Sunday, March 30, 2008

Soundtrack Pro 2.0 video tutorial now online

Part one of the tutorial is now online. I used SnapZ to record this and it worked very well. Please feel free to critique the tutorial as it's my very first one. If I get enough interest in these I will continue to do them from time to time. Part 2 of the tutorial should be up next weekend. This tutorial is a 10MB Quicktime h.264 file and it runs just over 5 minutes. You will need Quicktime 7.0 or later to view the file.

You can download the tutorial HERE.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stu's Challenge

One of the blogs that I frequent is ProLost, Stu Maschwitz's blog. Stu is one of the founders of The Orphanage, an FX house up in the bay area.

Stu had an interesting challenge recently. Save our Skin. You can read about it HERE.

One of the things that I love about Nance is that she is so easily distracted. I can point out a challenge like this to her and she will dive right in. So I did just that. Nance decided to just use the 3 way color corrector in FCP to meet the requirements of what Stu laid forth on his blog. Stu's instructions are to push the picture to blue and maintain the skin tones. His image that he used for this is here:



And here is Nance's results. Her comments and CC settings follow.


Nance: I used the Color Corrector 3-way in FCP, masking the skin tones and inverting the selection. The hardest part was including the shadow under her eye with the skin tones. It came out blue in the first one. I cranked up the softness a little more to include that shadow:


It's an interesting challenge. Give it a shot if you get bored :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Recording on the Mac

Well, I searched the boards over at ShinyWhiteBox.com for the error I was getting and I found a number of folks bringing this issue up. Neil, the admin over there, responded to the threads and never really offered a solution.

So I e-mailed Neil about the issue. He said he had never heard of it. He suggested that I purchase and use their Stomp audio application to seperate out the system audio from the MOV file.

I responded that I did not want to add additional steps to my process and that I felt that purchasing another application from them was not a reasonable solution. I also pointed out the numerous threads on his website that he has responded to that detail this issue.

That was a couple of days ago and I have not heard a word back. So, it's on to SnapZ Pro I go. At this point, I have to say that if you have a need to record your session on the Mac and you want to be able to capture not just the video and your narration, but the system audio as well, do NOT buy iShowU.

I did a concept test of the Zombie Debt commercial to show to the client. I was on the phone with them when they played it last night and I could hear them laughing like crazy. They love it and we are moving forward with this concept.

This weekend I will record and post the Soundtrack Pro audio cleanup tutorial and get it posted up here.

Stay tuned :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Soundtrack Pro 2.0 video tutorial

With my recent frustration with picture posting using Blogger, I had decided to do my next Soundtrack Pro tutorial as a video tutorial. To accomplish this on the mac, there are basically 2 choices: SnapZ Pro and iShowU. iShowU is written by a small company in New Zealand. I looked at both applications and decided to buy iShowU.

Buying iShowU supports the little guy and should meet my needs for the tutorial.

So, today I recorded the tutorial and then attempted to bring the iShowU file into FCP to clean it up before I converted it to FLV for the web. But FCP would not accept the file. After some experimentation with iShowU, I found out that it works fine as long as I do not record audio generated by the Mac. Well, a tutorial on an audio application is DOA without that ability.

It appears to be a bug in iShowU. If I record just audio of myself talking into the mic, FCP digests the file just fine. It is only when I record system audio that FCP generates a General Error and will not allow me to work with the media.

I fired off an e-mail to the author about this issue. He is pretty responsive (having answered my questions before I purchased the product). Hopefully he will have a reasonable solution to this issue. I don't want to have to introduce additional steps into the process just to overcome this audio issue.

I'll post my findings here in the next day or 2. I know this is not directly film making / Post related but hopefuly, some of you readers will gain some benefit from my experience with this.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Free Boris 3D text filter

Boris is giving away a free copy of their 3D text filter for AE and FCP. Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke dead at 90

Report HERE.

Sad day. He was an amazing visionary and scientist. He theorized the possibility of geo-synchronous orbit. The satellites that orbit the earth using his theory do so in an area above the earth's equator called the "Clarke Belt".

His visionary books such as 2001: A space oddessey were stunning reads.

Rest in peace, Mr. Clarke.

OT: iPhone 2.0 beta stuffs

Endgadget got ahold of a beta of the 2.0 firmware. You can read about it HERE.

Now, with the SDK out, I want all of you xCode HaXoRz out there to implement copy/paste!

I'm your beta-testing huckleberry!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Soundtrack Pro Round Trip

NOTE: I originally wrote this with screenshots of every step but stupid blogger's picture management made the pics unsuable. So I am just going to publish it without the pics.

Nance and I have just finished our current project. Nance used both Apple Color and the FCP 3-way corrector tool in the onlining process and I did the music, voiceovers and audio cleanup.

I thought I would blog a little bit about some of the processes that we went through. Nance kept copious notes on Color and I will be using those to post an article about that experience. Today, I will focus on Soundtrack Pro. Specifically, how to do roundtrip editing in conjunction with Final Cut Pro and following that, how to do some simple audio cleanup using Soundtrack Pro (hereinafter referred to as STP).

You must be trippin, dude!

We’ll start with the roundtrip process taking an FCP project, sending it to STP and then sending it back to FCP.

In the FCP file menu is the Send To option.

Note that if the Soundtrack Pro Audio and Multitrack project options are disabled, it is because we need to select either a clip from a sequence or a sequence itself from the project window.

