Lower Third Tutorial Round-Up

ATeam icons

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

Lower Third (After Effects) Tutorial

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

Lower Third (Motion 5) Tutorial

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

Lower Third (Premiere Pro) Tutorial

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

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

Sound Effects

Timelapses & Breakdowns

 

A Team NLE

The craft and method of editing is what drew me to filmmaking. Knowing what editors, visual effects artists, and others are capable of doing to tell an intricate story is quite incredible. They are responsible for weaving, manipulating, and inserting assets into frames that help and/or invigorate a story. The best way to see the what the post production process is like is through behind-the-scenes clips on DVDs, or making of featurettes, online. In this article, I’m going to highlight some VFX breakdowns and timelapsed video edits that showcase how much work it takes to bring a film or a video to the masses.

VFX Breakdown #1: X-Men Days of Future Past

One of the top blockbusters of 2014 saw the X-Men mythology returning to top form with this entry into the ever expanding saga. Set in a dystopic future where most of mankind and mutant kind have been eradicated by man made machines know as Sentinels, the remaining X-Men rally together to change the past to ensure a better future before it is too late. To bring the sentinels to life, as well as showcase the various mutant powers that were brought to the screen, required 372 visual effects shots. In the breakdown above, the talented folks of MPC, led by visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, took upon the task of creating the visual effects of the future mutants and sentinels. Utilizing techniques such as match-moving, rotoscoping, matte painting, chroma keying, and more, they were able to bring various elements to life that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible using practical effects. The photo-realistic effects featured in this film were essential to bringing the audience into this universe.

VFX Breakdown #2: The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3, the third entry into Sylvester Stallone’s homage to classic action films, included more actors, as well as more insane action sequences. We saw everything from insane stunts, more explosions, and combat sequences. For this sequel, the folks at Worldwide FX were responsible for about 1200 VFX shots. In the breakdown above, the Worldwide FX team used a lot of matte painting in certain scenes as well as animating 3D vehicles, like the Expendables’s airplane and helicopters. Watching the breakdown, it is surprising how much green and blue screening was used to set up certain shots. Thanks in part to the efforts of the artists, they are able to seamlessly work with the actors involved. The one thing that caught my eye is how well they are able to rotoscope and integrate objects into scenes with lots of moving parts.

Timelapse Edit #1: SNL “Testicules”

This timelapsed edit session done by SNL film editor Adam Epstein features a short starring actor/producer Andy Samberg. Edited using tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud, Adam takes footage coming DSLRs and RED cameras, and puts together a digital short that has the look of a short film. During the rigorous 48 hour edit session, Adam is responsible for all aspects of post which include sorting out takes, multi-camera editing, color correction, motion graphics/visual effects, and audio selection. The crazy part is that he can still be editing and making changes while SNL is airing and get it uploaded just before it ends. The thing that impresses me about watching his edit session is the amount of quality he is able to pack into his shorts in a 48 hour timeframe. Essentially, cutting an SNL digital short is the equivalent of doing a 48 hour film race every weekend for six months. Anyone who can endure that is a masterful editor.

Timelapse Edit #2: Red Productions Christmas Video 2014

For their annual Christmas video, the folks of Red Productions did a timelapsed edit session on their latest video. Just like Adam, they utilized tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud and completed this video within 24 hours. This video featured greenscreen footage, composited objects and explosions, motion tracking, and many other post production facets. What interested me about this timelapsed session was that they were able to turn around a comedic piece in 24 hours. From what I have seen in editing comedy, it may take a little longer as you need to account for pacing and timing of the humor to occur. Cutting all this in a 24 hour timeframe is impressive to say the least. What stood out to me was how easy they made their visual effects look. They had a plethora of visual effects you’ve come to see in internet videos, and it looked really clean.

Those are just a few breakdowns and timelapsed edit sessions that are floating online. It’s always amazing to see how films and television shows achieve such high level visual effects, as well as watch the talented artists put it all together.

Royalty Free Music

Setting Up Multi-Cam in your NLE

A Team NLE

As an editor, I’ve been in many situations where I have to cut a project that was shot by multiple cameras. If production sets up their cameras so that I can easily match things up and cut like a technical director, my job is much easier. If they don’t, however, it can be a painstaking task trying to figure when each camera is in sync with one another. You can’t always control the method to which you receive footage from multiple cameras, but it is an essential skill to know how to set up your timeline to do multiple camera editing, also known as multi-cam. I’m going to briefly breakdown the steps it takes to set up a multi-camera edit in popular NLEs such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X, and Adobe Premiere Pro.

