Tips N Tricks

Linear Light

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Computers are supposed to simplify our lives. They often do this by simplifying reality into algorithms they can more easily process. However, sometimes we are better off keeping all the complexity that the real world contains. One area where this comes into play is in how colors of different brightness levels are blended together. In this article, we hope to demystify the subject of "linear light" (sometimes referred to as "linear blending" or "gamma 1.0 compositing"), and show how you can put it to work to achieve more realistic, filmic results.
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Introduction to Color Management

by Chris & Trish Meyer
After Effects CS3 has introduced the concept of "color management" to the motion graphics world. Color management is based on the admission that in the real world, nothing's perfect: Different formats (such as video cameras, still image cameras, computer-generated imagery, etc.) have different biases when it comes time to capture or create an image. Likewise, different output formats and devices - such as television sets or web browsers - have different biases as well. Additionally, computer monitors also have their own biases. When all these devices have potentially different ideas of how "red" a rose is, how do you know when you're seeing the truth? The answer is to identify each of these biases (also known as "profiles") and to compensate for them as you travel through the processing chain.
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Adding A Filmic Glow

by Chris & Trish Meyer
One of the biggest shocks we received in our budding motion graphics career came when we cut together what we thought was a gorgeous 3D render with a reference shot from a commercial, which the client provided. The 3D scene looked flat and lifeless next to the commercial, which was professionally shot on film and no doubt was "breathed upon" by a colorist as it was telecined to video. The same shock has no doubt occurred to others who have tried to cut their own footage against professionally-shot clips. The secret is that what we normally associate with a rich, sexy, filmic image has little to do with reality! Instead, the reality was enhanced through a combination of how the film was exposed, and how the film was then treated during transfer and in post production.
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From Video to the Web

by Chris & Trish Meyer
We live in a world where content often appears in more than one media format. For example, web cartoons created in programs such as Adobe Flash may be picked up for broadcast, while video content appears regularly on the web (YouTube, anyone?). Despite this, many web developers have not yet mastered digital video's numer- ous idiosyncrasies. And unfortunately, there is a lot of bad advice out there about how to deal with them. Therefore, we'd like to give the web developers out there (as well as video newbies) a list of issues to be aware of while repurposing video for the web - namely, interlac- ing, pixel aspect ratio, frame rate, and color space.
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Managing Interlaced Footage

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Most of the clips in the Artbeats stock footage library - be they captured on film, by a high definition video camera, or rendered from a computer - are delivered using the progressive scan format, which means each frame contains a whole image captured or created at one moment in time. This format makes it very easy to use and repurpose clips to other formats.
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Relighting Footage

by Chris & Trish Meyer
We all know that stock footage is incredibly convenient to use. However, some may worry whether a stock shot is unique enough to use in their particular application. Therefore, we're big on finding ways to modify existing footage to make it more appropriate - or at least, visually different - for each job.
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Projected Text

by Chris & Trish Meyer
In the previous article The Writing on the Wall, we discussed techniques for making text, logos, and other graphics appear as if they were painted onto surfaces such as wood or concrete. These same techniques can be used to make video appear to be projected onto a surface. In this article, we walk you through making text appear to be projected onto bodies and other objects in moving footage. This is very similar to the technique we used in animating the Deborah Ross-designed opening title to the Anthony Minghella movie Cold Mountain.
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Writing on the Wall

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Two seemingly opposing ideals regularly drive our video designs: the desire to emulate reality, and the desire to create mysterious, surreal, dreamlike imagery. Both of these goals are often served by combining video and still images in sometimes unexpected ways. In this article, we’ll give an overview of a few techniques that help give the impression of one element being painted or projected onto another and then worn away; in the next installment, we’ll show how to make text look like it was projected across bodies shot on video or film.
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Crossing the Line

by Chris & Trish Meyer
We love stock footage collections that contain elements which we can blend with other clips. The resulting composites are often more intriguing than using single clips, plus this allows us to build custom looks for clients out of otherwise stock shots.
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The Kid Stays in the (Moving) Picture

by Chris & Trish Meyer
We recommend to folks in the market for stock footage that if they can get the hi-definition (HD) version now, they should - even if their jobs are currently all in standard definition (SD). For one, HD is certainly the future, so buying HD clips now helps prevent your investment from becoming obsolete. Secondly, the extra pixels available in an HD clip open up many additional possibilities when working in SD: You can re-frame the shot, perform pan and zoom moves on it, and also perform creative tricks such as simulating the popular "Kid Stays in the Picture" look. We'll discuss some ideas along those lines here.
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Enhancing Mattes

by Chris & Trish Meyer
In our previous article, we gave you a few ideas for how to convert stock footage into mattes. This resulted in the ability to create some unusual, often-mysterious composite imagery and picture-in-picture effects. If that seemed like a lot of work, fortunately a few collections come with pre-made mattes. We'll show you how to use these, and give you some ideas of how to customize them for your own tasks.
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Creating Mattes

by Chris & Trish Meyer
We often say that one of the secrets to motion graphics is managing transparency. The more you can get away from full-frame or hard-edged images, the more likely you are to create a "mysterious" look with perceived higher production values. To this end, we want to share with you a few tricks for how to turn footage into a "matte" that can be used to partially reveal one image over another.
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A Change of Pace

