Nodes 2 from Yanobox

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Avengers. Ender’s Game. Iron Man 3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These are just a few films that have had the opportunity to utilize the plugin known as Nodes. With the release of Nodes 2, Yanobox has upped the ante with what this plugin can do. This motion graphic tool can import 3D models, interact with the After Effects camera, link text and images to individual nodes, and so much more. The best part is it supports the most popular editing and compositing programs on the market including: After Effects, Motion, Final Cut Pro X, and Premiere Pro. If you don’t believe how awesome and intricate this plugin is, take a look at this demo below:

I’ve had a chance to try out Nodes 2 myself and I was extremely impressed with how quickly I was able to pick it up. Here are a few quick examples of what I was able to create on my own, which to my surprise, rendered very quickly on my iMac. On top of that, I like that I can create certain animations with ease compared to plugins like Trapcode Form or Particular.

Overall, Nodes 2 is an incredible plugin that needs to be experienced firsthand to admire its depth. With this plugin, I am able to create breathtaking and stylized motion graphics that would require multiple plugins and tinkering to achieve the look Nodes can create effortlessly. I’ve always been a fan of the Yanobox plugins, and this Nodes sequel more than lives up to its predecessor. I like how the controls are easy to experiment with, as well as the presets. The presets provide a great starting point and can be manipulated at will. The fine folks of Noise Industries have provided very detailed tutorials for your favorite software application, which you can check out here:

If you are looking for a plugin that imports stunning 3D models, build networks of node structures, and allows you to create an limitless amount of text and image connections, then look no further than Yanobox Nodes 2. At the price of $299, it’s a no brainer purchase that will save you hours of work and allow you to explore more creative depths than you can imagine.

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Other FCPX Ecosystem Apps

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It’s been about four years since the debut of Final Cut Pro X. In that time, the application has had 14 updates which took it from what some would say is a beta level software not ready for prime-time, to a professional level editing application which is truly groundbreaking. Also in that time, new applications have entered the FCPX ecosystem to help users have as much speed outside the application as they do inside. I want to highlight three applications and a set of folder templates which I believe FCPX users should get their hands on as soon as possible.

ClipExporter 2.0

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ClipExporter is an application that allows users to send their clips to other post production software like Nuke and After Effects. Utilizing the FCPX xml protocol, users take the exported XML file and bring it into ClipExporter. From there, users can choose between the AE exporter, the Nuke exporter, or create trimmed video clips. Choosing either option gives the user the ability to deal with edited clips as opposed to sending an entire clip for further post processing. If you are trying to take your clips to After Effects, the application will generate a jsx file, which AE will read as a script, and load your clips once you run it. Certain items will carry over like resizing, spatial conform, and other modifications, but titles, generators, and such will not. If you are using the Nuke option, it will create a complete folder structure according to your requirements in Nuke. I personally have not used this application even though I have the first version of it. My workflows don’t usually require intense visual effect work so I haven’t had the chance to put it to the test. The newest version (version two) is streamlined much further and runs about $90.

FCPxporter

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FCPxporter is a new application from the folks of FDPtraining.com. It functions to assist FCPX editors in batch exporting projects. In the tutorial above, you’ll first want to tell the app how many projects you want to export. Next, enable your choice of notifications in your System preferences to have the app tell you when things are complete. Inside of FCPX, choose the timelines you want to export, and choose a sharing destination which you want to make default. Choose your export destination and hit Cancel twice. With FCPxporter open and your project number set, hit the Run button to get things in motion. While the application is running, it will tie up all of your computer’s resources so it is best advised that you let it finish the task before you do anything else. Overall, I think this is a nice application to have if you work on projects where you have to export a lot of timelines, like commercials or similar looking videos. I haven’t had a chance to test it myself, but if it is as straightforward as the tutorial indicates, I will definitely add it to my arsenal.