Avid Media Composer Multi-Cam

In this video tutorial, editor Jon Christenson shows the basics of setting up a multi-camera edit in Avid Media Composer. This type of edit in Media Composer can be set up using timecode, in & out points, or the start of clips. In his example, he uses a clap from three clips to set a sync point for all clips. From there, he uses multiple bins to sort out his clips he wants in the multi-cam, as well as a bin for grouped clips. Utilizing the Fast Menu in the bin, he chooses Group Clips to create his multi-cam edit. Once he has his multi-cam clip set up, he sets up his buttons to make the multi-camera edit more streamlined and efficient. Then, he can do a multi-cam edit by pressing a key mapped to a specific angle. Although I don’t use Media Composer as much as I should, I have to say they have a robust system for multi-camera editing.

Final Cut Pro X Multi-Cam

In this video tutorial, Apple certified and GeniusDV trainer Jon Lynn shows us how to set up a multi-cam edit in Final Cut Pro X. In this program, you first select the clips you want. Then, you right click and select a new multi-cam clip which brings up a dialogue menu. Once you have your settings, use the Angle Viewer and click on the angles you want to cut to while playing back the multi-cam clip. In my experience, I found this multi-cam system very fluent and easy to use in comparison to Media Composer. Although it has a different paradigm than other track based editing systems, the multi-cam functions in FCPX are extremely robust.

Adobe Premiere Pro Multi-Cam

In this video tutorial, Lynda instructor Jeff Sengstack demonstrates how to set up a multi-cam clip in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. There are two ways to set up multi-cam clip in Premiere Pro. I typically set it up from the timeline level where I have my clips set up as needed. The other method is doing it from the project browser, which is the method Jeff uses. With the clips he has selected in the project browser, he right clicks and selects Create Multi-Camera sequence. From the dialogue menu, he can choose how to sync his clips. Once that is taken care of, you should get a new sequence clip in the browser. Now, he can begin cutting the multi-cam clip in his timeline using the available tools. I’ve found Premiere’s multi-camera abilities to be the best of the track based NLEs. I have used Final Cut Pro 7’s multi-camera function before and found it hard to wrap my head around. Premiere’s multi-cam function always seemed to work for me.

As you can see from these videos, multi-camera editing is relatively easy to set up, depending on your NLE of choice. Trying to cut without multi-cam functions is possible, but can be tedious and frustrating in longform projects. I know from earlier experience, I tried to bypass using multi-cam editing and wasted hours fixing things that could have been addressed sooner had I learned how multi-camera editing works. I highly recommend you learn multi-camera editing in your NLE and save yourself some time on those long and complex edits.

Royalty Free Music

Editing Wedding Videos in FCP X

FCPX_logo_1

Most often, if you are the wedding videographer, you are also the audio guy, editor, colorist, motion graphics designer, and exporting distributor. The nature of this business dictates wearing many hats in order to maintain a sustainable business model. Unfortunately, choosing the right lens and recording the special moment is only half the battle. And although I’m sure you would much rather stay on the production end of things, the footage needs equal attention and care in post production to create a lasting and memorable work. But not to fret. Today I am here to offer a few essential tips to help ease the tensions of importing and editing down your wedding footage in Final Cut Pro X.

–       Importing and Organizing

–       Editing the Footage

–       Exporting

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.45.13 PM

IMPORTING AND ORGANIZING

For filearchy and organization purposes, if you shoot a lot of weddings, you will want to keep the files separate from your other work. To do this, I recommend creating a brand new library in Final Cut Pro X by going to FILE > NEW > LIBRARY. I even go one step further and label the Library WEDDINGS 2014, as I will refresh and create a new library for 2015, 2016, and so on. Under the new library, I will add a new event (FILE > NEW > EVENT) for each wedding (Smith Wedding, Morales Wedding, etc). At this point, you need to start adding your footage to these events. When I record weddings, I tend to shoot with a three camera set up (one camera on the bride, one on the groom, and one master wide shot showing bride, groom, officiant, and part of the audience). I log each camera’s footage in its own folder, and then DRAG AND DROP the folder onto their own prospective wedding EVENT in FCPX.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 12.51.48 PM

Once you have all your footage logged and filed correctly, you can start to create projects (FILE > NEW > PROJECT) and name each one for the subject shown (for me that’s ceremony, introductions, cake cutting, best man speech, maid/matron of honor speech, first dance, father-daughter dance, mother-son dance, garter ceremony, bouquet toss, and random dancing shots). Each subject needs its own project, as each project is essentially its own timeline to export.

