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Musings about filmmaking, technology, and other stuff

mMorphCut - Cutting Out the Jump Cuts

mMorphCut - Cutting Out the Jump Cuts

One of the things that plagues corporate videographers like myself is interview footage. Most of the time you get some great little sound bites, but they are in between gaps of "uhhh"s and "ummmm"s that you have to cut out. You are then left with jump cuts. Historically that is where B-roll footage came in, to cover those gaps up. And that won't go away. You don't just want to watch a talking head. You want to see an example of what the subject is talking about. 

But depending on how many jump cuts you have, it can get kind of impossible to have enough meaningful B-roll. So a lot of times when you have the ability, you have a second camera angle. That way you can cut to the wide profile shot or something similar and cut out the gap in speech. 

But what if you didn't have a second camera angle? 

Enter MotionVFX and mMorphCut, a plug in that morphs the small gap and makes the cut seem seamless. Now, this idea was brought about by Adobe in their latest version of Premiere Pro. When it was announced, I was tempted once again to leave FCPX and try Premiere Pro again because I knew I was going to need this tool almost every week with the work I do. But I enjoy woking in FCPX so much, and am much faster with it, that it was going to be tough to switch back to Premiere Pro. Then I thought, well I could take the footage, edit just the interview down in Premiere Pro with Morph Cuts, and then export it back to edit in FCPX. But that was going to be a lot of work. 

You can imagine my elation when MotionVFX, my favorite Final Cut Pro and Motion 3rd Party developer, announced that they created a similar plugin for FCPX! It was released today. I bought it and it works fantastically! Now there are some caveats. If there are huge body or camera movements between the cuts, it will look weird. I tried it on a couple shots and the results weren't great. But I was going from a part of the shot where the subject's arms were folded to a part of the shot where they were unfolded. Obviously this won't work, but I wanted to try it anyway. But in my own tests where I was just cutting out a gap where they weren't speaking, or they were thinking, or just cutting out an "Ummm" - it worked fantastic! 

Thanks Adobe for giving MotionVFX the idea to create this. It truly will change the way I edit. 

Desert Migration Premiere

Desert Migration Premiere

It's been almost two years since I first started working with director Daniel F. Cardone on Desert Migration. This was my first feature length documentary and a very intense experience. Since I couldn't work on it full time, another editor took over and got much of the structure in place. Then I came in at the end and finished the film. I am very proud of the work that I did, and very excited to see the film get selected for festivals. 

Desert Migration premiered at the Frameline Film Festival to a packed Castro theater. It was such a thrill watching it with an audience and seeing how they experience the film. It was also interesting to hear the kind of questions people had after the film. 

Since then, the film has played at Outfest Los Angeles and Cinema Q Denver. The next upcoming screening is in Austin.

Starting a Thumbtack Profile

Starting a Thumbtack Profile

I came across this freelance site called Thumbtack.com. I was really impressed by the simplicity of the design as well as the organization of the workflow process. I attended a webinar for professionals they were recently hosting and they provided some great information. So I've decided to give it a shot. 

One of the things that I think is beneficial to potential customers is that if I want to submit a quote for a job you are requesting, it costs me money. So for the customer, every quote you get is a qualified one because I am not going to spend money on submitting a quote if I don't think I can handle it. 

Here is a link to my profile:


Macy's LGBT Wedding Expo

Macy's LGBT Wedding Expo

I've been invited to participate as a vendor in the upcoming LGBT Boutique Bridal Event at Macy's in Sherman Oaks on Saturday the 28th of March. I'm very excited and honored to showcase my videography services at the event.

A special thanks to MoeSet Enterprises for their invitation to the event. 

How Not To Act In Commercials

How Not To Act In Commercials

Criticizing other people's work isn't something I do often, I'd rather just concentrate on my own work. But sometimes it's not just a criticism, it's a lesson on what not to do. I was watching TV this morning and came across this commercial for Universal Kitchen and Appliances. I first noticed it because I'm always on the lookout for a good kitchen showroon. But then what stood out to me was the acting in the commercial. 

Both women walk through the showroom at a hyper pace which isn't natural. Also both women are often moving their mouths at the same time. Why? It almost looks as if they are doing what background actors typically do which is just moving their mouths without any thought into what they would be saying, or how a conversation naturally flows. But the director had to know that they weren't going to use the sound for those shots, so why have them pantomime their conversation? Why not either give them some dummy lines or just ask them to talk to each other like they normally would.