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Sometimes, you find a clip that has the perfect look...but it doesn't move at precisely the speed you need in order for it to match your story, music, or preferred visual pace. Other times, you may want to change the speed for creative purposes, such as slowing down an otherwise frenetic background clip to make it more dreamlike. There are several ways to change the speed of footage - but which one you should employ depends on what software you are using, and the nature of the footage itself.
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Going Wide

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Video production - from corporate to broadcast - is in transition right now as we move from boxy ol' 4:3 standard televisions to sleek new 16:9 widescreen models. Of course, high definition TV is widescreen by default, but a considerable amount of standard definition production is also being done in the wide format. The problem is, most of the assets sitting in all of our video vaults were created for the older format. In this article, we'll discuss some dos and don'ts as you move your production to widescreen, suggestions on how to future-proof new assets you acquire, and some ideas of how to repurpose older footage for this new format.
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Pixel Aspect Ratio, Part 2

by Chris & Trish Meyer
As discussed in the previous article, digital video has a quirk that many of its formats employ "non-square" pixels. This means its pixels are supposed to be stretched or squashed by a specific amount when played back on a television or a video monitor. In contrast, computer monitors have square pixels. As a result, much digital video looks odd when viewed on a computer. Therefore, it is essential that you understand these pixel aspect ratio (PAR) issues when creating graphics. Otherwise, client logos may look out of round, and your talent may look fatter or thinner than they are in real life.
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Pixel Aspect Ratio, Part 1

by Chris & Trish Meyer
One of the more annoying idiosyncrasies of digital video is that images often look distorted on a computer monitor: they're either too wide or too skinny, especially when working with widescreen footage. This can lead to a crisis in confidence - often late at night, usually on deadline - as to whether you can trust your eyes, or if you are doing the right thing. In this article, we will help explain the tricky subject of pixel aspect ratio or "PAR" for short, including PARs for common video formats.
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Replacing Data Screens

by Chris & Trish Meyer
More visual effects are creeping into filmmaking - even industrial and corporate videos! One common trick is to replace a sign, poster, television screen, or video display with a different image. Artbeats has a pair of versatile Control Panels collections that are particularly well suited for that last task.
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On the Right Track

by Chris & Trish Meyer
You may think motion tracking is an exotic feature that you will rarely have need for, but it’s a handy skill to have. It can help you create a variety of visual effects, including having a “target” icon follow an object on screen (such as some of the target icons in the Artbeats Reticles collection), or placing text boxes over the head of a person walking down the street (a recent commercial placed cell phone signal strength bars).
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Smoke and Mattes

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Light rays emanating from an image: It’s an effect we all use at one time or another. However, you’ve heard the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” - and just slapping on an effect at its default settings is not exactly a way to set your work apart from that of others. However, there is a relatively simple technique that employs stock footage to make light rays and other “volumetric light” style of effects look much more compelling.
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Getting Down with Pulldown

by Chris & Trish Meyer
A substantial number of clips in the Artbeats library originated on film. Film is usually associated with a frame rate of 24 fps (frames per second). However, all Artbeats NTSC and high-definition clips are provided at a rate of either 30 or 29.97 fps. How do they resolve this difference?
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Going for a Loop. How to Create Seamless Loops.

by Chris & Trish Meyer
This tip gives insight on choosing the right footage, plus lining up, trimming and fading to create a seamless loop that you ordinarily wouldn't think possible!
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A Tutorial Excerpt from Creative After Effects 7

Freelance animator and digital filmmaker Angie Taylor's new book Creative After Effects 7 is now available! Angie has given us an excerpt from the book; a step by step tutorial from Chapter 10 - Paint. Included are project files and the footage she used so you can follow along step by step.
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Artificial Lighting

by Chris & Trish Meyer
This tip involves using abstract backgrounds to add interesting lighting effects to other footage clips.
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Through the Looking Glass

by Chris & Trish Meyer
The new Artbeats Glass Illusions collection includes a number of cool-looking clips. This got us thinking: Wouldn't it be even cooler if we could create the illusion of viewing a second clip through this glass-like imagery?
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Visual Groove; Re-timing animations to match music

