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Category Archives: Post Production

Useful Post Production Information, Workflows & Gorilla Productions Updates

thatpostshowLast week, I listened to a podcast as I was drinking my morning coffee and I could relate to these editors frustration. Check out “That Post Show Episode 7: A Market for Avid and Final Cut Pro” for a nice debate on the state of freelance editing today.

The Last few jobs that I have done are “save jobs”, I usually loath these jobs because they are usually old clients that have bypassed my services for a more affordable post guy aka the “hack”. Ironically they are double paying at this point because the client hired someone who didn’t know Final Cut Pro on a professional level, can’t edit in a Walter Murch sense, don’t manage media properly, can’t deliver on promises like graphic work or many other reasons; to put it simply the quality of the work was affected by their lack of mature work quality standards.

So, I decided to list out 5 thing that the Hack could do to save himself or at least help the people that pick up the pieces of there “work”.
(Feel like this post is going to have lots of “”)

1. Be consistently Hackfull.
Okay so you don’t know what your doing and you hack away a solution that is inefficient, tedious and mildly stupid. Please continue doing the same stupid technique throughout the project. The person who is going to fix your work will not have to decipher your mish mash of knowledge every time you decide that the last time built a lower 3rd, for example, was half -assed.  Make his or her life easier and its a good practice.

2. Try not to work more outside your realm (Sound Editing, Color Correction, Graphics)
I know it is hard because your a hack, but try not to take on more than you can chew. Hopefully, you know you barely get by as an editor. Don’t promise Color Correction, Motion Graphics or Sound design. These are all different skills that have their own hacks that are hacking away in their own special way.
You also look really stupid when you can’t deliver these elements because more people can judge bad sound and color.

3. Seek help, the Inter-Web is your friend. (Size of Composition, Graphics, Audio formats, Compositing)
This might save you in the 11th hour. This might even get you out of the realm of hack. Please don’t jump to the conclusion that it is a flaw in the software it is Final Cut Pro that is technically inept its you, your a Hack. So, Google it and you might just fine the answers on a message board or even a poorly shot YouTube video screen capture.

4.  Cover your Tracks. Clean up after yourself when it is passed on. Consolidate God Dammit!
Okay, your employer that you BS’d decides to got to, let’s just call him or her an non-Hack. When you hand over the project to the “Non-Hack”gather all your files and hand those to the Man or Woman who is going to fix your mess. Media Management is part of your job and you don’t want to constantly be contacted by your previous employer about where is this file or that. You can even try to “Media Manage” your Final Cut Pro Project and let the computer do the work!

5. Learn from your mistakes: a few keyboard shortcuts make you a better person, don’t say its impossible and be honest.
These tips might help you in the future from burning more bridges in the city you live in. If your working in house, you might want to learn some keyboard shortcuts so you are not spotted immediately as a hack. I am sure that your not stupid, learn from your mistakes. Don’t promise before you know that you can deliver, it makes it hard for the Non-Hack when he or she is trying to explain to your previous employer (who at this point is double paying for the job) to trust them, they know what they are doing.
Lastly, get back off the beaten track of Hackdome and be honest. It is so much easier and people usually understand it is a big technoworld out there and it take time to acquire all the knowledge. I know that I still learn everyday something new and it won’t stop but what make me a professional is these five things that I to make the clients feel like they are in good hands.

* Liked this post Hated this post, post a short comment to help others. Good Luck out there.

keyboard-bagI was reading on the weekly tip newsletter from  The DV show site (you can and should subscribe to it under the tip section) and they posted  a very cool online version and a download-able PDF of all the major Final Cut Pro software packages shortcuts. (FCP, DVDSP, Color, Motion)

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It still amazes me when I go in professional environments and I see other editors work. I see the struggling “Mouser’s”, the relatively fast “Pen Tableters” who don’t have carpel tunnel and then “default” keyboarders. But, I rarely see the “Customized Speed Demon” Keyboarder, which is the Church I am a loyal disciple.

Okay, all methods lead to the same result and I have been know to go on a rant about how editing is too fast since the advent of digital editing. That being said, “Mouser’s” are driving a Chevette with a77chevychevette top speed that barely breaks the speed limit and sometimes you need to be able to “drop the hammer”. So, as a professional the ability to edit as fast as you are brainstorming is a tool that may come in handy in certain situations. Moreover, if your an older editor you should/must adapt and keep up with the upandcomers from the video game nation that move at a lightning speed when it comes down to button combos.

