BOOK REVIEW: The Green Screen Handbook by Jeff Foster

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My Experience With Keying

While I wouldn’t necessarily refer to myself is a “Green Screen Guru”, I have my share of experience with pulling color based keys. For me is started on a Grass Valley 200 switcher in the late 80’s with the little spinning knobs you used to select and finesse the color. I remember that little chirping sound it would make as you went from one limit to the other. Just thinking about that switcher really takes me back.

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In later years I worked with a Ultimatte 45 external hardware box that allowed you to pull great keys using a component signal. At the time it was a $35k box and the place I was working at would only rent it when we had a project that required it. Sometimes I would run it as part of a studio shoot to check keys as we went, but most of the time it was setup in the online suite I was in.

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The difficult part about using this box was that the first few times I used it I only had a few short hours to actually learn the box. As soon as it showed up I would pull out the manual and start reading so that I could at least appear to the client that I knew what I was doing!

Ultimatte_45

Years later we have tools that are so much more powerful right on our computers, and they cost a small fraction of what the original Ultimatte did, or in some cases come free with editing and compositing software. FCP Studio has some ok keyers included, but Primatte inside of Motion is actually pretty good. And AfterEffects has KeyLight, which I find to be the best blue/green screen keyer out there for what I do. It’s rare that I can’t get a good key out of keylight regardless what I throw at it.

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Work On Your Business, By Working On Yourself

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I’ve been very fortunate in business. Since I first started Edit Creations in my basement in 2003 I’ve been blessed with having multiple clients follow me into business based on our work history together and friendships. And over those years, word of mouth has filled in the rest of the time. Within the first 5 years business grew from me working in my basement to having a 2000 sqft office with multiple edit rooms, vo booth, graphics, travel gear and 4 employees. Things were going great. Then, the fall of 2008 hit.

At the end of 2008 work dried up and 2009 was the most difficult year since the business was started. During this time a few things happened that changed the way I looked at my company.

First, I didn’t lose any clients. I still had the same clients that I’ve been working with for years, in some cases close to 15 years. The problem was that those clients were no longer getting the jobs they used to. Projects were being scaled back, rescheduled or flat our cancelled. In one case a job that was normally 4 weeks of editing in 2 suites (a job that we received every December running into January) just went away and has not yet returned.

Second, for the first time in my career I was faced with having to find new clients. Two years ago I would have said you were crazy if you told me to go out and find new clients. I was already working 10+ hours a day and the thought of looking for more work seemed like self abuse.

Third, I realized that you can’t count on jobs that are promised to you, even if you have a long standing relationship with those clients. For example, in 2009 there were no less then 3 major jobs (one a broadcast TV series) that were promised to us. In one case actually scheduled for the last half of 2009. “Great!” I thought, the year is covered! The pressure is off! And then, one by one the projects just went away, in large part due to the economy. So I was left with open edit suites and very little work to fill them, but the same overhead as if it was business as usual.

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Super Editing Tips with Winston Randall Montgomery IV

There are a plethora of resources everywhere to teach you how to be an editor. There’s training websites like Lynda.com and Creative Cow. You can buy assorted training books at some coffeehouse-bookstore hybrid, where some homely fellow is likely playing new age music on a grand piano for Ramen noodle money. You could even go as far as to attend a terrible, terrible place called film school… But I laugh at you for doing these things. Laugh right in your pathetic face! You know why? Because I’m an elitist. I am better than you.

I eat dinner with 12 different solid gold forks. I have have different solid gold forks for different areas of the $800 steaks I eat. I only drink the first sip of a glass of $6000 wine, because I’m only satisfied with the first sip of a full glass of expensive wine. Then I throw the rest of the glass away and request a new drink just so I can take the first sip again. It typically costs me $150,000 to get drunk. What?! You’d like the rest of the glass?! How dare you! I would never allow someone who learned editing at film school to have my unused wine. I would rather destroy an entire wine field than give it to you, which is something I normally do once a month anyway, just for the sport of it.

I’d apologize to you for such a berating of your character, but my servant is currently cleaning the wheels of my Lexus with a toothbrush, and I normally have him apologize to commoners. But the reason I yell at you is because I love you, we are fellow editors, we are required to love each other by United States law. And I don’t want another tedious lawsuit on my hands. I just wanted to let you know that everything you know about editing is wrong.

I’m about to retire, so I’ll let you in on my biggest industry secret, since I have nothing to lose. There is an unimaginable resource located in the nether regions of the internet FULL of brilliant ideas by brilliant people. I take these ideas, and compile them into the greatest workable resource known to post production. So sit back and enjoy infinite knowledge! All you have to do is type in www.youtube.com.

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Cinema 4D Top 5 Advancement Recap Update 2009 Part 2 of 17

No longer do I have my routinely standard nightmares about homeless people dressed as clowns doing dental work on me at the bottom of the ocean while being chased by radioactive super sharks. No folks, they have been replaced by nightmares of what I’m doing in Cinema 4D! Wait, maybe nightmare isn’t the right word. Maybe I mean dream, yeah, dream is the happy one, right? Sorry to potentially mislead you with the whole nightmare thing. I’m actually having decently pleasant dreams about my future in the 3rd dimension. For those of you who possibly read my first post on getting started with Cinema 4D without any previous morsels of knowledge of any 3D program, this is simply a followup of some of the progress I’ve made, and whether or not I’m on my way to be working on Pixar’s next one-word-titled movie, or if I failed horribly resulting in an enormous amount of embarrassment causing irreversible damage to my relationships of my family and friends.

So as the title obviously states, here is an update of my top 5 recaps of advancements I made in Cinema 4D during 2009. This is part 2 of 17 posts I will periodically make throughout my life time. Part 17 will come on my deathbed, and will focus on trying to do a pre-visualization of my upcoming funeral. I expect my last words before I die to be something in the area of “god damn these splines!”

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Getting the most out of those fancy-schmancy online tutorials

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Isn’t it annoying these days that there seems to be a new “how to” or “tutorial” blog about the video industry popping up every other day? Places like SuiteTake.com, those guys think they know everything and are the Steve Jobs’ gift to mankind…oh wait….

But seriously, these days there are a ton of free and very useful sites out there that offer a wealth of education about all things audio and video. And ok, I’ll admit that here at SuiteTake there are a few things we don’t know. (One writer, who shall remain unidentified for now, was railed by readers for not knowing what the “extend edit” button does, sheesh.) Whenever we have some down time here at SuiteTake worldwide headquarters I always cruise the tutorial sites looking for new ideas and techniques. But, it’s one thing to watch a tutorial and just think to yourself “wow, that was cool. I should try that sometime.” and another to actually advance you skill-set and knowledge through the tutorial. Here are a few things I do when watching or reading tutorials to get the most out of them.

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Recommended Reading: The Knack


For several years now I’ve made it a habit to read business periodicals as well as business books. As a business owner I feel it’s imperative to learn from those with more experience than myself, and I have to say I enjoy it more then I would have ever imagined. I keep up to date with Inc. Magazine and read between 4 and 10 business books a year. Some are good, some not so good, but I always seem to walk away with something of value.

It’s been quite some time since I was really excited about a business book, but I just finished reading one that I thought I would share. The book is called “The Knack:How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up“, and is written by Norm Brodsky, Bo Burlingham, both writers at Inc. Magazine.

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