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Picture Elements

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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Perfect Color Balance for Less than $7

Perfect Color Balance for Less than $7

Why QP Cards Rock

By Richard Harrington | June 12, 2008

One way to address color calibration between your angles is to use a calibration card when shooting. This is relatively easy if you just remember to put a fresh color balance card on your clapboard for each shoot. One of our favorites is the QP Card, an affordable reference card (http://www.qpcard.se). Priced at less than $5 per card, this is a great investment in accurate color. 1. They are small and lightweight, easily fitting in your gear bag.2. Relatively inexpensive and disposable, so you can use a fresh card periodically. Old cards tend to fade in the light.3. It's adhesive on the back so you can easily attach it to your clapboard.4. With a white, black, and neutral grey surface, color correcting with Final Cut Pro's three-way color corrector is a snap.5. $7 spent per shoot is well worth hours saved on color correction. In most circumstances, just three clicks per angle will calibrate across each camera. Read More

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Distressing Text Edges - Photoshop for Video

By Richard Harrington | June 12, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to use a patterned image to degrade the edges of your text for a unique text effect in Photoshop. Read More

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Make Your Gray Skies Blue in Final Cut Pro

Make Your Gray Skies Blue in Final Cut Pro

By Richard Harrington | June 11, 2008

It's not unusual for your skies to be washed out. This is often a problem, because video doesn't offer the same dynamic range as film (the difference between darks and highlights). Fortunately, Final Cut Pro allows you to isolate the color correction, so you can achieve a fix just to the problem area.1 Apply the Color Corrector 3-way filter, and access the filter's visual controls.2 Using the Select Color eyedropper in the Limit Effect controls, select the desired color you'd like to keep.3 Click the key icon to view the matte. Use the Select Color eyedropper while holding down the Shift key to add to the matte. You can click in the Viewer or Canvas window.4 Finesse the matte by adjusting the Width and Softness sliders for the Chroma, Saturation, and Luma values in the Limit Effect controls. When the desired color is clearly selected, there will be no holes in your matte. Also, adjust the Softening slider to improve the matte. You may get a better matte by using fewer limiting ranges.5 Click the key icon twice to toggle back to View Final.6 Adjust the color balance wheels and saturation of the shot.You may need to add a second color corrector to finesse the scene or isolate another problem area.Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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Why Every Post House Needs an Apple TV

Why Every Post House Needs an Apple TV

Affordable HD Playback Device Serves Needs of Pros

By Richard Harrington | June 11, 2008

There's been a lot of ho-hum reviews on the Apple TV... too much of this, not enough of that... but these have all been focussed on the consumer space and the living room. What I'm here to tell you is why video pros should care about the Apple TV (and why we swear by it in my shop). Here are a few reasons we use Apple TV at my shop, RHED Pixel.Client Review SessionsWe often need to have clients into the office to look at progress... sometimes these meetings happen in the edit suite, sometimes not. Our conference room is a great place for reviewing projects at many stages (and doesn't feel like a microwave with a bag of popcorn it). All the editors need to do is quickly export the timeline using the built-in Apple TV presets and drop it in their iTunes library. You can Share the iTunes library of up to 5 computers. As soon as the clip is in iTunes (which the editor should keep running in the background) it appears on the Apple TV. This means you can review HD clips without needing to was time compressing for Blu-ray or burning overpriced discs (currently around $18 a pop for one-time burn). The quality of the Apple TV is excellent, and its very easy to view clips.Tons of StorageThe Apple TV can be synced with one computer. This is very easy to do with just a click and a short code you enter on the synced computer (making it secure). This content can be transfered to the device so it can be viewed even when the computers are off or the network is down. The basic unit clocks in at 40GB for $229, but the 160GB unit for $329 is the way to go. Apple states up to 200 hours of video for standard def content, but you can still easily hold 50+ hours in high-quality HD.For the RoadWe've started sending them out for tradeshows and events. You can easily load a video for playback for booths and exhibits. Tell me any other solution designed to work with Plasma screen or HDMI that costs this price. HD playback for less than $250 is just unheard of. Load up the client's videos and send them on their way. From lobbies to tradeshows, these things are fantastic and an absolute steal.For InspirationThe staff at my shop have found Apple TV to be great for both relaxing over lunch or a source for inspiration. With it, you can watch free podcasts as well as quickly look at movie trailers. We've also found ourselves taking advantage of rentals when someone wants to discuss an editing technique or approach. Plus its nice to have so many commercials and short films available via YouTube. The Apple TV puts the world of web video at your fingertips and on a giant screen.The Bottom LineEvery media pro who comes to our shop stops and plays with Apple TV. Its intuitive, its fun, and its useful. Clients feel the same way, its super easy to load up what you need for an important meeting or review session. Add in the Elgato Turbo H.264 and you can compress video even faster.We save a ton by being able to review HD content in the conference room. That's not to say I'd master a show for broadcast this way, but it does a nice job of simulating the consumer experience. Audio engineers often do the road test of burning the music to a CD and popping it a car and driving around town. Same holds true with Apple TV, its a great "real-world" test for if a video works.If you haven't tried this thing yet, do it. Go to an Apple Store and try it out. If that's not an option, Apple offers a virtual tour at their website that gives a great overview. The Apple TV should be in every post house, it saves time and money (and helps make review sessions fun again). Read More

