Best Practices for Transitions

A Team NLE

Whether you are new to the art of editing or a seasoned professional, one thing about it that at times can be oversaturated are transitions. Transitions come in all sizes in shapes. From a simple cut to more stylized transitions, we have been exposed to them in one form or another. The core of editing any video or film should be the story. Transitions and effects are meant to enhance the story, not define it. However, if a transition is used in the right context ant the right time then you can make it work with your project. I’m going to go over some simple practices for commonly used transitions.

The Cut

The most used and effective transition there is. The cut works best in situations such as cutaways, scene/location changes and dialogue. For example, if you are cutting an interview segment and you hear a soundbite about a place or thing, it would be best to cut to a shot of said place or thing to keep the viewer interested and informed. The best part about the cut is that it can trim scenes down or manipulate the interpretation of a scene.

Also, the cut can be utilized in stylized way. It is one of the preferred transitions in montages and rap videos when you want to cut to the beat or flicker between multiple images.

The Cross Dissolve

The second most used transition in editing. The cross dissolve works best when you need a change in place and/or time. For example, if I were showing someone losing weight after beginning a diet and exercise routine, I would want to cut that down to show the weight loss progression. The best way to show those points would be to show them at their worst weight to their healthy weight by using cross dissolves between each significant moment. The cross dissolves would help to give the feeling of time passing.

Fade to White/Black

These transitions tend to serve three purposes: jump ahead in time, build suspense or start/end a video. Fade to White can typically be seen as a way to cover something up like a mistake or serve as visual cue that things have jumped ahead. It works similar in the way that cross dissolve works but hides progression by fading the screen to white for a determined duration. Fade to white has a few variants such as the flashframe transition, exposure flash and more. I typically use the fade to white when I need to jump ahead in interview segments in a stylized manner.

Fade to black can also be used in the same manner as fade to white but typically it’s used to build suspense or end a video. If you’ve ever watched promos or movie trailers, you will notice that fade to black has been used to build suspense with properly placed sound effects. Quick fades to black give the viewer the feeling that something unpredictable is on the horizon and help showcase prominent moments. This transition also signals a cue that a video is over or cutting to a different segment. Used incorrectly it can have a negative impact on your video.

“Bell & Whistle” Transitions

You’ve probably seen them or have been asked to use them. Everything from swish pans, lens flares, light leaks, mattes and more are what I would classify as bell and whistle transitions. They are nice to look at, but if used too often or incorrectly, they start to make your edit look tacky and show that your video lacks substance. In certain situations, your client may request you use a lot of these so be prepared. There is a place and time to use these types of transitions. In my experiences, I’ve used them in event highlights, music videos, sizzle reels, motion graphic toolkits, promos and entertainment interviews. Now, I can do fine using the 4 transitions mentioned previously. However, if I need to pump some life into an edit or add some energetic production value and those transitions are not enough, I will use a bell and whistle transition.

It’s best to use these transitions with a purpose as opposed to throwing it in because it looks cool. For example, sports game broadcasts, talk shows and reality competitions tend to have bell and whistle transitions when showing replays or cutting to commercials, segments and more. They have established these transitions work best when they need to cut to these parts of the show.

Another example of good use of these transitions are on shows from HGTV, Investigation Discovery and DIY TV. With the pacing and theme of shows from those networks, they find a way to use bell and whistle transitions to keep the viewer interested and not overdo it.

There’s an appropriate time and place for all transitions. Using them to enhance your story demonstrates your ability to edit wisely. I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you stay creative.

Royalty Free Music

Digital Rebellion Tools Review

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When I started my journey to becoming an editor, I wanted to know all the tools I would need to get the job done. I believed all I needed was a good computer, some software and footage to work with to do it. As I progressed in my journey, I was introduced to tools that not only made my job as an editor easier but also helped me troubleshoot issues that I may run into. One particular developer of editing tools I’m thankful for discovering is Digital Rebellion. Founded in 2007, Digital Rebellion has developed maintenance and workflow tools for Final Cut Pro 6/7/X, After Effects, Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer. My first exposure to them was when I used the FCS Remover to remove Final Cut Studio 2 and reinstall it cleanly. Since then, I have purchased Pro Maintenance and Pro Media Tools and never looked back. These tools have helped me troubleshoot issues that I would have had to spend hours looking through forums to get the answers to. I can’t imagine editing without them. I’ll give a brief overview of some of the applications from Pro Maintenance and Pro Media Tools. Hopefully, you’ll either trial or purchase them after you know some of their capabilities.

