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! 😉

 

 

3D in AE

 

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After Effects has been the industry leading compositor, visual effects, and motion graphics application since its early days back in 1993. Back then, it was known as CoSA. This application has been used on small and large scale projects by post professionals across the world. Aside from that, After Effects by far has one of the largest communities than any other post production application on the market. One of the unique things about After Effects is that it can “interact” with 3D elements, but it is still a 2.5D application. In the last 21 years, this application can now handle the 3D pipeline thanks to third party developers and companies like Maxon. I want to highlight some of the third party plugins available to help you get 3D objects and/or text into After Effects.

Zaxwerks

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Founded by Zax Dow, Zaxwerks provides a plethora of 3D plugins for AE that can handle just about any 3D pipeline. Used by news broadcast and high end production companies, Zaxwerks’ two biggest plugins are ProAnimator and 3D Invigorator. ProAnimator provides the user with real-time 3D rendering, raytracing capabilities, image based lighting, real time ambient occlusion, and much more. 3D Invigorator has 3D text, modeling creation/import, and animation capabilities. Some of the difference between Invigorator and ProAnimator is that 3D Invigorator uses the AE keyframe system, as well as AE camera, whereas ProAnimator has its own integrated 3D animation system. It comes as a plugin for After Effects as well as a standalone application. It’s currently in its 8th version with more features being added per update. It currently retails for $499. In my opinion, I believe these are great plugins for creating incredible 3D animations as seen in their gallery. However, with limited training and a very small community embracing it, it doesn’t get as much praise as it should. Hopefully, that should change in the coming months.

Element 3D

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The 3D object plugin from VFX and AE guru Andrew Kramer, Element 3D was a plugin so revolutionary that it changed how artists handled the 3D pipeline. This plugin can not only import 3D models from popular 3D applications, but can also do much more. You can take a model of a a few buildings and duplicate it to create a city with little effort. This plugin also simplifies the animation process using its own render engine, in addition to taking advantage of After Effects motion blur and camera abilities. This plugin possesses the ability to easily create 3D text using text layers and masks for the basis. What makes this plugin so popular for 3D work, is the fact that it was used on creating the credits for Star Trek Into the Darkness. They also provide extensive training, taking you into the depths of the plugin. On top of that, it costs $149 with model packs ranging from $99-$200. I’ve used this plugin to create my new intro, and its updates make it a must have plugin for any artist. It’s currently in its 1.6 version, but will see a V2 update shortly.

Cineware

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Cineware is the new plugin for After Effects CC, and allows users to import Cinema 4D scenes into After Effects. This plugin helps improve the 3D workflow, when, normally, users would have to export high resolution scenes from Cinema 4D to do further compositing inside After Effects. Dropping Cinema 4D scenes into After Effects allows users to interact with the scene as well as integrate into an AE composition. This plugin is available for Adobe Creative Cloud users, but the fact that something like this exist now only opens the door for new users of both programs. As great as the concept of this plugin is, it’s far from perfect. If you intend to use Cineware, you should have a beefy laptop or desktop, as well as a high end graphics card for those intense C4D scenes. There are plugins available for helping deal with Cinema 4D scenes, such as Cineware Proxy, which helps to speed up the workflow. I believe that the Adobe AE and Maxon teams give a bright light into After Effects’s future. I can only see things getting better with time.

Overall, these are some of the options for dealing with true 3D in After Effects. There are other options out there, but these three are currently the most popular of the bunch. Obviously, you can fake 3D in After Effects in a variety of ways, but with each new update, After Effects becomes stronger and more efficient for dealing with compositing, motion graphics, and 3D.

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New Features coming to Avid Media Composer and Adobe Cloud

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With IBC taking place in Amsterdam last weekend, users of Adobe Creative and Avid Anywhere were greeted with a slew of updates from their favorite programs. These updates include an interface overhaul, native support for many 4K formats, codec releases, and more. Although, currently, we are hearing more about the production side of things from IBC with new camera releases, I believe the next iteration of programs from Avid and Adobe will definitely make things more competitive for professionals in post. I want to highlight the updates coming for Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere in the coming months.

Avid Media Composer

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It was announced by Avid that they are bringing Resolution Independence to the next iteration of Media Composer. What that means for editors is that they will be able deal with 4K media faster and much more efficiently than before. Based on their new Resolution Independence architecture, editors will have the most complete and flexible end-to-end workflows when in post. Below is a list of new features coming to Media Composer that will definitely make it a viable option for 4K offline/online editing:

– AAX plugin support.