EDITING THE FOOTAGE

Once working on projects, I tend to keep some basic editing formats consistent. First, you can add transitions with Hot Key CMD + T (a cross dissolve will be added at every edit point and break in the timeline).

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 4.27.36 PM

I will also tend to punch up the color as needed. If you go to the INSPECTOR under the VIDEO tab, you will find COLOR. Under COLOR, you will see CORRECTION 1 with an arrow (>) next to it (if you hover your mouse you will see SHOW CORRECTION). Click on the arrow to open the correction options.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.05.37 PM

You will then be looking at three new tabs: Color, Saturation, and Exposure. With color, I tend to leave it alone as I always white balance with the camera before recording, so I shouldn’t have a need for it in post. For saturation, I like to punch it up a bit by CLICKING AND DRAGGING UP the MASTER SWITCH on the left, controlling overall saturation.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.11.01 PM

Saturation controls how vibrant the colors appear, and I increase it since weddings are a bright and happy day of celebration. If you remove saturation, the image turns drab and bleak. If you move the saturation level to 0%  (rock bottom) your image would turn purely black and white, which, in some instances, can invoke a sense of nostalgia or quiet reflection and could be a nice touch for certain moments, like the father daughter dance, etc. There is no one right way to display your image. I can only offer certain insights and tell you my own reasoning.

Finally, with exposure, I also like to increase the contrast a touch by dropping down the shadows (also known as crushing the blacks) and brightening the whites.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.13.53 PM

By increasing the contrast, you give the image more pop and definition, which is important, especially if the bride’s dress is white, so she doesn’t get blown out and lost.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.57.25 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.57.33 PM

Instead of color correcting multiple clips in your timeline, you can copy and paste the color correction attribute to each clip and keep a uniformed look. To do this, simply highlight the clip that has the attribute you want to copy and hit CMD + C. Then, highlight the clip you want to give the attribute to and hit CMD + SHIFT + V. This will bring up an attribute window. Check color and hit OK.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 2.04.17 PM

As a final touch for certain dance videos, I will hunt down the source audio file and play the master track over the footage, versus using the camera’s audio. I find this allows the viewer to focus on the moment of everyone dancing and having fun, without dealing with warped canned audio and loud chatter.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 4.30.01 PM

EXPORTING

Exporting has been made rather quick and simple in Final Cut Pro X. Simply go to FILE > SHARE > MASTER FILE (Hot Key CMD + E), and a settings window will appear. Go to the SETTINGS tab. Make sure the VIDEO CODEC is set to H.264 for the best compression rate, and ROLES AS is set to QUICKTIME MOVIE. From there, select NEXT > Choose your destination, give the file a name based on the subject (ceremony, best man speech, etc,), and hit SAVE to begin the render process.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 2.05.30 PM

Royalty_Free_Music_Orange_468_60_Yellow_Dress_zps3d728d61

Editing Montages with FCP X

FCPX_logo_1

 

Montages can be more than just a compilation of images and video clips. A montage has the potential to tell an entire story to the viewer. In this tutorial, I will give you some tips and tricks to turn your string of images into a powerfully crafted story that, in my opinion, elevates the consensus of the standard montage expectation using Final Cut Pro X.

–       Understanding the Mechanics

–       Cutting to the beat

–       Recording Voice Overs

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.23.10 AM

UNDERSTANDING THE MECHANICS

By definition, a montage is “the technique of producing a new composite whole from fragments of pictures, text, or music.” So, in order to create a montage we need images or video clips (or BOTH!), a musical number, and maybe a voiceover recording (pre recorded or written for match recording). The images and videos provide the details, whereas music and voiceover provide the underlying emotion. It is crucial to choose the right audio track as it sets the entire tone and pace for the montage. When creating transitions between images, it’s best to use cross dissolves for unrelated moments (a beautiful beach landscape cross dissolves into a majestic mountain peak). However, if the content relates and there is a story being told, it is better to cut between shots (a beautiful beach landscape cuts to a shot of a couple holding hands walking along the waterline).

