Sci-FI VFX Tutorials

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With the upcoming release of Star Wars the Force Awakens, and the premiere of the recent Star Trek films, there have been many visual effects that filmmakers have looked to replicate to bring to their productions. This can be anything from heads up displays, 3D spaceships, weapons, and much more. Looking at these effects as they are, it would be a daunting task to replicate them without prior knowledge. However, using a tool like After Effects can bring your imagination to life by watching the right tutorials. Below, I will highlight a few tutorials based on science fiction visual effects that you can bring to your video projects.

Lightsaber Tutorial

In this tutorial from VideoCoPilot, Andrew Kramer shows us how to use his lightsaber preset which he created using the beam effect along with other filters and expressions. This preset has all the functions you would need to create the perfect lightsaber effect without having to use a solid layer with a mask. This preset also reacts to composition motion blur to create realistic motion. Using an obscure layer as a matte, you can place the lightsaber beam behind your talent when their motion calls for it.

I recently used this preset on a set of commercials and it still holds up eight years after it was initially released. I found it easier to use and manage over a plugin like Saber Blade from Fan Film FX. You can download the preset here and use it on your next Star Wars fan film.

Transporter Tutorial

In this tutorial from SternFX and Red Giant TV, Eran Stern breaks down how to create this infamous Star Trek teleportation effect using Trapcode Particular. Using the path from a circle math, Eran creates a circular motion for the point light which influences the motion path for Particular. Next, he parents the light to a null object so that he can influence the motion even further. With Particular applied to a solid layer and the settings manipulated to emit a solid stream of particles, the transporter effect begins to take shape. Once he has the effect created with Particular, he precomposes it and duplicates it to manipulate other iterations. With a lens flare from Knoll Light Factory and a few animation keyframes, he completes the overall animation necessary to apply to it to his subject.

In a separate composition, he brings the transporter effect and talent to the forefront. Using warping filters and masks, he completes the effect with ease. What I like about this tutorial is the attention to detail that Eran brings to this effect. I’ve seen this effect achieved using particle images from Particle Illusion, which is passable to the common viewer, but this version of the effect really has the Hollywood finish to it. Although it is a dated tutorial, I find it still holds up after all these years.

Hologram Tutorial

This tutorial from PixelBump shows us how to create a Star Wars themed hologram using green screen compositing. He creates three compositions with his keyed talent and changes their colors accordingly using the Levels effect. With the addition of the wiggle expression to create jerky motion, he crafts the colorization needed to create the hologram along with the Venetian Blinds filter. With a combo of offset matte layers and glow filters, he is able to complete Star Wars-esque hologram.

This effect was achieved using native filters and techniques that exist inside of After Effects which makes it accessible to everyone. I recently had to do a hologram effect for a group of spots and I went the third party route using Holomatrix to create the effect. It is always useful to know how to create visual effects when you don’t have access to to third party tools.

These are just three science fiction effects-based tutorials you can use on your next video projects. Try these out and experiment to create something unique.

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Luca Visual FX Backgrounds & Overlays

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The team at Luca Visual FX has brought another product to the market which will benefit professionals across Mac and PC platforms. It is the incredible and extraordinary Backgrounds & Overlays. This product is an extremely versatile collection of 100 HD clips which are an indispensable addition to any editor’s library.

It is compatible with the following software:

  • Final Cut Pro 7/X
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Apple Motion
  • Avid Media Composer
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • HitFilm
  • Sony Vegas

I had a chance to test drive this new product.

What are Backgrounds & Overlays?

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It is a vast collection of 100 Full HD dynamic motion graphic clips designed to be used as backgrounds and/or overlays for a variety of projects. You can use them in promos, VJing, music videos, sports, news, corporate, and much more. On the dedicated web page at the Luca Visual FX site, you can preview the entire collection and see what each background has to offer.

What are some of the best ways to customize these clips?

