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-Oct 23, 2002-

Compositing and Effects Night

Tonight we showed you cool tips, tricks and how2s using Final Cuts myriad of effects tools. Plus "The Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth" about the Panasonic DVX100 24p mini DV Camcorder. And another round of Stump the Gurus, show and tells, and of course World Famous Raffle.

First up was Stump The Gurus with Ken Stone, Andrew Balis, and special guests Lisa Brenneis and Sharon Franklin from the sfcutters. Some of the questions asked and answered were:

Q.- When I rotate my image in the Canvas and render I get a loss of resolution. I see this on the NTSC monitor.
A.- Anything that is rotated has the possibility of softening simply because you moved the image and you Ned to render your already compressed DV footage. Also and in this particular case you can and should always find a better position for the rotated object. Hold down the option key and use the up and down arrows until you find the best location.

Q.- I keep loosing my render files. How come?
A..- One reason most people loose it and it happens only randomly, is because of the energy saver kicking in or screen saver kicking in. Also avoid calling your drives similar names.

Q.- If I'm capturing between two different projects can I get the capture scratch drive to go back to the same one I use in the first place?
A.- No. Unless you manually set it each time. Also in OSX you might want to try logging in as different users for your different projects. keep preferences the same for all projects.

Q.- How do I make a good freeze frame? It wobbles.
A. Try the flicker filter or de-interlace filter. BUT move your image one frame at a time until you get less shaking then apply the filter.

Q.- I'm getting Unexpected Quits when using Jaguar and the Text Tool. It especially happens with changing fonts, and rendering.
A. Just might be a font problem. Make sure you upgrade to 3.0.2 by going from 3.0 to 3.0.1 then 3.0.2

DV Companion author Philip Hodgetts was up next to show us the World premiere of his latest offering to all of us who need help with FCP, The Troubleshooter for Final Cut Pro.

Now the Troubleshooter differs from the DV Companion is a BIG way. Where the DV Companion solves your problem and keeps you working in a productive non stop manner, the Troubleshooter allows you to ask a series of questions to solve your problem based on you and YOUR Final Cut system. You do not have to know anything about troubleshooting nor even ask the right questions. The questions are there for you to click on. Keep clicking Continue and you'll find the question to start with. Ask a question, it will give you a series of possible answers. If the answer isn't there, click on one of the possible answers and it will give you more content to find your answer.

The great thing is that it is always up to date. When you first purchase Troubleshooter you are directed to go to the Intelligent Assistance web site to download the content. So right there you are up to date no matter when you buy. The TroubleShooter will prompt you when more content is available and it's free to registered user.

Philip took a couple problems from the audience and it works flawlessly.

It's only $75.00 and $50.00 for DV Companion owners and it's available at the lafcpug Store.

Next up was our first Show and Tell of the evening and it was a dandy by our long time friend and filmmaker Mitchell Rose.

Titled "Case Studies from the Groat Center for Sleep Disorders" it tells the story of founder, Dr Peabody Groat and his work with people with sleep problems.

Shot "progressive" using dancers from the Portland Dance Company and using stop motion techniques, and the program ImageDV this is a VERY funny take on the peculiar habits of a group of people who have peculiar sleep disorders.

It brought down the house down.

"Case Studies from the Groat Center for Sleep Disorders" is now on the festival circuit and has already won awards for Mitchell. See it if you can before Mitchell becomes too big for lafcpug.

Since it was Compositing and Effects Night it was time to do some Compositing and Effects so who better to show us some tips and techniques but DV Creators, Josh Mellicker

Josh began by booting up FCP and showing us by going into the Keyboard Control Panel and selecting to make the repeat rats "short" and keys "faster" thus by holding down the left or right arrow keys you get a sort of shuttle control, one frame at a time.

Josh imported a Cloud layer and put it on V1. Then he next dropped a clip of Steve Martin driving a car onto V2. Now we know the track on V2 hides the clip on V1. Now you can resize (make smaller) the top layer to appear, which Josh did, or make the top clip transparent which Josh also did. But Josh went into Composite mode cause thats what we wanted to see.

To composite the two clips, simply hold the Control key down and click on one of the clips and up comes choices for composites. Now's the time to experiment with the many modes. Do them all.