– Ability to mute individuals clips (similar to enabling and disabling clips in Premiere and FCPX).

– Disabling video tracks.

– Copying and dragging video segments.

– End of trim indicators.

– AMA media associated with projects.

– A new codec known as DNxHR (Digital Nonlinear Extensible High Resolution). It will support formats of 2K, 3K, 4K, and Ultra HD. There are five flavors of this codec which include DNxHR LB (low bandwith), DNxHR SQ (Standard Quality), DNxHR HQ (High Quality), DNxHR HQX (10 bit), and DNxHR 444.

– Proxy timeline which allows editors to change resolution more fluidly from your original media (and render your effects to proxy media) from full quality to either 1/2, 1/4, or 1/16.

– 4K Full screen playback support.

– Features to come include: background rendering, enabling Mac GPU acceleration, in addition to the existing Windows based GPU acceleration support. Seeing the list of features that are coming to Media Composer, Avid is showing that it is committed to maintaining their spot as the NLE of choice for high end post production. Looking at some of the features from the list, some of them have existed in FCP legacy and Premiere Pro for years. Some of these new features may be requests from switchers who felt that Avid needed to evolve to stay competitive with rival programs Premiere and Final Cut Pro X. I don’t know if that is for sure, but I know the features that are coming to Avid will alleviate the headaches that users may have endured over the years.

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 8.1

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Avid isn’t the only NLE that will see a massive update in features. Announced last week, Premiere (as well as other video/audio applications) will see a UI refresh, as well as a bundle of new features for high end workflows. Here is a list of features coming to Premiere Pro CC from the Adobe website:

– Search bins for allowing editors to build new bins automatically, based on metadata searches within a project, with results showing as aliases of the original project items.

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– Timeline search improvement which makes it simple to find and select clips within a sequence based on specific criteria, such as Clip Name or Marker comment.

– Multiple project workflows utilizing multiple Media Browser panels which can be open simultaneously, allowing fast browsing of other Premiere Pro and After Effects projects for easy access to their media and sequences.

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– Source Monitor Timeline View allows editors to preview sequences from other projects, getting direct access to their components to quickly bring into the current active project. Editors collaborating over shared storage will find working with each other’s projects is now a great deal easier.

– Consolidate and transcode project for archiving purposes

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– Render and replace clips and After Effects compositions when dynamic linking.

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– GoPro Cineform codec as an intermediate codec between platforms.

– Support for many 4K and Ultra HD workflows.

– Improved masking and tracking with a free Bezier path tool.

Without trying to sound to biased, I’m someone who leans more on the Premiere Pro spectrum than the other NLEs, and I’m especially excited for these new feature updates. Within four months of this new release, the Adobe team has provided lightning fast updates which shows the community that they are committed to making the user experience the best it can possibly be. Features I’m really interested in are the improvements to the Mask and Tracking feature, and the Render and Replace option. Being able to apply masks using the Pen Tool is a dream come true. The Render and Replace option will allow users to bring AE comps into Premiere and render them into codec without having to go to the render queue. Also, I’m interested in trying the multi-project workflows so I can bring in other timelines from other projects in read only mode and take what I need. That will definitely provide a better user experience in the long run. Overall, we’ve seen that the people behind Avid and Adobe are bringing updates that embrace a future of high resolution and efficiency for the post production community. Each have added features that will make the user experience more bearable as we embrace the 4K reality and beyond.

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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.

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Rampant Design Tools Next Gen Elements

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We are entering a new age in digital resolution where 720p and 1080p will seem like standard definition television. Resolutions like 2K, 3K, 4K , and above will soon become the new standard, and no one knows that more than Rampant Design Tools. Sean Mullen is the brainchild of VFX professional and founder of Rampant Design Tools. Sean and his team have created the next generation of drag and drop elements to accommodate editors and artists alike who are working 2K-4K workflows. From light elements, mattes, transitions, and more, Rampant Design Tools can provide you with the touch of creativity you need on any project.

Shot on RED cameras

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These elements were all shot on RED Epic cameras with high resolutions ranging from HD, 2K, 4K and 5K Quicktime movies.