FCPX Folder Templates

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While this is not an application, these folder templates from FDPtraining.com are great for FCPX users who crave instant organization. They are designed to manage all of your project assets. The folders have preassigned finder tags so they are easy to find, or you can import the finder tags as keyword collections into FCPX. These folders will inspire you to be organized and give you another wow factor for deliverables to your clients. They are especially great because they have a template library that integrates well if you use PostHaste for project creation. In my experience of using this, I’ve found these folder templates to be integral in making me a bit faster when doing projects in FCPX. Take a look at the tutorial below and witness for yourself how awesome these are.

toMotion

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toMotion is a free and handy app for installing and backing up Motion Templates. If you download free templates from FCP.co or other websites, then you usually have to manually install the templates in your Movies folder on your desktop, and this can be a pain if you aren’t tech savvy. With this app, it takes the custom templates and gives you the option to install them into the appropriate folder so it will show up in FCPX. I’ve been using it myself for over a year to install custom Motion templates and it works like a charm. I’ve seen other applications that were designed to do this, but I found this one very straightforward and easy to use out of the gate. What surprises me is how few people know about it as it is free and very handy. I strongly recommend adding it to your arsenal if you want to minimize the time spent installing custom Motion templates.

These are some of the new applications and templates available for enhancing the FCPX ecosystem for die-hard users. Each of these applications serve a particular purpose for facilitating an efficient workflow across the board. Feel free to give them a test run to see if they can work for you.

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FCPX 10.1.2 New Features

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

Library Media Management

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

Import Enhancements

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

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

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

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Apple Pro Res 4444 XQ

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

Audio Enhancements

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

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

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Transitions, Titles, & Effects

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

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

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Advanced Photo Animation Techniques

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How many times have you been involved in an edit where there are more photos than b-roll? I’ve been in that situation more times than I can count. The quick “pan and zoom effect” (aka the “Ken Burns effect”) seems to do the job. However, applying this technique to a handful of photos would quickly get boring and repetitive. For this reason, I’ve searched for new techniques I can use when I’m presented with a photo heavy project. These techniques include the Cinemagraph effect, 2.5D effect, and camera mapping effect. For these techniques, you can perform them in a range of applications such as After Effects, Motion, and Cinema 4D.

Cinemagraph Effect

A cinemagraph is a photo animation in which minor and repeated movement occurs. These are usually created by taking still photos and video recording them performing a certain activity (i.e blowing bubbles or dancing) so that it can be composed into a seamless loop of sequential frames. Below is an example of what a cinemagraph looks like. This term came to fruition back in 2011 when photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck were using the technique to animate fashion and newspaper photos.

The folks of Vox Lab explain how to create a cinemagraph in the tutorial below. They demonstrate on a video clip of a class in session.

Under the right conditions and with proper planning, the cinemagraph is definitely a technique that can come in handy when you want to add some unique motion to your photos.

The 2.5D Effect

This effect goes by many names, such as Kid Stays in Picture, Dimensional Stills, and Parallax effect. Whatever you may choose to call it, it involves extracting portions of your image which can later be animated in 3D space to give the illusion of motion. The one thing about this technique is the amount of work necessary to extract portions of your image. Some images are easier than others, but when you properly extract portions of your image, animating it will be easier depending on how far you plan to go with it. Below is an example of what it looks like when animated.

In the tutorial below, photographer Joe Fellows shows you how to create the 2.5D effect. His technique goes a bit further than the example above, but it definitely adds more life to the photo than a simple pan and zoom.

The folks of Cineflare offer a plugin called Pop Out that helps speed the process of creating this effect. You can check it out below.

Camera Mapping Effect

Camera mapping is similar to the 2.5D effect, but the difference is this technique uses projection. With camera mapping, you can project an image or video onto a screen and give the illusion of depth by using zooming and angles. In the breakdown below, you see how the creator is able to take an image that originated in 2D, and by using multiple techniques essential to camera mapping, they were able to create the illusion of depth.

In this tutorial below, mograph artist Casey Latiolais shows us how to add some life into a simple 2D image by camera mapping in Cinema 4D. These techniques allow the 2D image he is using to have a much more life-like appearance than before.

Overall, there are lots of techniques available for animating photos that can help invigorate your projects. You don’t have to settle for the simple Ken Burns technique for every photo, and if you put in the proper preparation, you can create some stunning animations. Feel free to try any of these techniques the next time you are presented with a barrage of photos.

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FCPX must have utilities

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

Event Manager X

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

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

-Quickly manage Events and Projects using visible checkboxes.

-Filter through libraries to find specific Events and Projects.

-Keep track of hidden Events and Projects.

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

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

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

7toX

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

-Bins become keyword collections.

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

-The track structure is represented by Roles.

-Multicam is fully supported.

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

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

ClipExporter

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

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

Motion Template Tool

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

CreateDiskImage

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

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

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