Also, just slow it down a little bit. It's like they are in a race or something. If you want to show more of the showroom, have the camera pan across the showroom and land on them talking in front or an appliance. 

So again, the main lesson I got from this is that when directing my talent, have them be more natural. Otherwise it will stand out as awkward and the message may be lost. 

Going Back to Mini

Going Back to Mini

I've had an iPad since version 1. Once the iPad mini was announced I got one right away. I was really excited about the size. It was much more manageable and portable. The deal breaker for me was the screen resolution. It was just too low, especially after having a retina display on my iPhone. Going from a nice crisp display to a low resolution one was difficult. I ended up selling it and when the iPad Air came out, I wanted to go back to a full size iPad for a while. 

I have loved having the Air. It is thin, light, and has a beautiful screen. But I've had an urge to go back to the mini form factor. So when I came across a listing on eBay for a barely used iPad mini 3 that was too good to pass up, I put in a bid. I ended up getting it for a really good price and I'm very happy that I did. 

One of the things that I was excited about is that it is the silver (aka white) version. I always get the space grey (aka black) version, but you end up being limited on cover choices. I like the new bright colorful covers, but the don't always go well with black. But they go great with white. 

I was also excited that it was the cellular version. I usually only get the wifi version, and if I'm out and about I pair it with my phone. But there are times when it would be nice to just have the cellular built in. And since I was getting it for a really low price, it was hard not to pass up. 

So far I'm very happy with it. It is a great size, I love having Touch ID,  and the screen is beautiful. I would say my only complaint is that it doesn't seem as responsive as the Air was. I've noticed some lag here and there, and web pages don't seem to load as fast. It's not a deal breaker, but it would be nice for it to be as fast as the bigger device. 

I would have typed this post on it, but I'm waiting for my Keyboard Case to arrive. 

Fixing the Internet

Fixing the Internet

A weird thing happened the other day. I had someone who was on our wireless network but couldn't connect to the internet. They were on a recent model Macbook Air and they were connected to the wireless network, but could not get any data from the web. They had an IP address, MAC address and everything. It baffled me. I did the basic stuff like restarting the computer and turning on and off the wireless on the computer, but no connection. The weirdest part was that I used the USB to Ethernet adapter to hardwire them to the router and they could connect. It was specifically the wireless. 

A quick Google search later and I found the answer, and since I didn't know about it I thought I would share with others in case it could help them. In the System Preferences window there is the Network button. In that area there is a button down at the bottom that says "Assist Me."  

If you click on that it gives you an option to select Diagnostics. That will launch a setup guide that is very easy to go through. Once I did that everything was fine. It did pop up a warning at some point saying that it changed a network setting, but whatever that setting was it changed it for the better. 

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I often back up the Apple advertising that Macs "just work." In this case it didn't, but it was relatively easy to fix once I found that little button. 

Quick Interviews

Quick Interviews

I love setting up an interview. Choosing the right location, setting up interesting lighting, choosing a nice long lens for shallow depth of field, and having a b-cam capture a side angle. But sometimes all that isn't possible. Sometimes it's just you, a handy-cam, a single light, and whatever location you're currently in. 

So how do you make the most of that? I've tried various things over the years, and to be honest I haven't really solved it. I try to keep the camera as far away as possible to zoom in and attempt some shallow depth of field. With one light, placement is usually just 30° off the subject. And in situations like this I rarely have control of the house lights so I have to add a vignette in post. 

My best bet is usually to make sure you have compelling content and ask great questions to make sure I get interesting answers. Because in the end, the reason why people are going to watch the video is because of the content. The acquisition helps make that content more digestible, but it you have compelling footage I think most people are willing to overlook some of the shooting imperfections. 

New Toy! Fly-X3 Gimbal

New Toy! Fly-X3 Gimbal

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Wow, this was a great purchase! I decided to get the Fly-X3 smartphone 3-axis gimbal. I took it out of the box, put my iPhone 6 in the cradle, pushed the power button, and WOW! Amazing smooth video movement. Here is a quick test video. 

It is super simple and it is going to change the way I shoot just about everything. Now I need one for my bigger cameras! 

 

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