Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quickly Editing Scratch Track Voice Overs

Sometimes you don't have the professional VO talent yet so you lay down a scratch track VO to rough the edit to. When doing long projects like this I've gotten into the habit of listening to the scratch track VO at 2x speed (Tap the L key twice) so running through them and cutting out the mistakes takes a lot less time.

And since it's a scratch track it's not terribly important or worth taking too much time on. For me (and likely for you) the scratch track is just a reference VO to get shots in order and very roughly timed in.

FCP has some pretty decent scrubbing abilities (Unlike Audacity…still) so use them to shorten some of the time spent with stuff like this.

Keep the script in front of you and follow along and you shouldn't have too much trouble keeping up at 2x speed; just remember to listen for long pauses (which will be shortened relatively), mistakes and all that fun stuff…like sneezes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Super Quick Generic Backgrounds for Green Screen

You have footage from a client that's green screen and need something…anything for the background right now!

Try this:

1. Find a still image, really just about anything and bring it into FCP.
2. Drop it in under the green screen person that you've already keyed.
3. Add Gaussian Blur - try 20 or so.
4. Add "Stripes" which is here: Video Filters > Distort > Stripes
5. Monkey with the Offset.

Try various levels of blur and different still images or frame grabs from the same project (just don't let the client see you do this :) (It's Shift + N, btw)

You can use video clips as well but they may take a little bit to render. Try slowing them down and/or key-framing the Offset parameter.

Using A Zoom H4n To Record Directly Into Final Cut Pro

You probably already have or at least know about Zoom's H4n. It shows up on lots of indie films and industrials now days. I have one I love and use pretty often for VOs.

A friend was surprised when I showed them how you can use the H4n to record directly into Final Cut Pro using the (Option + 0) -that's a zero- Voice Over tool.

1. Set up Final Cut so you're ready to record the VO.
2. Plug in the H4n using a USB cable.
3. THEN turn it on. (you can plug in the USB cable and select it after, but it's likely your H4n is off to begin with)

Note: the H4n may turn on automatically when you plug in the USB cable. There's an issue here that you may run into and should be aware of: if you hear a whine noise or some how unclean audio try plugging the H4n into it's AC power THEN turn it on, THEN plug in the USB cable and then go to Menu > Audio I/F > Connect. Don't forget to select your Frequency if you need to.

4. Select "Audio I/F"
4. Choose your kHz.
5. Select "Connect".
6. In FCP hit Option + 0 to open the VO Tool window.
7. Under "Source" select "H4".
8. In your TimeLine set an In and Out point for the VO

(NO you don't need to lay video slugs down to record VO…although that works as well, my friend's method, btw)

9. Hit record in the VO Tool window.


If you want to use your H4n to record directly into Audacity, say on a laptop that can't run FCP or something, you need to first go to Audacity's preferences and go to Devices > Recording > Device then select "H4" there then hit Ok.

You can also select the H4n as a playback device if needed, routing audio from the Mac to the H4n.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why are my photos so dark in Final Cut Pro? or CMYK vs RGB

Be cautious of still images some clients provide to you; they may be the ones they use for printing so use CMYK rather than RGB which is what FCP likes.

If the colors are WAY off or the image is just dark and no matter of color correction, brightness or contrast monkeying will bring it up to a useable level, check the color space of the image.

FCP won't tell you.

You can quickly find out two ways:

1. Get Info on the image in the Finder. Look for "Color Space".
2. Open the image in Preview and hit Command + I for the Inspector. The first tab will show the image's "Color Model".

To fix Save As… and RGB image in your favorite image processor.

Btw, a fast way to fix a whole mess of images (other than a batch process in Photoshop) is to use ColorSync Utility. What? (yes, I know it's from 2009…)

1. In the Finder hit Shift + Command + U to open your Utilities folder
2. Hit the C key to highlight ColorSync Utility
3. Drag your image onto it's icon to open it in ColorSync Utility (or right-click on it and use Open With…)
4. At the bottom of the window you'll see a pull-down, set it to "Apply Profile"
5. Then to the right of that in the middle pull-down select "Display" > "Adobe RGB (1998)" (or whatever you need)
6. Hit "Apply"
7. Save or Save As…

You can also make an Automator script/application.

1. Launch Automator which is in your Applications folder.
2. Click on "Photos" under the Library
3. Drag "Apply ColorSync Profile to Images" to the workflow window on the right.
4. Automator will ask you if you want to make copies of images you alter in case it screws up the originals. I choose yes, but that's me.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT CHECK "Preserve original color space" (that defeats the whole purpose of this Automator App you're making)

5. Save As… an Application. Name it.
6. You'll have your very own (super simple) RGB converter application on your desktop. Drag images onto it to convert them to RGB.

As it, it'll copy images to your desktop and that can get mess if you have a lot of images. Where you see "Desktop" in the top action you can select it to any folder you want to to keep things tidy.

What I do is to make a folder called something like "Converted to RGB", then tell the App to use that folder for the converted copies of the images, then place the App itself inside this folder. Then all I have to do is drag a pile of CMYK images to the app in this folder and watch it populate with converted still images. It keeps things neat and organized.

A way to be further organized -if you need to convert images often- is to place the "Converted to RGB" folder in your Documents folder and then drag it into the Finder's window sidebar. Then, drag the app you've made into the top of a Finder window for easy access. That's just one idea, there are myriad ways to organize this.

Another option is to make it a Folder Action or a Service rather than an Application, but I'll leave that for you to explore :)

Renders need Re-rendering

Do your renders in FCP's Timeline suddenly seem to un-render themselves? A friend called me a few moments ago in a panic saying that FCP was freaking out and un-rendering, seeming at random.

To make a long story short: he didn't realize that a previous project's test Render Files folder was still being used by FCP...while it was in the Trash.

Solution: Drag it out of the Trash or tell FCP to use another folder (stay organized, though).