THE “31 YEARS” VIDEO
When Apple released it’s latest editing software, Final Cut Pro X, a few months ago I knew that it couldn’t handle several of the editing tasks that I frequently use such as multi-clip editing and multiple audio tracks. Apple is a great company and is already adding important features to FCPX, but some upcoming jobs will require more than it can deliver today. What do we do now? Adobe will never abandon their pro customers.
Switching to Adobe is easier for a photographer than it is for a video professional. Many of the tools that I use in Photoshop are in Production Premium’s editing programs. The key to switching to Adobe was their motion graphics program, After Effects. I’ve used Apples Motion in the past but it only took a month working with a trial version of After Effects to get hooked on this software. I did tutorials on Adobe’s web site, videocopilot.com, Creativecow.com and Lynda.com. Then I dove into my first AE project.
After a week of tutorials, my first After Effects project took 5 weeks to complete, learning as I crept along. Armed with more than 30 pages of notes, and frequent return visits to the above mentioned web sites, I created a 4 minute video showcasing my 31 years in photography (and video). I learned as I stumbled along, and I do mean stumble. I used many of the basic animation techniques, a few advanced techniques, and set most of the keyframes manually. There are a few gotchas in AE, and rendering is like watching paint dry. This is the worst part of working in AE. The solution is to set your work area to each 12 second part of the composition and render at 1/2 resolution. The quality is good enough to judge the motion and timing of the composition. The light comes on when you finally get your head into 3D space and see your layers, text and backgrounds like you are right there inside the monitor. Then you move layers in Z space, add a couple lights, cast shadows, and move your camera in X, Y, and Z space. If you are lucky and the phone doesn’t ring while your head is in 3D space you can finish the 5 second section of video in about an hour (for a rookie). This video has 167 layers! I exported a Quick Time movie at full res (1920 x 1080) in the Apple Pro Res 422 codec so that I could mix the 10 audio tracks in Final Cut 7 because I was already familiar with this program and AE is not a good audio editor. (no time to learn Premiere Pro yet). Sound effects were picked from Soundtrack Pro and the music, Unlucky, was purchased from Footagefirm.com.
It took 3 days to locate, scan, copy and re size old tear sheets to make digital files and maybe another day to locate digital files of photos and video on a few archived hard drives. And, since I’ve kept at least one of each model camera that I’ve ever owned (except for the 4×5 view camera), I included most of them in the video. I will be exploring many more special effects in After Effects for future videos.