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New MacBreak Studio episode - Visual Effects Workflow with Final Cut Pro X!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 22, 2014, at 2:16 AM

The new MacBreak Studio episode is here and this time the new tutorial is a bit different, because it features not only Mark Spencer, but also Mike Matzdorff who was the first assistant editor on a big-budget studio feature film using Final Cut Pro. In the video you will see a basic VFX workflow that Mike employed using a very simple mocked-up example. He creates a separate event for each VFX shot which contains all the important assets, including video clips, reference shots, stills, audio, notes, and compound clips.  Then he builds a proxy of the visual effect in Final Cut Pro. In his workflow Mike also uses a free plugin called "Feature Overlays" (click here to get it). Thanks to this plugin it is much easier to add a header, label, and two timecode counts to 23.976 shots.


Mark also wrote:

"Mike also uses a companion application called Producer's Best Friend, which uses Final Cut Pro's robust XML export to create a spreadsheet of customizable data for communicating shot information to collaborators. While Mike's focus is on visual effects, the application can include data on clips, roles, subroles, markers, keywords, and transitions in addition to visual and audio effects applied to clips.

By combining the power of Final Cut's organizational tools in the Browser, compositing toolset, and metadata-rich XML interchange format with a couple of third party applications, Mike has been able to create a highly functional workflow for communicating with the visual effects team on this project. If you work in a collaborative editing environment, you'll want check out not only this episode, but also his upcoming book that shares his insights gleaned from the front lines of posting a feature with Final Cut Pro X. Follow Mike @fcpxfeatures."


How they did the amazing Saturday Night Live title sequence - must read!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 22, 2014, at 1:23 AM

The new Saturday Night Live title sequence is a great example of the use of many filmmaking techniques and if you wonder how this video was made, make sure to read Alex Buono's blog post in which he shares in great detail how the crew managed to create this amazing sequence. In this case the idea was to honor the 40-year history of the show (you can watch the title sequence here). Very soon director, Rhys Thomas and Alex came up with the idea to use only in-camera techniques, they wanted to do something low-fi, analog, optical, vintage and classic. And so Rhys, film unit producer Justus McLarty and Alex brainstormed a list of in-camera techniques to test: slo-motion, tilt-shift, black&white, long-exposure motion blur, double-exposures, light-writing, timelapse, strobe photography, aerial photography, infrared photography, optical aberrations, anamorphic distortions, prism-distortions, etc., and while it sounds exciting, the most important goal of the video was to warm-up the audience and introduce fifteen cast members.

It's hart to list all the hardware that was used to create this awesome sequence - there were various lenses with a variety of cameras:

"Our main camera for the cast portraits was the Red Epic Dragon.  While we’ve leaned toward the Arri Alexa over the past couple of seasons, we tried out the Dragon on a handful of spots and found it to be a huge improvement over the (Non-Dragon) Epic.  As advertised, the dynamic range is much closer to the Alexa’s performance while the Dragon offers us a much wider range of resolution and frame rate options.  For a handheld experimental title sequence with lots of different tricks, the Dragon was an easy choice.  We started shooting the cast portraits at 6K resolution at 5:1 compression, thinking it would be very helpful to have a lot of room to re-frame shots, but after the first two cast-shoots (out of fifteen) racked up over 2TB of footage, we quickly dropped down to a more manageable 5K / 7:1 resolution.  For the non-freelensing shots, we rigged the camera with a Redrock MicroRemote wireless follow focus and Teradek Bolt; for most of the shoot, the only monitor on set was a battery-powered 5.6″ TVLogic for Rhys to handhold.  In addition to the Dragon, much of  the bumper-footage was shot with a Canon 5DmIII."

