Hardware to help a one-armed editor.

•July 30, 2010 • Comments Off on Hardware to help a one-armed editor.

Well, actually, he has two arms, but one is soon-to-be in a sling. One of my coworkers has to go in for shoulder surgery and will be in a sling for a few months. Sadly he won’t be able to take three months off from work. He knows I like to cut and solder stuff, so he asked for my help in building some sort of custom controller to allow him to still hit shortcuts with his left hand while it is in a sling.

We have a few months, so I figure I will throw some of my ideas out there and see if anyone else has any better ones!

Concept 01 – KISS

This revolves around just using a shuttle or a shuttle pro. These have a scroll and jog wheel they have user re-mappable keys, and you can even define keysets for each specific app. I think the only thing difficult about this would be configuring a mount for it, but I could see a long piece of aluminum (to go between his arm and his body) bent at roughly a 45 at where his wrist hits it. The 45 would have a velcro patch on it, and so would the bottom of the shuttle. I think that between sliding the aluminum, tweaking the bend and moving the velcro he would be able to get pretty comfortable.

    hit the jump for more…

    Get Faster In Final Cut Pro – 13 – speed change ‘sss’

    •July 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

    This was one of the most talked-about features of fcp 7, but for some reason I didn’t start using it until recently. If you have a timeline with a gap in video and you would like to time scale (or speed change) a clip as it sits you have few options. What I had resorted to doing was cutting the clip, pasting it at the end of the timeline, speed remapping it, and then pasting it back into place. That is slow and irritating. If you try to remap it in place then frequently linked audio will force you to ripple the sequence. In short the old right-click, then “change speed” menu works better than it used to, but still not that well.

    Enter the speed change tool. You can find it under the ‘roll’ icon in the tool bar, or you can shortcut to it by hitting ‘sss’ It is shown below as the fifth icon down.

    Click on the end of a clip and drag it to your desired length. The tool will keep the in and out as marked, and time remap the clip to fit your new selection. If you select an edit between two clips it will adjust both clips accordingly. This is exactly how I would like the tool to work, and it is super convenient.

    If you have excellent vision you can see that the clip “Nightlights01” has been remapped to 66% Three s’s and a drag was all it took!

    site hacked-now fixed-post if you run into any trouble.

    •July 19, 2010 • 2 Comments

    yup. the nerds got to me again. Currently there is a redirect to nowhere that makes for an extremely unrewarding browsing experience. I ought to have it fixed in a bit. Nothing to fear, just some script kiddies…

    How to remove vocals from music with phase cancellation

    •June 29, 2010 • 11 Comments

    I run into a lot of situations where I put music under an edit and I have vo on top. This combination ends up failing on almost every piece of music that has vocals because it sounds like a trainwreck. Often I will have creatives ask me if I can “turn down the vocals” as if I somehow can pull the multitrack mix out of the low bitrate mp3 that they just emailed me.

    Bitterness aside, I generally have two options: try to eq the voice out (and often take a significant part of the music with it) or find an instrumental or karaoke version of the track (which is often unavailable or sounds terrible). I was poking around on a dj forum a while ago and found out about a third option! It’s called phase cancellation.

    Phase cancellation is a relatively simple concept. All sound travels in waves. When two sound waves hit each other they end up combining. Sometimes when the waves combine they make a sound that is as loud as both of them added together and it is called constructive interference. Sometimes they make a sound that is approaching silence and it is called destructive interference. Check out wikipedia for more info. This is the principle behind bose noise canceling headphones. The headphones each have a microphone on the outside of the headphone. They invert the sound wave coming in and then play it back through the speaker on the inside. When the sound from outside and the new sound from the headphone speaker reach your ear both sounds have been silenced by destructive interference.


    Theory aside, editors are presented with a unique opportunity here. Almost all music is in stereo, and most instruments are recorded in mono. In the mix a fairly common practice is to mix the instruments together into a stereo mix, and then apply the vocals equally to both audio channels. Since the vocals should be equal in each channel, we are able to invert the signal, play it back as dual mono, and reduce or remove the vocal track!
    Continue reading ‘How to remove vocals from music with phase cancellation’

    Creative Controller V3! – Control playback with your wiimote

    •June 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

    So, for those who haven’t been following long at home, this is the third creative controller that I have put together. I promise this isn’t going to become a “Combine X with Y and use it to control Final cut Pro!” blog. This one is clean and simple so I figured I’d put it up and share how it works.

    This uses a Wii remote, a bluetooth dongle (if you don’t have one built into your computer) and a copy of the free app DarwiinRemote

    Darwiin Remote receives commands from the wii remote and converts them into keypresses. When you first fire up the app hit the “find Wiimote” button and then press the 1 & 2 buttons.


    Continue reading ‘Creative Controller V3! – Control playback with your wiimote’

    quickie scratch voiceover setup

    •June 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

    I have had a lot of problems with instability using protools. Come to think of it, I have had a lot of problems with instability not even using protools but having it installed. Generally what I record is used as a scratch vo track anyways and will eventually be replaced with something recorded by an audio engineer in a sound booth. We recently got new towers at work and the decision was made to not re-install protools. What have we been using?