Pro Maintenance Tools

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These set of tools were originally available for Final Cut Studio but have since expanded to include Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer/Symphony and Adobe Premiere Pro. Within these tools are applications that can trash/store your preferences, analyze why your NLE crashed, repair your NLE, manage your plugins and more. Some of my commonly used applications are Preference Manager, Crash Analyzer, and Plugin Manager.

Preference Manager allows the user to save, backup and trash preferences from the aforementioned programs. This application is really helpful when you run into an issue that was potentially caused by your current preferences. Instead of going through the many Finder folders to locate your preference files, Preference Manager is able to do it at the press of a button. If you want to import preferences from another machine to yours, you can do it relatively easy by importing them.

Crash Analyzer looks at your editing application crash logs and attempts to diagnose why it crashed. In the application window, it will provide suggestions to help alleviate the problem so you can get back to editing. This application is a godsend for editors who have dealt with their editing applications crashing without knowing how to fix it. I can’t count how many times this app has helped me troubleshoot the crashes I get. The best part is that a widget at the upper right part of your screen will appear as soon as your editing application crashes giving you the opportunity to investigate further. If you get Pro Maintenance Tools, Crash Analyzer is an additional must have.

Plugin Manager allows you to easily and quickly organize your editing system plugins. With this application, you can install new plugins and enable/disable current plugins without having to worry about locating them on your computer. I’ve used this app to help troubleshoot some plugins I have that may be causing issues with Final Cut Pro that are hindering my ability to finish an edit. It’s useful if you just want to disable a plugin as oppose to completely uninstalling it. I haven’t had a chance to explore its further capabilities but I plan to in the near future.

Pro Media Tools

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This set of tools helps with the efficiency side of your workflow. There are tools to offload your media to multiple drives, set project folders, detect gamma shifts, handle QuickTime files, notify you of renders and more. Not all the tools in this set work across every editing application so if you are a single editing application user you’ll be limited by that. Some of the tools I find myself using often are Auto Transfer, Post Haste and Edit Detector.

Edit Detector is an application that can detect edits and scene changes in QuickTime movies. This application is helpful for when you have to take pre-edited video and break it up for things like color correction, visual effects and motion graphics. It also comes with a sensitivity slider that determines how in depth you want the application to detect cuts and scene changes. The user has the ability to manipulate edit points if needed as well as export into multiple formats such as individual QuickTime movies, FCP marker lists, EDLs and more.

Auto Transfer is a handy application that allows the user to transfer media from camera memory cards to your computer. You can set it up to transfer to multiple drives so you can ensure backups in case of technical mishaps. I use this application often when I deal with AVCHD media and DSLR media. It’s much more efficient than doing a copy and paste from folder to folder in my opinion. With the metadata options, I can tag relevant info to clips to aid in the logging process.

PostHaste has been my go to application for project organization since its inception. This application allows you to use and create project folder templates, which you can use to organize footage, project files, mograph assets and more. You can also import previously used project folders to create a brand new template if you want. I firmly believe that every editor should have PostHaste in their arsenal.

Overall, Digital Rebellion’s two toolkits are a must have for editors. They help in troubleshooting and helping editors keep things moving. Although it’s most available for Mac at the moment, the developers have plans to have these toolkits available for PC users in future updates. Digital Rebellion also has other great product offerings such as Pro Admin, Pro Versioner, Cut Notes, Edit Mote and CinePlay.

I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

How to Stabilize Footage in After Effects

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Today we’ll be looking into video stabilization, and specifically the warp stabilizer tool. Professional camera dolly and steady cam equipment can cost a lot of money, so it’s becoming more and more common for people to turn to the next best thing – digital video stabilization. The warp stabilizer analyzes your footage and tracks its motion so that it can reverse its effect. The video below will give you an idea of what can be achieved with the warp stabilizer tool;

The warp stabilizer tool is only available with Adobe After Effects CS5.5+, as well as Premiere Pro CS6.

