3rd Party Plugin Offerings

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One of the many things that led me to post production were the tools I would have available to craft and weave the final product. In particular, I was enamored with the 3rd party plugins and compositing software that were available for NLEs. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the opportunity to play with quite a few plugins from various developers, and have noticed how their form of delivery may be different from one another. I’ll examine a few developers whose delivery of plugins is unique to the user experience, and offer my opinions and critiques as well.

Boris FX/Red Giant

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Boris FX offers a variety of cross platform products from Continuum Complete, Final Effects, RED, and more. Continuum is offered as either a complete set or a la carte. Within this set, editors and artists have access to a plethora of effects that handle a multitude of areas in post production, such as: color correction, motion graphics, and visual effects creation. I’ve been using this set myself for over four years and it’s one I’ve come to rely on quite a bit. About two years ago, Boris FX decided to break up the Continuum suite into 16 separate units so that customers could pick and choose, as opposed to paying for a full suite of plugins.

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In my opinion, I think this was a smart move as I’m sure not a lot of professionals are willing to shell out $1,000 or more for a suite of plugins when only a select few will get used. If I only want to use the Continuum transitions, I can pay $200 and save $800 in the process, which can be put towards other endeavors. As cheap as the units are to purchase, there is a nice comfort in having the complete Continnum suite. If a dire project situation should arise, it could be easily fixed by using a rarely used plugin, rather than going through the process of purchasing another unit just for the sake of one project. I believe having options within the Continuum Complete suite definitely makes it flexible for the customer. Red Giant, on the other hand, is also unique in their approach to plugin offerings.

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From what I’ve observed, it’s cheaper to buy a suite and install what you need, as opposed to buying a la carte. I’m not sure why that is the case with Red Giant products, but it seems to get the job done. This approach has allowed them to become a popular developer in the industry. One of their new additions, Universe, uses the subscription model, where users can sign up for a free or premium membership. With either membership, the user has access to a variety of free plugins, as well as premium grade plugins, which you get if you sign up for a premium membership. In my experience, this approach has been pleasant because Red Giant keeps users in the loop with the option of voting on upcoming plugins, as well as giving them more free plugins with each update. In my opinion, I feel this will have some influence on how plugin developers offer their products.

FxFactory

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The developers at Noise Industries offer groundbreaking and revolutionary plugins that maximize a users creative ambitions, as well as minimizing the need to think to far outside the box. With their FxFactory application, users are presented with a catalogue of plugins that they can choose from. This is similar to how iTunes catalogues their music and video options.

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Personally, I like this approach to plugin offerings because I can pick from a catalogue of developers to test, or purchase, what I need at anytime and have immediate access within seconds. If I need transitions for FCPX, I can chose from Luca Visual FX, Idustrial Revolution, or SugarFX to gain some incredible and creative options. If I need lower thirds, I can download some from Stupid Raisins. Overall, having a catalogue of options from various developers definitely makes the user experience much more pleasant.

After seeing how companies like Boris FX, Red Giant, and the developers amongst FxFactory offer their plugins, it’s great to know that there are unique options that users can choose from. If you want a suite of products for a particular function of post production, Red Giant offers great money saving suites. If you want more of an a la carte option from a suite, you can choose from the units in the Continuum Complete set. If you want a catalogue of plugins you can download within seconds, FxFactory is incredible for that. Choose that which offers you the best bang for your buck.

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FCPX 10.1.2 New Features

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It’s been over three months since the last update to Final Cut Pro X, but now an update has finally appeared with added features to make the editing experience much smoother. With the 10.1.2 update, users now have greater control of media management, a new Pro Res codec, new effects/titles/transitions, and more. I’m going to highlight some of those new features and additions now.

Library Media Management

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Managing media in the library has enhanced, giving users more options for what goes in and what stays out. When you open FCPX 10.1.2, you now have the ability to look at the library properties through the inspector window. You can determine where media gets imported, where the cache files (render files, audio waveforms, and thumbnail images), and backups are stored. The old method required the user to find things from the Finder level. This is similar to how FCP legacy worked with scratch disk locations and other options when starting a project. The folks at Ripple Training provide a few training videos explaining the new media management the library offers below.