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.23.24 AM

CUTTING TO THE BEAT

You will want to cut to the beat of the music by marking and using peaks and valleys (high and low points) in the audio waveform for precision. If you hold on a shot across the beat, it gives more power and attention to that image.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.25.44 AM

In the musical track I chose, there was a peak at every five seconds, so I placed a marker there for a visual aid as I cut my images and video clips to the track. To add a marker simply hit ‘M’ on your keyboard while over the segment of the timeline you want to mark. If you double click on it, you have the ability to change or delete it.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.27.47 AM

Find the music you will want to edit to (AudioMicro.com offers a great variety of tracks to choose from) and place markers on the beats peaks (high points) or valleys (low points) you want to cut shots between. Additionally in FCPX, you can make the audio beat the primary line, and the video clips secondary, in order to be able to trim the clips down to match the beat easier. If the audio beat is the first thing on your timeline simply CLICK AND DRAG the beat to the center main track to make it the primary point of editing.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.32.12 AM

A final tip on cutting your beat to your images would be to mix things up! If your beat has a very rhythmic peak or valley every few seconds, it would be a good idea to hold some clips longer every so often. If you cut your shot every few seconds, the viewer will then begin to anticipate the edit change and not focus nearly as intently on the images being shown and the story being conveyed.

RECORDING VOICE OVERS

If you have a script for a voice over, then you need to make sure your tone matches the content (if the content is somber make sure you sound somber, and if it is lively be lively). Nothing drags down a montage as quickly as a poorly executed voice over dragging down the entire production. I recommend external audio recording equipment like a Blue Yeti recording mic for high quality performance, but some times you can squeak by recording off the computer mic itself as long as you keep the ambient noise around you to a minimum. Some people record voice overs in their closet to help minimize outside ambient tone and reverberation).

In FCPX, recording voice overs has been made even easier than in past iterations of the Final Cut software. Simply go to WINDOW > RECORD VOICE OVER.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.44.26 AM

A new window will open with the controls, and by default the INPUT will be set to your built in mic. If you are using an external mic, this would be the point to change the input to your proper third party recorder. At this point, simply hit the RED RECORD BUTTON. You will receive a three second countdown and you can start speaking from that point forward.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 11.44.48 AM

Montages require special attention to become something great. As long as you pay attention to the content, review numerous successful and failed montages online, and follow these suggestions, you will be able to elevate your work.

Royalty_Free_Music_Orange_468_60_Yellow_Dress_zps3d728d61

How to Create Nested Sequences

A Team NLE

Timelines, or sequences as they are known in certain NLEs, are the foundation for editors to arrange their footage into a comprehensive narrative. Timelines allow us to insert video, audio, titles, transitions, and more to take us from point A to completion. However, there comes a time when you are editing in your preferred NLE and having a lot of tracks or connections clutter your timeline. In a situation like this, creating a sequence within a sequence, or nesting, will consolidate your assets into one. Every major NLE has the ability to create nested sequences, or compound clips as they are called in Final Cut Pro X. With the video tutorials below, I will highlight this technique so that it can become a part of your skill set.

Avid Media Composer

Avid_AppAdrenaline

In Avid Media Composer, the act of nesting is known as collapsing. As Avid guru Kevin P. McAuliffe shows us in this tutorial, when your timeline gets heavy in effects and clips, collapsing items in a sequence can be much more effective than using video mixdowns. In order to collapse your video/audio assets, select all that you want to include and hit the collapse button, or a custom keyboard shortcut. Once your assets are collapsed, you can step into the collapsed sequence, or double click and modify your clips as needed. If you are a Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro editor, Media Composer’s method of nesting may seem a bit confusing at first, but with time and practice it starts to make sense. One of the drawbacks of a collapsed sequence in Media Composer is that you can only see one timeline at a time.

Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro CS6

Adobe Master trainer Maxim Jago shows us the process of nesting clips into a sequence in this PeachPit tutorial. Nesting sequences in Premiere is very similar to Final Cut Pro Legacy’s process. Select the video and audio assets you want, go to Clip> Nest and it will ask you to name your nested sequence. Once you’ve given it a name, it will appear in the timeline as one clip, as well as the project browser. I like this form of nesting because I can cycle between open sequences with ease.

