Archive for the How To Category

Salviascope 101

Posted in How To, L.A., Post, Red, Salviascope, Scarlet with tags , , , , on April 18, 2012 by Jon

Salviascope has released the first in what could become a series of training tutorials for Speedgrade- the new full feature color correction software bundled inside the upcoming Adobe Production Suite CS6. If you’re making the transition from FCP7 to an Adobe Premiere/Speedgrade workflow (or thinking about it) you’ll find plenty of great info in this intro video. We’ve secured a very special trainer to provide insight into this incredibly rich application. Produced by my brother Peter Salvia, you can read his own blog post on the tutorial.

Click through to Vimeo to watch in HD. If you want more tutorials like this one please leave feedback on Pete’s vimeo page.


Automatic Duck For Free

Posted in How To, News with tags , , , on November 2, 2011 by Jon

The Original Port Huron Statment. (Not the compromised 2nd draft)

I’ve recently found myself finishing in After Effects more and more. Anything to do with motion graphics is just easier to use in AE than in FCP7 and much more intuitive than Motion. Not to mention there’s the weirdness of After Effects created titles rendering really badly in FCP7. Anyone else notice that? Automatic Duck recently made free their industry standard plugins Pro Import AE, Pro Import FCP, and Pro Export FCP. Co-owner Wes Plate was hired by Adobe (good news for Premier Pro users I’ll wager!) and can’t offer enough support to justify charging for his plugins.

You mark that frame an 8, and you're entering a world of pain.

Here’s the link to his customer thank you. These plugins used to cost ~$500 each. Trying out the Pro Import AE plugin was a breeze. Simply export your FCP7 (or FCPX) project into XML format. Then open up After Effects and click Import Automatic Duck Pro Import AE. It references all the media from your FCP project file without creating any new media. This is a boon for those of us still using FCP7 or FCPX with After Effects. It should be noted this will only be good through AE 5.5 after which I can’t imagine it will be updated, but who knows. FCP7 is certainly a dead end anyway. I’m gearing up to take my Premier Pro training at Future Media Concepts here in DC as I think it’s poised to take the place of FCP in the Professional NLE Wars.

In related news Popcorn Island released the latest version of their Final Cut 2 After Effects script for After Effects. Now this is a script and not nearly as simple to use as Automatic Duck plugins. However, it does provide for some nice control over how your FCP project displays in the After Effects timeline. For instance, the default setting is to hide all of the audio tracks and filters. This really cleans up your timeline in a big way. And, this one will probably continue to receive updates and support. However, according to one commenter on Popcorn Island’s web site, the script is still a bit buggy. Use with caution.

Rarevision Releases 5DtoRGB Batch Application

Posted in Canon 5D Mark II, DSLRs, How To with tags , , , , on October 31, 2011 by Jon

It seems like every DSLR shooter I know uses a different program to convert their footage to an editable format. There’s Mpeg Streamclip, Canon EOS plugin for FCP, and Compressor.  Or some people just edit the raw h.264 file in FCP X or Premier Pro. I don’t know what Avid folk use. I’m a big believer in the “it’s all about the efficient post production workflow”. Even for projects that may be personal or don’t have a “due date”, who wants to spend more time than they have to on a project? So it’s a balance between time and quality for those h.264 conversions. I’m a big believer in Rarevision’s 5DtoRGB.

I’ve seen several reviews from people who don’t seem to quite understand the benefits of this software. Rarevision’s site provides a laundry list explanation of why it’s the best thing to use on your HDSLR footage, but from my experience here’s the biggie – it does chroma smoothing. This helps get rid of the chunky chunks in your blacks. Big time. Anyone who shoots with a Canon DSLR knows what I’m talking about. The noise is one issue, but the way the blacks and other darker colors come out in ugly pixelated blocks can really take away from an otherwise beautiful shot. It also does things like provide increased latitude and more color information. We’re talking superior image quality.

