Morph Cut Transitions

NLEs

Jump cuts can be a pain to deal with when cutting interviews and other types of video projects. Sometimes your talent talks too long or you need to hide unnecessary motion. All conventional wisdom says the best way to hide a jump cut is to use a cutaway or b-roll. I wholeheartedly agree and use that wisdom quite often in my own work. However, there are times when those options don’t exist and you are left with jarring jump cuts that can distract or interrupt the piece. Thanks to technological advances in editing software, there are ways to hide a jump using a Morph Cut transition. I’m going to highlight how each of the three top NLEs on the market are able to do this.

Avid Media Composer Fluid Morph

The Fluid Morph effect predates any other morph cut transition that has been brought to the market lately. In this tutorial, GeniusDV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how to use the Fluid Morph effect to hide jump cuts on an interview clip. First, he makes blade edits at certain points, and then adds the Fluid Morph effect. In the Effect Mode panel, he changes a few parameters and sets the duration to three frames long. After a quick render, you see that the Fluid Morph was able to hide the jump cut in the interview. From what I know about diehard users of Media Composer, this effect exists in many of their favorite effects bins.

Adobe Premiere Pro Morph Cut

Introduced back in April 2015, the new Premiere Pro Morph Cut transition works to hide jump cuts between edits. Located in the Dissolve category of Video Transitions section, this transition analyzes in the background and attempts to morph frames together to create a seamless transition from multiple frames. From personal experience, I’ve found this transition works best on interviews with static backgrounds and not a lot of motion from the talent. Otherwise, it can be a hot mess when applied. Overall, I see this transition getting better with time as Adobe engineers improve the code base.

Final Cut Pro X mMorph Cut

This recent release from MotionVFX brings Morph Cut transitions to the world of Final Cut Pro X. For just $59, you can salvage interviews from long pauses, stutters, and mistakes. The transition works fluidly to fill gaps and instantly smooth out shots. I haven’t had a chance to try it out myself, but based on the demos I’ve seen, this seems like a must-have for editors who do a lot of interview work. With all the innovation that FCPX has brought to the table, I was a bit surprised that it took this long to finally get this plugin. I’ve seen tutorials where it was possible to do this but it seemed rather tedious in execution. It’s good to see that FCPX has this ability.

From what you have seen here, the Morph Cut method of hiding a jump cut can work depending on the footage and the circumstances on which you use it. While not perfect by any means, it is a method that can be called upon to smooth out an interview or other type of video project. Try using the Morph Cut method on your next video project and see how it effects your final edit.

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Luca Visual FX Backgrounds & Overlays

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The team at Luca Visual FX has brought another product to the market which will benefit professionals across Mac and PC platforms. It is the incredible and extraordinary Backgrounds & Overlays. This product is an extremely versatile collection of 100 HD clips which are an indispensable addition to any editor’s library.

It is compatible with the following software:

  • Final Cut Pro 7/X
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Apple Motion
  • Avid Media Composer
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • HitFilm
  • Sony Vegas

I had a chance to test drive this new product.

What are Backgrounds & Overlays?

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It is a vast collection of 100 Full HD dynamic motion graphic clips designed to be used as backgrounds and/or overlays for a variety of projects. You can use them in promos, VJing, music videos, sports, news, corporate, and much more. On the dedicated web page at the Luca Visual FX site, you can preview the entire collection and see what each background has to offer.

What are some of the best ways to customize these clips?

Editors can use blend modes from their host programs, change the speed rate, scale, crop, position, or add any third party filter or built in effects to customize these clips. Also, stacking several instances of Backgrounds & Overlays allows the creation of complex and beautiful effects by simply using blend modes. Use effects such as blurring and distorting to maximize your customization. In this clip, I created some examples to showcase how far you can push these clips.

To see how these clips can be manipulated and integrated into your projects, take a look at this tutorial where I show you how to use them with footage and text:

Is it possible to get the Backgrounds & Overlays in a different format?

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All files are delivered as .mov files, so as long as the user has Quicktime installed everything should work correctly. If you need further assistance, you can contact customer support here.

Can you list some scenarios where these clips work best in?

