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February 16, 2009

Everyday Timesavers!

There’s a new series on AdobeTv to be aware of called Everyday Timesavers, featuring Rufus Deuchler, Julianne Kost, Greg Rewis, Paul Burnett, Jason Levine, and myself. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see short videos covering just a few of the ways that CS4 can save you time in everyday tasks. Jason is leading off the Production Premium videos, showing how the new Speech Search works, and can save TONS of time finding the clip you’re looking for. Check it out!

February 12, 2009

Not using 64-bit Vista yet? You should…

It’s time. The perfect storm has finally come together to move to 64-bit Windows computing. For a long time, people have asked about 64-bit Windows XP, and I’ve never given it the thumbs-up. There were too many driver issues with it, and it was never widely adopted. Microsoft used Vista as the official crossover point from 32-bit to 64-bit, and it shows in the amount of drivers that are available for it.

You may not be aware of it, but there have been several changes made to After Effects and Premiere Pro CS4 that make switching to 64-bit Windows a really good idea. Both applications can definitely take advantage of more RAM, and the only way to use more than 4**GB is to switch to 64-bit. For example, Premiere Pro CS4 will automatically use the additional RAM in a 64-bit system by making copies of itself in memory for every 4GB your timeline needs. With RAM as cheap as it is, getting 16GB or even more is an easy way of boosting performance in Premiere Pro. But you have to be running 64-bit to do it.

Now, before you get started upgrading, make sure your system has 64-bit drivers available for it. The one disadvantage of 64-bit Windows is finding drivers. Specific Vista 64-bit drivers are necessary in order to run your hardware – the regular 32-bit drivers won’t work. My home system uses an ASUS motherboard, and a quick check of the ASUS support site shows a full set of 64-bit drivers for my motherboard.

Also, make sure your copy of Vista has SP1 installed. Service Pack 1 is required for CS4, and you really don’t want to be running Vista without it. Most of the posts out there complaining about Vista instability were written prior to SP1, so keep that in mind.

Once you have everything in place – 64-bit Vista running, drivers installed, CS4 installed, here are some tips to maximize performance:

* For Premiere Pro, you don’t have to do much of anything. Just make sure you’ve upgraded to 4.01, since some of these changes were added in the free incremental update. Premiere Pro will now utilize more than 4GB of RAM in the system by making multiple instances of itself each time 4GB has been used.

* For After Effects, you’ll want to go into the Preferences – Memory & Multiprocessing panel, and adjust the amount of memory per core. AE will also instance itself, but it does this per CPU core, and each core can utilize 4GB.

Here are a couple of good resources for understanding how AE uses RAM:

http://help.adobe.com/en_US/AfterEffects/9.0/WS9F936D13-E76A-41e4-BF8F-577132AB4723a.html

http://help.adobe.com/en_US/AfterEffects/9.0/WSDD65B476-971A-48e9-A5FD-D90E9A2B996E.html

(Thanks, Todd, for the links!)

For those Mac users still reading, both of these features are in the Mac version, so you don’t need to do anything special to use more than 4GB of RAM.

**4GB is the theoretical maximum under 32-bit Windows, but many applications won’t be able to use all 4GB of RAM due to OS overhead. For example, After Effects can usually only access 2GB of RAM in 32-bit Windows. There’s a hack to enable up to 3GB, but that’s the maximum. (Hack info is in the links above, if anyone needs it.)

February 10, 2009

FCP Users: How to use Dynamic Link

I’ve already talked about the benefits of adding Premiere Pro to your arsenal of video production. Here, I’m going to give you an example of why using Premiere Pro with your FCP project can save you a LOT of time.

Here’s an example of a Final Cut project with some green screen footage. I want to composite that footage in After Effects.

I COULD do this the old way – **TAKES DEEP BREATH** export the clip, create a new AE Project, Create a new comp, take time Cmd-tabbing between programs to get the settings of the new comp to match the FCP project, import the footage into AE, begin compositing, render a test shot, import the test shot into FCP, compare it to my other clips, Cmd-tab back to AE, make changes, render another clip, import new clip into FCP….**WHEW!!**

Here’s the easier way using Production Premium CS4, including Premiere Pro CS4.01:

Start by exporting your project from FCP using the File-Export-XMP command. This will save an XMP version of your project.

Open up Premiere Pro. Create a new Premiere Pro project. Premiere will ask to create a new timeline sequence – don’t worry about the settings. We aren’t going to use the empty timeline for anything. Just use the default settings and name.

