Leopard 10.5.3 & ProTools 7.4.2pr

I’ve been running Leopard on my MacBookPro for a few months now and I’ve really enjoyed it, except for ProTools. Digidesign finally released a preview of their update after Apple released 10.5.3.

10.5.3 seems to have solved some AirPort wifi weirdness I was having. I’d log onto a wifi hotspot and my laptop would assign itself a weird ip address even when I’m telling it to get one automatically.

As for ProTools I’ve been using 7.4 on my laptop just for recording with an MBox but would get some kernal panics when using the mBox as my audio output. Hopefully this will fix that and now I can bring over the rest of my ProTools plug-ins and have a functional setup on my laptop.

I have Apple’s Soundtrack Pro and Adobe’s Soundbooth but I can work quicker in ProTools just because I know how to do what I need to do and the plug-ins and workflow mimic an analog workflow.

I’ll put it through some tests for what I do (recording, mixing editing) this weekend and let you know about it later.

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May 30, 2008. Sound, Tech Stuff. Leave a comment.

Royalty Free Music

We’ve been using some BackTrax (I think that’s the right name for their first music library that wasn’t layered files) from Digital Juice for awhile. But to me they are cheesy and unless it’s supposed to be an over the top video I usually don’t like them. I’ve also tried to compose some music in Garage Band or Soundtrack Pro but I’ve never had enough time to really get the music the way I like it.

I know Digital Juice has their StackTraxx library but I’ve never really liked the juicer software and I was never pleased with the BackTraxx library.

I’ve been looking at Sonic Fire Pro. I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about them. I like the mood mapping to easily build emotional breaks into the music. The quality seems to be very good. But I’ve gotten different offers from them about every month to get a deal on Sonic Fire Pro, I’ve fallen into the trap of there will be a better deal soon so I should just wait.

So what are you using for your music behind your videos? Anyone have an opinion on Sonic Fire Pro or StaxTraxx? Or is anyone using something else that is awesome?

May 28, 2008. Sound, Tech Stuff, Video. 2 comments.

Cool Camera Moves

Thought this was a great idea. It’s cheap and the quality is great. Just make sure not to drop your camera.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1281928/video_cam_super_trick/

May 27, 2008. Video. Leave a comment.

Dallas After Effect User Group: March Recap

Just wanted to share a recap of our meeting on Thursday. I was asked to explain text animators. Here’s my notes from the meetings.

Creating Text
Click with text tool (cmd+d) creates point text
Click and drag with text tool creates paragraph text
Right click with text tool converts point to paragraph
cmd+opt+shift creates point text in center of your comp
Commit text by selecting a different tool or enter on number pad
Imported from PS and choose layer/ convert to editable text
Safe Zones

Text Attributes
Font family and font style can be cycled through
Hide Selection with cmd+shift+h

Text Animators:
Source Text: Click on stopwatch to create hold keyframe, move down time and change text.
Add a text animator: Animations are offset of transform values. Set animators for scale, position and color
opt+shift+cmd hides elements hide the layer transform section
Range Selector: What is being affected by this animation. When characters fall outside the selection they are no longer affected by the animation
Start/End: Sets the range affected by the animation. Can be selected by slider or the selector bars in the comp window
If you select text before applying the animator the start and end are set for you
Offset: Moves the range through the text
Advance Tab
Units: Percentage or Index. Index refers to number of characters in the text
Based On: Characters/ characters w/o spaces/ words or lines
Mode: Controls how the range selector selects and interacts with other selectors. Like masks
Amount: Allows you to scale the intensity of the animator
Shape: Controls the transition zone between what is selected and excluded from the animator
Ease High: Refine the shape between what is included
Ease Low: Refines the shape between what is excluded.
It adjusts the Q or width of the transition. Not to be confused with easey ease which affects the speed of the animation.
Randomize: Randomizes the animation
Randomize Seed: Shuffles the deck. The randomness is based on the layer number and animator number
Wiggly Selector:
Mode: Allows you to start and stop the animation based on other selectors
Max/Min: Adjusts the range of adjustments
Based On: Characters/ characters w/o spaces/ words or lines
Wiggles/ Second: How many wiggles per second
Correlation: How similar are the individual character animations to each other
Temporal Phase: Changes the seed in time
Spatial Phase: Changes the seed through the text, Moves the pattern through the text
Lock Dimensions: Keeps x and y adjustments syncd
Random Seed: Generates a new random variation

Presets:
Browse presets from Animation menu or effects and presets pannel
Double click to apply
UU to reveal what is being animated
Save your animation: animation/ save animation

Text Animation Tips:
Motion Blur is your friend
Layer with a particle or other effect to sell the animation

May 26, 2008. Video. Leave a comment.

LED Lighting

We’re looking to add some color to the back of our stage. It’s a short stage so I’m looking for some LED foot lights to act as a color wash. Anyone have any suggestions?

Here’s a picture of our stage.

May 24, 2008. Tech Stuff. 2 comments.

Moving To HD

We’re moving our production to HighDef. We’re still displaying in Church Def. So I’ll have to decide wether I want to display in 720p and live with the letter box or create at Church Def of 960×720 (720p cropped 4:3).