    We’ve been running this Uber-DIY/ghetto way and getting good results.
    Just in case you can’t see the photo; it is an iphone with a windscreen. That’s it! It isn’t that revolutionary of an idea, but it works (for scratch) and it looks stupid enough for me to want to share it with the world! Emailing from the iphone is faster than bouncing out of protools most of the time, and for our needs the quality is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes second best is more than good enough!

    Get faster in Final Cut pro – 12 – ‘select file’ shortcut

    •June 10, 2010 • 7 Comments

    This is one of those tricks that I’ve never seen written anywhere, but it save me a TON of time. It works on 90% of the file import /save / open dialogs across all programs. If you want to export a file from say, FCP. You start out by hitting command-E and then you get the standard finder dialog window. You can navigate through this window to the directory you want…

    OR you can select that folder in the finder and just drag it into the import “select folder” window. The box will update to the directory you just dragged in and you saved a lot of clicking. Enjoy!

    The few apps I have found this to not work with are the apps that use non-standard dialogs, like color and nuke. I’m sure there are more, but this works in most apps.

    Get faster in final cut pro -11 – Mouse analysis

    •June 8, 2010 • Comments Off on Get faster in final cut pro -11 – Mouse analysis

    The more you use your mouse, the slower you work. Some tasks are impossible to do without a mouse, but maximizing keyboard shortcuts is the clear path to speed. Keyboard shortcuts, key remapping, and droplet creation are all designed to reduce the number of steps required to do something. The difficult thing is trying to get feedback on what we have been doing inefficiently. Watching others edit can be a great help, but it only shows you things that they do quickly, not things that you do slowly.

    Enter io graphica It is a cool little piece of software that logs your mouse activity. When you move your mouse it will draw a thin black line. The longer your mouse sits in one position the line will turn into a dot and then a huge blob. Io graphica will run silently in the background while you edit. Turn it on and then crank out a few hours. Then take a peek. Provided you spent all (or most) of your time in final cut you can see a direct correlation between on screen actions and your window layout. If you want to you can take a screenshot and layer the two in photoshop to see how they line up. This info could be the final thing to help you move into 3 point editing, or it could help show you that you should really not use the pull down menu for copy and paste!

    This will definitely take some introspection and careful analysis, but it is one clear way to work on the actual mechanics of editing. It will also work on many different apps, try it in illustrator, photoshop or after effects. Hopefully this will show you room for improvement, and possibly point you to some new shortcuts!

    Enable “Bring all to front” in compressor

    •June 7, 2010 • 4 Comments

    This has been one of my biggest complaints about Compressor; when you switch to it from another app by clicking into one of the compressor windows, only that window rises to the top. The rest of the windows remain mixed in with the finder windows and other apps you have open below. My big hope for FCS 7 was that they would lock those windows together and have them snap to the top together. LIKE EVERY OTHER APP.

    Well, Apple didn’t fix that. Thankfully the smartest man alive recently told me how to ease the pain by creating a shortcut for the unshortcut-able “Bring All to Front” in the compressor menu.

    It turns out you can bind keyboard shortcuts to any menu items in in apple’s Keyboard system preference panel! Go to the apple>system prefs>keyboard and then click on the keyboard shortcuts tab.

    Click on the plus sign under the main window. From the Application pulldown select Compressor. Now type the menu name in the Menu Title box EXACTLY AS IT IS SPELLED AND CAPITALIZED. Finally select a keyboard shortcut. I used command b. Hit add and then go to compressor and test.

    This isn’t a ‘fix’ per se, but it is much easier than pulling down that menu item. This method can be used in any app that doesn’t have keyboard remapping like final cut does, so I’m sure there are plenty of great uses for it!

    Keanu gave a kickback to Matrix VFX artists(!)

    •June 4, 2010 • 2 Comments

    I haven’t been super caught up in it, but there has been a lot of talk this year in hollywood and beyond about how most blockbuster vfx driven movies don’t pay their artists very well, give them points or royalties, and how that practice is driving the entire industry in a race to the bottom.

    It generally exploded when Lee Stranahan posted an open letter to James Cameron and it got picked up by the mass media. Lee has a lot of very valid points, such as

    Just take a look at a list of the world’s top grossing films of all time – of the top 30 films, every single one of them is a visual effects driven or animated film.

    That is definitely compelling. The top grossing 30 movies could certainly afford to break off a little piece of that for the vfx artists that helped make those movies so great. None of these movies had just a ‘little’ bit of vfx. Vfx MADE these movies. There are several films below where much of the ‘acting’ was in fact vfx. If they were actors they would have been paid far better, and worked far less… To be clear here is just the top 10.

    1 Avatar
    2 Titanic
    3 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
    5 Alice in Wonderland (2010)
    6 The Dark Knight
    7 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
    8 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
    9 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    10 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    The point of this article is to look waaay back to 2003 in this little article from Hello Magazine where Keanu Reeves pledged to gave back £50m of his future proceeds from the two matrix sequels to the 29 costume and special effects artists! He was estimated to make roughly £70m out of the two sequels from both a flat paycheck and a percentage of box office revenue. That pledge amounts so him giving away 71% of his earnings from the two films!

    The fact that Keanu deems it so important that he is paying them out of his paycheck is staggering. It is sad that it is the only occurrence I was able to dig up, but it is still a step in the right direction. Hopefully studios will start responding accordingly, and pay attention to things other than their bottom line.