One of the greatest effects in the video is a custom bokeh technique, in which every light source in the shot turns into the SNL logo. In order to achieve this result, Alex needed to create a 4×5 filter mask with a logo that would fit inside a 25mm circle:

"I brought the logo into Adobe Illustrator, re-sized the logo to fit within a 25mm diameter and placed it within the frame of a 4” x 5.6” rectangle — which is the size of the glass filter I was using.  We sent the Illustrator file to our sign printer who has the ability to print black laser-cut vinyl stickers.  Then we simply took the vinyl sticker and adhered it to a 4 x 5 clear filter.  Voila!  We had a custom SNL-logo bokeh filter.  For these shots, we picked up a set of Leica Summilux-C lenses.  I experimented with different lenses and different sized-filters, but the best results were with the 50mm."

The team also wanted to incorporate light-writing into one of the bumpers and to achieve it they used a Pixelstick:

"Pixelstick is one of those amazing ideas that is hard to explain but once you see it, you immediately get it.  In short, it’s a portable, lightweight bar containing 200 RGB LEDs.  You can upload the device with an image in the form of a 200 pixel-tall 24-bit BMP (bitmap) file via SD card.  When you trigger the bar, it flashes your image in a succession of pulses, one vertical line at a time — each LED corresponding to a single pixel.  If you photograph this pulsing with a long exposure and you move the bar across the frame as it pulses, you literally “paint” the image in midair."

Make sure to read the full blog post - click here.


Apple introduces 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display and updates Mac mini!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 17, 2014, at 2:42 AM

Last but not least, Apple also updated its line of Mac computers and filmmakers should be absolutely excited, because Apple introduced 27-inch iMacs with not 4K, but Retina 5K displays! This is huge and the new iMac will feature the world’s highest resolution computer display with a breathtaking 14.7 million pixels! If you plan to edit 4K videos, the new iMac seems to be the perfect tool for you. The computer is also quite powerful, because available setups incorporate quad-core processors, high-performance graphics, Fusion Drive and Thunderbolt 2. The 5K display offers 5120x2880 resolution, so four times more pixels than the standard 27-inch iMac and 67 percent more pixels than a 4K display! Apple uses a precisely manufactured oxide TFT-based panel to deliver vivid display brightness from corner to corner.

The new iMac comes with a 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz, and for the first time can be configured with a 4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.4 GHz. Every new iMac with Retina 5K display also comes with AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics and can be configured with AMD Radeon R9 M295X graphics, delivering up to 3.5 teraflops of computing power.

Apple also updated Mac mini which now features fourth generation Intel Core processors, integrated graphics that are up to 90 percent faster. It also includes two Thunderbolt 2 ports, each delivering up to 20Gbps of bandwidth to each port. 

It is worth adding that every new Mac comes with OS X Yosemite and free copies of iMovie, GarageBand and the suite of iWork. 

Prices of iMac with Retina 5K display begin at $2,499 and Mac mini prices begin at $499.

Source: |

Mac OS X Yosemite finally here and available as a free upgrade!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 17, 2014, at 1:45 AM

The new version of Mac OS X is finally here and that's absolutely great because introduces great features not only to regular users but also to developers, who now will be able to support all the exciting new features in iOS 8 and new iTunes (such as video previews). OS X Yosemite is available as a free upgrade for Mac users from the Mac App Store, it delivers a fresh, modern look and introduces Continuity features that make it easy to hand off activities between Mac and iOS devices (for example now you will be able to receive iPhone calls from your Mac!). Yosemite also includes a new Today view, a redesigned Spotlight and updated versions of Safari, Mail, Messages and iTunes. In the case of refreshed desktop design, Streamlined toolbars make more room for your content, and use translucency to reveal additional app content as you scroll. Translucent window sidebars, give you a sense of what’s hidden behind the active window, etc.