In Premiere Pro, double-click on the empty space in the Project bin. This will open up an Import window. Find and double-click on the XML file you created in the previous step. This will import your FCP timeline sequence, and all necessary media.

To activate a Dynamic Link to After Effects, right-click (or Option-Click) on the green screen clip in the timeline, and choose Send to AE Composition. After Effects will automatically open, create a new composition matching the settings of the clip, and get you ready to start keying.

When you want to see your comp in action inside your timeline, simply switch back to Premiere Pro, and scrub the timeline. Thanks to Dynamic Link, you don’t need to go to the render queue first and create a file – it’s ready to scrub inside Premiere Pro. To make changes, go back to AE, make changes, and jump back to Premiere Pro. Your changes update instantly.

February 9, 2009

OnLocation Split-Screen Keyboard Shortcuts

My buddy Mark Mapes, who works on the OnLocation team, made a comment about a recent blog of mine. He pointed out that last week’s blog on the Split Screen feature failed to point out the keyboard shortcut available for the Opacity setting. Using the value in the Monitor Settings panel is sort of limiting, because you cannot adjust the area of the split while adjusting the opacity value.

The way to fix this is by assigning and using the keyboard shortcuts. Go to Edit-Keyboard Shortcuts, and scroll down in the list to the Field Monitor settings. There are a couple of unassigned keyboard shortcuts for the Split Screen Opacity.

Picture 3.png

Set these values to whatever works for you, and you can adjust the opacity of the Split area without having to open up the Monitor Settings panel each time. Thanks, Mark!

February 5, 2009

FCP Users: Using Premiere Pro is not cheating!

Last year, at the IBC trade show, I had someone come up to me and say, “You know, Premiere Pro CS4 looks absolutely fantastic! Unfortunately, I’m a Final Cut Pro editor, and can’t use it.” I inquired further, thinking it was a training issue, and he told me that since he defines himself as an FCP editor, he won’t use other NLE tools. I was left speechless.

Another story took place at an FCP user group meeting in San Francisco. A gentleman approached me after my presentation to ask how to get Encore by itself. He was a current user of Photoshop and After Effects. When I suggested Production Premium would be the way to go, he said that would be impossible, since that meant buying Premiere Pro in the package, and he couldn’t do that. What?!?

Look:

1. Using an NLE does not make you married to that NLE. There’s no ring on your finger, no marriage license, no “until death do us part.” (at least I hope not. I haven’t read all the latest EULAs.) I can see sticking with the tools you love to use, but you are not cheating on your NLE if Premiere Pro is installed on your system.

2. Use the tool that’ll get the job done right, fast, & cheap. If you limit yourself to one palette of tools, you’re limiting your creativity. You’ll have to sacrifice quality or speed without the best tools. Practicing monogamy to your NLE won’t help you get the job done faster.

Now, for the big question: WHY? Why, if I’m happy with the way I edit on FCP, why would I want to even open Premiere Pro?

I’ll give you one big reason – Integration. CS4 Production Premium is much much more than a collection of programs. One of the big advantages is the integration found between those programs, and the interoperability. Import a PSD file? Premiere does it right. See After Effects compositions mixed with footage right on the same timeline? Yep, Premiere can do it as well. Import an unrendered timeline sequence into Encore for Blu-Ray authoring? Guess what to use – that’s right – Premiere Pro.

Adobe just recently (in the 4.01 update) added a new Final Cut importer into Premiere Pro. Using the XML Export option found in Final Cut, you can now edit in FCP, quickly export/import your project USING THE SAME MEDIA, and then take advantage of the integration that Premiere shares with After Effects, Encore for Blu-Ray authoring, and even better use of PSD files. Premiere Pro becomes more than a competing NLE – it’s your gateway to faster workflows, more capabilities, and better creativity.

In case you do need to make some editing tweaks after exporting, Premiere Pro has keyboard shortcut presets for FCP users, AND you can customize any shortcut to match what you are used to. Just go to Edit-Keyboard Customization to change to a different preset, or choose your own set of shortcuts.

Look, if you still feel like you’re being unfaithful to FCP for using Premiere Pro, don’t think of it as an NLE – think of it as the “Adobe Production Premium Final Cut Importer.”

