Tools

Slugline. Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Red Giant Color Suite, with Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 and Colorista II

Needables
  • Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz
Friday
Jan112008

Gestural Interfaces, or What your $1,000 software can learn from your $10 software

Chances are if you read this blog you have on your computer several thousand dollars worth of creative software. Maybe After Effects, maybe Shake, Final Cut or Avid or Premiere (or all three), Fusion or Nuke or Scratch, Color or Audition or maybe even Inferno.

And chances are, somewhere on that same hard drive, you have a computer solitaire game that was either free with the computer or just about.

What could a professional content-creation platform learn from some free time-wasting software? The answer is a gestural interface.

Generally speaking, in solitaire you move cards around according to certain rules. Who wants to learn rules? No one. So innovative game developers have created a way to gently teach you the rules of any solitaire game. When you try to move a card, they provide a kind of emulated tactile feedback that tells you "yes, you can move that card here or "nope, that card can't be placed here." It's so subtle you don't even notice it happening, but after a time you find yourself actually "throwing" cards into the general direction of their goals and expecting them to find their way there. The guidance that was at first a learning aid is now a reward for expert status. Experienced solitary players whip cards around on their screens like Ricky Jay.

Solitaire is so simple that software designers have had to innovate in order to distinguish themselves. Another arena in which ubiquity demands extra effort for a bit of distinction is mobile phone design. Apple's iPhone is now famous for its touch-screen interface. Somebody got all the phone out of the way and let you just touch your stuff.

There may be a hundred "competing" solitaire games, but there are only a handful of NLEs; only a few compositing applications, less than half a dozen professional 3D applications. These tools compete on bullet-lists of sexy features or must-have capabilities. And so their UIs tend to lack innovation. They have a sort of Northwest Airlines outlook on fancy UI features—sure, you could have them, but next you'll want snacks and a little TV in the back of the seat in front of you!

Apple's Motion is bucking this trend with its realtime focus and animated 3D view transitions. The now-dead 5D Colossus system featured some innovative tablet-based metaphors. There's an argument that fancy UIs are the domain of the fundamentally simple application, but the not-at-all-simple Flame/Flint/Inferno has some wicked-cool pseudo-tactile functionality, like "slicing" a connection between nodes, or scooping up nodal connections by sweeping one node over others.

The next time you use something that "just works," whether it be an iPhone or a martini shaker, think about ways that your favorite creative software could be more intuitive. It takes a lot of effort to make a computer program as easy to use as a deck of cards—but why should this effort be reserved for games and phones? Usability isn't an extravagance and shouldn't be a luxury, and you deserve it in your expensive software as well as your free games.

Thursday
Jan102008

The BBC Are DV Rebels


This is making the rounds, and deservedly so. It's excellent work, just the sort of thing The DV Rebel's Guide is all about.

Some things to note, besides the obvious:

Notice how important the color correction is to the overall look and feel. You can see some of the shots prior to grading in the breakdown section, and they look OK, but not great. An aggressive grade hides a multitude of sins and turns war into WAR! (Chapter 6)

Ditto camera shake. Making the shots dynamic is genre-correct and hides the simple split-screen techniques. (Chapter 4)

These guys clearly had a plan. They knew what shots they needed and they went out and built them piece by piece. They started at the end and worked backward. (Chapter 1)

Last note: Look out. Soon a client or producer or both will come to you asking for the Omaha beach scene for a budget of three peoples' day rates. Notice that nowhere in the video do they mention how long the post took, or how many people it involved.

Thanks to Len for calling attention to this on the Rebel Café.

Monday
Jan072008

Stu at Macworld

Important edit: It's Wednesday, not Tuesday, that I'll be speaking both at the Peachpit booth and the FCPUG SuperMeet! D'oh. Further edit: I've updated the ProLost Google calendar with the correct info.

I will be mouthing off at Macworld SF next week.

On Wednesday at noon I'll be talking at the Peachpit booth about the good old Rebel's Guide.

Later that day I'll be rappin' at at the Macworld FCPUG SuperMeet (which is being sponsored in part by Adobe—figure that one out!). Doors open at 5 pm, event starts at 7 pm.

Thursday
Jan032008

Panalog

The Panavision Genesis camera shoots uncompressed 10-bit HD encoded in a logarithmic color space known as Panalog. Visual effects artists working with these images may want to convert the panalog images to linear floating point and back as a part of their workflow.

At The Orphanage, we’ve always used hard-coded panalog LUTs (based on those supplied by Panavision) for these conversions. But it occurred to me that the format is similar enough to Cineon log that one might be able to find settings in a standard log/lin tool that match the Panavision transform.

Sure enough, a little playing resulted in about 99% success. I got my Cineon log/lin conversions close enough to be within a 10-bit code value of a match to Panavision’s own LUTs.

The After Effects settings are:

10 Bit Black Point: 0
Internal Black Point: 0.0
10 Bit White Point: 681
Internal White Point: 1.0
Gamma 1.480
Highlight Rolloff: 0

The Shake settings are the same, but Shake has a more ‘nuther gamma setting called rNGamma which you should leave at the default of 0.60, and multiplies the rDGamma value internally by 1/1.7, so you should use a value of 1.70/1.480 or 1.14865.

Download the After Effects (CS3+) Animation Presets

Download the Shake Macros

Nuke version coming eventually maybe possibly!

Update: Download the undocumented, untested Nuke gizmos!