Motion 5 Tutorials

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Since its creation in 2004, Apple Motion has been an application that has evolved quite nicely, despite the fierce competition it faces from other apps like After Effects and Nuke. In its current iteration, Motion provides the plugin architecture for Final Cut Pro X, which means that all FCPX effects are actually Motion templates. With that advantage, users can create just about anything with Motion. Below are a few tutorials where Motion users illustrate how versatile the application is for their workflows.

Creating a Transition for FCPX

This tutorial highlights one of the core features of Motion, which is the ability to create custom transitions. Gone are the days of having to stack layers and utilizing keyframes. With a decent understanding of the Motion interface and its functions, users can create unique transitions to suit their video projects. In this particular example, the author shows users how to create a ripple flash transition from start to finish. When I discovered that you can create transitions and other effects in Motion, I decided to give Motion another try after years of being an After Effects user. I found this tutorial useful because even at the basic level, you can get an understanding of how far you can go with the creation of custom effects.

Animating a Photoshop File

There will be situations where your client wants to create a spot and you have no b-roll. Even worse, you have very minimal images to work with. However, they provide you with a layered, high resolution Photoshop file which you can animate and turn into a motion graphic with a little imagination. In this tutorial, Telemundo editor Brett Gentry shows us how he was able to take a client graphic and turn it into a 30-second spot using a combo of Motion and Photoshop. Utilizing markers, keyframes, and behaviors, he takes what I call a simple “Ken Burns effect” and makes an entertaining spot for an event. I will be first to admit that the Motion interface can be daunting at first glance, but watching how others work in it so efficiently inspires me to learn more.

Creating a Auto Green Screen Keyer with Background

There are projects you receive where the talent was shot on a green screen, and you need to key them out and insert the same background. If this is no more than five people, no big deal. However, if it is multiple talents and it needs to look like they were all keyed and composited the same way, it can become tedious. In the tutorial above, Brett shows us another way he uses Motion to create an auto keyer effect, which will allow him to key not only his talent, but insert/manipulate the background he wants behind them. This is convenient when you need to cut multiple spots or short form videos and time is not on your side. This effect is also a viable solution for the scenario I mentioned above with multiple talents. If you publish enough parameters and include the necessary assets, you can save a lot of time by creating an auto keyer effect in Motion.

Text Behind Glass Effect

I’ve highlighted the effects you can create in Motion for workflow tasks like titles, transitions, and effects, but it is always interesting to see how far one can push Motion to create things you would only expect in After Effects. This tutorial above is a prime example of something I wasn’t sure Motion could create. Editor/plugin author Simon Ubsdell takes a concept that originated in After Effects and creates it from scratch in Motion. Using textures, text layers, blend modes, filters, and behaviors, Simon creates this effect which can be used for promos, documentaries, or identifiers. I have to give kudos for the content that Simon has produced as of late. I’ve always believed the reason Motion wasn’t as popular as After Effects was because of the vast community and gurus that are out there. Seeing a dedicated user showcase Motion capabilities peeks my interest to add this tool to my skill set.

Overall, Motion has matured into a intricate and versatile tool that editors should take the time to learn. The market tends to favor the After Effects user, but every now and then there are jobs for people with Motion knowledge. Knowing this tool can benefit you in the long run.

Sound Effects

HUD & UI Tutorial Round-Up

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With movies like Iron Man, Ender’s Game, and Star Trek featuring future technology, we’ve seen a lot of floating H.U.D.s (heads up displays) and UIs (user interfaces) that showcase the intricate nature of this technology. Whether it’s Tony Stark’s helmet, or onboard the USS Enterprise, these visual effects have become a mainstay in a lot of blockbuster films. With the current technology trends, we are definitely heading in this direction, so creating them for films is quite a thrill. The amount of time and techniques required to create these can be daunting, but once they are complete, they are quite a sight. Below are a few tutorials that showcase how you can create these in After Effects alone, or use After Effects along with other Adobe programs.

HUD Interface Basics

From Sam’s Creative Toolbox, he demonstrates how to create a basic HUD interface element. Using a combination of shapes, colors, filters, and null objects, he is able to create a HUD element that can be tracked to your talent or other footage. This type of element is very common when creating HUDs, and you tend to see a various of this element when you see very complex HUD interfaces. Overall, this tutorial is very thorough and great to follow if you want to know some advanced techniques for creating HUD elements.

