This year I made my first trip to NAB. In future posts I’ll talk about the show floor and my last post was about the sneak peak of the new Final Cut. While all that stuff is flashy, new and fun, the part of my trip that I know I will benefit from for years is the classes I took at Post Production World. The classes are taught by working professional and the top of the line professional instructors. Many of the instructors you’ll recognize from Lynda.com, Focal Press books, or the websites like Creative Cow. In other words, people who know their craft and know how to teach it.
At first, I wasn’t sure how much I could learn from these classes. After all, I went to college for media production and since then I’ve kept on top of new technologies. I shot and edited a great deal of video. What could I learn? Turns out there was a lot out there to learn. But that’s true for EVERYONE. Everyone, from someone picking up a camera for the first time, to someone who has been editing for twenty years, there’s always a great deal of new things to learn.
You need to spend 20% of your working time learning new skills or you will become obsolete. -Phil Hodgett
I’m paraphrasing the above quote form Phil Hodgett who was one of the instructors at PPW (in fact I wasn’t there when he said it, but my friend Mike Tomei was and he told me all about it). Of all the things said at PPW this really hit me. If you want to be a media production professional, you need to put a serious amount of time into improving your skills. I took 15 classes at PPW and I certainly have a few new skills and tricks that I want to try out. Out of the 40+ hours of instruction here are the six lesson I think will be most useful.
- Optical Flow, from Power Workflows in FCP taught by Steve Martin.
Ever had to slow down footage in Final Cut and not been too happy with how it looked? Footage slowed down in FCP looks choppy. The quick fix is to send that clip to motion and slow it down there. Under “timing” in the properties tab in Motion, adjust the speed of your clip. Then change the frame blending option to “Optical Flow”. The resulting footage will take a little while to render, but it will look much smoother than the footage FCP would produce.
- Soundtrack Frequency View, from Master Audio in Soundtrack taught by Steve Martin
In Soundtrack you can switch from viewing the waveform to viewing the frequency spectrum. To do this, click on the box in the upper right hand corner that I’ve circled in the image above. You can then use the frequency selection tool (circled in the upper left hand side) to select part a range of frequencies in your file. This is a very handy way to delete certain frequencies when your audio has electrical hums.
- Music Video Slates, from Music Video Workflow taught by Tim Dashwood
When making music videos, I’ve been reling on PluralEyes to synch up my footage. (You play the song back on set and then PluralEyes will use the scratch audio from your camera to synch the shots to the studio audio recording). There is a cheap, easy and more professional way of doing this. In your editing software make a video that features the audio track of the song and a video display of the timecode. You’ll then load this video onto a iPhone, iPad, laptop, etc and use it both as a slate and a the playback source while on set. You will get more accurate results than you would with just PluralEyes and you’ll seem more professional.
- How to Read Video Scopes, from Color Correction taught by Abba Shapiro
I’m going to cover color grading in-depth in a future post. Understand what all these crazy lines and graphs mean might just be the most useful skill I picked up, it would be this one.
- Keyboard short cuts to adjust Kerning/Tracking, from Typography for Video Editors taught by Ian Robinson
In many program (like PhotoShop and Motion) you can adjust the tracking and kerning with a very simple keyboard shortcut. Please your curser where you want to adjust the spacing. Press opt (on Macs) + the right arrow key to increase the spacing and opt + left arrow key to decrease the spacing. It also works if you select multiple characters.
- Photovision Calibration Targets, from HDSLR classes taught by Raymond Schlogel
I’m guilty of something I expect many people are, I know I should shoot gray cards, but almost never do. The main reason I don’t is they are a pain to carry around as they can be bulky and fragile. Enter these flex-fill-like gray cards from PhotoVision. Easy to carry, relatively inexpensive, and gives you an accurate way to white balance when shooting and color correct when in post.
All of the classes I took:
- Power Workflows in FCP, Steve Martin
- Expert to Master: Advance Techniques for FCP, Abba Shapiro & Jeff Greenberg
- Color Correction, Abba Shapiro
- Live Streaming, Alex Lindsay
- Indie Film Audio, Jeff Fisher
- Master Audio in Soundtrack, Steve Martin
- Cutting Edge Compression, Jeff Greenberg
- Documentary Production Techniques – Hicks/Balog
- Lightweight Lighting Strategies, James Ball
- Getting Started with After Effects, Luisa Winters
- HDSLR Tips and Tricks, Raymond Schlogel & Douglas Spotted Eagle
- Titling with Motion, Mark Spencer
- Typography for Video Editors, Ian Robinson
- Music Video Workflow, Tim Dashwood
- HDSLR – Run & Gun, Raymond Schlogel & Douglas Spotted Eagle
In conclusion, I couldn’t recommend PPW more.