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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3rd Party Plugin Offerings

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One of the many things that led me to post production were the tools I would have available to craft and weave the final product. In particular, I was enamored with the 3rd party plugins and compositing software that were available for NLEs. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the opportunity to play with quite a few plugins from various developers, and have noticed how their form of delivery may be different from one another. I’ll examine a few developers whose delivery of plugins is unique to the user experience, and offer my opinions and critiques as well.

Boris FX/Red Giant

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Boris FX offers a variety of cross platform products from Continuum Complete, Final Effects, RED, and more. Continuum is offered as either a complete set or a la carte. Within this set, editors and artists have access to a plethora of effects that handle a multitude of areas in post production, such as: color correction, motion graphics, and visual effects creation. I’ve been using this set myself for over four years and it’s one I’ve come to rely on quite a bit. About two years ago, Boris FX decided to break up the Continuum suite into 16 separate units so that customers could pick and choose, as opposed to paying for a full suite of plugins.

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In my opinion, I think this was a smart move as I’m sure not a lot of professionals are willing to shell out $1,000 or more for a suite of plugins when only a select few will get used. If I only want to use the Continuum transitions, I can pay $200 and save $800 in the process, which can be put towards other endeavors. As cheap as the units are to purchase, there is a nice comfort in having the complete Continnum suite. If a dire project situation should arise, it could be easily fixed by using a rarely used plugin, rather than going through the process of purchasing another unit just for the sake of one project. I believe having options within the Continuum Complete suite definitely makes it flexible for the customer. Red Giant, on the other hand, is also unique in their approach to plugin offerings.

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From what I’ve observed, it’s cheaper to buy a suite and install what you need, as opposed to buying a la carte. I’m not sure why that is the case with Red Giant products, but it seems to get the job done. This approach has allowed them to become a popular developer in the industry. One of their new additions, Universe, uses the subscription model, where users can sign up for a free or premium membership. With either membership, the user has access to a variety of free plugins, as well as premium grade plugins, which you get if you sign up for a premium membership. In my experience, this approach has been pleasant because Red Giant keeps users in the loop with the option of voting on upcoming plugins, as well as giving them more free plugins with each update. In my opinion, I feel this will have some influence on how plugin developers offer their products.

FxFactory

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The developers at Noise Industries offer groundbreaking and revolutionary plugins that maximize a users creative ambitions, as well as minimizing the need to think to far outside the box. With their FxFactory application, users are presented with a catalogue of plugins that they can choose from. This is similar to how iTunes catalogues their music and video options.

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Personally, I like this approach to plugin offerings because I can pick from a catalogue of developers to test, or purchase, what I need at anytime and have immediate access within seconds. If I need transitions for FCPX, I can chose from Luca Visual FX, Idustrial Revolution, or SugarFX to gain some incredible and creative options. If I need lower thirds, I can download some from Stupid Raisins. Overall, having a catalogue of options from various developers definitely makes the user experience much more pleasant.

After seeing how companies like Boris FX, Red Giant, and the developers amongst FxFactory offer their plugins, it’s great to know that there are unique options that users can choose from. If you want a suite of products for a particular function of post production, Red Giant offers great money saving suites. If you want more of an a la carte option from a suite, you can choose from the units in the Continuum Complete set. If you want a catalogue of plugins you can download within seconds, FxFactory is incredible for that. Choose that which offers you the best bang for your buck.

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Top 4 FCP X Training YouTube Channels

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With the release of Final Cut Pro X, the industry was shaken up and also put people in a compromising position: either embrace the new editing paradigm, or go to the other A-list NLEs. Three years later, a large group of professionals have embraced the editing software and have gone out of their way to help others understand it as well as they do. From the many discussions I have had with editors seeking training, many have said that YouTube should be the last place to look for professional training when you want to learn a new software. There is a lot of bad information out there, and if people don’t research properly, they may end up learning a technique or two that actually does more harm than help. However, there are certified and working professionals who offer high quality training on YouTube… if you look hard enough. In my search, I’ve come across a handful of individuals on YouTube who offer Final Cut Pro X training that have allowed me to look at it in a brand new light. I will provide you with a list of four channels that provide excellent FCP X training.

MacBreak Studio

This channel hosts weekly videos exploring how to get the best of Final Cut Pro X and Motion 5. Hosted by Ripple Training founders, Mark Spencer and Steve Martin, you will receive a wealth of knowledge that you can use right away on your projects. In my personal opinion, this show is what Videocopilot is to the After Effects community, but aimed at the FCP/Motion community. Many of their videos show you how to work faster and efficiently in FCP X by taking advantage of what is under the hood. They also feature intricate Motion tutorials to showcase how capable the program is when compared to other motion graphics applications. Below is an example of how FCP X users can master the Range selection tool.

I highly recommend you subscribe to this channel if you want to get more out of Motion 5 and Final Cut Pro X. You won’t regret it.

GeniusDV

Run by Master trainer John Lynn, GeniusDV provides training for not only Final Cut Pro X, but Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere Pro. What I like about this channel is that Jon runs through the basics of using Final Cut Pro X in a quick fashion that leaves me with more information than I originally had. The pacing and tonality in his voice allows you to learn how to use a function of Final Cut Pro X in minutes. In this video example, he shows you how to take two video clips and create an interesting face off composite.

