The Art of Foley – An Inside Look at Sound Effects in Film

T H E   A R T   O F   F O L E Y –
An Inside Look at Sound Effects in Film

Sound Effects are a driving force behind every film that can steer the audience’s emotions and expectations. An image of a door could be shown but the audience would know the emotional tone whether they heard the sounds of wine glasses clinking with plates and silverware milling about , or alternatively bone cracking and chainsaws revving. In one instance the audience is invited into a feast and the other they want to run in horror. The senses follow the sounds. Creating high quality sounds to use in one’s films is an undertaking and an art form in itself. In one instance there is a vast array of high quality sounds already available to you at AudioMicro.com, but sometimes you just want that personal touch and feel the drive to create your own sound effects. In this post we will be taking a look at what exactly goes into making a custom high quality sound effect and a brief history of how it all came to be.

Creating Sound Effects for Film

One of the great unsung heroes of any movie is easily the Foley Artist. These artists are the ones who create all the sound effects you hear throughout the film by using everyday objects in unexpected ways to generate unique sounds. Think banging a couple of coconut shells together to create the sound of a horse galloping like in Monty Python’s Holy Grail; that is a prime example of foley sound.

While on location of a film, modern day audio equipment is optimized for picking up the actors voice while cancelling out all the surrounding and background sounds that would breath life into the scene. This could be something subtle like the actor’s footsteps, opening a door, or even just scratching his own face, to the more in your face fighting scenes, scuffling, clashing swords, etc. It is these artists’ job to find out how to recreate any sound imaginable for any given scene and convince the audience it’s the real thing. Some examples of this would be something like stepping on VHS tape to create the sound of walking through autumn leaves. You can then pick up the same VHS tape and shake it to give the sense of bushes rustling in the wind. Another example would be stepping on a bag full of corn starch to create that sound of fresh snow crunching and compressing as its walked on. Even snapping or twisting a bunch of celery can sound like bones cracking or breaking. At the end of the day if the foley artist did his job right you will never know he did anything at all.

The Origin of Foley Sound Effects in Film

Before this method of foley sound became mainstream in film it was common practice for the time to have sound effects added into broadcasted radio plays to help paint a richer picture of what is happening for the audience. This is what helped pave the way for post sound effects to emerge into film.

The term Foley Artists comes from its creator, Jack Donovan Foley, who as a Universal employee developed the method of performing sound effects in sync with the film’s moving picture in post production back in the early mid 1900s. Jack and his team would have the movie projected in front of them and perform all the post sounds needed in one go and record it on one single track. Nowadays with the invention of computers and development of Non Linear Editing there are infinite amounts of tracks sounds can be recorded, retimed, and adjusted on that simply did not exist back then. At the time this method of creating post sound was called ‘Direct to Picture,’ and it wasn’t until years later that it became known as foley.

Modern Recording Practices of Foley Sound Effects

Today the common set up for post sound is 2 foley artists and 1 sound mixer on the mixing stage. The two artists will work in tandem to create the sound and will work from visual markers and cues projected on the film supplied by the mixer to help them match timing. However, these days it’s less critical if an artist misses the timing as this can be adjusted by the mixer, but making sure the feel of the sound matches perfectly is more of what’s necessary. These specialized mixing stages the foley artists work on will commonly have special sectioned floors with various textures and materials to step on to create various sounds. Along with having an ever expanding warehouse full of props and everyday items they have catalogued and can use at any given moment.

In the instance that you might need to add some foley sound to one of your own projects you can always go simple and experiment with a basic audio mic recording various sounds like footsteps, slamming doors, breaking celery and then test it out by cutting and remixing the sound back into your edit.

If you need something more robust and professional sounding, or you simply don’t quite know how to get that exact perfect sound effect you’re looking for – audiomicro.com has you covered! Just head to the website, select sound effects, and search for anything you need! There are literally 1000s of professional high quality sound effects to choose from that you can remix and cut back into your projects with confidence.

The Sounds Of Horror

T H E   S O U N D S   O F   H O R R O R –
The History of Horror Sounds & Techniques in Film.

Whether it be creaking floor boards in a dark deserted hallway, the ominous sounds of unsettling whispers, or the aggressive revving of an old rusty chainsaw; some sounds are synonymous with horror. It is this genre that utilizes sound design the most, and relies so heavily on what the audience hears – or in some circumstances, doesn’t hear. Understanding what types of sounds and in what combination can most effectively unsettle and sink deep into your audience’s psyche will help any creator develop a more memorable horror film, television show, or web series.

‘THE LEWTON BUS’

In fact, the notable horror cliche of the “quiet… quiet… BANG!” method is derived from the technique known as the ‘Lewton Bus.’ Producer Val Lewton famously developed the technique back in 1942’s Cat People, of lulling the audience into a false sense of security as the scared protagonist proceeds in silence for a moment of time only to be jolted by the sounds of something rather innocent.

Even though aspects of this technique have evolved with time, you can see the ‘Lewton Bus’ method now used in nearly every horror film to date and is a valuable tool for any creator to utilize in their own horror masterpieces.

THE WATERPHONE

Also known as the ‘ocean harp,” is an odd looking percussive instrument that creates all those eerie and ethereal sounds used in countless horror films including Poltergeist, Aliens, Let the Right One In, and even non horror films alike. The sounds itself is tough to describe so give it a listen and you will instantly recognize it’s spine tingling qualities.

THE CHAINSAW

Unless you’re a lumberjack, for most of us the guttural revving of a chainsaw invokes thoughts of dread and dismemberment. This in part started back in 1974 with the Texas Chainsaw massacre and has been since remade, mimicked, and turned into several homages. The chainsaw sound is just so loud and violent that it cannot help but invoke a sense of chaos and confusion as the deafening sound itself grabs the viewers complete attention, puts them on edge, and does not let go.

METAL SCRAPING

Whether it be Freddy Krueger’s claws opening, Jason’s machete scraping against the wall as he meanders towards his victim, or Sweeney Todd sharpening his straight razors before he begins a shave to close for comfort. The sound of metal scraping inherently flags as a warning sign to the audience. You may not even see the object itself but hearing the sound tells you something bad is going to happen. We commonly identify metal scraping as a knife, blade, or weapon of some sort and hearing the sound triggers something basic in us screaming DANGER!