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As mentioned above, they can be used for a variety of video projects. Here is a list of effects that I’ve done which you can try out yourself:

  • Video inside of text or shapes effect
  • Text backgrounds
  • Feathered shape overlays
  • Heads up displays
  • Frames and borders
  • Picture and picture background
  • Lower thirds
  • 2D & 3D animation inserts
  • And many more effects

Overall, I believe that Backgrounds & Overlays will be a product that users will turn to when they need to amp up their productions. With the dynamic range of motion graphics, and the fully customizable options that are available, the sky is the limit with creative opportunities. I strongly recommend that you download some of the demo watermarked clips and see what you’ve been missing. They are now available for download on the web page.

The launch price of Backgrounds & Overlays is $49.  Don’t miss out on this versatile product line.

For readers of this article, LVFX is offering a 10% off coupon when you make a purchase using this coupon code: BO2015S

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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

Film Impact Transitions Pack 3

Premiere Pro CS6

The creators at Film Impact have released a new pack of ten dynamic transitions for Premiere Pro just in time for the 2015 release. These transitions bring with it 3D movement, glows, glitches, flares, mattes, and much more. I’ve been using Film Impact transitions since their inception, and have all three packs in my collection. These transitions add that extra piece of pizzazz without being over the top. I had a chance to play around with these new transitions and see their capabilities. The four transitions below are some of my favorites.

Impact Solarize

Impact Solarize is a transition which takes the incoming and outgoing clip, blends them with a tinted invert and glow effect, then dissolves between them. In the Effect Controls, you can control a variety of parameters such as the glow, width, RGB values, contrast, and dissolve length. I’ve used this transition on recent video projects and it really flowed with the presentation and feel I was trying to establish. Overall, I like that I can change the colors and impact of the glow to get a unique look of my own, or I can use the default setting as is.

Impact Wave

Impact Wave is a transition that makes a wave like motion between your incoming and outgoing clip. I like to think of this transition as a combination of a zoom blur and a cross dissolve. With this transition, you can control the angle, motion blur, amplitude, colorization, and length. I haven’t seen anything like this from other vendors offering third party transitions. It’s very smooth and straight to the point. I highly recommend using it.

Impact 3D Roll

Impact 3D Roll is a transition that rolls your incoming and outgoing clip into a cylinder like motion. You can choose to roll it from a 45 degree angle, horizontally, or vertically. With motion blur properties available, users can choose whether or not they have it enabled, and how much of it they want. Users can also choose between the number of rolls, which ranges from one to three. The amplitude parameter controls the appearance of the roll, which means that a positive value yields the inside of a cylinder look while a negative value will give it a bulgy look. What I like about this transition is how versatile it can be, as well as it’s possible configurations. I’ve used this a lot on entertainment pieces and it definitely enhances the production value.

Impact Flare

Impact Flare is a lens flare transition that moves across the screen while dissolving from the outgoing clip to the incoming. Users have the ability to control a variety of parameters including the color, start/end points, shape, fog, and halo. While I’m a fan of this transition for its dynamic movement and ease of use, it would be even better to have some visual options of the parameters, like fog and halo. Overall, I’ve tried other flare transitions before, and this one renders more quickly and is great for a quick flare transition without a lot of fuss. This transition will be frequently used on some upcoming projects.

Film Impact Transition Pack 3 is a must have if you are a Premiere Pro user. In the time since these transitions have been available, I’ve seen great projects cut with this new pack, and you will have more creative options than before. Pick up this pack for $89, or all three packs for $179.

Sound Effects

Valentine’s Day Theme Tutorials

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With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it would be nice to share a few free tutorials for those of you involved in post production. These free items service a variety of programs such as After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, Cinema 4D, and more. Feel free to scoop these up before Valentine’s Day so you can make a special video for that special someone.

Creating Flying Hearts with Boris FX

In this Valentine’s themed tutorial, Imagineer Systems Product Specialist, Mary Poplin, shows you some quick ways to get particle effects into your workflow with Boris Continuum Complete. If you are a fan of using particle effects, then I strongly recommend using plugins from the Continuum Complete particle collection. I can honestly say that they are on par with Red Giant’s offerings of Trapcode Particular and Form. On top of that, this tutorial shows you how to take a vector image created in Illustrator, and extrude it in 3D space. With some post effects like vignettes and color grading, you are able to achieve quite an animation. What I found very interesting about this tutorial is that it looked complicated in design but easy to follow. Feel free to download a trial of Continuum Complete and create this animation for your V-Day sweetheart.