Now, we’re going to learn how to use it. This guide consists of just 3 quick and easy steps.

Step 1 – Once you’ve dragged your footage into your composition, right click the footage and select stabilize motion. This will bring up the warp stabilizer in your effects panel.

Step 2 – The warp stabilizer will immediately start analyzing your footage (basically using coordinates to track the motion within the frame). In the warp stabilizers effects panel, there are a number of things we can do to help with the analysis, but we’ll come back to that later.

Step 3 – Once the analysis is 100% complete, the stabilizing will go ahead by itself. The coordinates and tracking from earlier on will be reversed to stabilize the movement. Again, there is a lot you can do here to get better results.

We’re going to quickly run through the setting I used in the first smooth motion clip.

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This clip was shot at a quite wide 18 mm, so it wasn’t so hard to track the motion. I didn’t change anything until step 3. The original settings I had, had not auto-scaled the frame, so there was a border around the footage. Auto-scaling removed this. If you find that your footage is still not smooth enough, increasing the smoothness percentage can help.

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With the second clip, I needed to work a little harder to get better smoothness. If you look closely at the stabilized footage you can see that it’s almost as if the tree is moving itself. This effect is made because the perspective of the tree changes as the camera moves around, but the brick wall in the foreground stays in its position. So, in regards to the settings I used, I had to first change the way it was analysed, and then how it was stabilized. This one was shot at 70 mm handheld, so there was a lot of camera shake to begin with. I went ahead and checked detailed analysis and set the rolling shutter ripple setting to enhanced (this helps with quick camera movements which create a lot of blur). I didn’t want any slow panning or anything, so I set the stabilization to no motion.

In terms of using this effect, it’s quite an easy tool to use. The hard part is done by the people who designed the stabilization process. Simply ticking a few boxes, and having a steady hand in the first place will give you a much more professional piece of footage.

Until next time, Peace, Love and After Effects.

Sound Effects

Templates in Premiere Pro

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One of the many benefits of using templates are their ability to be a good starting point on anything you work on. When I started out as an editor, I was amazed by the templates that were created for After Effects and Apple Motion. There are templates for smooth text animations, video displays and much more. One more intricate and complex than the next. However, I now believe templates should serve the purpose of efficiency and speed from a workflow standpoint and not having to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. An attitude I adopted from being a longtime Final Cut Pro user is having a template for just about everything. Have a template for how you want your bins structured in the project panel. Create title templates for commonly used text treatments. Have a combination of templates and presets for commonly used effects like color correction, motion graphics, transitions and more. I believe that if you have templates for these situations, it will undoubtedly speed up how you move in Premiere Pro.

Project Templates

As I mentioned in a previous article about bin structure, you want to have a set of bins you most commonly use. However, I didn’t go as in depth about creating a project file that has those bins. One thing I strongly recommend is creating a project file that has your most commonly used bins. Make sure you never import any assets in it and do a Save As. I would name this something unique so you can remember it for future purposes.

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Next time you open a new project, import the project file with your bins. Move the bins from the project folder containing them. You can delete or not delete the project after you do this.

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Now, whenever you need bins and you don’t want to go through the process of recreating them for each project, you can use this method. The template project file is also useful if you have PostHaste. PostHaste has the ability import project files from Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop and other post production software. You can utilize this option as an alternative if you so choose.

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Title Templates

Premiere Pro comes with an assortment of title templates which you download from the content library from Adobe. They are all great for a variety of situations. If you find yourself creating a lot of text for lower thirds, I recommend downloading this pdf from PremierePro.net. If you want to try another method, I would first create the text as you need it to look in the Title Tool.

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Next, click on the templates button in the Title Tool. Click on the arrow drop down. Select the option to Import Current Title as Template. Now, you will have that title saved for any text needed for lower thirds, slide explanations, animations etc. You don’t have to reinvent them from scratch. A button I use a lot when creating text with the same style is the New Title Based on Current Title button. This helps in creating multiple version of the same text repeatedly.

