After Effects Script: Center Layer in Active Camera’s View

In After Effects, when you promote a layer from 2D to 3D, it will seem to jump, possibly out of frame, unless your camera is in the default position. This is because Ae is keeping the numeric values of your old 2D coordinates and simply adding one for the Z-axis; it is not attempting to translate them into the 3D space you see in the viewer.

Ctrl+Home (PC) or Cmd+Home (Mac) will re-position the layer in the center of the camera’s view, but it will not auto-orient the layer the camera.

I’ve written a quick, 1-button script that sets the selected layers’ positions to the focal point of the camera and orients them to the camera, centering them in view. If the layer is 2D, the script promotes it to 3D, and if there is no active camera in the comp, it adds a camera.

If you run across any bugs, please report them below.

Download keen_centerLayersToActiveCamera

Unzip the script and drop it in your ScriptUI folder. Relaunch After Effects, then open it from the Window menu.

Premiere Pro’s Linear Compositing and Single-Source Cross Dissolves

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.

(Please see Chris and Trish Meyers’s article Linear Light [link] over at ArtBeats.com [link] for more background and some visual examples.)

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:

Premiere Pro: Linear Compositing and Cross Dissolves

Premiere Pro: Linear Compositing and Single-Source Cross Dissolves

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Custom WATCHOUT keyboard shortcuts

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:

Hotkey Description
Win+C Calculator
Alt+Y Y Rotation tween
Ctrl+I Add media file (replaces current shortcut for Insert layer)
Ctrl+Shift+I Insert layer
Ctrl+Shift+N New folder
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

Continue reading for downloads and more

keen_SetDuration

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.

Download keen_SetDuration

This can be installed in your After Effects application folder, inside Scripts > ScriptUI Panels.

Change AVCHD packages to folders on a Mac

(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!)

AVCHD Media and Mountain Lion

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.

OS X 10.8 shows AVCHD folder structures as packages

OS X 10.8 shows AVCHD folder structures as packages

When is a Folder Not a Folder?

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.

Renaming to lowercase preserves the names, but prevents OS X 10.8 from displaying the AVCHD folder structure as a package.

Renaming to lowercase preserves the names, but prevents OS X 10.8 from displaying the AVCHD folder structure as a package.

While the all-uppercase to all-lowercase renaming is theoretically reversible, please note that renaming folders does permanently change their modification dates.

 

Automation

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:

Download AVCHD Package Folder Services

Download AVCHD Package Folder Apps

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.

Screenshot of the AVCHD Package to Folders workflow

Screenshot of the AVCHD Package to Folders workflow

Screenshot of the AVCHD Folders to Package workflow

Screenshot of the AVCHD Folders to Package workflow

 

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