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Serious Magic Ultra: Using Serious Magic's ULTRA as a multi-layer comp tool: ULTRA can handle 7 layers of stills and video in one pass, and is fast and easy to use

Chapter: Compositing Tools and Techniques

Topic: Compositing or Layering

In this tutorial, we are going to create a four layer composite, with two still images and two video clips. We will key someone into the cover of a magazine, with another video clip playing behind the magazine. The videos and one of the stills are part of the sample content included with ULTRA. The other still image can be downloaded by right-clicking here.


Gefen announces HD-Mate

Gefen will be previewing their HD-Mate* at MacWorld San Francisco next month. This three input, one output converter adapts multiple HDTV sources to DVI for an Apple Cinema Display.

The three inputs include one DVI input so that a computer can be one of the inputs for the device with the other two switchable sources from HD component analog. All three sources can be connected at the same time and selected with a push-button menu on the unit itself. An on-screen menu, activated from the menu buttons on the HD-Mate, allow for image adjustment to accommodate different sources and screen sizes.

The HD-Mate is a low cost alternative to AJA’s HDP Converter or Blackmagic Design’s more sophisticated HD-Link. Being focused at a consumer market, and the much lower price, most probably means that critical conversion would still be best served by the AJA or Blackmagic converters.

But for more routine monitoring – a producer station HD monitor for example – the US$299 of the HD-Mate is very appealing. Gefen also have a range of monitor switchers and distribution amplifiers – including the HD Splitter two-for-one HDMI distribution amplifier.

Gefen expect to ship the HD-Mate in January 2006.

* The HD-Mate is so new it’s not on the website at the time of writing. It will appear on the page linked.

Adobe After Effects: After Effects for Beginners

Chapter: Compositing Tools and Techniques

Topic: Controls and Interfaces

While I love After Effects now, before I started the love affair we had a very love/hate relationship.† We’ve got something to try to bump everyone up to speed.† For the beginners, we’ve got the intro to the whole dern thing.† And if you’ve already mastered that, tomarrow, we’ll have a list of some plugins for everyone to try.†So, lets start off with the basics.† Looking at the interface, it’s pretty self explanitory, so lets take a look more specifically at the timeline, and the switches you’ll use most frequently.


On2 announces Flix Studio

The On2 Flix Studio bundles Flix Pro, Flix Exporter and Flix Power Players into a single package.

On2 Flix Pro – a powerful Flash Video encoder that enables users to edit, crop, convert and post video to the web in minutes;

On2 Flix Exporter – On2 Flix Exporter offers professional quality FLV and SWF video output from multiple video applications that support the use of Quicktime plugins, including Discreet Media Cleaner, Canopus Pro   Coder, Quicktime Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Apple Final Cut.

On2 Flix Power Players – a collection of 135 new players designed to work with On2 Flix Pro’s automatic player output function. The players are divided into 20 unique designs, with multiple distinct variations of each one. There are also new logo players that can dynamically load a logo (in .swf format) that users can create into the player. Additionally, On2 includes players that feature drag-able progress bars, enabling viewers to drag the progress bar to advance video back and forth.

The On2 Flix Studio is available immediately and can be purchased online . Customers who purchase before December 31, 2005 will pay only US$339.00. After that the On2 Flix Studio will be available for US$379.00. Demonstrations of all three components are available separately. Flix Studio is available for Windows and OS X Macintosh.

Apple iDVD: Hidden Tricks in iDVD 5: Part 6 – Adding custom bullet-style highlights to themes

Chapter: DVD Authoring

Topic: Menus or Navigation

We’ve explored methods for modifying button highlights in Apple’s iDVD 5. But not all highlights are the same. In some cases, themes in iDVD use text-only buttons and supply you with a bullet-style highlight that appears next to the text, rather than over an asset, as with standard highlights. And, just as with standard highlights, it’s possible to modify this bullet highlight to suit your needs.


Light a Product Shot in Under an Hour

Chapter: Image Acquisition

Topic: Lighting

The product shot is typically the last shot of the day, when everyone?s tired and wants to go home. This method, which uses only one light, will help you do it quickly and easily. For this type of setup, I typically use a sweep made of a rubber floor mat, paper or Formica; a hanging soft light; simple reflectors; and a four-foot flag on a boom. If time allows, you can add small spotlights, custom snoots, dimmers and scrims to get even more control (see steps 4? 6).


Adobe After Effects: Create Confetti in After Effects 6.5 with AE?s CC Particle World Plug-in

Chapter: Compositing Tools and Techniques

Topic: Particles

With version 6.5, After Effects finally has a particle system that most people can use. No, I?m not talking about Particle Playground, which struck fear into the hearts of pros and novices alike, but CC Particle World. This filter, once part Final Effects, is now included with AE 6.5. It?s not the best particle system out there, but it?s easy to use and is pretty powerful. This tutorial offers some Particle World basics and shows you how to create some confetti in the process.


Apple Soundtrack Pro: Use Apple Soundtrack Pro Filters to Lower a Voice in Final Cut Pro Audio

Chapter: Audio

Topic: Effects

On a recent project, the script called for two different voices but we only had a budget for one VO artist. I used the Pitch Shifter II effect to alter the tone of the voice of our female VO artist, who read both parts, and created two distinct “”characters.”” Using the Pitch Shifter II filter, I took the part of the recorded audio that we wanted to be the second voice and lowered it by one musical half-tone, in much the same way you would change the pitch of a musical note to correct a pitch problem or change key. The result was a deeper, richer and older voice that sounded perfectly natural. Obviously, you can also tweak your VO in a much more unnatural way, which may be just what you?re after.


Characteristics of a Good Mix: Strong and Solid?but Controlled?Lows

Chapter: Audio

Topic: Mixing and Balancing

It?s extremely important to build a mix that?s distributed evenly in the lows. If the kick is boosted at 100Hz, the bass should not be boosted at 100Hz?in fact, most likely the bass should be cut at 100Hz. Always consider the ramifications of boosting or cutting the same frequency on two or more instruments. If you?re limited on your mixer to simple two-band, fixed frequency cut/boost EQ, you must use good mic choice and technique along with educated EQ choices during recording of tracks.


Cinematize updates for PSP and iPod video

While there are many tools for decoding DVD to video and even more that will take VOB files or QuickTime and convert to iPod (and PSP) video, Cinematize is unique in being able to go direct from DVD to iPod video with control over chapter selection. Cinematize is one of the few applications that actually parse the DVD content, instead of providing raw access to the .VOB files on the disc. With the addition of output support to iPod video and the unique feature that lets Cinematize export DVD Chapters as individual iPod movies, Cinematize is the clear leader for repurposing (legal) DVD content for iPod and PSP in a single step process.

The latest releases – Cinematize 2.05 for Mac and Cinematize 2.02 for Windows – include:

  • Improved compression color control;
  • Improved handling of DV Stream export; and
  • The usual round of minor bug fixes and improvements.

Free updaters for existing users and free demos for new customers, as well as the complete list of the new features and fixes for Cinematize 2 are all available at Miraizon’s website.