UI Animation Prototypes

In this tutorial from Chuck Yeager, he shows you how to utilize Photoshop and After Effects to create an app animation user interface for a smartphone. With the user interface created in Photoshop, the user can bring that Photoshop document into After Effects and manipulate the layers at will. I have always believed that After Effects was the Photoshop of the video world, and using them together can really open a lot of creative doors. Chuck goes onto show us that with interpolated keyframes and motion blur, you can create an app animation that can be the basis of showcasing a functional user interface in a demo. In the past, I have had to create app animations before, and have used either Photoshop or Illustrator to create them. I believe Illustrator is a strong source for custom layers since it is based on vector assets. However, you may not always have the luxury of vectors, so it is good to know how to manipulate Photoshop’s rasterized layers.

Quick HUD Targets & Elements

In this three minute tutorial, motion graphics artist Lee Daniels shows us how to create HUD targets and elements. Using multiple shapes and expressions, he teaches how to compose a HUD element that looks something similar to what would be in Iron Man’s helmet. It’s quite amazing to see how quickly you can create a HUD element in less than five minutes following this tutorial. Most people make it seem very tedious and time consuming, but Lee definitely knows how to highlight crucial information and keep a fast pace. The best part about this tutorial, is that this is one of the many quick tutorials Lee has on creating these elements.

As you can see, creating HUDs and UI in After Effects is quite a technique to know. These elements have the ability to give your films a techy feel and showcase how intricate a scene can be. Try any of these tutorials and see what you can create.

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Third Party Green Screen Keyers

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Green screen, or chroma key compositing, has been around since the 1930s. Developed by filmmakers at RKO Radio Pictures, it was used as a method to create complex visual effects that were before its time. Over the years, the process went from a painstakingly analog method to a digital method that can now be done on computers. Programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and the like all have the ability to do basic greenscreen/bluescreen keying if your footage is in the optimal conditions. For complex and intricate situations, post professionals turn to programs like After Effects, Motion, Autodesk Smoke, or Nuke. Despite the programs that have greenscreen keying capabilities, there are many third party companies who have developed plugins to handle even the toughest keying processes. Let’s take a look at a few and see what each have to offer.

Primatte Keyer/KeyCorrect

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Primatte Keyer is Red Giant’s premiere keyer solution for post professionals. Within its array of features are some of the following: auto compute algorithm for pulling a perfect key, key correction tools for refining mattes and backgrounds, and color matcher feature for matching the subject to their background. This plugin is one of the most trusted keying plugin on the market amongst professionals in film (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man) and television (Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and Disney). This plugin is compatible on Mac and PC with programs ranging from Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. I can personally attest to its strengths and abilities as I’ve used it in my work quite often. I find it great to use when Keylight may not be enough to get the job done. For the price of $499, it is definitely a keyer solution to consider if you do a lot of it. Just take a look at its capabilities below.

If you are fine with keying with Keylight, you can get the tools of Key Correct to assist you. Key Correct lets you create perfect keys from an image shot against a colored background. These tools include a Rig/Wire Remover, Light Wrap, Color Matcher, Alpha Cleaner, and many other tools. I’ve personally used Key Correct’s tools on many projects and found it to perfectly complement Keylight when I may have challenging keys. Having both Key Correct and Primatte Keyer are definitely tools you should consider in your post production pipeline.

Boris Chroma Key Studio

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Within the Boris Continuum Complete set is the Key and Blend unit. This unit automates the creation of precise keys with a minimal amount of adjustment. These filters strip away the complexity of chroma keying by automating matting, edge softening and refinement, and light wrapping and reflections to produce seamless composites each and every time. One plugin that stands out is the Chroma Key Studio. The Chroma Key Studio is an all-in-one keying suite similar to Primatte Keyer. It can do everything from screen enhancement, auto-garbage matte and masking, chroma key, matte cleanup, matte choker, foreground color correction, and light wrap into a single filter. In the tutorial below, Kevin P. McAuliffe demonstrates how versatile this plugin is and why it is a suitable solution for keying within your NLE. I’ve used it myself a few times and it is definitely a time-saver if I’m working in Premiere Pro or Media Composer as opposed to shipping it out to After Effects for chroma keying.