A SCORE THAT WILL DRIVE YOU MAD

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Jack’s slow descent into madness throughout 1980s The Shining has a intensely unsettling musical score to match. Letting the music indicate the tone and mood of your piece is paramount and is just as an important character as even your protagonist that needs to have its own arch and development. Using The Shining as our example Jack at the start of the film is an aspiring writer who took an off season caretaker job with his family; The music meanders along at a lulling pace. By the end of the film he’s chasing his own kid through a hedge maze with an axe and the music is just pure chaos!

What do you think?
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on all the horror sounds that make your skin crawl.  Let us know your favorite and most iconic horror sounds in the comments below!  And if you are looking to spice up your horror piece with some memorable sounds – whether it be eerie atmospheres, screams, shocks, creaking, cracking, breaking, or just good old fashioned gore – then be sure to check out AudioMicro.com for all your horror sound needs!

We’re always here to support you in your creative endeavors!

 

 

Meet A&R Manager – Joshua Priest

T E A M   M E M B E R   P R O F I L E :
AN INTERVIEW WITH AUDIOMICRO’S A&R MANAGER:

At AudioMicro, we’ve got a commitment to the high quality of music we provide, and our A&R Manager is at the heart of this mission.  Meet the man, behind the man, behind the man, Joshua Priest.

– Thanks, Josh, for interviewing with me today.  So you are the resident music expert and A&R manager for AudioMicro!  How long have you been working with the company?

Answer: I’ve been with the company for four years, and I’ve been managing A&R and the ingest contracts for artists for the past two years.

– Very nice. What’s your background with music?

Answer: Well, I’ve been playing guitar for 14 years. And I’ve always been into music ever since I was a kid.  I mean, basically, music has just been a big part of the journey in my life. Because, you know, when you play an instrument, you’re forever learning and struggling with things that you don’t know. Your music within itself is a language, so you’re always kind of learning, every single day. And it’s great. I deal with other people’s music every day as well.  I get to kind of get a snapshot of their musical journey as well.

– So it’s almost like music is a teacher in a way.  And what’s your background before working in the music industry for AudioMicro?

Answer:  I used to work in TV, for  G4 TV, which is now defunct, unfortunately, and I also worked for a year with NBC. I started off as a production assistant for about a year and half, then became a producer myself.

– Ok, so you have a background in music and in producing. With that experience under your belt, what are some top things that you’re looking for as far as the quality of the tracks that you’re ingesting for AudioMicro’s library?

Answer: Well I definitely want to listen to how things are mixed.  We want to provide top-quality music so mixing is very important.I also want to listen to how the melodies fit into the genre that they’re trying to achieve.

Then I also like to listen to the quality of their plugins. Say with a song that has flute, you can basically tell when they have a really good plugin because you can’t tell the difference between a real flute and a really good plugin of the flute.

Sometimes I hear a film score, and I can’t tell if the artist recorded an orchestra or just on his computer doing this?  Either way, it doesn’t matter because it sounds amazing.

I can hear their level of professionalism and effort within the first 30 seconds.

And then there’s timing.  Sometimes people will upload tracks, and you can just hear that the drums are off, or the rhythm guitar is going at a certain beat per minute. But then, the lead guitar is playing way too quick, or way too slow compared to it. And you can tell that it’s not something that they’re actually trying to achieve.

And, one more thing I’d like to add. When you listen to someone’s music, if you can close your eyes, and you can see the song that they’re making being used in some sort of production, like I can see this being in a movie, or I can see this being the background of a blog on YouTube or something like that, then you know that you’ve got something good.

– So the way that it’s mixed, the melody fitting the genre, the quality of the sounds and plugins, and the timing, those are some of the things that you look for when you’re rating.  And, because of your background and TV and music, you need to imagine where it could be used, and it may need to evoke some emotion in you?

Answer: Yeah. Actually, I won’t lie. There’ve been a few times I’ve uploaded contracts to AudioMicro and I was going through a new artist’s music that were just very sad songs. And I felt a very strong reaction, my heartstrings were getting pulled, and I was like, “Oh, I better stop listening to this. I don’t want to start crying at my desk!”

Some of these artists they are really good at what they do. And if I can listen to music and feel emotional, that’s a winner right there.

– I think a lot of video production is telling a story; and that could be a happy story or a sad story, or many times to inspire, right?  Especially motivational videos on YouTube, they’re definitely telling a story, but also evoking some positive, motivational, or inspirational feelings, right?

Answer: You’re absolutely right, because when it comes down to it at the end of the day, if you have a video with audio, the audio is 50% of your video’s impact. If you have a video with audio that doesn’t match what you’re watching, it takes you out of the experience- 100%.  But if you have audio that matches what you’re watching, it can make the impact of the video 100 times better.

– It’s almost as if the measure of a well produced movie or video is that when you’re so involved in the story, that you don’t even notice the music, because it just corresponds so well, it all goes together.

Answer: Yeah, that’s what we hope for at AudioMicro. Content creators for YouTube,  production film houses, or for people that do podcasts. We’re here to help provide music to compliment your visual aspect to make your production the best it can be.  To Complement and Enhance your project.

– Do you ever get requests to help people find music or suggest music for their production?

Answer: Yes, I’m always more than happy to help our customers if they need assistance.  They can just write in to us with info like, “Hey, we’re doing like a little podcast about history and science, that we kind of want something that’s mellow acoustic.” I’ll point them in the right direction or put together 5 or 10 tracks of things that I think they might like.

– It’s great to know you all are there to help!  So, what’s something about AudioMicro that people probably don’t know.

Answer:  It’s a really great working environment at AudioMicro – We all have each other’s backs.  We’re all very chill & casual with each other- I could go talk to my supervisor or CEO and could talk about work or I could talk about something personal.  When you have a work environment where everyone meshes together so well, the productivity and the company morale becomes so high that it feels like the sky’s the limit.

We also have a room that is dedicated to chilling and taking a break.  We have an acoustic bass, a piano, bean bags and couches, and a PlayStation 4 for people want to play video games.  Throughout all hours of the day, you can hear someone in there either banging on the piano, plucking on a guitar, or playing a video game.

I think that is the best way to blow off some steam and clear your head, like if you’re working on something and you kind of hit a brick wall. You can go in there for 10 or 15 minutes, noodle around on the guitar to get some creative juices flowing, and then before you know it, you might be in the middle of playing a song and you go, “Oh, I got it!”  And go back to what you were working on.