Editors can use blend modes from their host programs, change the speed rate, scale, crop, position, or add any third party filter or built in effects to customize these clips. Also, stacking several instances of Backgrounds & Overlays allows the creation of complex and beautiful effects by simply using blend modes. Use effects such as blurring and distorting to maximize your customization. In this clip, I created some examples to showcase how far you can push these clips.

To see how these clips can be manipulated and integrated into your projects, take a look at this tutorial where I show you how to use them with footage and text:

Is it possible to get the Backgrounds & Overlays in a different format?

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All files are delivered as .mov files, so as long as the user has Quicktime installed everything should work correctly. If you need further assistance, you can contact customer support here.

Can you list some scenarios where these clips work best in?

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As mentioned above, they can be used for a variety of video projects. Here is a list of effects that I’ve done which you can try out yourself:

  • Video inside of text or shapes effect
  • Text backgrounds
  • Feathered shape overlays
  • Heads up displays
  • Frames and borders
  • Picture and picture background
  • Lower thirds
  • 2D & 3D animation inserts
  • And many more effects

Overall, I believe that Backgrounds & Overlays will be a product that users will turn to when they need to amp up their productions. With the dynamic range of motion graphics, and the fully customizable options that are available, the sky is the limit with creative opportunities. I strongly recommend that you download some of the demo watermarked clips and see what you’ve been missing. They are now available for download on the web page.

The launch price of Backgrounds & Overlays is $49.  Don’t miss out on this versatile product line.

For readers of this article, LVFX is offering a 10% off coupon when you make a purchase using this coupon code: BO2015S

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Luca Visual FX Hi-Tech Overlays

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The team at Luca Visual FX have been working hard to bring a new product to the market that will benefit post production professionals across Mac and PC computers. It is Hi-Tech Overlays. This product line expands the alpha transitions and overlays that LVFX created in the past. This update brings a new model for users to access the elements they need at a moment’s notice. I’ve had a chance to preview the new library and had a chat with the guys of LVFX. Here are a few questions users may have.

What are Hi-Tech Overlays?

It is an alternative solution to our Hi-Tech plugins for FCPX that provides users of software such as Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, After Effects, Motion, and Final Cut Pro a way to build Hi-Tech mographs for promos, sci-fi, music videos, news and sport, corporate productions, and more.

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I see that you implemented a new system for the users to access the product. Tell us about it.

Yes, all mographs and images are provided in full resolution and the user will download from our web site only what they need any time they wish, right from the moment of purchase. We started working on this new way of delivering a product in December 2013 and hope to provide the easiest and most convenient way for our users to access a vast library of interchangeable mographs and images.

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Will the library be based on a subscription that you pay monthly, or is there a lifetime license?

No monthly subscriptions to pay, but only a single lifetime license that people can easily purchase on our web site. The user will receive unique and safe login details shortly after completing the payment, and will be able to download both Hi-Tech default looks of effects like holograms, displays, sci-fi mographs, fractals, etc., and individual elements to customize and combine as desired. The library also includes High-Tech Elements Vol.1.

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I have issues with Quicktime on my PC. Is it possible to get the Overlays in a different format?

All files are delivered as .mov, so as long as the user has Quicktime correctly installed everything should work correctly.

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Will there be tutorials on how to achieve the results you showed in the demo?

Yes, we have already edited four of them and more will come. They show how to customize not only the elements, but also how to combine them creatively in order to create unique looks. The first four are available on VIMEO.

If I own the FCPX templates of this product, is there a way to get access to this library to get additional elements?

Hi-Tech Overlays is essentially a cross-platform alternative to Hi-Tech for FCPX that will work with more hosts. FCPX users would find in the library what they have already in the form of FCPX templates. There are, however, several advantages in using individual layers. We also intend to expand the library and add more and more elements for our users. Should FCPX users wish to access the library in order to handle individual layers, we recommend to email support@lucavisualfx.com with their request.

What manipulation options would allow you to get the best results with Hi-Tech Overlays (i.e color change, distortion, time remapping, etc.)?

