February 27, 2007

Three free PlasmaFX filters

There's a new tutorials for Digital Anarchy's PlasmaFX at Creative Mac that includes three free PlasmaFX filters used. The bad news is this is only for Mac users on Final Cut Pro, Motion, and After Effects because PlasmaFX uses Apple's FxPlug architecture and OS X’s Core Image.

Apollo Engaged

John Dowdell was right: a Techmeme cluster has surfaced with more articles on Adobe Apollo, with additional notes at TechCrunch.Update 03.02.07: some are concerned with an Adobe dominated web as much as a Microsoft one.

The Wilhelm Scream

FreshDV posted background notes on the "Wilhelm Scream" sound effect, found in movies since the 50s. There's a partial compilation posted at YouTube. Hollywood Lost and Found has a comprehensive list and posted a clip on the scream from "Masters of Horror."

February 24, 2007

File info for FLVs

I've tried various utilities and players (VLC, Riva, FLV Knife, etc) to show file info for FLVs (Flash Video), but without much luck on many files. One hope was FLV MetaData Viewer (FLVMDV), a property sheet extension DLL for Windows XP that adds an 'FLV Details' tab to the file properties dialog of FLV files. But I couldn't get it to work at first.

Happily, I noticed that FLV Player (Windows) does show video data rate and dimensions. And when I installed the handy SUPER, another Windows compression utility that uses ffmeg (command line on PC) for some tasks, the "FLV Details" property tab finally showed up in newly created -- or copied files (CTL-drag) -- files but only in SUPER's output folder!

Now I get info on sample rates and AV codecs used (On2 VP6 or Sorenson H.263), but I still need
FLV Player for video data rate, if that metadata is added by the authoring tool. It sure seems like Adobe should be making this stuff easier -- if they see a future in digital video.

Update 03.12.07: VLC does give basic
info, except average data rate, on almost all files (FLV1 is the Spark codec). VLC just has trouble playing and scrubbing some FLV's.

Once reason for concern with Flash metadata is that there's been bugs in most FLV compression software possibly since so many, like YouTube apparently, rely on FFMPEG. Duration and dimension metadata of a file is not always correctly saved, according to Jeroen Wijering, hence the concerns with FLV Knife and FLV Metadata Injector. He also notes: '...on movie scrubbing; Flash seems to only scrub to keyframes. So if you compress a movie with very few keyframes, the scrubbing won't run very smooth. Compress with more keyframes (can be set in nearly every compression tool) to get rid of this problem." My lack of understanding all the problems wth Flash encoding, players, cue points, seeking, and preloading prevents me from preferring Flash over QuickTime or even Windows Media.

BTW, WinFF is another freebie GUI for FFMEG. Mac users have it easier (fewer but better freeware) with ffmpegX and Visual Hub.

February 23, 2007

Video Fingerprinting

Video fingerprinting was an interesting topic this week. CinemaTech continues it's wide ranging coverage of developments in distribution, but GigaOem's NewTeeVee is coming up strong on just the web end.

I guess just writing "YouTube, Inc" into FLV files isn't enough, even though these little fuzzy movies seem like great ads for the DVD quality versions.

Amen Break

Can I Get An Amen? is a fascinating 20-minute video that "narrates the history of the 'Amen Break,' a six-second drum sample from the b-side of a chart-topping single from 1969. This sample was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music -- a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures. Nate Harrison's 2004 video is a meditation on the ownership of culture, the nature of art and creativity, and the history of a remarkable music clip."

Some may enjoy another project by Nate Harrison that uses the Artbeats catalog to "meditate on the construction of visual meaning in today's very fluid (and increasingly template-driven) image economy."

Free FLV web services

Services like KeepVid let you to save an FLV from it's website.

goes a step ahead and lets you submit an url then they convert the video and download the converted file automatically to your hard drive. VIXY allows you to convert a Flash Video FLV file (Youtube movies,etc) to MPEG4 (AVI/MOV/MP4/MP3/3GP) file online. VIXY is using a compressed domain transcoder technology and converts FLV to MPEG4 faster with better quality than a typical transcoder.

February 21, 2007

Editing blogs

Take enough tangents and you get to places old and new.

The Edit Blog's Avid and Final Cut comparison series has expanded by linking to other interesting blogs on the same topic, like Splice Here by Steve Cohen and Adventures in Storytelling by Robert Hogan (for the linked article anyway).

Edit Blog references more good stuff, like the David Bordwell website on cinema; take a gander at Anatomy of the Action Picture. Or like American Cinema Editors, or ACE the honorary society of motion picture editors (check some specific links here).

TV branding blog (British empire version)

via John Dickinson's Motionworks:

"Here’s a great site for TV branding. It includes spots from Foxtel and other Australian channels. http://www.idents.tv/blog/ "

February 19, 2007

Windows Update and Spambots

On the heels of recent warnings about botnets and news of denial of service attacks on DNS servers that seem to be part of an attempt to bring the internet down, Microsoft has a large security update for Windows -- for Vista and below. Part of the vulnerability is in the Windows security model itself and the way it parses PDF files.

Exploits often follow news of security holes according to the latest Security Now podcast, which explains how spambots work, why spammers need them, how to understand mail headers, and fixes.

This reminds me again of E.M. Forster's "only connect" warning in "The Machine Stops" and of the ecological thinking of Amory Lovins on resilience and complex systems that was buried by the Reagan administration. If there was an major oil supply disruption I wonder if the response would be similar to Katrina/New Orleans.
She might yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion...
The rainbow bridge
collapses during the
destruction of Ragnarök.

February 15, 2007

free Photoshop Commander

via John Nack:

Photoshop Commander is free front-end to the Photoshop scripting engine and "provides a comprehensive easy-to-use menu system that allows non-programmers to create sophisticated workflow automations all without the need to understand a single line of programming code." There's also Flash movie tutorials.

February 7, 2007

free AE filter NormaliZe

I missed this one from November...
The first free Taronite is NormaliZe, an AE filter to reformat and normalize vectors as they are found in normal maps for simulating shading. 3D people might use it in AE to fix normals for filters like Normality and Zborn Toy, but it might also be fun just noodling with colors.

Volumetric lighting with expressions

Peter Torpey, often found on AE Enhancers, posted a tutorial and the finished script on how to create volumetric lighting using expressions (it even responds to camera movement).

Check it out at After Effects: Volume Light.

February 2, 2007

TV Be Gone Sunday

If you aren't happy having the town to yourself on Sunday, you still might enjoy TV Be Gone. Be sure to pick a team and protest when the TV goes out.