The first few versions of FCP didn’t have customizable keyboards and that was one of the main arguments from the Avid editors. My Avid Teacher Ethienne showed me how important it was to move the keys to your liking and how much more productive your are when you don’t travel the keyboard distance or do pretzels with your fingers to access a common key that you use 100 times a day. One of the only things that I retain from this class was to travel with your customizable shortcuts. *

Now, if your already a Keyboarder your half way there your driving the jaguar but the seats are adjusted for a taller person and the mirrors are out of wack and your listening to Zamphir. So, take a baby_logos_jaguar3previewsecond, don’t be a sheep and let Apple dictate how you work and customize. Then, go to your Preferences folder on your home drive and copy the “Final Cut Pro User Data” folder to your ipod, memory stick or DVD media and bring it with you and drop them in the similar path folder before you work on a system that isn’t your own and then wow your new employer with your blazing speed!

Last thing, people are always amazed at how many shortcuts I use and how did I learn them all. I have a terrible short term memory and I am even amazed that I retain it; but it almost becomes reflex after a week of using the same shortcut. My advise is to learn 1 shortcut a week and move the tools that you use often to the main level of the keyboard, no “shift, command or control” button. Then don’t be scared to move the keys and try them in an new location, you will be surprised at the difference. (eg. the famous “J-K-L” keys are “S-D-F” for me, I find it opens up the keyboard and I move all my primary tools to my left hand.)
In a short amount of time you will speed up your work time.

Subscribe to Larry Jordan’s Blog tip of the day and then you don’t even have to open your FCP Manuals!
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Okay, I do admit that you should not always the keyboard because you will develop carpel tunnel syndrome and it hurts. So, occasionally when nobody is looking pick up your mouse or use more “natural” Pen tablet with customized buttons in the Timeline window for added velocity.

*Travel with your creative tools: Very important because when you do get use to your custom keys and you will look like you are Newbie if you try to use the default settings and your physical memory of the keys may make you invoke FCP actions that will puzzle you.

I recently traded services with a talented designer/web designer friend Nick.
I did a added some motion to a TV spot with some sound design from some images and fonts that he provided to me.
In exchange he re-designed and revamped my website.

new gorillaproductions 2009 site

I am just re-compressing the Flash media to fit his functional and clean design.
He gave and captured a great feel for my type of work whilst featuring my reel footage.

I think I won in this trade, but I am sure I will get him back on another TV spot.

(Long descriptive non- creative more descriptive titles so you can find it on the inter-web)

Why isn’t there 3D text in After Effects yet?
I was watching a pretty cool tutorial from the GreyMan. He created a pretty cool old video effect look, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Then it had me thinking about the recent updates from Adobe. They seem really interested integrating 3D features into Photoshop and Illustrator but what about After Effects. For years there has been Plug-ins an workarounds and presets to make 3D text but why are they taking baby steps when this feature has come and gone in a sense. Time to give it up Adobe…

http://www.motionworks.com.au/index.php

BEND IT
Your key is perfect, it blends in with the background, you have adjusted all the color correction and everything but there is something still not just right.

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Your Brain is telling you NO! I think the very generous Maltaannon has given in his tutorial LIGHTWRAP the “keys” to the keying problem for FREE.

Maybe it is my eye has been exposed to the evolution of green screen thought the years and I usually can pick off a greenscreen but in recent years some shots I just know are logistically greenscreen moments but I can’t see it and I think this is why. This little addition of the interaction of the light wrapping around the subject is what is tricking my brain into thinking that the Giant Monkey is stomping out the city.

This technique is a must in your keying arsenal!
(And Hey if your reading this and your at one of those Big Companies, make them buy the Man’s Preset because he is making you the Hero.)

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I sorta enjoy watching keynotes or presentations but taking time out of my busy day to go to a conference hall to listen to 10 different presentations and eat a continental breakfast is not always my idea of a productive time spent.
All that, to get to one 20 min featured product… a healthy alternative from the comfort of your computer.

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MacVideo.tv delivers tons of info and presentations on all aspects of Editing, Authoring, Motion Graphics and cameras. Lots of nice demos and previews.

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Still trying to back into the mix of the freelance lifestyle after a few months of grinding it out at Cuppa Coffee Productions. (pun intended)
Just finishing a HIV Stigma web campaign and have a 2 more potential projects in the works.

I was doing a little catching up on my software packages, after working in a production environment where they use older versions of software packages, I learned to appreciate being able to upgrade my system and have the best tools at my disposal for my projects.

