Krystian Morgan's blog featuring motion graphics, short film experiments and feature film.

By Krystian Apr.1.2012
In: Blog, Tools of the Trade
2 comments

DJV Imaging - Sequence Player

Here’s a cool and powerful little app I found online recently that’s going to prove indispensable whilst working on the film.

It’s called ‘DJV’ and it is quite simply an image sequence player. Now, you can play .tif and .png image sequences etc.. from within Quicktime Player 7, but it doesn’t support many HDR image sequence types, such as the OpenEXR format…. DJV does.

This is great because it’ll enable me to check renders from within a stand alone player without having to directly bring them in to a compositing application’s project file or rendering an additional .mov for preview purposes.

Get it now, it’s free!

By Krystian May.30.2011
In: Blog, Tools of the Trade
0 comments

Creating Character Names in Scrivener

I wish I came across this little tool earlier.

If you’re having trouble or have commonly found yourself having trouble thinking of names for your characters in new writing projects, Scrivener has an awesome tool to help you out.

Simply go to EDIT – WRITING TOOLS and select NAME GENERATOR.

This will pop up a simple window below which will populate with names that you can use or mix and match with each other once you hit the ‘Generate Names’ button.

If you click on the little cog icon on the bottom right of the pop-up a few more options will appear for you to fine tune your results. Here you can select whether you need male only, female only or a mixture of both and also an obscurity level of the actual names produced. These are the two I’ve been playing with most lately.

In a recent project I’ve attempted to write a little differently than the script for Porbeagle. I’ve decided to go more situation based and without an outline to see how I like it. I find myself constantly hitting a little wall where I need to introduce a character which has not been all planned out before so this little tool is really indispensable to quickly give a realistic name to that character and move forward with the story.

If you haven’t tried Scrivener, check my other post which goes over some of my favourite writing features and why I use it: Using Scrivener to Write Screenplays.

Or check out the Scrivener home page to get a trial.

By Krystian Mar.15.2011
In: Blog, Tools of the Trade
3 comments

Video Compression Software Reviews Quicktime Pro, Squeeze and Stomp

 
For this post I wanted to discuss a little bit about compression software. Although when thinking about making a film, compression in quality isn’t something that would enter into the mind. Compression is usually for web and devices to ensure decent quality, scaled down video that doesn’t take that long to download/stream and watch. Now today everyone has a youtube account and a camera phone, and youtube more and more has gotten better in the quality department, enough that you can just upload raw files in many cases and get a decent result. However if you’re using other services that don’t offer auto-compression, you’re hosting you’re own files for review-type situations compression is something to be looked at. Taking it back to film too, you can use a compression software to make proxies for an offline edit. In simple words an offline edit of the film is where you edit a film say in Final Cut Pro using proxies, which are low resolution version of your film clips with the same relative names of the masters. The advantages of this is that you can work faster and smaller, you could quite feasibly edit offline on a laptop depending on your settings and situation. The Idea being that once editing is completed, you simply swap the proxy clips for the real full-quality masters for rendering.

Now I’ve been in search of the ‘perfect’ compression software, and have tried many, many different types and have come to the conclusion that it does not exist…. at least yet. With the advent of the new Mac app store it has opened my eyes to a few more that I haven’t heard of, some of which I’ve subsequently tried with little joy, and stick to what I’ve used for the past 3 years. I’m going to split this post into three different compression software that for me are the best out there, explain their strengths and weaknesses, and which one I use, and why.