PHYX Keyer

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The final keyer plugin on the list is the one from the Phyxware folks. Phyx Keyer 5 is a set of 10 plugins designed to give you even faster and more accurate keys than ever before. These plugins include the FastKeyer, ScreenCorrector, Lightwrap, and SkinTools. These tools have been used by companies such as AT&T, Autodesk, and Fox Sports. These plugins were also used on the feature film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the tutorial above, you get to witness how versatile and fast these set of plugins are, whether you are in an NLE or compositing program. One thing to note about these plugins is that they function on Mac only and are installed through the FxFactory software engine. I’ve personally used the Keyer and other tools in this set, and I have to say that it is top notch. They really have tools to handle even the most difficult keying scenarios.

You’ve seen these industry leading third party keyers and what they can do. Feel free to download a trial and see what the hype is all about. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

Sound Effects

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.

Sound Effects

Quick Blemish Removal in After Effects CC

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Most people, including myself, have some sort of blemish, scar, or imperfection they wish they could keep from showing up on camera. After Effects CC has developed a new matte tracking process that makes removing unsightly blemishes a breeze. In this tutorial I will show you how to complete the effect in three simple steps.

–       Creating the Matte

–       Tracking the Matte

–       Removing the Blemish

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CREATING THE MATTE

To start, lets create a new composition with our footage and take a closer look at what needs to be retouched.

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In this clip I can see we need to do some blemish removal in the cheeks and along the jaw line. Additionally, if you notice near the right ear (stage left) there is a long stray hair we can also quickly take care of with this technique. For now, let’s focus on his right cheek (stage left).

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Essentially, the process is simple but time consuming. We need to focus on each blemish individually, and create a sample clean area that matches the blemished area to be superimposed and smoothed over on top to create a seamless appearance. To do that, first DUPLICATE THE SOURCE FOOTAGE. We will need to duplicate the source footage EACH AND EVERY TIME we need to create a new blemish cover. Then, create a mask that isolates the blemish and the extends out to take a sample of the clean surrounding area; just as this picture shows in detail.

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TRACKING THE MATTE

By isolating the blemish in the matte it creates a great tracking marker for the program to follow. Now, RIGHT CLICK on the matte and choose TRACK MASK.

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A window in the lower right will now appear with TRACKER CONTROLS

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The default method tracks position, scale, and rotation which will be fine for this example. Next to ANALYZE, select the forward arrow and allow After Effects CC to track the mask throughout the duration of the clip.

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In your timeline, this will create a series of keyframes tracking the mask to your subjects movement. It is important to have a perfect track in order to ensure the blemish cover moves along with the subject to create a seamless and clean appearance. If the track was unsuccessful, some helpful tips would include:

–       Analyze frame by frame and move the mask manually back on point when it loses its subject to ensure a locked track.

–       Start at the end of the timeline and analyze backwards (sometimes starting with a different point in time helps the computer algorithm lock on better and understand your point of focus).

REMOVING THE BLEMISH

Once you have a mask sampling a clean area of the skin and tracked that mask to the subjects face throughout the duration of the clip, it’s time to get rid of that blemish! Using the directional arrows on your keyboard, or clicking and dragging with your mouse, move the mask on top of the blemish area

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You are probably saying, “That just moved the blemish over with the mask! It didn’t fix anything!” – well – we’re not done yet. At this point, open up the mask tools by having the mask selected in your layer window and hit MM on your keyboard to open up the entire tool set.

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REDUCE the MASK EXPANSION so that the blemish sample disappears and you just have a small sample circle to use.

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INCREASE the MASK FEATHER to smooth out the sample’s circle edges, thusly blending it into the face, creating a smooth and clean finish that follows the face throughout the clip.

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You now just successfully removed ONE blemish. Depending on your subject, you may have more to go. Just repeat the process as described as many times as necessary to create the final retouched image.

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Creating a 3D Opening Card in After Effects CC

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The image of an opening book or card in a movie, TV show, or commercial is nothing new. With the advancement of visual effects, this can now be created in a variety of dedicated 3D modeling programs or, in this case, advanced compositing programs such as Adobe After Effects CC.