Create a Valentine’s Day Themed Animation in Cinema 4D

In this tutorial from AE Tuts, motion graphics artist Stefan Surmabojov shows us how to create custom Valentine’s theme animation using Cinema 4D and After Effects. Starting first in Cinema 4D, we create the heart shape and ending text. Using Cinema 4D’s camera tools and effectors, we are able to produce the emitting hearts and animation in 3D. Before we send it to After Effects, we can touch it up in Greyscale Gorilla’s HDRI Studio Pack to give it a photorealistic look. From there, we refine the look of animation in After Effects using Optical Flares and Trapcode Shine. This particular tutorial can seem daunting if you are not used to Cinema 4D, but it can help leverage your learning curve by showing you how to create something complex in an efficient manner. If after following the tutorial you are not getting the results you want, you can download the files from it and modify it to taste.

Valentine’s Day Particle Animation

In this tutorial by motion graphics artist Abdul Kabir, he shows us how to make another Valentine’s Day animation utilizing Photoshop and After Effects. He starts in Photoshop by creating miscellaneous shapes he will need down the line. With those shapes, he turns them into particles which form a heart with the help of Particular. With a camera added along with a null object, he is able to finesse the animation further. From there, he adds a gradient background and a lens flare reveal to tie everything together. What I liked about this tutorial is the collaborative nature of Photoshop and After Effects. I’ve found in some situations that it may be easier to create assets in Photoshop than in After Effects. Using them together is a powerful combination which I encourage users to do as much as possible.

These are just a small collection of tutorials you can use to create a gift for that special someone in your life. I’ve found that people really appreciate the effort you put in when you use a video over a physical item. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

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Media Composer Tips & Tricks

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

Create Quick Transitions Bin

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

Batch Rendering Sequences on Export

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

Mapping Editing Workspaces

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

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

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Local TV Commercial Editing Workflow

Premiere Pro CS6

In my day job, I produce TV commercials for local car dealerships in Northwest Illinois and various cities in Indiana. On a monthly basis, I deliver over 40+ spots to cable and network providers which are shot and edited a few weeks prior to the start of the next month. If I have commercials I need to produce for the month of January, I will shoot and edit them in December so that we can have them running at the beginning of the month. Aside from the production schedule of the monthly commercials I produce, I use an editing workflow that allows me to be efficient and maintain a level of speed that can handle unforeseen circumstances. I’m going to detail my editing workflow in Premiere Pro and hopefully provide some tips and insight into delivering multiple commercials to multiple vendors.

Setting up the project & gathering assets

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Before I shoot a month’s worth of commercials, I use a template project that has folders and assets which I know will factor into the edit. I change the scratch disks and project save location so I can keep my original template project intact; or I use PostHaste, depending on the project. From there, I add more folders that I may need for auxiliary assets like third party motion graphics and more. I also make sure that I have logos and monthly artwork from each brand I deal with at my agency. Once I’ve set up my project for the month, I wait until the shoot day before I do anything else.

Storage & Preparing the footage

When I’m shooting commercials for clients, I alternate between the Panasonic AF-100 and Sony PXW-X70. These cameras give me best of two worlds, which are interchangeable lenses and small but powerful broadcast cameras. Both cameras record with the AVCHD codec. The X70 also has its own proprietary codec which is the XAVC codec. When it comes to bringing footage from either of these cameras, I typically transcode the clips into Apple Pro Res or Pro Res HQ. Although Premiere can take most formats natively, with the hardware I have available (and based on past experiences) I choose to play it safe using a codec meant for editing. Before I do that, I always make sure to backup the SD card in two locations in sparse disk bundles using the Create Disk Image app.

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Once I’ve taken care of storage and encoded my footage into Pro Res, I move the footage to my network based RAID and import it into my project file so I can begin building sequences.

Building a selects sequence

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I place all of my footage into a sequence so that I can sort out the best takes, as well determine which clip goes with what dealership. I use timeline markers to group my clips together so that I can use the Markers panel and search for dealerships quickly. Once the selects sequence is built, I proceed to use the pancake timeline technique to build my main commercial sequences.

Structuring main commercial sequences & adjusting for time

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Using the pancake timeline technique, I put my selected sequences on top of my main commercial sequences, and drag clips into their appropriate places according to what is written in the script. From there, I add voice-overs, branding graphic assets, running footage, and more to time out each commercial to 30 seconds. If my footage, voice-overs, or other assets don’t meet that length, then I trim until everything does. Once I have my main commercials assembled and timed out, I add motion graphics and finishing touches like color correction/grading.

