Exporting and Rendering in After Effects

I recently dabbled back into the world of After Effects after a somewhat long hiatus from it and remembered what a wonderful little program it was. After Effects is great for post-production editing (hence after effects) and for things like keying, tracking, animation, title design and works really well with Adobe Premiere Pro.

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This is not a tutorial blog, though, as that would take a very long time to explain EVERYTHING, and nobody got time for that.

What I’d like to address here is that the exporting/rendering process may not exactly the same as Premiere, so beware.

Once you’re done finished  your effects and checking them over (making sure they look super spiffy) you’ll likely wind up in this position:

Select Output Module and ideally you will be looking for a .mp4 file and then you’ll come across this:

As you can see there is nothing remotely resembling “MP4” on this list

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Before you go and test every single option: don’t. Your masterpiece of a video may end up the wrong dimensions, in the wrong format as only non-existent audio, or playback may be choppy.  This will cause you leaps and bounds of unnecessary stress:

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Actually the answer is there, it’s just disguised as H.264

Turns out that H.264 files are basically another version of MP4 files and are encoded as .mp4s. It is important to note, though, that they are not the same. MP4 is a container that houses formats and H.264 is just one of those formats.

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That’s a relief

Speaking of relief, we are down to the grind guys! I know we can all get through the rest of the semester with a little push so power through!  Image resultImage result for sunglasses emoji

 

See That Mountain? You Can Climb It

…Not really, though. Why not? Cause it’s not real! Gotcha! It’s from a video game! Betcha didn’t figure that out till I told you just now, huh? But what if I told you that through the power of – you guessed it – video editing, you could make it seem like you COULD climb that mountain? How, you ask? Easy. Green screeeeeens!

So, green screens. Pretty cool, right? They can be used to transport you anywhere in the blink of an eye thanks to the wizardry of video editing, and simply knowing how to utilize this amazing feature will make you a valuable asset to any team, especially ones headed by George Lucas. “But how does one go about green screening like a pro?” you ask. Well, I’m glad you did, cause that’s why I’m here. More video editing tips and tricks to make you a cool guy or gal like me… wait… nevermind. Let’s get started!

To start, you’ll need a solid color background. Green is typically used but you aren’t stuck to using just green. The only thing is that chances are you’ll probably get some weird visual effects if you use a different color. For example, using a white wall could result in some wacky visual effects and even result in you creating a ghost of your video’s focus. Not good. Chances are you don’t want ghosts in your video, so a bright green or blue (like in most movies these days) is your best bet. Once you get a good color backdrop, just set it up and start filming. One thing, though: make sure your lighting is set up so no shadows fall on the backdrop, and if it’s a cloth backdrop and not a solid, hard one, make sure there are as little wrinkles as possible. These will more likely than not cause noticeable problems when editing. If the shadows/wrinkles really detract from the video, you’ll need to do reshoots. No one wants to do reshoots. So check all that beforehand.

Now that the hard part’s done, let’s get to Premiere. Now, when you put the green screen clip and the photo/other video clip you want to impose on it, you’ll want to put the imposed clip in Video 1 and the green screen clip in Video 2, or just have the imposed clip below the green screen one in the timeline.

Now, select the green screen clip, go to the “Effects” tab in the bottom left-hand window here, then go to “Video Effects,” “Keying,” and select and drag the “Ultra Key” effect onto the clip.

Now, click on “Effect Controls” on the top left-hand window and click on the eye drop tool next to the rectangle.

Click on any green on the green screen clip in the right-hand window, and BOOM! You should see the imposed clip in place of the green now.

Now you’ll need to adjust some settings if there are some leftover things from the backdrop. Mess around with some of the effects under the “Matte Generation” and “Matte Cleanup” until any unwanted wrinkles or shadows are gone (or a lot less noticeable, at least).

And badda-bing, badda-boom! You got yourself one snazzy-looking video if I do say so myself.

 

New iPhone 7 Plus Camera Features!

