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xm|edit is now shipping Traffic

Although a little hard to "get" initially Traffic, adds non-linear functions to Sequences and Bins based on nodes like the processing nodes used in Apple’s Shake compositing software. Each node adds some functionality or processing to the source. As the creator, Forrest Maready, says "The traditional timeline interface presents the editor with the question ‘When do you want to do something?’ Traffic takes a different approach and asks ‘What do you want to do?’.

The case studies they demonstrate on the website are to automatically add lower thirds to a Sequence based on the clip name and duration, so the right Lower Third is added to the appropriate clips, with automated fade up, fade down and length durations as set. Or to shift through a Sequence to separate effects clips from non-effects clips, to send to the appropriate parts of the post-production chain. But my favorite automation step was to automatically add pre-rendered tags to the same spot, outputting the completed spot into one long Sequence or individual Sequence for each tagged spots.

Before Traffic, these tasks would have been delegated to an Assistant Editor, so in many ways Traffic can be considered to be an automated Assistant Editor with functions based on logical "if this is true" "then do this". If there’s another tag in the Bin then add it to the spot and create a new sequence named after the tag’s clip name and output it to an XML file.

As well as this logic-based workflow, Traffic also allows for quick and easy updating. For example, if the font is wrong in the Sequence of Lower Thirds generated in Traffic, changing it in one place will change the font for all the Lower Thirds; if there’s a typo, changing the spelling once will correct all instances.

Traffic requires OS X 10.3.9 or later, 512 MB RAM and 350MB of hard drive space for install, and a compatible XML application, like Final Cut Pro; Autodesk’s Smoke, Fire or Lustre or Media 100i or 844/X. Avid, Combustion, Quantel iQ and Premiere support is available using Automatic Duck. Traffic is now available for US$299.

Traffic has an open architecture for the nodes, so expect to see more functionality added over time.

CatDV half price this week

Square Box Systems are discounting CatDV 50% from today until midnight November 6th. The catch is that Square Box are asking customer to make a donation to charity equal to the amount they save – particularly relief efforts fODr the Kashmire earthquake and hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

People don’t have to make a donation – Square Box will trust customers. The regular price of CatDV 4.0 Professional is US$275 and for this week can be purchase fro US$137 plus a matching donation. Other versions are as low as US$24 this week. Server and multi-user licenses are excluded from this offer.

CatDV 4.0 is a scalable media asset database, designed for all types of media file but with particular emphasis on video formats, with features that include automatic scene detection, integration with Final Cut Pro, and automatic substitution of preview movies when the original media are offline. CatDV is available for Mac OS X and Windows.

Adobe After Effects: Freeze Frame: Creating a stylized freeze frame effect in Adobe After Effects

Chapter: Visual and Creative Effects

Topic: Reproducing TV or Film Effects

I reader asked how he could create a freeze frame effect one might see in a movie where the actor is highlighted from the surrounding elements. There are several ways to do this, and in this Adobe After Effects lesson, I?ll show you one method.


Updates from Silhouette FX

Silhouette Roto 2.1

Version 2.1 adds native support for QuickTime and video fields and can be purchased with a floating license for larger organizations. Other new features include Look Up Table (LUT) support for floating point images, improved tablet support and true round-tripping of Cineon files.

Version 2.1 allows rotoscoping at half frame intervals for field-level support.

Coincident with version 2.1’s release is a significant reduction in prices for the After Effects plug-in version compatible with Adobe After Effects and Apple’s Final Cut Pro from US$495 to US$295. Floating licenses add US$100 to the cost of the plug-in version or $200 to the US$595 stand-alone version of Silhouette Roto. Further price reductions are available when purchased with Silhouette Paint.

Silhouette Paint 1.0

Silhouette Paint is an add-on module to Silhouette Roto (stand alone application or plug-in version) providing high dynamic range raster paint features. Version 1.0 has just been released. Silhouette Paint is a raster paint system that uses a multi-layered approach, including match moving capabilities.

Silhouette Paint can non-destructively apply color, tint, erase, blemish, mosaic, and grain brushes to 8-bit, 16-bit, and floating point clips. To more exactly match a foreground element, clone brush paint sources can be transformed on-the-fly by rotation, corner pinning, and scaling in addition to being offset in time or XY space. Four independent clone sources are maintained simultaneously for added flexibility.

Silhouette Paint is tightly integrated with Silhouette Roto’s shape features such as motion tracking, variable edge softness and realistic motion blur. Brushes can be automatically applied to shape layers which are themselves automatically match moved. Blemishes, for example, can be automatically erased over time with minimal set-up by attaching the blemish brush to a rotoshape tracking the blemish itself.

