Friday, January 27, 2017

Editing in Premiere Pro CC utilizing Photoshop CC and Bridge CC all from 2017

Joe’s rules and stuff for editing in Premiere Pro CC utilizing Photoshop CC and Bridge CC all from 2017 and some old ass Encore stuff thrown in for good measure. Okay I am a bit all over the shop with the below, but I am just hammering this out and try to help out some poor saps I see on the various forums struggling with seemingly endless questions, so here goes. First, a little background: I edit my video in PPCC 2017’s latest iteration. Rule NEVER upgrade this software in the middle of a project, wait until whatever you are working on is absolutely finished, output and over, or pay the price! My source material is currently coming from a Canon XA 20 shooting HD 1080p in MP4 at 50 FPS and a Sony NEX 7 outputting .mts files at 25 FPS (though this has been replaced by a Sony A6500, YAY). I was shooting 4k on the A6500 for a while after I got it, however with my current computer this is going to come back to haunt me when I try to edit it so I have reset it (the A6500) to HD 1080p at 50 FPS as well and the HD footage looks absolutely stunning as far as I can tell. I have not started to edit with it but I am sure I will have no problems with that once I get to that footage. I also take footage from a Samsung Edge S7 also in HD 1080 at 25 FPS and it too looks surprisingly good. Then there is some GOPRO as well in 1080 HD from an older Hero 2, still not bad to throw onto a PP timeline. I edit it all, render it out and run it into the now no longer supported Encore program left over from my CS6 master suite and burn it onto BluRay discs played on a Sony BD790 player which upscales it to 4k on my LG OLED 55” screen. WOW! It is a joy to watch and listen to through my high-quality home theater set up though I have to do a lot of gain riding (sigh). The final disc quality is gorgeous and the bit rate is just right, no stuttering, perfectly smooth. I have burned 36 BluRay discs this way. I do some color grading as I see fit but judiciously and fix messed up audio in Audition too. Only have to be careful when processing the photos not to push the shadows in Bridge’s camera raw processor past +30 or I get little white motes in the photos on the slideshows that I make to go with the videos, also do not try to do more than 30 photos at a time unless you have a supercomputer. Mine is getting a bit old now so as it is processing the RAW files I am writing this (slow). All the photos I’ve shot are either shot in the meh Sony .jpg fine format, but I switched to the .arw output so I have more headroom to fix em up. The Sony .jpg compression is mediocre and tends to be orangey and weird with the red-er values and noticeably lossy. Fewer problems with this in the raw format but the files are heavy, all my images are converted to .psd (HUGE) in Photoshop before I drop them onto a video timeline. My wife has an iPhone (paid for by her job) and it is painful to try to get those images looking good unless it is a beautiful day out. NEVER use iPhone video mixed with others because of the different frame rates. 25 and 50 FPS okay to mix but put a .mov file at 29… whatever FPS onto your timeline and you are screwed. Make a separate timeline for iPhone videos interpret the frame rate to 25 for PAL and use frame blending and it will be okay for burning to BluRay discs with the other stuff. I tell my spouse not to shoot any video on it but it happens anyway and I just have to deal with it. There are workarounds but it is a total PIA. Might try an app I discovered called Voddio to re-interpret the frame rate. But jeez, $14.00 just to fix the frame rates… Why doesn’t Apple use a PAL frame rate for the phones they sell in Australia? Other random rules: Do not bother adding chapter markers in PP just do it in Encore. Watch how big the rendered files are, try to keep them under 30 minutes or you may wind up having to split them up when you get to Encore and keep the total under 23GB for a Blu-ray disc as if you are like me you’re going to add a nice little pop-up menu to navigate around the disc. Use any more than 23 GB on a supposedly 25GB disc and it will choke and your burn will FAIL. As far as how to set up these menu’s in Photoshop you will have to put in the research time like I did to figure all that out. It is do-able and once you get one done and it works to keep a copy in a special folder just for all your menus, copy them back into PS and modify the text and number of chapters and fancy little shit like frames and chapter indicators as you need to. Always set up the chapter navigation buttons manually. Watch your bit rates in your final output files for Encore, write them to re-writable BluRay discs until you get all your shit straight. Once you get your settings are right and they work and look good then commit to a once only burnable disc. Do this for each and every disc! Just in case you mess up then you can go back and fix any screwups. Some of which you will only notice watching on a larger monitor and spelling mistakes… Yikes! Make presets of all the little things you do in PP save them in a separate file and migrate them to new iterations of PP when you upgrade the software e.g. brightness, contrast, fast color corrector fixes, changes of scale, sharpening etc. I think I have a hundred or so of these including audio ones, picture zooms, and various moves. Set up a title template with your favorite font with spacing, kerning, size and such. Set up other fav title stuff right in the title properties box if you’re happy with them too. Be methodical set up bins in PP the same for every project and for each timeline in a project. I have bins video A, B, C, etc. same for images, music, titles and one for stupid iPhone video though I do not do so for the sequences, as I want to see them all and copy and paste the sequence titles and modify them for subsequent ones in a project. 2nd, Set up your computer correctly from the get go, OS and programs on the fastest HDD drive you can get (WD Velociraptor 10,000 rpm) or better yet, a sizable SSD if you have the money, I would get a 1 TB because eventually, you’re going to need all that space (someday). Separate HDDs at least 7200 rpm for media (video imports, photos) one for audio, one for renders, one for scratch disc and project files (get an SSD for this, loads far more quickly) and another separate one for other video files (I keep ISO files of every BluRay disc I burn). Now that they are available, get at least 4 TB or you wind up like me, started with a 1 TB, then went to 2 TB… you get the picture. Oh, I use WD Black drives and have no regrets doing so thus far. Everything I have is backed up to a QNAP NAS with 24TB of storage. I’ve spent too much time making all this stuff to just lose it. Also, I keep an ISO file for every disc I’ve burnt! Oh, wait I already wrote that. If you are setting up a new rig (which I am planning on doing soon and have put in a fair bit of time doing the research), get an Intel i7 CPU with at least 6 cores or even more and faster if you can afford it. GPU, now that the Geforce 1080 is out I would go for one of those at the very least especially if you are going to use After Effects, regardless it will help your editing with PP CC 2017 and make it go much faster. Get as much RAM DDR4 as you can afford, at least 32 GB, wait, make that 64, no fuck it 128! Watch the dollars skyrocket too. You are already paying for a CC subscription anyway… if you are like me. If you want to make Schmick Blu-ray discs it is going to cost you some dollars but the payoff is awesome homemade content. Just need to make special shout outs, first and foremost to the late Harm Millaard without whose contributions on the Adobe forum I would have floundered when it came to the basics of setting up a proper NLE system. We lost a legend when he passed away last year. However what he’s written is still up there, remains relevant and is required reading for any noob or even experienced editor like myself. Also good info on Creative Cow and Puget Systems. YouTube has some killer tutes for setting up menus in PS and heaps of other titbits, just have to wade through a lot of stuff to find the pure useful nuggets of info out there. Any specific questions? I may or may not be able to help as I have a toddler to document as he grows up. Any trolls can of course buzz off. No silly questions which you can Goggle just like I had to, it is called learning.