Final Cut Pro X

FCPX_logo_1

In Final Cut Pro X, the process of creating nesting sequences is called creating compound clips. In this tutorial, master trainer Jon Lynn shows us the process. You can create compound clips from the timeline as well as the Event browser. Select the clips you want in your timeline and go to File -> New Compound Clip (press option + G). You can also select your highlighted clips, right click and select new Compound Clip. Similar to Avid Media Composer, I would have to “step in” to see the assets in the compound clip, and since FCPX doesn’t allow you to see multiple timelines at once, we’ll have to wait for further improvements.

Overall, the art of nesting a lot of content into its own sequence is something that comes in handy on small and large projects. Even with all the innovations made by these primetime NLEs, nesting is a technique that won’t be going away anytime soon. I strongly recommend you learn how to nest content into its own sequence in whichever NLE you use.

Royalty Free Music

Video Editing Time Lapses

A Team NLE

The job of a video editor is a very challenging and intense position that sometimes is overlooked by the audience. It is their job to weave hours of footage into a coherent and comprehensive piece of art that is enjoyed by the masses. Most people wouldn’t understand the work that goes into making a 30 second commercial, 30 minute television show, or two hour movie unless they see a behind the scenes package on a DVD or an online featurette. However, there are some editors who have shared the process from start to finish via time lapses. I will share some video editor time lapses from a wide spectrum of works to showcase the amount of time and effort it takes to complete a project.

Television Editor Time Lapse

TV editor Matt Barber shows us the process of cutting an episode of the NBC series, Chuck. Working on Avid Media Composer, Matt spends the first nine days going through the dailies he received from the set, and picking out takes based on set notes building a selects sequence. From there, he creates a director’s cut of the episode to be shown to the director before it goes out to the producers for approval. After he receives notes from the director’s cut, he begins constructing a producer’s cut which will be reviewed by the studio executives. After he has gone through the director, producer, and network for approval, his episode enters picture lock so it can be sent in for audio, color, and VFX finishing. In a span of almost 30 days, it took Matt that much time to get an episode of Chuck to air. If you think that is intense, nothing is more intense and stress inducing than getting an SNL digital short done.

SNL ‘Beygency’ Time Lapse

Film editor Adam Epstein has to work under the tightest of deadlines to get content on air for Saturday Night Live. In most cases, Adam is usually getting content within an hour of the show airing live on Saturday. In this time lapse, Adam shows us his edit of a SNL short called Beygency, which parodies the Adjustment Bureau and singer Beyonce Knowles. Starting Friday afternoon at 4 PM until Saturday morning at 1:37 AM, Adam uses a full Adobe workflow. This consists of tools such as Premiere Pro, After Effects, Mocha Pro, Illustrator, and Photoshop. He uses these to edit, composite, lay audio, and finish the short. Working with footage coming off RED cameras and more, Adam is able to take this short from start to finish for our viewing pleasure. The first time I saw this, I was in complete awe of what was happening in front of me. It’s like watching someone complete a 48-hour film race right before your eyes. Some projects may not have as tight of deadline as an SNL short, but watching them come together is still a joy to watch.

KIPP Post Production Time-lapse

Post production professional Aaron Williams shows us in this time lapse a project he did for the KIPP Academy in Nashville. Within two minutes, you see Aaron start in Premiere Pro pulling soundbites from various interviews to construct the skeleton of the video. Next, he utilizes the Pancake Timeline technique to pull secondary soundbites, as well as b-roll selects to add flesh to the story. In the midst of the edit, he’s doing music searches, syncing audio, as well as using temp placeholder graphics so he can visualize how the edit will look when finished. From there, he moves into DaVinci Resolve to add a color grade to footage followed by After Effects to create motion graphics and visual effects. Once he gets what he needs from these programs, he brings everything back into Premiere to finish the project. I’ve watched this time lapse numerous times and have picked a few techniques for my own workflow that I have implemented to make my life easier. Aaron’s time lapse is a true demonstration of what it takes to construct a video with the highest professional quality. Now that we’ve seen how much time and effort it takes to edit a project from start to finish, we can begin to appreciate how important the role of an editor is. It takes a lot of time to make a commercial, TV show, or movie look the way it does. It also takes talented and wise professionals to make it look so effortless.

