I’m working on the next version of spotPoint Lighting. The next version will include simultaneous use and control of Spot and Point Lights. The example below is actually a Title as opposed to the Effect that was initially released. I’m trying to decide which format would be more useful. Having two independent text layers right within the package is definitely a plus. OTOH Effects are much cleaner implementations, and least for me – all due to their ability to be applied to individual clips. Titles are fine for timeline compositing. They do add a bit of clutter to the mix …
Below I used the Spot Light to warm up the sky independent of the Point Light.
Cinemascope Toolkit ver.1.2 has been released. The Crop Guides popup now displays one of three options:Letterbox, Film Zone, Letterbox and Film Zone. The Film Zone is essentially a set of colored cropping guides less the letterbox matte(s). Viewing the underlying clip with the Film Zone displayed on it’s own makes it easy to view what is being cropped. Also, the Film Zone display works well when the underlying clip is very dark at the top and/or bottom of the frame. You can set the Film Zone color to orange (default), black, or white.
Also new in this release is the capability to reposition the clip manually by clicking and dragging the center point object (Drag Target). When doing so the clip positioning sliders in the EFX UI will update accordingly.
Here is a look at the new controls:
In the image matrix below you can see the top clip was repositioned (and scaled). The visible Film Zone clearly displays the 2.35:1 frame. In the middle image the 2.35:1 Safe Zones are displayed along with the Film Zone. Note the clips reduced opacity. The bottom image is the cropped output.
Please note you must set the FCP X Player Background to Black when using Cinemascope Toolkit. Do this in the application Preferences/Playback. When you switch on the Safe Zones display the clip opacity is reduced. This provides a clear view of the zones. If the player background is set to Checkerboard, there’s nothing behind the clip – it’s transparent. The clip’s opacity reduction will be prevelant and this feature will be useless.
Also – I designed the matting system to be independent of the clip’s image layer. Any agressive grading or exposure adjustments will have no effect on the visual state of the letterbox matte(s).
New Software Updates:
checkDefinitions 1.5 … with a customized Authentication Panel, a date string that displays the last attempted forced update, and UI tweaks.
aspectRatio 1.12 … with improved key mapping for custom conversions and UI tweaks.
The one feature missing from the current version of checkDefinitions is the ability to manually trigger a sort of “update now” operation for your Security Definitions. What most people are recommending is that users open System Preferences and navigate to the Security pane. You then need to click the lock that will display the Admin Password Authentication dialog. After authentication the user must toggle the Automatically update safe downloads list preference flag. This will force your system to ping Apple and check the status of your current Definitions.
The second way to do this is by running a unix sudo executable from the Command line. This operation will also require Password Authentication.
Anyway … there are a few developers out there offering applications similar in concept to my checkDefinitions app. From what I can see (in most cases) they are implementing AppleScripts to access the Security preference to force the check update operation.
One thing I’ve been doing lately is experimenting with the Terminal. I thought it would be cool to write a shell script, make it an executable, and figure out some way to integrate it with checkDefinitions.
After design and testing I decided not to bundle the shell script file with the application source. I need to figure out why the addition of the script file to the source bundle results in successful Builds and unsuccessful Runs. In other words – the code compiles and the main UI window fails to run.
At this point the shell script executable needs to be placed in a specific folder on the users system. After doing so pressing the Eject button on the main window quits the app., the Terminal launches, and the script does it’s thing. After the user authenticates the system’s Definitions will be updated (if necessary) and status is reported. The next time you run checkDefinitions the current status of your Definitions will be displayed.
It sounds a bit hack-ish, but to be honest it works pretty well. In fact the shell script executable is a handy little utility that can be used on it’s own for customized use. By the way I forgot to mention I’m using Apple’s PackageMaker application for distribution of this version. The advantage of this is I am able to add both applications (checkDefinitions and the shell script) to the distribution bundle and specify where they need to be placed on the user’s system. The important thing here is I am able to send the shell script file to where it needs to be and checkDefinitions will know where to look for it …
Version 1.3 of checkDefinitions including the Force Update via Terminal feature is now available for Download and in the Sparkle feed.
