Pulsating Flares & Dual Magnified Bars

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I’ve always believed that with experimentation, you can discover hidden possibilities within your NLE or compositing program. This especially holds up with experimenting in Premiere. It may not possess the depth of FCPX & Motion 5 workflow, but if you tinker with the native or third party filters enough, you can create some great results. That is what the purpose of the NLE Ninja is – to show users how to push NLE software to do things you might normally turn to Motion or After Effects to do. I’ve found this especially true with experimenting with the lens flare filter and Creative Impatience’s Simple Mask filter. The lens flare filter is among one of the most overused filters in After Effects and I can see why. With some experimental tinkering, you can create some incredible effects and transitions. The free Simple Mask filter from Creative Impatience has been a godsend for some of the compositing work I’ve done in Premiere. What used to require a Color Matte or a solid from the title tool with the Track Matte Key, I can now accomplish using a duplicated layer and multiple instances of the Simple Mask plugin. In this article, I will show you how to create pulsating flares using the Lens Flare filter and dual magnified bars using the Simple Mask plugin to create an interesting composite effect. Below is an example of what the final result will look like.

Before you proceed, make sure you download and install the Simple Mask plugin onto your computer by going here.

In the video tutorial above, I use a black video layer to place 2 lens flares above my video clip. I then position them at separate corners of the screen and proceed to keyframe the brightness of each flare over time. I randomize the brightness so that the pulsating patterns offset one another. Next, I changed the composite mode to Add to get rid of the black background. To get the magnify look, I duplicated the video layer on track 1 onto track 2. I scaled up the video on track 2 and apply the Simple Mask plugin. Then, I created a thin bar with the height extending past the dimensions of the video itself. I proceeded to animate the mask across the screen from left to right. I copied the filter and change the composite mode parameter in the Mask filter to add to have 2 instances. I reversed the keyframes so it animates right to left. I added 2 instances of drop shadow with the angles set to 90 and -90 respectively so that the drop shadow appears at the edge of each bar equally. The end result is that you have 2 effects which work fine alone but together create something much more interesting and visually stimulating.

I have plans for future articles and effects which can utilize the Simple Mask plugin as well as other native filters in Premiere to create complex effects like this. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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Creating Time Lapse Photography With After Effects CC

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Time Lapse Photography is the process in which you take a series of photographs over an extended period of time centered around a dynamic subject and then combine the photographs together into one video that shows this transformation. That is a very technical way of saying it is a video made up of a series of pictures that shows things like flowers blooming, or the sun setting, or even building a structure. Each of those examples take hours, days, sometimes months to complete the process. It is not realistic to think that video would be the optimal way to capture this evolution. Instead, the idea is that taking a series of pictures with the camera unmoving and locked down on tripod can do a much better job capturing your subject and saving the creator ample hours of video scrubbing and space on their hard drive.

Here is both my example along with a couple other photographic time lapses to help inspire you and get your brain juices flowing on what you might aim to capture after going through this quick tutorial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYKA-VokOtA

Now I am going to show you how you can create your very own photo time lapse in 3 simple steps:

  • Capturing the Photos
  • Importing the Photos and Exporting the Video
  • Additional Tips to Use as Needed

Capturing the Photos

Before going out, before finding your subject, and before you even snap a single picture, you need to make sure you have the right equipment to get the job done. In most cases the best means to capture your time lapse is first and foremost with a DSLR camera. DSLRs will allow you the most control over your image settings and maintain the highest quality possible. My recommendation is to go with a Canon or Nikon (I am using a Canon Rebel T2i for this tutorial).

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Secondly, your camera needs to be locked down at all times during the photographing process to a tripod. By investing in a good solid tripod you are ensuring the overall outcome of the photographs reducing the possibilities of shake, movement, and blur. Moving the camera even a few millimeters can ruin your entire composition. A good time lapse has a consistent object that does not move (ground, buildings, vase) contrasted by one that does (people, sun, flower).

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Finally, touching your own camera to take each shot runs the risk of moving the camera, and so to eliminate this threat the best piece of equipment to invest in is a intervalometer. An intervalometer is a time set shutter remote that plugs into the side of your camera. All you have to do is set the remote to whatever time interval you want the photos captured and how many you want and it handles the rest from there.

