Information Bar Fill Lower Thirds …

If you look in the FCPX Titles Effects Browser under the Lower Thirds Category you will notice an Information Bar Lower Thirds. The is a bundled FCPX Title. The title itself is actually quite stylish. It’s subtle, with a semitransparent black bar and customizable text positioned on two lines.

A few days ago I was sifting through a forum and noticed a post by a member who uses this title regularly. He was asking for help regarding the opacity of the “bar.” Basically it’s opacity was not customizable. It was preset to somewhere around 50%. The forum member politely asked if someone could possibly load up the title in Motion, tweak in an Opacity slider for the bar, and make it available. I knew this would be easy, especially if the default Title supported the “Open a copy in Motion” option. It did and the rest is history.

If you review the settings snapshot below you will notice I added additional options that make my version much more useful, at least for me. I added support for Global Y Positioning (more on this below), Fade In/Out Frames, Bar Opacity, Bar Left Indent, and Bar Roundness.

ib-matrix

By default the Title places the text within the 1.78:1 Title Safe Area located at the bottom left of the zone. The Global Y Position setting allows the operator to cumulatively move all Title elements up on the Y axis to 2.35:1 Title Safe positioning.

The Original version of the Title has two check boxes that control whether all elements fade in and/or out. I added Fade in and Fade Out sliders that support frame by frame customization. Setting the sliders to zero results in no fading.

Bar Opacity is now supported. I believe I set this up to default to 50% Opacity. Regardless – it’s now fully customizable.

Bar Left Indent is an interesting setting. Notice there is also a Bar Roundness setting that will change the shape of the bar. Since by default the bar is anchored to the left of the image frame, applying roundness to it results in a partially obstructed left edge. The Bar Left Indent setting moves the bar’s left edge in a few pixels to the right to compensate. In fact It can be used without any roundness applied as well for creative purposes.

There have been some reports of font change instability. In fact this behavior is also present in the original version of the Title. I found this to be not that big of a deal.

The Installer will place the Title in the FCPX Titles Browser under the Custom Lower Thirds Category/Information Bar Theme.

-paul.

Download

Technorati Tags: , ,

spotPoint Lighting Duo …

spotPoint Lighting Duo is now available for download. This version features simultaneous use and control of Spot and Point Lighting. I decided to build this out as an Effect. So there is no control for text as previously suggested.

Please read the following Notes prior to installing:

I decided to use a standard installer package as a delivery mechanism as opposed to the custom version that I wrote. I could have built a new custom installer for the Duo version and distributed it independently. Or I could have set things up to give the user the option to install one version or the other (Original / Duo) – or both. This would have required much more code. The package installer that I am using already supports this. It is easier to build and maintain, especially when multiple versions of a plugin are slated for distribution.

If you look in the Customize section of the installer you will see the original version of spotPoint Lighting as well as the new Duo version. spotPoint.1 is the same exact version as the original release. The only thing that is different is the FCPX Browser display thumbnail. If you have the previous version installed and elect to reinstall it – the existing version will be overwritten. You should not notice any difference except for the visual change of the browser thumbnail.

By the way these installer packages are easy to create. If you are developing and distributing Motion Templates and need help with creating an installer package, ping me. I’d be happy to walk you through it. I’m looking into building some sort of auto-notification system (like Sparkle) that would alert the user when new plugin versions or updates are available. The community needs something like this that is non-obtrusive to the user.

-paul.

spotPoint Lighting Duo

Download

sp-duo

Technorati Tags: , ,

spotPoint Lighting – Simultaneously …

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.

-paul.

spot-matrix

spotPoint Lighting for FCP X …

I’m distributing a new effect that offers some interesting control for simulated Spot and Point lighting of your video shots:

spotPoint Lighting

splight

As noted there are two Light Source options:Spot and Point. You can set the color of the light to suit your needs. Global controls include Intensity, Falloff, and Falloff Start. There are two dedicated controls for the Spot source:Spread Control and Edge Softener. The positioning of the light is controlled by a Drag Target. Incidentally both light sources are flat and frontal.

I really like the Point source lighting. You can create some very interesting looks and cinematic mood lighting scenarios., especially when experimenting with different color light sources.

Check out the produceNewMedia Vimeo Page for a demo. There is also a demo for Cinemascope Toolkit on that page as well.

In case you are wondering why I didn’t embed the video – for some reason I’m having problems with the Vimeo player when it is resized to fit into the supported area of my site theme (within a blog post). I am looking into it …

The custom installer will send the effect to a new Lightsource Category located in your FCPX Effects Browser.

-paul.

spotPoint Lighting

Download

Technorati Tags: , ,

Film Zone

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).

-paul.

Download Cinemascope Toolkit

Technorati Tags:

Safe Zones

Cinemascope Toolkit ver.1.1 was released yesterday. I added the ability to display 2.35:1 Safe Zones (Yellow or Blue) to clip(s) where the filter is applied. When the Safe Zones option is switched on the underlying clips’ opacity is reduced to about 30%.

Below I use the Yellow Safe Zones for better visibility.

The Rotation parameter is also new. Instead of publishing the default Motion circular knob object to control this effect I used a slider. Moving it in either direction rotates the video image CW/CCW up to +/- 20°. Keep in mind you may need to adjust the scale of the image to compensate for the rotation of the frame. It all depends on how you decide to frame your image within the letterbox matte(s).

