One of the things that’s often struck me about editing is just how unforgiving your audience can be. Even if you are just starting out with editing, you’re always presenting your work to an audience that instinctively knows what good editing should look like. Everyone watches TV and goes to the cinema, giving the new editor very little room for getting it wrong. It’s like me presenting you with two plates of food, one cooked by a novice and the other by a Michelin starred chef. Even if you can’t cook, you know exactly what good food should taste like, so the novice is never going to fool you…not without a lot of practice. With that in mind, this is the first in a new series of articles that will attempt to pass on some simple editing techniques that you can master quickly and allow your editing to look as good as a Gordon Ramsey soufflé tastes! How to hide your cuts when editing action sequences In this first episode, I am going to focus on an easy way to hide your cuts when editing action sequences. It’s important to stress that I don’t simply mean gun battles and stunts. The techniques I will discuss can be applied to any sequence of clips where a person or object is moving and you want to cut to different angles during that movement. Essentially I am going to demonstrate how you can mimic everyday, biological, impulses to inform your edit decisions and help hide your cuts. We do this because, if your viewer notices your cuts, they aren’t noticing the story, which is obviously undesirable. For this quick demo, I’ve used some ungraded rushes from a shoot I did for Atomos a few weeks back. The first thing I do is mark my in and out points on my source footage. Rather than trying to mark too precisely at this early stage, I leave that step until later, where the Ripple tool will do a much better job and I will have a 2-up display in my viewer to accurately place my edit. In fact the easiest thing to do right now is just mark the flip as a whole, in each angle, and then lay them down in the timeline in the order that I think works best. Getting the timing right The next step is to get the timing right. That means making sure that when one shot cuts to the next, there is no repetition of the action we’ve already seen and no missing action either. The easiest way to do this is to identify anchor frames in each of your clips. These are frames where the action is at a start or end point, which is therefore easy to spot across multiple clips. In this instance, the anchor frames I have spotted are the point when the ninja’s feet first leave the floor, the point where his feet land on the concrete block, the point where they leave the concrete block and finally the point where he lands back on the floor. Some of these anchor frames I can’t actually see in every clip, but I can at least hear them, as we had a shotgun mic attached to our FS7 for sync. When our stunt actor lands on the floor with a thud, you can see it in the waveform very easily. With these key moments identified, it’s simply a matter of rippling to these frames across all the clips. You can either do that by trimming with the Ripple tool, in Premiere Pro, or just use the standard Select tool in FCP X. I tend to always edit from the keyboard, so in the video I am using the keyboard shortcuts Alt [ to ripple the start of the clips under the playhead and Alt ] to ripple the end of the clip under the playhead. In Premiere Pro the keyboard shortcuts for this would be Q and W respectively. By using this technique, you should have the action timed to perfection very quickly. Although this allows you to get the action timed extremely quickly, and in fact will leave you with something that looks pretty good, don’t be tempted to leave your cuts on the anchor frames. It may be that sometimes that’s OK but, more often than not, you will find that leaving the cut happening at the same time as the action starting/stopping, will draw unwanted attention from your viewer. Remember, you do not want your viewer to be distracted from the narrative by your cuts. You want the cuts to melt away and become so seamless, your viewer doesn’t consciously perceive them. One well documented* way of achieving that is to mimc the blink response we all have. Blinking is something we all have to do but depending on the circumstances, it’s not always appropriate to blink. For example, when driving on a busy road, there is so much visual stimulus, our brains instruct our eyes to blink less, hence why some people experience dry eyes after long car journeys. Conversely, we blink more when there is not much visual stimulus (like sitting and talking) or, most importantly in this case, when we turn our heads quickly. Because of motion blur, when we turn our heads quickly, no useful visual information can be gleamed by our brains, so it instructs our eyes to take the opportunity to blink. It is this blink, tied to motion blur, that we can borrow and apply to our edits. Fine-tuning – the roll / trim tool The final stage is to use the Roll tool in Premiere Pro (or Trim tool in FCP X) to move the cut backwards or forwards, away from the anchor frame we used to get the timing right. We don’t have to worry too much about the timing going out, because the Roll tool is adding and removing frames to both sides of the edit by the same amount, simultaneously. In other words, as long as our stunt actor jumped and flipped at a similar pace in each take, the timing will remain in tact. What I’m looking for now is a frame part-way through the movement, where motion blur is occurring on screen, where I can hide the edit. Because the cut will now happen at a point where motion blur is taking place, our brains will pay it less attention, as if it were a blink. It really is quite dramatic just how effective this is at creating a smooth, seamless cut point. It won’t always work for every edit and please don’t make these changes arbitrarily, without experimenting and trying out several options but, if you use this technique as a starting point, you’ll be surprised just how quickly you can create pleasing, well-timed edits on action shots. *Walter Murch’s ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ (Publisher, Silman-James Press; 2001)Read more
