Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC has a feature called linear compositing, which changes the math for blending partially transparent pixels (using no gamma curve, or a gamma value of 1.0) and makes compositing operations more natural-looking than the perceptual blending used when compositing with gamma other than 1.0.
While linear light is wonderful for compositing elements realistically because it more accurately describes the way light actually interacts in real life, it emphasizes the brighter parts of images — and this can wreak havoc on single-source cross dissolves. Rather than getting a smooth transition from dark to light over the span of the whole transition, very bright parts seem to pop suddenly over very dark backgrounds.
If you want to stay in linear light for its compositing benefits, but if you want the smoothness of a traditional perceptual single-source cross dissolve, you have to bend the transition’s curve to accommodate the lack of curve in linear light. You can do by skipping the effect and using a Bezier keyframe on the clip’s opacity property instead:
This image illustrates the issue and my proposed workaround:
I love hotkeys. Most software power users do — it’s almost always faster to press a key on the keyboard than it is to find a GUI element with the mouse or navigate a menu system. I love Dataton WATCHOUT [link], too. It’s a great tool for shows with widescreen or multi-screen configurations.
Since WATCHOUT doesn’t have as many hotkeys as I would like, I’ve added some myself, using the excellent keyboard/macro utility AutoHotkey [link].
Here are the new keybindings I use:
|Alt+Y||Y Rotation tween|
|Ctrl+I||Add media file (replaces current shortcut for Insert layer)|
|Ctrl+Shift+T||Add new text|
|Ctrl+Shift+C||Add new composition|
|Ctrl+Shift+V||Add new video proxy|
|Ctrl+Shift+D||Duplicate selected composition|
Here’s a quick After Effects script that sets the duration of selected layers in a comp to a specified number of frames. Each layers’ in points will be untouched; the out points will be adjusted.
This can be installed in your After Effects application folder, inside Scripts > ScriptUI Panels.
(Warning: use the following tips and tools at your own risk. Always back up your original media, and never work directly on your only copy!)
Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion has added a new feature for playing AVCHD media, and along with this feature, they automatically treat AVCHD folder structures as packages. They are still navigable in Finder via the “Show package contents” contextual menu, but this isn’t always ideal.
One tip mentioned a few places online is renaming folders in the AVCHD structure so that OS X no longer recognizes it as a special item and presents it in Finder directly as a simple folder. One clever variation on this idea is renaming the folders such that they’re lowercase — renaming PRIVATE to private, AVCHD to avchd, BDMV to bdmv, etc. This keeps the names intact and shouldn’t spoil case-insensitive file paths, but since AVCHD is not supposed to be lowercase, OS X doesn’t treat it as AVCHD.
While the all-uppercase to all-lowercase renaming is theoretically reversible, please note that renaming folders does permanently change their modification dates.
Renaming these folders in the Finder is tedious, so I’ve written two Automator workflows. The first, called AVCHD Package to Folders traverses the folder structure and renames everything inside it to be all lowercase. The second, called AVCHD Folders to Package, traverses the folder structure and renames everything inside it to be all uppercase. These workflows can be installed as services, making them available in the Finder contextual menus via right-click, or they can be installed as applications, which accept drag and drop from the Finder.
Again, use these at your own risk, and please always duplicate your AVCHD originals (the entire folder structure) for safekeeping. Using these tools on files or folders other than AVCHD media is possible, and if you do, it will destroy any mixed-case naming in the folder structure you run it on. I haven’t broken anything here yet, but you might not be so lucky!
Of course, comments and feedback are most welcome.
You can download the Automator workflows here:
Double-clicking the services items will allow you to install them as services (right-click in Finder), or allow you to open the workflows in Automator. Dragging and dropping folders onto the apps will run them; dragging and dropping the apps onto Automator should open the workflows for examination.
If you’d prefer to build them yourself, here are some screenshots from Automator that show exactly what these do.
There are a few different ways to get a 4:3 image into a 16:9 frame, including reasonable options like pillar-boxing or scaling and cropping, and unreasonable options like simply stretching the image to fill the wider frame.
A compromise that can work well on some kinds of footage is a non-proportional or non-linear stretch, wherein the edges of the frame are stretched more than the center is. The idea is that the subject of the image, located near the center, will appear unstretched; background imagery, located near the edges, will stretch and distort, but will disturb the viewer less. Many televisions can do this, and here’s an After Effects project file to achieve a similar effect.
This project uses expression-controlled gradient ramps to build a displacement map that pushes the edges of the 4:3 frame out to the edges of the 16:9 frame. For best results, keep this in 32bpc; it will work in 8bpc or 16bpc, but with slightly more visible distortion. This same effect could be achieved with a Mesh Warp effect, but I like the displacement map approach as it’s more easily controlled parametrically.
To use it, bring your 4:3 footage into the 4×3 Input comp. Hop over to the 16×9 Output comp to see the results.
There are a couple controls on the Stretch Distortion Map layer: Stretch and Curve. Stretch controls how much of the area will be stretched versus how much will be unstretched; Curve controls the rate at which the amount of stretching changes.