Using Overlay Transitions as Alpha Transitions in FCP 7

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Final Cut Pro 7 or Final Cut Pro legacy as it’s known in certain circles brought some new features to it that were quite groundbreaking. The feature I found to be the most interesting to use was the Alpha Transition. The Alpha Transition wipe is a transition that combines a clip that either has or doesn’t have transparency with its alpha matte and a wipe matte. In this graphic below, you can see the user interface for this transition.

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In this tutorial, online editing training company GeniusDV explains how to utilize this transition.

I’m going to explain to how to take transitions that are either in the Pro Res codec or different codec and use them with the Alpha Transition wipe.

Using Alpha Transitions from Luca Visual FX

Plugin and motion graphic developer, Luca Visual FX has a collection of alpha transitions that are encoded out in the Pro Res 4444 codec. Due to this encoding, it’s really easy to use this with the Alpha Transition wipe.

Import one of the LVFX transitions into your project browser. Apply the Alpha Transition wipe to the edit point of your clips. Drop the LVFX transition in the drop well labeled Clip. Render the transition and see the result.

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Due to the fact that these transitions were encoded in Pro Res 4444 and have built in transparency, we didn’t need to use the Clip Alpha Matte drop well. The Alpha Transition works best when using the Pro Res codecs. Since these transitions have wipe point built in, we also didn’t need to use the Wipe Matte either. You have this luxury with Luca’s transitions but you may not have this luxury off the bat if you were using transitions from other sources.

Turning Overlay Transitions into Alpha Clips in After Effects.

Now if you have overlay transitions from other sources and you have access to a Mac and the Pro Res codecs, you can use After Effects to convert them into Pro Res for use in the Alpha Transition Wipe.

I have an overlay transition that has embedded transparency and a wipe matte. I’m going place my transition in its own composition and do the same for the wipe matte.

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Once you’ve done that, it’s time to setup the render queue for these clips.

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With both my clip compositions in the render queue, I will set it up so that these become Pro Res clips. Here are the options you should be mindful of.

-If you want your transition clip to maintain its transparency, set it up to be Pro Res 4444 with RGB+Alpha. If you want your transition clip to not maintain transparency, render it at Pro Res 422 or Pro Res 422 LT and leave it at RGB. You will have to duplicate the composition in the render queue and set that to either of those Pro Res flavors but change it to Alpha.

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For the wipe matte, you can choose to render it out at Pro Res 4444 or the other flavors of Pro Res. Just make sure to leave it RGB. After you are done rendering out the clips, bring them into Final Cut Pro and place them in their appropriate drop wells. (the transition clip in the clip drop well and the wipe matte clip in the wipe matte drop well)

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You will now see your overlay transition working as part of the Alpha Transition Wipe with which you can manipulate the timing and other parameters.

As you can see when using overlay transitions, you can easily change their codec and use them with the Alpha Transition Wipe.

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

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Professional Color Correction in After Effects

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A camera can only go so far in terms of changing the colors of the raw footage you take; sometimes your typical white balance and contrast adjustments just don’t cut it. Colors seem flat and just don’t come at you enough, so to spice things up, we turn to post-production CC (color correction). Here is a video showing before and after (left and right) comparisons, giving you an idea of the practical capabilities of cc:

We’ll be using Adobe after effects today but pretty much all editing platforms have CC, some more advanced than others. The focus will be on 3 different main effects, each making a slight difference. *remember, CC can be used to not only spruce things up, but create more emphasis on various emotions.

The 3 main effects we’ll use are: Curves, Tritone and Exposure. Each effect will be broken down into small steps so you get a bigger understanding on how each of them work, and how they can be manipulated. So let’s get started.

Some of the footage used in the video will be part of a short movie teaser that I’m making, so of course, we’re going to be aiming for quite a gloomy feel. The shot types and cinematography also play a big part in how we create that atmosphere. The first shot is a handheld shot of a tree. Here is what I’ve done:

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This was quite simple to get my desired colors. I added a brightness/contrast effect, to up the contrast and lower the brightness as a starting point. I then added a tritone at 70% blend and went with navy blue midtones and pale yellow highlights. These colors helps make the tree come out and made the branches look more eery.

