Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Top 5 Under-Appreciated Shortcut Keys in Final Cut Pro X

I'm an editor who relies big-time on shortcut keys. They are faster, they take advantage of more of the software's features, and on top of that, they show that you're a real pro! Here are some shortcuts that I find don't get as much love as they should:
5. Override Connections 
The Tilde key (~), used in conjunction with the trim tool (T)
This is called the ‘Override Connections’ command, and it basically freezes any connected clip while you trim a clip in the main storyline. Connected clips are one of the biggest complaints from editors first trying out FCP X, because they take some getting used to. This can be a way around that struggle

4. Lift from Storyline / Overwrite to Primary Storyline
Command + Alt + Up-Arrow / Down Arrow
Another way to move clips around without getting shafted by those pesky connections is to remove them from your primary storyline. In their place will be a black slug. I use this multiple times in any project.  If you overwrite on top of a clip that is already in the storyline, it will retain the storyline clip’s audio. It will either change it to an audio-only clip, or create an L-cut with the audio and keep the unaffected video in place. 

3. Insert Gap
Alt + W
This will insert a black ‘slug’ into the selected storyline (defaults to main storyline) at the playhead position. This used to be a standard operation in previous versions of FCP X, and it still is, but for some reason not a lot of people know about this one 

2. Solo Clip
Alt + S
Unfortunately this only works with audio, but it can be very useful when you have a lot of clips playing at once, and you want to just hear the dialogue, or a specific sound effect. Just select the clip to be soloed and hit alt + s, and the other clips will all go grey. Press it again to un-solo the clip. 

1. Holding the Command Key for precision adjustments
Command + Drag element
I used to get pretty frustrated at the lack of precision when trying to set audio levels, and it didn’t take long to appreciate the effect the Command key has on taming the speed of your adjustments. My mouse speed is set pretty fast, like most editors I know, so the command key really comes in handy. This applies to other operations as well, pretty much anytime you’re dragging a clip, a level, or a position. 
What are some of the keystrokes that you find really helpful? What did I leave out?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Periscope is taking over, and will probably break the internet soon.

Periscope has taken off. On no other social media platform can you go face to face with celebrities… or ‘nobodies’ (and I use that term as affectionately as possible!), watch them doing anything, or nothing, like you can with Periscope. The Android version is finally out, and that made me very happy.

First Impressions
Periscope is not the platform for a polished broadcast, or for anything you want to last for more than a day. It IS a great way to engage directly, win the affections of your audience, and find out what’s on their mind. 

Drawbacks? As a viewer, there is no direct way to search for content. However, it was made to work with your Twitter account. A workaround for searching for feeds is to do a twitter search for #Periscope plus whatever keyword you want to use. If a particular user comes up in that search and it looks like they might be interesting to you, then follow them on periscope, and get notified when they broadcast.  

As a broadcaster, you want to give your content a thoughtful title - it can be descriptive, it can be basic, it can be sensational. Most of all it should attract the audience you are looking to draw.  

Prepare for your broadcast. If you’re going to cook a meal, get a few of the ingredients together first. Nobody wants to watch you looking for the chicken broth. Or maybe they do… but I’m guessing not. 
It might even be a good idea to schedule some specific broadcasts, tweet about it, build a following before you even go live, and ask people to share the broadcast with their followers. One account that is great at doing this is Suicide Girls. They are almost constantly streaming live, by splitting up the broadcasts amongst their girls, who have scheduled ‘shows.’ Today I watched one of them bake cookies for dogs, and took notes on the recipe. It was awesome.

Talk to your viewers, and engage with them by answering some of their questions. 
Show your true personality. People will know if you’re being fake. Fake is a turnoff. 

Broadcast whenever you can - when appropriate. 

Don’t listen to the creeps. And there will probably be creeps, especially if you are a female. 

It's only temporary
Sure, someone could theoretically record your stream and post it all over the place, making it permanent in the annals of Social Media history. But chances are they won't. You should embrace this fleeting medium and realize that it will be gone after a day. People can go back and replay broadcasts if you allow it, and you can save them to your camera roll if you're the broadcaster. But don't treat it like a YouTube or Vimeo account! 

My experiences
My first broadcast was literally just me walking my dog. She is frickin’ adorable, so I wasn’t planning on even talking or interacting with people. I just wanted to show off my adorable dog Holly. I titled it, Walking my dog, and tweeted it. It probably showed up on the global broadcast list, and I pulled in about a dozen or so viewers in the first 30 seconds. One viewer in the chat said, ‘’Let’s see you”, so I flipped the cam around and said hello. I then said, “This isn’t about me, it’s about my dog”, to which the user replied, “It’s about you walking your dog”. I realized that Periscope is first and foremost about the PEOPLE in front of the camera. They are not chatting with the dog. They are chatting with you. 