– That’s perfect, because they say human beings can only focus efficiently for so long, and then they actually need to take a break and shift into something else.  So last question Joshua, what kind of music are you into right now?

Answer: Right now I’ve really been into Lo Fi Hip Hop to work to.  It’s kind of jazzy, there are a lot of samples from old jazz musicians and they tweak them to create some interesting sounds, and then I’m also really into classical rock and bands I grew up with like the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd .

And also, I normally don’t tell people this, but I have a guilty pleasure… I like to listen to Korean Pop Music or K Pop.  My best friend from elementary and middle school was Korean so I’d always be at his house and that’s what him and his sister listened to all the time. So I learned about it back in 1997 and have been listening to it off and on for a long time, but more recently I’ve kind of gotten back into it.

I’m really digging this girl group called Black Pink.  They’ve been around for a couple of years but recently put out a new album and their sound is pretty different.. It’s like Korean girl rap trap music. Here’s the link to my favorite video.

Awesome Joshua, thanks for your time!

 

T O D A Y ‘S   T A K E A W A Y S

Takeaway 1:  Joshua’s A&R rating is based on track mixing, the melody fitting the genre, the quality of the sounds and plugins, the timing, and if the sounds help to evoke emotion or could help tell a story.

Takeaway 2:  It’s essential to find background or production music that matches your creative project in order to complement and enhance its impact!

Takeaway 3: Joshua and the team at AudioMicro are there to help if you need assistance in finding the right sounds for your production project.  Just write in Here.

Takeaway 4: AudioMicro promotes a work environment that is friendly, supportive, and honors their employees need to express creativity and take breaks!

Takeaway 5: Joshua secretly loves K-Pop! 😉

 

 

AudioMicro Royalty Free Licenses 101

A U D I O M I C R O   M U S I C   L I C E N S E S   1 0 1

 

 

 

 

 

Want to know more about what our Standard License for Music Track covers?
Let us give you the 411.

We’ll cover all the music licensing types in this article, but will focus on our tried and true- The Standard License for our Royalty Free Music Tracks.

We’re stoked to offer you the most affordable Standard License price in the industry, not to mention our HUGE library of HIGH QUALITY tracks, all for just $34.95 per song.  Woot!

So where can you utilize these tracks?  Let us count the ways…

  • In any free apps, podcasts, software, and games, utilized on iPhone, iPad, Android, & Facebook.  As long as it’s free, you’re free to use these songs as many times as you’d like!  Score!
  • In any non-downloadable casual games played exclusively via a web browser, both free and paid.  Live Games = Game on!
  • In any creative project videos that are non-advertisements, for TV, Radio, Wedding Videos, and Corporate Videos.  No Ads = No Problem!
  • ANYWHERE on the world wide web (we like to call it the Interwebs), including on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Websites, Web Videos, & Slideshows.  That’s right, anywhere on YouTube land – so create away!
  • In any Film Festivals projects, both student and professional.  We love making big screen debuts!

And what about Reproduction?

The Fine Print :: The Standard License includes the reproduction of up to 1,000 copies of your project in physical, tangible products like CD’s, DVD’s, VHS tapes, Blu-rays, toys, and console games.

So, in sum, the Standard License is all you need, unless of course, you are using the music in the following scenarios. ::

  • For Ads- In an Advertisement to be run on Television or Radio
  • For Films Not at Film Festivals – In a commercial film release or theatrical presentation (excluding film festival screenings)
  • For large-scale Paid Games- In a paid (i.e. not free) iPhone/iPad/Android app, podcast, or downloadable software/game where more than 1,000 copies will be downloaded. Notice: Apps and games that offer “in-app” purchasing by the user are considering paid (i.e. not free) and require the Mass Reproduction License if more than 1,000 will be distributed.
  • For large-scale Reproduction- In over 1,000 physical/tangible reproductions of a product like CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-rays, toys, and console games.

So there are the In’s and Out’s of our Standard License, and all for $34.95!
Quite the steal, wouldn’t you say?  And just a reminder that your dollars are supporting the very deserving and talented musicians and artists who spend countless hours providing you with premium sounds!

Now remember, these deets cover our Music Tracks only.  Interested in Sound Effects SFX Licenses, click here.

Didn’t cover your intended use?  Keep reading for increased coverage.

Here’s a run-down of ALL the MUSIC LICENSE options – depending on your use:

B) MASS REPRODUCTION – $134.95 for up to 10,000 copies to $284.95 for unlimited.

This license is ONLY required if you wish to make over 1,000 physical/tangible reproductions of your product or utilize the music in a paid (i.e. not free) iPhone/iPad/Android/Facebook app, podcasts, software, and/or games where more than 1,000 copies will be downloaded.

Notice: The Standard License allows up to 1,000 downloads of both free and paid software/games as well as unlimited downloads of free (and not allowing in-app purchasing) iPhone/iPad/Android apps, podcasts, softwares, and games. Therefore, you do NOT need to purchase a mass duplication license unless you’re distributing over 1,000 physical/tangible reproductions of videos, softwares, games, toys within media such as CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and the like OR using the music in paid (i.e. not free) iPhone/iPad/Android apps and podcasts to be downloaded more than 1,000 times.

Mass Reproduction license prices:

  • The standard license price of $34.95 plus $100 for up to 10,000 reproductions
  • The standard license price of $34.95 plus $250 for unlimited reproductions

 

C) TELEVISION/RADIO ADVERTISEMENT – $134.95 to $284.95.

This license is ONLY required if you are using the music in an Advertisement run on either Television or Radio.
Television / Radio Advertisement License prices:

  • For Music used in Local/Regional advertisements played on Television or Radio (with a range of 250 miles in all directions from the broadcast center), the price is the Standard License price of $34.95 plus $100 ($134.95)
  • For Music used in Nationwide/Worldwide advertisements played on Television or Radio, the price is the Standard License price of $34.95 plus $250 ($284.95 total)

 

D) THEATRICAL / COMMERCIAL FILM RELEASE – $284.95 for worldwide rights.

This license is ONLY required for commercial film releases and theatre presentations. Utilization of the music in non-commercial, educational, and editorial projects, like student films and contest submissions, is included in the Standard License. Please be sure to credit “Royalty Free Music by AudioMicro” in your project.