Sound Effects

Top 4 FCP X Training YouTube Channels

FCPX_logo_1

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

MacBreak Studio

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

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

GeniusDV

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

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

Dan Allen Films

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

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

Web Video Chefs

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

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

FCPX must have utilities

FCPX_logo_1

When Final Cut Pro X first came out in 2011, I wasn’t too fond of the new interface or the editing paradigm, as it challenged everything I was taught to do in school. After numerous updates to the software, third party party utilities coming to market, and using it for the last four months, I’m more confident in Final Cut Pro X’s workflow than I ever have been before. Here is a quick rundown of some applications I’ve found helpful with transitioning to a FCPX workflow.

Event Manager X

icon

This handy must-have app is the creation of the folks at Intelligent Assistance. The process of dealing with events and multiple projects can be tedious at times. This app has a lot more going on under the hood, and gives you control of your events and projects with an easy to use interface.

em03

According to the description from the site, Event Manager X allows you to do the following:

-Quickly manage Events and Projects using visible checkboxes.

-Filter through libraries to find specific Events and Projects.

-Keep track of hidden Events and Projects.

-Check all storage devices that hold needed Events are properly mounted.

-Launch FCPX much faster using fewer active Events in the Event library.

Those are just a small list of the many things Event Manager X can do. At $4.99, it’s a no brainer purchase if you want to relieve yourself of sluggish performance Final Cut Pro may experience with multiple projects and events.

7toX

icon.175x175-75

This is another must have app from the folks at Intelligent Assistance. This app allows you to bring projects from Final Cut Pro 6 & 7 into X. The simple to use app takes an XML file of an edit you create in those legacy programs, and translates it into a workable project in FCPX. Below is a small list of the things that carry over during the import process:

-Bins become keyword collections.

-Sequences become compound clips and get tagged as FCP6/7 sequences.

-The track structure is represented by Roles.

-Multicam is fully supported.

-Motion Tab parameters are translated to Transform, Crop, and Opacity parameters.

From my experience, this process has worked 95% of the time with most projects I have sent from FCP 7 to FCPX. This app is great to use if you need to update old projects and want to cut them with the speed of FCPX. At $9.99, it will pay for itself in less than an hour of work.

ClipExporter

247831560_640

This app is a free workflow and export tool from Mind Transplant. It allows you to send your entire timeline to After Effects, and batch export selected clips to Quicktime movies. You can also convert your clips for Nuke. Previous versions of FCPX were limited in their export abilities. If you are an editor who relies on these compositing applications to fix a project, this was an obstacle to overcome. Below is a video explaining how ClipExporter helps the editor overcome that obstacle and keep working.

Overall, this application is very handy. With a few more updates, it will become more utilized among filmmakers.

Motion Template Tool

177852

With FCPX effects, generators, and transitions all being Motion 5 templates, it’s now easier than ever for users to create their own effects from scratch and download them from other users across the internet. One thing that can be a pain is going through the folder structure of your Mac to install them if they don’t have custom installer. With the free Motion Template Tool, you can manage and install custom Motion Templates. Created by the folks from Spherico, this app is helpful for users and developers who want a hassle free way to manage templates. Popular FCPX editor Alex Gollner makes great use of this tool for his templates. All you have to do is install the app, download a custom template, and double click it to install. The tool does the rest.

CreateDiskImage

sdicicon

Sparse disk images and bundles have been around for years, but recently it has become a preferred workflow method for popular FCPX users like Ripple Training and Magic Feather Inc. This has been a workaround for backing up projects, creating projects, and working collaboratively. Mac users can create a sparse disk using the Disk Utility app, but the folks from Spherico created the free Disk Image Creator to simplify the process. As explained by John Davidson from Magic Feather in this video below, using the Disk Image Creator to create a sparse disk is the preferred workflow when he cuts spots in FCPX for clients.

This is app is handy if you want to manage your projects from a disk image as opposed to a root of your internal or external drives. These are just a small selection of the third party utilities available for Final Cut Pro X. At first, I wasn’t too happy to find out that I had to go to other sources to get functionality that should have been built into FCPX. However, my opinion has changed after some time. I respect the fact that Apple gave developers the ability to shape how they worked in FCPX instead of determining it for us. I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Interview with Stereo Layout Artist Sean Amlaner

interview_icon

Sean Amlaner, Stereo Layout Artist for Wreck-It Ralph (now on DVD and BluRay) gave me a lot of great info about his role on the film and his thoughts about the current situation of the VFX industry. This is what he had to say:

G: On Wreck-It Ralph, your title is “Stereo Layout Artist,” could you explain what that title entails in your own words?

