Reflections

The 2018 Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year season is wrapping up as 2019 blasts in with new wonders, advances, and challenges. It’s this time of year when we can take a moment to look back. That gives me a chance to check out the stats on this blog – to thank the readers who have been following me for a while – and to welcome new readers who have discovered this little corner of the internet.

I started this blog a few years back as a place to offer some thoughts and tips and to give additional and often extended life to my writings for various trade publications. To date I have written 500 posts (this is 501), which have accumulated nearly 5 million total views. And over 1,000 of you have signed on to follow this blog. Thank you.

I started in this business working at a radio station during my senior year of high school and was hired as a full-time video editor when I finished college. Depending on when you want to start the count, that’s well over four decades in the industry. Most of that involves hands-on linear and nonlinear video editing, but it also includes work in sound, producing/directing, facilities design and management, workflow consultation, training, and color correction. In that time, I’ve seen manufacturers come and go, fall in and out of favor, and as a result, have worked with nearly two dozen different editing and color correction tools on paying gigs. Throughout all of that, I tend to think of myself first and foremost as an editor, but not necessarily an operator of any specific tool.

Editors are storytellers and those of the tips that I like to talk about most on this blog. They are constants that are more important than any specific software or hardware application. Of all the posts, my interviews with other working editors are those I enjoy the most. It’s a chance to learn and to see the same passion that others put into their work.

As we roll into 2019, I look forward to more projects that can be tackled with passion, while working with teams of other creative individuals. Here’s wishing you the same!

©2018 Oliver Peters

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The Art of Motion Graphics Design

While many of us may be good directors, photographers, or editors, it’s not a given that we are also good graphic designers. Most editors certainly understand the mechanics and techniques of developing designs and visual effects composites, but that doesn’t by default include a tasteful sense of design. Combining just the right typeface with the proper balance within a frame can often be elusive, whereas it’s second nature to a professional graphic designer.

German motion designer and visual effects artist Timo Fecher aims to correct that, or at least expose a wider audience to the rules and tools that embody good design. Fecher has developed the Crossfeyer website promoting a free e-mail newsletter for online training. A key component of this is his free eBook Motion Graphics Design Academy – The Basics, which he is giving away to subscribers (free) for the balance of this year. His intent is then to publish the book next year for purchase.

I’ve had a chance to read through an advanced copy of the eBook. I find it to be an excellent primer for people who want to understand basic design principles.  The chapters cover animation, shapes, composition, typography, and more.

Feyer spells out his goals for the book this way, “The Motion Graphics Design Academy is for people who want to learn more about the basics of design, animation, and project design. It’s for newcomers, graphic designers who want to add a new dimension to their art, everyone dealing with digital image processing, and especially all kinds of filmmakers who want to improve their movies, trailers, title sequences, video clips, and commercials. The goal of the eBook is to give its readers a profound background knowledge about design and animation principles and to improve their artistic skills. Software and plug-ins are changing constantly. But all that theory about storytelling, animation, color, typefaces, composition and compositing will stay the same.”

Like any learning tool, it won’t automatically make you a great artist, but it will give you the guidelines to create appealing design that will enhance your next production.

©2017 Oliver Peters

NAB 2016 – Technology and Friends

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The annual National Association of Broadcasters convention and equipment show – aka The NAB Show – is one of Las Vegas’ biggest. Typically about 100,000 folks officially attend the April ritual, including actual NAB members, along with a much larger group of production and post professionals there to check out the gear and attend the various on and off-site workshops and sessions.

df2216_03For me, that’s part of it, together with the fact that I cover the show as a journalist writing for Digital Video magazine and CreativePlanetNetwork website. Rather than rehash here what I’ve already written, here are the links to my preview and wrap-up articles. If you want to hear what several industry pros thought of as the highlights of the show, check out our local Orlando Post Pros user group meeting, produced by Adrenaline Films and sponsored by Blackmagic Design.df2216_05

In addition, NAB for me is a time to reconnect in person with old and new friends from all over the country and the world. These are folks I’ve known for years, as well as some that I’ve originally met only online. NAB is a chance to spend some face-to-face time – if only for a few moments. It’s also a chance to connect with online friends for the first time and get a new perspective on their ideas. That’s something that’s often lacking in so much of today’s social media and internet forums.

df2216_04This year I had an opportunity to connect with my friends Philip Hodgetts and Greg Clarke from Intelligent Assistance. Most likely you know them as the brains behind such apps as 7toX, XtoCC, Sync-n-Link-X, Lumberjack and more. They also routinely record a web series called Lunch with Philip and Greg. So along with plenty of time at the NAB show, we stepped out to the Firefly restaurant down the road from the convention center. There we recorded an hour of good conversation over unexpectedly excellent food for another episode. A welcomed break from the show.df2216_02

If you get a chance to attend next year, make sure to allow some time to connect with your friends, too. Gear is cool for the nerd in all of us, but it’s not the only part of Vegas!