Theatrical/Commercial License Price:  The Standard License price of $34.95 plus $250 per track

Notice:
All of our licenses allow you use the music solely in your own projects. You cannot resell the music as a standalone product or create a derivative work that primarily contains just the music and the resell it as your own, such as a meditation CD with your voice running over the music. If you’d like to use the music in such a manner, please contact us for a special license arrangement.

Bonuses:
We offer a bonus of 20% on purchases over $500 and in the form of store credit to be used with your next purchase. Simply contact us after you have made your purchase and we’ll place the bonus into your account. We also offer bonuses for verified charities and nonprofits.

So that’s AUDIOMICRO’s Licensing 101 friends.

Let us know if you have any questions, and Go Forward and Create!

~The AudioMicro Team

Best Drones for Filmmaking

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In this new era of filmmaking, getting complex shots has become much easier thanks to technological advances made by vendors across the world. It’s more affordable to get a rising shot thanks to jibs and cranes that are accessible to even the most low budget filmmakers. Getting stabilized shots are easier now thanks to amount of rigs available. Aerial shots have now become cheaper due to the influx of drones available on the market. I want to highlight some drones you may want to consider adding to your filmmaking kit so that you can increase your production value.

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced/Professional $1,3000

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This aerial drone is a new release from DJI and can capture great high quality footage from great distances. What makes this drone so popular is the following:

  • 3 Axis Gimbal camera which shoots HD (for the Advanced model) or 4K (for the Professional model)
  • Captures photographs at 12 megapixels
  • Live HD camera view via smartphone or tablet attached to the remote controller through the DJI app
  • Vision positioning through visual and ultrasonic sensors
  • Intelligent Battery with battery level indicator
  • Worry-free AutoPilot

As an owner of the DJI Phantom 3 Pro, I can attest to the incredible media captured with this camera. Within three days of learning to fly this drone, I was capturing great aerial shots that I would have had to pay a helicopter pilot to capture. With a $1,300 price tag, it is a steal for what you get from this drone. I would personally recommend this model for any prosumer or high end shooter who needs to capture aerial shots of client locations.

 

DJI Inspire 1 $3,399

 

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The DJI Inspire 1 is the more advanced and expensive model of the Phantom models offered. This drone is designed with strong carbon fiber arms and gives the user a full 360 unrestricted view when in flight. The Inspire features:

  • 3 axis gimbal 4K camera which shoots up to 30 fps, or 1080p up to 60 fps and takes photos at 12 MP
  • Optional dual remote control function
  • Powerful propulsion system
  • HD wireless video transmission
  • Vision Position system
  • Intelligent Power Management system

If I had the expenses, I would have considered investing in this. I would definitely say that this model is meant for high end, big budget filmmakers that have the funds to afford it.

3DR Solo Quadcopter $999.95

 

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The 3DR Solo is an all-in-one personal drone with a great ease of use and powerful new features. Within these powerful features are the following:

  • Computer assisted cinematography through the Solo app
  • Attach a GoPro to gimbal harness and stream HD video from your GoPro to your iOS or Android mobile device, at ranges of up to half a mile.
  • Easy to use aerial photography controller
  • Powerful smart battery which displays remaining time
  • Up to 20 minutes of flight time with GoPro attached

I haven’t had the opportunity to try this drone, but based on the preview video above and the feature list, it has a lot to offer. With the ability to mount a GoPro, you know what type of quality you are getting. With a price tag of $1,000, you are getting an advanced video production tool that will give see a greater return.

Overall, these three drone models are great if you want to add aerial videography to your business and skill set. I’ve only began my journey into aerial photography, but already I feel that it has added much value to my current projects. I look forward to seeing what I can do next.

Royalty Free Music

Using Adobe Hue CC

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Adobe recently released their Creative Cloud 2015 update, and it came with a whole new bunch of apps for your smart device that partner up with your full applications. One new and powerful app is Adobe Hue CC, which allows you to take a photo using your smart device, select a color swatch from the photo, and apply it as a color hue to your video footage via applications such as Premier Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC. In this tutorial, I will show you how to operate the app and then apply a hue to your footage in After Effects in three simple steps:

– Understanding Adobe Hue

– Capturing an image with Adobe Hue

– Applying the look to your footage

UNDERSTANDING ADOBE HUE

Adobe Hue CC is a recently released app in conjunction with the 2015 application updates to Creative Cloud. The app works with your smart devices (currently only Apple products) and allows you to capture an image with the device’s camera, and then allow you to take the color data and apply it to your video footage.

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Here is a quick overview of how the app performs.

CAPTURING AN IMAGE WITH ADOBE HUE

The app itself is very intuitive. Simply open the app and give it permission to use your smart device’s camera. Once the camera is opened just point and shoot.

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You will notice as you point the camera there are a series of color orbs floating in the image. These are the swatches that are sampling the color data from the image you are providing. Once you snap the photo, you will be taken to a page with a stock sample image and the same color data swatches. Here, you can test and choose which color hue is best suited for your needs. In addition, you are able to increase and decrease the amount of the applied effect with the slider control, and even upload additional reference photos or videos to preview with your look.

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When you are happy with the look, simply select the CHECKMARK icon at the bottom of the screen and you will be taken to your LIBRARIES page. Here, you are able to review your looks, edit them with alternative color data swatches, and create and categorize new libraries as needed.

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APPLYING THE LOOK TO YOUR FOOTAGE

Back in Adobe After Effects CC, you are now able to load up and work with your footage as usual. However, next to the EFFECTS & PRESETS tab you will now notice a new tab for LIBRARIES.

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Here you will find all the looks you have created on your Adobe Hue CC app. To apply the look to your footage, simply drag and drop the look directly onto the footage, or first create an adjustment, and apply the look to the adjustment layer.

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If you twirl open the layer you can go through EFFECTS and see what options you have. You can adjust the opacity of the look – which simply means you are able to fade off the look and blend it more with the original footage if the look is too intense or needed to be keyed on or off over time. You also can create a mask around a section of your footage and set the MASK REFERENCE to use the mask you create to apply the look only to the masked region on the footage.

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Overall, I find the app extremely intuitive and provides the ability to apply the looks I find in everyday life to a project I am working on. This is most definitely a welcomed addition to the already very powerful Creative Cloud line up.

