Lower Third Tutorial Round-Up

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Lower thirds, supers or CGs as they are also called, are those graphics you see on the screen when someone is being identified. You see them on reality television, the news, sports games, and documentaries. They usually have one to three tiers which can have the person’s first and last name at the top, and at the bottom, an occupation, residency, or position they occupy. Another characteristic of lower thirds is that they are placed in the title safe area of the screen so they don’t get cut off (these are usually network specifications). One thing about lower thirds is that they are by far the most sold item on motion graphics marketplaces. You could go to a variety of sites and look at galleries of lower thirds which you can purchase for your own videos. However, you may not always have the luxury of purchasing lower thirds, so it helps to know how to create these from scratch to keep costs down. In the three videos below, I highlight tutorials for how to create lower thirds from scratch for programs such as After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. After you take a look at these videos, you can apply some of the knowledge you’ve learned and get to creating your lower third graphics.

Lower Third (After Effects) Tutorial

In this After Effects tutorial, Phil Ebiner shows us how he creates simple and clean lower thirds. As he states in the tutorial, he looks to other sites for inspiration before he starts creating. Utilizing a combination of solids, masks, and shape layers, he is able to create a lower third that would work in just about any occasion. When creating lower thirds, it takes a lot of layers to achieve the ideal look so be prepared for using precompositions, parenting, and lots of keyframes to maintain a clean and organized timeline.  What I like about this tutorial is that it has nice pacing, and within less than 20 minutes, you can have a lower third that can be used and modified to your needs. If you are using After Effects CC, you can turn this lower third into a LiveText template for use in Premiere Pro. If you aren’t as skilled in After Effects and prefer Motion instead, you can learn to create lower thirds there as well.

Lower Third (Motion 5) Tutorial

In this Motion 5 tutorial, author HalfGlassFull shows us how to create a complex lower third for broadcast. He first sets up his placeholder text layers in the position he wants. From there, he begins creating different shapes as a background for the text layers. Once he sets up the design of the lower third, he begins to implement behaviors to animate elements of the lower third to his liking. To finish it off, he shows you how to publish the lower third for use in Final Cut Pro X. Overall, this is an easy to follow tutorial and really helps reduce the learning curve that some people may have when using Motion for the first time. Also, the ease at which Motion projects can be integrated into Final Cut Pro X for multiple uses. As great as it is to create lower thirds in graphics programs like After Effects and Motion, sometimes you want the ability to do it without leaving your NLE. Let’s see how to do this in Premiere Pro.

Lower Third (Premiere Pro) Tutorial

In this Premiere Pro tutorial, VideoSchoolOnline shows us how to create modern and sleek lower thirds in Premiere Pro. Now, most people wouldn’t look to see if Premiere was capable of this, but a seasoned user would know better. Using layers in the Title Tool, they are able to create a simple two-tier lower third which identifies the talent on the screen. To give it movement, they use position keyframes with a manipulated interpolation. To keep the timeline clean, he nests the lower third into its own sequence. I can tell you from experience that creating simple lower thirds in Premiere is easy. The one caveat is when you need multiple version, it can be a real hassle to deal with, so plan ahead. Overall, it is rather easy to create a quick lower third from scratch, even if you only have your NLE to rely on.

As you can see, creating lower thirds from scratch is a fun exercise and a useful skill to have as an editor. There will be situations where purchasing one seems more viable than creating one from scratch. Depending on the project and client, it benefits you to know how to create one, but also know where to purchase one. Feel free to seek out other tutorials which show you how to create even more complex lower thirds so you can impress your clients.

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Media Composer Tips & Tricks

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Of the non linear editing systems I blog about, I rarely discuss Avid, unless I’m comparing it to other NLEs or highlighting new features in updated versions. I decided, that for this article, I want it to be Avid-centric with tips and tricks because there are a ton of them available. In fact, I can honestly say there are more tips for using Avid Media Composer than there are for other editing software. I’m going to highlight a few that stood out to me while using the program. Professionally, I’ve only used Avid about five times, and, in most situations, it was because it was a freelance job that required it. Currently, I don’t use it as much, but I have a lot of respect for those who do, considering it is used to edit major episodic television shows and Hollywood feature films. So, let’s learn some tips and tricks of using Media Composer.

Create Quick Transitions Bin

In this quick tutorial, Genius DV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how easy it is to create a bin for commonly used transitions. First, choose a transition of your liking and apply it to your edit point. If you want, you can customize it in the Effect Editor window. Next, navigate to the Bins tab and create a new bin called “Quick Transitions.” Make sure you type this out case sensitive or else this process won’t work. In the Effect Editor window, drag the custom transition into the Quick Transitions bin. With that in place, you can click on the Quick Transitions button, click on the drop down menu, and you’ll see you custom transition there.  I have to say that this is one feature I wish Premiere and FCPX had emulated. I know in Final Cut Pro 7 you could create favorites bin and put effects/transitions there, but to have a button able to call them up whenever you’d like would be a timesaver.