Sean: A Stereo Layout Artist performs stereo layout duties.  In case anyone is unfamiliar with 3D stereo films, the literal process of “stereo” is the creation of a pair of side-by-side images that are used to generate the illusion of actual “depth” in an image by slightly offsetting one camera from another hero camera.  In a nutshell, this means in a digital world that the artist sets up the computer-generated stereo camera pair, which mimics the same camera settings and location in 3D space as the mono hero camera.  The main difference between the mono camera and stereo camera pairs is that, like mentioned above, the stereo camera pair is horizontally offset from each other to create a separate image for each eye.  This allows us to create the illusion of stereo depth through various means of delivery to the viewer, for example, by simply interlacing the image for a 3D monitor or through stereo image delivery to high-end 3D stereo projectors used in theaters.  As well as stereo camera creation, a stereo artist will also set how much stereo depth is in each particular shot as well as do final stereo-related compositing (also known as stereo finishing) work to ensure that no stereo artifacts are present within the final-rendered 3D stereo images.

For me personally, my job requirements as a Stereo Layout Artist also included a few other secondary duties, which included assisting in training additional artists for low-level image finishing, task-centric training demonstrations, Nuke tool development (utilized within both stereo and lighting pipelines), and Wiki-style training documentation.

G: What type of programs do you use for Stereo Compositing? Are they standard compositing programs such as After Effects or Nuke, or is it something entirely different?

Sean: Well, probably the most commonly industry-accepted node-based compositing package is Nuke, but there are others out there that can do some pretty awesome stuff.  Fusion is another comp package along with several pretty cool proprietary comp packages that have been developed by various individual VFX houses.  An example of this would be the Rhythm & Hues compositing package known as ICY (not publicly available outside their studio).  After Effects can do some types of compositing, but it was originally designed as a motion graphics software package and is really good at that, but the majority of post-production VFX houses lean towards node-based compositing packages (such as Nuke) as their versatility and high-end control is significantly greater.  After Effects versus node-based comp packages is a discussion some people will vigorously debate, but in my opinion, whatever tool is right for the current job is the one that you should use.

G: 3D movie experiences seem to be holding steady over the last half a decade or so. Do you see this 3D movie experience staying around indefinitely, fading away entirely, or evolving into something different (virtual reality, etc.)?

Sean: I see stereo as something that is here to stay.  As you said, stereo films have been around for quite some time and if you look at the cyclical wave of how stereo films have come and go over the years, it hasn’t ever actually “disappeared”.  When looking at compositing or effects-related job descriptions, you will see that more and more of them list stereo experience as a requirement.  Major film companies like 3D because it does generate an additional amount of revenue that a 2D-only film otherwise might miss out on.  Whether the future is in 3D stereo imagery or something straight out of the Star Trek ‘holodeck,’ I have no doubt that 2D films won’t be the only thing offered in the theatre from now on.

G: What drove you to post production, and more importantly, what made you decide to become a compositor?

Sean: Oh my, well, it was a bit of a convoluted path to be quite honest.  When I was in grade school and through high school, I did a lot of web and graphic design.  While in high school, I was recruited by the dean of my college art school.  He showed me this awesome little animated short that they had made of two Kung-Fu strawberries fighting it out in a dojo and I was like “you can do that?!”  Well, needless to say, I was hooked from then on.  I started out training as a 3D Animator in college but a couple years into that, I realized I enjoyed fluid and particle sim effects work better.  I focused on that for a couple of years and graduated, then went on to grad school which then ultimately led to my finding a unending passion for digital compositing.

G: Editor is such an ‘umbrella’ term in my opinion. For myself in particular, I find it very difficult to find a specific niche — “Do I want to be a compositor, or how about matte painter, or animator, or lighting artist … maybe previs …” — The list goes on and I’m wondering if you have any tips on how someone could better hone their focus and discover the job that is right for them?