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In the next shot we have a handheld shot of a rocking toy and another one of the shadow that it casts. We used the same effects as last, but also added exposure adjustments, as well as change the color used for the tritone. We took the exposure and offset down for this shot. The exposure controls the amount of light which is let in, where as the offset controls its luminance. I kept the color correction for both the shot of the toy as well as its shadow exactly the same as they were of the same subject.

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This shot here is where I decided that a curves adjustment would be useful. The original footage looked very flat and bland, so I needed to correct it quite a lot without it looking too unnatural. The tritone and brightness/contrast was changed a little like the rest, but what helped more with the color grading was the RGB curves.

I took the blacks and midtones lower so the highlights would come out a little more – this helped bring out the texture of the bricks and the colors on the leaves.

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The last shot in the example footage is the macro shot of some leaves. The original footage was quite simply dreadful – it was lacking color rendition, and vibrancy and so the color correction needed to boost it up ten fold. I went ahead and turned the brightness down abit and upped the contrast so there would be a little more difference in the background and the leaves. After this is I added the tritone and used bright highlights as well as midtones, and went for a midnight blue for the background shadows. There really was a noticeable difference here.

So color correction isn’t as hard as you thought – just a little experimenting and some decent tools will work wonders here. I hope you’ve all learned something!

Stay tuned for the short movie teaser which I am working on, where I’ll write about some short movie cinematic techniques.

Until next time, Peace, Love and After effects.

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Fractal Noise: The Wonder Filter

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For the last 5 years, After Effects has been my go to compositing and motion graphics application whenever I need something beyond the depth of my NLEs. AE has the ability to do a lot of amazing things that would probably take pages just to list. With the filters and options that come bundled with it, the user can take on common to complex post production needs. One filter that I believe stands out above the rest is the Fractal Noise filter. This filter has been the basis of many creative and complex effects. On its own, you can create a myriad of assets such as backgrounds, overlays, textures and more. Of the many templates I’ve used, Fractal Noise has been used in about 80% of them. Within its parameters, a user can manipulate its parameters and create something unique. Used with other filters such as glow, blur and more, the possibilities are expanded. I’m going to show you 3 breakdowns of Fractal Noise designs you can use on your next project.

Background

In this example from author Chad Perkins‘s book Cheat in After Effects 2, I have a fractal noise background which looks like bars of light. The solid is set to 1920 x1080. Within Fractal Noise parameters, the fractal type is basic, the noise type is set to block, the contrast and brightness are modified, the transform settings are modified drastically, complexity is between 2-4 and the evolution is animated over 5 seconds. Combined with the Tint and Corner Pin filter as well as an adjustment layer containing the glow and curves filters, you get this cool animated bar background you can use for a high action title sequence.

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Streaks Overlay

This mograph element is relatively easy to accomplish using the Fractal Noise filter. From this example of Harry Frank‘s Form Backgrounds, he accomplished this by manipulating these fractal noise settings. With composition set to 3000 x 1080, he set the fractal type to basic, noise type to soft linear, modified the contrast and brightness between -100 to 200, transform settings to get the streak look and animated the evolution over 9-10 seconds. He also set an expression for offset turbulence that would affect its position over time. When combined with the Tritone and Glow filters, you get a streaks overlay you can composite into your footage or animations.

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Texture

One of the best ways to use Fractal Noise is when you need an animated texture. With this text layer in my composition, I will place an animated fractal noise solid into my text. Here is my settings and result of my fractal noise below.

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With my text layer above it, I will set my fractal noise beneath to Alpha Matte. Now, my text will inherit the fractal noise as a texture and with some further tweaking, I can get a unique text design that looks something like this.

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As you can see from these breakdowns, Fractal Noise is a versatile filter. On its own, it can create a lot of items. Grouped with other filters, it becomes an enigma of creative awesomeness. Next time you are in After Effects, play around with the Fractal Noise filters and see what you can create. You might create something quite amazing.

