Archive for the ‘ TRICKS & TIPS ’ Category

Motion tracking in FCPX with CoreMelt TrackX & SliceX

I was recently invited to try out the TrackX and SliceX FCP plugins from CoreMelt. I’ve needed to use motion tracking on a few jobs in the past and have always relied on After Effects for the task. The TrackX and SliceX plugins from CoreMelt offer up the ability to do motion tracking directly with the FCP Interface which is a real positive for me.

I’ve only been experimenting with the plugin for a couple of days now and compared to using After Effects it’s extremely simple to get great results. I’m not going to show any examples of my own usage as yet as I’m still learning the basics but here’s a video showing some of the results that can be achieved.

I’ll be posting more of a tutorial / review in the near future showing how the tools within the plugin are especially useful for me but I’d recommend watching the examples below showing what’s possible with SliceX and TrackX.

To find out more about the plugin visit the CoreMelt website

Green screen in FCPX

I thought I’d share this project I worked on recently as going in to it I planned to do the animation parts in motion but I decided to try doing the whole thing directly in FCPX. I was pleasantly surprised how easily FCPX handled the key framing and the green screen key, I did make a few tweaks along the way but in general the keyer in FCPX is really good.

For the graphical elements I created photoshop files with a transparent background and imported them as multi layer psd’s allowing me to keyframe each graphical part separately. Opening and closing the video animation fly outs for each element was a bit of a drag, especially when there were a few elements stacked vertically but the app handled the animation with ease.

[update – 11/02/2014 – 13:24]
As noted by Ian in the comments it’s a little confusing as the hand shown in the video is on a white background. It was shot green screen because the client wasn’t sure if they were happy going with a white background so I had to be able to use imagery or another colour if required.

Timelines in Final Cut Pro X

I’ve been using FCPX as my main editing application for over six months now and with the improvements that Apple have added via updates it has really grown on me. There are a few things that I would like to see improved but in general I think FCPX has made editing for me a much better experience, it seems to get out of the way and allow me to be more creative.

One of the things that takes a little getting used to with FCPX is the way apple have messed with our minds when it comes to naming conventions and how we manage our projects. What used to be Projects in FCP7 are now referred to as Events, and what used to be called sequences are now projects… not one of apples best moves in my opinion.

When using FCP7 or Premiere Pro you get used to creating sequences or timelines within your project but in FCPX the projects are separated from the events and are saved in separate folders. There is however a way to restore some normality to working with timelines in FCPX by utilising Compound Clips for your working timelines.

Compound clips are stored within the FCPX events much like timelines would be with FCP 7 and most of the functionality is the same as it would be in a project. The only exception is that it’s not possible to export an XML file from a Compound Clip, but then it’s a really easy and fast process to copy the contents from a compound clip to a project if you need to do that.

Watch this video from Richard Taylor at FCPX.TV for a great explanation.

Miller Tripod to Kessler Quick Release Modification

One thing that really bugs me when shooting is having to change mounting plates on my cameras to make them work with my tripods, sliders, jibs etc. In the past I’ve used Miller Tripods QR system which allows you to use the same tripod plate from the Solo DV20 head on other bits of kit.  Then when I started using DSLR’s I became a fan of the Manfrotto 394 quick release plates and fitted them to everything that I could.

When I started shooting on the C300 and C100 I wanted to use something more heavy duty than the Manfrotto system so reverted to the Miller QR plates for a while. The  Miller system works well but it has a few drawbacks such as having to slide the plate into the mount from the back which isn’t always possible. The Miller QR plates are also not flat on the bottom so they can’t be mounted to everything.

Miller QR

I eventually decided to try out the Kessler Quick Release system and after using it for a few months I absolutely love it. The Kessler system allows you to attach the camera from above and once the bright red release latch engages you know the camera isn’t going to fall off, then there’s also a cam operated locking lever that fully secures the camera in place.

kwik_system-3

Kessler provide various plate sizes depending on the usage you have in mind, I have them fitted to my cameras, the bottom of my Stealth slider, and one on the base of my pocket jib traveller. I fitted the receiver plates to my tripods and one to my mini ball head so that I can swap my cameras between any tripod, the slider or the jib without swapping plates. I can also mount my slider or the jib to any of my tripods so whatever configuration I opt for it works without any messing around swapping plates.