Monday, June 18, 2012

NEX 7 thoughts

Dearest and most esteemed readers of my meager blog, since my last post I have been on a major gear acquisition jag with some new purchases particularly my new camera, the Sony NEX 7. This camera (I do believe) will vastly improve my photographic and video production efforts and launch me headlong on my eventual Hollywood directorial role. Uh right… Okay, delusions of grandeur aside, first a quick story… On New Year’s Eve of 2011 after a couple o’ glasses of bubbly I, uh, inadvertently grabbed the wrong quick release on my DIY fig rig, yes I was holding the rig but not the video camera which was also on a quick release plate. Oops, there went the beloved Panasonic NV-G S 400 straight to the tile floor. I frantically grabbed at it but too late. I immediately picked it up, turned it on to check it looked at the LCD viewfinder and egad everything was green! I tried recording but it worked for a few seconds and that was it. Not happy, but as luck would have it I was still able to play the mini DV tapes with it so I finished capturing the footage from the last few tapes that I still had left. I am glad we pay for homeowners insurance as after a call to our insurer they agreed to cover the accidental damage either repairing or replacing it. I took it to the local repair place and they said the CCD sensor was dislodged and broken and though it could still play they would not be able to get the parts to fix it so that it could record again thus it was a write-off. Albeit bittersweet the insurance settlement was just the thing I needed to bankroll my purchase of a Sony NEX 7 that I had been lusting after for six months or so since the day it was announced and I saw the specs. Too bad it was still not available due to unprecedented demand then the floods in Thailand in October 2011 etc.