Motion graphics & finishing

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For motion graphics, I tend to use After Effects… unless I’m not looking for intricate animations. Lately, I’ve been using it for text animations as well as graphic overlays, especially since the update to Premiere Pro CC 2014.1 introduced the feature of Render & Replace. With that function implemented, I can now use dynamic linked After Effects comps and render/unrender them inside Premiere when I want to. In terms of finishing, I level the audio to broadcast specs and fix color balance and/or apply a simple color treatment, along with a Sharpen filter.

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Once I have motion graphics and finishing locked, I begin exporting my main commercial sequences to Media Encoder to get them to my broadcast vendors.

Exporting from Media Encoder and Delivery

Inside of Media Encoder, I set up my commercial sequences to be exported in a variety of codecs. Most of my broadcast vendors take either H.264 or Pro Res HQ. With Media Encoder, I use presets I created prior to encode one sequence to multiple Quicktime movies.

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Once I have exported my commercials into various Quicktime movies, I run one of them through Sorenson Squeeze to encode to WMV for brand compliance. With my Quicktime movies ready for broadcast delivery and my WMVs ready for brand compliance, I deliver each of them to their appropriate vendors and brands. In regards to compliance, if they approve it, then my broadcast deliver is cleared. If it is disapproved, I fix whatever mistake I have and re-export it for compliance and broadcast until it is correct.

As you can see, it pays to have a workflow that allows me the space to be creative, but at the same time meet pressing deadlines. After each month, I examine what worked best, what can be improved on, and if other tools can be added to allow for both efficiency and higher production value. In 2015, I plan on looking for tools and techniques that will allow me to be even more efficient and creative. Below is one of my finished promos for this month.

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FCPX Workflow Tips Across the Internet

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For the last three years, Final Cut Pro X has seen improvements that have furthered its stake in the NLE world. Since its release in 2011, it’s been meet with criticism and praise from many. Recently, professionals from across the world have stepped up to offer their tips for being efficient in FCPX and showcasing its potential. I want to share a few tips I’ve come across from working professionals who use Final Cut Pro X to get their projects done. After you see what tips these pros offer, you may look at FCPX in a more positive light than before.

Smart Organizing with Keyword & Smart Collections

Written by Braden Storrs, an FCPX editor and enthusiast, this article provides quick and effective organization techniques using FCPX’s library management model. He endorses creating two folders with keyword and smart collections. Within the smart collections, he recommends you name each collection for items that may be common within your project (i.e. multicam clips, dialogue, music, compound clips, notes, unused video, etc.) Once you’ve named your smart collections, make sure that you use specific rules for each collection so that they show up each time you click them.

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In regards to keyword collections, these are project specific, so make sure to create them for specific items in your project as you work. Keep them in a standalone template library file so that you can grab and place them in a new project library to speed things up. Since reading this article, I’ve finally developed a quick and efficient workflow for cutting in FCPX. I finally understand the speed comments made by FCPX editors.

Optical Flow Transition Technique

The next tip I came across online was from FCPX editor T Payton. In this video tutorial, he shows us how to create optical flow transitions to hide edits made on an interview. This technique is popular among Avid Media Composer editors using the Fluid Morph transitions, which allows them to merge jump cuts into a seamless transition. His technique involves the use of speed ramping and exporting multiple times to accomplish this effect. I find the technique to be of great use for those of us who cut a lot of interview bites. However, the amount of steps it takes to achieve the effect could be cumbersome, especially on large projects. The time tested technique of covering jump cuts with b-roll makes more sense than this, unless the client wants a straight cut of a talking head during this interview portion.

Tips for Editing Under Pressure

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This is an article written by editor and FCPX plugin developer Peter Wiggins of Idustrial Revolution. In the article, Peter gives ten tips for editing in FCPX when time isn’t on your side. Having background rendering on, making a snapshot before any radical changes, and hiding waveforms before media import stood out to me, and considering that Peter does a lot editing that ends up on the air relatively quickly, it’s good to know what tips can help you under pressure. Even with the fastest computer and hardware available, you will run into unforeseen circumstances that can interrupt your edit, so it’s always good to know a few handy tips to keep yourself efficient.

These are a small collection of tips I’ve come across the internet for improving your workflow in Final Cut Pro X. As I’ve seen from multiple users, there is no clear cut way for cutting in FCPX, which is why it is so dynamic. Try these tips and techniques yourself, and see if you improve in speed and efficiency.