Elements for any project

These elements work on a variety of projects. Whether it be feature films, broadcast television, corporate, weddings, etc, these elements can be incorporated into any project. Utilizing blend modes and your applications toolkit, there are infinite configurations you can come up with using Rampant’s next generation products. The best part is that they can be used for more than one function, whether it’s a quick background effect or transition. One of my favorite elements from this line is Studio Reflections, which you can check out below. This product is definitely useful for high energy events and weddings. One of the other strengths of these elements is their path of delivery. They are available for download or through a USB 3.0 hard drive, which comes in handy when you have to travel between studios and the internet isn’t as strong.

Compatible with all NLEs and compositing applications

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Rampant products is that they are not plugins or something that needs to be installed to function. You simply import them into whichever Mac or PC editing program you are using, and drop them into your timeline. From there, what you do with them is completely in your hands. Another great benefit of these products is that they render fast. You will rarely see your system bogged down by using these elements, as they are not plugins, but Quicktime movies. I’ve used these elements in Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro CC, After Effects, and Avid Media Composer. The integration and render speeds were impressive. I was able to drag, drop, and manipulate to my heart’s content. One product I use often is Studio Mattes. Sometimes creating custom split screens can be a hassle even when your NLE may offer a plugin that does this already. I can group multiple clips together utilizing Studio Mattes along with a track matte option. You can see the versatility of these mattes in the video below.

As a user of Rampant Design products for the last four years, I can tell you that these are must-haves for any editor’s arsenal. These products have helped elevate my projects more times than I can remember. When you use products that are made by editors for editors, you know they won’t fail to impress. I’m the NLE Ninja asking you to stay creative… and to Run Rampant!

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AE Kinetic Typography & Infographic Tutorials

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These days, the use of kinetic typography and infographics are used in videos to illustrate facts, statistics, and more when live action footage or stock footage isn’t readily available. Most of these types of animations are found in explainer videos, which have become the new normal for business and web videos. However, pulling off these animations take some good preparation and knowledge of After Effects. There are even scripts available from AEScripts.com that help in the animation process known as TypeMonkey and LayerMonkey. However, you won’t always have access to scripts or third party plugins, so it’s good to know what tutorials are available. I have come across a few tutorials that would help AE users get a hang of creating infographics and/or kinetic typography for their projects.

Creating an Animated Bar Graph

In this tutorial, motion graphics designer Evan Abrams shows you how to create a 2D bar graph animation using shape layers. One of the many requirements for creating an infographic is the use of vector shapes so that your layers can be manipulated beyond its intended size during an animation. The techniques that Evan uses to create the animation are very useful if you have an explainer video with data based on a bar graph.

After Effects Kinetic Typography

For this tutorial, motion graphics guru Mikey Borup shows you how to create kinetic typography in a quick and dirty fashion. I can attest to the first time I tried creating this type of animation and how intimidating it was. This tutorial is easy to follow and will have you creating typography videos in no time.

Slick Object Transitions

If you have got a grip on how to create infographics and kinetic typography, you can take your skills to the next level by watching this advanced tutorial. The folks of Mt. Mograph show you how to transition between objects such as a tablet, photo, computer, and a camera. These types of animations are used a lot in commercial explainer videos to add a bit more flare as transformations often do. Using Illustrator to create vector shapes and After Effects to control the animations, you will be able to pull this off in very little time.

Push Button Animation

Another great tutorial from Evan Abrams is this fun push button animation. Your client may call for an animation where buttons need to be pushed, and following this tutorial will get you there. Once again, Evan uses shape layers to give the appearance of 3D depth. Using a few keyframes across a short period of time will create a cool push button animation. These are just a few of the tutorials that stood out to me in terms of infographics and kinetic typography. Obviously, you can use other programs besides After Effects to create these types of animations, such as Motion. You can also purchase pre-made templates if you are on a tight deadline. Once you get a firm grasp of these animation techniques, you will bring more creativity to your projects.

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Title Plugins/Resources for Premiere Pro

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As strong of a non-linear editor as Premiere Pro is, not too many users know how to take advantage of one particular tool it possesses… Title Tool. Having worked in multiple NLEs, I have to say that Premiere’s title tool is very versatile if you know how to take advantage of it. However, if it doesn’t immediately grab your attention, there are third party titling plugins available for Premiere that can help accommodate your editing tasks.

Style4Type

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The brainchild website of video producer Tim Kolb, Style4Type offers free and premium Premiere Pro title templates for users to utilize on their projects. Tim also examines title sequences from movies and television to provide insight into the design and placement. With many templates to download, users will have a vast array of title styles for any project.

