|Review: Magnet Media's
***Product no longer available***
A DVD-Based Magazine
Training | Zoom-in.com
Price: $49 per issue or $99 for a one year subscription.
Release Schedule: Quarterly
Special HD Issue: Volume 2, Issue
- After Effects
- DVD Studio Pro 3
- HD Fundamentals
- Photoshop CS
- Adobe · AJA ·
Apple · Avid · Blackmagic · Panasonic ·
- Steve Bayes
Preparing HD for Standard Def Delivery
- Dave Tecson
High Definition considerations
Reviewed by: Alex
Have you ever watched as someone else
worked? Watched their technique and work flow? It can be quite
amazing how others use the same software we use. Some people
have very different techniques they have developed to solve certain
problems, and often we can learn some new helpful tip just by
watching how others work. As members of the Los Angeles Final
Cut Pro Users Group, many of you attend the meetings for this
purpose. We read books, and we watch video-based lessons but
everyone can agree that we still like to go to meetings to watch
and learn from others. We are constantly looking for that one
more tip that will improve our use of software and give us that
little extra something we know is out there. I am constantly
growing, and just when I am foolish enough to believe I have
taken something as far as I can, someone shows me something that
opens the door ever so wider, and I find that I really don't
know near what I thought I did. This becomes the fuel that keeps
me coming back for more. As I read these same people in the forums,
and I watch the experts speak and solve problems, I know I can
count on a never-ending supply of unique and helpful ideas.
More than just learning new techniques
about existing software, we go to meetings for another reason.
We like to see vendors show off their new products and explain
how they work and what they offer. We love this industry and
we love to read about all that encompasses its perimeter. Naturally
when I heard about a DVD-based magazine that does all of these
things I was very interested in seeing this for myself.
Enter Magnet Media's Zoom In DVD-based
magazine. These are the same folks that continue to bring us
learning tools that cover all the latest applications we use
every day, and this costs under $99. I have been their customer
since their Final Cut Pro 2 training CDs, and if you're like
me, you already own a few of their trainers and likely have another
on order even now.
So What Is Zoom In, Exactly?
Zoom In is a way of bringing industry
expert interviews and tutorials to an audience much more quickly
than was possible before. Let me explain what I mean by that.
Because the magazine is shipped quarterly, the folks at Zoom
In have the ability to bring us interviews and information from
industry experts as the information is still fresh. In this current
issue for example, Zoom In offers over an hour of video-based
training for Apple's new Motion application. They are able to
publish this long before the actual DVD training series is released
because there is no need to wait for the hours of training sessions
Magnet Media will offer later to wrap up. The idea is to give
the audience a head start with smaller versions of a diverse
array of useful tutorials and interviews.
This is a review of that magazine and
as such I'd like to talk about the current shipping edition:
Volume 2, Issue 2. To get you familiar with the product, please
allow me to show it off a bit.
The magazine has two main sections, which
are "Tutorials" and "Spotlights". Each issue
offers a multitude of tutorials and many interviews. The current
issue's Spotlights are focused on High-Def, taken from the floor
at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) event in Las
Vegas. The Tutorials feature hours of instruction on Apple's
new Motion and DVD Studio Pro 3 applications, Adobe's Photoshop
CS and After Effects, and a special course on the fundamentals
of High-Def by Evan Schechtman.
"Come for the tutorials, stay
for the show!"
Just take a look at the diversity of
the tutorials provided in this issue:
1. Animating in 2D in a 3D Environment
in After Effects.
2. Building Custom Alpha-Transitions in DVD Studio Pro 3.
3. High Definition Video Fundamentals.
4. Masking Techniques in Photoshop CS.
5. Introduction to Animating in Motion.
The tutorials are incredibly generous.
The Adobe After Effects and Apple Motion training sections are
each over one hour in length. The Apple DVD Studio Pro and Adobe
Photoshop CS tutorials are each over half an hour in length.
Lastly the High-Def fundamentals tutorial is approximately eighteen
minutes. That's over three hours of up-to-date training on the
latest applications. Just to give you an idea of the strength
of the topics covered in these smaller tutorials let's review
two of them.