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5 Tips/Tricks for Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro CS6

Over the last few years, Premiere Pro has really stepped up its game as being a dependable NLE for professionals across the world. Its ability to make almost any codec native editable allows it to be more than a viable choice for editors to use. I’ve professionally relied on it to get many projects done over the years, and with each iteration that has been released, Premiere has shown that it can compete with the best of the NLEs. With the release of the Creative Cloud, we have been introduced to features that make the life of an editor much easier. I want to share a few tips/tricks that can help you in using this versatile NLE.

Using Drop Down Menus

The source, program, and title monitor each have a drop down menu above them indicating what item is currently in view. Every time you enter a new item into these monitors, it changes to that item. The cool thing about the source and title monitor is you can load multiple items into them and cycle through each individually by using the drop down menu. For example, if I want to look at multiple video clips and not have to load them into the Source monitor one by one, all you have to do is select a group of clips in the project browser and drag them into the source monitor. By using the drop down menu, you can go through multiple clips one by one. Aside from using the drop down menu in CC, you can map shortcuts to these commands below to cycle through clips using the keyboard. Personally, I’ve found this to be a timesaver for high volume footage edits.

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You can also load multiple titles in the Title Tool and cycle through different titles. You can also edit them one by one without having to double click them individually.

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You can also use the drop down menu for the Program monitor when you have multiple sequences open. I rarely use the drop down menus when cycling between sequences, but it’s always good to know multiple ways to move around your interface.

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Opening Multiple Sequences

Having to double click to open sequences in Premiere can be a pain in the ass, especially if I have to do it to multiple sequences. Luckily, there is a shortcut in Premiere Pro CC that allows you to open multiple sequences at once. If you map a keyboard shortcut for the command Open in Timeline, this will definitely be handy for opening multiple timelines. Select your group of timelines in the Project browser, hit your custom keyboard shortcut for Open in Timeline, and all of your sequences will open at the same time. I discovered this trick while working on commercial spots recently, and it has been a real timesaver. I strongly recommend you try it out yourself.

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Creating Custom Dimensions for Layers

Not too many people know this, but you can actually determine the dimensions of a Color Matte, Black Video, Adjustment Layer, or Transparent Video Layer before you commit to it. When you go to create one of these layers by selecting the create new item button, a dialog box shows up with dimensions of your current sequence. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted a red square and you didn’t want to go to the title tool to create it. If I create a Color Matte with dimensions of 500×500, I will get a red square Color Matte.

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Knowing this tip can reduce the time you may spend creating shapes in the Title Tool, or farming out to Photoshop if you are so inclined.

Change Duration of Multiple Transitions

One of the things I enjoy about the Creative Cloud version of Premiere, is that I can select multiple transitions and change their duration at the same time.

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As cool of a trick as this is, I hope future iterations will have the ability to map a shortcut to change transition duration as opposed to using the mouse all the time.

Importing Favorites Bins/Custom Presets onto other machines

This was a tip I learned recently from the Adobe forums. If you create custom presets and bins for favorites, it is saved in a file known as Effect Presets and Custom Items. This file updates each time you import a preset or custom bin into Premiere Pro. The best things about this file is that you can copy and import it into other systems with Premiere Pro installed. The instructions I’m giving are on a Mac, but you can find instructions for this file on PCs if you search the help pages. First, copy the file from the User>Documents>Adobe>Premiere Pro>version #>profile folder. With the file on a flash drive, open Premiere Pro CC (2013 or 2014 works) and go to the effects browser. Right click on the Effects tab and select import presets. Select the file on the flash drive and you will get the custom presets you created, as well as the favorites bins you created on your other machines.

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This trick is also useful when Premiere is being sluggish and you need to trash preferences. You won’t need to recreate everything all over again. These are just a few tips/tricks that Premiere Pro has to offer. There are many more available when you really get to know the program. In fact, the updates coming for the next release of Premiere Pro CC 2014 look more promising than any release I’ve seen in years. Try these tricks out yourself and discover ways to move faster in Premiere to get your work done.