There are tons of ways to modify the overlays. The only limit is one’s creativity. For example, with filters, the user can indeed change the color and distort (some examples can be seen on the demo) but also add glow, blur, and many other stylizations. Another way to create unique compositions is to combine individual elements taken from different categories (i.e. Holograms and sci-fi overlays or Screens and Fractals, you name it), use blend modes to create nice superimpositions and layers. Another great advantage that not even the FCPX template can offer in such extent is the use of any transition you can think of in order to create your own Build-In and Build-Out at the beginning and end of your composition. An example is shown at the very beginning of the demo where all elements come together in different ways. Possibilities are endless!

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Do these elements come with embedded alpha transparency? If they don’t, what would be the best practice for getting transparency?

Yes, absolutely, the alpha channel comes with every single element of Hi-Tech Overlays.

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Overall, I believe Hi-Tech Overlays will definitely be a product with infinite possibilities for the user. The amount of ways you can mix and match the elements will definitely draw the user to think outside the box when they apply mograph to their projects. I strongly recommend that you try experimenting with different colors and manipulation effects to see how far you can push each element. In the process, you may create a unique look that wasn’t thought of before.

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Using Mattes in Your Edits

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Using matte clips in my edits is something I’ve been doing for a very long time. With mattes, I can isolate a piece of footage and insert other assets. What would be an otherwise boring set of clips looks like a masterful composition. Now, there are many ways to create mattes as well as use them in your edit. However, I want to highlight creative ways using mattes can add flair to your edits. The use of mattes can be done in all popular NLEs such Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, and Avid Media Composer as well as in After Effects and Motion. Let’s take a look.

Enhancing Interviews with Travel Mattes

In this tutorial, post production guru Walter Biscardi shows us how to use mattes to enhance talking head interviews with b-roll. In Final Cut Pro 7, he places his interview clip on track 3n. From there, he places his matte image on track 2 with a scale and position adjustment. He inserts his main background on track 1 so that the composite will have an overall theme. With his interview clip selected, he control + clicks on it and selects Travel Matte Alpha. This puts his interview clip into the matte he placed in track 2. To clean things up, he nests his interview clip and matte into their own sequence. With his clips in a nest, it allows him to add a drop shadow which adds a bit of depth to the matte.

Next, he adds his b-roll on track 3 and another matte on track 2. Using the same process as above, he is able to place his b-roll into the matte and adjust it to taste. With his clips matted out, he adds the final touches with a faded title and he now has a much more visually appealing interview than he had before. No need to cut back and forth between talking head and interview when you can see everything at once.

Animated Mattes to Stylize Wedding Videos

In this cool tutorial, Sean Mullen of Rampant Design shows us how to use his popular product, Style Mattes. Style Mattes are a collection of pre-animated mattes which work with all major and popular post production software. Here, he shows us how easy it is to use these mattes in Premiere Pro. With your clip on Track 1 and the Style Matte on Track 2 or above, apply the Track Matte Key to your clip. In the effect controls panel, change the Matte option to Track 2 and choose between Matte Luma or Alpha so that you’ll see your video inside the matte. In a matter of seconds, it is really easy to add these mattes to wedding montages, music videos, documentaries, or any video project you have.

Light Streak Freeze Frame Effect

In this tutorial for Avid Media Composer, Jon Lynn of GeniusDV shows us how to create a light streak freeze frame holdout effect using the Marquee Tool. First, he isolates a frame in the timeline. From there, he creates a freeze frame in the source monitor. With the freeze frame created, he inserts it into the timeline at the point where he wants the action to stop. Next, he creates a new title which opens up the Marquee Tool. Using the shape tool, he draws a matte around the talent. Once the matte is created, he saves it into his bins for later use. With the matte placed inside of his bin, he inserts it into the timeline and does the necessary compositing to isolate the talent in the freeze frame. Using a filter from Boris FX, he is able to add the light streak effect and complete the graphic. One of the things I’ve always found hard to grasp in Media Composer is the amount of steps it takes to do what can be simple compositing. I know some folks like it, where others tend to leave that work to a program like After Effects or Motion. Overall, it is a cool effect when you want to add something special to your projects.