Overall, I believe his channel is great if you need fast and efficient training on learning the basics of FCP X.

Dan Allen Films

Hosted by award winning UK filmmaker, Dan Allen, this channel provides tutorials on Final Cut Pro X from an independent filmmaking perspective. Many of his tutorials explain the ins and outs of Final Cut and Motion, but he also provides methods for getting your edits out of Final Cut Pro to send to other applications such as After Effects. Aside from workflow tutorials, Dan has done reviews on third party applications and plugins for FCP X such as those from Noise Industries and more. In this tutorial below, Dan explains how to replace clips you would send out for VFX back into FCP X.

Although Dan is young, he is a very wise and experienced filmmaker who shouldn’t be overlooked. He has a strong following with over 25,000 subscribers. Hitting the subscribe button on his page will pay off in the long run.

Web Video Chefs

Hosted by industry veterans Amani Chanel and Chip Dazard, Web Video Chefs is a strong source for editors to turn to, not only for Final Cut Pro X, but for mobile video and other video related items. On this channel, you can learn how to import various types of media into FCP X, edit mobile phone video with FCP X, and much more. I’ve picked up valuable FCP X shortcuts and tips by watching Chip and Amani’s tutorials, and I didn’t hesitate to hit the subscribe button once I saw more. The best part about Web Video Chefs is that Chip is a certified FCP X trainer, and Amani is a multi-year veteran in photojournalism and producing, so you know you will get the best tips available. In this video tutorial below, Chip shows us how to import Sony XDCam media into FCP X.

Those are four of the strongest YouTube channels to learn FCP X. Of course, there are more out there, but these channels demonstrate that you can find quality, professional training on YouTube if you know who to look for. All these channels are just a subscription away. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

Compression Apps Pro and Cons

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If you are a seasoned editor or new to video editing, one of the many things that will frustrate you off the bat is dealing with exporting and compression. Sometimes, it can be straightforward if your client gives you requirements for the format they need their outputs in. Other times, you will find yourself playing a game of compression roulette, trying to get good quality in a small file size only to find the format you chose was not compatible with your client’s needs. Thankfully there are many applications such as Apple’s Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder and MPEG Streamclip that are designed to help alleviate your potential exporting nightmare. In my years as an editor, I’ve managed to use all these apps to facilitate deliverables for my clients.

In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of each application, to provide a better understanding of which app may fare better in different situations. As a disclaimer, the pros and cons are based on my personal experience using them, and may not be exactly the same as your experience will be.

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Apple Compressor (sold as part of Final Cut Studio 3: $999, as a separate app: $50)

Pros

  • Great to use when you need to encode your finished file for a DVD
  • Encoding can be automated by creating droplets
  • Greater and more detailed customization than what is allowed in Final Cut Pro 7 or X
  • Has better conversion for slowing down footage using optical flow

Cons

  • Roundtripping from FCP 7 tends to yield poor results and can cause crashes
  • Encoding to h.264 can be really slow at times
  • It’s not a fully 64 bit application
  • Interface hasn’t changed in version 4 and is still a bit confusing for new users
  • Doesn’t take advantage of all cores on a multi-core Mac

Overall, I would use Compressor if I needed to encode a project for DVD or needed specific customization for a client deliverable. Otherwise, it’s the least used encoding application in my toolbox.

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MPEG Streamclip (free app from squared5.com)

Pros

  • Can convert to Quicktime, DV, .avi, .mp4 and more
  • Has the ability to open DVD Video TS folders
  • You can batch encode multiple files into one format
  • Preferred app for DSLR users with h.264 footage
  • Works on PC and Mac
  • Can trim, cut and join other movies together

Cons

  • Only converts audio to .aiff which can result in larger audio file size
  • Doesn’t support AVCHD or MXF file conversion
  • Parameters can be confusing for people who aren’t video savvy

Overall, I believe MPEG Streamclip is a must have in your toolkit if you need quick and dirty conversion. It is a highly recommended application among the DSLR community and best part of all is that it is free.

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Adobe Media Encoder ($50 a month as part of the Creative Cloud)

Pros

  • Can encode to formats of Quicktime, .wav, .mxf and many more
  • Comes equipped with presets for many multimedia needs such web, DVD, broadcast, iOS, Android and more
  • Can be queued from Premiere and After Effects
  • Two pass encoding is available for higher quality output

Cons

  • Learning curve for usage is not as beginner friendly
  • Two pass encoding can be slow if you aren’t using a reasonably powerful computer

Overall, I’ve always found Media Encoder to be my encoding application of choice. The amount of headaches its relieved are second to none. With the next iteration on the horizon with CC, it will only grow stronger and more dependable with time.

That’s my assessment of the popular encoding applications used by video editors. They each possess their pros and cons but I’m a firm believer in using what gets the job done best and gives you the least headaches. There are many other encoding apps on the market but these three tend to be the most used and reliable for the various post production tasks that may arise.

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

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