The insurance company had an agreement with a camera dealer (Michaels in Melbourne) and set me up with a credit there to pay for a recommended replacement. I called Michaels and they were quite happy to apply that credit towards the Sony NEX 7 because I also had to put in an extra couple hundred dollars more. I was informed that I was tenth in line to get one as soon as they arrived. After less than a month’s wait, I received the call that it came in and was being shipped to me straight away. I paid them the balance and was doing the happy joy dance. When it arrived I was like a kid at Christmas as I had been wanting to replace my Nikon still camera and the video camera as well not because I am overly gadget acquisitive but the gear I had was getting way old and I waited for at least a couple of years for something like the Sony NEX 7 to come along. I already read every review hunted down other’s test footage to watch and even downloaded the manual so I was ready! I made my own silly little unboxing video on my little Kodak Zi8, which while a bit goofy as suits my character was fun to prolong my excitement.
With my camera in my hands finally, I also got on to B&H photo in the USA to order some extras to help me along. First thing was a couple of proper Sony MS Pro HG Duo HX Magic Gate 16gb cards which I chose because they had the highest transfer rate. I did my research to make sure that despite the claims of others about their cards speed, they did not use proprietary Sony transfer algorithms that made them as fast. Also, the reviews were five stars.
 Only buy these from a reputable dealer because there are fake/re-labelled ones out there. Moving on, of course, an extra battery also Sony, sorry no knock off batteries for me need I explain?
 I also ordered a Sony BBF black neoprene case, which fits it but just barely…
I wrote my little review of it on here as well.
Add to all this a couple of odd things to help my production including this cool Manfrotto shoulder brace to keep things steady at a very inexpensive price point.
I have used the shoulder brace a couple of times and it works pretty well but my wife thinks it is somewhat geeky-looking and is a bit much for everyday kind of shooting so I guess I will save it for more full blown productions. Since the Sony NEX 7 inherited the Minolta proprietary hot shoe I had to get an adaptor so I could attach my LED light panel or the Rode Video Microphone right on top of the camera. I ordered the
Uh, not the best piece of gear but it is only seventeen dollars. I had to carefully sand down the inside of the shoe part to get it to slide onto the NEX 7 hot shoe with some semblance of ease, lucky I have jewelry skills and some really small files, but its little release button is poo and often catches. My recommendation on this little gem is buying it at your own risk. Did you say Minolta hot shoe? Hmmm, I drag out my old flash unit from the 35mm days a Minolta Maxxum 3500xi flash from 1993 and popped it on the NEX 7, well I’ll be dipped in shit, the thing worked! I pointed it at the ceiling and it lit the room up like a low kiloton yield nuclear weapon!  However, I still have to see if the camera will control the exposure compensation on it though I have my doubts. It is nearly as big as the camera though. It would probably light up a night scene well but blind anyone in the vicinity. Maybe it is time to hunt for something to diffuse it. I’d welcome any recommendations.
One more accessory which I have now come to value highly is the P & C pistol grip I first saw on
and in some other videos  particularly
where it was put to some novel uses. This is a great piece of gear for only twenty-five dollars. I could have gotten a Zacuto one for a hundred… Nah.
It has now been a couple of months and I have had a chance to use all of the gear in a variety of differing configurations and put the NEX 7 through some heavy duty shooting. So far everything has worked well together here was my first test video with nothing but the camera and kit lens using only the camera’s onboard microphone shooting 1080p AVCHD 25fps (PAL).