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Backgrounds are perhaps our favorite category of stock footage, so of course we were interested to check out the new Chromatica and Glass Illusions collections released at the 2006 NAB show. Both feature colorful combinations of flat as well as translucent 3D imagery, with Chromatica generally being busier while Glass Illusions is more sedate.
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Harnessing Electricity

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Long-time users of Artbeats footage are probably familiar with their ReelExplosions and ReelFire collections, which were based on combustible themes. So after you've blown things up and set them on fire, what do you do for an encore? Apparently, electrocute them.
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Managing Transparency Part 2

by Chris & Trish Meyer
In our previous Tips N Tricks article, we discussed the differences between Straight and Premultiplied alpha channels, how to manage mattes that are provided as a second file, and the best ways to treat footage shot on black (such as explosions and other pyrotechnic effects). This time around, we'll talk about how to handle footage shot against white as well as the more common blue and green screens, plus ways to make images with alpha channels blend better with the clips behind them.
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Managing Transparency Part 1

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Not all footage needs to be full-frame - in some cases, parts of the frame may be transparent, so you can see bits of the image underneath. However, it's not always obvious how to extract and manage transparency for a clip; the result can be unsightly fringing or an unsatisfactory final composite. In this article, we will teach you a series of correct working practices to get better alphas from the clips you're provided; in the next installment, we'll reveal some more creative ways to create transparency.
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Building Better Backgrounds

by Chris & Trish Meyer
It was both empowering and enlightening to design our own nature-based background libraries for Artbeats: Nature Abstracts and Liquid Abstracts. We want to share with you some tricks we learned along the way, and the design criteria we followed to improve the usability of our clips. Hopefully this will give you some ideas of how to better employ whatever clips you've chosen for your own job.
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A Gentle Introduction to Creative Colorization

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Color is one of the most important concepts in motion graphics. Often, your client has corporate or otherwise favorite colors that they would like you to reinforce. Choice of color can also evoke a certain mood, such as red's association with heat and blue with cool. Or maybe you're trying to find a way to unify the look of a disparate assortment of clips you've edited together.
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A Heads-Up on Using Reticles

by Chris & Trish Meyer
Stock footage continues to evolve beyond scenes and backgrounds into the realm of graphic design. A great example of this is the Artbeats Reticles collection, which contains nearly 30 full-screen data displays with alpha channels for you to place over your own footage, plus a number of useful graphic elements to mix in or use on their own. As employing this product isn't quite as simple as cutting it into your timeline, we thought we'd share a few ideas on how to get the most out of it.
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HD Formats: 60i? 24p? 50i? 30p?

by Bob Hayes
What's it all mean and how can I use it? It's been said the wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many of them. This is especially true for High Definition footage.
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Combining Footage

by Steve Hullfish
Sometimes with stock footage, even with a library with a great depth of well-chosen images, like Artbeats, the perfect image that conveys the message you need is not to be found. But take heart, because often times, combining Artbeats footage with other Artbeats footage or with footage that you have shot, can create that perfect image.
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Track Matte Tint

by Brian Maffitt
Let's say we want to jazz up a text element by filling it with an Artbeats video layer. An easy way to accomplish this is with a track matte, also called a traveling matte, and it's really easy to do inside Adobe After Effects.
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Final Cut PRO HD: Exporting

by Jerry Hofmann
You have some of the fabulous shots that are HD from Artbeats, but are working on a Final Cut PRO HD system that doesn't include an HD capture card. Can you use them? Sure you can! Read on...
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Paint in After Effects Tutorial

by Angela Taylor
Paint was introduced in version 6 of After Effects and it opened up a whole new way of working for many After Effects users. The paint in After Effects is vector based and non-destructive which means that any changes you make do not alter your original files. This allows you to be very experimental with it.
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QuickTime Pro With Artbeats

by Richard Harrington
By harnessing QuickTime Pro, you can package your images in several ways to show your clients. This cross-platform solution is affordable at only $29.99, and many video pros already own it. Be sure to try these different solutions out for your clients.
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Creating Lower Thirds

by Bob Hayes
Check out this great tip about creating lower thirds. This tip was taken from our eNewsletter. Click on the link above to view the tip!
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Creating a DVD Interface

by Jeffrey P. Fisher
As a musician and composer, I've always been inspired by new sounds. Give me a synth patch, new guitar effects, or even some drum loops, and I'm bound to find the muse. For my visual work, new images, still and/or motion, inspire me as well. When I'm stuck for a new idea for a client project, I go to my favorite web sites to see what sparks my imagination. And Artbeats is top on my favorites list.
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Creating a Title Sequence: A Tutorial in AfterEffects

by Steve Holmes
Creating a compelling movie title sequence can be quite a daunting task. However, armed with some great stock footage clips, some Illustrator files and some new-found After Effects knowledge from little old me, you will be amazed at how easy it is to build a highly-detailed backdrop with some crazy randomness in a short amount of time.
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