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by Richard Harrington

A certified instructor for Adobe and Apple, Rich is a practiced expert in motion graphic design and digital video. His producing skills were also recognized by AV Multimedia Producer Magazine who named him as one of the Top Producers of 2004. Rich is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals Instructor Dream Team, and a popular speaker on the digital video circuit. He is also an instructor at the Art Institute of Washington and the American University in Washington, D.C. Rich is an internationally published author. His bo...

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I Can’t Even Open My FCP Project File” (Or Other Flaky Activities)

I Can’t Even Open My FCP Project File” (Or Other Flaky Activities)

By Richard Harrington | August 03, 2008

1. Look in the Autosave Vault. Before panicking, simply try going back a few versions. Do a search for Autosave in the Finder. Look in the folders for a backup of your project file. Work your way backward through the recently saved copies. 2. Create a new user account. Create a new user account for testing purposes. This is a great way to see if the problem is a corrupt preferences file. Most Final Cut Pro preferences files are stored in the user's settings. Open the System Preferences panel under the blue Apple. Click Accounts. Click on New User. Create one call test, and give it admin privileges. You can assign it a password or not. Only use this account for troubleshooting (you may want to keep it for the future). Now, log out, and log in as the new user. Try opening Final Cut Pro. It should open with no active project files. If it opens, you've narrowed the problem down to bad user preferences (see next tip) or a bad project file. Read More

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Video Compression Workshop - Helpful Advice

By Richard Harrington | August 02, 2008

Need to get your video delivered to your audience? Then there's probably going to be some compression involved. Don't let hardware or software get in your way. Let's take a common sense approach to getting your video out there. Pick Your PowerThere are tons of compression tools out there, but the pro apps offer important features like batch processing, multiple architecture support, and customizable presets. The five most popular options are:Apple Compressor (www.apple.com) Bundled free with Final Cut Pro or DVD Studio Pro. However it can't output some Window's oriented formats and it is occasionally cranky (requiring restarts, trashing preferences, and even re-installs to get back on track).Canopus ProCoder (www.canopus.com) a versatile PC-only solution for encoding video in a variety of formats. It offers both a guided and an expert mode to setting up your jobs.Autodesk Cleaner and Cleaner XL (www.discreet.com) The granddaddy of encoding utilities. It's suffered from changing ownership several times and hasn't seen much development lately. Telestream Episode and Episode Pro (www.flip4mac.com) This product offers hooks into Apple Compressor and offers a variaety of additional formats that Mac users need.Sorenson Squeeze (www.sorenson.com) An easy to use compression utility that also unlocks some specialty formats like Flash Video. Version 4.1 (a free upgrade) build in support for Windows Media files on the Mac Platform by using Flip4Mac (not a free upgrade - $99/$179). Read More

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Video Compression Workshop - 10 Steps to Better Compression

By Richard Harrington | July 31, 2008

1.) De-interlace your video: Most video files are interlaced, which means that half of one image is blended with half of the next. On a Television this produces smoother motion, on a computer it produces junk. 2.) Lower your audio standards: Most users are listening to computer audio on tiny speakers. Cutting your sample rate to 22 or 11 kHz and the sample size to 8-bit will often produce unnoticeable audio changes but huge space saving. 3.) Shrink the window: While you don't need to make video postage stamps sized. But reducing the window to half size creates a file that is 25% the file size of the original. That's a BIG savings in space. 4.) Reshape the video: Most likely you are working with a video file that is sized 720 X 480 (or 486) pixels. You need to resize this to 640 X 480 for it to properly display on the computer monitor. 5.) Restore the washed-out picture: Video signals operate between an RGB value of 16 thru 235. Computers use an RGB value of 0 thru 255. You will need to restore the back and white point of your image. Many applications have this option. 6.) Improve the saturation: A video file displayed on a computer will also need the saturation turned up a bit. This is to compensate for what I call the Wal-Mart effect. Consumer TVs have their reds over-cranked to make skin tones appear richer on their cheap tubes. 7.) Frame Rate: Your video file is likely recorded at approximately 30 fps. This is needed for a television display, but not important for most web video. Reducing your frame rate to 15 or even 10 fps will result in a 50 - 66% savings in file size. 8.) Codecs: The file architecture you pick will often have its own codec chosen. However some file formats support a variety of codecs. Be sure to keep compatibility and audience requirements in mind. Newer codecs offer a significant advantage over older formats. 9.) Don't use a Conduit: For faster compression, don't run web compression through a conduit like Final Cut Pro to your compression utility. Instead, save a flattened, self-contained movie and then compress.10.) Test it: Before you compress a lot of video, create a small test file. Try compressing 10 seconds of video with different settings. Find the ones that work best for you. Read More

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Video Compression Workshop - An Introduction