©2016 Oliver Peters

Australian Design Shines with Blackmagic

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One of the things to do in the week after NAB is to scour the internet to pick up those gems I might have missed at the show. I was curious to run across a blurb at RedShark News about a prestigious design award picked up by Blackmagic Design.

df1616_bmd_reddot_6Anyone in this industry who’s been exposed to any Blackmagic product knows that the company has a sense of taste when it comes to industrial design, packaging, and even their website. Products, like their rack-mounted gear and cameras, have a certain finesse even down to the screws that hold them together. One look at DaVinci Resolve and you know they’ve aimed at the best-looking and easiest-to-navigate user interface of any NLE. The redesign of the Cintel Scanner is like an art piece to hang on the wall.

df1616_bmd_reddot_2This year they’ve been honored as the Design Team of the Year by the Red Dot Awards. This is a design competition founded by German industrial designer Professor Dr. Peter Zec, former president of Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) and current head of the German design center, Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen. The Design Team of the Year Award (which is awarded and not competed for) goes to one company each year. Blackmagic Design is in good company, as past winners include Apple, Porsche, and frog design (who has been closely involved with Apple over the years) – among many others.df1616_bmd_reddot_4

df1616_bmd_reddot_5Blackmagic’s design team is headed by Simon Kidd, Director of Industrial Design, who’s been with the company for ten years. This is the first time the honor has gone to an Australian firm and highlights the outstanding work being done down under. That design aesthetic can be seen not only at Blackmagic, but other Australian firms, too, including Atomos and Rode Microphones. It’s nice to see this recognition go to any company in the film and video space, but even better when it goes to someone who really values design along with solid functionality.

©2016 Oliver Peters

Photo Phun 2015

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It’s holiday time again and a chance to take a break from serious talk about editing and the tools – sort of. I’ve done a version of this post for a few years. Usually I take a series of my photos and run them through Photoshop, Lightroom, or one of the other photography applications to create stylized treatments. This year, I figured, why not try it with Final Cut Pro X?

These images have all been processed in a custom FCP X timeline set to 2000 x 1500 pixels. I’ve used a wide range of filters, including some from the FxFactory partner family, Koji, the built-in FCP X effects, as well as my own Motion templates published over from Motion. Enjoy these as we go into the holiday season. See you in the new year!

Click any image to see a slideshow of these photos.

©2015 Oliver Peters

Metrics

With the rollover to another year, it’s fun to take time to assess what sort of response this blog is having. I have heard from many of you who find it a useful resource, which is always good to know. So I thought I’d share some numbers with my readers.

I started this blog in March 2008 with two objectives: 1) to have a place to park some of my trade publication writings – so they have some additional exposure, and b) to add some thoughts, tips and ideas that might not otherwise find their way into an official industry trade magazine. To that aim, I’ve also included articles that I wrote prior to 2008, as they still have relevance today. It’s my way of giving back to an industry that I enjoy and in which I’ve had a level of success. Not counting this one, I’ve posted 355 articles to date. Over the years, the audience for this blog has grown. As of Christmas Day 2014, it’s had 3,160,605 total views. There are 805 regular followers. The best ever single day was May 27, 2014 with 30,957 views.

Like any publication, the interest that readers express – by the ongoing popularity of certain posts – says a lot about the readers themselves. For example, the top post has been 12 Tips for Better Film Editing (122,705 views). This has been followed by combinations of the various comparison stories (NLE, color correction software, etc.), DSLR stories, and color grading tips. Of the latter, the most popular has been Color Grading Effects Demystified (58,943 views). After that the FCP X Color Board Presets (30,016) and SpeedGrade Looks (26,123) posts have rounded out the top. Speaking of the presets and looks articles, these included free downloads. The FCP X color board presets have been downloaded 8,010 times, followed by the free SpeedGrade .look files at 5,893 downloads. Other downloads are also popular, including the film budgets (1,107) and a combination of the three edit suite design articles (over 1,000 combined).

I also post a number of links to pertinent content on Vimeo from time to time. Two links have stood on top. The first is the Yarra Valley Wine commercial, which was tied to my tips about using DLSRs in post. This remains a popular topic. Second most is the Blackmagic Cinema Camera grading study.

For those of you new to this blog, I would really encourage you to check out the Categories listed on the side. Click on any of these, like “tips and tricks” or “Final Cut Pro X” and you’ll see a summary of all the articles that I’ve written which relate. Some of my favorite stories are my interviews with top editors and filmmakers. These are fun reads where you can pick up tips from some of the best. Simply click on the “Film Stories” page at the top for a summary of these interviews.

Remember that if you landed on my blog, because the page was linked from another site, it may or may not be the most updated information I’ve written on that topic. So please check the other links within this blog to get the most recent information. Often my methodology evolves over time as the technology changes.

Now that we are in a new year, it’s time to get back at it.  Nose to the grindstone and all that stuff. Read on and drop me a line if you have questions or just to let me know how you find the blog. Thanks for reading!

©2015 Oliver Peters

Photo phun II

Time to come back with a look at photography – just for the fun of it. Earlier this year I talked about using Pixelmator as an alternative to Photoshop. When I work with photos, I prefer to use Lightroom, Aperture and/or Photoshop (in that order). For extra effects, a touch of Tiffen Dfx, DFT Film Stocks or Magic Bullet Looks also gives you more pizzazz. While Pixelmator is pretty “lite” compared with Photoshop, it still gives most casual photographers more than enough control to enhance their images. Since it is based on Apple’s Core Image technology, it can also serendipitously take advantage of some of the FxFactory effects plug-ins.

Below is a set of images processed strictly with Pixelmator. I did use some of the FxFactory filters just because they were there, but understand that most of these effects also have native equivalents within Pixelmator. So, FxFactory filters are not an essential part in using Pixelemator as your image processing application. Click on any image below for a slideshow.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! See you in the new year!