Have you been suspicious of how well your friends’ Instagram posts been looking lately?  I mean, have they been looking a little too good, as if they were taken and edited by a professional photographer?  Unless they checked a camera out from the Student Multimedia Design Center and used Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, odds are, they’re taking pictures with the iPhone 7 Plus in Portrait mode.  

When a new iPhone is announced every year, it can be hard to keep up with the latest features, understand what they mean, and learn how you can use them.  I’m going to break down the most-updated (and arguably the coolest) feature of the iPhone 7 Plus: the cameras!

The iPhone 7 Plus is equipped with not only two but three cameras.  In addition to the front-facing camera for FaceTime in HD (as well as Snapchat selfies), the 7 Plus has 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras.  This differs from the iPhone 7, which only has a 12MP camera.  Both the 7 and 7 Plus have more advanced zoom features, with the 7 offering digital zoom of up to five times, and the 7 Plus offering digital zoom of up to ten times.  In addition, the 7 Plus offers optical zoom.

You’re probably wondering what all of these means, and what difference it would make to use a digital versus optical zoom, or why you’ve been living without a wide-angle or telephoto camera built into your smartphone.  Here’s the breakdown:

A megapixel is made up of a million pixels: so, multiply that by twelve, and you get a photo made up of twelve-million megapixel when taken with the 12MP wide-angle camera on both the 7 and 7 Plus.  Every time you shoot on the 7 Plus, it automatically captures with the wide-angle camera.

When you want to use the telephoto camera, simply tap the “1x” and switch to “2x” mode.  The only downfall to using the telephoto camera is that it is unable to photograph in dimly lit areas, so make sure there is adequate lighting for your shot.  Here’s how it works underneath the lighting of the second-floor tables at Club Morris, before and after the use of Portrait Mode:

It also works great when taking pictures of food!

This camera functions during Portrait Mode, as well as the wide-angle.  The wide-angle figures out the distance between what it detects and the what the telephoto detects.  This creates a nine-point depth map, which is the source of the artificial depth of field that blurs the background and a little bit of the foreground as well.

The optical zoom uses an actual lens adjustment in which the optics, or the lens, of the camera to physically bring the subject closer.  This zoom feature allows for much better pictures at a higher quality.  The optical zoom on the 7 Plus is a great feature if you like to take pictures of far-away subjects.  Think of the possibilities at concerts, theme parks, or stalking down Joe Biden around campus.

A digital zoom isn’t as true as an optical zoom: it is just the inner workings of your iPhone camera enlarging the image area and cropping, just as you would on Photoshop.  This type of “zoom” is an imitation of optical zoom and a creation of digital technology.  The digital zoom is still pretty impressive.  Here’s a picture I took of a beautiful tree on South Chapel using digital zoom, and a little bit of editing: 

Yet, the new iPhone 7 Plus cameras are very promising and are a great added bonus (if not the main reason why I personally bought this phone) to a smartphone.  Here’s what I looked like when I got my 7 Plus and taking pictures of everyone I knew:

DSLR versus a Mirrorless Camera

Lets Answer the Obvious Question First

Standard DSLR

By definition a Digital Single-lens Reflex Camera is a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor, as opposed to photographic film. To be blunt, this is the camera type that most people are familiar with using unless you’ve never really had any experience with various cameras. Technically DSLR’s are a digital camera, but it is the reflex design that distinguishes them from your basic digital camera type. The reflex design is a simple mechanism where light travels through the camera lens, then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either a viewfinder or to the image sensor. Another one of the key abilities of a DSLR camera is the use interchangeable lenses. Interchangeable lens are lenses that can be attached to a camera and then swapped out for a different one. This is unlike the fixed lenses that are built into a camera and cannot be removed. The DSLR’s dethroned the film-based SLR cameras in the 20th century, and are currently still the more common type of camera to use.

Mirrorless Camera

My personal favorite are the Mirrorless Cameras. Also called a “mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera” (MILC), “hybrid camera” and “compact system camera” (CSC), the body is thinner than a normal DSLR because it does not use a mechanical mirror to switch the scene between the optical viewfinder and image sensor. This means the Mirrorless camera is also quite lighter than a DSLR.  Mirrorless cameras are also called “mirrorless DSLR’s” or “mirrorless SLR’s” (remember SLR are film based cameras) due to supporting multiple lenses and generally offer an optional viewfinder. Mirrorless cameras were first introduced around 2008 and became very popular in 2011.