Bad idea: cooking Turkey Meatloaf on Periscope
My second broadcast was going to be me cooking meatloaf. I had been editing a cooking show that I produce, and was thinking, “I should try this!”. I got everything together, titled it, “Making Turkey Meatloaf”, and started the broadcast. People clicked - a lot more than I was expecting. I had nothing to say, other than ‘here is what I’m doing now’. People demanded that I speak. “Hello”, I said. Someone said, ‘Speak Turkish’. I told people that I didn’t speak Turkish. It didn’t take long for me to realize that people tuned in thinking that I was located in Turkey, would be speaking turkish, and they also expected me to be entertaining. Three strikes there. I got super nervous after about a minute, turned off the camera, and finished the meal ‘offline’. It came out great, though I can’t say the same for my periscope broadcast. 

One of the most annoying (but vital) parts of the app is the chat function, with chat bubbles just floating up over the broadcaster's image. Tip: to hide the chat, swipe right, and tap the 'hide chat' icon and text. This will also add those annoying hearts (yes, I know they are important for ratings and such, but there has to be a better way to do this!

One of my favorite people to watch is comedian Bert Kreischer. Not only is he one of those hilarious, quick-witted motormouth comedians with a huge online following, he is always on with funny people, including his children. They have been raised by one of the most hilarious people on the planet, so it’s no surprise that they are hilarious as well. One of my favorite broadcasts (and running storyline of Bert’s channel) was when one of the neighbors wrapped his car in cellophane. He ‘scoped his (genuine) reaction to seeing this prank. He brought his kids out and told one of them to google ‘Revenge’. As I write this, he is currently scoping simultaneously while his Travel Channel series Trip Flip premieres. It’s him and a couple of friends, and all of their children (7? 8? I can’t tell). I have to say, it’s pretty entertaining. He’s someone who already has a huge social media presence: twitter, his podcast, everyone else’s podcasts, comedy specials, and cable TV shows. He Doesn’t need to use periscope. He already has a following - but, this platform was made for someone exactly like him, to broadcast impromptu, entertaining moments. 

Other people I've loved watching:
Sock Cop (exactly what it sounds like - a sock puppet with a police hat and glasses, being hilarious)
Sam King is a musician and if you follow him he'll tell you about other interesting musicians that are scoping (I just watched a live show with @BaderinOzz that he told me about). 
Brian Redban hangs with some funny comedians, like Sarah Weinshenk, and other LA Comics. 

Some terms:

Scoper: a Periscope broadcaster
LifeScoper - one who ‘scopes everything. Some have been known to broadcast themselves sleeping. To each their own.  @BradManTV likes to do this. 
Block Party - When someone is being a creep in the chat, and all of the viewers block them together.
Hearts - Like any social media 'like', tap the screen while watching and you'll send the broadcaster a heart. There is no limit to the number of hearts you can give. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Have a clear vision of what you want the end result to be, work with great people and trust your team’s judgement.

Simple is good. A former colleague, Chris Carfi, taught me a lot of things about operating in a startup environment. One of the things that I appreciate about his style is that he can communicate the objective succinctly and clearly to me. On this particular project, when I came to him with the usual questions (How long does it have to be/Who is the audience/etc), not only did he have the answers, he also had a script, most of the assets, and a GoDaddy style guide ready to go. He made it clear that there were a few elements we'd have to create - and with the style guide in hand, that was no problem.
By giving clear objectives and trusting me to give him something he was looking for, it made my job a lot easier. It removed all of the hurdles that would have slowed down the path to getting to a first draft. There was no, 'hold off until we can see what joe in graphics says', instead I was confident that as long as the style guide was followed, any changes would likely be minor and fix-able very easily. I have a feeling that he cut out everyone that he possibly could during the process in order to minimize the # of voices giving their input. When the time came to approve it, there were only one or two people who could make major changes - and none of the changes they made were as 'major' as I've seen on other projects.

Here's the final product:

Another note about this project: I used fiverr user Taylor Kaye for the voiceover. This was my second time using fiverr - the first was a little bit rocky, but good. not great. Taylor delivered a solid read the first time - if we had been selling timeshares in Bermuda. It was so far from what we had hoped for that Chris didn't want to show his superiors out of fear that they would freak out about the whole project. With just a little bit of direction, she delivered something MUCH closer to what we were looking for. We weren't afraid when we were asked to change a couple of words in the script (after all, it would only cost us five bucks). So after only 2 rounds of changes, we had a product that got the job done! I am usually against anything that seriously undercuts business for other working professionals, but the VO that can be done on fiverr just removes another potential hurdle from getting the project to completion.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Theatre Promo - The Lake Effect

Theatre production 'trailers' are a little bit challenging because as an editor you don't have any real video 'footage' to work from, so you have to create an impression of the play through music, text, maybe some publicity photos if you're lucky.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


We just got a dog. Holly is a 4 year old Lhasa Apso/Shih Tzu mix, shorn to relieve her from the fleas who used to reside in her long hair. She is a mellow, friendly dog who loves to snuggle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014