I have been extremely pleased with the size and feel of the NEX 7 it is significantly more compact than my old Nikon Coolpix 8800, weighs less and takes some pretty stunning pictures. But I did not get this camera for mere happy snaps alone. One of the first tasks I undertook with this camera was shooting a new set of images from my artwork in RAW. I am not alone in my opinion that photographing artwork, especially large oil paintings is one of the most challenging photographic tasks you can undertake only followed by photographing jewelry (I’ll be writing about that down the line) and requires full control of the documentation process. All of your camera settings have to be done manually, the lighting has to be handled meticulously as you want to show the texture of the works and there are major issues with glare on shiny varnished paintings.  Then there is the post-processing of the raw images which also needs to be spot on and it definitely is time consuming even with a good workflow utilizing CS4 Adobe Bridge, Raw, and Photoshop. I am photographing my artwork to create the best possible images from which I then sell as giclee` prints on, therefore, the color and detail must be exact in order to print them at a fairly large size. My final files I upload to FAA are between ten to twenty megabytes in size they allow up to twenty-five though. Is all this photographic fussiness worth it? Hell yeah, I toiled for innumerable hours painting the images stroke by stroke so I know exactly what the colors should look like by the time they are ready to be uploaded as digital data as I mixed them myself on my real palette with actual paint. I did some of the photographic work inside with lights and shot some outdoors on a very cloudy day which while providing very even lighting still required careful color grading. There are advantages and disadvantages to the indoor or outdoor issue. Light on cloudy days can vary slightly, but no hassles with lights, angles, ceiling height, also paintings do not get blown off of easels when inside… The level indicator that is available for display in the viewfinder and the LCD on the camera came in very handy as well and saved me some time straightening out the images before cropping. I used the manual focus and peaking function throughout which worked fantastic especially when the focus jumps to a much more magnified image.
The NEX 7 performed well for me under these rigorous requirements, however, I had to compensate for some pincushion distortion on a number of images but that is because of the kit lens, if I had one a thousand dollar Zeiss lenses I might have eliminated that. If I had an extra thousand or so for some really good lights too that would probably help as well.
Just go to FAA and you can view some of these images yourself, hell you can even buy a print if you like my artwork. The NEX 7 has the capability to provide the level of detail necessary for copying artwork destined for print. Considering the price point of this piece of gear, I can live with it for now. As an outdoor point and shoot anything camera it has also performed well plus I can hand it off to others to shoot in Auto mode and most times get a decent image back. I have found the navigation system to be the biggest challenge. With the nearly overwhelming variety of settings it can be a bit confounding initially. The tri-navi system worked well when I shot all the artwork with manual settings even felt kinda old school and it does have a logic to it that you can apply to other parts of the menu items as well. It is going to take me some time to become totally proficient at navigating my way around the menus as there are numerous settings. I have played with some of the more “fun” types of settings which can be helpful for stylized shooting though I tend to do most of that stuff in Photoshop, though shooting video in these modes has also been a treat as well. Not sure if I would shoot anything serious with them enabled. I did try some settings recommended for a more… filmic look as found here
Though meant for the NEX 5n they also worked on the NEX 7 as well though it is pretty subtle. I will have to experiment with this some more. 

Unfortunately, the NEX 7 has no intervalometer (could be done with a firmware upgrade?) and I really wanted to do some experimenting with this feature so I had to do it manually. Here are the results.

However, doing it by pressing the shutter is a PIA, so I think I will invest in one of these devices and get serious with the time lapse photography:
Next, we are planning to shoot an interview with an aged relative in a cool documentary style. Should be a great opportunity for utilizing all the gear, I think we are ready for it.
I will post a few images here from the NEX 7 that I took at a body art Carnivale in Eumundi in May.
Oops, some (kinda) naked lady pics!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Fig-Rig Action!