Which One is Better?

Size and Weight

The winner for size and weight has to be the Mirrorless Camera. The Mirrorless camera is much lighter and smaller than a DSLR due to not needing a mechanical switch mirror.

DSLR Mirrorless
  • Bulkier Camera due to internal hardware
  • Heaver also due to this factor
  • Light and Compact
  • Easier to store and store more lenses
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LOSER WINNER

Auto-focus Speed

There isn’t a winner for this category; both camera types have various technology for image focusing.

Previewing Images

Score one for DSLR’s because they win this round. DSLR’s will show you exactly what your image will look like when you capture it through the optical viewfinder.

DSLR Mirrorless
  •  Comes standard with an optical viewfinder
  • Shows what you’ll get
  •  On screen preview
  • Some offer an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
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WINNER LOSER

 

Battery

More or less DSLR’s will be better for battery life due to existing models without using an LCD screen or EVF, however for the most part both camera types will have similar battery lives .

Image Quality

Yet again the competing camera types have a draw. Both cameras have excellent image quality, but the tie breaker happens to be in video quality.

Video Quality

Mirrorless cameras are hands down more superior for video shooting. DSLR’s don’t have phase detection with the mirror up while recording video, so they have to use the slower, less accurate, contrast-detection focus method. This leads to blurring in the middle of a video as the camera tries to refocus at times.

DSLR Mirrorless
  • Not as advanced in focusing technology currently
  • Offers 4K and Ultra HD recording quality
  • Integrates image capture from recorded video in same quality
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LOSER WINNER

Shooting Speed

Both cameras have amazingly fast image capturing capabilities, but the more advanced cameras is where the DSLR falls behind. The Mirrorless camera happens to have faster shutter speed due to simpler mechanics.

DSLR Mirrorless
  • Has more components in shutter mechanism
  • Higher shutter speeds
  • More images captured per second
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LOSER WINNER

Lenses and Accessories

DSLR’s win this category due to its maturity. This camera type has existed prior to the introduction of Mirrorless in 2008 so there is a bigger variety of camera lenses for DSLR’s rightfully so. However, since the Mirrorless camera type has began to pick up more popularity in the past years this won’t even be a discussion soon.

And the Winner is…

…Your Choice!

For me to pick a side would be bias on obvious levels. So the choice is yours! It’s all about personal preference and what kind of technology you like, especially when it comes to a hobby like Photography.

 

Apps are a writer’s best friend!

It’s hump time for Wrimos and that means rushing through spring holiday work, semi-annual sales, and the dreaded cleaning jobs. Whether you’re in comp sci or an artist, we’re going to be in front of computers a lot. As I’m participating in NaNo for the 5th time in a row (and at my personal best this year!), I’ve found a number of helpful tools through recommendations and personal discoveries.

Google Drive – Sometimes you can’t go wrong with what you already know. Google Drive is an easy form of backup for your documents as well as content creation. Your UD email account automatically comes with membership to Google Drive. Just click on the small grid icon on the top right corner and it will display the supported applications. I primarily use my account for the former and during crunch times or when I’m not near my laptop, I use the phone app to get some notes down.

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Novlr was created last year by three novelists who wanted an online novel writing program. I tried this site during last year’s NaNoWriMo and I love the simple interface. They clearly care about their user base as they’re open to suggestions and are always updating the site with new features such as triple backups, offline editing, and non-fiction writing settings. They called the development “procrastination”. I call it genius.

Skitch is good for random ideas and mindmaps. Besides being able to keep notes and backing them up on Google Drive and Evernote, you can create simple graphics using arrows, lines, drawings, and images. It also had a cute logo and few apps can brag about that (the current one’s still nice). Skitch is still available on iOS but support has been discontinued for Windows and Android as of last year. Thankfully, some of the features have been integrated into Evernote for those versions. Details are on Evernote’s site.

