Monday, October 29, 2007

The Leopard Spot

I spent Sunday working on a 30 second promo spot that was due this Friday so I decided to do it on the Leopard box and see how things went. Figuring I had enough time to switch to the Tiger machine if it all went to hell in a hand basket.

I had about 2 hours of raw footage from which to cull the clips for the spot. This spot also required the creation of some motion graphics at the head and tail of the spot and it all had to be cut to some heavy metal head banger music. The apps that I used were:

FCP 6.0.1
Soundtrack Pro 2
Motion 3
Lightwave 9.2
Adobe After Effects CS3

I decided to give AE a shot even though Adobe says that it has issues under Leopard.
The first thing I did was to create a cutdown project where I culled footage from the clips that were supplied. Once I had gone through all of the footage and ripped out the shots I wanted to use, it was on to the motion graphics.

I used Lightwave to create a 3D version of the logo graphics that had been supplied to me as TIFF files. I do this even when the result will be 2D because I can then scale the logo to any size and have no image degradation.

Once the logo was complete and I had output the TIFF sequence from Lightwave, I brought the sequence into After Effects. Once there, I created an animated background that integrated various sizes of the logo. On top of that I animated the text for the intro to the promo shot and used a number of AE expressions to add a little random life to the text's movement.

Then I brought in the music and sound FX for the intro graphics and tweaked the graphics to match the sound track. The audio was supplied at a specific length that the intro had to match. Once this was complete, I output the result to a TIFF file sequence as uncompressed SD 29.97 interlaced.

I created the outtro graphics using basically the same workflow and matching it to the outtro graphics that I created using Motion 3. Again, output to 29.97 interlaced TIFF sequence.

I then created a new project in FCP, set up my usual bin organization and setup 3 sequences. One for the intro, one for the main video clips and one for the outtro. Once that was done I loaded the TIFF sequences and placed them into their appropriate sequences that I created.

I then loaded the head banger soundtrack into the audio bin along with the intro / outtro audio sections. I then created my master sequence and loaded the intro and outtro audio and video as well as the main head banger music into the main sequence. The sequence then sits at exactly 30 seconds and I am ready to start dropping in footage from the cutdowns into this master sequence after I set my timing markers.

I listen to the music and hit the M for marker to set my beat points in the music. I go back and listen to it again and ensure that I am happy with the marker locations and tweak the ones that I am not happy with.

Finally, I start dropping in the clips from the cutdowns into this master sequence and aligning them with the markers. Once this process was complete and I was happy with the timing and overall flow of the spot (many tweaks here to get it just right), I slap bars and tone on the front and tail ends and run the sequence once more to make sure were are within broadcast limits.

A few more tweaks, the scopes look good and I loaded the whole shebang into SoundTrack and tweaked the final audio with tone as my reference after some minor EQing and some adjustments to the transitions between the intro/outro and the main spot's audio.

Back in FCP, I re-check the audio and video - watching the thing start to finish about 10 times to make sure I am happy with the result and finally burn to tape and I am done.

Now, where did Leopard fail me in all of this? Nowhere. NOTHING went wrong. All of the apps described above worked just as they always have. Including AE CS3 that Adobe says is not compatible. I suspect I just managed to not hit whatever aspect of AE has issues under Leopard. And bear in mind that this install is OVER Tiger. Not a clean install as is recommended by many in the Mac community.

When I update our MacPro Tiger machine this week, it will again be OVER Tiger that I install Leopard. Why, you might ask? I just have FAR too many apps existing on that machine to be able to back it all up, do the install and then re-install all of those apps. Just not gonna happen.

The bottom line? I am happy. I am looking forward to getting Leopard onto the MacPro. It's optimized 64 bit architecture should allow us to enjoys some nice performance enhancements while doing the work that we have done under Tiger.

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