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Once you have all the equipment you need go and find the subject you want to capture. Again the best outcome will be with a contrast between dynamic and static objects that evolve over a period of time. Mount your DSLR to your tripod, lock it into position, and set the camera to manual. Take a test shot first to make sure the exposure and framing is where you would like it to be and then plug in and program your intervalometer. Let your camera run through its process collecting the photos and once it is finished you are ready for the next step.

Importing the Photos and Exporting the Video

Take the memory card form your DSLR and plug it into your computer. You are going to want to create a new folder on the desktop to store these photos. Drag the photos from your memory card into your new folder.

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Now there are multiple programs out there to combine these photos into your time lapse sequence, however, I find the best to be Adobe After Effects CC. The reason for this is because of how simple yet flexible the program is in regards to your files, file type, and output. To create your time lapse all you need to do is click and drag the folder containing your pictures and drop it in the projects panel in After Effects. After Effects will then interpret and combine the information into a single file from which you can click and drag into a new composition.

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I shot in camera raw and so the size of the composition is much larger than it needs to be. To fix this I can go to COMPOSITION >> COMPOSITION SETTINGS >> PRESET (drop down menu) >> (choose appropriate format). For me I’m going with the 720 HD format.

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When I hit okay I notice that now my sequence is too large for the composition. To fix it I can just scale down the sequence.

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To export your sequence go to COMPOSITION >> ADD TO RENDER QUEUE. To keep your file size manageable click on LOSSLESS next to the OUTPUT MODULE, go to the FORMAT OPTIONS>>VIDEO CODEC>> and choose H.264 then hit OK. Last thing is to go to your OUTPUT TO and designate what the file name will be and where it will render to. Once finished click OK and hit RENDER. Review your video time lapse video and make further changes as needed.

Additional Tips to Use as Needed

Here are some extra tips and tricks to keep in mind as you go through this process:

  • If you cannot afford all the equipment but have a smartphone there are apps out there that will create photographic time lapses.
  • If you are using a DSLR, keep your camera in Manual mode and take multiple test shots to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO where they need to be before plugging in your intervalometer.
  • If you are using a DSLR, keep in mind which file type the pictures are being taken in- whether it is JPEG or Camera Raw will have a huge impact on your post production of this time lapse (camera raw = best quality but huge file size. JPEG = low to medium quality but with a much smaller file size).
  • Photoshop CC has a great Automate feature to crop, resize, and retouch multiple photos at once if you want to make adjustments to your composition after the pictures have been taken.
  • In After Effects CC, you can add an adjustment layer above your sequence if you would like to add color correction or effects changes.
  • In After Effects CC, after rendering out your sequence into a movie file you can re-import the video back into After Effects and make adjustments to the speed or even have it play in reverse.

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Quick Dubstep Effects in Premiere

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Ever since I was introduced to the music genre of dubstep, I was intrigued by the things editors of music videos could do with it. You would see a variety of effects which included but are not limited to: RGB channels splitting, the same clip playing back and forth over a few frames, video being oriented 180 degrees over a few frames and the screen scaling up and down. With this variety of effects, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how simple and accessible they were to pull off with NLE software. Thanks to this article from the folks of Coat of Arms, I learned that half of these effects were simple editing tricks that anyone could do if they pay attention to the pacing and tempo of the music. Below is the final version of a dubstep video that Coat of Arms edited for musical artist Chae Hawk titled “Heartlock” This was cut in Final Cut Pro 7 and as shown in the aforementioned article, the dubstep effects were simple editing tricks that most would overlook.

In this article, I will show you how to do 3 quick dubstep tricks in Premiere and help you look like a rockstar on your next edit. They are the Rapid Reverse, Screen Pump and Stutter Cut. With this tutorial video here, you can create these effects in no time.

Rapid Reverse

This effect involves rapidly rotating your image 180 degrees over 20-40 frames. The best filter for this job in Premiere is the Basic 3D filter. In the video demonstration below, you see what the final result looks like. One of the components of this effect involves using Hold keyframes so you have it change value based on the frames you set. Hold keyframes play a part in the Screen Pumps effect as well. I’ve used this effect in combination with other effects I created and got amazing results.

Screen Pumps

This effect is a favorite in the gaming community as well as the music community. It involves your image scaling up and down real quickly. The best part about this effect is that it exists within the motion parameter in the effect controls panel. If you want to have access to the scale parameter in the motion tab, you can use the Transform filter instead. In the video demonstration above with the Rapid Reverse effect, you see what the final result looks like.