Pinterest – Most tend to associate this site with wedding planning and vision boards. But it can also be a gold mine when it comes to getting story ideas and resources together! I compile pep talks and writing advice on my boards so on tricky days I can look at what I posted and get a little boost in writing confidence (however fragile it may be). You can create pins using the Pinterest button on Firefox (it’s an add-on).

Scrivener – This app is so highly recommended that even the Office of Letters and Writing (the organization supporting NaNoWriMo) gives away discounts to the winners. It’s not limited to novel writing either. It can be used to save data, compile notes, organize ideas, and write your papers. It’s all in one application. The creators’ site Literature and Latte also has testimonials and forums about how people use the app.

Pocket has become a necessity in today’s browsing systems. While browsers have bookmark settings built in, most of the time you don’t think of moving a link across devices until you forget a site name or you send it to yourself only to try to sort through a flood of emails & texts. If you don’t want to go through that process, Pocket can cross between devices including mobile ones; All you need to do is go under the Bookmarks menu or press the Pocket icon and your site’s saved!

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Way #1 – View Pocket List

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Way #2 – Icon is next to the Downloads Arrow on Firefox.

The Most Dangerous Writing App – Sometimes a writing day can be boring or you prefer the sensation of procrastination without the pain of missing deadlines attached to it. If you like to do your writing with some gamification (read: torture), this is the app for you. There is a reason why it’s known as the “most dangerous”; If you stop writing for too long (I counted about 5 seconds), it erases your work. No replays, no restarts, no retrieval (unless you copy the text midpause). If you want a gentler version of this type of incentive, Write or Die is a good alternative.  I know it’s not in the name either but you can take my word for it.

Trello – While Skitch can take the title of cutest icon, Trello has the cutest mascot. The site is dedicated to productivity. It does reminders, keeps notes, lets you collaborate with other people as well as create personal goals, examine project phases from start to finish, check off to-do lists, send emails & attachments… I can go on. You can send materials to EverNote, GitHub, MailChimp, and many other handles. Best part is all of these features are free. I can imagine RSOs, startups, and anybody doing something big can really benefit from this.

Seriously. Isn’t he cute?

Hope this helps you on your writing journey or at least gave you some entertaining procrastination. This article’s 667 words, which would leave me with just 1000 to fulfill my daily word count. Unfortunately this doesn’t count toward my story. Oh well… back to Pinterest!

Happy Writing!

Onions Have Layers. Photoshop Has Layers. You Get It?

Layers! That’s right, I said it. Photoshop has layers and it’s about time you learn how to use them!

So here you’ve got your typical family gathering photo. But guess what, Uncle Brian overexposes every photo he takes so you really want to edit them after. Good thing you know about soft light layer in Photoshop.

Once you have your photo open in Photoshop, create a new layer on top and turn the blending mode to soft light.

This is where the magic happens. Set your paint brush to black (maybe fiddle around with the opacity settings if you want to get real particular) and draw on top of the areas you want to darken.

See how the photo is changing already? This has the same affect as the burn tool. However, the burn tool is what us professionals like to call “destructive” editing. Because if you use the burn tool, then do a whole bunch of other stuff, you can’t undo the burn without undoing everything else. When using the soft layer, you can always delete or alter the layer at any time.

You can even turn your paint brush to white and use it to add highlights! Despite Uncle Brian’s deficient understanding of exposure you can still have a wholesome photo of Aunt Sandra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Those Interested in User Experience

ATTENTION TO ALL UI/UX DESIGNERS!

I was recently was shown this awesome email newsletter called Sidebar. It’s a daily email subscription that sends 5 links to user experience design content. So for those who are interested in UX design this is a great way to get inspired and learn what’s going on in the field. Even if you aren’t a self proclaimed designer, there will at least be one article that might appeal to you! For example one of today’s articles was cover review of Kendrick Lamar’s album https://fontsinuse.com/uses/16623/kendrick-lamar-damn-album-cover. If you are interested in getting the subscription or just bookmarking their website here is their link : http://sidebar.io/

Have fun learning about design and codes friends!