These are just a small collection of ways to utilize mattes in your video projects, and I encourage you to find ways to use them in a way that enhances yours. It’s easy to use them as a crutch for creativity, but when utilized properly, they can be a force to be reckoned with.

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Local TV Commercial Editing Workflow

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In my day job, I produce TV commercials for local car dealerships in Northwest Illinois and various cities in Indiana. On a monthly basis, I deliver over 40+ spots to cable and network providers which are shot and edited a few weeks prior to the start of the next month. If I have commercials I need to produce for the month of January, I will shoot and edit them in December so that we can have them running at the beginning of the month. Aside from the production schedule of the monthly commercials I produce, I use an editing workflow that allows me to be efficient and maintain a level of speed that can handle unforeseen circumstances. I’m going to detail my editing workflow in Premiere Pro and hopefully provide some tips and insight into delivering multiple commercials to multiple vendors.

Setting up the project & gathering assets

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Before I shoot a month’s worth of commercials, I use a template project that has folders and assets which I know will factor into the edit. I change the scratch disks and project save location so I can keep my original template project intact; or I use PostHaste, depending on the project. From there, I add more folders that I may need for auxiliary assets like third party motion graphics and more. I also make sure that I have logos and monthly artwork from each brand I deal with at my agency. Once I’ve set up my project for the month, I wait until the shoot day before I do anything else.

Storage & Preparing the footage

When I’m shooting commercials for clients, I alternate between the Panasonic AF-100 and Sony PXW-X70. These cameras give me best of two worlds, which are interchangeable lenses and small but powerful broadcast cameras. Both cameras record with the AVCHD codec. The X70 also has its own proprietary codec which is the XAVC codec. When it comes to bringing footage from either of these cameras, I typically transcode the clips into Apple Pro Res or Pro Res HQ. Although Premiere can take most formats natively, with the hardware I have available (and based on past experiences) I choose to play it safe using a codec meant for editing. Before I do that, I always make sure to backup the SD card in two locations in sparse disk bundles using the Create Disk Image app.

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Once I’ve taken care of storage and encoded my footage into Pro Res, I move the footage to my network based RAID and import it into my project file so I can begin building sequences.

Building a selects sequence

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I place all of my footage into a sequence so that I can sort out the best takes, as well determine which clip goes with what dealership. I use timeline markers to group my clips together so that I can use the Markers panel and search for dealerships quickly. Once the selects sequence is built, I proceed to use the pancake timeline technique to build my main commercial sequences.

Structuring main commercial sequences & adjusting for time

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Using the pancake timeline technique, I put my selected sequences on top of my main commercial sequences, and drag clips into their appropriate places according to what is written in the script. From there, I add voice-overs, branding graphic assets, running footage, and more to time out each commercial to 30 seconds. If my footage, voice-overs, or other assets don’t meet that length, then I trim until everything does. Once I have my main commercials assembled and timed out, I add motion graphics and finishing touches like color correction/grading.

Motion graphics & finishing

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For motion graphics, I tend to use After Effects… unless I’m not looking for intricate animations. Lately, I’ve been using it for text animations as well as graphic overlays, especially since the update to Premiere Pro CC 2014.1 introduced the feature of Render & Replace. With that function implemented, I can now use dynamic linked After Effects comps and render/unrender them inside Premiere when I want to. In terms of finishing, I level the audio to broadcast specs and fix color balance and/or apply a simple color treatment, along with a Sharpen filter.

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Once I have motion graphics and finishing locked, I begin exporting my main commercial sequences to Media Encoder to get them to my broadcast vendors.

