FCPX must have utilities

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When Final Cut Pro X first came out in 2011, I wasn’t too fond of the new interface or the editing paradigm, as it challenged everything I was taught to do in school. After numerous updates to the software, third party party utilities coming to market, and using it for the last four months, I’m more confident in Final Cut Pro X’s workflow than I ever have been before. Here is a quick rundown of some applications I’ve found helpful with transitioning to a FCPX workflow.

Event Manager X

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This handy must-have app is the creation of the folks at Intelligent Assistance. The process of dealing with events and multiple projects can be tedious at times. This app has a lot more going on under the hood, and gives you control of your events and projects with an easy to use interface.

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According to the description from the site, Event Manager X allows you to do the following:

-Quickly manage Events and Projects using visible checkboxes.

-Filter through libraries to find specific Events and Projects.

-Keep track of hidden Events and Projects.

-Check all storage devices that hold needed Events are properly mounted.

-Launch FCPX much faster using fewer active Events in the Event library.

Those are just a small list of the many things Event Manager X can do. At $4.99, it’s a no brainer purchase if you want to relieve yourself of sluggish performance Final Cut Pro may experience with multiple projects and events.

7toX

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This is another must have app from the folks at Intelligent Assistance. This app allows you to bring projects from Final Cut Pro 6 & 7 into X. The simple to use app takes an XML file of an edit you create in those legacy programs, and translates it into a workable project in FCPX. Below is a small list of the things that carry over during the import process:

-Bins become keyword collections.

-Sequences become compound clips and get tagged as FCP6/7 sequences.

-The track structure is represented by Roles.

-Multicam is fully supported.

-Motion Tab parameters are translated to Transform, Crop, and Opacity parameters.

From my experience, this process has worked 95% of the time with most projects I have sent from FCP 7 to FCPX. This app is great to use if you need to update old projects and want to cut them with the speed of FCPX. At $9.99, it will pay for itself in less than an hour of work.

ClipExporter

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This app is a free workflow and export tool from Mind Transplant. It allows you to send your entire timeline to After Effects, and batch export selected clips to Quicktime movies. You can also convert your clips for Nuke. Previous versions of FCPX were limited in their export abilities. If you are an editor who relies on these compositing applications to fix a project, this was an obstacle to overcome. Below is a video explaining how ClipExporter helps the editor overcome that obstacle and keep working.

Overall, this application is very handy. With a few more updates, it will become more utilized among filmmakers.

Motion Template Tool

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With FCPX effects, generators, and transitions all being Motion 5 templates, it’s now easier than ever for users to create their own effects from scratch and download them from other users across the internet. One thing that can be a pain is going through the folder structure of your Mac to install them if they don’t have custom installer. With the free Motion Template Tool, you can manage and install custom Motion Templates. Created by the folks from Spherico, this app is helpful for users and developers who want a hassle free way to manage templates. Popular FCPX editor Alex Gollner makes great use of this tool for his templates. All you have to do is install the app, download a custom template, and double click it to install. The tool does the rest.

CreateDiskImage

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Sparse disk images and bundles have been around for years, but recently it has become a preferred workflow method for popular FCPX users like Ripple Training and Magic Feather Inc. This has been a workaround for backing up projects, creating projects, and working collaboratively. Mac users can create a sparse disk using the Disk Utility app, but the folks from Spherico created the free Disk Image Creator to simplify the process. As explained by John Davidson from Magic Feather in this video below, using the Disk Image Creator to create a sparse disk is the preferred workflow when he cuts spots in FCPX for clients.

This is app is handy if you want to manage your projects from a disk image as opposed to a root of your internal or external drives. These are just a small selection of the third party utilities available for Final Cut Pro X. At first, I wasn’t too happy to find out that I had to go to other sources to get functionality that should have been built into FCPX. However, my opinion has changed after some time. I respect the fact that Apple gave developers the ability to shape how they worked in FCPX instead of determining it for us. I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

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Animating a Camera in Cinema 4D

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Once you have your 3D object designed, properly lit, and set in with the background of your choice, it’s time to breath some life in the scene and animate a camera rotating around your object. Creating a camera and having it move throughout your scene is a basic necessity for any beginning 3D modeler and animator. I am going to show you how to animate a camera in 3D space in three simple steps:

  • Create the Camera
  • Orientate the Camera
  • Keyframe the Animation

Create the Camera

To create a camera object, go to your LIGHT OBJECTS drop down menu and select CAMERA.

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Pretty simply, right? But how do you know if you are controlling the camera while moving around the object or not? It’s simple. Do you notice that symbol next to your CAMERA OBJECT in the OBJECT WINDOW that looks like a BLACK SQUARE OUTLINE WITH A DOT IN THE MIDDLE?

