Archive for August, 2006

Action !

Oh, those old cliche movie making terms crack me up in the sense that they’re still being used today. And how about the good old clapboard slate, the fodder of so many slapstick gags over the years. That thing still has major practical value in traditional filmmaking, where audio is recorded separately and needs to be synchronized with picture in the editing suite. The smack of the clapboard, along with the visual refence of it snapping shut, makes for a real easy sync point.

clapboard.jpg
Looks like this guy came within an inch of losing his nose.

Even if you’re recording audio direct to your camcorder, you can make use of the clapboard when shooting from multiple angles. By recording the “clap” on each camera simultaneously, you make it easy to sync your different angles to do a realtime multicamera edit in Premiere Pro 2.0. For each angle, load the clip into Premiere Pro’s Source monitor, and navigate to the frame where the clapper hits. Then go to Marker > Set Clip Marker > Next Available Numbered. Repeat for your additional angles.

setclipmarker.jpg
Make sure the clapboard markers are numbered the same on all your clips.

Then, once you have each angle of video on its own track in a timeline, select all the clips, right-mouse-click, and select Synchronize. In the Synchronize Clips dialog, select Numbered Clip Marker and click OK.

synchronizeclips.jpg
Of course make sure the clip number is selected correctly in this dialog.

Clapboard slates are easily obtainable from photo supply houses like B&H, but you can also make your own clapper out of 2 pieces of plywood and a hinge. Just make sure that all your cameras can see it closing cleanly, and your camera mics get a good audio signal of that “smack”. And keep those dang things far from your talents’ noses.

On another note, today is Flash’s 10th Birthday, happy birthday Flash!

At A Theater Near You

We’d been getting jealous of all the summer blockbuster movie hype, so clearly it was time for us to rent out some movie theaters around the country and bring our own show to your town (provided that your town is San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, or Minneapolis — the rest of you will have to wait ’til September). The “Discover the Adobe Production Studio Tour” kicks off tomorrow here in SF at the Kabuki theater in Japantown, and you can sign up for free, and get the lowdown on the entire tour right here.

I’ll be giving part of the presentation tomorrow, and also in Minneapolis next week.

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Stalker or CEO? You be the judge.

Come see what kinds of tricks we’ve got up our sleeves, and if you’re in SF you can go to the convyor-belt sushi place upstairs afterwards (which is acutally pretty good). I have no idea what to eat in Minneapolis, the last time I was there was when I played with Freedy Johnston, opening for Cheryl Crow on her summer tour in ’96, and all I can remember about that night was a place called Nye’s that featured “The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band,” which was entirely made up of octegenarians. Now that’s a summer blockbuster worth seeing.

Animated Lobsters and the Pinch-Running Bird

The annual gathering of computer graphics aficionados known as SIGGRAPH came to a smashing conclusion in Boston yesterday, and thankfully not many were injured (although my colleague Steve W-Z had his rental car smashed beyond recognition by the hotel valet, way to go WESTIN BOSTON WATERFRONT !!!). If you’ve not been to a SIGGRAPH conference before, it’s pretty amazing once you get past the ubiquitous motion capture suit demos (I mean, is it really that interesting to watch some actor jump around in a ridiculous looking spandex suit just to animate a 3D lobster on a screen above your head? Did all these mocap companies miss that episode of the Simpsons a few year back?). What’s really cool at SIGGRAPH (other than the After Effects and Production Studio classes I taught – heh-heh) are the new technology exhibits and the “Electronic Theater” which I completely missed this year because I was preoccupied with searching for the perfect lobster roll.

Far and away the most interesting thing for me at SIGGRAPH is talking to our customers. There’s a huge focus on visual effects and animation at this conference, and it’s one of the only ones where I never have to ask an audience “how many of you are Photoshop users?” After Effects would be a close second to Photoshop’s ubiquity with this crowd, and I had some great conversations with people working on everything from feature films to animations for medical training (I don’t think I’ve ever been asked how to animate digested food moving through the lower intestinal tract before).

Another rewarding event (quite literally) was visual effects powerhouse ZOIC purchasing 60 seats of Production Studio. Blake Robertson, one of the VFX whizzes at their shop in Culver City, was kind enough to come show some of the great effects work he does on the CBS series CSI:Crime Scene Investigation at our NAB exhibit this past April.

So, despite the fact that it was 100 degrees in Boston the entire week, I managed to get to a Red Sox game with Mark Christiansen (author of the book After Effects Studio Techniques) and despite the fact that they cut off beer sales half way through the game to keep people from becoming dehydrated we managed to have a great time. I tell you, the Boston fans are something else. By the 8th inning the game had become a snoozer, and a blackbird that had been hopping around the field the entire game was standing on second base. As he started hopping towards third, the entire stadium began chanting “bird, bird, bird . . .” and as he got closer the chants and cheers grew louder. By the 9th, nobody in the stadium was paying any attention whatsoever to the game anymore.

bird.jpg
Apparently, even the scoreboard operator got bored with the game.

No beer? Lousy game? Fagettabattit! Now let’s get out of the pahk beefawe the game’s ovah so we can get us a loabstah roll.