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Converting MP3 Audio for Video Editing

Seems like we're often being handed MP3 files to use in our video projects. It might be a sound effect or an audio track we've got the rights to use. The problem is that the MP3 format is not very good for video editing (wrong sample rate... rarely works in real-time). Fortunately there's an easy fix... iTunes. If you don’t have access to the original files, you should convert the compressed files to an AIFF file for use in a video editing or motion graphics tool.

  1. Drag the file into iTunes.
  2. Choose iTunes > Preferences, then click on the General button and click the Importing tab.
  3. Choose AIFF and set the sample size to 16 bit and the sample rate to 48kHz. Specify if the file is stereo or mono.
  4. Click OK then Click OK again to close the second window.
  5. Highlight the files you want to convert and choose Advanced > Create AIFF version.
  6. To reveal the converted file, highlight it and press Command + R to reveal it at the Finder level.


Changing Canvas Size - 193 UAP

Instructor Richard Harrington addresses canvas size, which is the work area of your image.

Be sure to also check out the new book – Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5

Audio Essentials for DSLR Video

Learn how to shoot better quality video by recording better audio in the field. Discover which microphones, tools, and techniques are best for shooting events or interview footage with your DSLR camera. Find out how to synch your audio and video in Adobe Premiere Pro as well as edit or remove background noise.

Check out the whole series.


Five Rules for Great Presentations

A great lesson on presentation theory from the talented Nancy Duarte.


A Great Deal for Organizing Your Media

A colleague of mine, Peter Krogh has a
great deal going. His excellent book called The DAM Bool is being bundled with Expression Media. Here are the key facts.

The DAM Book – In The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers, Peter Krogh updates his ground-breaking book on creating and managing digital photography collection. Peter guides you through the entire digital photography ecosystem, showing you how hardware, software, file formats and workflow practices can work together to keep your images safe, and to let you get the most from your pictures. The second edition has been almost entirely rewritten, updating the material for the changed technical landscape. Chapters were added that covered the use of Lightroom, as well as an entirely new chapter on backup and validation of image files. Peter also covers the use of GPS devices and software to geotag your images.

Expression Media 2 software – When you buy The DAM Book during the month of October, you'll get a fully-licensed copy Expression Media 2 for free. (A $199 full retail value). Expression Media 2 is the a cross-platform application for managing your digital photos and media. Create easy-to-use catalogs of all your photos, movies, audio files, and many more file types. Expression Media 2 was recently purchased by Phase One from Microsoft.

Act now to take advantage of this limited time offer – Expires Sunday, October 31.


Recommended Camera Sliders

There is another handy tool that has showed up in recent years that is a type of mini-dolly. The original camera slider was developed for large movie rigs but has been adapted for smaller cameras like DSLRs. These are very useful for tight spaces where a traditional dolly would not fit.
The sliding rods are made of lightweight materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, or chrome-plated steel. The camera plate will have a bowl adaptor to accommodate your fluid head from your tripod. These sliders travel well, and really can add some production value.

There are several sliders worth checking out:
Kessler Pocket
Pegasus Heavy
Glidetrack SD & HD

Be sure to check out the book,
From Still to Motion


Free Apps During Photo Plus Expo

Need some Photoshop training? Check out our iPhone and iPod touch apps.They are on sale right now at a special price of free and 99¢.

  • Terry White made it his pick of the week.
  • Jeff Revell at PhotoWalkPro write a very detailed review too.
  • My son thinks it's cool that I used his picture in one of the lessons

If you haven't tried our new training apps, what are you waiting for?

How about our sale!

Understanding Photoshop Quick Fixes is
Free | iTunesWeb Demo
Understanding Photoshop Creating Panoramic Photos is
$.99 | iTunesWeb Demo
PocketGeek is free -
(prices good through October 31)

These apps are a lot of work, but I want to see them succeed. Tell your friends and try them out (the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive).

  • Includes training videos edited specifically for the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
  • Offers easily viewable screens, with zooms and close-ups of the action.
  • Every lesson includes hands-on files that you download to your computer. There’s no need to merely watch, you can try out every technique on your own.
  • Test your knowledge with interactive quizzes. Score yourself as well as check your answers with video responses.
  • Search throughout the application by keyword and your own bookmarks.
  • A quick reference guide is also included to help you build your Photoshop knowledge.
  • Interact with the trainer with comments and a Twitter client.