Sean: Well, just to clarify, but the classification for an editor is actually not much to do with our VFX side of things. An editor is actually the person who does the literal cutting together of shots in a film/tv/music video and then the VFX house typically gets the edited imagery as they’re cutting the film. For those of us on the visual effects side of things, most of us are classified in the “artist” category, not an editor. Then within the artist category, it’s broken down for: animator, lighter, compositor, technical director, etc.

That being said, it can be a difficult thing to decide.  I mean, there are so many different facets of job options within the visual effects world to choose from.  It would probably be best stated that one should pick an area of visual effects based upon where their strengths and interests are.  Let me give some examples.  If you are really good at programming and enjoy doing that, you could be a TD (technical director) who would create tools, pipeline structures, software engineering, etc for a studio.  But if you are really good at painting, then you would probably be quite suited to be a matte painter.  But if you enjoy drawing characters and designing them from scratch, then you might be a character designer or modeller.  Maybe you enjoyed creating those little animated flip books when you were a little kid, shoot, maybe you enjoy that as an adult or you desire to act out different actions through a character, so you might then become a character animator.  Or, if you are like me and enjoy some technical challenges as well as cheating reality through modifying and blending together different images, then you might want to become a compositor.  These are just some of the many different jobs an artist can pursue within the visual effects world.  It just depends on what the individual enjoys and is willing to really focus their skills on.

G: In general, do studios look for a “renaissance man” who can do various editing tasks or do they prefer someone with one particular skill?

Sean: In many ways, this question actually depends on the type of studio someone is working at.  Sometimes, if it is a smaller VFX house, the employer is going to be looking to hire an individual who is good at many things (a generalist).  One of the main reasons for this is because it is too expensive to hire one person to do one thing for every single aspect of a boutique-style visual effects pipeline.  But then the opposite is true of larger post-production VFX houses.  These types of studios are typically handling a very large bulk of visual effects shots where they will be looking to typically hire someone who is an expert in one specific aspect of visual effects, such as compositing, lighting, or animating.  All this being said, it can definitely vary from studio-to-studio.  It just really depends on what each VFX house is looking to accomplish with the resources that they are given.

G: For people hoping to enter the VFX world, do you feel with recent events (R&H declaring bankruptcy, DreamWorks layoffs, etc) that this is a poor time to attempt to get in the industry? Is this an optimal time to try and get a job? Is Los Angeles still the best place to search for work or are there other areas with rising demand you can recommend?

Sean: This is a bit of a tricky question.  I don’t think that any time is a bad time to get into the VFX world.  It is more about just making the decision and going for it.  That being said, these current events within the visual effects industry, such as what you mentioned, are rather painful and saddening.  A lot of really talented people have given so much to help establish places like Rhythm & Hues and sadly, the post-production visual effects industry is being affected by certain negative factors that are hopefully going to be addressed in the coming months and years.  This being said, with the globalization of the visual effects industry, opportunities around the world tend to be quite plentiful.  To someone who is starting out their career, there are several major hubs for our industry.  Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, New Zealand, among other places do offer some great opportunities.  Especially if you are willing to travel, then I say go for it!

G: How did you get your big break in the VFX industry when you started out?

Sean: Well, I worked on several VFX-related projects while in college.  The summer before I went to grad school, I actually had an opportunity to work on a really fun independent film which suddenly opened several doors for me.  Then, while in grad school, I was privileged to work remotely as a freelance VFX artist for several studios located both here in LA as well as up in New York.  These opportunities helped to cascade into others and ultimately I was hired by Rhythm & Hues through their apprenticeship program and they moved me out here to Los Angeles, where I’ve lived and worked at a number of pretty awesome studios since then!

G: With Wreck-It Ralph finished and coming out on Blu Ray in a couple of weeks, what projects are you working on now?

Sean: Unfortunately, the projects I am currently on can’t be disclosed because the films haven’t been released yet.

G: Do you have any final tips for someone who is trying to get established in the VFX industry that can help them stand out among the sea of other applicants?

Sean: Make sure you have your best work on your demo reel.  And don’t make it too long.  Do the best that you can and never, ever give up!  Focus on quality and always be willing to work hard with others.  Stay humble and be kind to those around you.  This is a very small industry and you never know who and when you will bump into in the future.  Above all, love what you do!!

Royalty_Free_Music_Orange_468_60_Yellow_Dress_zps3d728d61