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I will show you how to achieve this effect in three simple steps:

–       Source Images and Setup

–       Creating and Rigging the Card

–       Animating the Movement

SOURCE IMAGES AND SETUP

First, you will need to find images that can be combined together to create the final look of your card. Therefore, since a card is paper, you will need an image of paper. You can source your image by doing a quick GOOGLE search, or if you are working on a professionall project and need royalty free images, you can take a photograph of the paper you will be using yourself or join a royalty free stock image site such as thinkstockphotos.com or photobucket.com.

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In After Effects, once you find the images you will be using, create a new composition (I made mine 1080 HD and five seconds long). If you have a background image, you will place that first (scale and position to fit) and possibly add a light vignette to the overall composition.

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CREATING AND RIGGING THE CARD

At this point you can place the first paper image (scale and position as needed) into your composition.

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It looks a little flat so why don’t we first add a black solid (LAYER>NEW>SOLID). Use the rectangle masking tool to create a shape slightly larger than the paper image, feather the edges, and place it underneath the paper to give a subtle shadow effect.

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This first page will be our inside page. We can add now add some text (Use the text tool in the toolbar > color and font at your own preference).

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Now we can create the top cover page that will be animating open in just a moment. Simply duplicate the first page (Command+D on the image layer) and move it to the top in the layer panel.

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Create more text that will go on the cover, and then you will be ready to move towards animating the card.

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ANIMATING THE MOVEMENT

Turn both the cover page and cover text into 3D layers. We will be controlling the cover page for the animation, so go ahead and parent the cover text to the cover page using the pick whip.

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With the cover page selected, you will see the page has an XYZ axis in the middle.

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This is the anchor point of the image and it will act as the hinge where the page will bend. Using the Anchor Point Tool (From Toolbar or shortcut key ‘Y’) move the anchor point to the far left of the page (place the green Y axis arrow right along the edge of the page).

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Open the rotation controls on the cover page (have the layer selected and hit ‘R’), and key frame the Y axis increasing over the time of the composition in order to create the visual effect of the card opening to reveal the inside contents.

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New Features coming to Avid Media Composer and Adobe Cloud

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

Avid Media Composer

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

– AAX plugin support.

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

– Disabling video tracks.

– Copying and dragging video segments.

– End of trim indicators.

– AMA media associated with projects.

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

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

– 4K Full screen playback support.

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Consolidate and transcode project for archiving purposes

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

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– GoPro Cineform codec as an intermediate codec between platforms.

– Support for many 4K and Ultra HD workflows.

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

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

Sound Effects

Animating Numbers in After Effects CC

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Sometimes you need to create a motion graphic showing numbers increasing or decreasing for a percentage, calculation, statistic, or whatever the reason may be. There are many programs that can help you achieve this effect. However, in my opinion, I would argue After Effects is your best program to create this animation. As much as After Effects is known for its post production compositing abilities, it was originally created as a motion graphics program. Today, I will show you how to increase numbers in an animation using After Effects CC in three simple steps:

  • Create Placeholder Text
  • Add the Slider Effect
  • Add the Expression

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CREATE PLACEHOLDER TEXT

First, we need to create a placeholder text before we begin. It’s a placeholder because the Slider Effect we will be applying next will eliminate anything we type in. Select your TYPE TOOL from the tool bar. Choose your font and size from the text assets window, and then type in your placeholder text.

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To clarify, this text is broken down into three sections where only one of them is changing. The first sections is ‘CALCULATING.’ The next section is ‘100,’ which is the PLACEHOLDER text – this is the only bit that is important in completing this motion graphic effect. The last section is ‘%,’ and the reason I did not combine this section with the ‘100’ is to reiterate that once we apply the slider effect, it will eliminate anything we type into that section.

ADD THE SLIDER EFFECT

Now that you have your placeholder text, go to the EFFECTS & PRESETS window and type in SLIDER. CLICK AND DRAG your slider effect and add it to your placeholder text.

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At this point, go to your layers window. Open the settings on your placeholder text layer by twirling open the triangle icon next to the sections TEXT and EFFECT > SLIDER CONTROL.

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Go to your SOURCE TEXT and ALT CLICK on it.

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You will immediately notice your canvas preview has disappeared and new icons in the Source Text controls will appear. The WHIRL icon will allow you to CLICK AND DRAG your SOURCE TEXT and PARENT it to the SLIDER CONTROLS.

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You can now go to the Effects window for your slider controls. Notice that your placeholder text will follow whatever you set the slider to.

