Friday, March 7, 2008

Speaking of audio files...

If a client happens to hand you a bunch of .ape or .wv files for the projects's audio, one tool that can help convert them to something you can actually use is X Lossless Decoder. It can convert the following:

(Ogg) FLAC (.flac/.ogg)
Monkey's Audio (.ape)
Wavpack (.wv)
TTA (.tta)
Apple Lossless (.m4a) [10.4 and later]
AIFF, WAV, etc

And, it's free!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mp3 Audio Files

It's okay to use .mp3 files in FCP's timeline in a pinch, (.aiff is preferred) but you'll need to render the audio (usually) first. If you don't render it you'll hear FCP beep repeatedly until you do something about it. A quick way to check to see if you need to render your audio (aside from hearing the beeps) is to look at the two thin render indicator lines at the top of your timeline. If the bottom one is red (hold your mouse over it to get a pop up with info) you need to render your audio.

Why not just render all? Well, if you have effects that are previewed (green bars or even yellow) and just want to check the audio sync or timing you can save rendertime by just rendering your audio. A quick way to do this is to tap Control + Option + R which will just render your audio and leave your video tracks untouched.

Btw, a really fast way to convert .mp3s into .aiff is to open the .mp3 in Quicktime Player, then Export them as .aiff.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


FrameByFrame is a simple, free stop-motion application. It's pretty basic but what it does it does well. Don't expect any high-end features but if you're looking for a bare-bones stop-motion app this isn't a bad one to start with. For a more feature-rich stop-motion tool I'd recommend iStopMotion which is about $50 I think.


VideoSpec is a small free application that tells you the specs of a video file and will even compare two video files. It's basically a one trick pony at this point but it could end up being a very helpful little app.

Glue Tools Cine Toolkit

If you deal in high-speed shooting you'll be happy to know Glue Tools updated their Cine quicktime toolkit today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Edit In-Decision Lists and Commas

Is it just me and my clients? Whenever they send me change lists it seems like there are never any commas in their cryptic lists of changes. Not only are there no commas, but numbers denoting each item (as in a numbered list) are absent so it's difficult to tell where one run-on paragraph of a change ends and another one begins.

What's fun is calling them after receiving the email and asking "Yeah, number 6 on the change list, I was wondering what 'edit point(,) back behind first scream(,) on last scene(,) needs improvement' means....No my list isn't numbered either. I'll wait."

Also reading "imporvment" and "needs be better" is always enlightening. Not to mention getting these changelists emailed to you usually around 5pm. Oh, and for the record it's "Inpoint", "InPoint" or "In-Point" not "in point". And "a sec" could mean to an editor literally one full second (an eternity in a 30 second spot) or just a 'lil bit; be specific.

I'm thinking that I can just take all the commas they forget and tack them onto my invoice and see if they notice.

Finder Not Loading with EXT HD Attached

Thought this would be relevant since many people edit with external drives:

Finder may not load with external drive connected in Mac OS X 10.5.2

Issue or symptom
The Finder may not load in Mac OS X 10.5.2 after connecting a third-party external storage drive. The menu bar may appear to "flicker," or desktop icons may repeatedly disappear and reappear.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fast & Cheap Ken Burns Effect in Final Cut Pro

So you want or need a Ken Burns effect quickly and you don't have $50 for a plug-in and don't want or feel like messing with Keyframes. What's another option?

iPhoto. It's free and you already have it installed. The Golden Triangle applies here: Good, Fast, Cheap…Choose Two.

With iPhoto you'll get Fast and Cheap since the export will be limited to 640 x 480.

So how do you do it?

1. Load your photos for the Ken Burns Effect into iPhoto.
2. Select them all in iPhoto so they're all highlighted.
3. Click on the little "+" plus sign at the bottom left of the iPhoto interface.
4. Fourth from the left, or Fourth from the right, click on "Slideshow".
5. Name it, Make sure "Use selected items in new slideshow" is ticked, and hit Create.
6. From here tick ""Ken Burns Effect".
7. Hit the "Music" button with the iTunes icon and at the top of this sheet UNTICK "Play music during slideshow". Hit OK.
(OPTIONAL) Leave Effect and Transition alone if you want the Ken Burns look, but feel free to experiment with them though.
8. Tap Preview for a quick preview of the slideshow or Play to actually watch it. (Tap Escape to cancel the slideshow if you hit Play and have seen enough) (iPhoto will start the Play from the image that's highlighted.
9. Click Settings with the gear icon if you want to adjust the duration of the slides (images). The default duration is 3 seconds. You should leave "Automatic Ken Burns Effect" ticked. Repeat Slideshow doesn't really matter since we're going to export this slideshow as a movie file.
10. Optional - If you want to adjust the duration of a particular slide, click it in the timeline at the time (or use the arrow key buttons on the bottom left) to highlight it, then click "Adjust". If you want to fine tune a photo's "Ken Burnsiness" then Tick "Ken Burns Effect" and adjust Start or End, the Zoom and by dragging it around the starting position of the image. (Keep in mind the speed of the Ken Burns zooms is a function of the initial zoom position of the image and the duration it's on screen)
11. Hit Shift + Command + E to Export it. From the export dialog choose Large (640 x 480) [I'm not sure if iPhoto supports larger exports than that, more experimenting is needed] then select where you want it saved, give it a name and hit the Export button.

You'll end up with a .mov (MPEG4) 640 x 480 movie of your slide show you can then dump into FCP. Is this the best way to do this? Absolutely not; but it's fast. If you want a Cheap, Good -but not Fast- way to do this you'll need to bring all your photos into FCP then Keyframe moves on them (I suggest doing 10 moves then repeating them over and over with Option + V but that's for another post).