I have now had a chance over the holidays to put my fig rig through some real tests and actually make a couple of short films with it too. The difference is remarkable, it has really helped to stabilize my camera and make it less home-movie looking… wish I would have done it a while ago. I put it through its paces at the beach, over rocks, up inclines, around the home and I have included some footage below shot with it as well as one of the short films.
I acquired some new video accessories over the holidays and have now added a Rode video microphone with a dead cat cover to my rig, which I have tested in some very windy conditions. Thus far, I have found that it makes what was formerly un-listenable video (due to horrendous wind noise) only mildly unpleasant; seems fair enough. Maybe I have to re-consider shooting in these conditions. Anyway, in normal home situations it sounds great with crystal clarity and detail that has been sorely missing from my efforts. It is worth every bit I paid for it at B&H Video. I look forward to including better sounding dialogue into my work from here on out.
In addition to that I am now the proud owner of a 144 led panel light that is adjustable for both dimming and colour.  I purchased it direct from China on EBay from at half the price of the Ikan branded model-exact same light/kit. Though a bit leery of doing so, I have to say it all went really well, paid by pay-pal and they were really prompt answering my e-mail enquiries with pretty good English to boot. When I asked about articulating (magic) arms to mount the various gear on my fig rig they really hustled me to buy a couple… very impressive! Again they were less than half the price of “normal” on-line hardware retailers and they shipped them quickly no hassles. Now I have two magic arms, an eleven inch and a seven inch. I have used them with the light and the microphone. They all worked great! I will use the shorter arm when I get a seven inch monitor.
Last, but not least I also got some fiddly bits consisting of a couple of hot shoe mounts ¼’-20, cold shoe mounts ¼’-20, and a Manfrotto 323 quick release plate and adaptor, so I can now get all the gear as well as the camera on and off quick and the same to mount the complete fig-rig on a tripod.
Though the near complete rig now looks a little intimidating; I am happy with the results so far and am looking forward to a more ambitious project.  I have put up a video of the fig-rig in action, which you can see below. There are also samples of the footage taken with it as well. The last bit of the video I am using the light and the microphone and it looked heaps better and sounded superb. Next we will be adding a Lilliput seven inch monitor to the rig and finally a Sony NEX 7 and some nice glass to the kit!
In the meantime I am in the audience testing phase of a short film I made from which there are a couple of scenes in the fig-rig footage. I am deciding whether or not it is worth entering in a film festival of some kind or just putting it up on YouTube and Vimeo. I guess I will just wait and hear what a few people have to say about it.

And here is the link to the video-Down-under DIY Fig-Rig in action!

Downunder DIY Fig-Rig in action from Joe Michelli on Vimeo.

And here is the link to the video-"The Duel"! I used a tripod for some of the opening shots but after that it is all hand-held with the rig. Yes it is a silly little video... would have been epic if the weather was in my favour. Drat!

My wife Bronwyn came up with the idea to video her nieces opening their silly string guns for Christmas and instead I turned it into a production that took an afternoon to film and a few hours of editing, effects, etc.

Feel free to leave a nice comment!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Downunder DIY Fig Rig

Joe's down-under DIY Fig Rig!

Why did he do it?

Some background information first.

During the last six years or so I have been on a monster of a project that really has no end. That is to get every bit of personal video and every photograph I have ever shot (as well as video already "pre"-edited from my nightclub VJ days), digitized and available on DVD. Thus far the project has seen me editing over a hundred and fifty hours of video footage and creating roughly 90 DVDs, numerous YouTube videos all of this work includes sound, musical backgrounds, titles, transition and the occasional goofy special effect. The footage comes from a variety of activities from mundane cat video to tropical vacations as well as the seemingly endless round of birthdays, anniversaries, parties, picnics at the beach, Christmas, funerals and weddings. 

At this juncture, I feel I have at the very least developed the editing skills to do far more ambitious things. However as I have looked at all those hours of footage despite my best and oft clownish efforts also to a degree limited by whatever technology was available (that I could afford at the time, VHS, Hi 8mm, mini DV SD) a good deal of it has... an amateur-ish look (duh) especially when it was taken with a hand held camera. So, from here on out  I want to make my video look less... shaky-then maybe sound better, which I think would be a pretty good start. Over the last few years me and my wife (who also handles the camera a lot) have been very conscious of creating a more narrative flow to our personal documentary complete with establishing shots, didactic information and self-conducted interviews.