Animating in 2D in a 3D Environment
in After Effects
shows you how to take a 2-dimensional Illustrator file and animate
it in 3D using After Effects' 3D tools. He'll also teach you
a cool AE expression for animating based on the amplitude of
The interface of Zoom In is a
huge improvement from the earlier versions of the DVD magazine.
Magnet Media has now modeled the product after the well-designed
tutorials they sell. Marco's tutorial is just like larger tutorials
in that it has its own Introduction and Conclusion. The topics
he covers will teach you some of the most wanted functions of
After Effects, including using 2D illustrations in the After
Effects 3D space. Working with After Effects Expressions is an
often overlooked subject that Marco tackles for you here. The
tutorial is actually quite fun. It's short enough that you can
work through it easily and informative enough to keep you interested.
These tutorials, like their much larger
cousins, come with project files so that you can follow along
with the tutorials for a truly hands-on lesson. Just look at
the main topics and the lesson breakdown below.
| Animating 2D Files within
a 3D Environment
Using the Amplitude Expression
||Depth of Field and Rendering
| Length 24:39
|| Length 25:35
- Setting up Illustrator Files
- Importing Assets
- Configuring Anchor Points
- Parenting Objects
- Working in 3D Space
- Adding a Camera Layer
- Manual Keyframing
- Audio Amplitude
- Adding Expressions
- Animating the Arm
- Animating the Eyes
- Animating the Head
- Adding Depth of Field
- Adding Cameras
You can see that these lessons are truly
the younger cousins of the multi-hour sessions Magnet Media currently
offers, but because they are smaller, you get them more quickly
than waiting for the full-blown products to ship.
Next let's take a look at Apple's Motion
application through the eyes of Megan Cunningham.
Introduction to Animating in Motion
By now you most certainly have heard
of Apple's hot new Motion application. Megan Cunningham is Magnet
Media's very own founder. Megan gives us an introduction to animation
with Apple's Motion. While everyone readies their Motion training
books and videos, you can get started right now with Megan's
Megan's presentation is excellent, and
as you can see from the topics listed below, the lessons learned
here are more than adequate to provide you with the knowledge
you need to start using Motion right away. As with the After
Effects tutorials, the project files that are needed to follow
Megan's every instruction are included.
|Setting up a Motion Project
|| Building Layers for a Composite
- The File Browser
- The Canvas
- The Timeline
- Creating Titles
- Adding Photos to the Project
- Timing Objects to Marker points
- Adding Filters
- Introduction to Behaviors
- Adding Text Behaviors
- Adding Basic Motion Behaviors
- Adding Keyframes in
- Intro to the Keyframe Editor
- Adding Keyframes with AutoKey
- The Relationship Between Keyframes
Though I have completed the tutorials
provided by Apple and read through 300-plus pages of the manual,
I still found I missed a few spots. The best part is that the
lessons are fast. They keep you watching, teaching you what you
need to know and leave out the fluff. In the first fifteen minutes
you are creating titles and will soon be compositing, coloring,
and working with behaviors and keyframes.
There are three more tutorials, but I
am going to skip over those. I think you get the idea what these
tutorials are about. The other half of this DVD magazine contains
the industry spotlights. Spotlights are interviews with industry
leaders. In the first edition of Zoom In for example, those interviewed
included Alton Christensen, Vice President of EdgeWorks; Craig
McKay, the Academy Award-winning Editor for The Silence of the
Lambs; and Everett Moore, Sound Editor at Skywalker Sound.
In this latest edition the Spotlights
come from the floor at this years' National Association of Broadcasters
If you were lucky enough to attend this
years' NAB then you know that this was a fantastic year to be
there. Apple's Motion application was standing room only from
the start of the morning show on until the final show at the
end of the day. All of your favorite companies, including Apple,
Adobe, AJA, Avid, Blackmagic, and more were showing off the latest
releases of their software and new low-priced High-Def hardware,
and the folks at Zoom In Magazine were there to bring all the
excitement of software, High-Def, and more back to all who couldn't
attend this years' events.
That's the focus of this issue's Spotlights.