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When this symbol is black, it means you are not actively controlling the camera. If you select this symbol, it will turn from black to white. At that point, your perspective in the CANVAS WINDOW will jump to the camera’s, and you will be controlling the camera object until that symbol is deselected.

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Orientate the Camera

The three motions that move your camera object around are:

Pan – Hold down #1 on the keyboard, click, and move the mouse. This is to move left, right, up, and down around your object.

Dolly – Hold down #2 on the keyboard, click, and move the mouse. This is to move into and away from your object.

Orbit – Hold down #3 on the keyboard, click, and move the mouse. This is to pivot and rotate around your object.

Make sure that your camera object is selected and active, and at this point begin to move and orientate your camera into your starting position.

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For this example, I want the starting position to be on the left side of my object, and, over the course of a few seconds, rotate around my object and end on the right side.

Keyframe the Animation

With your camera object in the starting position, we need to set a KEYFRAME in order for the program to remember the camera’s position. To set a KEYFRAME, make sure your CAMERA OBJECT is selected. From here, navigate just below the CANVAS WINDOW and select the RED CIRCLE WITH THE BLACK SKELETON KEY button.

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If you select the COORD TAB under the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW, you will also notice each coordinate is marked with a red dot. This signifies that every camera aspect on the timeline is locked into place and recorded.

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Next, you will want to move the PIN down the TIMELINE. Note that each notch on the timeline represents one frame, and depending on how you’ve set up your composition, there are roughly 24 frames in a second.

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At this point, you can now reorientate the camera to your ending position.

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Remember to have your CAMERA OBJECT in the OBJECTS WINDOW selected before setting your final KEYFRAME. If you click and drag the PIN along the TIMELINE, you will see your camera animating between the two keyframes you just successfully created.

Click here to see it in action.

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Creating a Background in Cinema 4D

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In recent tutorials, we explored how to make 3D text and how to properly light the scene with three-point lighting. Now it’s time to add a background, and create a basic world for our 3D object to live in. I am going to show you how to do it in three simple steps:

  • Add the Plane and Background Objects
  • Create the Color Material
  • Composite the Final Image

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Add the Plane and Background Objects

The two objects needed to create your world is a plane (think of this as your floor) and your background object (think of this as a back wall). To create the plane, go to your cube object drop down menu and choose PLANE.

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By default, the plane will not be large enough, so go to your OBJECTS tab in your ATTRIBUTES window and increase the HEIGHT and WIDTH as needed.

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For your background object, go to the LIGHT OBJECTS drop down menu and choose BACKGROUND.

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Create the Color Material

Now, we need to add a basic color to both of the objects. To create a material, go to the MATERIAL WINDOW and choose FILE>>NEW MATERIAL. At this point, double click on the new material, and under the COLOR tab go to TEXTURE>>GRADIENT>> and choose CIRCULAR.

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You will notice a color slider that adjusts the tone of the gradient. Set the swatch box to the left to pure white, and the swatch box to the right to a light gray.

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You can now CLICK & DRAG your material to both your PLANE and BACKGROUND.

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Composite the Final Image

Attaching the color material to the objects will not create the desired effect you are looking for. In order to finish the world your object is living in, you must first composite the color over the objects correctly so the information is interrupted in the proper manner for the final image. First select the PLANE OBJECT in the OBJECT WINDOW, and then select TAGS>>CINEMA 4D TAGS>>COMPOSITE.

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Next, select your COMPOSITE TAG, go down to your ATTRIBUTES WINDOW, and check the box for COMPOSITE BACKGROUND (which should be the only option not checked yet).

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From here, select your COLOR MATERIAL next to your BACKGROUND object in your OBJECT WINDOW. Go down to the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW and change the PROJECTION type from UV MAPPING to FRONTAL.

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At this point you can see the world you created by TEST RENDERING the scene by hitting COMMAND+R.

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You will notice that there are no hard edges. Instead, you see an infinite white background for your object to live in.

SHADOWS

Additionally, your object is not showing any signs of a shadow. This is to save time on render speeds and keep the program running as smoothly as possible by default. To turn on the shadows, all you need to do is select your LIGHT OBJECTS from the OBJECTS WINDOW (first created in our 3 point lighting tutorial), and under the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW, change the SHADOW type from NONE to SHADOW MAPS (SOFT).