Exporting from Media Encoder and Delivery

Inside of Media Encoder, I set up my commercial sequences to be exported in a variety of codecs. Most of my broadcast vendors take either H.264 or Pro Res HQ. With Media Encoder, I use presets I created prior to encode one sequence to multiple Quicktime movies.

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Once I have exported my commercials into various Quicktime movies, I run one of them through Sorenson Squeeze to encode to WMV for brand compliance. With my Quicktime movies ready for broadcast delivery and my WMVs ready for brand compliance, I deliver each of them to their appropriate vendors and brands. In regards to compliance, if they approve it, then my broadcast deliver is cleared. If it is disapproved, I fix whatever mistake I have and re-export it for compliance and broadcast until it is correct.

As you can see, it pays to have a workflow that allows me the space to be creative, but at the same time meet pressing deadlines. After each month, I examine what worked best, what can be improved on, and if other tools can be added to allow for both efficiency and higher production value. In 2015, I plan on looking for tools and techniques that will allow me to be even more efficient and creative. Below is one of my finished promos for this month.

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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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Favorites New Features of Premiere Pro CC 2014

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NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) just took place in Las Vegas, and that means new releases are coming from a variety of vendors in production and post production. One I’ve been anticipating is the update to the Creative Cloud suite of applications. In particular, I am excited for the new features in Premiere Pro CC 8. Within the next update of Premiere Pro, editors will have access to tools, functions, and more that will allow them to be more effective and efficient. In the video below, my good friend and fellow post production professional, Josh Weiss of Retooled.Net, highlights some of the best features coming to Premiere Pro in 2014. I’m going to highlight the features I’m most excited about.

Masking and Tracking

Premiere Pro has come a long way in terms of tools meant for masking. With the release of CS6, plugin developer Creative Impatience created Feathered Crop, Vignette, and Simple Mask plugins that will help editors take care of simple compositing tasks that normally would have required many steps to achieve. With the new built in masking tools of Premiere Pro CC 8, it has finally reached the level that Final Cut Pro 7 had. You can create a rectangle or circular mask which can crop or isolate a portion of your footage. Best part is, that it comes standard with many of the native effects Premiere Pro has, like the Mosaic and color correction effects as seen below. This functionality will definitely speed up simple compositing tasks that most people would farm out to After Effects.

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The added bonus of built in compositing tools is the tracking function that comes with them. As long as I’ve used Premiere Pro, motion tracking either came in the form of After Effects or a third party plugin solution like Boris FX. With this new addition, Adobe developers understand that editors sometimes want to keep certain tasks within the NLE.

Transparency Grid

This has been something that I’ve been asking for since CS5. I’ve even asked product manager Al Mooney to add this on Twitter during a #postchat conversation. Premiere’s partners in crime, After Effects and Photoshop, have had a transparency grid since the Creative Suite days, and this has aided in detecting if a clip or image had embedded transparency. For the longest time, editors did not have this option in Premiere Pro. The only way you were able to detect transparency is if you switched the source monitor to Alpha, and this would show you black for transparency and white for opaqueness. Now, we have more options with a transparency grid which will definitely make life easier.

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Preserve bin structure

This is a feature I discovered via Scott Simmons in his Premiere Pro article. How many times have you ever organized your footage and assets in a structure at the finder level, only to have it broken by importing into Premiere Pro? Well, that is no more. Now, Premiere Pro will maintain your file structure upon import, which will give you more time to spend on editing and creative tasks.

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Track Backward Selection

No NLE I’ve used since Final Cut Pro 7 has had this tool. Not Avid, not FCPX, and not Premiere… until this reveal. Now users can select clips forward or backward in the timeline. This will come in handy for editors with big timelines.

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Live Text Templates with After Effects

This is a feature that Premiere users have been waiting for. For the longest time, we could import After Effects compositions into Premiere Pro via a dynamic link, but making changes was a tedious process. Live text templates is a step forward in the evolution of Adobe video products that will inch it closer to competing with the FCP X/Motion combination that exists now. This feature allows you to edit the text of an After Effects composition within Premiere without all the back and forth. While not completely perfect in execution, this feature will definitely open the door for what we can expect in the future between these two programs.