If you use After Effects and Photoshop already, getting Production Premium is the cheaper way to upgrade to CS4. Plus, you’ll get these added benefits. If it doesn’t make you more productive, FCP won’t divorce you, or hit you over the head with a frying pan. It’ll still be waiting there for you. :)

February 3, 2009

How to Match Cameras and Recorded Clips using OnLocation

One hassle of the production process is trying to go back and get additional shots that match older footage. Those of you who shoot interviews know what I speak of – I’ve had to cut together a TON of interviews over the last 10 years, and every time I’ve had to go back and reshoot, there’s always something different about the new footage. B-roll footage can be used to cover the jump, but it’s not the same. If you want to use a jump cut or quick dissolve, there’s nothing more annoying than seeing the microphone move positions, or the camera framing being off, and the subject’s head gains 5 kg because of a closer camera angle.

Adobe OnLocation contains a feature to combat this problem, and it’s also useful for dialing in cameras in a multi-camera shoot. It’s called the Split Screen Feature.

Picture 1.png
Here’s a shot of me from last week’s eSeminar on OnLocation. Notice the lovely garish shirt I’m wearing. For the sake of this tutorial, I’m going to try to match this scene with my live camera.

I’ve made things simple enough by wearing the same lovely shirt. I had to dig the shirt out of a box buried in the back of the garage this time. I need to be sure to ask the wife about why the shirt keeps disappearing like that.

Picture 7.png
To get Split Screen dialed in, click on the flyout menu on the Field Monitor, and choose Display Settings.

Picture 9.png
The opacity of the Split is set by default at 50%, but for this exercise, I’m going to crank it up to 100%. Anything less than 100% will cause an Onion Skinning effect, which can be useful, but in this case it’s too much information. Using 100% makes it clear what’s from the still and what’s from the live camera.

Picture 10.png
Here’s the tricky part – you MUST click on items in exactly this order: Double-click on the pre-recorded clip. Pause the clip on a good frame to compare. Then, click the Split button. Click the Stop button. clicking Stop should switch left side of the screen back to the live camera.

Picture 11.png
Use the on-screen controls to adjust the size and area of the split. To match up my camera angles, I’m going to use the CS4 logo hanging on the top left corner of the green screen. Adjust the camera position until everything lines up. I’ll take this moment to ditch the hat, which I can see wasn’t in last week’s shoot.

combo.png
Just from the field monitor, I can see that the brightness of my camera isn’t what it was when I shot the previous footage. Be aware that the Split is also active on the Waveform Monitor as well. I need to adjust the iris/exposure of my camera to match. With the Fv at 1.8 and the Exposure cranked up to +1, I’m seeing similar brightness values in the Waveform monitor and in my Field Monitor.

The one thing this technique won’t help me with is removing the new curry stain on the shirt. Fortunately, with this shirt, it’s almost impossible to notice. :)

This same technique works well in Pre-production on a multi-camera shoot. Point cameras at a common object. Hook OnLocation to Camera 1. Dial in white balance, iris, exposure, etc. Then, record a reference clip. Go to camera 2, hook up OnLocation, and compare the live feed from Cam 2 with the recorded clip from Camera 1. Split, use the Waveform Monitor, and adjust Cam 2 to match. Rinse and repeat for Cam 3, 4, etc.

February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Commercial News

In case you missed it, Hyundai ran some commercials during yesterday’s Super Bowl for their new Genesis Coupe. There’s a contest at www.edityourown.com that uses Adobe Premiere Express technology. You get to edit your own commercial for the Genesis, and post it online. Prizes ensue.

If you haven’t seen Premiere Express before, it’s an online editing technology based around Flash that enables putting together video clips, music, transitions, titles; basically all the pieces necessary to edit together a video. At the end of the process, you “publish” a playlist of your finished movie. There’s no rendering involved – the player just loads your playlist of media and plays it in the Flash player.

If you’d like more information about Premiere Express for your website, check it out here:

http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereexpress/

January 29, 2009

OnLocation Seminar Follow-up

Recently, I gave an online OnLocation e-seminar to over 200 people. I had a TON of questions at the end, and couldn’t get to all of them in the time provided, so here’s a follow-up to some of the more pertinent questions:

Do the Qt files recorded on the hard drive have the same timecode as the tapes in the camera?
The clips have the same timecode that the camera provides. This is a good reason to continue to use tape in the camera. Remember, OnLocation doesn’t impact the tape mechanism in the camera. It’s there, so feel free to use it! :) If the tape isn’t running, and the T/C generator in the camera isn’t set to Free Run, then the recorded clips will all start with 00:00:00;00 timecode. OnLocation doesn’t generate it’s own timecode.