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Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects – Part 2

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Visual Effects, VFX for short, is a big ocean and covers numerous jobs. Last time, in part 1, I explored several roles including previs artists, data wranglers, research & development, math moving, compositing, roto/paint artists, and technical directors. Each plays a smaller part towards a larger goal. I’m here to help make sense of all those roles to give you a better informed decision if you plan to heading into VFX, or at the very least, offer some clarification to some of those more obscure sounding roles. So with that, let’s start with the fur groomer!

*Take Note* Each role header is a link that leads to a related creative reel or article going more in depth on the material. Enjoy!

Fur Groomer

This title kind of makes me giggle whenever I read it, but actually this name is quite apt given their role. A grooming VFX artist is the person who specifically focuses on fur, hair, and feathers. Designing them in 3D, controlling how they move throughout the elements, and all other physical parameters surrounding those points. Most grooming artists are well versed in Maya and similar 3D modeling and shading programs.

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Modeler

This artist, as you might have guessed, is the person who creates the 3D models of people, creatures, etc. using various 3D modeling software such as Maya, Cinema 4D, or 3DS Max.

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Environment Artist

Similar to the Modeler (and most modelers market themselves also as environment artists), this artist develops the digital 3D landscapes found in some CG films, TV shows, and video games.

Texture Artist

As the title sounds, this artist creates the textures that go on the 3D models and environments. This can be anything from human skin, scales, cobblestone roads, or a brick and mortar castle exterior.

Matte Painter

A matte painter creates digital paintings of a landscape or set and is then composited into the background, giving the illusion of an environment that did not exist at the time of filming. Sometimes, the scene could have been shot in a green screen room, and an environment artist could develop the 3D foreground. Then a matte painter would create the 2D painting composited in the background. Sometimes, instead of flying to Paris for that one shot, a matte painter will develop a French landscape that is then composited into the background of a live action shot giving the illusion the actors are sitting at a café in Paris with the Eiffel Tower perfectly positioned in the background.

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Rigger

The rigger then takes the 3D model created by the modeler and creates the skeleton – the physical structure, joints, flexibility, range of motion, etc. – that defines how the model moves and interacts with its world.

Animator

The animator then takes the rigged model and breathes life into the object by moving it around as required for the specific scene. This can be anything from walking, talking, blinking, breathing, pointing, or any number of specific movements and actions. It is not uncommon to have a team of several animators working on a single model to create the most realistic motion.

Motion Capture

Aside from an animator, motion capture is another process to breath life into a rigged model. This process is a bit more physical as a performer wears a motion capture suit that is covered in marker points that correspond with similar marker points on the models rig. Therefore, when a motion capture artist moves their arm in real time, the model moves its arm. This method has been gaining popularity over the last decade with memorable performances from actors like Andy Serkis playing the role of Golem in Lord of the Rings.

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Visual Effects Supervisor & Coordinator

Visual Effects Supervisors work directly with the director on and off the set to ensure planning and execution of the final image is achieved. The coordinator works directly under the supervisor and makes sure the artists work smoothly and coherently with the same vision the director and supervisor are working towards. For instance, the supervisor works with the director to create the physical space with all the correct markers and camera movements to have a dragon destroy a village. The supervisor then has the coordinator coordinate the team of artists to execute that vision (environment artist creates the town, matte painter designs background, modeler designs dragon, texture artist designs the scales, rigger builds the dragons skeleton, etc. etc. …).

I hope this post has helped educate you on some of the most crucial roles in the big machine that is visual effects. Each role is a small cog in a much larger working device – each equally important and necessary to reach the final goal. If you have any questions or comments about any of the roles I mentioned, or if I’ve forgotten a role you wanted to learn more about, then leave a comment below!

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Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects – Part 1

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Visual Effects, VFX for short, is a big ocean and covers numerous jobs. I am here to help make sense out of the plethora of names and titles out there so you can make a more informed decision as to what avenue you would want to explore as a visual effects artist. At the very least, maybe I can explain some of those weird credits you see scrolling at the end of the movies that make you say, “Data Wrangler?! Is a cowboy hog tying numbers on a movie set?!”

*Take Note* Each role header is a link that leads to a related creative reel or article going more in depth on the material. Enjoy!

Previs Artist

Previs is short for previsualization – this artist will work collaboratively with a team to develop the director’s image for specific physical or digital shots. These are taken from the script and recreated digitally as a quick rough animation. It is no mystery that movies cost money – and tons of it! By spending a small percentage of your budget on developing previs shots of key moments in the film in order to figure out the logistics, you can potentially save yourself thousands – if not millions – come time for the shoot and you know exactly how every moving part goes together (camera, lighting, scenery, explosions, etc).

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Data Wrangler

Also known as a Data Loader. This person works with the camera crew, post production editors, and VFX team to ensure all camera information is accurately recorded and stored on multiple hard drives (never erase anything without at least two copies backed up first! Redundancy is key). This not only includes the raw data itself, but also settings, frame rates, etc, that would be essential for editors and VFX artists to match with their own work.

Research and Development

There are people on the VFX team that are dedicated solely to R&D. For example, a VFX artist needs to create a medieval village. These people will research everything about a shot and will provide necessary sample shots, textures, settings for basis, and anything else necessary for the artist to create an accurate depiction of what was requested of them.

Matchmoving

Also known as Camera Tracking. This is the process of producing a 3D digital camera that matches the exact movement of what a physical camera has shot. It is essential for the VFX artist’s work to fit in a particular shot when the camera is rotating, panning, and moving around. A digital element needs to match each of these movements in order to not float off into space.

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Compositor

A compositor takes all the digital effects, environments, video, and images and combines them into a final rendered image.

There are two types of compositing: node based and layered based. Node based creates a “node tree” where each branch links a new media file or effect. The most popular node based software currently is NUKE by The Foundry. Layer based compositing manages media files and effects through a stacking system – bottom layers are at the base and everything layered is built on top. The most popular layered based compositing software is Adobe’s After Effects.

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Roto/Paint Artists

Rotoscoping is the process of creating a matte for an element that can later become composited into another background. For example, an actor might be shot on green screen, would need to be cleanly keyed out, and then sent to the compositor to be composited into a background shot. Sometimes, an actor may be wearing wires or some form of harness for a particular shot, and the artist would then need to go frame by frame and paint out those wires to seamlessly match the background. This role is generally looked at as an entry level position for aspiring compositors.