5DtoRGB Pro Res conversion

h.264 from camera

Big gripes about 5DtoRGB include no batch processing and slowness. The improvements in quality don’t outweigh the increased transcoding times. Me don’t like fire. Yadayadayada. Recent updates take advantage of your computer’s GPU. Additionally, Rarevision released a pay version of their software to the Mac App Store ($50) called 5dtoRGB Batch. So now you’ve got high speed batch conversion software that maintains the highest image quality of your DSLR images throughout the post production workflow. You make the pretty picture, now keep the picture pretty. No more excuses. And for those of you (like me) living through the current Great Depression II, Rarevision is keeping 5DtoRGB free! Albeit as 5DtoRGB Lite. And it remains to be seen what the differences in support are. But for now one could get away with using the free version and Remi Sello’s brilliant 5DtoRGB Batch Python script and still GPU-accelerate-batch-process like a rock star for free.

Shane Hurlbut Shares Secrets of the Universe

Posted in Canon 5D Mark II, How To with tags , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by Jon

Shane Hurlbut is turning into my favorite DSLR internet guru. The guy is a bonafide pro and he’s sharing a lot of his cinematography, lighting, and film making knowledge for free. This video is a great primer for on set 5Dmarkii/any DSLR camera protocol

The video below includes really cool info on choosing picture style  for your DSLR, and a new program coming out from Cinnafilm called Dark Energy that eliminates *all* aliasing and artifacts from DSLR footage in post. According to Shane, Dark Energy allows you to get a true “Digital Film” look color grade. Very intriguing indeed. Plus, green filmmaking in the 21st century. It’s worth the watch.

Shane recently posted an incredibly detailed account of his first feature length film as director of photography. This is the first of a *15 part* series on lighting. I will be reading/watching these in preparation for my Cinematography & Lighting class (taught by The Wire director of photography David Insley!) in March. I remember watching The Rat Pack on HBO when it debuted and really enjoying the “look” without appreciating why.

Learning how to make the images look how I want them to in camera and not having to “fix it in post” is pure enlightenment. Understanding the principles of cinematography only helps with telling one’s story, even if you never plan on lighting a Arri 150, in this visual medium. Not to mention increasing one’s post production skills (important for my day job as a video editor). There’s really nothing like editing and color correcting something you shot. So thank you Mr. Hurlbut for sharing your passion and secrets that take a lifetime to master.

Three Must Read DSLR Champions:

Shane Hurlbut

Phillip Bloom

Vincent LaForet

Gayla Lee Glass Artist

Posted in American University, Canon HV20, Documentary, HD Video, How To on February 10, 2010 by Jon

Between 2 feet of snow this past weekend and another potential foot today, the DC area is getting pounded by powder. This hasn’t kept me from finishing my most recent project. “Gayla Lee Glass Artist” is a short bio documentary on my friend Gayla Lee.

The idea was to film her creation process and tell her story.

Beautiful platters, jewelry, and assorted glass based art by Gayla Lee

Specifically, Gayla works in glass fusion which is the baking of glass in a kiln.

Bring the heat

She was kind enough to indulge me in filming her for my first project for Film & Video Production II at American U. Gayla teaches at the Corning Institute and has been filmed before so she was very natural on camera.A work in progress

Her house, situtated on the South River in Annapolis, MD, provided a gorgeous setting for the interview.

Gayla Lee at home on the South River

We used almost all natural lighting except for the kiln scenes and the interview. Check out her work at and support an aspiring artist!

Vimeo Enables Mobile Video

Posted in How To with tags , , , , on January 7, 2010 by Jon

A tech post for all you aspiring creative types with Vimeo Plus accounts. If you’ve got a smart phone try logging into Vimeo through That should allow you to access mobile vimeo features like uploading video from your phone to Vimeo. For all you poor people like me with vintage cell phones you can now have your videos play on your rich friends phones. Log in to your account. Go to any of your videos. Click on Settings.

Click on Video File.

See where it says Alternate Versions? Check the box to the left of Make mobile versions of all my videos.

Can you figure out which box I mean?

From now on whenever you upload new video a mobile smart phone friendly version of the video will also be made. At least in theory. The email I received asked us not to spread this info around until they make sure they have it working. But what the heck. If I had a smart phone the first video on Vimeo I’d try to watch would be Ted Chung’s “A Thousand Words”. Best non-dialog short film I’ve seen in the past 6 months. Brilliant story telling.

Also recommended: Vimeo’s 25 Favorite Videos of 2009.