Create a Client Screener Disc

Check out this video to learn more about creating a screener disc for your clients.
This a sample of the 6 hours of video included with the book
Video Made on a Mac.
You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.


Lighting Essentials for DSLR Video

Learn the essential settings for lighting and exposure when shooting with DSLR cameras. Find out which lighting tools are available and the benefits of three-point lighting, filters and reflectors. You’ll also discover how to fix lighting problems in DSLR footage using Adobe Premiere Pro.

Check out the whole series.


A New Spot

A recent spot I got to work on for Constellation Energy. A WHOLE bunch of After Effects and Photoshop Extended work here.

  1. Match – Retimed stock shot, up-rezzed, luma keyed.
  2. Painting – Timelapse sky, 3D photogrammetry, Compositing, Color Grading, Virtual Cameras
  3. Cable Shot – Restoration, Hand-Tinting, 3D photogrammetry, Color Grading, Puppet Tool, Virtual Cameras (look for the horses to move)
  4. Lightbulb – Rotoscope, Color Grading, Glow
  5. Washing Machine – Heavy cleanup in Photoshop Extended and Color Grading
  6. Welder – Color Grading and Compositing
  7. Streetcar – Heavy cleanup in Photoshop Extended and Color Grading
  8. Phone Pole – Recomposing shot by selective stretching
  9. Switch – Compositing
  10. Valve Turn – Compositing and Depth of Field Blurring
  11. Employee Shots – Color Grading
  12. Meter Shot – Keying, Painting, Compositing, Rotoscope (it's 8 layers)
  13. Phone Shot – Retiming, Compositing, Screen Replacement
  14. Solar Panel – Timelapse sky, 3D photogrammetry, Compositing, Color Grading, Virtual Cameras

It was a fun spot... thanks to all who worked on it and for bringing us along.


Changing Image Size - 192 UAP

Instructor Richard Harrington tackles the concept of image resolution.

Be sure to also check out the new book – Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5

Photoshop CS5 Webinar

I have a free webinar about Photoshop CS5 and my new book Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Join author and instructor Richard Harrington for an overview of the new features in Photoshop CS5 and how his book, Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5 and its accompanying video training on DVD, can be used effectively in the classroom.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 3:00 pm
Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)
Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco, GMT-07:00)



Organizing Images with Aperture

In this video you’ll learn to rank and sort images in Aperture. You’ll also learn about contact sheets and Web galleries for client review.
This a sample of the 6 hours of video included with the book Video Made on a Mac.

You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.


Slides From My Recent DSLR Workshops

As promised, here are several slide decks from recent conferences. So

DV Expo

Motion 10

Be sure to check out the book – 
From Still to Motion


Free After Effects Plugin from Boris and Creative COW

This one is too good to pass up... Free texture generating plug-in from Creative COW and Boris

COW Exclusive: Giving Away Boris Continuum Materials Unit - $199 Value!
Generate realistic textures such as Steel Plates, Bricks, Clouds, Granite, Wooden Planks, and Rock using the Boris Continuum Materials Unit! The textures are procedurally-generated to ensure smooth render at any scale. Each filter provides a variety of animation parameters including controls for the color, width, height, and other aspects of the material. Many of the Materials Unit filters let you add 3D detail to the material surface and include lighting controls. Apply the materials as realistic surfaces or use them as animated organic backgrounds. Each filter includes presets that make using the materials a point and click operation - even for complex animations.

Get the Boris Continuum Materials Unit - First 500 Downloads Only!

Creating 3D with Photoshop’s Repoussé Command

A new addition to Photoshop CS5 Extended is the Repoussé command. The command can be used to create a 3D model from a 2D object (like shape layers or text).

Making a selection first can also isolate the effect. The target pixels can be extruded, inflated, and repositioned in 3D space. The resulting 3D model can be easily imported into After Effects for animation or compositing.

See the whole tutorial over at


Government Video Expo Coming Soon

I'll be speaking at the upcoming GV Expo conference in Washington, DC – Specifically in the Digital Media DC event.

I'll be teaching the following classes:

  • Successful Site Surveys: Getting Your Project Off on the Right Foot
  • What's New in Photoshop CS5
  • Green Screen Secrets: Practical Tips for Great Keying
  • Motion Control 3D: Creating Movement within Photos
  • Tweet! Tweet!: Making Sense of Twitter
  • Producing HDSLR Video Shoots - Essential Planning and Preproduction
  • Rotoscoping and Keying with Adobe After Effects
  • Producing Podcasts and Web Video: Creating Web Video
  • Transcoding DSLR Footage for Post Production

I hope to see some of you there.