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Photoshop Disasters

Photoshop Disasters

Laugh & Learn

By Richard Harrington | June 07, 2008

One of my favorite sites that I like to check out on a regular basis is Photoshop Disasters. The site is a freakshow gallery of Photoshop gone wrong. The site is driven by user submission and acts as both entertainment and education. There mission:"Have you seen a truly awful piece of Photoshop work? Clumsy manipulation, senseless comping, lazy cloning and thoughtless retouching are our bread and butter. And yes, deep down, we love Photoshop."Be sure to check the site out, it'll make you look at things a little differently. Read More

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Cool Video Prodution Widgets for Your iPhone or Laptop *UPDATED*

Cool Video Prodution Widgets for Your iPhone or Laptop *UPDATED*

Useful Freeware Mini-Applications

By Richard Harrington | June 07, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008I often find I have too much information to remember (and for some reason people expect me to be able to spout pixel aspect ratio numbers like a multiplication table). Fortunately the fine folks over at Digital Rebellion has solved this (and for free). They offer several video widgets that do important math, these run on a web browser or iPhone (and a couple can run offline as well). Video Footage Calculator - Calculates how much storage you'll need for your footage type and duration. Web - iPhone version - Offline versionFilm Rate Calculator - Determines how much film you need for a particular scenario. Web - iPhone version - Offline versionAspect Ratio Calculator - Determines the aspect ratio for different footage formats. Web - iPhone version Depth of Field Calculator - Calculates depth of field for many camera sensors. Web - iPhone version Pixel Aspect Ratio Calculator - Determines relationship of Pixels for many digital formats.Web - iPhone version Lens Angle Calculator - Helps calculate the lens angle for a given sensor size and focal length. Web - iPhone versionPower Load Calculator - Calculates the load on a circuit to see if it is excessive. You can also calculate the minimum circuit breaker size for the given load. Web - iPhone versionThese tools are cool, free, and useful.... three points that make them a must have for my iPhone. Read More

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Dock Options for Mac, Windows, and iPhone

Dock Options for Mac, Windows, and iPhone

Cut down on clutter

By Richard Harrington | June 06, 2008

Looking to get organized? If your Desktop is as bad as mine, you need all the help you can get. Here are three Dock options for Mac and Windows users that truly help clean things up. OverflowI've recently switched to an alternative style dock for OSX (giving it a thorough tryout). Overflow from Stunt Software has been a welcome addition to my productivity. You can quickly configure a floating window with multiple tabs (I've organized mine by job categories). You can launch applications as well as open documents using a few clicks or keyboard shortcuts. It's a useful tool and one that helps the more visually-oriented crowd who are confused by an overloaded Dock. ObjectDockNow Windows users can use a Dock! ObjectDock is a welcome replacement to the Windows start menu. With several layout options (and more themes to download) this is a very visually appealing option. You can organize Windows shortcuts as well as see running applications. What I really like is the constant development cycle with small incremental improvements (okay, I'm a TQM junky). MockDockIf you own an iPhone, then be sure to bookmark MockDock. You can find a plethora of iPhone-ready web apps, plus organize them for easy browsing. Make shortcuts to favorite phone numbers and even find some cool games. The site is constantly updated and makes good use of the unlimited data plan that comes standard with the phone. Even if you don't have an iPhone, this is a useful site to bookmark as a lot of user-friendly web utilities and fast-laoding websites can be found. You can also use the features of the newer iPhone software to store these sites as buttons on your home screen. Read More

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Using Video Chat On Set

Learn how to perform remote interviews or monitoring with video chat

By Richard Harrington | June 02, 2008

Author and video podcaster Richard Harrington explains how to use your laptop's video chat capabilities to create a live video feed from your location for remote viewing and interaction. Read More