Josh showed us how to use the "Color Key" to bring the clouds into the background of the flying car. One click will do it. Josh likes to experiment. Experiment is key to all this. It's really the only way you can understand what compositing is all about. That, or buy Secrets of Final Cut Pro CD.
Not satisfied with 2 layers to composite Josh moved V2 to V3 and dropped a flying Chicken man into V2 around the point he wanted the Chicken man to appear.

Since Josh added filters to the flying car similar to what he was going to do with Chicken Man he simply "pasted attributes from the flying Car clip.

Make a long story short, we got to see Steve Martin driving a car threw the clouds shocked by a flying Chicken Man flying along.

Josh ended his preso by showing us how to do "jittery text," by typing your text, drop the text in the timeline, put text in Wireframe mode in Canvas and now start moving text one frame using the arrow keys while adding keyframes. The results after render is very cool jittery text. Josh then added a couple more words to the effect and indeed it's very cool and very easy to do.

Many of the effects Josh did tonight can be found in Secrets of Final Cut Pro available in the lafcpug store.

One the most frequently posted problems has to be "my Titles look like crap after I render." So...we brought in Philip Hodgetts who LOVES the title generator in FCP to teach us how to get the best looking titles one can possibly get..... using Final Cut Pro's Title generator. A tough task for anyone. Which is why we recommend you use Boris Calligraphy and NOT the title generator but for purposes of demonstration Phil stuck with the Title Generator. So there!

Start by using BOLD fonts such as Impact, Arial Bold, Helvetica,and avoid sans serif font. Then choose a nice big size. To small and your hosed, to big and you can fit your title on the screen. Make sure you look at your title on a NTSC or PAL monitor NOT your computer monitor.

Don't attempt to put default white color fonts over a Black Background. The whites in FCP are WAY to HOT and will flicker. Bring your whites down to almost grey on your computer monitor.

Titles over Video still require you bring your whites down as well as any bright color such as Red or Yellow

Fool with adjusting opacity when placing titles on top of a clip.

Phil brought up the Vectorscope to show us how to bring down the colors to a Legal limit making your titles look MUCH better and keeping them legal.e . Bottom Line you MUST have a NTSC or PAL monitor to see what your titles will really look like. Do NOT depend on your computer monitor.

Time was running out and we had to stop Phil's excellent demo but we are lucky to have text and pictures and a how2 that Phil so graciously sent to us. You can print it out here.

Next Show and Tell before the break was from our good friend and veteran editor, Lillian Bensonwho showed us clips from "Smothered, the Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, a 2 hour documentary soon to air on the Bravo network.

Lillian has done many small projects using FCP but this was the first "big" one. She told us that she captured the hours of footage using the offline RT codec which she found to be very problematic when it came time to up res. She went on to say that FCP was chosen for this project because the producers could not afford an Avid rental for 16 weeks and if FCP was not around this documentary would of never been made.

The doc was shot on Beta SP, and later, via an EDL, brought into a traditional online house. No errors were experienced in the EDL.

The doc is slated to air December 4 of 2002. It's a great piece of history and American culture.

Time for a break, so we took one.

The Panasonic DVX100 24p/60i Camcorder just shipped in Oct of 2002 and by all accounts is the most talked about digital camcorder since the XL1 And the most confusing it seems. So we thought it be a good idea to show it off and talk about how to actually use it.

We brought in Frank Rohmer from Promax who had spent a good deal of time with this camera, and probably knew it as well as anyone.

Frank began by showing some video he shot at 60i, 24p and 24p advanced although we had no other camera to do a side by side comparison, I'd think most in the audience found the image(s) to be on par or superior to "other" mini DV camcorders. 24p advanced (2:3:3:2 pulldown) seemed to give a subtle cinema style quality to the image as well as boosts the colors big time which the telecine will correct if you plan to go to film according to Frank.

The DVX has a cool feature called "Skin Detail" which when turned on gives a softening quality to the skin. Great for getting rid of wrinkles.

The camera has VERY nice wide angle with little vignetting I could see, and dual XLRs. Colors in 60i looked very real and warm. More like a Sony than Canon to my eye.