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Your source text and slider are tied together and can be keyframed and animated to increase and decrease as you see fit. The only issue here is, by default, the slider animation (when tied to the source text) will additionally add in a decimal system.

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ADD THE EXPRESSION

If you only want to display whole rounded numbers, you will need to make one final adjustment. In order to resolve the decimal issue, first ALT CLICK on the SLIDER CONTROL STOPWATCH in order to pull up the effects natural input expression.

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So the natural expression is this:

effect(“Slider Control”)(“Slider”)

In order to round the system of numbers to the nearest whole number, you need to alter the expression to look like this:

Math.round(effect(“Slider Control”)(“Slider”))

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PLEASE NOTE, the ‘M’ in Math MUST be capitalized in order for After Effects to properly interrupt the expression coding.

There you have it! A number system you can keyframe and animate to increase and decrease as you see fit.

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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.

Title Plugins/Resources for Premiere Pro

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

Style4Type

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

PremierePro.Net

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

FxFactory

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

ActiveText

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

NewBlueFX Titler Pro

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

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

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Using PNG Images in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

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Learning to search and utilize PNG image files can speed up any visual effects artist and motion graphics editor’s workflow. Whether it’s a quick pre visualization mock-up for a client, or the final render, PNG image files are a great tool to add to any visual editor’s skill set. First, let’s go through a quick run down on what exactly a PNG image file is:

PNG is an acronym for Portable Network Graphics. It is a type of image compression format just like JPEGs and GIFs. One of the great things about using PNG images is that they support lossless data compression. Even though it results in a larger file size, it also allows a perfect reconstruction from the original data file. JPEGs, on the other hand, are considered lossy data compression, which results in a much smaller file size, but the data reconstruction is only a approximation and not nearly as accurate. PNGs were developed to replace and improve upon GIFs, and are currently the most widely used lossless compression format on the internet today.

Now that you have the basics, let’s talk about where to find them and how to make them. The key behind PNG images is that you can save the image with or without an alpha channel. This means that if you search for, lets say, SCISSORS PNG on your favorite search engine, you would be able to get an image of scissors WITHOUT any background to worry about needing to key out later. WITH an alpha channel means there is a background, WITHOUT an alpha channel means no background.

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This can be extraordinarily useful for motion graphics editors who need to animate various objects, and who are working on a tight deadline. Even so, visual effects editors who specialize in matte painting and digital retouching can easily utilize PNG images to add quick layers of depth and realism to their work. For example, Maxx Burman, a VFX artist who worked on AMCs The Walking Dead, used multiple layers of images to build up over the zombie actor’s face to add gruesome textures of torn flesh, exposed bones, and rotting organs.

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The same goes for matte painting when the artist can use images of people, cars, and even buildings to blend it into a landscape scene to create a photorealistic image.

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If you do not find the PNG image you are looking for, you can always create one yourself in Photoshop CC. I’ll show you you how you can do it in two simple steps:

  • Isolate your subject
  • Save as a PNG

 ISOLATE YOUR SUBJECT

Once you import your image into Photoshop, use the QUICK SELECTION tool to highlight everything around your subject, and then hit DELETE on your keyboard.

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SAVE AS PNG

Once your image is isolated, you now can go to FILE >> SAVE AS, and choose PNG as your FORMAT.

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This will present you with a dialogue box about Compression and Interlace. Set Interlace to NONE to make sure there is no alpha channel added to your image. And that’s it. You’re all set!

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Color Keying an Image in Photoshop CC

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As an editor there will be times that you receive green screen footage that needs to be keyed out and retouched in some fashion. The biggest obstacle of most editors throughout this process is finessing the image to eliminate all of the green. Two major issues to resolve are the green halo around a person or object, or the dreaded green spill in a person’s hair. I am going to show you how you can overcome these hurdles in three simple steps using Photoshop CC.

  • Color Range Selection (to get rid of the bulk of the green screen)
  • Adjust Hue Saturation (to remove the green halo)
  • Refine with White Matte Reduction (clean up remaining green spill)

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COLOR RANGE SELECTION

To first get rid of the bulk 98% of the green screen in your image using Photoshop CC, you will want to go to SELECT >> COLOR RANGE.