CONFERENCES: NOV 30 - Dec 2, 2010
Walter E Washington DC Convention Center
801 Mount Vernon Place, NW | Washington DC 20001


The New Apple TV – Best $99 I've Spent this Year

I've been an Apple TV fan from the very beginning.... I've often talk about how much I like it and even have a few blog posts on it (1, 2, 3).

Here's my short review of the new one. It's awesome.

Okay, now I'll tell you why I love it so much.
  • It's cheap – $99 is a steal. Sure they got the price down by removing an internal drive... but things change. I no longer need a hard drive to store movies. I've been using a Drobo FS as my home media server with iTunes and before that a regular Drobo hooked up directly to our home's iMac.
  • Netflix support is built in. There are thousands of on demand movies for free. Some of my favorite things include the extensive selection of documentaries, as well as TV shows that I miss episodes while traveling. Plus, we have two kids who just adore the extensive selection of kids programming (including classic Bugs Bunny fare and multiple PBS shows). At $9 a month... it's a steal.
  • The new Remote App is killer – With an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad you can take complete control. I love using the Apple TV through the home stereo. I have an extensive music collection. I love being able to DJ right from my device. Great when hosting get togethers or for changing music up based on the mood at hand.
  • TV Rentals are now reasonable – Miss an episode, catch it for 99¢. I must admit I've used this feature more than a few times.
  • Easier connection to multiple devices – Apple simplified sharing media. Right now I can access media off any of the computers in our household that share the same Apple ID. Mind you we have an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and a Mac Mini. My understanding is that we'll soon be able to stream from our iPads and iPhones too. For those of you counting, that's ten devices sharing media seamlessly throughout the whole house... (yes... we are a terribly geeky family of four).
  • Streaming Photos and Video is easy – Whether you use MobileMe, iLife, Aperture, YouTube, or Flickr it's a piece of cake to send stuff to your TV in HD.

It's $99... I must say I know what I'll be putting in several people's stockings this year.


Setting Up The Camera Correctly for DSLR Video

Learn how to setup your camera correctly for the appropriate white balance, color quality, and recording format. You’ll also discover how to get better focus and create more stable shots when shooting video with your DSLR camera. Find out how to review clips, drop clips into the timeline, and adjust levels, saturation or color in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Check out the whole series.

Why You Need to Update After Effects

There were a lot of updates in After Effects 10.0.1. Here are a few you may have missed. Thanks to Todd Kopriva for taking the time to point these out.

new and changed features
  • There were several fixes and improvements for RED (R3D) import and workflow. .
  • The Apply Color LUT effect can now use .3dl files with floating point values or 3DMESH/Mesh keywords, or those saved from an ASSIMILATE SCRATCH system (i.e., that have SCRATCH in the comments at the top of the file).
  • QuickTime (.mov) files from JVC solid-state cameras can be imported.
  • The standalone Adobe Media Encoder (AME) application can export MXF files containing MPEG-2 essence items that comply with the XDCAM HD format used by such systems as Avid Unity. Because you can use the standalone AME application to render and export After Effects compositions, this feature extends to After Effects.

notable bug fixes
  • Crash importing Sony XDCAM HD footage from Sony XDCAM Transfer application.
  • Slow playback of compositions containing several layers based on video footage items, especially for long-GOP footage from DSLR cameras.
  • Crash when using a PNG file with path name longer than 256 characters.
  • Colors rendered incorrectly with Avid DNxHD and AJA2vuy codecs in 16bpc and 32bpc projects.
  • QuickTime movies using Blackmagic RGB 10bit codec rendered with color shift or gamma shift.
  • Standard-definition-sized H.264 movies were imported with color space interpreted as HDTV (Rec. 709) instead of SDTV (Rec. 601 NTSC).

If you use After Effects on Mac OSX v10.6.4, be sure to apply the graphics update from Apple.

Social Media - Is it Real?

It seems that everywhere I turn, social media comes up. Independent producers as well as top studios look to harness social media to raise awareness for their productions. Customers are using it to talk about products and companies they love -- and hate. People look to re-establish their personal networks during tough economic times. Heck, your mother (or your kids) may be connected to you on Facebook.

But is this real? Specifically, can social media help your business grow?