One thing that I wasn’t so keen on though was the fact that I had to mount the Kessler receiver plate on top of a Miller tripod plate to then fit that into my Miller Solo DS20 tripod. Setting up that way works okay but it’s one more thing that can work loose and also adds a little more bulk and likely more flexing when the camera is mounted. A much better solution would be to mount the Kessler receiver plate directly to the tripod head.

The Miller receiver can be easily removed from the DV20 head by removing the four bolts that hold it in place. As you can see though this doesn’t offer any way to then mount the Kessler Kwik Release so an adapter plate is going to be needed.

photo 1

If you’re good at working with metal it would be a fairly easy process to create a rectangle plate that has the four required holes to bolt it to the head and at least one threaded hole int he centre to allow the Kessler plate to be mooted to that. I don’t have the required tools to do such a job myself but I discovered a work around using the Miller 313 QR system.

If you look at one of Millers 313 Quick Release plates you’ll notice that it’s basically identical to the one fitted to the solo DV head, but in order to make it fit on other devices Miller have attached a metal plate that has four threaded holes in the corners to allow the plate to be bolted to it and a pair of threaded holes in the middle. This plate is perfect for creating an adapter for the tripod.

Unfortunately there are some modifications that you need to make though. The four holes in the corners of the adapter plate are threaded and don’t have the countersunk recesses required so that the heads of the bolts sit flush inside the plate. I modified mine by drilling out enough metal to allow the bolt heads to sit flush. Be careful with this though, if you go all the way through it won’t work. The holes near the recess on one end of the plate do cut through the side slightly but not enough to cause any problems with strength.

You’ll also need to use a smaller drill bit to remove the threads from the remaining part of the small holes in the corners so that the bolts can be inserted and then tightened in to the threads in the tripod head. Please note that these modifications render the plate unusable with the 313 QR plate any further.

No modifications are required to the tripod head itself though, please don’t make the mistake of doing anything to your tripod head!
photo 2

Whether you make a plate or take one from a Miller QR system once it’s in place you just have to bolt the Kessler Kwik Release to it. For maximum strength and durability it would be best to have an additional threaded hole cut into the plate so that the Kessler Kwik Release can be attached at two points. For now I’ve stuck with just the one and mine has been rock solid but I’d still like to have another thread cut in at some point.

photo 3

So there you have it, the Miller tripod looks like it was created with the Kessler system and it’s super solid and more compact than the original Miller plate. A Miller 313 plate is around $190 so it’s probably not worth buying one just to do this, plus it’s a non reversible modification for the 313.

If you do have a spare Miller 313 plate though or you can have a plate made up it works really well. With Kessler receiver plates on all of my kit mounting cameras to supports or even supports to supports is always easy and reliable.

photo 4

 

The Kessler Kwick Release systems can be found at Kesslers website

The Miller 313 QR plate is available from B&H Photo

The Miller DS20 Tripod is available from B&H Photo

 

 

Editing Canon MXF footage in Final Cut Pro X ( FCPX ) without transcoding

I’ve dabbled with Final Cut Pro X a few times since it was released and although I still struggle to understand apple’s weird naming conventions the application does have quite a few things going for it. Multicam editing is fantastic in FCPX, it automatically syncs clips using audio in the same way the PluralEyes did/does in FCP7. FCPX is also great value and with each new version Apple add’s back in features that were sorely missed by FCP7 users when it first appeared.

The one thing that’s stopped me using FCPX more has been that it couldn’t handle the Canon MXF files from my C300 natively. There were plugins available that would import and transcode / re-wrap the Canon footage into more Apple friendly Pro Res files but after using Adobe Premiere Pro for a couple of years I’ve been spoiled by it’s ability to edit directly from the source footage and no longer dealing with duplicate media..

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