Here’s what I ordered this week and it should be in next week:

Pannasonic HVX200a: The other cameras I considered were the Sony PMW-EX1 and the Sony HVR-Z7U. Both Sony cams have awesome lenses on them but I went with the HVX200a for these reasons:
-More robust format that holds up better under heavy compositing and green screen 4:2:2 color space
-Records to an intra-frame condec which means no conform process on exporting (in HDV or XDCam even if your edits are just cuts, you have to conform your edits to the long-GOP which can be 4 to 10 times longer than real time depending on your system.
-P2 has been around and there is an established workflow with the HVX200
-It was the best bang for the buck. I get more flexability in the formats and frame rates I can shoot and it was the cheapest. About $500 cheaper than the HVR-Z7U and $1500 cheaper than the EX1
-I would have like HD-SDI outputs for the future but I can live without it, especially since I can shoot tethered via FW to a computer.

G-Speed eS 2 TB RAID 5 on a eSata card. Since I’ll be shooting on P2 card and in a format that can take up to 20GB per hour I needed more storage and redundancy if a drive fails. This drive should get me about 150MB/sec for 11 streams in real time. I’ll be archiving my older projects onto 2 1TB drives when I’m done with my work.

503HDV/351MVB2K Tripod and sticks. It seems like a step in the right direction. I would have liked to get a Cartoni setup but I just couldn’t justify the extra cost right now. And it’s something I can upgrade later and move this tripod to our PDX-10 DVCAM that the youth and other ministries will still be using.

I also got a nice bag to go with the camera and I’m upgrading FCP to Studio 2. I ordered everything through Jake at VideoTexSystems here in Dallas. They had great prices (better than B&H) and good service.

I’m just going to be monitoring my video on my current setup. I know it’s not ideal but I have a SD production monitor and I’ll use the Cinema Display in FCP. Down the road I might add a Kona card or a Matrox MXO or MXO2

Hopefully everything will be in next week. I’m sure I’ll take some pics and will be putting up footage as I learn the new camera and workflow.

May 23, 2008. Video. 2 comments.

Dallas After Effects User Group

If you’re in the Dallas Area and use or want to use After Effects join us tonight for our May meeting. It’s tonight, May 22, from 7 to 9 at BlueFishTV. The date’s wrong on the website, it really is tonight.

This is a new group that started last year. But we have a mix of people from pros who are willing to share their wisdom to the weekend warriors using AE for their Indie Film. So where ever your skill maybe in AE I invite you to join us if you’re in the Dallas area.

I’m going to be making a presentation about using Text Animators. We’ll see how it goes.

May 22, 2008. Video. Leave a comment.

High Def Monitoring

For those of you working in High Def, what are you using to monitor your video? Most of my finished videos are played back through projectors on our campus or our digital signage system. I do a few DVDs that get sent out to members of the church from time to time. So I’m looking for the best bang for the buck, but something I’ll be happy with for the long haul. I’m looking at a few options:

Blackmagic Intensity Card. It has HDMI output for about $350 to a consumer plasma or lcd.

AJA Kona Lhe. It has a lot of input and output options with up/down and cross conversion. Plus it’s supposed to accelerate DVCProHD work. I’m 95% sold on getting the HVX200a. But this card is about $1,500 and I think might be overkill.

Matrox MXO I’ve read you can get great results pairing this up with a 23″ HD Apple Cinema Display. It’s output only and uses a DVI output of the Mac.

So my question is for you guys working in HD “What are you guys using to monitor with?”

May 20, 2008. Video. Leave a comment.

Video: Cover Ups?

Here’s a video I made last week. I was given creative freedom but the script was locked down. Our pastor was out of town and not available for editorial questions. I think the video needed a narration to move the story along.

Visually I based it off this template. I then used the old film technique from Andrew Kramer.

Audio is really rough, I should have spent more time on it.

It’s my first video done entirely in HD. So you can watch it in full screen in all it’s HD glory. From start to finish I spent about 4 hours finding pictures, customizing the template, adding audio. Render time? Was about 6 hours!!! Most of that was on my MacBookPro but I noticed on the MacPro in the office AE was not using my processors at max. I’ll have to look into that this week. Anyway here’s the video.

May 19, 2008. Video. Leave a comment.

Automatic Duck: FCP to AE the easy way.

As I’ve written before I’ve found some free ways to get my projects from FCP to AE for free. While they work for very basic shots that are just cuts, that’s all they do. I’ve also gotten inconsistent results on some projects. And there is not tech support.

Well recently I was able to get a copy of Pro Import AE from Automatic Duck. Last week I had a 2 camera shot that I needed to do some AE work on. Mainly color correction, noise removal from 1 camera and then apply a “look” to the shot. I was happy with how the look came out but not so much the video. It was for a sub ministry that they did the edit, I just finished it. The edit I was given was a multicam edit which the free ways don’t do.

Well Automatic Duck was smooth and worked as promised. Within a few minutes I was working on the project in AE. It’s great to see a product that does exactly what it says. I’ll post some screen shots of the video next week. (I’ve already left the office and that’s where the footage is).

If Final Cut and AE are part of your toolset you’ll want to pick this tool up.

May 16, 2008. Video. 1 comment.

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