I needed to export a still of the shot below @2.35:1. Notice in the top example the image framing is off. Pulling the Rotation slider slightly to the left fixed the problem. The exported (cropped) image looks much better.

One slight issue with this tool is that it is an “Effect.” This means it is applied on a clip by clip basis. Not a problem. However if for example you switch on the Safe Zones and reduce the clip’s Exposure/Highlights – the visibility of the Safe Zones are equally affected. If the toolkit was built as a Title or Generator, this would not be the case. OTOH Titles and Generators add additional clutter in your timeline. Also, any image manipulation to the underlying video (scale, position, etc.) from within the Title or Generator would be applied globally to everything below it. Obviously a problem. The ability to apply this kit as an Effect makes it much more useful …

-paul.

Download Cinemascope Toolkit

Technorati Tags:

Cinemascope Toolkit …

I’ve released my Cinemascope Toolkit. The package includes a basic 2.35:1 matte (“Cinemascope Crop”) created in Motion and wrapped in a FCP X Effect. The Effect supports video Scale control and X/Y positioning. I’ve also included four Compressor Presets that output cropped MPEG-4/H.264 videos. Frame things up in FCP X and output using one of the presets for 2.35:1 aspect ratios.

The Installer is hard coded in Objective-C. All asset routing will be handled automatically when you run the installer. The Effect will be installed in a Matte Category under a Widescreen Theme in the FCP X Effects Browser. The Compressor Presets will be located in the Settings window under the Custom/CinemaScope Presets – Settings Group.

You can edit whatever is defined by the installer. For example I did not edit the naming convention that I use for my Compressor Presets. They all begin with the first four letters of my name. And of course the preset parameters can be edited to suit your needs.

You can customize the FCP Category and Theme as well. After installing the toolkit – pull the Cinemascope Crop folder out of the ~/Movies/Motion Templates/Effects/Mattes folder. Use my toMotion application to customize.

Download Cinemascope Toolkit

-paul.

Technorati Tags:

Final Cut Pro Offline Edit with ProRes Proxy…

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.


The Workflow:

  • Set up the FCP Project and Sequence. My sequences are typically 1080p/24.
  • Add a new Bin in the FCP Browser and designate it as the Logging Bin.
  • Mount media and run Log and Transfer. From the Import Preferences Action Popup menu, set ProRes Proxy as the ingest transcode format.
  • Log and Transfer clips into the project. Before closing Log and Transfer, reset the ingest transcode format to ProRes 422.
  • Close Log and Transfer and edit clips into sequence.

  • Reconnect Media

  • Select the project sequence in the Browser. From the FCP menu, run Media Manager: File/Media Manager. Create an Offline Sequence and set to ProRes 422.


  • Name and save the new Sequence. A new tab will appear in the FCP Browser that includes the duplicate sequence and it’s offline clips.
  • Select the new sequence. From the FCP Menu: File/Batch Capture.
  • Choose All Offline Items in Selection from the displayed Re-Import popup menu. Log and Transfer will run and recapture the sequence clips as ProRes 422 versions.
  • Finish and output.
  • 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 …

    -ptfigg.

    Technorati Tags: , ,

    Panasonic AG-HMC150 AVCCAM

    hmc-150-for_blog.tiff As noted I purchased a Canon HF-S100 camcorder and returned it immediately. In fact the camera was repackaged and shipped back to B&H on the same day it was delivered. Besides my careless research (see the previous post), the camera felt like a $1K toy. B&H provided a full refund.

    I moved forward and purchased the solid state Panasonic AG-HMC150 (AVCHD) Hi Definition AVCCAM. The camera is in short supply due to it’s enormous popularity. It debuted at NAB 2008 and hit the street in October. After a few months in circulation shooters embraced it and the rest is history.

    SDHC_for_blog.jpeg

    The camera records to inexpensive SDHC memory cards. Footage is easily ingested into Final Cut Pro using the Log and Transfer mode. Due to the high efficiency of the AVCHD format you can record approximately 100 minutes of the highest quality (1080/24p) video on a 16 gig card that sells for about 70 bucks. AVCHD is essentially high definition H.264 (MPEG-4) video. The tapeless workflow is a major plus.

    Additional features worth noting:

    • 28 mm Wide Angle lens

    • Full manual control. Large manual focusing ring with focus assist

    • Recording Formats: PH (high quality) mode: 1080/60i, 1080/30p (over 60i), 1080/24p (native), 720/60p, 720/30p (over 60p) and 720/24p (native). Lower quality settings are limited to 1080/60i.

    • Waveform monitor for accurate exposure control

    • Dual XLR audio inputs (mic or line) with 48v phantom power

    • Extensive support for operational presets. Panasonic refers to presets as “Scene Files.” The default scene files can be edited/backed up and saved on to the camera’s SDHC card and transfered to a computer for future use (the files are standard .txt files).

    • A host of professional picture control and operational settings

    Let me also mention that iMovie ’09 supports AVCHD video with one caveat relative to this camera: no support for 24p footage. You’re limited to 30p (29.97 fps). The full 1920×1080 resolution is supported.

    A few minor issues:

    For serious extended shooting the stock battery is insufficient. The optional 3 hr. battery runs about $150.00. The on-board stereo mic is of low quality. Not a surprise. A logical choice is the Audio Technica AT875R ($199.00).

    So far the camera is impressive. I’ll be posting additional information about the camera in the coming weeks …

    -paul.

    Technorati Tags:
    , ,