Batch Rendering Sequences on Export

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This is a handy tip for those projects that have multiple sequences that need to be rendered. With the work I do for a living, multiple sequences are an every project occurrence. To batch render sequences on export in Media Composer, select all your sequences in their respective bin. Open the Export Settings window and select Quicktime Reference Movie. Click on the Render All Video Effects and hit OK. Now, all your sequences will be rendered in a small Quicktime file to check if things are correct or need to be fixed. You can create a preset out of this in the Export Settings window to save time in the future.

Mapping Editing Workspaces

In this informative tutorial, editing guru and Lynda.com instructor Ashley Kennedy breaks down how to map the Media Composer workspace to your needs. She shows us how to create a custom editing workspace, as well as a workspace for audio editing. Saving a timeline view is as simple as a click at the bottom of the timeline, clicking on Untitled, and choosing Save As. From there, you are presented with a dialog window where you can name your timeline view. She goes into detail explaining how managing the Settings tab can assist in workspaces you may use at various stages of the edit. In my opinion, this is a great video to reference for the times when you step away from Media Composer and forget how to manage workspaces effectively.

Overall, this is a small collection of tips and tricks you can find out about Media Composer. With their active forums and user groups across the internet, you can easily get more acquainted with Media Composer than most NLEs out there. In my opinion, it pays to know Media Composer if you have plans to edit episodic television or major feature films. It is still the dominant editing platform when it comes to delivering those type of projects, and for good reason.

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Local TV Commercial Editing Workflow

Premiere Pro CS6

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

Premiere Pro CS6

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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Ways to Glitch Your Videos

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Glitching your videos these days seems to be all the rage. You’ve seen it promos, trailers, tv shows, and web videos. The artistic application of malfunctioning video has become a trend in motion graphics, and it seems there are many options to achieve these effects. I’m going to highlight a few options that give you the ability to glitch your videos without much effort. There are ways to glitch and distort your videos using native filters and more. However, these options I plan to highlight don’t require much from the user.

Rampant Design Tools Distortion Toolkit

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A new toolkit from the talented creators at Rampant Design Tools, you get over 2500 elements to play with, which include the following: 8-bit effects, Heavy Damage, Analog Effects, Glitch Effects, and more. The best part is you can purchase these elements in different resolutions ranging from 2K-4K which gives you more pixel freedom than 1080p. All you have to do with these elements is drag and drop and you are good to go. You can definitely add more creativity to using these elements by doing your own transform and distort effects, and apply clips from the kit to help enhance an effect. The opportunities are endless with this toolkit. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the impressive promo below to get a taste of how awesome this kit is.

VideoCopilot Twitch

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A plugin created by After Effects guru Andrew Kramer, Twitch gives the user the ability to control the chaos they insert into their videos. Although this plugin only works in After Effects, the options users have available to them are quite astounding. Twitch users can utilize the plugin to create stylistic video effects for motion graphics and visual effects. You can easily create RGB Split effects, transitions, frame distortion, and more. This plugin has been a go to for AE users when they need to introduce chaos into their videos. Watching the promo below will give you a better idea of how awesome Twitch is.

Digieffects Damage

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The folks at Digieffects created this bundle of plugins a few years ago, but people still go to them when they want to non-destructively destroy their perfect footage. The Damage bundle includes:

  • Aged Film
  • Artifact
  • Blockade
  • Destabilize
  • Interference
  • Overexpose
  • Skew

Each plugin has its purpose in messing up your video. With Aged Film, you can make your video look like they were shot years ago. Artifact gives your video a posterized look with analog blocks popping all over the screen. Interference will give your video that static interference your TV gives you when the cable is disconnected. Overall, this plugin bundle offers a great deal of glitch and distortion effects that can act alone or be combined for a great effect.

Red Giant Universe Glitch

A soon to be released plugin from Red Giant under their Universe package, these plugins give users the ability add Glitch to their videos in the form of a transition or an effect. Since it hasn’t been released yet, there isn’t much I can say. However, this video by After Effects guru Aharon Rabinowitz showcases how great Glitch will be when it is released.

These are a great collection of options to glitch your videos. You can go the drag and drop route with Rampant Design Tools or use plugins from Videocopilot, Digieffects, or Red Giant. Overall, you don’t have to try to manually glitch your videos if you are on a deadline. Check out these options for yourself and figure out what works best for your workflow.

