Thursday, March 31, 2011

Super Quick Generic Backgrounds Part 2

I mentioned one quickie way to make an on-the-spot-background here, so I thought I'd mention another fast way to produce unique backgrounds when you're limited by time and/or options.

1. Grab a still image or a freeze frame (Shift + N) from your footage. Pick something with colors that match the project you're cutting or at least fit the mood.

2. Dump it into the Timeline and add Gaussian Blur. Video Filters > Blur. Really just about any type of massive blur will work here. The key is to blur it by a huge amount.

3. Scale up the blurred image by a bunch, 300% or more even.

4. Keyframe it so it slowly rotates, or slides left or right or moves up or down, up to you. Slow adds the feel of it being animated when it's not. Experiment with different speeds and/or different areas of the image; you'll be surprised how animated it can end up looking.

It can work particularly well beneath some generic text or title cards. It may not be the prettiest but when the clock is ticking…

Keeping Hard Drives Spinning for Free (and fun)

I've been "in the field", literally on-location and during setups I get bored. No internet per se, and not many games on the laptop I have sitting here. I've noticed that the external hard drives here will spin down after 5mins or so of inactivity and it's annoying to have to wait for them to spin up when I decide to do something in FCP, so I tried a few things to keep them spinning.

There are things out there like Disksomnia which are FREE and work but if you don't have internet and are as bored as I am you wanna start messing around.

One simple (yet fairly inefficient) solution I found was to have Quicktime Player loop a file that's placed on the drive that's spinning down.

1. In FCP drop in an audio Slug. Video Generators > Slug
2. Export it as an .aiff to the hard drive that keeps spinning down.
3. Open it in Quicktime Player and set it to loop (Command + L).
4. Hide Quicktime Player (Command + H).

It's not efficient because while it works silently in the background it will eat up a significant bit of CPU if you check it with Activity Monitor; but still, it's free and something that can be done with (arguably if you have the now optional QT7 install, installed) what you already have.

Fixing Offset Audio Levels

MANY, many people will offset audio levels while on set to avoid having the audio peak. For example they'll set channel 2 to be lower than channel 1.

This way when the audio does peak, it'll peak in channel 1 but not in 2 so you have clean audio. It's a great  zero-cost way to have a little insurance that you have clean un-peaked audio. But it's a pain to clean up in post if you don't know about it before hand.

Tip #1: Listen to the footage with a decent pair of headphones.

An edit I'm working with now has the audio levels all over the place. My guess is that when they were shooting the cameraperson adjusted the audio levels on the camera when he or she remembered to; it's not consistent at all.

Here's my quick fix for it…after it's been dropped into a timeline. Ideally you'd only set one target audio track in the Timeline then center and boost from there but if your assistant didn't check the audio with headphones before hand…

In this case I only need channels 1 & 2.

1. Highlight the clip with the offset audio levels. In this case Ch1 is GOOD Ch2 is BAD.
2. Hit Option + L which is Toggle Stereo Pair. You'll see the "bow ties" on the clip vanish.
3. Hold down Option and click on the BAD channel, in this case Ch2. This lets you highlight just one of the stereo tracks.
4. With the BAD track as the only thing highlighted hit Control + B for Toggle Clip Enable. This will un-enable that channel. Disenable? Nonenable?
5. Hold down Option and click on the GOOD channel.
6. Now, hit Control + . (period). This will Pan Center the audio track.
7. If you need to boost it's level you can:

A: While it's still highlighted hit Control + + (plus) or - (minus) to bring it up or down 1 dB at a time, or use Control + ] (right bracket) or [ (left bracket) to bring it up in increments of I think, 3 dBs at a time.

B: While the clip is highlighted hit Option + Command + L to adjust Levels… (Unless you know the dB of the clip as is I suggest using "Absolute" here)

C: Head to Modify > Audio > Apply Normalization Gain (this does not have a key command by default, unfortunately) This will set the loudest portion of the audio to what you tell it here.

Be aware that if you try to set the audio tracks back as a stereo pair via Option + L after you make adjustments you'll undo most of the audio work you just did. I just leave them un-stereo-paired.

I prefer trying these in this order as usually option A works for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Video Editing Is Everywhere

First Youtube released rudimentary video editing capabilities, then we had iMovie on iPhone and iPad and now Vimeo has a video editing app for iPhone (and iPad?).

"An easy-to-use video editor

• Capture video with focus control and grid alignment
• Combine, edit, and trim your videos
• Add transitions, titles, and effects
• Add music and recordings
• Control volume levels
• Save edited videos to your camera roll or upload directly to Vimeo

The whole Vimeo experience

• Watch and manage all your existing Vimeo videos and download them to your camera roll
• Easily upload your raw footage or edited creations in HD or SD
• Pause and resume uploads
• Replace existing videos
• Edit title, description, tags, privacy and credits
• Share with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Email or SMS
• Add your clips to your Groups, Channels and Albums
• Stats on daily plays, likes and comments"

We're going to be seeing on-set editing more and more I'll bet; rough cuts right then and there. I've already experimented a bit with this just goofing around on set and I can see it coming into it's own soon. I just loathe the day that clients want to see a rough cut the same day as the shoot and expect it to be sent to them before the crew heads home.