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Overall, I’m extremely excited to try this next version of Premiere Pro CC. As my top NLE of choice, I’m always amazed at the features each update brings along with it. In my opinion, I believe this version can do everything the FCP 7 can do but better. And with the stronger integration with After Effects, it will put it on par with what FCP X can do.

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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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Typography Transition in Premiere Pro

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These days, typography seems to be all the craze in print, web, and video design. You see it in infographics, commercials, testimonials, and much more. One particular technique that seems to be popular among motion graphics projects is kinetic typography. This technique uses spoken word or lyrics and animates the message into an illustration. There are dozens of tutorials that show you how to pull off this technique. Tutorial author Evan Abrams shows you how to do this in After Effects below.

However, I want to show you how to do a typography based transition in Premiere using a text layer and the native compositing tools available. This transition was inspired by an Apple Motion template created by the folks at MotionVFX.

In Premiere Pro, I have two clips overlapping each other by about three seconds.

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Let’s create a title layer with the name “Text Matte” in the title tool. Choose whatever font you want, but make sure it stretches out horizontally across the screen.

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Duplicate the Text Matte layer twice and rename them “Text Overlay” and “Text Shadow.”

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Double click the Text Overlay layer to bring up the title tool. Change the color to taste.

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Double click the Text Shadow layer to bring up the title tool. Change the Fill to Ghost and enable Shadow. Change the shadow opacity to around 60-70%.

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In the timeline, drag a duplicate of your incoming clip to an upper track. This will be necessary for completing the transition.

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Place the text layers you created in the order as shown: Text Shadow on track 3, Text Matte on track 5 and Text Overlay on track.

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Select the duplicate clip on track 4. Apply the Track Matte Key to it. Make sure the matte is Track 5 and it is compositing using Matte Alpha.

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Let’s animate the Text Overlay. Change the scale to 180. Set a keyframe for position five frames from its in point with it offscreen.

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Move 20 frames forward and bring the Text Overlay layer near the center of the screen.

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Move the playhead two seconds forward and move the Text Overlay almost offscreen.

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Go to the second position keyframe and add an opacity keyframe with a value of 100. Move 15 frames forward and change the value to zero.

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Highlight the Text Overlay layer and copy it. Select the Text Matte and Shadow layers and Paste Attributes.

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Select the Text Shadow layer. Highlight the opacity keyframes and move them down 25 frames. Change the duration of the opacity animation to about 20 frames.

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Let’s highlight the video clip on track 5. In the Effect Controls panel, I will create a 25 frame opacity animation. It will start at 100 and end at zero.

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Let’s do the same thing to our clip on track 2, only instead of animating from 100 to zero, do the reverse.

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If you do all of that then you should have result similar to this.

This is a nice transition to use when you need your text to make more an impact on your project. There are many ways to push this further, and I advise you try to manipulate it. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Coremelt Complete Review

coremelt_logo

Coremelt is a company that is headed by visual effects veteran Roger Bolton. They create plugins for Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and After Effects. The main suite of plugins is known as Coremelt Complete. Within this suite of plugins is a collection of easy to use and intuitive tools for motion artists and all types of editors. Coremelt Complete is composed of eight categories: Gadget Essential Utilities, Pigment, Luminous Glows and Blurs, Shatter Grunge and Stylized, Delta V Grunge Transitions, TRX Filmic Transitions, ImageFlow FX, and Vee You. Each category is a toolkit that addresses miscellaneous post production needs, such as motion graphics, color grading, visual effects, and more. I’m going to provide a brief summary of some of the categories with plugins I use often in my workflow.

Luminous Glows and Blurs

These set of plugins allow you to add a variety of glows, blurs, mattes, and miscellaneous stylized effects to your footage. Some of my favorite effects are Core Glow, Plasma Ribbon, and RGB Trails. These are some of my go-to effects when I need a quick boost in style, and don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to create them from scratch.