 

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What to Do When Lightning Cables (iPhone Chargers) Are All Checked Out

Check out a power kit!

Ever go to the Student Multimedia Design Center front desk to save your iPhone just to be told that all of the charging cables are currently checked out? Isn’t that just the worst? Well, fear not! The next time this happens to you, ask the worker if there are any power kits available for use! They are technically known as the ChargeAll Portable Power Outlets. Of course, it is not guaranteed that those will always be ready to lend, but it is definitely worth asking about.

Power kits consist of a lightning cable, a portable power supply, and a USB A to Micro-B cable. You don’t even have to use the whole kit; you can simply use the lightning cable, plug it into a computer or laptop, and give your iPhone life again! However, it is also great to use if you do not have your laptop with you and need a source of power. I definitely find the power kit useful when traveling around campus without my backpack or charger. It is pretty small and easy to carry.

So, next time you need a charger and they seem to be all in use, ask for a power kit! Your iPhone will definitely appreciate it.

Faxing from the SMDC

From time to time, students come to the desk asking how to fax a document. While we don’t have an actual fax machine, there are some ways you can send your document without one.

Depending on how long the document is, your best bet is probably going to be a free online fax service. The two we recommend are FaxZero and MyFax. FaxZero allows you to send 5 faxes a day for free with a maximum of 3 pages in each fax. Its free service however, adds on a cover page branded with their name. If you need to send more pages or don’t want the cover page, you can pay $1.99 per fax of up to 25 pages. MyFax allows you to send 2 faxes each day but allows for a maximum of 10 pages through its free service.

If all else fails, you can also send faxes at the General Services Building on South Chapel Street at the Campus Mail office. They charge $1 for the first page and $.50 for each additional page.

Making Beautiful Images, Videos, and Web Stories In a Snap

Did the title draw you in? I’m here to introduce Adobe Spark to everyone! This FREE online image, video, and web story creator gives users the ability to create professional and share-worthy images and videos in minutes. Did I mention it’s free? This online resource and downloadable app is perfect for college students, like us, or pretty much anyone who wants to catch an audience’s attention online.

For those of us that aren’t Photoshop wizards, Spark makes it super simple to make promotional images, videos, and web stories to tell your story and make an impact. For creating images, you can choose from a variety of fonts, colors and pictures that are loaded into the web app or you can upload photos from your own device. So what sets Spark apart from other online photo and video editing sites? Spark wants to help users make an impact on their audience and tell their stories effectively. Spark has a blog that offers advice and tactical tips from experts and real people who learned by doing. In this web day and age, it’s important that the messages we create do not become lost in the clutter on social media; Spark will help your message stand out among the rest.

Let’s do a walk-through of creating an image.

We’ll start here, where I have the option to create a post, page, or a video. For today, I’ll be creating a Post.

 

After choosing your preferred multimedia medium, it’ll ask you what you want to say and what size you’d like it to be. They conveniently have sizes for the most popular social media platforms and other forms of digital or print ads. I’m going to make my post about the Student Multimedia Design Center (fitting, right?) and I’m going to size it for Instagram use.

 

After typing in my message and clicking ‘Continue’, like ~*magic*~, a post is created for me (as seen below). But I’m not in love with the background photo and just the design in general. You have the option of editing this and trying it out in a bunch of different design filters that are offered on the page.

Choose a design you like, and from there pretty much everything else is can be customized to your liking. I chose this new design and changed the background photo to something more SMDC-related. The layout is completely editable as well, if I wanted to see more of the camera picture I uploaded, I’d only have to click the picture and drag it for more of the picture to appear. You can also editing the color palette and the text, to create exactly what you’re looking for.

Once you’re happy with your creation, hit that ‘Share’ button and you’re good to go! Right from the Share page, you can post your creation to Facebook and Twitter and email it to whoever you want. A public link is created as well to send out, this link will take users to your public Spark page, which is like a profile of what you’ve created (only if you make them public).

That’s enough for today! Have a great week everyone and I highly encourage anyone to play around with Adobe Spark!

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