Once I have selected a clip in the timeline, the STP Send To options are no longer disabled in the send to menu. For our purposes, I am going to send a full sequence to STP.

With my sequence selected in my project window AND my project window is the active window, I now have the option to send this sequence to STP as a multitrack project.

Having selected that option, I am prompted for a name for the project that STP will use and I have the opportunity to specify where I want to save it. Save it in an appropriate folder and let FCP create the STP project. Note that FCP suggests a filename that includes the sequence name and (sent) appended to it. I usually just accept this option.

Once this process is complete, STP is launched automatically and our new project is loaded into STP.

Let’s assume that you have now gone in and added tracks and put in music / foley / VO, or whatever. Now it’s time to send it BACK to FCP. From the FILE menu we select EXPORT.

We are presented with the file browser screen to specify a location for our file that is going TO FCP. But, here we have to come up with a name - I generally use the original name (without the (sent) portion) and add (Sent to FCP) and then select an appropriate location for the file to be saved.

Now, we have a number of options that we can choose from in terms of how the audio will be treated when it is sent to FCP. Under the Exported Items, we have a few options:

MASTER MIX generally means that STP will take ALL of your tracks and do a final mixdown into a singe stereo pair and sent that to FCP. All Tracks, on the other hand, will retain all of your original tracks in FCP.

Unless I am COMPLETELY satisfied with the final mix and I know I will not be doing anything more with it, I tend to pick the All Tracks Option. This way I can still tweak a few discreet audio elements inside of FCP.

You can also use the Selected tracks option so that you can selectively include and exclude what tracks are going to be sent to FCP.

Now, following this you can select audio bitrate and format options. Set these to whatever is appropriate to your project (24 bits makes a larger file and few devices out there can play 24 bit - A CD is 16 bit for example).

And Finally, the last option allows us to tell STP that we want all of this audio deliciousness to end up in FCP. So set the After Export option to Send Files to FCP Sequence.

Once you hit the Export button, STP will begin the process of exporting.

Now, if FCP is already running and it gets a signal from STP telling FCP that there is a new file for it to process. FCP then prompts us for what to do with this new file.

We are offered the option of creating a whole NEW project in FCP for this file or we can just add it to the current project as a new Sequence.

Most of the time you will just be adding this as a new sequence and not creating a new project. Once we click OK, FCP imports our new STP sequence into our existing project.

Once that process is complete we will have a new sequence with the name that we gave it in the export process inside of STP and we can then continue on with our project. This naming convention allows you to quickly see what sequences have been sent to FCP from STP

Final Notes

Once in a while, when I send a sequence to FCP, FCP gets into a weird state where the dialog box that asks if the files should be a new project or a new sequence becomes hidden. In that instance, I will bring up another application over the top of FCP and then click on the FCP icon in the dock and that seems to straighten it out.

A lot of folks like to work in STP a clip at a time instead of as an entire sequence. The process described here is basically the same. Play around with this. Make a test project and play with sequences and clips back and forth until you are comfortable with the workflow.

I will publish Part 2 of this article this week. That will focus on cleaning up audio in STP including accurately replacing noise with room tone and not affecting sync. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Zombies and HD For Indies comes to LA

Mike Curtis over at the HD For Indies blog is moving from Austin to LA. I have been reading Mike's blog and chatting with him in e-mails for a few years and it's always been one of my favorite blogs. Mike is moving out here to persue his career. Welcome home, Mike!

On the current project front, Nance has finished up the VO script so I will be recording that tonight as well as fixing a few last minute sound issues in the current project. While she has been slaving away on this, I have been working on some music with my friend KC Phillips.

KC is a talented professional musician and he has been graciously helping me record a composition of mine using Apple Logic. KC has been a longtime user of Steinburg's CuBase. I am new to using Logic so KC and I have been learning it together and I have to say I am TOTALLY blown away by this product. What a WONDERFUL tool it is. It is cool enough that KC has decided to dump CuBase, get a Mac and switch to Logic.

Zombies....

There is a thing in the credit world called Zombie debt. This is debt that is no longer valid but that creditors still persue. The victims of Zombie Debt harrassment have legal recourse and can collect damages as a result of this.

So, B-Scene has been retained to do a Zombie Debt commercial for a local legal firm. It will be done in a cheesy 50s Sci-Fi look. Very tounge in cheek. As soon as we are done with the current project, I hope to start getting this rolling. I will be taking the proposal this weekend and writing up a script for it.

We will blog about the process and get a copy of the final product up onto YouTube once we are done for all to see and enjoy.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

BUSY weekend

Well, the current project is ALMOST done. Nancy was up until 8 AM this morning grinding this thing out in Apple Color. Today I will be finishing up the sound for the project. I spoke to the client yesterday and they are excited to get it done and love what they have seen so far.

Due to NDA, I can't really blog about what the project is but I will be glad to get it out of here. Nancy shot it before Christmas and we have been posting it since then...

Once it is done, we will start on a commercial. This will be a LOT of fun and a real hoot to do. It will be a bit of an homage to 50s b-movie sci-fi. I'll blog about that as we do it.

Shane Ross over at Little Frog pointed out a REALLY nice utility that will completely uninstall FCS. Back when I went from FCS 1 to FCS 2, I ran into all kinds of ugly licensing issues and I could have really used this item.

Anyway, check it out HERE.

And, yes, the MB Frames review is in process - but running late still as we are trying to get this current project finalized and out the door.