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4 Features Wanted in Next Premiere Pro CC Updates

Premiere Pro CS6

I’ve been a professional editor for over seven years now and I have had the chance to do both linear and non linear editing. I remember the days of getting footage off tape, dealing with decks on livecast shoots, and more. However, I used the NLEs of the A-Team players (Avid, Adobe, Apple) and they have all come a long way. These days, I lean more towards being a Premiere Pro editor with a good understanding of Final Cut Pro X. I’m extremely impressed with the progress Premiere has made over the last five years, and I can’t wait to see more. I do, however, have some features I would like to see in future releases of Premiere Pro.

Title Tool Revamp

I have used the title tool in Avid Media Composer as well as the one in Final Cut Pro legacy. Both title tools provide less than optimal conditions for simple edits. Final Cut Pro X has the title tool advantage these days because everything is now a Motion Template. Premiere Pro’s title tool is slightly better than Media Composer and FCP Legacy, in my opinion. When you use the title tool in Premiere Pro, it opens up in a separate window. It allows you to create a title from scratch, utilizing the tools available, along with layer styles and a variety of templates.

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My problem with the Premiere title tool is that it is not as intuitive as I would like it to be. You have limited options for creating titles, which are relegated to static looks or roll/crawling text. For some users, it can be difficult to create more complex titles because of the lack of a layer system. This is why some people resort to using Photoshop and/or After Effects to take care of their title needs, such as lower thirds, bugs, or end credits. I’m all for using the accompanying programs in the Creative Cloud, but I believe an NLE should have strong title tools. Users should only reach for Photoshop or After Effects when your title needs exceed the capabilities of the program. Here is how I would like title tool to function in future releases of Premiere. I would take a few cues from NewBlueFX Titler Pro 3. The video below showcases the ability to create a title or lower third graphic template and quickly modify it across your video. Ideally, I would like it to have a layer based system similar to Photoshop. This way, I would know when I am modifying an element, as well as have it appear as a multi-layered item in the project panel. It would be nice if they could find a way to have text animation presets similar to After Effects. I could minimize my need to go to After Effects for something that mundane. Overall, a Title Tool revamp would definitely help alleviate some of the frustrations users have when using title tool.

Dynamic Link Proxy/Live Text Evolution

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with Dynamic Link in Premiere. It could have been my computer specs or something else, but I’ve always found that it slowed me down as opposed to just rendering what I needed from After Effects, and making updates through re-rendering. One thing I would like to see that would help users who may not have high end computers, would be a dynamic link proxy to final render option. This would work by bringing an AE composition into Premiere, changing the option to be in full resolution or proxy format, and when the changes are locked in, give the user the option to render via Media Encoder into a format of their choice. Now, I understand that would take quite a bit of code to pull off, but under the new cloud format, it definitely gives both Premiere and AE teams something to work towards. The new Live Text Templates introduced in Premiere CC 2014 definitely show the level of innovation and cohesion users can expect with After Effects and Premiere Pro. I hope the next few versions of this feature will get to the level where it can compete with Motion templates. Knowing how much professionals rely on AE templates to complete projects, Premiere will be a force to be reckoned with if it gets to this level.

Effects Panel Additions

One of the things I love about Premiere over FCP legacy is that I don’t have to double click a clip to adjust things like scale, position, rotation, or blend mode. Click it once and it shows up. I especially like what they did for the 2014 addition of Premiere Pro with Master Clip Effects. However, there are some items I would like to be added. I can only assume the Premiere Pro team is working towards the ability to move between keyframes with a keyboard shortcut. I would like the ability to have either Track Matte Key, Set Matte, or Image Matte Key as a part of the Effect Controls panel so I can easily do compositing from track to track. The benefit of this would be not solely relying on those filters, and I could more easily manage my compositing efforts when I move clips with those filters enabled.  If anything, I would place it in the same category as the opacity parameter. Another thing I would like is for the motion parameter to have similar abilities to Media Composer’s 3D Warp filter, with a hybrid allowing you to turn layers 3D in After Effects, as seen in the video below.

This would eliminate the need for the Basic 3D and flip filters, as well as allow users to do simple perspective rotation in a “3D” space. Right now, the Basic 3D filter isn’t as strong as its third party counterparts available from BorisFX, FxFactory, or GenArts. Along with the added Matte Key functionality, giving the motion parameter a hybrid of the abilities from After Effects and Media Composer would take Premiere’s animating and compositing capabilities up a notch.

More Tools in the Toolbar

I like the current tools that Premiere Pro CC 2014 has now. I can select items forward and backward with two track selection tools. I can add keyframes with the Pen Tool. I can zoom in on my timeline with the Zoom Tool. I wouldn’t mind some tools for manipulating images. A pan behind tool would allow users to move the anchor point of their image without having to use slider values. A crop tool would eliminate the crop filter altogether, and would give users the crop abilities similar to FCP 7. Overall, an addition of a few more tools would greatly help the editing process and would reduce the need for editors to make painstaking adjustments.