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You will now have a new window that allows adjustments, along with a white icon of your master image (the white shows what color is being isolated and selected, whereas the black is being ignored). If you pan your mouse over the master image, you will also notice you have an eye dropper tool. At this point, you will want to simply take your eye dropper tool and click on the green screen in your master image. Your icon in the color range window will change a bit, but will still show some gray or black in the green screen area that still needs to be added to your color range selection.

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In order to select the rest of the green screen, choose the eyedropper + icon below the save button in the color range window. Then, go back over your master image and keep clicking in the different color ranges of the green screen until you see your color range icon turn white in the appropriate areas.

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Once finished, hit OKAY. Now your master image will show a dotted line selection around your green screened area.

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Go ahead and hit DELETE.

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Looks pretty good now, right? If we want to make sure there is no more green, a good trick is to create a new layer and make it black behind your master image.

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I notice immediately there is now a halo around my subject, and if I zoom in, I can also see green spill in the hair and beard as well.

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ADJUST HUE SATURATION

To shave off the next 1% of the green screen in our master image, we want to eliminate the green halo around our subject. To do that, we are going to add a HUE/SATURATION layer from our ADJUSTMENTS tab.

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The goal is to isolate the green halo and desaturate it out of the image. In the properties window that opens up, you will want to change MASTER to GREENS.

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Then go to the SATURATION slider and reduce it to about -70 or -80.

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Finally, adjust the slider at the bottom until the full range of green has been eliminated from around your subject.

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REFINE WITH WHITE MATTE REDUCTION

Last but not least, now that we have isolated and desaturated the green spill around our subject, the extra bits are now white instead of green. There is a nice tool that eliminates all white matting. To finish up our image, go to LAYER >> MATTING >> REMOVE WHITE MATTE.

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Creating Time Lapse Photography With After Effects CC

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Time Lapse Photography is the process in which you take a series of photographs over an extended period of time centered around a dynamic subject and then combine the photographs together into one video that shows this transformation. That is a very technical way of saying it is a video made up of a series of pictures that shows things like flowers blooming, or the sun setting, or even building a structure. Each of those examples take hours, days, sometimes months to complete the process. It is not realistic to think that video would be the optimal way to capture this evolution. Instead, the idea is that taking a series of pictures with the camera unmoving and locked down on tripod can do a much better job capturing your subject and saving the creator ample hours of video scrubbing and space on their hard drive.

Here is both my example along with a couple other photographic time lapses to help inspire you and get your brain juices flowing on what you might aim to capture after going through this quick tutorial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYKA-VokOtA

Now I am going to show you how you can create your very own photo time lapse in 3 simple steps:

  • Capturing the Photos
  • Importing the Photos and Exporting the Video
  • Additional Tips to Use as Needed

Capturing the Photos

Before going out, before finding your subject, and before you even snap a single picture, you need to make sure you have the right equipment to get the job done. In most cases the best means to capture your time lapse is first and foremost with a DSLR camera. DSLRs will allow you the most control over your image settings and maintain the highest quality possible. My recommendation is to go with a Canon or Nikon (I am using a Canon Rebel T2i for this tutorial).

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Secondly, your camera needs to be locked down at all times during the photographing process to a tripod. By investing in a good solid tripod you are ensuring the overall outcome of the photographs reducing the possibilities of shake, movement, and blur. Moving the camera even a few millimeters can ruin your entire composition. A good time lapse has a consistent object that does not move (ground, buildings, vase) contrasted by one that does (people, sun, flower).

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Finally, touching your own camera to take each shot runs the risk of moving the camera, and so to eliminate this threat the best piece of equipment to invest in is a intervalometer. An intervalometer is a time set shutter remote that plugs into the side of your camera. All you have to do is set the remote to whatever time interval you want the photos captured and how many you want and it handles the rest from there.

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Once you have all the equipment you need go and find the subject you want to capture. Again the best outcome will be with a contrast between dynamic and static objects that evolve over a period of time. Mount your DSLR to your tripod, lock it into position, and set the camera to manual. Take a test shot first to make sure the exposure and framing is where you would like it to be and then plug in and program your intervalometer. Let your camera run through its process collecting the photos and once it is finished you are ready for the next step.

Importing the Photos and Exporting the Video

Take the memory card form your DSLR and plug it into your computer. You are going to want to create a new folder on the desktop to store these photos. Drag the photos from your memory card into your new folder.