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4 Features Wanted in Next Premiere Pro CC Updates

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

Title Tool Revamp

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

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

Dynamic Link Proxy/Live Text Evolution

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

Effects Panel Additions

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

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

More Tools in the Toolbar

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

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

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Sports Motion Graphics Companies

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I’m always enamored with the work that is done by those who create sports motion graphics. The time and effort it takes to bring these animations to life is incredible. From having to rotoscope athletes from games, build 3D environments with a variety of software, and tie it together to the aesthetic of a particular piece is nothing short of extraordinary. I want to share a few motion graphics companies I’ve come across who create fantastic motion graphics. Scattered across the world, the artists in these companies are responsible for creating memorable work that will be talked about for years.

Troika

 

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Based in Los Angeles and founded in 2001, Troika is a brand consultancy and creative agency which specializes in entertainment and sports media for clients around the world. Their clients include HBO, A&E, the CW, EA Sports, the LA Lakers, and much more. They are responsible for a lot of the branding elements you may have seen on television, movie theaters, and live events. When Troika works with a brand (especially a sports brand), they add a creative and invigorating feel that leaves many in awe. The talent that this agency possesses is second to none. Take a look at the work they’ve done for Time Warner Cable and NBC Sports below.

Big Studios

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Big Studios Inc. is a Canadian graphics/visual effects agency responsible for creating large scale network graphics for clients that include the NFL, MLB, CBS, and ESPN. With a talented team of over 15 people, this agency is responsible for the motion graphics you’ve seen on previous Super Bowls, as well as the graphics for Monday Night Football. You can admire their work below. I guarantee that it will leave you with envy.

 

Cake Studios

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Based in Burbank, CA, Cake Studios s a full service creative house offering extensive experience in branding, design, animation, and management of the creative process for clients around the world. Their clients include Fox Sports, the Denver Broncos, Golf Central, and CBS. From show intros, bumpers, and overlays, Cake Studios is on top of their game with stunning motion graphics. Aside from the U.S. clients they deal with, Cake Studios has also produced content for clients across the world. Take a look at their amazing work here.

 

PhotoElectric

 

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PhotoElectric is one of the newer post production houses that specializes in sports motion graphics. Founded in 2011 and based in South Carolina, they have done work for Fox Sports, ESPN, the Carolina Panthers, and the NHL. Comprised of a team of four talented individuals, along with freelancers, PhotoElectric have been able to create show packages, show intros, commercial spots, and more. Although they’ve only been around for three years, the combined amount of experience in this group is about 30 years. Check out their exciting work below.

 

I strongly recommend you check out each of these companies out on their websites, as well as Vimeo. You can also look at other companies through Graphics Mafia, which showcases the work of sports motion graphics artists. It’s companies like these that I turn to get inspired on my work, and I’m sure you will find yourself in awe, as well as inspired, once you see what they each offer.

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Advanced Photo Animation Techniques

A Team NLE

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

Cinemagraph Effect

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

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

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

The 2.5D Effect

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

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

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

Camera Mapping Effect

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

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

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

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Assemble FX 1: 3D Swap Transition in Premiere

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Prior to Premiere Pro CC getting the ability to have drag and drop transitions from 3rd party developers, creating or using those filters usually came at a cost or a disadvantage. One of the things I picked up from studying high end transitions and effects was that you had to break it down into three essential components of mattes, filters and keyframes. When you look at transitions and effects this way, they are not as daunting as they appear. If you experiment with Premiere’s effects through trial and error, you can learn to take advantage of all it has to offer. If it weren’t for studying Premiere, I wouldn’t have arrived at effects like these below.

One approach I’ve used in the past for creating effects was placing them in project templates. The drawback is if I want to use an effect or transition multiple times, it would be much more difficult to do so. I’ve decided to showcase a different approach to creating effects that can be applied quickly and used multiple times. It’s called Assemble FX. It operates based off presets that I created. Follow along in the video tutorial below to apply them to your footage. For the first Assemble FX, I will show you how to create a 3D swap transition. This involves taking two clips, creating reflections for both of them, and then swapping their position in 3D space.

The inspiration for this comes from a native transition found in Final Cut Pro X ,which does the exact same thing. In the video below, at 3:21, you can see that the transition contains the following elements: two clips with reflections and a gradient background.

With Assemble FX, the plan is to minimize the time you spend creating effects and transitions like these, and to be able to use them multiple times. This reduces the perception that Premiere is more than capable of doing complex animations without having to run to After Effects, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you follow along with the video tutorial below and install the presets in this link, you can create this finished product that you can modify for your own uses.