By Richard Harrington | July 30, 2008

Successfully getting a video file delivered to your audience usually means it will be compressed (heck it's often compressed just so we can work with it in the first place). Making the video file available to your target audience is your goal, but the challenges of hardware, connection speed, and even operating system can affect the decisions you make. Let's take a common sense approach to getting your video out there. Read More

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The Most Important Piece of Paperwork for Your Projects

By Richard Harrington | July 30, 2008

I often preach extensively about project management at design and creative conferences around the globe. The one piece of paperwork that I always emphasize is completing a scoping document for a project then getting the client to sign off and accept it. This one piece of paperwork can solve all sorts of problems and is really worth the 2-5 hours it takes to write. The outline is as follows.Project Scoping Document( 2 - 1 0 p a g e s )Project NameExecutive SummaryBackgroundProject Scope (High Level)Project ObjectivesDeliverablesOrganizationsInterfaces RequiredAssumptionsConstraintsEvaluation CriteriaRisksRewardsBudgetsSchedules (Due Dates)Project Team ReadinessKey RolesExecutive SponsorProject ManagerBusiness ExpertsTechnical ExpertsSignature Lines - Sign Off "Charter" Read More

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3-D Objects in Photoshop Part 2 - Photoshop for Video #86

By Richard Harrington | July 28, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington how to work with 3-D objects in Photoshop CS3. Part 2 of 2. Read More

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3-D Objects in Photoshop Part 1 - Photoshop for Video #85

By Richard Harrington | July 27, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington how to work with 3-D objects in Photoshop CS3. Part 1 of 2. Read More

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Avoid Import Blues for After Effects

By Richard Harrington | July 27, 2008

It's very common to use Photoshop and Illustrator to prepare content for import into Adobe After Effects. Here are some practical tips to avoid problems when merging the software.Import Tips • Double-Click in the AE Project Window • Shift-Click Multiple Items • Organize in Folder and Option+Drag (Alt+Drag) from Desktop • Keep file names less than 27 characters long Read More

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Creating Panoramic Backdrops for Green Screen

Use Photoshop to stitch photos for backdrops

By Richard Harrington | July 09, 2008

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After Effects CS3 Shape Tools

Create Motion Graphic Elements with Ease

By Richard Harrington | July 07, 2008

Learn how to use the Shape Tools to create dynamic motion graphics elements. This tutorial was recorded as part of a session at the 2007 NY Post Production Conference (www.nypostconference.com). Read More

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Motion Graphics Meets John Lennon

By Richard Harrington | July 07, 2008

I was over at YouTube posting a new tutorial.... came across a great clip that mixes multiple animation styles... this is VERY cool. It's nice to hear the man so off-the-cuff... yet wise."In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative which tenderly romances Lennon's every word in a cascading flood of multipronged animation. Raskin marries the terrifyingly genius pen work of James Braithwaite with masterful digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vessel for Lennon's boundless wit, and timeless message."Learn more about it here (and yes... I missed this one somehow). Read More

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WALL-E Rocks - Two Great Mac Jokes

WALL-E Rocks - Two Great Mac Jokes

Inside Jokes for the Mac Crowd

By Richard Harrington | June 29, 2008

Just saw WALL-E with my son, and in typical Pixar fashion, it is awesome! Two quick things I found hilarious for the Mac-Geeks out there. First, there is a character in the film called Auto, who is an auto-pilot robot for the ship. The character's voice is done by Macintalk, the speech synthesizer included with the Mac back in 1984. It sounded familiar, and I confirmed it as the "actor credit" actually appears at the end of the film. Second, there is a scene where WALL-E reboots... and yes, it is the Macintosh startup chime that you hear. I found myself laughing out loud (and I think I was the only one within 20 rows of me who got the joke (geek!). Read More

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Scrolling the FCP Timeline

Scrolling the FCP Timeline

By Richard Harrington | June 29, 2008

Too many tracks in your Timeline, and you want to scroll up and down quickly? No need to grab the scroll bar on the right edge if you have a three-button mouse. Put the cursor over the Timeline, and use the third button to scroll up and down. It gets better; hold down the Shift key and you can scroll left and right (if you're using an Apple Mighty Mouse, just scroll). Don't stop now-place the cursor over the Viewer or Canvas, and you can scrub backward and forward. If you aren't impressed yet by Apple's thoughtful engineers, go try these shortcuts in a bin, on effect sliders, and even in the audio mixer.Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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Special Episode of Layers TV on Production Premium CS3