Core Glow allows you to set separate colors for the inner and outer glow in order to create a “hot core” style of glow. It has a variety of parameters which allows the user to create a unique look of their own.

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Plasma Ribbon creates a flowing fluid stream of light with many controls for the type of twisting, colors, style of ribbon, and speed you want. This is ideal for use as a motion graphics elements like titles and lower thirds.

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RGB Trails creates ghost-like trails behind movement in the image with different lengths in each color channel. Think of it as a repeater/echo effect but across the red, green, and blue channels as opposed to the video itself.

rgb-trails

Delta V Grunge Transitions

This set of 30 transitions are motion graphic, stylized, and grunge based. They are meant to enhance and add that additional pop to your workflow. My go-to transitions are Channel Change, Random Crop, and Random Cloud.

Channel Change is a transition that applies a static and interference pattern to simulate changing channels on an old-school TV set. This transition works best when its duration last between 6-8 frames.

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Random Crop is a transition that crops your source clip down to a random size, then the target clip grows back from a random size to full screen. I’ve used this transition quite a bit in my edits. I find it to be modern and stylized all at the same time.

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Random Cloud is a transition that pulls out, revealing a cloud of random arrangements of source and target clips before zooming back to target. You have the ability to control many of the parameters: diagonal, horizontal, and vertical.

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ImageFlow FX

These are a set of predetermined photo and video animations that can be used for DVD menu backgrounds, motion graphics promos, documentary photo montage, titles sequences, and many more uses. With over 30 plugins to choose from, you will have limitless possibilities for using multiple pieces of media at once in your project. My favorites are Filmstrip, Card Flow, and Layers to Camera.

Filmstrip is a generator that creates a scrolling film strip of images in the folder, or from your timeline. You have the ability to position the film strip in 3D space using the built in controls. One drawback is that it’s not infinitely long, so modify with caution. I’ve utilized this generator when I wanted to show a scroll of client logos and other miscellaneous objects.

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Card Flow recreates the animation of the popular iTunes “Cover Flow” effect with frames, masks, and random crop options.

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Layers to Camera gives your images or videos the 3D animation as if the images were flowing toward the camera with a controllable depth blur effect, as well as adjustable random x, y, and z position. This is one of my favorite generators to use when I don’t want to create this from scratch in After Effects and need something quickly.

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Overall, Coremelt Complete is a Swiss army knife of effects that can take your projects to the next level. I can honestly say they are among my top five favorite third party plugin suite, and I depend on them regularly. You can try it out for 14 days yourself and see how awesome it is. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

 

Assemble FX 1: 3D Swap Transition in Premiere

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

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

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

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

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

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Tips for Cutting Event Highlights

A Team NLE

Starting out as an editor, there are variety of projects you’ll be asked to cut that can help establish your editing style and workflow. These projects can range anywhere from weddings, testimonials, music videos, commercials, and much more. One particular type of video that you may come across in your career is the event highlight. For the sake of this article, we will focus on events such as conventions, parties and fashion shows. There are multiple ways to go about cutting an event highlight, but I will provide you with some tips that can help you on your next project. I found this interesting article by Vashi Nedomansky about cutting event highlights. He includes tips for cutting behind the scenes footage for music videos, which I found to ring true with how I would approach an edit of an event highlight. In this post, I will borrow some of his concepts, but place my own spin on it.

Be organized, ready to adapt, and know your footage and assets all around

This goes without saying, but you should always be organized no matter what project you are cutting. However, the way you would organize for an edit of an event highlight may be different than how you would edit for something like a music video or a wedding. Organization will be key because the last thing you want taking up your time is poor organization. It pays to have a strong bin structure, sequence structure, and project labeling scheme that will ensure success. Always be ready to adapt. In other words, you want to be ready to handle changes such as more footage, assets, or complete change in direction of how you are cutting the event highlight. Sometimes, you will encounter outside forces that can derail what your vision for the final edit was and you have to be prepared to adapt if you want to get finished in a timely manner. If you are organized and ready to adapt to changing circumstances, you will survive the project.