I have some confidence now as well as some ambition and want to make a short film in the near future, you know, one with a story, an actual narrative with a point and a conclusion. While I am writing my screen play, working on the story-board for a couple of projects I wanted to address the more technical side of my camera work and production skills. But, before I shell out for some more gear like a really good camera, a dedicated external microphone, a nice dim-able LED light, or an on board monitor, what can I do or make on my own? First things first, (well more like cheapest thing first) I really feel I need something to give me some stability for the hand held shots and hopefully something that would also accommodate the extras I want to add to my production gear.

My Internet research provided me some great web-sites that gave me heaps of information to start. Probably one of my most favourite sites of late has been  it is here where I learned of the "Fig Rig" invented by the director Mike Figgus. Cheesy Cam's most popular video is the DIY Fig Rig after watching it I was all like yeah, I can do that! The video and the ensuing stream of comments, modifications and pictures from everybody else who has done it sure helped as well. Now you have to keep in mind this was made in the USA so if you do not live there then you do not probably have a "Home Depot" store nearby. Thus the parts they use are not quite the same as what might be available in say... France, or in my case, Australia. We don't know WTF Home Depot is here (I am an American, so I do). Anyway, with that in mind, if I wanted to DIY my version of the fig rig, I was ON MY OWN. So for me Aussie Mates, yes, it can be done here as well. I got everything I needed to do my own DIY down-under "Fig Rig" right on the Sunshine Coast where I live. I got a lot of the hardware at Bunnings, a few more bits at North Coast Plumbing and the bicycle grips at K-Mart. 

Here are some of the costs:

Bike handles-2 pair-$10.00 K-Mart
hardware from Bunnings and local plumbing supply store $23.87

Total cost (drumroll) $33.87

But wait...

flat black spray paint (the good shit!)  $9.30
new hacksaw blade  $4.59
drill bit  $7.64

so I had to add another $21.53

I also had a dozen Large washers from a previous DIY household repair, a black cap left over from a curtain rod and I unscrewed the ball mount from my   $29.00 mono pod to use until I replace it with a Manfrotto 323 RC2 Quick Release plate (BHPhoto). I figure I got away pretty cheap as the least expensive decent one I found to purchase on-line was the ALZO DSLR rig

Okay I had to do some work, I hack-sawed the steel shelf strut, threaded rods and black pvc pipe, drilled holes with my Foredom flexible shaft outfitted with a drill and my Makita drill as well. It took me 20 minutes of measuring and thinking how to get the shelf bracket/strut to center up with the length I wanted at around 16 inches... had to bounce back and forth between the metric system and the old school measurements both of which are used here depending on the trade... confusing but not a deal-breaker. Took me say, five hours of work as I had to do all that cutting, so less than a day with the pre-preparation and clean up. Here are the pictures! I will put up some video comparisons with and without my rig when I get the chance. Hope this helps somebody else out. Thanks to all the other folks that have posted their versions as it really helped me to do mine!

I moved the handle down on the left to show the black pvc pipe.

Coming soon, some video!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I thought I might try my hand at producing an "Un-boxing" video after watching some others on YouTube. Some of them were pretty bad with zero to minimal production value. Others were fantastic and well made. So I decided to do my own thing with the equipment I have, which is not all that great but each time I create something I learn a little more, stretch my meager skill set.
And now for some background! My wife needed a new laptop after our HP Pavillion 9000 series laptop suffered it's final meltdown due to the faulty NVIDIA graphics chip on the mobo. This problem is well documented and HP virtually ignored my three phone calls and e-mails back and forth and basically wants nothing to do with the problem nor did they offer me any kind of compensation for selling me a faulty product. So I voted with my feet... I ordered a Dell XPS 15 through their on-line sales site. It all went really well. I am glad I did my research and due diligence as we now have a much better laptop. Well, we will see if it lasts the three and a half years we got out of the HP. The video is not about my cat Luka, he is just the..."talent" you know how they are, he cannot help but insert himself into any endeavor I undertake around the house. I guess it is his "enrichment" time. Coolski! Feel free to comment if you are so inclined. No trolls please... I try to play nice.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just to give a little idea on the kinds of work I do for a lark!