisor and makes sure the artists work smoothly and coherently with the same vision the director and supervisor are working towards. For instance, the supervisor works with the director to create the physical space with all the correct markers and camera movements to have a dragon destroy a village. The supervisor then has the coordinator coordinate the team of artists to execute that vision (environment artist creates the town, matte painter designs background, modeler designs dragon, texture artist designs the scales, rigger builds the dragons skeleton, etc. etc. …).

I hope this post has helped educate you on some of the most crucial roles in the big machine that is visual effects. Each role is a small cog in a much larger working device – each equally important and necessary to reach the final goal. If you have any questions or comments about any of the roles I mentioned, or if I’ve forgotten a role you wanted to learn more about, then leave a comment below!

Royalty Free Music Orange 468 60 Yellow Dress zps3d728d61 410x52 Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects   Part 2

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Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects – Part 1

by Garrett Fallin on January 9, 2015

interview icon 410x307 Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects   Part 1

Visual Effects, VFX for short, is a big ocean and covers numerous jobs. I am here to help make sense out of the plethora of names and titles out there so you can make a more informed decision as to what avenue you would want to explore as a visual effects artist. At the very least, maybe I can explain some of those weird credits you see scrolling at the end of the movies that make you say, “Data Wrangler?! Is a cowboy hog tying numbers on a movie set?!”

*Take Note* Each role header is a link that leads to a related creative reel or article going more in depth on the material. Enjoy!

Previs Artist

Previs is short for previsualization – this artist will work collaboratively with a team to develop the director’s image for specific physical or digital shots. These are taken from the script and recreated digitally as a quick rough animation. It is no mystery that movies cost money – and tons of it! By spending a small percentage of your budget on developing previs shots of key moments in the film in order to figure out the logistics, you can potentially save yourself thousands – if not millions – come time for the shoot and you know exactly how every moving part goes together (camera, lighting, scenery, explosions, etc).

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Data Wrangler

Also known as a Data Loader. This person works with the camera crew, post production editors, and VFX team to ensure all camera information is accurately recorded and stored on multiple hard drives (never erase anything without at least two copies backed up first! Redundancy is key). This not only includes the raw data itself, but also settings, frame rates, etc, that would be essential for editors and VFX artists to match with their own work.

Research and Development

There are people on the VFX team that are dedicated solely to R&D. For example, a VFX artist needs to create a medieval village. These people will research everything about a shot and will provide necessary sample shots, textures, settings for basis, and anything else necessary for the artist to create an accurate depiction of what was requested of them.

Matchmoving

Also known as Camera Tracking. This is the process of producing a 3D digital camera that matches the exact movement of what a physical camera has shot. It is essential for the VFX artist’s work to fit in a particular shot when the camera is rotating, panning, and moving around. A digital element needs to match each of these movements in order to not float off into space.

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Compositor

A compositor takes all the digital effects, environments, video, and images and combines them into a final rendered image.

There are two types of compositing: node based and layered based. Node based creates a “node tree” where each branch links a new media file or effect. The most popular node based software currently is NUKE by The Foundry. Layer based compositing manages media files and effects through a stacking system – bottom layers are at the base and everything layered is built on top. The most popular layered based compositing software is Adobe’s After Effects.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 2.21.50 AM

Roto/Paint Artists

Rotoscoping is the process of creating a matte for an element that can later become composited into another background. For example, an actor might be shot on green screen, would need to be cleanly keyed out, and then sent to the compositor to be composited into a background shot. Sometimes, an actor may be wearing wires or some form of harness for a particular shot, and the artist would then need to go frame by frame and paint out those wires to seamlessly match the background. This role is generally looked at as an entry level position for aspiring compositors.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 2.22.46 AM

Technical Director

He is regarded as the department ‘expert.’ They are equal parts artist and programmer. In a film studio, this is commonly for camera, animation, and lighting. “But I thought the Director of Photography was the expert cameraman?” You are correct, however, this is about Visual Effects roles and so the Camera TD in VFX is for all digital cameras implemented in virtual and digital environments. This also applies for the Lighting TD who is the expert at digitally creating realistic and accurate lighting in any given scene. This can be an entirely digital scene or digital lighting can be composited – by a compositor – created by a lighting TD – into a physical scene.