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Now there are multiple programs out there to combine these photos into your time lapse sequence, however, I find the best to be Adobe After Effects CC. The reason for this is because of how simple yet flexible the program is in regards to your files, file type, and output. To create your time lapse all you need to do is click and drag the folder containing your pictures and drop it in the projects panel in After Effects. After Effects will then interpret and combine the information into a single file from which you can click and drag into a new composition.

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I shot in camera raw and so the size of the composition is much larger than it needs to be. To fix this I can go to COMPOSITION >> COMPOSITION SETTINGS >> PRESET (drop down menu) >> (choose appropriate format). For me I’m going with the 720 HD format.

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When I hit okay I notice that now my sequence is too large for the composition. To fix it I can just scale down the sequence.

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To export your sequence go to COMPOSITION >> ADD TO RENDER QUEUE. To keep your file size manageable click on LOSSLESS next to the OUTPUT MODULE, go to the FORMAT OPTIONS>>VIDEO CODEC>> and choose H.264 then hit OK. Last thing is to go to your OUTPUT TO and designate what the file name will be and where it will render to. Once finished click OK and hit RENDER. Review your video time lapse video and make further changes as needed.

Additional Tips to Use as Needed

Here are some extra tips and tricks to keep in mind as you go through this process:

  • If you cannot afford all the equipment but have a smartphone there are apps out there that will create photographic time lapses.
  • If you are using a DSLR, keep your camera in Manual mode and take multiple test shots to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO where they need to be before plugging in your intervalometer.
  • If you are using a DSLR, keep in mind which file type the pictures are being taken in- whether it is JPEG or Camera Raw will have a huge impact on your post production of this time lapse (camera raw = best quality but huge file size. JPEG = low to medium quality but with a much smaller file size).
  • Photoshop CC has a great Automate feature to crop, resize, and retouch multiple photos at once if you want to make adjustments to your composition after the pictures have been taken.
  • In After Effects CC, you can add an adjustment layer above your sequence if you would like to add color correction or effects changes.
  • In After Effects CC, after rendering out your sequence into a movie file you can re-import the video back into After Effects and make adjustments to the speed or even have it play in reverse.

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Create Panoramic Pictures in Photoshop CC

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Panoramic pictures by definition are a series of images representing one continuous scene. From a photographers stand point, panoramic pictures are of a unique aesthetic that allows the viewer to see a wider perspective of the intended image. A more functional use of panoramic pictures are created and used by digital matte painters that develop set extensions for television, film, and video. I am going to show you how to create your own panoramic shots from the initial stages with the camera to the end result on the computer using Photoshop CC in three simple steps:

  • Taking the Pictures
  • Creating the Panoramic
  • Exporting Final Image

TAKING THE PICTURES

While out capturing the images on your camera, there are a few tips and tricks I recommend using to help optimize the quality and clarity of your potential panoramic picture. First, I recommend using a fluid head tripod to capture your image series. This will greatly reduce your chances of shake, rotation, or position issues that may throw off the Photoshop CC photo stitching program resulting in warped or unusable panoramic pictures. When you do take your pictures make sure some of the last photo is still present in your new photo as the photo stitching program will be looking for these similarities in the images, called anchor points, and join them together.

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Last, if you use a DSLR camera you should keep your settings to manual. The reason for this is because if you use an automatic settings this could change a portion of your images (exposure, ISO, aperture) from one to the other and throw off the photo stitching program or simply become an unusable panoramic.

CREATING THE PANORAMIC

When you have finished collecting a series of images that you would like to join together as a panoramic, import them onto your computer and save them in a clearly labeled folder. Open up Photoshop CC and navigate to FILE >> AUTOMATE >> PHOTOMERGE. You will be presented with a dialog box that asks you for the LAYOUT and SOURCE FILES.

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For the most realistic and seamless panoramic, and for the purposes of this exercise, I will have you choose AUTO as your LAYOUT style, however, I encourage you to play with other layout options as you see fit. For SOURCE FILES choose BROWSE and navigate to the folder where you saved your image series, highlight all the image files you wish to use, and select OPEN.

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Back in the Photomerge dialogue box you are now going to choose OK which will initiate the photo stitching program and will automatically analyze your selected images and join them together as best it can based on the information it is provided. The process can take several minutes and when it is finished you will have a rough image with distorted edges that you can work with and turn into your final panoramic.