On top of being organized, you need to know your footage backwards and forwards. You will spend the most time with it and the last thing you want to run into is a client asking you for a particular shot and not being able to find it right away. Take time to screen your footage and develop a mental storyboard of what clips and assets will help best highlight the event. Depending on what NLE you are using, it helps to have a metadata/tagging system that will allow you to call up particular shots at a moment’s notice to quickly insert them in a segment. One technique that I have used when working with track based NLEs is the Pancake timeline method. I have my main sequence at the bottom, and a sequence of my best shots in the sequence above. I can drag or copy/paste shots from the top sequence to the bottom sequence to test out what works best. Overall, have a competent system of being able to call up shots at the drop of a hat.

Build the story with your dialogue first

In most event highlight videos, you will have interviews/soundbites involved in the piece. The last thing you want to do is randomly insert them and not have them amount to much. One of the things I do is watch, trim, and sequence my interviews based on importance and relevance. For example, if I have a event highlight at a car show, I would want to hear from the host/MC of the event first, rather than last, as they will help inform the viewer what is to be expected. Not only does determining the order of your interviews help you with the edit, it also helps establish the structure of the video. Things that are said or seen in an interview will help you determine what shots need to make it in, versus what shots are expendable. Cutting your interviews first will help establish a direction and the 3 act structure you need to tell a great story.

Craft the edit in a 3 act structure

This is said repeatedly amongst all editors, but it needs to be said again. Anything you cut has to tell a story. You can have a lot of great b-roll and soundbites, but you’ve already lost if they don’t build towards anything. Just like you would cut a wedding highlight by highlighting the preparation, the ceremony, and the reception, you have to approach your event highlight with a 3 act structure. You should have a strong intro, followed by a cohesive and informative middle, followed by an ending that leaves the viewer wanting more. The way I approach this 3 act structure is starting with strong visuals that contain a few soundbites underneath to help bring the viewer in. Next, I will show more strong visuals in the middle with relevant soundbites that capture the event as a whole. I try to end by using strong moments that will leave the viewer wanting more. In the midst of building this 3 act structure, I try to make sure that I have strong creative direction and pacing to bring it altogether.

Determine the creative direction/pacing and stick to it

It’s real easy in the midst of structuring your highlight to want to try a variety of transitions and effects. For this reason, after I have gone through my footage and chosen my best shots, I try to determine a creative direction that is suitable for the event at hand. This involves the use of music, transitions, and effects. Using the wrong song allows your viewer to interpret your highlight differently. Using too many over the top transitions or effects may show that you didn’t believe the footage could speak for itself. Overall, the creative direction you choose should be consistent and focused. It’s meant to enhance your video, not distract from it. By not having a consistent creative direction, it can effect the pacing of the finished product and possibly lead to more revisions.

It’s meant to be a highlight, not a showing of the entire event

This is something you will run into… not only while editing, but also when dealing with clients. The point of an event highlight video is to showcase the best parts of the event, not to show the entire thing. It is your job as the editor to make sure that this is communicated constantly. If you were a viewer watching this video, would you be willing to sit through a video showing the entire event? Not likely. The event highlight is meant to give the viewer a taste of what the event was about, as well as to serve as an enticement to attend. That’s why Sportscenter has highlights of games because the viewers want to see the best and relevant parts of any sport. Very rarely will someone want to sit through an entire game and see every action that was made. Above all else, it’s very important that you remember this tip.

Here’s an example of a Macy’s fashion show highlight video I cut for a society/entertainment show:

These tips are meant to help guide you through the editing process, and make you aware of some of the things you may encounter. Not all event highlight videos are cut the same way, but if you remember some of these tips, they can help you in the long run.

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

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