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

Royalty Free Music

Things To Look Forward to at NAB

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It’s April and around this time is when everyone in the filmmaking and broadcasting industry turns their attention to the NAB (National Association for Broadcasters) Show. Each year, NAB showcases new items to look forward to in the coming months and demos which will leave you in awe. Last year was my first time going to NAB and it was one of the best experiences I had in 2012. Now, I’m going back for the second year in a row and here are some of the items I’m looking forward to this year.

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Adobe CS6.5 or CS7 & Other NLE Options

Last year, Adobe released CS6 and it was one of the top news stories of NAB. A large amount of the booths I visited had Adobe CS6 running and showcasing how it would operate with high end graphics cards, server based storage solutions and more.

About a week ago, a video showcasing of the evolution of rotoscoping in After Effects ended with an updated version of the Roto Brush tool tied with a Refine Matte feature. If Adobe is rolling out a new Creative Suite at this year’s NAB, I have a feeling the focus will be on After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop and their soon to be released Adobe Anywhere. Adobe Anywhere is the collaborative tool that will hopefully bring Adobe Premiere into a more shared workflow environment. With this tool, editors across the country and presumably across the world can start a rough cut in Premiere, send their rough cut to another editor via a connected server and have them continue working where they left off.

I’m hoping that the Adobe tools I use regularly get new features and updates that make my job as an editor more efficient. Hopefully, Premiere Pro gets additions to it similar or better than Final Cut Pro that make Premiere a top choice for new editors and hopefully turnover some FCP/Avid users.

Besides Adobe’s suite of tools, I look forward to seeing what Avid and Autodesk will bring to the table. Despite Avid’s financial turmoils as of late, their NAB offerings in post production are usually something to look forward to. There may be demos of a new media server for collaborative edits or possibly a look at the next Media Composer/Symphony. Either way, Avid has always been one of the booths to visit if you work post production.

Autodesk Smoke was also quite the talk of NAB last year. With their announcement of Smoke for Mac at a cheaper price point, they aimed to gather a bigger market share of editors outside the bounds of post production houses and those who may not have been happy with their current editing solution. Smoke is an all in one editing and compositing program that editors use during the finishing stages of post production. With the new iteration, the software aimed to become a go to editing solution for a broader user base. I look forward to seeing Autodesk Smoke 2014 and what unique features it will bring to the table compared to other editing software.

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Workflow and Collaborative Tools

Beside Adobe Anywhere, I’m looking forward to seeing demonstrations from Digital Rebellion and Red Giant with their new workflow tools. This week, Red Giant announced a beta of a new tool called BulletProof. This tool is meant to be an intermediate between your camera and your NLE. It supposedly has the ability to offload and organize your files, review, color grade, add metadata and encode your files for project delivery. In the past, Red Giant has created products that help editors and others in post production become more efficient and reduce time on tedious endeavors such as noise removal, audio syncing and transcoding DSLR footage. If this tool can do what it says and more, I anticipate it becoming a staple in many editors workflows.

Digital Rebellion isn’t too far behind with their announcement of a new platform known as Kollaborate. This is billed as the ultimate cloud workflow solution for video professionals and it will provide the following: online storage, video playback and approval, project management and integration from applications from both desktop and mobile devices. From the preview video I watched, Digital Rebellion is entering the online cloud solutions ecosystem currently available from services such as Screenlight, Mindway Media and the soon to be released Get Acclaim service. After using their toolsets for my desktop needs, I have no doubt that this new platform from Digital Rebellion will up the ante on cloud collaboration.

Besides these aforementioned items, what I am looking forward to at NAB is the overall experience. NAB Show is an opportunity to chat with the who’s who in the industry and walk away with newfound knowledge and insight. If you’re not going to NAB this year, then I would recommend following people on Twitter who will be providing constant updates. It’s an opportunity to live vicariously through their experience and stay in the know on new product development and availability in the coming months.

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

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