Keyboards, gamepads, trackballs, & macropads galore!

This is most of my current collection of computer input devices. As an editor and motion graphic designer, I’m on the constant look out for things that might make my interactions with my computers and the various applications I use daily, more efficient. It’s not just about finding shortcuts, though. Shortcuts have their place but knowing when to use them and why you need them is actually a much harder task than it appears at first glance.

I’m a systems guy. I love to find and use systems that make a difference for me. I put a lot of thought and energy into trying different things and ways of approaching problems. I’m constantly searching out new devices or new ways of interacting with existing devices. This goes way beyond finding all the best shortcuts.

Over the next few weeks, I’m planning a series of posts about a variety of subjects in the realm of input devices for post-production. I’ll cover purpose built devices like Black Magic Design’s Mini Control Surface for DaVinci Resolve or the devices like Contour Design’s Shuttle line (2 of them up there). I’ll delve into using gamepad devices, like that Logitech G13 up there. I’ll discuss a few applications that you can use to automate your interactions with the computer and how you can use them to build macros that can condense a series of keystrokes, mouse moves & clicks into a elegant single key press – saving you time and wear and tear on those fingers of yours. Also, I will share my experiences (thus far) into the world mechanical & programmable keyboards. It has been very interesting as I have been introduced to this world. I’ve even built 3 of the keyboard/macropad devices up there – and I’ve got more on the way.

And speaking of customizable macropads, the culmination of these articles will be a presentation of a scheme I’ve worked up for using these kinds of devices and my philosophy behind making them work for me – instead of me struggling to figure how to work with an awkward set of tools.

Stay tuned. I think it will be interesting.

WIFV – NLE Demo & Petting Zoo

On Tuesday, Sept. 20th, I gave a talk at the Washington D.C. Women In Film & Video NLE Demo & Petting Zoo. It was a good talk and I think a lot of information was exchanged. I’m sure it raised a bunch more questions than it answered, but that’s what happens next – here or Twitter or at the next event. Thanks for coming. If you missed it, here is the Presentation I gave:

(And the link in case the embed doesn’t work)

Smooth Credit Rolls in After Effects

{I’ve been looking for something like this for years. Thought I’d share it in case you might be looking for the same thing – B.}

Step-by-Step to create a smooth credit roll in After Effects

1. Grab a copy of the project template. Smooth Credit Roll Template.aep

2. Grab a copy of the Credits you need to roll. A Plain Text file will work best.

3. Rename the After Effects Template to your project’s needs.

4. Open in AE4 or higher.

5. In this project there are two Compositions to deal with:

5a. Text Layer – This is the comp where you will put the text. More on adjusting it in later steps.

5b. Roll – This is the comp that actually produces the credit roll. Nothing should be adjusted in this comp – except the length.

HOW DOES THE ROLL WORK?

The combination of these two comps in conjunction with an expression. The expression computes the length (in pixels) of the text layer. It then divides that length over the time of the roll and moves the text so that it only moves up two scan lines per frame. This control over the movement prevents the roll from flickering and allows for it to move smoothly. Fortunately, you do not need to mess with the expression at all. The expression was found on a Creative Cow Forum post by Kevin Camp of KCPQ – (http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/2/951001#951080). Take a look at that post or peek at the expression itself. Kevin put a nice set of instructions into the expression about how to get it working.

6. Edit the text in the Text Layer Comp. There are no animation keyframes in the Text Layer. The best thing to do is adjust the font size and leading so that the entire roll fills the layer as much as possible (see picture to left). Make small adjustments (a point here, a point there, etc.) Since you’re adjusting over a large layer, even small tweaks can make a large difference. If you need to include logos or other elements in the roll, they can be pasted into the Text Layer Comp at this point as well. Take care when adjusting the size of the Text Layer, the size it currently is seems to be in the sweet spot for about a 29-second roll. Making the Text Layer shorter or taller could affect the time that the roll takes to complete.

7. Once you’ve edited the text to fill the Text Layer comp, you can switch over to the Roll Composition and take a look. You should be good to go for rendering. Choose your codec and output. IMPORTANT NOTE: You must choose to output with Fields turned on if you are going to an interlaced output (ie. 29.97, 59.94)

8. Render it out

TWO POINTS OF CONSIDERATION:

– Generally, even at 100%, the Roll Comp will look like crud when played back on the computer display. You will only see the smoothness when displayed on a broadcast monitor using a Kona, Decklink, etc.

– Time of the Roll does not always use all of the length in the Roll Comp. Because of the math, there are only certain durations that work out correctly given a certain pixel height of the Text Layer. What happens is that the formula for moving the layer causes it to come out correctly at a time that is shorter or longer than the exact duration you may want. If you scroll through the text in the template you will see that the final element scrolls off the screen at about 28-seconds. This time is calculated the actual length of the Text Layer and how tall it is. Changing the height of the Text Layer will affect the time when the roll completes – sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. Be careful when adjusting the height of the Text Layer.

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