Additionally, some TD’s can program new software implemented in pipeline flow specific to that studio (pipeline is the term referred to the flow in which a post production VFX shot is created), developing character rigs, or any number of detailed oriented technical tasks in the VFX world.

These are just a few roles in the sea of visual effects. If there is a specific VFX role you would like to see me explore next, leave a comment below!

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Quick Blemish Removal in After Effects CC

by Garrett Fallin on January 7, 2015

after effects cs51 410x405 Quick Blemish Removal in After Effects CC

Most people, including myself, have some sort of blemish, scar, or imperfection they wish they could keep from showing up on camera. After Effects CC has developed a new matte tracking process that makes removing unsightly blemishes a breeze. In this tutorial I will show you how to complete the effect in three simple steps.

–       Creating the Matte

–       Tracking the Matte

–       Removing the Blemish

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.31.08 PM

CREATING THE MATTE

To start, lets create a new composition with our footage and take a closer look at what needs to be retouched.

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In this clip I can see we need to do some blemish removal in the cheeks and along the jaw line. Additionally, if you notice near the right ear (stage left) there is a long stray hair we can also quickly take care of with this technique. For now, let’s focus on his right cheek (stage left).

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.00.00 PM

Essentially, the process is simple but time consuming. We need to focus on each blemish individually, and create a sample clean area that matches the blemished area to be superimposed and smoothed over on top to create a seamless appearance. To do that, first DUPLICATE THE SOURCE FOOTAGE. We will need to duplicate the source footage EACH AND EVERY TIME we need to create a new blemish cover. Then, create a mask that isolates the blemish and the extends out to take a sample of the clean surrounding area; just as this picture shows in detail.

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TRACKING THE MATTE

By isolating the blemish in the matte it creates a great tracking marker for the program to follow. Now, RIGHT CLICK on the matte and choose TRACK MASK.

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A window in the lower right will now appear with TRACKER CONTROLS

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The default method tracks position, scale, and rotation which will be fine for this example. Next to ANALYZE, select the forward arrow and allow After Effects CC to track the mask throughout the duration of the clip.

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In your timeline, this will create a series of keyframes tracking the mask to your subjects movement. It is important to have a perfect track in order to ensure the blemish cover moves along with the subject to create a seamless and clean appearance. If the track was unsuccessful, some helpful tips would include:

–       Analyze frame by frame and move the mask manually back on point when it loses its subject to ensure a locked track.

–       Start at the end of the timeline and analyze backwards (sometimes starting with a different point in time helps the computer algorithm lock on better and understand your point of focus).

REMOVING THE BLEMISH

Once you have a mask sampling a clean area of the skin and tracked that mask to the subjects face throughout the duration of the clip, it’s time to get rid of that blemish! Using the directional arrows on your keyboard, or clicking and dragging with your mouse, move the mask on top of the blemish area

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You are probably saying, “That just moved the blemish over with the mask! It didn’t fix anything!” – well – we’re not done yet. At this point, open up the mask tools by having the mask selected in your layer window and hit MM on your keyboard to open up the entire tool set.

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REDUCE the MASK EXPANSION so that the blemish sample disappears and you just have a small sample circle to use.

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INCREASE the MASK FEATHER to smooth out the sample’s circle edges, thusly blending it into the face, creating a smooth and clean finish that follows the face throughout the clip.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.24.42 PM

You now just successfully removed ONE blemish. Depending on your subject, you may have more to go. Just repeat the process as described as many times as necessary to create the final retouched image.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.31.23 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 12.31.08 PM

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