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.

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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.

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Other FCPX Ecosystem Apps

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

ClipExporter 2.0

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

FCPxporter

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

FCPX Folder Templates

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

toMotion

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

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

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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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Advanced Photo Animation Techniques

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

Cinemagraph Effect

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

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

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

The 2.5D Effect

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

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

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

Camera Mapping Effect

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

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

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

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Favorites New Features of Premiere Pro CC 2014

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

Masking and Tracking

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

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

Transparency Grid

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

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Preserve bin structure

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

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Track Backward Selection

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

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Live Text Templates with After Effects

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

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

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Templates in Premiere Pro

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One of the many benefits of using templates are their ability to be a good starting point on anything you work on. When I started out as an editor, I was amazed by the templates that were created for After Effects and Apple Motion. There are templates for smooth text animations, video displays and much more. One more intricate and complex than the next. However, I now believe templates should serve the purpose of efficiency and speed from a workflow standpoint and not having to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. An attitude I adopted from being a longtime Final Cut Pro user is having a template for just about everything. Have a template for how you want your bins structured in the project panel. Create title templates for commonly used text treatments. Have a combination of templates and presets for commonly used effects like color correction, motion graphics, transitions and more. I believe that if you have templates for these situations, it will undoubtedly speed up how you move in Premiere Pro.

Project Templates

As I mentioned in a previous article about bin structure, you want to have a set of bins you most commonly use. However, I didn’t go as in depth about creating a project file that has those bins. One thing I strongly recommend is creating a project file that has your most commonly used bins. Make sure you never import any assets in it and do a Save As. I would name this something unique so you can remember it for future purposes.

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Next time you open a new project, import the project file with your bins. Move the bins from the project folder containing them. You can delete or not delete the project after you do this.

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Now, whenever you need bins and you don’t want to go through the process of recreating them for each project, you can use this method. The template project file is also useful if you have PostHaste. PostHaste has the ability import project files from Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop and other post production software. You can utilize this option as an alternative if you so choose.

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Title Templates

Premiere Pro comes with an assortment of title templates which you download from the content library from Adobe. They are all great for a variety of situations. If you find yourself creating a lot of text for lower thirds, I recommend downloading this pdf from PremierePro.net. If you want to try another method, I would first create the text as you need it to look in the Title Tool.

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Next, click on the templates button in the Title Tool. Click on the arrow drop down. Select the option to Import Current Title as Template. Now, you will have that title saved for any text needed for lower thirds, slide explanations, animations etc. You don’t have to reinvent them from scratch. A button I use a lot when creating text with the same style is the New Title Based on Current Title button. This helps in creating multiple version of the same text repeatedly.

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Effect Presets and Templates

One of the many things that helped me stay fast and efficient in Final Cut Pro was creating presets for transitions and filters that I used often. In Premiere Pro, you have the ability to create presets for effects you use often. However, there are some effects which may require multiple presets and/or nested sequences. Recently, I’ve become a creator of transition and effects templates files for Premiere. In those files, I have unique effects and transitions that I could see myself using on a project regularly. Some of those effects include video reflections, track matte composites, repeating animations and much more. Here are a few steps you can take for creating effect/transition templates for Premiere.

First, create sequences for the most commonly used formats you deal with. Have a sequence for SD and HD formats so you don’t run into any scaling issues.

Second, use placeholder images or one of the many layer options in Premiere like color matte, bars and tone or title. Below is an example of a placeholder I use on my project templates. The reason you want to do this is so you can apply all the effects and keyframes on that. From there, all you would need to do is perform a replace edit to swap out the placeholder with your footage so it can take on its properties.

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I’ve found utilizing this method to benefit me quite well especially coming from a FCP mindset. You can check out one of the many project files I’ve created here for Premiere.

I hope the concept of utilizing templates in this fashion helps you become a more efficient and faster editor. As editors, we should do everything we can to not take us out of the creative path we’re on to do deal with the technical issues. If we use base templates for our projects, titles and effects, we are granted more time to focus on the creative process. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to learn, practice and evolve.

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Create Render Templates in After Effects

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Have you ever been in a situation where you exported a file in a certain format and you forgot what settings you had? Here’s a tip for creating render queue presets in After Effects so you don’t run into that situation again as well when you have to do batch exports and save it to your drive.

I have a file I’m ready to export in my render queue. It’s set to render out in the default settings.

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Let’s click on the output module drop down menu. Select Make Template.
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Next, you have a dialog menu that gives you the option to name your template. I’m going to make a template for rendering a composition with transparency. Let’s name this PNG RGB+Alpha.  After you do that, click on the Edit button to change the settings.

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Since we are creating a PNG render template, we will keep the format at Quicktime Movie. Click on the Channels button and change it from RGB to RGB+Alpha. Keep Depth and Color at their default settings.

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Click on the Format button. Here we can change the codec we are using from Animation to PNG by clicking on the drop down menu. After you’ve changed the codec, hit OK.

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Now that we have our format settings the way we want them, hit OK to return to the previous menu. Hit OK again to create the template. Now, when you click on the Output Module drop down menu the new template will show up like in the image below.

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We have this template available for use now whenever we need it. If we were to export multiple compositions and wanted to do a batch render, here’s what I would do. Highlight all the compositions in the render queue. Click on the Output Module drop down menu of one of the compositions. Select your render template and it will appear for all your compositions.

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Another tip that is valuable to know is that you can save your render templates in case anything should happen such as reinstalling a program or trashing your preferences. Click on the output module drop down menu and select make template. In the dialog menu that pops up, click on the Save All button. Find a folder on a drive of your choice and save the .aom file.

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If you ever run into the situations as mentioned above, you can load the templates you created and were saved in the .aom file.

Aside from creating render templates, AEScripts provides scripts to help with your workflow in After Effects and has some great scripts available to assist at a moment’s notice. Some of them are free and others you will have to pay for but believe me it is worth the investment if time is valuable to you.

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

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