There are SO many features in this camera and there was not enough time to show them all but Frank tried.

Dual XLR audio sounds great according to Frank as well as on board microphone.
Leica lens is very nice even though hampered by only a 10:1 optical zoom.

Frank thinks this camera competes nicely with the PD150 and XL1 right out of the box.

LCD flip out display is larger than most as is the view finder which most find very comfortable.

The menu has 7 categories and Frank doesn't quite like the "joy stick" mechanism approach to navigating through them especially if you have to make adjustments on the fly.

Settings are to numerous to go into here but Frank recommends (actually insists) that you read the manual.This is particularly important with this camera.

Frank then brought up our beautiful model for the night, Chriss Horgan and showed off some of the nifty features.

Now it's probably not fair to judge the image projected onto a theatre screen as what appears on the LCD screen is not what appears after going through the S video cable to a projector, but if you have 300 people in a theatre you can't do a demo like this with a 19 inch monitor.

First impressions from this writer was that Panasonic has done a great job and certainly found a worthy competitor to Sony and Canon. 24p mode brings out a slight blurring in motion and horizontal lines seem to mosquito ( to my eye at least.) No true 16:9. Century is coming out with an anamorphic lens by the end of the year though.

In 24p advanced, does it look like film? Well, no not really. But it sure doesn't look like video. All in all it's an impressive camera.

Dan Fort got up next to tell us how to edit with this thing and by using Cinema Tools, convert the video to TRUE 24fps if you are planning to go to film. VERY fast too.

We had a problem with Dans PowerBook hooking to the projector so we pointed the DVX100 to the PB's screen and that was projected onto the Theater screen. Hey it worked.

Dan began by giving us a lesson on what pulldown is, (2:3 and 2:3:3:2) what 24P means and used a chart to explain it all and I missed this part so I need to buy the DVD to learn. Sheesh.

Anyway using Cinema Tools you can convert your video to TRUE 24fps doing the 2:3:2:3 pulldown and as Dan demonstrated do it VERY fast.

Again I need the DVD to explain it all but the process is fairly simple it seems and boy is it fast.

Last Show and Tell was from Gregg Spotts - aptly named "How miniDV and FCP helped the Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer Team take their Game cast to the Next Level" And win the championship I might add.

Multimedia Producer and lafcpug member Greg showed us a pair of two-minute sports television segments: one shot on Beta and edited with Avid, and the other shot on miniDV and edited on a Ti-book with FCP. Greg explained how the combination of miniDV and FCP made possible a half-hour "Galaxy Countdown" pre-game show broadcast on KCAL 9 throughout the 2002 season. Greg contends that MiniDV and FCP can produce effective television segments for major-market broadcast at less than 1/3rd the cost of traditional broadcast tools- and from the results we saw, he's right. This was good stuff.

World famous raffle was up next and we thank those who so generously donated these great prizes.

2 FCP Keyboard Keycharts - Neotron Design
2 Royalty Free Stock Footage CDs - ThinkStock
4 Apple Clip Boards - Tony Edwards and Frys Electronics
Free FCP 101 class - Digital FilmTree
1 copy "Final Cut Pro for Avid Editors" Diana Weynand
5 $20.00 Gift Certificates -
Poquito Mas Restaurants (Hey, we gotta eat)
DV Companion for FCP 3 -
Intelligent Assistance
TroubleShooter fo Final Cut Pro - Intelligent Assistance
Secrets of Final Cut Pro - DV Creators
2 copies of FCP 3 Visual QuickPro Guide -
Lisa Brenneis
1 copy of VideoClix
- VideoClix
2 Royalty Free Stock Footage Cds - RocketClips
DriveTime - Josh Paul
DVD Companion Pro Pack - Recipe 4 DVD
1 copy Creating Motion Graphics Vol 1, 2nd Edition - CMP Books
1 copy Audio Postproduction for Digital Video - CMP Books
1 T-shirt -
2 copies of lafcpug DVDs - lafcpug


Special thanks must go to Chris Rogers, and Doug Lindeman for taking tickets. Ken stone for taking pics. Mark Havener for doing the lights. Dan Brockett for taping the show, and of course Promax for footing the bill.

Michael Horton,