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Top 5 Favorite Features of Premiere Pro CC 7.1

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With the latest update of Premiere Pro CC and the rest of the Creative Cloud suite, users were given a slew of features to help them use the program more effectively than before. In total, there were over 150 features added to the video-centric applications. There were features within the Premiere Pro CC update that helped users with multi-cam operation, freeze frames, markers, and transitions. In this article, I will summarize my five favorite features of the program. Below is a video by post-production professional Josh Weiss of ReTooled.net going over some of the new features of the 7.1 update.

More freeze frame options

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For the longest time, creating a freeze frame in Premiere was quite the hassle. Previous versions only allowed you to export frames from the Source or Program monitor, or with a blade edit proceeded by an enabling of the Frame Hold option. With the first iteration of Premiere CC, they added the option to export a frame and import it into the project browser. While this was a step in the right direction, it still took too many steps to create a simple freeze frame. With the 7.1 update, users now have the option to insert Frame Hold segments, as well as an Add Frame Hold. As summarized in the video above, these options either insert a freeze frame in the timeline, or freeze a part of your clip at the point where your playhead is parked. The best part about these options is that they can be extended for lengths longer than the original clip. With multiple options added to create freeze frames from multiple levels of the interface, the process is more streamlined.

Drag and drop 3rd party transitions

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This feature request has been popular among users for the last few years, and I’m glad to see it becoming a reality. One of the drawbacks of using Premiere Pro was that 3rd party transitions acted like filters, instead of transitions that you could drop between an edit point. This functionality is similar for users of After Effects and Motion. The laborious process of getting them to work discouraged many editors from using them. With the 7.1 update, 3rd party transitions from Noise Industries, Genarts Sapphire, and others now function the way they were intended. What’s even better, is that you can manipulate parameters in the Effect Controls panel, add keyframes, and save presets of your settings for later use. The only downside is the preset will not maintain the duration you set. In time, I see other third party developers getting on board for creating drag and drop transitions for Premiere.

Multi-cam options

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As shown in the video above, the multi-cam has been given more features as well. Users now have the ability to edit the cameras that are shown in the multi-camera monitor. The previous process would require you to disable the multi-cam nested sequence and rearrange your clips from the timeline level. With this new function, you won’t lose time deciphering which camera is which and you can keep cutting.

Copy and paste multiple transitions

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With the updated look of how transitions look in Premiere, one feature that still needed to be added was the ability to copy and paste a transition to multiple edit points. FCP switchers requested the ability quite frequently, and now it’s a reality. As illustrated in the video above, you would first copy your transition. Then, you would Command (Mac)/Control (PC) across a group of edit points and hit Command/Control +V to paste them on the selected edit points. This technique is definitely a timesaver for when you need to add the same transition across various edit points on different tracks.

Ripple markers

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Using markers in my edits was the cornerstone of remembering where to place media later, or to remember a particular frame. What sucked was that if I trimmed my footage, the marker would remain where it was and I would either have to delete it or reposition it manually. With the update, users now have the option to have the markers move when they make a ripple trim of clips in their timeline. You have the option to turn it on in the Marker drop down menu. Those are my top five favorite new features for Premiere CC 7.1. In my opinion, I believe within 2-3 updates, Premiere will be able to do everything Final Cut Pro 7 can do, if not better. Despite the feelings folks may have about the Creative Cloud, these updates have been very helpful in making Premiere my go to NLE. I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Assemble FX 1: 3D Swap Transition in Premiere

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Prior to Premiere Pro CC getting the ability to have drag and drop transitions from 3rd party developers, creating or using those filters usually came at a cost or a disadvantage. One of the things I picked up from studying high end transitions and effects was that you had to break it down into three essential components of mattes, filters and keyframes. When you look at transitions and effects this way, they are not as daunting as they appear. If you experiment with Premiere’s effects through trial and error, you can learn to take advantage of all it has to offer. If it weren’t for studying Premiere, I wouldn’t have arrived at effects like these below.

One approach I’ve used in the past for creating effects was placing them in project templates. The drawback is if I want to use an effect or transition multiple times, it would be much more difficult to do so. I’ve decided to showcase a different approach to creating effects that can be applied quickly and used multiple times. It’s called Assemble FX. It operates based off presets that I created. Follow along in the video tutorial below to apply them to your footage. For the first Assemble FX, I will show you how to create a 3D swap transition. This involves taking two clips, creating reflections for both of them, and then swapping their position in 3D space.

The inspiration for this comes from a native transition found in Final Cut Pro X ,which does the exact same thing. In the video below, at 3:21, you can see that the transition contains the following elements: two clips with reflections and a gradient background.

With Assemble FX, the plan is to minimize the time you spend creating effects and transitions like these, and to be able to use them multiple times. This reduces the perception that Premiere is more than capable of doing complex animations without having to run to After Effects, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you follow along with the video tutorial below and install the presets in this link, you can create this finished product that you can modify for your own uses.