These are the companies and well-known
industry professionals, in highly polished interviews from right
on the NAB floor. What do I mean by polished? Well, for example,
as I watch Steve Bayes, the product designer for Avid's
Media Composer, Symphony, and the DS Nitris, now turned consultant,
describing the HD work flow issues between shooting 16:9 and
finishing 4:3, the Zoom In editors have thoughtfully added the
visuals into the interview to help express Steve's description
of the issues we face.
Now this is a High-Def focused issue
of Zoom In, so each of these interviewees is showing off their
latest HD solutions.
You'll hear about the Kona 2 card directly
from Ted Schilowitz, Product Manager of AJA
as he explores High-Def with the AJA Kona 2, Apple, Panasonic,
and Sony. As you watch these interviews you will see that these
are not your typical "point a camera at a company executive
and ask questions" in the reporter style interview of passing
microphones back and forth. Though these interviews are conducted
on the showroom floor, they are much more professional than that.
The footage is edited well with scenes taken from all over the
NAB floor so you get a focused interview with all the quality
of a television show. Zoom In managed to eliminate almost all
of the background noise on the showroom floor. The voices you
hear are extremely clear.
There are plenty of faces you'll recognize,
from Philip Hodgetts of Intelligent
Assistance, Inc., and frequent LAFCPUG Stump the Gurus guest,
to Kevin Monahan, aurthor of one of my favorite Final
Cut Pro books: Motion
Graphics and Effects in Final Cut Pro. You'll see the founder
and C.E.O. of Blackmagic,
Grant Petty, showing off Blackmagic's HD solutions, as
well as watch industry expert Dave Tecson of EdgeWorks
as he gives his insights on High-Def production.
I did attend this year's show in Las
Vegas, and though I was there for two days, I still found myself
smiling again as I watched these interviews. The excitement is
still there. If you missed all the fuss of High-Def at NAB, this
is the must-have Zoom In edition for you.
I hope that gives you a clear picture
of what this great magazine is all about: A lot of excellent
tutorials, and insightful Spotlights with the industry leaders
and experts, wrapped up nicely in a quarterly released video-based
One of the biggest benefits of the tutorials
provided in this magazine is their timeliness. As software updates
and new applications are launched, there is a period of time
in which we have the application with very few third-party instructional
aids. Many people have not made the leap to Motion just yet.
Perhaps there are questions yet to be answered. How does Motion
work exactly? What are these behaviors that everyone is talking
about? How do we animate without the use of keyframes? There
are so many questions, and with so little information currently
out there, it's hard to know where to find the answers.
Watching an hour of video-based lessons
goes a very long way toward answering all your questions. You
see the application in use building a project. You see how it
works, and witness the kind of work it is used for. Who knows,
this may be exactly what you are looking for.
This actually describes a real situation
I found myself in just about the time the first issue of Zoom
In was released. At that time, Zoom In featured a tutorial on
using Cinema 4D with Final Cut Pro to create a 3-dimensional
lower-third. That tutorial prompted me to pick up the telephone
and purchase Maxon's Cinema 4D. If you read the forum posts,
you'll see I show it off from time to time as well. I have been
using it ever since and I couldn't be more thrilled with the
application. I had modest needs for 3D at the time, and Maxon
allows you to buy in modules. So rather than over-purchase more
than I needed with LightWave 3D or Maya, I spent much less money
buying just the basic edition of Cinema 4D, and I have not out-grown
These interviews do exactly the same
kinds of things. You may have heard a description of a product
already, but watching the industry insider explain gives you
a second look at a product through the eyes of the developers
and the professionals that use these tools in Spotlights in a
great way to get acquainted with all that is out there. They
may have something to show or say that will prove to be quite
beneficial and could take you in a completely new direction.
At $99 a year for a full subscription,
that's just $25 for each DVD. This edition of Zoom In has five
expertly taught lessons on a wide assortment of the popular applications
we all use today. That's just $5 a lesson, which averages 40
minutes of instruction, and even more than that, you still have
the Spotlights interviews with industry leaders included. I'd
say that's quite the value.
© Copyright 2004 Alex
All Rights Reserved