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Technical Director

He is regarded as the department ‘expert.’ They are equal parts artist and programmer. In a film studio, this is commonly for camera, animation, and lighting. “But I thought the Director of Photography was the expert cameraman?” You are correct, however, this is about Visual Effects roles and so the Camera TD in VFX is for all digital cameras implemented in virtual and digital environments. This also applies for the Lighting TD who is the expert at digitally creating realistic and accurate lighting in any given scene. This can be an entirely digital scene or digital lighting can be composited – by a compositor – created by a lighting TD – into a physical scene.

Additionally, some TD’s can program new software implemented in pipeline flow specific to that studio (pipeline is the term referred to the flow in which a post production VFX shot is created), developing character rigs, or any number of detailed oriented technical tasks in the VFX world.

These are just a few roles in the sea of visual effects. If there is a specific VFX role you would like to see me explore next, leave a comment below!

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Timelapses & Breakdowns

 

A Team NLE

The craft and method of editing is what drew me to filmmaking. Knowing what editors, visual effects artists, and others are capable of doing to tell an intricate story is quite incredible. They are responsible for weaving, manipulating, and inserting assets into frames that help and/or invigorate a story. The best way to see the what the post production process is like is through behind-the-scenes clips on DVDs, or making of featurettes, online. In this article, I’m going to highlight some VFX breakdowns and timelapsed video edits that showcase how much work it takes to bring a film or a video to the masses.

VFX Breakdown #1: X-Men Days of Future Past

One of the top blockbusters of 2014 saw the X-Men mythology returning to top form with this entry into the ever expanding saga. Set in a dystopic future where most of mankind and mutant kind have been eradicated by man made machines know as Sentinels, the remaining X-Men rally together to change the past to ensure a better future before it is too late. To bring the sentinels to life, as well as showcase the various mutant powers that were brought to the screen, required 372 visual effects shots. In the breakdown above, the talented folks of MPC, led by visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, took upon the task of creating the visual effects of the future mutants and sentinels. Utilizing techniques such as match-moving, rotoscoping, matte painting, chroma keying, and more, they were able to bring various elements to life that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible using practical effects. The photo-realistic effects featured in this film were essential to bringing the audience into this universe.

VFX Breakdown #2: The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3, the third entry into Sylvester Stallone’s homage to classic action films, included more actors, as well as more insane action sequences. We saw everything from insane stunts, more explosions, and combat sequences. For this sequel, the folks at Worldwide FX were responsible for about 1200 VFX shots. In the breakdown above, the Worldwide FX team used a lot of matte painting in certain scenes as well as animating 3D vehicles, like the Expendables’s airplane and helicopters. Watching the breakdown, it is surprising how much green and blue screening was used to set up certain shots. Thanks in part to the efforts of the artists, they are able to seamlessly work with the actors involved. The one thing that caught my eye is how well they are able to rotoscope and integrate objects into scenes with lots of moving parts.

Timelapse Edit #1: SNL “Testicules”

This timelapsed edit session done by SNL film editor Adam Epstein features a short starring actor/producer Andy Samberg. Edited using tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud, Adam takes footage coming DSLRs and RED cameras, and puts together a digital short that has the look of a short film. During the rigorous 48 hour edit session, Adam is responsible for all aspects of post which include sorting out takes, multi-camera editing, color correction, motion graphics/visual effects, and audio selection. The crazy part is that he can still be editing and making changes while SNL is airing and get it uploaded just before it ends. The thing that impresses me about watching his edit session is the amount of quality he is able to pack into his shorts in a 48 hour timeframe. Essentially, cutting an SNL digital short is the equivalent of doing a 48 hour film race every weekend for six months. Anyone who can endure that is a masterful editor.

Timelapse Edit #2: Red Productions Christmas Video 2014

For their annual Christmas video, the folks of Red Productions did a timelapsed edit session on their latest video. Just like Adam, they utilized tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud and completed this video within 24 hours. This video featured greenscreen footage, composited objects and explosions, motion tracking, and many other post production facets. What interested me about this timelapsed session was that they were able to turn around a comedic piece in 24 hours. From what I have seen in editing comedy, it may take a little longer as you need to account for pacing and timing of the humor to occur. Cutting all this in a 24 hour timeframe is impressive to say the least. What stood out to me was how easy they made their visual effects look. They had a plethora of visual effects you’ve come to see in internet videos, and it looked really clean.

Those are just a few breakdowns and timelapsed edit sessions that are floating online. It’s always amazing to see how films and television shows achieve such high level visual effects, as well as watch the talented artists put it all together.

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5 Tips/Tricks for Premiere Pro CC

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Over the last few years, Premiere Pro has really stepped up its game as being a dependable NLE for professionals across the world. Its ability to make almost any codec native editable allows it to be more than a viable choice for editors to use. I’ve professionally relied on it to get many projects done over the years, and with each iteration that has been released, Premiere has shown that it can compete with the best of the NLEs. With the release of the Creative Cloud, we have been introduced to features that make the life of an editor much easier. I want to share a few tips/tricks that can help you in using this versatile NLE.

Using Drop Down Menus

The source, program, and title monitor each have a drop down menu above them indicating what item is currently in view. Every time you enter a new item into these monitors, it changes to that item. The cool thing about the source and title monitor is you can load multiple items into them and cycle through each individually by using the drop down menu. For example, if I want to look at multiple video clips and not have to load them into the Source monitor one by one, all you have to do is select a group of clips in the project browser and drag them into the source monitor. By using the drop down menu, you can go through multiple clips one by one. Aside from using the drop down menu in CC, you can map shortcuts to these commands below to cycle through clips using the keyboard. Personally, I’ve found this to be a timesaver for high volume footage edits.

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You can also load multiple titles in the Title Tool and cycle through different titles. You can also edit them one by one without having to double click them individually.

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You can also use the drop down menu for the Program monitor when you have multiple sequences open. I rarely use the drop down menus when cycling between sequences, but it’s always good to know multiple ways to move around your interface.

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Opening Multiple Sequences

Having to double click to open sequences in Premiere can be a pain in the ass, especially if I have to do it to multiple sequences. Luckily, there is a shortcut in Premiere Pro CC that allows you to open multiple sequences at once. If you map a keyboard shortcut for the command Open in Timeline, this will definitely be handy for opening multiple timelines. Select your group of timelines in the Project browser, hit your custom keyboard shortcut for Open in Timeline, and all of your sequences will open at the same time. I discovered this trick while working on commercial spots recently, and it has been a real timesaver. I strongly recommend you try it out yourself.