Silhouette Paint requires either the stand-one or plug-in version of Silhouette Roto. For the stand-alone Silhouette Roto, Silhouette Pain adds US$495, or bundled together with Silhouette Roto for US$995 (save $95). The stand-alone versions run on Windows, OS X and Linux. As an addition to the plug-in version of Silhouette Roto for Adobe After Effects or Apple Final Cut Pro, Silhouette Paint costs US$245, or bundled with the plug-in version of Silhouette Roto for US$495 (save $45). Floating licenses add the same as for floating licenses of Silhouette Roto above.

Avid reveals ISIS

Avid’s next generation Unity product, Infinitely Scalable Intelligent Storage (ISIS) groups 16 individual blade servers within a single storage chassis. A blade server is a computer-on-a-card. Avid uses this distributed intelligence to process media while sharing data and balancing the collective workflow between all the connected storage drives. There are no inherent storage or connectivity limitations with ISIS although version 1.0 comes equipped with 64 terabytes per system.

Multiple ISIS Engines (the 16 blade chassis) can be linked together and managed collectively rather than from a centralized controller, as is involved in older Unity designs or Apple’s Xsan. Any ISIS blade can be hot swapped, even in the middle of data transfer.

With ISIS, up to 100 clients can be working real time on a standard Gigabit Ethernet connection with standard Ethernet switches (although you’d be well served to go with Avid’s recommendations). The Gigabit Ethernet will be the limiting factor with an inverse relationship between the size of the video and the number of clients that can be successfully supported. ISIS supports up to DNxHD at 145 Mbit/sec.

ISIS is clearly targeted at the large network, satellite or cable plant with a starting price just over US$106,000 for a 16 blade, ISIS Engine with 64 TB of storage, and not a direct competitor with some other Avid Unity solutions or competing products. Avid notes that ISIS is targeted to "broadcast news and network production operations, reality television productions, and education institutions with multi-purpose media labs".

Primary benefits are:

  • Infinitely Scalable Storage and Capacity using the distributed Intelligence systems: ISIS systems can scale from 8 to 64 TB in 8 TB increments and additional ISIS Engines can be added to aggregate bandwidth and reliability of the whole system;
  • Client Scalability and Access with up to 100 dual-stream real-time 50 Mbit/sec, simultaneous read/write clients and up to 1000 user accounts for big media networks;
  • Reliability from the intelligent, self-healing blade drives that communicate with each other to adapt and redistribute data when a drive fails; all processing happens in parallel so there’s never data loss or interruption to users;
  • Workflow flexibility enabling users to manage bandwidth requirements for multiple streams of real-time DV , SD , or mastering-quality Avid DNxHD™ media.

Apple DVD Studio Pro: Custom Patches in DVD Studio Pro 4: Part 2 – Adding custom highlights to patch-based buttons

Chapter: DVD Authoring

Topic: Menus or Navigation

Patches in DVD Studio Pro are custom elements that you can use to change the appearance of buttons in your menus. Functioning somewhat like Photoshop-based buttons, patches can take you far beyond simple still masks and styles with motion masks, motion shapes and even special effects like tinting and blurring. And, despite what DVD Studio Pro’s user manual states, it is possible even to create your own custom patches for virtually unlimited possibilities.


Adobe Photoshop Elements: Pan and Zoom in the Photoshop Elements 4 Slideshow editor: Adding Pan and Zoom and Narration to your slideshow projects

Chapter: Motion Graphic Design

Topic: Animation Techniques

Pan and Zoom is one of the new features that Adobe Systems has introduced to the Photoshop Elements 4 slideshow creation tool. Pan and Zoom enables you to give your slideshows a more video like look to them. We’ll show you how to do it in this technique.


Adobe Motion: MIDI in Motion: Part 1 – Tickling the Ivoroids in Motion 2

Chapter: Motion Graphic Design

Topic: Real-time Motion Graphic Design

Motion 2 introduced something new to most of us in the world of motion graphics and animation : MIDI-based parameter control. It’s easy to think of this as just another (and not necessarily better) way to move a slider and add keyframes to a project. But in fact this capability seriously simplifies what could otherwise turn out to be time-consuming animation chores.

TAGS: Using MIDI to control animation

Maxon Cinema 4D: Visual Rhythm, Part 2

Chapter: Motion Graphic Design

Topic: Creating Media and Generators

In Visual Rhythm Part 1, we detailed a number of techniques for animating multiple layers in Adobe After Effects. In this column, we turn our attention to Apple Motion and Maxon Cinema 4D


Apple Motion: Visual Rhythm, Part 2

Chapter: Motion Graphic Design

Topic: Creating Media and Generators

In Visual Rhythm Part 1, we detailed a number of techniques for animating multiple layers in Adobe After Effects. In this column, we turn our attention to Apple Motion and Maxon Cinema 4D