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Effect Presets and Templates

One of the many things that helped me stay fast and efficient in Final Cut Pro was creating presets for transitions and filters that I used often. In Premiere Pro, you have the ability to create presets for effects you use often. However, there are some effects which may require multiple presets and/or nested sequences. Recently, I’ve become a creator of transition and effects templates files for Premiere. In those files, I have unique effects and transitions that I could see myself using on a project regularly. Some of those effects include video reflections, track matte composites, repeating animations and much more. Here are a few steps you can take for creating effect/transition templates for Premiere.

First, create sequences for the most commonly used formats you deal with. Have a sequence for SD and HD formats so you don’t run into any scaling issues.

Second, use placeholder images or one of the many layer options in Premiere like color matte, bars and tone or title. Below is an example of a placeholder I use on my project templates. The reason you want to do this is so you can apply all the effects and keyframes on that. From there, all you would need to do is perform a replace edit to swap out the placeholder with your footage so it can take on its properties.

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I’ve found utilizing this method to benefit me quite well especially coming from a FCP mindset. You can check out one of the many project files I’ve created here for Premiere.

I hope the concept of utilizing templates in this fashion helps you become a more efficient and faster editor. As editors, we should do everything we can to not take us out of the creative path we’re on to do deal with the technical issues. If we use base templates for our projects, titles and effects, we are granted more time to focus on the creative process. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to learn, practice and evolve.

Royalty Free Music

Sliding Page Transition in Premiere Pro

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One of the many things that amazes and intrigues me are the animations that you can find in commonly used devices. Everything from your smartphone, computer and gaming system provide unique ways of navigating their respective interfaces. One of the animations I enjoy seeing on my iPhone is the new page animation when using Safari. The current page you are on will scale down, shift to the left and a new page will come in and take over the screen. I’m going to show you how to create that animation in Premiere. A transition like this exists within the FxFactory collection so check that out if you want to add that to your arsenal.

In Premiere Pro, I have a 1080p timeline with 2 clips on top of each other

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I’m going to set up the animation for the clip on Track 2. Let’s move 15 frames into the clip. Next, set a keyframe for scale at 100. Move 10 frames forward and change the value to 75 on the scale parameter.

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Before we move it offscreen to the left, let’s scale and position our clip on Track 1. I’ll scale it down to 75 as well and position it so there is a small gap between the clips.

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Let’s animate our clip on Track 2 offscreen to the left. I’ll set a keyframe for position about 5 frames from my last scale keyframe at its default value. Move 10 frames forward and position the clip until only a small piece remains on screen.

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Go back to the first position keyframe. Highlight the clip on Track 1. Set a keyframe for position at its current value. Move 10 frames forward and change the value to its default position.

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Move 10 frames forward. Set a keyframe for scale at its current value of 75. Move 10 frames forward change the scale back to 100.

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I’ll add a Solid Composite filter to both clips. For the clip on Track 2, change the blending mode to multiply. Set a keyframe for opacity at 45 where the last scale keyframe is at. Move back 5 frames and set another keyframe with a value of 0. Copy the filter. Move to the clip on Track 1. Paste the Solid Composite filter. Delete the keyframes for opacity leaving it with a value of 45.

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This next step is crucial to sell the animation. Move the playhead 3 frames forward from the last position keyframe on Track 2. Make an edit. Place the clip on Track 1 on Track 2 and the clip on Track 2 on Track 1.

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With the playhead at the edit point, set a keyframe for opacity in the Solid Composite filter. Move 5 frames forward and change the value to 0.

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One thing before we proceed. Change all keyframes you set to Auto Bezier to get a smoother animation.

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The final piece of the puzzle is a gradient background. Highlight your clips and move them one track up. Create a gradient background in the Title Tool or use a gradient from Photoshop. Place the gradient on Track 1 and make sure it’s the length of your clips.

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This is what the final result looks like.

That’s how you make this over and under transition in Premiere Pro. As I said before, this is based on a transition from Noise Industries which is available for Premiere Pro CS6 on Mac. Try this out and see if you can take it a step further. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.