Quicktime Pro 7.0

Ok so the new Quicktime 8.0 is pretty terrible as you probably know, it’s ugly and too overly simple to warrant doing anything worth while with. I don’t know what it is with Apple and their video software in recent years, I mean Apple are the ‘video’ computers right? Anyway if you’re on Snow Leopard you can stick your install disks in and install Quicktime Player 7, you can by Quicktime Pro 7 for about £25.00 on Apple’s website. QTPro 7 is pretty awesome. I’ll often use it for a quick and simple edit, and save the video out. I also use the record from webcam feature quite a bit when I’ve written a riff on the guitar I want to remember. As a compression software goes, if you’re familiar with Final Cut Pro’s Quicktime Conversion it’s essentially the same thing, same settings (as most compression software are). However it is pretty much a video at a time deal. You can’t really select a folder of clips and get them batch converting you have to manually set them going in Que., which is fine in a case where you only want to upload something like 5 videos, but if you’re wanting to do proxies and bigger amounts at a time, it’s really not an option, especially when you can get software capable of doing that at the same price. As for speed it’s pretty average, neither slow nor fast pretty standard. I have a fear that when the new Mac OS comes out that QTPro 7 will be completely disbanded and unavailable. Which I feel would be a great shame.

Sorenson Squeeze

Squeeze

Now we’re on to the big dog ‘Sorenson Squeeze‘. Sorenson really markets itself to the professional, it has some pretty awesome features and some other so-so ones. It is probably the most feature heavy compression software out there and is used by many networks and many ‘big’ sites as the primary software for delivering web video content. In recent versions they seem to have been targeting smaller companies and freelancers with some of their send and review services which to me are services that fixes non-problems, I can’t imaging a freelancer at this point not having a system of sending and reviewing of drafts in a way that works fine, for not even a 5th of the price of their service. When I used to freelance I would just upload to a directory on my already owned server and receive feedback through email – gmail (free). It also offers standard filters that can be set to footage which is quite bizarre I feel for an app in this level, I’m curious as to who uses them. But anyway with that said the main deciding factor that would sway people between buying or not buying this software as it did for me was the price. It’s currently listed as: £799.00 which really is way overpriced and only really sensibly affordable for a studio or if it will literally save you that time with its many great features that most compressors don’t have. First off, the way it works is you add your clips (single or batch) you can do the standard cropping trimming etc inside the app. Compression settings are added kind of like labels, so you can add multiple different compression settings and outputs to the same clip if you want to offer them. You can add a watermark which is really useful for client reviewal of work that hasn’t been payed for yet etc… One of the best features in my eyes is the watch folder. You can essentially set Squeeze to monitor a folder on your computer, so that when clips are added to that folder they get compressed and sent to another folder of your choice. In terms of proxies that’s awesome, think about capturing your footage whilst Squeeze simultaneously creates a separate proxy folder instantaneously with no extra work, pretty cool. It is integrated with Avid, Premiere and Final Cut too. Squeeze also allows you to upload a once-compressed file straight to an ftp, which is really handy, unfortunately if you want to use the straight to YouTube feature, you have to subscribe to their upload service which handles that. One of the best things about it is that it’s blazingly fast, by far the fastest compressor I’ve used, so If time is very critical for you the extra price may be warranted. As for me at this current juncture, it is not justifiable, which is a shame as it’s a great piece of software.

Stomp

Stomp

Stomp is kind of a mid-ground app. It very simple clean and works. I’ve been using Stomp for the past 3-4 years and have always looked elsewhere for other better apps, yet have always returned to Stomp, for it’s ease of use. Stomp is made by Shinywhitebox the creators of iShowU. It’s an app split into three sections, the settings, the monitor and the batch list. You simply drag movies to the batch list and either select one of their existing presets (many which are very good) or create your own presets. It’s really easy and defaults to the last preset you used for saving time. There’s not a lot to say about this software as it’s pretty bare bones, it’s kind of Quicktime Pro plus batching and quickly selectable presets. It does offer some filters but as to why they would be used I do not know. In it’s preferences you can set the amount of simultaneous compressions up to 12 which is really handy if you have a fast computer. It gets the job done with little fuss. It would be nice to have some extra features such as upload to ftp/youtube, watch folders and unfortunately one of the little annoying things about the batch is that you have to select all the clips and click process to batch, but before it starts going to work you have to specify a name and save location for every single file, which if you have a few hundred in there will become a bit tedious. It is also pretty slow compared to Squeeze. Some other issues I’ve found recently is with frame rates, I’ve tried to compress movies which are 23.98 frames and keep the same frame rate in the conversion. However it doesn’t respect that manual input and knocked it up to 30 fps which is really not good. However at $29.95 it’s a steal and in my eyes is definitely the second best software out there to Squeeze and at the huge difference in price is really what has kept me with it.