If you aren’t familiar with Free Run mode, it’s a great way to get unique timecode for each file, and not use tape. Many prosumer cameras like the DVX-100 or HVX200 have a free run timecode generator. you have to get used to the idea that the timecode generator is running whether you’re shooting or not, but it works well with OnLo.

Does it record native DV or a compressed file?
OnLocation records what the camera provides via FireWire, which is a full-quality signal, exactly the same quality as what’s recorded to tape. There’s no loss in quality using OnLocation.

Could you monitor REDRaw(r3d) files using Onlocation?
The RED camera doesn’t currently offer a compressed output via FireWire, which is what OnLocation CS4 requires to see a signal. There’s a lot of great development talks with RED right now, so maybe this will change in a future release.

Can you pull pre-recorded video into shot list? Or does it have to be recorded directly into shot list?
It is possible to pull some clips into OnLocation from other sources for comparison purposes, but not all files will be compatible. Simply drag/drop clips from an open window into the Shot List. OnLocation will tell you if the clip is compatible or not. I’ve found this is most useful when using multiple OnLocation projects, and wanting to combine clips from different projects into one project.

Is the metadata contained in a XML format?
The metadata is imbedded in the QuickTime or AVI file for DV format. For HDV recording, it is stored in a separate XML file.

You said that as you did takes in the “placeholder” screen the take # would change, but in your demo it didn’t change. Why is that?
Good question. Chalk it up to operator error. The shot list has two different modes of recording, which I showed: Shot-Recording Mode, and Take-Recording Mode. Somehow, at the beginning of the demo, I mistakenly selected the wrong mode. To utilize the placeholders, select Take-Recording Mode, as shown here: takemode.png
Later on in the seminar, I caught this mistake, and later clips do show the takes field incrementing, but I didn’t call this out. :p Bad Karl.

Can camera rec button start on location record?
YES! There’s a remote record toggle control at the bottom of the Field Monitor, shown here:
remrecord.png
Turn this on, and OnLocation will begin recording at the same time as your camera begins recording.

Will OnLocation work with the HD-SDI IO cards?
Not in the CS4 release. As laptops continue to evolve, we’ll be looking at other signal formats, but for now, OnLocation only records signals transmitted via FireWire.

January 28, 2009

FCP Users: here’s a better way to use PSD’s!

For those who prefer to edit with FCP, one known challenge has been working with PSD files from Photoshop. The PSD importer in FCP sometimes causes some, well, unpredictable results.

Because of this, most FCP users settle for exporting out PNG files, but this can create problems down the road if you need to modify the graphic, update text, etc.

Now, there is a better way! Adobe just recently introduced a way to import your FCP project into Premiere Pro. This is a great way to still do the bulk of editing in Final Cut, AND take advantage of the powerful integration Premiere Pro enjoys with apps like Encore, After Effects, and, of course, Photoshop.

Here are a couple of examples:

I started with a lower 3rd PSD template that was made for an NLE shootout last year. In Photoshop, I made a modified version of the file, changing the font a little bit, and updating the text. I tried importing both the original file, and a modified version of the file, into FCP:

OriginalInFCP.png

ModdedInFCP.png

Completely different results for each file, even though the only thing I modified was the text and the fonts used!

I then exported my edited FCP project using the Export-XML command, and imported it into Premiere Pro. (There’s no special command to import the project into Premiere Pro. Just create a new Premiere project, and use File-Import, and point at the FCP XML file. Premiere Pro will do all the rest.)

Then, in Premiere Pro, I imported the same 2 PSD files. In Premiere Pro CS4, there’s a new PSD import dialogue box with several different options.

NewImportDialogue.png

For this example, I just used the “Merge All Layers” option. However, if I wanted to, I could pick and choose the layers out of the PSD file, or import the PSD into a new timeline for layer-by-layer animation.

prorig.png

prmod.png

As you can see by the pix, both PSD files import with proper transparency and text. Using Premiere Pro as a tool to import PSD files means no concerns how the PSD will look on the timeline – what you see in Photoshop is what you’ll get in your project.

January 26, 2009

The Serious Magic Activation Tool

For the sake of convenience, I’m posting a copy of the Serious Magic Activation tool here: Download file Because some virus blockers tend to block anything with an .EXE extension, I’ve renamed it to a .123 file. Be sure to rename the extension to .EXE after you download it.

Please read all previous posts, and make sure you have any necessary updates to your legacy Serious Magic software installed before running this self-activation tool.

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