Here's the list of all major updates introduced with Yosemite (via Apple):

  • Today view in Notification Center, giving you quick access to informative widgets for Calendar, Weather, Stocks, Reminders, World Clock and social networks. You can also add widgets like Yahoo! Sports from the Mac App Store to customize your Today view;
  • a new Spotlight, delivering rich information right to your desktop from Wikipedia, Maps, Bing, App Store℠, iTunes Store®, iBooks Store℠, top websites, news and movie showtimes;
  • iCloud Drive℠, so you can store files of any type in iCloud®, organize them any way you like, and access them from your Mac, iPhone, iPad® or even a Windows PC;
  • a streamlined new Safari that delivers the fastest performance, as well as the longest battery life for web browsing and Netflix HD video streaming on the Mac;
  • an updated version of Mail, which includes Markup for quickly filling out and signing forms and PDFs right within Mail, plus Mail Drop, which makes it easy to send large attachments up to 5GB for free;
  • enhanced Messages, so now you can add participants to your ongoing group conversations, see their locations on a map, quickly access attachments and even mute notifications;
  • iTunes 12, which has a sleek new look, is fast and simple to use, and makes it easier to switch between browsing your music library and discovering new music on the iTunes Store. A new Recents view makes it easy to access the media you just purchased or recently played; and
  • Family Sharing, so family members can now browse and download each other’s iTunes, iBooks® or Mac App Store purchases.

Yosemite is available as a free upgrade today from the Mac App Store.


Apple introduces iPad Air 2, the thinnest iPad ever, and the iPad mini 3!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
October 17, 2014, at 12:43 AM

The wait is finally over! At Apple Special Event the Cupertino company revealed many awesome products. The iPad Air 2 was among them and it is the thinnest and most powerful iPad ever. The new iPad is just 6.1mm thin and it weights less than a pound. The new tablet also features an improved Retina display (enhanced contrast and richer, more vibrant colors), as well as better cameras for taking great photos and videos - for many users this is an important upgrade, because many of them are taking pictures and videos on their iPads. The new model will be available in gold, silver and space gray. In the same colors you will be able to get the new iPad mini 3 and they both also offer Touch ID so just like in the case of latest iPhones, now you will have the option to unlock your iPad with just the touch of a finger.

The iPad Air 2 is powered by the new Apple-designed A8X chip, which according to the company delivers a 40 percent improvement in CPU performance and 2.5 times the graphics performance of iPad Air, and still delivers the up to 10-hour battery life. The tablet is combined with Metal, the new graphics technology in iOS 8 that unlocks realistic visual effects comparable to the most advanced gaming consoles. The new iSight camera enables better photos and videos, with an 8MP sensor and advanced optics, it also adds features including time-lapse video, slo-mo and 1080p HD video.

The iPad mini line on the other hand has been updated to include iPad mini 3 with Touch ID and iPad mini with Retina display, now called iPad mini 2 and starting at $299 and both iPads feature a Retina display, the A7 chip, 5MP iSight camera and FaceTime HD.

Pricing & Availability (via Apple):

"iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 come in three gorgeous metallic finishes including gold, silver and space gray, and customers in 29 countries and territories can order online beginning Friday, October 17. Both iPads will be available starting later next week in the US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China (Wi-Fi models only), Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau (Wi-Fi models only), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Availability in Croatia, Greece, Puerto Rico, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and elsewhere around the world, will continue through the end of October with additional global availability in the coming months. iPads are sold through the Apple Online Store (, Apple’s retail stores and through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, additional carriers and select Apple Authorized Resellers.

iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi models will be available for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 64GB model and $699 (US) for the 128GB model. iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 64GB model and $829 (US) for the 128GB model. iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi models will be available for a suggested retail price of $399 (US) for the 16GB model, $499 (US) for the 64GB model and $599 (US) for the 128GB model. iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of $529 (US) for the 16GB model, $629 (US) for the 64GB model and $729 (US) for the 128GB model.

iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini, available in silver or space gray, are offered at now more affordable prices. iPad Air starts at $399 (US) for the 16GB with Wi-Fi model, iPad mini 2 starts at $299 (US) for the 16GB with Wi-Fi model, and iPad mini starts at $249 (US) for the 16GB with Wi-Fi model."



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