Hope you’ve found this post useful. Let me know if you use anything different your experiences etc…

Relevant Links:

Quicktime Pro 7
Sorenson Squeeze
Stomp

By Krystian Jan.10.2011
In: Blog, Tools of the Trade
1 comment

Littlesnapper - Image tagger and organiser

littlesnapper-interface.jpg

Overview:

Littlesnapper by RealMac software is one of my favourite indy apps. It’s developing purpose is definitely slanted towards web designers, as it has the functionality to capture full-page screenshots of websites and has some edit functionality for annotating. However I use Littlesnapper for something a bit more general.

Basically Littesnapper is a great tagger app. It’s beautifully designed and really simple to use. I use it to organise a plethora of images, for different purposes and through clever organisation it allows you to find what you need efficiently. See my crude flow below.

littlesnapper_flow.jpg

I use Littlesnapper for:

1, Inspiration – Any great, inspiring image I come across on the web or take a photo with on my phone.

2, Project Based Inspiration – Similar to inspiration but a little more specific only allotting images that relate to a project.. e.g. Porbeagle.

3, Concepts – These are concepts that I create and archive for reference and for establishing style/ maintaining themes I developed early on etc…

4, Stock Textures – This collection is for texture images I take with my slr, usually close ups of fabrics, concrete – just general textures. I can refer to these images when a texture is needed for a certain element in the film for texturing in 3D or for stylistic purposes.

So firstly you just drag images into littlesnapper. By default they go into the ‘Unprocessed’ folder. Here you add tags and ratings to the image. Once done they go into the library. The library houses all the images, organised by date only. You can make smart collections which are basically filters. You can define a Smart Collection to only have images with the tag: ‘concept’ for example, so any image in your library with the tag ‘concept’ will be filtered when you activate that collection…. but it’s not destructive as the original images still reside in the library.

You can also make Smart Collections more specifically, i.e. more than one tag, or a tag and a rating of above 3 etc… Whilst inside of a smart collection you can also use the search bar to filter your results down even more if you have a lot of images there.

In Conclusion:

Littlesnapper is really simple and awesome. It’s great to have a seemingly unorganised dump of images in the library so all images are in the same place. You’re not navigating through folders and folders looking for what you want, you just click on a collection or search a tag. You can also sync your library using DropBox. If there’s one thing that I wish the app was able to do is Video. I’d love to be able to stick video in there for the same kind of organisation and previewing. If it had that functionality it would be my hub for the film’s footage and inspiration too. Instead of having folders with scene numbers. I’d chuck them all in there and tag them with the scene name and descriptions, that way I can find a scene/clip by searching a description of it and wont have to consult a shot list. Would be much faster.

Check out Littlesnapper here: http://realmacsoftware.com/littlesnapper/

By Krystian Dec.27.2010
In: Blog, Tools of the Trade
0 comments

Blender 2.5 Beta

blender_beta.jpg

I’m sure at some point you’ve come across Blender being mentioned on some website at some time or another. You may have even downloaded it run it and not much further than that. I personally think the idea behind Blender is incredible, I mean it’s free, open source and it’s up there with many of the other 3D softwares that are usually upwards of £2000. It’s very dense, can match the features of most but unfortunately the thing that has always been a stickler for many people is that it’s really difficult to use. I used it for 3D text etc… for uni projects a few years back and even used it for a match moving project but I always forget how to use it if I don’t use it for a while.

I noticed the other day that over at Blender.org they have a beta for 2.55. So I downloaded it not expecting much difference from the one I already have installed, but wow, it’s looks to have had a complete overhaul, at least interface-wise. It instantly looks alot closer to the stye of other 3D softwares such as Cinema 4D. Over the next few days I’m going to look into videos of animating characters in various 3D software packages, see if it’s actually a viable option for me. Other wise, I’m going to revert to my original plan of 2D animation using Animate Pro and After Effects.