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If you are happy with the outcome, then use the drop down menu in the LAYERS PANEL and choose MERGE VISIBLE. This will join all the layers together allowing us to go in and cut out a final panoramic. Using the RECTANGULAR MARQUEE TOOL (shortcut key is ‘M’ on your keyboard) you can select the portion of the image you would like to use as your panoramic.

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Next, go to the SELECTION menu and choose INVERSE. At this point you can hit DELETE on your keyboard which will result in the elimination of all content around your panoramic image.

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If this is how you want your panoramic to appear then you are ready for the next step. However, this is your opportunity to do more work (color correct, crop more, retouch, etc.) and to get the panoramic picture exactly how you envision it.

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EXPORTING FINAL IMAGE

Since you have cut into and cropped away part of that original mish-mash of images to create your panoramic you are now left with some negative space, in the form of a checkerboard design, around your image.

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To get rid of this checkerboard design, which is extra transparency, simply go to EDIT >> TRIM… >> from there you will be presented with a dialogue box where you will choose TRANSPARENT PIXELS and OK.

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Now your panoramic is fitted and ready to export. Depending on the needs of your client, project, or personal use you may export your image in different file formats, however, the general process is the same. Go to FILE >> SAVE AS >> where you will then be presented with a dialogue box with LOCATION and FORMAT. Choose your LOCATION as to where you want the file saved on your computer and the FORMAT drop down menu with give you a plethora of options to choose from to meet your needs. Once you choose the proper FORMAT just hit SAVE and your panoramic picture is complete!

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Using the Camera Shake Reduction Filter in Photoshop CC

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With the recent updates to Photoshop as part of the new line up released with Adobe Creative Cloud, there are several new features to explore. One of the most exciting features is the ‘camera shake reduction filter’, a tool that can be used to recover photos from instances when the camera may have shaken during capture. A photo like this for instance:

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As you can see, this is a great photo in general but upon closer inspection, you can see the image has a slight softness caused by camera shake. Unfortunately, this filter will not help with images out of focus (blurry because of the depth of field, not from the camera shaking), low light images (a lot of noise and grain), or images with a high ISO (again, a lot of noise and grain). However, if your image was tarnished from camera movement, using the new camera shake reduction filter feature in Photoshop CC is a great way to save those images that otherwise would have been lost. I am going to show you how to properly use this tool in 2 simple steps:

  • Adding the Filter
  • Adjusting the Settings

I. Adding the Filter

Once you import your image into Photoshop CC, you first want to convert your image to a smart object by going to LAYER >> SMART OBJECT >> CONVERT TO SMART OBJECT. Converting your image to a smart object allows you to perform non destructive transformations and filtering. In other words, you can skew, rotate, scale, apply filters, and edit without losing or affecting any of the image’s original data.

Once your image has been converted you will want to go to FILTER >> SHARPEN >> SHAKE REDUCTION. The filter will automatically run an algorithm that maps the camera shake motion over the image and corrects the issue as best it can.

II. Adjusting the Settings

After the filter has finished running through its processes, it still can be pushed and tweaked further. While using the camera shake reduction filter you will notice along the right hand side of the window a series of options and sliders you can play with and adjust:

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  • Blur Trace Bounds: In some instances while using this filter you will find your image has a slight halo around the object that was corrected, by adjusting this setting you have better control on reducing this halo effect (note that doing so will also decrease your image correction)
  • Smoothing: This will allow you to manually control how soft or hard of an edge your image will hold after the shake reduction filter is added. Harder edge has a better focus but will increase noise and grain in the image.
  • Artifact Suppression: Artifacts in an image are visual blemishes or anomalies that appear on the image. This might look like random splotches or pixelations of color that commonly appear after compressing or correcting an image too much. Depending on how much shake was removed out of the image, there may be artifacts left behind. The artifact suppression slider will help get rid of these artifacts, creating a cleaner image. However, doing so also softens the image and increases the blur.

Each of the sliders comes with pros and cons in remastering your final image. My best advice is to simply play with all your options as only you can decide what the best look for your image is. Nothing you are doing is destructive; everything can be undone. Experiment and tweak the settings as you see fit to achieve your desired image. Once finished, hit OK and your settings and filters will be applied to your image. Voilà! Image stabilized, and peace of mind returns.

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