This effect is the first in the line of Assembly FX and will not be the last. Look for more challenges on how far you can push Premiere to do really cool things. I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

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Pulsating Flares & Dual Magnified Bars

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I’ve always believed that with experimentation, you can discover hidden possibilities within your NLE or compositing program. This especially holds up with experimenting in Premiere. It may not possess the depth of FCPX & Motion 5 workflow, but if you tinker with the native or third party filters enough, you can create some great results. That is what the purpose of the NLE Ninja is – to show users how to push NLE software to do things you might normally turn to Motion or After Effects to do. I’ve found this especially true with experimenting with the lens flare filter and Creative Impatience’s Simple Mask filter. The lens flare filter is among one of the most overused filters in After Effects and I can see why. With some experimental tinkering, you can create some incredible effects and transitions. The free Simple Mask filter from Creative Impatience has been a godsend for some of the compositing work I’ve done in Premiere. What used to require a Color Matte or a solid from the title tool with the Track Matte Key, I can now accomplish using a duplicated layer and multiple instances of the Simple Mask plugin. In this article, I will show you how to create pulsating flares using the Lens Flare filter and dual magnified bars using the Simple Mask plugin to create an interesting composite effect. Below is an example of what the final result will look like.

Before you proceed, make sure you download and install the Simple Mask plugin onto your computer by going here.

In the video tutorial above, I use a black video layer to place 2 lens flares above my video clip. I then position them at separate corners of the screen and proceed to keyframe the brightness of each flare over time. I randomize the brightness so that the pulsating patterns offset one another. Next, I changed the composite mode to Add to get rid of the black background. To get the magnify look, I duplicated the video layer on track 1 onto track 2. I scaled up the video on track 2 and apply the Simple Mask plugin. Then, I created a thin bar with the height extending past the dimensions of the video itself. I proceeded to animate the mask across the screen from left to right. I copied the filter and change the composite mode parameter in the Mask filter to add to have 2 instances. I reversed the keyframes so it animates right to left. I added 2 instances of drop shadow with the angles set to 90 and -90 respectively so that the drop shadow appears at the edge of each bar equally. The end result is that you have 2 effects which work fine alone but together create something much more interesting and visually stimulating.

I have plans for future articles and effects which can utilize the Simple Mask plugin as well as other native filters in Premiere to create complex effects like this. I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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Swap Slide Transition in Premiere

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One of the many tips I learned when I started editing was to be observant of things I see on the screen. When I wanted to learn how to recreate a transition, effect, or animation and there was no tutorial or breakdown available, I would watch the example over and over to fill in the pieces. By doing that, I learned how to create my own effects transitions in various editing applications as well as how to turn those into successful tutorials. What I’ve recently learned how to do in Premiere is how to create over/under transitions that I was used to seeing in FCP 7. The first one I did was a Sliding Page Transition. I was able to break it down by observing a video clip I saw online into its essential elements. In short, it was nothing more than animating the scale and position parameters, switching clips on their original video tracks and adding a quick gradient behind it. Once I put the pieces together, it was simple to recreate it. I took a similar approach for this transition as well.

The next transition I will show you how to do a Swap Slide. This transition involves swapping your outgoing clip with your incoming clip.

Swap Slide Transition Setup

First, you want to have two clips on your timeline like the picture below.

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Next, add keyframes for position on both clips. For the clip on track 1, I’ll add a keyframe for position at its default value.

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Let’s move 13 frames forward and add another keyframe with the clip moved to right, almost offscreen.

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Move 12 frames forward and change the position value back to the default.

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Now, we need to add the same amount of keyframes to the clip on track 2 as well but instead of moving it to the right, we will move it to the left. Follow these screenshots as a reference.

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The final step in creating this transition is a blade edit and swap the video clips. First, let’s make a blade edit on the second keyframe of each clip.

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Move the clip on track 1 to track 2. Do the reverse for the clip on track 2.

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If you do all that, you will get a result that looks like this.

There you have it. Another over/under transition for the FCP converts who now use Premiere. If you want the transition to happen sooner, you can change the timing of the keyframes to your liking. If you are PC user, this tutorial may not be relevant as this transition still exists in the Slide category. If you want an option to purchase a package that has this actual transition, you can get the Genarts Sapphire package or BorisFX’s RED package. Both of them offer this transition with in their vast categories. While they are great to have, they can be expensive if you don’t have the budget, so purchase wisely.

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

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