These are just a few features I hope to see, and with the way the various Adobe teams have been responding to their customers, it isn’t too far of stretch that this may happen in the near future. Right now, I rely on Premiere to make a living, and I have high hopes for what’s to come.

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Basics in Controlling Text Animation in After Effects

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

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

CREATE AND MANIPULATE BASIC TEXT FORM

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

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

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

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

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ANIMATE TEXT USING POSITION, SCALE, AND ROTATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advanced Photo Animation Techniques

A Team NLE

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.

Sound Effects

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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Film Impact and Creative Impatience Review

Premiere_cs3

Since making the transition from a Final Cut Pro 7 workflow to a Premiere Pro workflow, things have been great. I was able to modify my keyboard shortcuts to be more FCP friendly and I don’t deal with as many hassles as I did when editing in FCP 7. As great as that is, there were some things that took a little getting use to. In terms of actual transitions, Premiere Pro’s native transitions were lacking to say the least. If I wanted to use a fancy or cheesy transition on an edit, I would have to use one of the many filter based transitions or send my clips to After Effects via Dynamic Link. Another area of interest I felt that FCP 7 had on Premiere was its compositing and masking capabilities. The amount of native masking and compositing tools FCP has puts Premiere Pro to shame.

FCP vs PPro

Now it’s possible to achieve certain masking/compositing effects in Premiere but most times it would require help from the Title Tool and the available matte key filters (Image Matte, Set Matte and Track Matte) or the limited crop filter. Over the last year, two independent entities have created transitions and compositing filters that help fill the gaps between FCP and Premiere Pro. They are Film Impact and Creative Impatience. Film Impact is comprised of a group of developers who create professional, inexpensive plugins for both FCP 7 and Premiere Pro CS5-CS6. Creative Impatience is the brainchild of developer/editor Bart Walczak. With Bart’s plugins, you get plugins that allow you to crop, feather edges of your media, vignette and mask out multiple sections of one or more videos.

Film Impact Plugins

filmimpact

This suite of transitions have been a welcomed addition to the Premiere Pro ecosystem. With transitions such as Impact Flash, Impact Push, Impact Blur Dissolve and more, I have the ability to give my projects more polish. One of the strengths of these transitions is the user interface that is available. Within that interface, I have the ability to effect how my transition will look and interact with my media. For example if I was using the Impact Flash transition, I have the ability to effect the Blur, Glow and Softness parameters which in turn effect how the transition looks. I can take it from its default state to a different variation of the transition.

Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 7.53.00 AM

The best part about these transitions is that they are actual transitions. Many third party transitions that you can purchase for Premiere tend to function as filters that need to be keyframed in the Effect Controls panel as opposed to be placed on an edit. There is a time and place for using those types of transitions but in most cases I like the ease of a transition that can be placed at the head or tail of clips. Overall, Film Impact has definitely been able to figure out the plugin SDK of Premiere and create a great suite of transitions. If future iterations are as good as the first collection, then I know Film Impact will become a power player.

Creative Impatience Plugins
This collection of filters addresses an editor’s need to do simple masking and compositing tasks that you would usually send out to After Effects to take care of. Within this collection, you can download Feathered Crop, Vignette, Power Window and Simple Mask all for free (if you find these plugins useful, you can donate to the developer to help with the progress of current and upcoming plugins). One of the standout filters I found immediately useful is Feathered Crop. Back in my FCP 7 days, being able to feather the edges of a clip for a nice composite was one of my go to techniques. Switching over to Premiere, I found this to be rather difficult with the native tools. To do anything remotely close to this would require the Title Tool and Track Matte Key. Also, the Edge Feather filter was not as resourceful as I thought it could be. When this plugin came out, I instantly found myself using it quite often. With it’s in depth interface, the user can selectively crop and feather from top, bottom, right and left. They also have the ability to add a border around their image if they choose to.

fcrop_interface

The newest plugin I’m finding immediately useful is Simple Mask. This filter allows you to create a simple and adjustable mask around your media. The best part is you can add multiple instances of this filter to focus on specific portions of your footage or create a unique mask design.

simple-mask-interface

Overall, Creative Impatience has been able to address my masking and compositing needs in Premiere with this collection of plugins. Their ease of use and incredible design makes them accessible for quick and dirty compositing techniques.

If you are a recent FCP 7 convert or diehard user of Premiere Pro, I highly recommend adding these plugins to your plugin arsenal. What these 2 developers have created is nothing short of phenomenal.

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

Sound Effects