Playback Reverse

This effect is a staple among a lot of the dubstep music videos I’ve seen online. This is used best when there is a bass drop in the beat or reverb pattern. This effect involves taking a section of your video and repeating it over 20-40 frames with every other duplicate frame playing in reverse rather than playing forward. In the video demonstration below, you see what the final result looks like.

These quick dubstep effects can help add some production value to your edits and the best part is it can all be done with the native tools and filters in Premiere. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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Create Panoramic Pictures in Photoshop CC

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Panoramic pictures by definition are a series of images representing one continuous scene. From a photographers stand point, panoramic pictures are of a unique aesthetic that allows the viewer to see a wider perspective of the intended image. A more functional use of panoramic pictures are created and used by digital matte painters that develop set extensions for television, film, and video. I am going to show you how to create your own panoramic shots from the initial stages with the camera to the end result on the computer using Photoshop CC in three simple steps:

  • Taking the Pictures
  • Creating the Panoramic
  • Exporting Final Image

TAKING THE PICTURES

While out capturing the images on your camera, there are a few tips and tricks I recommend using to help optimize the quality and clarity of your potential panoramic picture. First, I recommend using a fluid head tripod to capture your image series. This will greatly reduce your chances of shake, rotation, or position issues that may throw off the Photoshop CC photo stitching program resulting in warped or unusable panoramic pictures. When you do take your pictures make sure some of the last photo is still present in your new photo as the photo stitching program will be looking for these similarities in the images, called anchor points, and join them together.

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Last, if you use a DSLR camera you should keep your settings to manual. The reason for this is because if you use an automatic settings this could change a portion of your images (exposure, ISO, aperture) from one to the other and throw off the photo stitching program or simply become an unusable panoramic.

CREATING THE PANORAMIC

When you have finished collecting a series of images that you would like to join together as a panoramic, import them onto your computer and save them in a clearly labeled folder. Open up Photoshop CC and navigate to FILE >> AUTOMATE >> PHOTOMERGE. You will be presented with a dialog box that asks you for the LAYOUT and SOURCE FILES.

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For the most realistic and seamless panoramic, and for the purposes of this exercise, I will have you choose AUTO as your LAYOUT style, however, I encourage you to play with other layout options as you see fit. For SOURCE FILES choose BROWSE and navigate to the folder where you saved your image series, highlight all the image files you wish to use, and select OPEN.

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Back in the Photomerge dialogue box you are now going to choose OK which will initiate the photo stitching program and will automatically analyze your selected images and join them together as best it can based on the information it is provided. The process can take several minutes and when it is finished you will have a rough image with distorted edges that you can work with and turn into your final panoramic.

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If you are happy with the outcome, then use the drop down menu in the LAYERS PANEL and choose MERGE VISIBLE. This will join all the layers together allowing us to go in and cut out a final panoramic. Using the RECTANGULAR MARQUEE TOOL (shortcut key is ‘M’ on your keyboard) you can select the portion of the image you would like to use as your panoramic.

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Next, go to the SELECTION menu and choose INVERSE. At this point you can hit DELETE on your keyboard which will result in the elimination of all content around your panoramic image.

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If this is how you want your panoramic to appear then you are ready for the next step. However, this is your opportunity to do more work (color correct, crop more, retouch, etc.) and to get the panoramic picture exactly how you envision it.

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EXPORTING FINAL IMAGE

Since you have cut into and cropped away part of that original mish-mash of images to create your panoramic you are now left with some negative space, in the form of a checkerboard design, around your image.

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To get rid of this checkerboard design, which is extra transparency, simply go to EDIT >> TRIM… >> from there you will be presented with a dialogue box where you will choose TRANSPARENT PIXELS and OK.

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Now your panoramic is fitted and ready to export. Depending on the needs of your client, project, or personal use you may export your image in different file formats, however, the general process is the same. Go to FILE >> SAVE AS >> where you will then be presented with a dialogue box with LOCATION and FORMAT. Choose your LOCATION as to where you want the file saved on your computer and the FORMAT drop down menu with give you a plethora of options to choose from to meet your needs. Once you choose the proper FORMAT just hit SAVE and your panoramic picture is complete!

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