PremierePro.Net

Created by Premiere Pro certified trainer Jarle Leirpoll, this site provides presets and title based templates for users of Premiere Pro CS5 to CC. Jarle has released chapters of his upcoming Premiere Pro book on how to use the title tool for compositing and motion graphics. Below are a few pictures of some the templates you can download. You can download some of his project templates here.

FxFactory

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The many developers from FxFactory have created a variety of titling plugins to take the process out of creating from scratch. Although many of their title plugins exist for FCP X, there are a group of developers who’ve made title plugins for Premiere. FxFactory has Manifesto for basic titles, rolling credits and crawls, as well as Star Titler for the Star Wars enthusiast. Yanobox has Motype, which is a title animation plugin that utilizes a variety of motion graphics parameters in 2D and 3D. LucaVisualFX has a Random Text generator for unique title sequences and other features. Finally, SugarFX has Movie Credits and Rolling Credits for creating film style titles with little to no effort. All of these plugins work within the FxFactory engine, which has been ported to Premiere 4 and on. One downside is that it is only available to Mac users.

ActiveText

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ActiveText is a set of ten free title plugins which can simplify the most common types of quick text captions and subtitles. All an editor has to do is use a transparent video layer and drop one in with the ActiveText filter on it. Within seconds, you have a unique title animation that would be close to impossible to create in Premiere without a lot of compositing. Unfortunately, these plugins are only available for Mac users.

NewBlueFX Titler Pro

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A very integrated and flexible tool, Titler Pro is the fast and professional solution to help you create beautiful titles with ease. With a vast array of drag and drop animations, users can create professional looking titles effortlessly. With this plugin, editors can minimize the need to dynamic link titles to After Effects, and can create them within the program. Below is a brief demonstration of what Titler Pro is capable of doing.

There are more titling plugins for Premiere that I probably missed; especially from its biggest companions, Photoshop and After Effects. Overall, if you need a title or title animation in Premiere Pro, there are many ways to go about it. I’m the NLE Ninja 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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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!

 

Solarize Flashframe Transition

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As a viewer and as an editor, I have had the opportunity to see all kinds of effects and transitions. Some have been cheesy, over the top or totally unnecessary. Meanwhile, others have helped move the story along or enhance what the editor was trying to convey.

One of my favorite plugin developers, Idustrial Revolution, has a set of 30 unique transitions for Final Cut Pro X known as X Effect Tech Transitions. These hi-tech effects form grids, repeat frames, split color channels, and much more. In this promo video below, there was a transition that caught my eye and I wanted to replicate it in Premiere, using only the native filters. It’s called the Flash Invert Freeze and you can see it at the 33 second mark in this promo below. I will show you how to replicate this transition in Premiere Pro.

Solarize Flashframe Transition

In my timeline, I have 2 clips with one clip on Track 1 and another clip on Track 2.

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I will move my clip on Track 1 to the out of the clip on Track 2.

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Next, I will create hold frames on each clip. For the outgoing clip, I will find a moment towards the end where I want to hold on and make an edit. For the incoming clip, I will hold the frame on the in point.

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Let’s extend the hold frames of each clip so they overlap for about 1 second.

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Now, I will key frame the opacity on Track 2 to go from 100-0 every 2 frames until the end of the clip. If you want to speed up the time, first create  two opacity key frames at 100 and 0. Move your play head 2 frames after the second key frame and option drag the opacity key frames to the play head’s current position. Then, right click on the key frames and select Hold.

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With the opacity blinking every 2 frames, you will see both clips within a 22 frame time span. Animating the opacity of the clip on Track 2 gives the user more flexibility than using the Strobe Light filter. To adjust, trim the clip on Track 2 one frame after the last opacity key frame and the clip on track 1 a frame or two, as seen by my timeline below.

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The last step in this transition is to add an adjustment layer. Let’s place an adjustment layer on Track 3 so we can affect both clips simultaneously. Trim the length of the layer to match the duration of the hold frames.

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Apply the Solarize filter to the adjustment layer and change the threshold to 100. Lastly, apply the Tint filter and keep it at its default colors.

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Render your timeline and your result should look something like this video below.

If you want to create this transition to use in future projects, you can save presets for the opacity animation and image filters that were used here. Overall, I believe this transition is best used in fast paced music videos, where the genre is house or dubstep.  I can also see it being used on fashion shoot/show highlights. This transition can be taken a step further by adding a scale and rotation animation to make it rumble erratically.

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