Special Episode of Layers TV on Production Premium CS3

By Richard Harrington | June 20, 2008

I recently got a chance to co-host Layers TV with Corey Barker. The show is a great podcast that comes out each week on all things Adobe. They do a really great job with it and they had me on as a guest host to cover Adobe Production Premium."Corey is joined by guest co-host Richard Harrington to discuss working with video in Photoshop Extended, Premiere, and After Effects. • When working in Premiere, don't forget about the search menu that you can use to locate the effects you want • Change Color is a useful effect that you can use to target and adjust one color region of your video clip • There are also Shadow/Highlight adjustment options in Premiere • You can bring your video clips into Photoshop Extended and apply Photoshop effects to them • Make video clips into smart objects so that Photoshop will treat them as a single layer • After you have finished editing the video clip in Photoshop, go under the Export command and render the finished video • Get more information from Richard at Photoshop For Video.com • Use After Effects to make speed changes to your video clips. Remember, time is just another keyframe • If you want further video training from Richard, you can watch his classes at Kelby Training.com, or see him live at Photoshop World this September in Las Vegas"DOWNLOAD THE EPISODEWATCH ONLINE Read More

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PSV#81 Age a Photo - Photoshop for Video

By Richard Harrington | June 20, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington shares some techniques on how to age a photograph in Photoshop. Read More

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Stan Winston, Rest In Peace

Stan Winston, Rest In Peace

By Richard Harrington | June 19, 2008

I'm surprised that more people haven't talked about this... I am on vacation on a mountain-top (hence a little removed from civilization). I was flipping through the paper and saw this:Visual Effects Master Stan Winston, 62.Turns out one of the greatest visual FX and animators in the world passed away on June 15.I suspect most of you know his name and work. Some of the accomplishments include:Terminator 2 & 3Interview with the VampireEdward ScissorhandsIron Man Jurassic ParkPredator Aliens Batman ReturnsBe sure to see the history timeline on his site.You can find a nice overview of him here.Truly an amazing life and Many of us owe a lot to what her accomplished.His son, Matt Winston, said his father was in many ways "a big kid" with cool toys who enjoyed what he did and would say, "Just have fun, and success will come."Good advice for us all. Read More

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Learn How to Scan Photos for Video

Learn How to Scan Photos for Video

By Richard Harrington | June 19, 2008

Seems like a lot of folks have forgotten (or never learned) how to scan photos. With this is mind, I offer some practical scanning advice. Several problems can be introduced by those using antiquated scanners with a distinct lack of skill. To get the best results, try the following: • Before scanning an image, ensure you have the latest software needed by your scanner. You can always check their websites or use Version Tracker. Having problems with a lack of support on the OSX side for older scanners. I recommend checking out VueScan from Hamrick Software. • The most important thing when scanning is to be consistent. Scan all of your photos in at one time if possible. • Ensure that the scanner is lying flat, or you may get misregistered scans. • Use a gentle glass cleaner whenever smudges appear. Spray the cleaner on the soft cloth, and then wipe the scanner bed down. • Make sure your photos are clean before scanning. Never write on the back of photos, instead write on a post-it note and adhere to the back. • Place your photos on the scanner straight. Use the edges to help you maintain parallel edges on your photos. If you get crooked photos, try Photoshop CS's newest automation tool File>Automate>Crop and Straighten Photos. • If your scanner allows you, set the white and black points before scanning. Think of this as a white and black balance that you would do in a video camera. This will produce the best tonal range. You can then use Photoshop's color correction tools to adjust the white and black points as well as make additional color changes. • If you are scanning in previously printed items such as newspapers, magazines, books, inkjet prints, etc, you will likely get a moir© pattern. Photoshop scanning the small spaces between the previously printed dots causes this. Most scanners have a de-screen filter in their software. If available use it when scanning previously printed items. If this is not available, run the Median filter at a low value (Filter > Noise > Median). • Scan at the quality you need. For video, scan so you have approximately 4,000 by 3,000 pixels. This is generally enough pixel information to perform motion control in After Effects. • Save to uncompressed formats such as TIFF, PICT or TARGA for maximum compatibility and disk space usage. The PSD format is great for layered files, but is not as efficient for single layered files. Always save the appropriate file extension for your file type. Read More

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CYA: FCP’s Autosave Vault

CYA: FCP’s Autosave Vault

Never lose a project again

By Richard Harrington | June 14, 2008

Ever have a project go bad? A file get corrupted? Maybe the system crashed (OS X never crashes-it just has an undocumented close feature). Worse, you come back from lunch, and the client is standing over your editing system. "I just pushed a few buttons, really!" It's okay if the Autosave Vault feature is turned on. This great feature will back up your project automatically. You tell it how often to save, how many versions to save, and how many total projects can be archived. This is a great way to cover yourself against unexpected events. If things ever go wrong, simply choose File > Restore Project.... This way you can quickly access time-stamped versions of your project. After restoring a project, immediately select the Save Project As command and revert to the original name. Otherwise, the Autosave Vault feature will start building a new project folder for the project with a name such as FCP Tips_08_12_08_0241. Use this the next time a producer pulls a 180-degree turn on you and wants to go back three hours in time. Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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Have a Broadband Card?  Want to Share with the rest of the Crew?

Learn how to share broadband internet with the crew.

By Richard Harrington | June 12, 2008

Author and video podcaster Richard Harrington explains how you can take your wireless broadband card and share that internet connection with others on location. Read More

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