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Creating Custom Dimensions for Layers

Not too many people know this, but you can actually determine the dimensions of a Color Matte, Black Video, Adjustment Layer, or Transparent Video Layer before you commit to it. When you go to create one of these layers by selecting the create new item button, a dialog box shows up with dimensions of your current sequence. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted a red square and you didn’t want to go to the title tool to create it. If I create a Color Matte with dimensions of 500×500, I will get a red square Color Matte.

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Knowing this tip can reduce the time you may spend creating shapes in the Title Tool, or farming out to Photoshop if you are so inclined.

Change Duration of Multiple Transitions

One of the things I enjoy about the Creative Cloud version of Premiere, is that I can select multiple transitions and change their duration at the same time.

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As cool of a trick as this is, I hope future iterations will have the ability to map a shortcut to change transition duration as opposed to using the mouse all the time.

Importing Favorites Bins/Custom Presets onto other machines

This was a tip I learned recently from the Adobe forums. If you create custom presets and bins for favorites, it is saved in a file known as Effect Presets and Custom Items. This file updates each time you import a preset or custom bin into Premiere Pro. The best things about this file is that you can copy and import it into other systems with Premiere Pro installed. The instructions I’m giving are on a Mac, but you can find instructions for this file on PCs if you search the help pages. First, copy the file from the User>Documents>Adobe>Premiere Pro>version #>profile folder. With the file on a flash drive, open Premiere Pro CC (2013 or 2014 works) and go to the effects browser. Right click on the Effects tab and select import presets. Select the file on the flash drive and you will get the custom presets you created, as well as the favorites bins you created on your other machines.

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This trick is also useful when Premiere is being sluggish and you need to trash preferences. You won’t need to recreate everything all over again. These are just a few tips/tricks that Premiere Pro has to offer. There are many more available when you really get to know the program. In fact, the updates coming for the next release of Premiere Pro CC 2014 look more promising than any release I’ve seen in years. Try these tricks out yourself and discover ways to move faster in Premiere to get your work done.

Sound Effects

Red Giant Universe

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As a plugin enthusiast, I have always been a fan of the offerings of Red Giant Software. They have industry standard plugins in color correction, particles, lens flares, motion graphics, workflow tools, and much more. Another great thing is that the people behind the products are working veterans themselves; such as Aharon Rabinowitz, Harry Frank, Seth Worley, Simon Walker, and Stu Maschwitz. The tutorials they provide are top notch as well as the promos they create. With NAB around the corner, Red Giant is releasing new products under a subscription based model called Universe. Check out the trailer below to learn more.

Universe is a subscription based community where users will have access to free and premium plugins. These plugins are power-based on the GPU of your computer, and offer near-real time quality. They operate from a tool known as Supernova. According to plugin developer Alex4D, Supernova is a development system that uses a javascript-like scripting language to access the Red Giant Universe Library; a collection of image processing libraries whose code is combined together to make cross-platform Universe plugins. Learn more about Supernova below.

While the concept of a subscription model may sound familiar as with the Adobe Creative Cloud, the folks at Red Giant software put a lot of thought and care into how this community would work so it would be something that everyone can partake in. As of this writing, Red Giant is offering a public beta and will probably change things in the coming weeks. There are four plans that are currently on their site. You can sign up for a free membership, which lasts forever, and gives you access to 31 free plugins and more. The next membership is a monthly plan of $10 a month which gives you access to 31 free plugins, 8 premium plugins, and more. The third membership is a yearly plan of $99 annually. It contains the same features of the monthly plan, but at a discounted rate. So instead of paying $120 over a one year period, you pay $99 upfront for the year. You can also choose to pay $399 for a lifetime subscription plan where you never have to worry about monthly or annual fees.

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The plugin offerings are quite incredible on both the free and the premium side. One premium plugin that stood out to me was the revamped HoloMatrix. This was created by Aharon Rabinowitz to reduce the steps it takes to create holograms. Originally, it worked more as an After Effects script with presets available to change the look. Now, it functions fully as a plugin, but is much more responsive. Take a look at the tutorial below how HoloMatrix works now.

One of the free plugin categories that stood out to me were the glows. I’ve played with many third party glow plugins, and while they each have their strengths and weaknesses, I found these glows to be very responsive to parameter change and easy to process, thanks in part to Supernova programming. Overall, I’m extremely excited for Red Giant Universe. I believe it will definitely be a game changer in the plugin industry and will set the bar for how plugins are created and delivered to the masses. I really appreciate the fact that Red Giant took the cloud concept and made it work for everyone. It’s also cool that they offer a strong array of free plugins under the lifetime free membership option, which I’ll be using quite often. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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Creating Censorship in After Effects CC

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Censorship is a commonplace practice with today’s television standards. Whether you are an editor censoring some bits from a hollywood film for television, or you work in reality television; censorship is a necessary tool for all editors to know. There are a few common styles that are associated with censorship, including the ‘black bar,’ the ‘blur out,’ or the ‘pixillation’ approach. These can be used on logos, to profane gestures, to nudity, and more. Each director, editor, or corporation may have their own preference, so I am going to show you how to create each style in After Effects CC.

Please note that in order to match the censorship to a moving object, you must track the motion and link your censorship to the tracked footage. I go more in depth on how to track footage in a previous tutorial you can read here.

THE BLACK BAR

Creating a black bar in After Effects CC is a fairly straight forward approach. To create a black bar simply go to LAYER >> NEW >> SOLID. You will be presented with a dialogue box for the SOLID SETTINGS. By default, After Effects sets the color to black which is exactly what we need here, so you may proceed and hit OKAY.

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You will notice now the black solid takes up the entire composition.

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To reduce the size and shape to cover your desired target, you will first want to switch to your SELECTION TOOL by hitting V on the keyboard, or by selecting the arrow on your tool bar.

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You can now CLICK AND DRAG on one of the four corners of the BLACK SOLID and resize it to the desired shape. Also, by clicking and dragging within the shape itself allows you to reposition the solid on your composition.