Import Enhancements

Users now have the ability to import media into the browser by dragging and dropping. If you are an editor who prefers organizing your clips from the Finder level, then you will enjoy this feature quite a bit.

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If you are using the Mavericks OSX, you can also create keyword collections based on Finder tags. If you select single or multiple files and tag them in the Finder, you have the option to create a keyword collection based on that tag.

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One addition added to the import window is the ability to sift through videos and photos using a drop down menu. Sometimes, you want to see all the media you recorded on a card, and sometimes you want to focus on either video or photo. This drop down addition makes the process easier.

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Apple Pro Res 4444 XQ

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Included in the update of FCPX is an Apple Pro App codecs update. This brings a new flavor of Pro Res known as Apple Pro Res 4444 XQ. This is the highest quality of the Pro Res codecs, and it has a very high data rate to preserve the detail in high-dynamic-range imagery generated by today’s highest-quality digital image sensors. This codec will probably work best with Arri Alexa and RED cameras that shoot 4K-6K clips. From what I’ve read, it has a data rate of about 500 Mbps, and supports embedded alpha channels as well. This new Pro Res codec will be used a lot for broadcast and cinema masters.

Audio Enhancements

Users of FCPX now have the ability to adjust audio volume of clips either relatively or absolutely. To do this, you can select your clips, go to the Modify>Adjust Volume option, and choose between Relative or Absolute.

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Improvements to Voice Tool have also been made. It includes a countdown feature which makes it easier to know when the audio will be at your playhead’s location. On top of that, you can place different takes of the voiceover in an audition clip to determine which has the best performance.

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Transitions, Titles, & Effects

One thing that went unnoticed (until it was brought up to the FCPX guru Alex Gollner) was the addition of new titles, transitions, and effects. FCPX 10.1.2 has added more items for users to integrate into their edits. You can see them all in this video Alex uploaded below.

Overall, I’m very happy with this new update and the progress Final Cut Pro X has made over the last three years. It wasn’t the most liked NLE at first, but little by little it has matured into an admirable piece of software that folks, like myself and others, can make money with. I look forward to what 10.1.3 brings us in the future.

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Basics in Controlling Text Animation in After Effects

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Text animation is everywhere in film and TV. Text controls exist in nearly every post production and image manipulation software ranging from entry level NLEs such as iMovie, to Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Nuke, Cinema 4D, Maya, Avid, and more. We will be exploring After Effects today in its ability to:

  • Create and Manipulate Basic Text Form
  • Animate Text Using Position, Scale, and Rotation
  • Additional Resources and Plug Ins

CREATE AND MANIPULATE BASIC TEXT FORM

Start by creating a new COMPOSITION. Observe on the right hand side the TAB labeled CHARACTERS.

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This CHARACTER WINDOW will be what we use to control the TEXT we write with. Starting from the top and working down, this window allows you to choose the FONT, line variation, color, size, spacing, stroke, height, and width.

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Once you have adjusted the settings to what you feel will be the best fit, go up to the tool bar and select the TEXT TOOL (CMD+T).

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Click inside your COMPOSITION and type out your text. If you find you want to make further adjustments, highlight your text and inside the CHARACTER WINDOW you can make the necessary adjustments in order to create your desired text layout.

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ANIMATE TEXT USING POSITION, SCALE, AND ROTATION

When first learning how to control text, one must learn to keyframe the text and control simple 2D functions such as Position, Scale, and Rotation. POSITION – when you have your text layer selected in the layers window, hit ‘P’ on the keyboard. Position is what controls the location of your text in the composition and how it moves throughout the timeline. In order to create a KEYFRAME, you must CLICK the STOPWATCH icon next to POSITION under your TEXT in the LAYERS WINDOW.

