Saturday, May 28, 2016

Adobe Update on Quicktime for Windows

"Recent security issues related to Apple’s QuickTime 7 on Windows have been of concern to users...we’re pleased to announce that Adobe has been able to accelerate work that was already in progress to support native reading of ProRes. This new capability is fully licensed and certified by Apple, and barring any unforeseen issues during pre-release, these fixes will be included into an update to the relevant products in Creative Cloud shortly."

image: Studio Daily

Complete post is here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Use A Game Controller As A NLE Control Surface Or...

Casey Faris shows how he programmed a USB game controller for use as a Premiere Pro CC control surface.

Seems a bit odd to me but maybe if you're a hard core gamer and have a USB game controller laying around, maybe this is the way to go. He uses Xpadder to program the interface.

A while back, Mark Zimmer at Pro Video Coalition published an article on how to use a midi controller as an NLE control surface.

Pretty cool although I think more of a viable solution if you already happen to have a midi controller laying around. 

On the subject of USB control surfaces, check out Xkeys. Xkeys can be used for a wide range of applications. I recently helped complete a studio build that included a custom Xkeys interface - basically a simplified switcher control surface for a Newtek Tricaster 460. 

Here's the interface they offer for Photoshop which is pretty cool. 

And of course there are a number of solutions ready to go right out of the box from manufacturers including JL Cooper and Contour Design.

And if all else fails, you can sit down and learn your NLE's keyboard shortcuts.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Free Textures

Here's the link to another site that offers free textures for your work. 

" is a website that offers digital pictures of all sorts of materials...fabrics, wood, metal, bricks, plastic, and many more." You can download up to 15 images per day. 

And the cool part is that it's free of charge. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

"The Nik Collection is now free"

Actually it's been free for a couple of weeks, but that's still probably welcome news. The Nik Collection is a suite of plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. 

Back in 2012, Nik Software was purchased by Google. Pre-Google, the complete Nik Collection cost nearly $500. Then in 2013, Google slashed the price to around $150. Now it's on the house.

So why free? In this case it may be a good news/bad news scenario.  Hard to beat free, but some also believe that this latest giveaway by Google may signal Nik's relegation to the land of "abandonware"

Even if that's the case, for the time being the Nik Collection is a high-end suite of software tools that you can take advantage of. You can download the Nik Collection here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Apple Quicktime? U.S. Government Says Windows Users Beware

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends that Windows users remove Apple Quicktime after two new bugs were discovered in the software.  Bugs?  No problem. Won't Apple patch its product? According to TrendMicro - Nope

Unfortunately, a number of video software tools use the Quicktime codec.  Here's Adobe's contradictory response.

“native decoding of many .mov formats is available today (including uncompressed, DV, IMX, MPEG2, XDCAM, h264, JPEG, DNxHD, DNxHR, ProRes, AVCI and Cineform)”...

“Unfortunately, there are some codecs which remain dependent on QuickTime being installed on Windows, most notably Apple ProRes. We…have no estimated timeframe for native decode currently.”

Adobe isn't alone in it's misguided reliance on Quicktime for Windows. For instance, a number of Blackmagic Design products rely on Quicktime. Speaking from experience, Blackmagic's Intensity Shuttle is little more than a plastic door stop without it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cool Sites - School of Motion

I'm always on the lookout for great tutorial sites and School of Motion is definitely one of them.

Founded by Joey Korenman, School of Motion offers bootcamps in animation and character animation for a fee, as well as loads of free tutorials for aspiring motion graphics artists. Membership is free, but you don't get bombarded with a mountain of email spam.

 Make sure not to miss 30 Days of After Effects.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Old School Techniques - Split-Field Diopter

In a field mostly dominated by digital technologies, it's nice to share a technique rooted in old-school camera optics. And the fact that this technology can be very affordable is so much the better.

Controlling the field of focus is one way cinematography contributes to effective story-telling. Our eyes naturally travel to the parts of a the frame that are sharp. However, lenses often limit the field of focus in the frame.  A split-field diopter provides the ability to capture two distinct focal planes within the same frame and are often used to maximize deep focus.

Here's Richard H. Kline, A.S.C. discussing the use of split-field diopters on Star Trek: The Motion Picture in Return To Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture:
We were operating at only 20 foot candles which is very low-it's really hard to get a good depth of field. So, since depth of field was one of the things Bob Wise (the director) wanted to stress, I employed split diopters on most of the scenes. A split diopter is an optic, the equivalent  to bifocal glasses, where the eye sees, looking straight forward, one specific distance, and, when you move to a different viewpoint, sees another increment of distance. The split might be top to bottom or side to side; the diopters are half-moon-shaped, and they cover one half of a third of the lens. They attach right onto the lens, and they can be shifted right and left, and up and down, or whatever...However, with split diopters, you can also pan the camera all you want, you don't have to keep it locked in one shot at a time. All you have to do is slide the split diopters on and off for each focal point, being careful, when you set up the shot, to prepare it so that you've got a shadow, a vertical set element or a hot spot to cover the blend line.

Not a great film in many respects, but Star Trek: The Motion Picture
chock full of split-field diopter shots.

A number of directors have made extensive use of split-field diopters. The list includes De Palma, Speilberg and Quentin Tarrantino.

There's some debate over how Director of Photography, Gregg Toland achieved deep focus in Citizen Kane. To me it seems more likely that his ground-breaking shots were created using split screen mattes, seamlessly combining live action film (sometimes double-exposed) with matte paintings. 

In any case, cheap split-field diopters are widely available.  (Here's one from B&H.)  This video from PBS|digital studios Shanks FX provides some DIY info along with other Hollywood examples.