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Analyze Video Files on a Mac with Video Spec

Analyze Video Files on a Mac with Video Spec

Useful freeware program

By Richard Harrington | June 02, 2008

Looking for a useful application to tell you more about your video files? Mac users should check out the free (and still in pre-release) Video Spec software tool. The tool is a little rough around the edges (it has one major bug which is the aspect ratio of DV and HDV is not reported accurately) but it is still truly useful. • The latest version has been tested on Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard. • It is compatible with PowerPC and Intel Mac (Universal Binary). • This version is localized in english and french.? Read More

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PSV#78 Making Selections: Alpha Channels

Photoshop for Video training podcast

By Richard Harrington | June 01, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington explains how to use the color detail in an image to quickly make a great alpha channel. Read More

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Get Photos from Aperture to Final Cut Pro

Get Photos from Aperture to Final Cut Pro

Free Plug-in Saves Time and Effort

By Richard Harrington | June 01, 2008

Sometimes third-party plug-ins fill obvious holes... this is truly the case here. Wouldn't it make sense to be able to quickly send photos from Apple Aperture to Final Cut Pro? You'd think that sort of thing would be built right in (its not). Fortunately the fine folks over at Connected Flow over an elegant (and free) solution."The Aperture to Final Cut Pro plugin lets you take your images stored in Apple's professional photo management application and send them directly to a video sequence in Final Cut Pro. From within Aperture, you can select photos, set their order and duration and select transitions between frames."The Aperture to Final Cut Pro plugin is a free download and is provided on an as-is basis. I find it works great. Read More

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Motion Templates in Final Cut Pro

Motion Templates in Final Cut Pro

How to make your own Motion templates to use in FCP

By Richard Harrington | June 01, 2008

For the past few years Apple has been pushing Motion as a tool that should be in every editor's toolbox. The problem has been, not every editor has had the time or patience to learn Motion. In Final Cut Pro 6, Apple recognized this and has integrated Motion templates directly inside of FCP. To launch a Motion template in Final Cut Pro you have three options: 1 Choose the Effects tab in the Browser > Master Templates. 2 Choose the Generators pulldown in the Viewer > Master Templates. 3 Choose the Sequence menu > Add Master Template.Choose the template that you want and load it into the Viewer. Once the template has been loaded in the Viewer, clicking on the controls tab will let you change various parameters of the template. There is only one catch:Not every parameter of a template is editable in Final Cut Pro. Text entry, size, tracking and populating drop zones with footage are the only parameters you can adjust inside Final Cut Pro.If you need to edit a template to, for example, change the text color, or swap out a background, you need to edit the template in Motion. Here's how. 1 Edit the template from the Viewer into your sequence. 2 Right-click on the template and notice at the top of the contextual menu you have two options: Open in Editor and Open Copy in Editor. Since the template is a prebuilt one from Apple, you can't save over it (it's locked) so you need to choose Open Copy in Editor. 3 Make your changes in Motion and save the file. Your changes will update in FCP.Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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PSV#77 Making Selections: Channels - Photoshop for Video

By Richard Harrington | May 20, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to make great selections using channels in Photoshop. Read More

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Timecode Burn-in and Encode in One Step for Final Cut Studio

Timecode Burn-in and Encode in One Step for Final Cut Studio

Create Window Burns in One Pass with Final Cut Studio 2

By Richard Harrington | May 19, 2008

Timecode burn-in is used to assist in referencing back to parts of show. Typically this has been used on VHS tapes for producers so they can comment on shows, etc. These days it's more common to use QuickTime files and DVDs for this type of work. Since you're going to have to encode the video anyway (most likely using Compressor), why not add timecode burn-in at the same time?Fortunately, a great new feature in Compressor 3 allows you to do this. 1 Inside Final Cut Pro select the sequence you want to export. 2 Choose File > Export > Using Compressor. 3 Inside Compressor select the setting you'd like to apply to the file. With the setting active, select the Inspector window and click the Filters tab. 4 Choose Timecode Generator. 5 Change the settings for the Timecode Generator as you see fit. 6 Apply the setting to the clip in the Batch window. 7 Submit the job.Note: If you're trying to choose the Timecode Generator for an Apple preset you'll notice there are no filters in the Filters tab of the Inspector. To be able to add the Timecode Generator to one of the Apple presets, you'll have to duplicate it first (then it becomes a custom preset). Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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Final Cut Pro to YouTube