The answer is a bit complex. Let's say it's both real and fake. I'm thinking 60/40. We'll see. You may think I'm being non-committal, but I'm not. The social media movement is filled with a lot of hot air right now. Just like the real estate market, the social media boom will pop.

But people need homes, and people have a real need to communicate with others in meaningful ways. Social media is a real communication medium that can be incredibly valuable, but getting started is like being thrown into a raging river and learning how to swim. It can be overwhelming at first, and if you look for help, you'll encounter a lot of bad advice. That's why I am writing this article, to offer you practical advice and real world experiences about how social media can help those of us who work with traditional media.

Continue reading the article here.


Free Webinar on Using Photoshop and Premiere Pro

Be sure to check out the archive from Ask a CS Pro: Premiere Pro & Photoshop CS5 Extended for DSLR with Richard Harrington

Be sure to skip past the first few minutes (not sure why they didn't trim that stuff out).


Learn about Color Correction in Photoshop for Free

The fine folks at Peachpit Press have posted a free excerpt from the new edition of Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5: The Essential Techniques for Imaging Professionals. In it you'll learn about color correction and enhancement (this particular excerpt will also work in Photoshop CS4).

Get the PDFColor Correction and Enhancement

Lesson Files –
Control-Click or Right-Click on the file name to save the file to your desktop.


Free After Effects FAQ Videos

Todd Kopriva (tech lead for Adobe After Effects and wonderful tech editor for my new book) has released a bunch of free videos that address frequently asked questions in After Effects.


Crop and Straighten Command - 191 UAP

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to straighten your digital images.

Be sure to also check out the new book – Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5


Essential Questions to Ask at the Start of a Project

Through the years, we’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. While every project is unique, it often seems that the problems remain the same. Here are a few questions we always encourage asking at the start of a project:

  • Who is our customer? Projects often have many parties involved. Know who you are responsible to keep happy.
  • What is the purpose? You need to know what the video is trying to accomplish.
  • How will we measure success? Determine which factors will be used to judge the success of the project.
  • What do we want to say? Identify the goal of the piece and the message that the audience should walk away with.
  • What resources do we have? Decide who will be assigned to the project. Establish if there are any assets or resources available to the project that should be utilized.
  • What is the budget? Never discuss approach without having an idea of your financial constraints. Creative types often get swept up into big ideas without knowing what the project can support.
  • What are the deadlines? Equally as important as budget is schedule. You need to understand any major milestones so you can schedule work and adjust your approach to match the available time.
  • Are there any customer requirements? Never make assumptions. It’s always a good idea to ask the clients if they have any specific needs or requirements for the end product. You’ll often be surprised how important details can go unspoken until the very end of the project.

This article is excerpted from the Pre-Production chapter in the book
Video Made on a Mac: Production and Postproduction Using Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite.


Making Photoshop Actions

Join in as instructor Richard Harrington gives a presentation on how to make your own actions to speed up your Photoshop workflow.


Some Social Media Statistics


Because it's worth it. Here are a few statistics about the size of social media:

  • 96% of Generation Y uses social networks.
  • If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest.
  • 300,000+ businesses have a Facebook page.
  • Dell has sold $3 million dollars of computers on Twitter.
  • Only 18% of TV campaigns generate a return on investment.
  • Ford Motors spends 25% of its marketing budget on social media -- and didn't need a government bailout.
  • The average American watches 124 videos per month online
  • 70% of 18-34 year olds watch TV on the web -- but only 35% use a TiVo.
  • 24 out of 25 of the top newspapers are experiencing record declines.


Importing Images with Adobe Bridge - 190 UAP

Instructor Richard Harrington explains how to grab your images off your memory card and pull them into your computer using Adobe Bridge.

Be sure to also check out the new book – Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5

Color Grading with After Effects

This a sample of the 6 hours of video included with the book Video Made on a Mac.

Check out this video to see a few color correction effects in After Effects in action. You can also visit the website in order to download sample files.

Distressing Type Edges

Instructor Richard Harrington shows you how to stylize text by distressing it with an organic texture.

Adding Lens Blur in Photoshop

I posted a new article over at on the rarely used Lens Blur command.

Selectively blurring an image can help your viewer find a focal point. Photoshop offers a realistic lens blur that also produces depth-of-field blurring. This allows some objects to remain in focus while others fall gently out of focus.