In a week packed full of new camera announcements, the Sony FDR-X3000R action cam shows us that its not just about top-of-the-range, flagship cameras. With this significant announcement, Sony takes aim at the GoPro market yet again with their latest 4K-capable action cam with optical image stabilisation. One of the main characteristics of the FDR-X3000R is the adoption of the Balanced Optical SteadyShot technology found in some of Sony’s handicam models. The B.O.SS system works by moving the entire optical path rather than just individual elements, and is supposed to achieve even greater shake reduction, making it ideal for action cam applications such as helmet or handlebar mounted operation. In terms of hardware, the FDR-X3000R weighs only 114g, and features an 8.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor backed by a BIONZ X processor, the very same brains inside the Sony ɑ7 range, which allows for a full pixel readout without pixel binning. In addition, the new low-distortion Zeiss Tessar f/2.8 lens is adjustable in-camera to f=17 mm, f=23 mm and f=32 mm for Wide, Medium and Narrow settings respectively, and features a 3x smooth zoom while recording. All of this is housed in a splash and freezeproof body, making this action cam suitable for a variety of situations. Included in the box is also a dust and shockproof underwater housing, allowing you to take the action cam down to a maximum depth of 60m. Also included is the new Live-View Remote used to monitor the image and control camera functions remotely via WiFi and Bluetooth, and which can be used as a watch-style wearable. These items are certainly a nice addition to the starter package, as Sony could have easily made them available as extras. Sony FDR-X300R – What’s included in the Box List of features of the FDR-X3000R at a glance XAVC S, 4K 3840 x 2160 recording at 30p/25p/24p at 100Mbps. XAVC S, FullHD 1920 x 1080 recording at 30p/25p/24p at 50Mbps. High frame rates also available in FullHD up to 120p/100p, and beyond at lower resolutions. B.O.SS stabilisation technology available also in 4K and high frame rate mode. Time-lapse recording using 4K, 8.3MP stills, as well as Burst Shooting mode. Recording media: Memory Stick Micro (M2) and Micro SD / SDHC / SDXC Memory Card (class 4 or higher). Micro HDMI, Micro USB and mic jack at the rear of the camera for easy access. 4K HDMI output available. Live streaming compatible via UStream. GPS records location, route and speed information. Built-in stereo mic. Removable NP-BX1 battery. All in all, the FDR-X3000R sounds like a solid alternative for those looking for a capable and flexible action cam for that interesting extra angle. There will be some nice accessories available for it upon launch— such as the AKA-FGP1 Finger Grip and AKA-MCP1 MC Protector — but the camera already comes as a very usable package straight out of the box. The B.O.SS technology is certainly a welcome addition for this style of camera, and the ability to record in 4K means it offers a solid platform to further stabilise in post if needed. The Sony FDR-X3000R will be available in November for an estimated retail price of around EUR 600. For more information, be sure to check out Sony’s product page. Do you think GoPro is in trouble yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.Read more
UPDATED – Here’s the recording of the free webinar! Details below … The tools to shoot fast-paced action sequences have become more accessible than ever before, with tiny action cams and high-frame-rate-shooting cameras more commonplace than ever, and advancing constantly. But the tools alone are not enough – new tools require new approaches to use the new capabilities to full effect. Sony is organizing a free webinar called “Capturing the Action”, transmitted live from Pinewood Studios in London, on this coming Wednesday (November 19) at 2pm GMT. You can sign up for free here! In the webinar, I will be hosting the UK sports and action shooting specialists geebeebee media. Check out some of their stuff on their website – they definitely are the go-to guys for fast-paced sports action. I am very much looking forward to talking to them about how they approach their shoots, how they choose their gear and settings of their cameras. You will learn a lot about capturing fast-paced action from this one-hour webinar! This behind-the-scenes video of their shoot will give you a good option of what to expect from the webinar: It will be interesting to compare experiences with the geebeebee media team, and talk about what kind of cameras make it easier than ever before to capture sports action in previously unseen angles. This webinar will cover: Power versus portability Shots and angles to make your video stand out Creative uses for slow-mo Enhancing your on-screen look with 4K Choosing fixed or interchangeable lenses Webinar starts at: 2pm GMT on November 19th – sign up here!Read more
The announcement is making its rounds on the web: GoPro just presented the specs for their new GoPro HERO 3 camera. It’s 4K!!! Well yes, it’s 4K, but only at 15fps – So it’s kind of not 4K then. Still, 15fps at 4K is very powerful for such a small camera and the 2.7K resolution the HERO 3 achieves will probably produce a very nice, sharp image to create some action shots that go well with your 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera. With the ProTune update released this week (LINK) that allows better integration and a higher bitrate this camera even looks interesting for the video and film production market. The specs promise comparably cool quality over the previous HERO 2 camera. 2x faster video recording, less distortion and finally a flat lens that allows for unblurred underwater recording. They also say they vastly improved the sound quality and built wifi into the camera (remote included). Additionally the camera is 30% smaller and more lightweight than the previous one. Sweet. Frame Sizes and Rates: – 4K at 16:9 or 17:9: 12-15 fps – 2.7K at 16:9 or 17:9: 24-25/30 fps – 1080p: up to 60 fps – 720p: up to 120 fps It’s also nice to see the camera will be shipping next week! This one will surely make big sales, as everyone is crazy about the 4K number and everything else also looks like a futuristic deal. Make sure you buy wisely and thoughtful. New cameras around every corner… You can pre-order the HERO 3 for $399 here: Here’s their new nice GoPro HERO 3 image video:Read more
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