Final Cut Pro to YouTube

Learn how to get the best YouTube videos from Final Cut Pro

By Richard Harrington | May 19, 2008

What people tend to forget is that you are sending YouTube a master for them to compress; therefore, send the highest quality you can, that fits within their limitations. YouTube.com is well know for being the busiest video-sharing site, but unfortunately, YouTube uses the much older Sorenson Spark codec for their video encoding. This was the "improved" video format for Flash 7 but is based on the very old H.263 video conferencing codec. Even when new, this was an old, inefficient codec.Many people send YouTube an already compressed video, and are disappointed when they see the quality that results on YouTube. That's because most of the information was first thrown away by the encode before upload, so there was little quality left to be encoded to Flash 7.The goal is to give YouTube a master that they can use for encoding: • YouTube has two limitations: no more than 10 minutes per video and no larger than 100 MB per video. • YouTube converts everything that is uploaded to Flash 7 video at 320X240 (although they've started to also do 640X480 in H.264). • Remember the good old days of VHS distribution? You wouldn't give the duplicator a VHS copy of the show to duplicate. No, you'd give them the highest quality master you could. Therefore, to get the best quality from YouTube, give them a high quality "master" that is close to 99 MB.Here's how to pull this off: 1 Use QuickTime Pro or Final Cut Pro to exports to .mp4 with H.264 video. 2 Export as MPEG-4 with H.264 and set the size to 320X240. There is no point providing more resolution than YouTube's finished size. By going direct to that size means that you can devote bandwidth to making that master look great, instead of sending excess size that will be scaled down. The bonus is that you get to control de-interlacing and scaling. 3 From here on there are two choices: calculate the maximum data rate that will keep the file under 99 MB, or use some general purpose settings.Thanks to Phil Hodgetts for this guest tip.Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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Sweet Music Videos from Photos

Turn a folder of images into a music video

By Richard Harrington | May 10, 2008

Looking for something different? I discovered Animoto at this year's SXSW conference... Load up your photos, pick a song, and within a few minutes you have a rocking music video. You can use their cleared music or load up your own. Thirty-second movies are free, full-length videos cost $3. You can get a full year's access for $30. Here is a discount for $5 off.The whole process is a piece of cake. Be sure to check them out - here. You can post the videos to a website, download them for an iPod, or even use YouTube to share. Here are a two more of mine that you can check out. Read More

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Final  Cut Pro - The Dividing Line

Final Cut Pro - The Dividing Line

When dragging tracks in the Timeline, where you drag is as important as what you drag

By Richard Harrington | May 09, 2008

When dragging tracks in the Timeline, where you drag is as important as what you drag. Careless dragging may result in an unintended overwrite edit when you intended an insert edit. If you look closely at the Timeline, you'll notice that it's divided by a thin gray line. When dragging, look to see which region you enter to determine the edit type. When dragging from the Viewer or a bin, use these tips: * Dragging to the upper-third of the track results in an insert edit. * Dragging to the lower two-thirds of the track results in an overwrite edit.Several different options are available when dragging within the Timeline. When dragging in the Timeline, use these tips: * Dragging in the Timeline horizontally results in an overwrite edit by default.* Dragging in the Timeline horizontally results in an insert or swap edit when you hold down the Option key.* Dragging in the Timeline vertically results in an overwrite edit by default.* Dragging in the Timeline vertically results in an insert edit when you press the Option key after you start to drag.* Pressing the Option key and then dragging in the Timeline vertically results in a cloned copy added to the Timeline via an insert edit.* Pressing the Option and Shift keys and then dragging in the Timeline vertically results in a cloned copy added to the Timeline directly above the clip.Like this tip? It comes from the book Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press. Read More

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Making Alpha Channels for Logos - Photoshop for Video

Making Alpha Channels for Logos - Photoshop for Video

By Richard Harrington | May 09, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington explains how to handle logos and give them alpha channels so they will work in a video environment. Read More

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Spot Color Grading - Photoshop for Video

Spot Color Grading - Photoshop for Video

By Richard Harrington | May 09, 2008

Instructor Richard Harrington explains how you can create a spot color effect by working with your video clips in Photoshop CS3. Read More

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Adobe TV At NAB 2008 - Photoshop CS3 Extended For Video

Learn how to use Photoshop CS3 for Video

By Richard Harrington | May 07, 2008

Want 30 minutes of free training on Adobe Photoshop CS3? Adobe had me in their theater at NAB giving lessons. Here's a recording from one of the days so you can see what was taught.Looking for more training? Read More

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