This effect is the first in the line of Assembly FX and will not be the last. Look for more challenges on how far you can push Premiere to do really cool things. I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

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Creating 3 Point Lighting in Cinema 4D

 

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Lighting a scene is an essential and fundamental skill. Whether it’s on set with your actors or in post production with a 3D model, it’s something that every filmmaker and editor must know. Lighting can make or break your scene. With good lighting, you can create layers of depth, focus, and intensity. Depending on where your intent lies, it can make your subject really pop, or fall into the shadows. Three-point lighting is the most basic of the lighting techniques. It sets the foundation for almost every lighting scheme thereafter.

First, let’s review three-point lighting. Then we’ll apply the rule in post production using Cinema 4D to properly light a 3D model. Three-point lighting, obviously, deals with three lights. These three lights are: (1) Key Light (2) Fill Light and (3) Back Light.

3 way lighting

  1. Key Light: This light is off to the right of your subject (stage right), and on an angle of roughly 45 degrees. This light creates highlights on one side of your subject and leaves dark shadows on the other side that need to be ‘Filled’ in.
  2. Fill Light: This light is off to the left of your subject (stage left), angled 45 degrees and further back than your key light. By changing the distance of this light, it will fluctuate how much of the dark shadows are filled in.
  3. Back Light: This light is above and angled behind your subject. It gives the head and shoulders a glow (also known as a ‘rim light’ or ‘halo’) and pushes your subject out from the background.

Now that we have the foundation of three-point lighting, let’s try implementing it by properly lighting some basic 3D text in Cinema 4D. Before we begin, you will want to have a subject you want to light. If you want to create some basic 3D text and are unaware how, check out this tutorial. While we are working in Cinema 4D, we will also need to move around our object confidently. In Cinema 4D, it is a combination of using the mouse and keyboard to move, rotate, and track in and out of your object. A quick review: remember that (1) on your keyboard is panning, (2) is to track in and out of your object, and (3) is to rotate, or orbit, around your subject. With that in mind, let’s get started.

CREATING THE KEY LIGHT

The first light you always want to create is the Key Light. It creates the base that you work from. First, you are going to want to locate the LIGHT OBJECT drop down across the top tool bar.

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Click and hold. When you get the drop down selections choose SPOT LIGHT.

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Now, using your mouse, we need to move our Key Light into position. To do that, we need to manipulate the three color arrows representing the XYZ planes: Green represents Y (which is the vertical axis), Red represents X (which is the horizontal axis), and Blue represents Z (which is the axis following depth). First, grab onto the Z arrow and move our light backwards away from our subject text. From there, grab the X arrow and move our light to the right about 45 degrees or so.

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To turn our light, hit ‘R’ on the keyboard, or locate the ROTATE TOOL icon from the tool bar. Now we are presented with three bands of color. These three bands work the same way as our arrows, except they are used for rotation. We want to rotate our light toward our subject, so grab onto the X band and rotate it towards the left. At first, you will notice it does not light up our entire subject. If you so choose, you can also grab onto the small orange dots around the cone of light and click and enlarge the emission range from our light object.

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To view a test render, simply hit COMMAND+R.

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CREATING THE FILL LIGHT

Now create a second spotlight and follow the same process as the Key Light. As explained before, the fill light will be placed on the left hand side of the subject at roughly a 45-degree angle, pushed back further away from the subject.

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Moving a light on set determines the intensity of a fill on your subject. Sometimes, you want your subject to be heavily contrasted, so the fill light would be less intense and much further away. Other times, you want your subject to be more evenly lit, in which case you would move your light closer. In Cinema 4D it’s not necessary to move the light further or closer as the laws of physics do not necessarily apply in post production. If you select the Fill light object from your OBJECTS PANEL (underneath the GENERAL tab in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW) you will see a level called INTENSITY.

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Think of intensity the same way as moving the light closer or further away from your subject. Feel free to increase or decrease the intensity until you have a nice fill on your subject.

CREATING THE BACK LIGHT

Now to create our subjects halo. Just as before, you will now be creating a third spot light, except this time you will be positioning it behind our subject and angled back down on them. When lighting a person with a back light, you generally want the head and shoulders to show the rim light. In order to do so, the light cannot be on the same plane. It has to be slightly elevated above the subject and angled downward. Use the Y Axis to raise up the light, and the Y Band to rotate it downward onto the subject.

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Your three-point lighting is now complete! Test it out by looking at various angles and perspectives of your subject and do a quick test render by hitting COMMAND+R to see how it looks. If something appears to be off, go back and adjust the lights and do another test render until satisfied.

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