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THE BLUR OUT

Some reality TV studios prefer to blur out logos or profane gestures in hopes to make a less visually jarring and subtle censorship on their image. To start, you will need to create a new ADJUSTMENT LAYER by going to LAYER >> NEW >> ADJUSTMENT LAYER. No immediate change will be seen in your composition, but if you look in your layers panel, you will see the layer sitting above your video layer.

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An adjustment layer is sort of like an empty bucket that is just waiting to be filled. You need to fill this bucket with the blur effect. To add the blur effect to your adjustment layer go to EFFECT >> BLUR AND SHARPEN >> GAUSSIAN BLUR. In your EFFECTS CONTROLS PANEL, you will see the BLURRINESS is set to zero. Go ahead and increase the number to about 75.

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You will notice the whole composition is now blurred out. To blur just the target, you will need to choose the ELLIPSE TOOL.

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With the tool selected CLICK AND DRAG to create an ellipse in your composition.

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In order to get rid of the hard edge CLICK to HIGHLIGHT your ADJUSTMENT LAYER in the LAYERS PANEL, and then click M on your keyboard TWICE.

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This will bring up your MASKING CONTROLS. Here you can increase the MASK FEATHER to blur the hard edges on your ellipse, as well as increase or decrease the MASK EXPANSION.

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PIXELATION

Another approach that is commonly used in mainstream media to censor nudity and profane gestures is through pixelation. For the most part, the steps to follow are nearly identical to the ‘blur out.’ First, create a new adjustment layer by going to LAYER >> NEW >> ADJUSTMENT LAYER. Next, add the pixelation effect by going to EFFECT >> STYLIZE >> MOSAIC. In your EFFECT CONTROLS, increase the horizontal and vertical blocks to about 30 each.

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At this point, just as with the ‘blur out,’ you are going to use the ELLIPSE TOOL to create an ellipse around your target, and then use the MASKING CONTROLS to blur the edge and control the expansion of the ellipse.

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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

Editing for the Horror Genre

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The horror genre in film is just as old as cinema itself; starting with silent films back in the late 1890s, through the masterpieces of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Stanley Kubrick’s depiction of The Shining (based on Stephen King’s novel), to more recent films such as The Conjuring. Every Halloween you see an increase in horror films being released to the public, that point should be obvious. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly what makes up a horror film? On the surface, you know a horror film is supposed to invoke terror or fear within you. However, there are specific techniques and timeless elements that are seamlessly woven into these films that make you cover your eyes and make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. To get in the right mindset, take a gander at the finest moments from these horror movies:

As a filmmaker, you should be aware of some of the basic pieces of the horror puzzle. Not everything relies on how good of a scream your actor has, or how well the make up and costume on your monster looks. A good horror film first starts on paper with a solid story as a foundation. From there, it moves into the camera, the acting, and then down through post production – where I feel the real magic occurs.

Outlined below are three foundational elements every editor should have at their disposal for any horror film:

  • Color
  • Sound
  • Perspective

 

COLOR

On the set, gaffers and light technicians are in charge of creating the core atmosphere for each scene; whether it be something with high contrast, or just dark enough for a creature to creep out of the shadows. Sometimes, a filter will be put on the lens to add or enhance a specific color in the scene. Generally, a blue or green filter would be used with horror films. However, in-camera lighting can only go so far. These days, I find there is no filter added on the camera because you can change the color so easily in post production. The director may want to play around with an assortment of colors and hues to achieve their desired effect. In these instances, CURVES is an editor’s best friend.

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Curves can be found in most Non Linear Editing (NLE) programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premier Pro, and Avid. It can also be found in compositing programs such as After Effects and Nuke. Generally, the option will be under some type of IMAGE CONTROL menu or COLOR CORRECTION menu – if you cannot find it, I recommend consulting the Help Menu. Using Curves gives you control of an image’s highlights, shadows, and the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color spectrum. If you receive editing notes from the director asking you to “push the image further,” generally, they mean to increase the shadows or contrast. A term they use for this in editing is “crush the blacks.” To do this, click and drag your curve to the proper settings of adjustment. By rule of thumb, blacks are located in the lower right and highlights are located in the upper left of the curve.

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If the director wants to increase a color tone, use the drop down menu to select the color of choice – whether they want to add more blue or green into the footage, respectively.

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SOUND

You sometimes cover your eyes during a horror movie, but most of the time you forget to cover your ears. Even if you can’t see the horrific image, you can still hear the bones crack, the blood spray, and the victim let out one last shriek or a dying breath. A lot of the sound effects are created by Foley Artists (the people who create sounds used in movies). For example, a foley artist would record the sound of a machete slashing a watermelon into little bits to be used where the serial killer slashes a victims skull into little bits. In larger budget films, a foley team is generally hired to produce the sound content for the film, supplying the editor with the appropriate sounds to populate the movie. However, in smaller, or micro budget films, the editor needs to turn to online sound libraries for this content. There are websites out there filled with random sounds, music loops, and scores – sometimes free – to populate your horror film. There are literally hundreds of these websites all over the internet. However, some websites I have had good luck with and recommend include:

 

PERSPECTIVE

This one tends to be less obvious to most editors just starting out in the field. Perspective plays a large part in creating a horrific landscape, or an uneasy tension. Often times, the director of photography will partner up with the director to explore the ‘look’ of the film, mapping out the best camera angles and shots to best achieve the directors vision. In some cases, the director will need the editor to adjust a scene or image to help intensify the scene. The easiest way to add tension to a plain scene is by rotating the image on a angle.

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By putting the perspective on an angle you subconsciously tell the viewer that “something isn’t right.” People like to see their world on an even playing field, and when you start to mess with that perspective, you begin making the viewer uncomfortable and on edge.

There you have it! A solid foundation in editing for the horror genre. Do you know of another horror element you would like to share or know of a link that could help out your fellow editor? Leave it in the comment section below!

 

AudioMicro, Inc. Named USA’s #2 Fastest Growing Media Company by Inc. 500

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As part of the 2013 Inc 500, Inc Magazine has named AudioMicro, Inc. the USA’s #2 fastest growing media company and the #204 fastest growing private company overall.  This accolade is based on our financial performance over the past 3 years.  It’s a day we could only dream of when we started this company out of a spare apartment bedroom just 6 years ago.  Thank you to our customers, clients, and most importantly to our team for making this happen.  Onwards and upwards!