Adobe seems to want to make Photoshop the next After Effects.
I watched this tutorial running down the new features in PS CS4. Originally, I was slightly annoyed by the very close updates of their packages, I just got familliar with the 3D capabilities of CS3 and I haven’t even had a chance to familliarize myself with all the new features in AE CS3. They should have just waited and called CS3, CS4 at this rate in 2020 we will have CS XXV.

Here is a link to the Photoshop CS4 new tools:

StudioDaily.com

They created some cool tools to generate a proper plates, focus and 3D composting graphics but why not include this features in AE, so we don’t need to go back in forth in Photoshop? Doesn’t make much sense that the Pros could not have these tools in AE that a Photoshop artist has access to.

PHOTOSHOP IS THE CHOP SHOP OF ADOBE

However, they seem to be consistent Photoshop now has basic Video editing and 3D capabilities since CS3 Extended. For some reason it seems like a lot of effort is being put into photoshop as the “hub” of the Adobe package. It sort of makes sense or does it? If they can convert that user base, they would have a huge share of the market, but at the expense (neglecting) of the rest of their pro market.
Similar to Apple, they seem to neglect the pro or at least force them to invest in a pricier laptop… ahhh that is another topic to tackle on another day.

Finished with the Nerdland project for Cuppa Coffee.

I must say that I had a very interesting experience. I still and I think always will learn something new from every project. In the future I will be blogging more about filmmaking not the technical but the philosophical or just my point of views on the subject

My Traditional film training and experience has come in handy with many of the effect shots in this stop motion environment. Storytelling and knowledge of old techniques always come in handy, the concepts don’t change, just the technology.

Just recently , the director had a transition in and out from a flashback a-la-Citizen Kane. This optical printing process, back in the “day”, is at least a 7 step film processing job, probably took weeks to produce a final that was watchable. Needless to say that the Compositor banged this effect out in a couple of hours. The story telling device is the same.

N.B. this clip still hold up visually to this day, that is some dam fine work.

I was just reading a this old article from Digital Arts and Stu Maschwitz (digital vfx guerrilla extraordinaire).

He touches again on many poignant points, his book has made my short list of book’s that are essential for new filmmakers, get it and check his blog out.

I will blog an official short list of must have books for new filmakers that don’t want to go to film school and spend 3 years and lots of money.

Now back to the daily grind and lots of new projects in the queue.

I am a slow reader.
So, when I get a script or outline of a project, it takes me time always wanted to just ripe through a script…

Well this little app java based app helps.

www.spreeder.com

You can adjust the rate of reading and forces you to intake the words in a way that avoids you “reading to yourself” (how to explain this better…. listening to what yourself read in your head.)

There is also a Bookmarklet (drag the link to your browser’s quick link top bar), you can simply select text on a webpage and click the Bookmarklet! Gouda like the cheese.

Here is a quick way to get up to spead on the new video features in Photoshop.


I use After Effects a lot so I don’t think I would need these features.
Crazy thought: they should combine After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator… that seems to be the natural solution rather then integrating minor capabilities from all the apps.

So, I have a buddy of mine who has a PSP and is going on a long trip to Afganistan. I wanted to let him borow  his favorite movies and some other great films to enjoy in the hot sun of the Middle East on his portable device.

I naturally went to the Sony site/Playstation/PSP… first mistake. They practically had “good luck on converting a movie for the PSP but you buy this piece of software that will do it automatically, thanks for shopping Sony!”

I “researched” the internet to find examples of good PSP movie compression. Second mistake, a lot of people compress stuff poorly, not deinterlacing, not 2-pass encoding because it increases encode times and not caring if their movies look like we are watching a Western in the 80’s on an Magnavox.

Then, I searched on the World Wide Web for an answer and kinda figured it out the maximum settings but I wasn’t 100% that Handbrake 0.7.1 the Free Software that I was using to go straight from the Original DVD to PSP format was not going to be displayed with a warped aspect ratio. I have used this program in the past to convert my DVDs straight to ipod format, quick easy and intuitive.

Searched some more and realized that I was using on old version of the magic Pinaple program.
HandBrake 0.9.2 (yeah not even a 1.0 version) is the Pimp of all DVD to portable media player programs converters.
It downloads with all sorts of presets ipod, iphone, Xbox360, AppleTV and even the illusive PSP.

Guide to Anamorphic Encoding in HandBrake

Gold Star to Handbrake and get it will its free. Handbrake