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Once you CLICK the STOPWATCH, a yellow diamond will appear on your TIMELINE.

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If you move further down the timeline, and then move your text’s POSITION in the COMPOSITION, you will notice another KEYFRAME appears on the TIMELINE marking the POSITION at that exact moment. As you add more keyframes in your composition, you will also notice a TRACK will be generated showing you where your text’s position is moving over time.

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SCALE – when you have your text layer selected in the layers window, hit ‘S’ on the keyboard. Scale is what controls the size of your text throughout the timeline. For instance, if you want your text to be very small and slowly grow larger over time, you would set a keyframe early in the timeline with the scale set on a lower number, move down the timeline and increase the scale number. Depending on how close or far away the keyframes are on the timeline will dictate how fast or slow the scaling will take place.

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ROTATION – when you have your text layer selected in the layers window, hit ‘R’ on the keyboard. Rotation is what controls the text’s angle throughout the timeline. If you want your text to spin and twirl as it emerges, or even simply be displayed at a 90 degree angle, then the rotation is what you need to control. Just like position and scale, rotation is controlled throughout the timeline by setting a series of keyframes. Here, rotation is measured in degrees, and as you increase the number, it will range up to 360 and then clock over to one, signifying one complete rotation, and so on.

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Stay tuned as I cover more advanced techniques of animating text, including fade on and off, opacity, and using Z space to create 3D Depth and movement.

Sports Motion Graphics Companies

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I’m always enamored with the work that is done by those who create sports motion graphics. The time and effort it takes to bring these animations to life is incredible. From having to rotoscope athletes from games, build 3D environments with a variety of software, and tie it together to the aesthetic of a particular piece is nothing short of extraordinary. I want to share a few motion graphics companies I’ve come across who create fantastic motion graphics. Scattered across the world, the artists in these companies are responsible for creating memorable work that will be talked about for years.

Troika

 

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Based in Los Angeles and founded in 2001, Troika is a brand consultancy and creative agency which specializes in entertainment and sports media for clients around the world. Their clients include HBO, A&E, the CW, EA Sports, the LA Lakers, and much more. They are responsible for a lot of the branding elements you may have seen on television, movie theaters, and live events. When Troika works with a brand (especially a sports brand), they add a creative and invigorating feel that leaves many in awe. The talent that this agency possesses is second to none. Take a look at the work they’ve done for Time Warner Cable and NBC Sports below.

Big Studios

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Big Studios Inc. is a Canadian graphics/visual effects agency responsible for creating large scale network graphics for clients that include the NFL, MLB, CBS, and ESPN. With a talented team of over 15 people, this agency is responsible for the motion graphics you’ve seen on previous Super Bowls, as well as the graphics for Monday Night Football. You can admire their work below. I guarantee that it will leave you with envy.

 

Cake Studios

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Based in Burbank, CA, Cake Studios s a full service creative house offering extensive experience in branding, design, animation, and management of the creative process for clients around the world. Their clients include Fox Sports, the Denver Broncos, Golf Central, and CBS. From show intros, bumpers, and overlays, Cake Studios is on top of their game with stunning motion graphics. Aside from the U.S. clients they deal with, Cake Studios has also produced content for clients across the world. Take a look at their amazing work here.

 

PhotoElectric

 

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PhotoElectric is one of the newer post production houses that specializes in sports motion graphics. Founded in 2011 and based in South Carolina, they have done work for Fox Sports, ESPN, the Carolina Panthers, and the NHL. Comprised of a team of four talented individuals, along with freelancers, PhotoElectric have been able to create show packages, show intros, commercial spots, and more. Although they’ve only been around for three years, the combined amount of experience in this group is about 30 years. Check out their exciting work below.

 

I strongly recommend you check out each of these companies out on their websites, as well as Vimeo. You can also look at other companies through Graphics Mafia, which showcases the work of sports motion graphics artists. It’s companies like these that I turn to get inspired on my work, and I’m sure you will find yourself in awe, as well as inspired, once you see what they each offer.

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