You can be very specific in regard to the blurring if you make an accurate alpha channel to serve as a depth matte. The depth matte defines how far away things are from the camera.

Read the whole article here –


Budgeting by Averages

I've posted this before, but people keep asking... so here it is again:

There is an easy formula used by many experienced project managers to estimate the amount of time to be spent on each budget item task. The formula looks like this:

(1O + 4M +1P) ÷ 6

It means one optimistic + four most likely + one pessimistic divided by six.
What does that mean? It’s pretty simple: You create a time estimate based on averaging the information you gather. For example, you can approach a graphic designer and ask, "How long would this take?” The answer is not the most likely number. It’s the optimistic number, because if you ask any creative person how long something will take, the answer is an exaggerated number. Let’s say the number is eight hours.
Then you say, “Well, if it was anybody else, how long would it take?” And that’s the most likely number. For our formula, let’s use 12 hours.
Then ask, "If something goes wrong that you really didn’t count on, what is the worst case scenario?" In this example, use 22 hours.
You then plug these values into the formula to get your result: ((1*8) + (4*12) + (1*22) ÷ 6 = 13 hours for the task.
This budgeting formula works well when no historical data is available for review. It’s also more accurate if you are able to ask more than one person for time estimates. You can then average multiple answers.

This article is excerpted from the Pre-Production chapter in the book Video Made on a Mac: Production and Postproduction Using Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite.


Camera Raw Interface – 189 UAP

Instructor Richard Harrington talks about the native files recorded by your digital SLR camera. He?ll describe what advantages are provided by using a raw file.

Be sure to also check out the new book – Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5

Shooting and Capturing Great Video Assets

I found a pretty good list of tips for shooting better video. This list is excerpted from a new book (one I didn't write).

  • Get a closing shot.
  • Get an establishing shot.
  • Shoot plenty of video.
  • Adhere to the rule of thirds.
  • Keep your shots steady.
  • Follow the action.
  • Use trucking shots.
  • Find unusual angles.
  • Lean forward or backward.
  • Get wide and tight shots.
  • Shoot matched action.
  • Get sequences.
  • Avoid fast pans and snap zooms.
  • Shoot cutaways.
  • Use lights.
  • Grab good sound bites.
  • Get plenty of natural sound.
  • Plan your shoot.

You'll find details for each point in the list in the online article... I just post the list because it's a good checklist for those just getting started (or getting forgetful).

Check the article out here –


Managing Workspaces – 188 UAP

Instructor Richard Harrington explains how you can organize your user to interface and make your screen less cluttered.

Be sure to also check out the new book – Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS5


Move Projects from FCP to AE Seamlessly (and Free!)

Footage ©Kuhn Foundation, from the series Closer to Truth Cosmos. Consciousness. God.

I am always on the lookout for things that can make my life easier… sleep in a can, comfortable shoes, great software.
If you use Final Cut Pro and After Effects… do I have a find for you!  I just finished a new book called
Video Made on a Mac, and in the process of writing about Motion Graphics workflows, I’ve discovered an absolute gem, from a little place called Popcorn Island.

From Final Cut Pro to After Effects

Getting your footage from Final Cut Pro to After Effects is a very common workflow. In fact, so many people choose to work this way that there are several free and for sale workflow tools on the market. But I have a new favorite.
The script Final Cut 2 After Effects supports the following features:
  • Cross Dissolve Transitions
  • Basic Editing Translation
  • Segmented Clips
  • Basic Keyframes
  • Time Remapping
  • Nested Sequences
  • Multiple Frame Rates and Aspect Ratios
  • Audio Channels
  • Name Length Error Checking
  • Support for PAL25 and 60

Oh and in case you missed it…

Here’s how the process works:

  • Download and install the After Effects scripts from here.
  • Launch After Effects and Final Cut Pro.
  • Open a Final Cut Pro project with media you want to exchange.
  • Select one sequence in the Browser.
  • Choose File > Export > XML. Choose XML Level 4.
  • Target a location and click OK.
  • Swith to After Effects and choose File > Scripts and select the newly loaded script (PI_FCP2AE.jsxbin).
  • Navigate to the XML file you created in step 5 and click Open. The footage and a new composition are created in After Effects.
  • Explore the composition and check the results.

Also, be sure to check out the new book,
Video Made on a Mac.  More than 400 pages and 5.5 hours of video on Production and Postproduction Using Apple Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite.

© 2010 Richard Harrington LLC