A few notes:
Please read the update notes and Disclaimer displayed in the auto-update (Sparkle) window or in the ReadMe file included in the direct download disc image. I was able to figure out how to include the shell script(s) in the application bundle. It is for this reason package installers are no longer necessary.
Last eve I was sifting through the Apple App Store looking for a simple utility to quickly convert RGB color values to corresponding float values (RGB integer / 255 = float). I decided to build my own Cocoa application with a few added enhancements.
High-res Image: colorFloat
Run the standard OSX Color Picker and press the second toolBar option (Color Sliders). Select the RGB Sliders option in the popup menu. Notice each RGB value changes as you move through the color spectrum. We can divide each one of the displayed values by 255 to return float values that can be used in source code authoring. In colorFloat the user adds an input RGB value (x3), converts, and appends each conversion result to the desired color channel. The final action displays the corresponding color for confirmation.
I also built in support for what I refer to as Dynamic Floats. Notice the Dynamic Floats HUD located in the high-res image. The Float value strings change dynamically as you move around the color wheel or change the values of the RGB sliders. This feature allows the user to easily sift through the color spectrum to view corresponding floats in real time.
Lastly, I added a simple Palette that consists of five Color Wells. The user can store colors for future access.
The app. turned out pretty well. I found it interesting to take a break from QTKit and explore a few unfamiliar Cocoa Classes.
When I find the time I’ll be writing about a bunch of new stuff, mainly Adobe Audition for the Mac, Final Cut Pro X, and a new media playback application that I am finishing up with interesting support for images captured with one of my favorite iPhone apps. – Panascout. Lastly, FiRe 2 … an awesome iPhone audio recorder that supports waveform editing and audio processing.
It has been documented that the newly released feature film “Eat Pray Love” staring Julia Roberts was edited entirely on a Final Cut Pro workstation.
I found this most interesting:
“The editors found an efficient solution in ProRes 422 (Proxy), a new version of the Apple ProRes codec introduced with Final Cut Pro 7. As soon as dailies arrived from EFILM, Assistant Editor Doc Crotzer would transcode the files from ProRes 422 (HQ) to ProRes 422 (Proxy), organize the footage into bins, and prepare the material for editing.”
Review this chart, and notice the variations in data rates of the ProRes family of codecs:
Obviously lower data rates = smaller file sizes. The bottom line is working with ProRes Proxy files (Offline copies of original ProRes 422/HQ files) creates a much more efficient workflow that is less taxing on any system.
I’ve adopted a slick method using my iMac for rough cutting ingested AVCHD footage that has been transcoded to ProRes Proxy via Final Cut Pro’s Log and Transfer. Depending on the complexity of the finished project sequence, I can finish and output on the iMac, or – move the project and it’s assets over to my MacPro for finishing. The key is prior to outputting, the edited Proxy clips can be re-captured and replaced with higher quality ProRes versions.
If you edit on an iMac, a Mac Portable with an external FW800 hard drive, or if you are looking for a more efficient large-scale project workflow – try this method. It works well for me …
While we are on the subject of software development …
I’ve just completed building a new Software Development Kit that explains how to implement standard Java based site popup windows. I’m referring to the basic method that I am using on this site to display Screencasts via the siteMediaConsole link, located in the upper right sidebar.
The SDK includes two HTML documents that can be customized and edited to suit your needs. I’ve also included a short sample Quicktime movie that can be used as embedded media based on the preexisting code in the files. Simply upload the movie to your server and prepare the files.
The HTML documents require a few simple edits prior to uploading [URL references that will point your browser to these files]. After all is said and done you will be able to test the popup implementation prior to customization.
Lastly I included detailed documentation, as well as a Quick-Start Guide to bring you up to speed in no time.
Disclaimer: This implementation requires basic HTML authoring skills. Apply at your own risk.