At last, easy Blend modes come to Avid Media Composer

Blend modes, composite modes, whatever you want to call them, they have been elusive in Avid Media Composer since day one. There are third party tools that have always been able to help out (they could be expensive). The often suggested round trip to After Effects has always been a workable though painful option but now we may have a more elegant solution.

The creator of MDV, that fantastic little media management tool for Avid (covered here in a Useful Tools for Editors), quietly popped a beta for his nearly 10 year in development Blend-X onto the web the other day. Avid editors were understandably giddy. Something that has been asked for repeatedly over the years, something that is both useful and time saving and something that every other competing NLE has had for years might finally be coming to Media Composer. It is reason to celebrate.

Reading about Blend X from the developer’s website we learn a bit about the tool:

• 32bit float point image processing (may be ACES compatible?)
• precisely adjusted blend modes to match references (it looks like in ps,pr,bcc,davinci)
• 100% slider
• Bypass button
• And megacrazy WOWpowered 200% “Magic Slider”!
• everything you need – in a single zip package !

There is a download link near the bottom of the page for both Mac and Windows.

Let’s take a moment to plug the developer’s other Avid-focused app MDV. It’s a lightweight media management app for Media Composer that can scan, catalog and move media from your Avid MediaFiles folder. It’s really become the go-to for this type of thing outside of the Media Composer application itself since Media Mover from Random Video died.

Thank you creator of Blend-X. The whole Media Composer world thanks you.

Honestly, I should have probably waited until the official announcement of Blend-X to post this article but as a longtime Avid editor I know just how excited this will make many other Avid editors and just how important this will be for those doing their effects work right there in Media Composer. It is still in beta so there are many Avid installs who won’t be able to download and try it out but if you can, and are in need, go for it. It works great on my system.

It’s yet another chapter in the things your NLE should have had built in but isn’t so a third party developer is filling that hole chronicles. Maybe I need to make this a regular feature!

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10 MCU Movies Blatantly Inspired By Other Films

Superhero movies are here to stay. That’s been clear for a while, but it shouldn’t be something to get upset about. By their very nature comics are adaptive and can draw on many different influences, arguably the same is true of their cinematic counterparts. Marvel CEO Kevin Fiege describes each of his films as belonging to a separate genre, and while they each have the same Marvel ‘feel’, we can see where he’s coming from.

This list will look at film’s that may, not necessarily have directly inspired the MCU, but certainly share some of the same DNA with the biggest superhero hits of the day.


1. Iron Man – Casino Royale

Casino Royale

When Marvel were planning on releasing Iron Man to kick off their now massively successful inter-connected universe there were a number of directions they could have taken the film. The most notable comic book movie success was the dark and gritty reboot of Batman Begins in 2005. However the overall tone of Iron Man seems closer to another character getting the reboot treatment – James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.

Bond was a struggling franchise and yet the film managed to both update him for the modern world and yet keep an air of familiarity about him. Kevin Fiege has always been a producer who gives special attention to both the source material and the fans. Batman Begins is still a Batman movie, but it now seems fairer to call it a Christopher Nolan movie disguised as Batman.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond is in many ways the same Bond from the past; he’s still a serial womaniser and a ruthless killer of style. However there’s a slight edge to Craig’s performance that means the character can still behave the same way but the audience aren’t quite as enamoured with him as a person. Bond picks up women, only to find them murdered the next day; high stakes poker is very glamorous until he gets poisoned; there are now real consequences to his actions.

The character of Tony Stark, when he was first introduced to us, shares a lot of similarities. Here is a multi-billionaire inventor, who’s wit, intelligence and capital has allowed him to do more or less whatever he wants. And yet in his first outing he learns the crucial lesson that there are consequences to his actions. When James Bond learns this he responds by pushing harder and more aggressively refusing to believe that he’s not the smartest guy in the room.

When Tony learns this he becomes aware that everything that makes him who he is could be taken away and dedicates his life to protecting that. Both men are seen as vulnerable as well as clever, Tony tries to do something about it while Bond continues on regardless. It’s not surprising that in the following years one franchise has exploded and the other is floundering again, despite kicking off their stories in a very similar place.


2. Thor – Hamlet

Kenneth Branagh Hamlet

The first Thor film has often been compared to Shakespearean drama, not least because it’s directed by Hamlet himself Kenneth Branagh. But this version of the character owes a particular debt to Branagh’s 1996 adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

Hamlet is a difficult character to get right. He exists in the highest pantheon of literary characters and can prove elusive and unrelatable to an audience if not done well. Luckily Kenneth Branagh is someone who knows the character so well he can truly do him justice.

His film manages to bring Hamlet down from such great heights to work as an effective piece of entertainment. Branagh’s film is long but his performance is funny, endearing, accessible and therefore, heart-breaking. Branagh’s skill is in taking Shakespeare’s grand ideas and presenting them in a way that proves they’re still relevant.

It’s significant that prior to this film Thor’s main onscreen success was in Adventures in Babysitting where he was played as a mechanic who just happened to look like him. This ancient space-god could prove silly, campy and out-dated. It shouldn’t be surprising then that Marvel chose someone who could recognise what made him appealing in the first place and effectively translate that for a modern audience to fall in love with him once again.


3. Iron Man 3 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang (2005)

The idea of “fake it till you make it” is a common one in Hollywood. And it’s used to great effect in Shane Black’s post-modern, LA noir satire Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. In Shane Black’s world all the characters are clever, self-aware and armed to the teeth with zingers. They saterise Hollywood, while ironically, behaving exactly like Hollywood characters. Black has always tried to blend fiction and reality to the point where they meet up again.

Not surprising that these ideas are carried over from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to Iron Man 3 (even less surprising when you remember that they are both made by and star Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr.).

Iron Man 3 is an interesting break from the previous movies in that Stark has to come to terms with the cost of being a super hero. He is attracting the attention of international terrorists, he’s suffering from PTSD, and when he’s out of the suit he’s just man. In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang the characters are aware that Hollywood is a con and so act accordingly, but when real dead bodies turn up their wit is no good then.

If Iron Man 3 is about finding the hero without the suit and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is about what you do when the con is real, then both films can be seen as a hunt for purpose and meaning in an increasingly unsure world. Humans have been doing this for millennia with no real conclusion so it’s not surprising that these films don’t either.

But what makes Shane Black films so entertaining is that while they break apart the things we love they do it with explosions, special-effects, mystery, wit; in other words, with all the things we love. Not many super-hero films manage to find the reality within their fiction, but Shane Black did.


4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Three Days of the Condor


Captain America was always going to be a difficult one to sell overseas. How do you assure people that it isn’t another piece of American propaganda and cultural imperialism? While the first film works as an enjoyable war romp, the second film really sealed the deal by turning it’s hero into a fugitive and made America itself the enemy. In this film Steve Rogers becomes a hero in himself, no longer just a solider fighting for a cause.

Cinema in the 1970s shows a marked change towards far darker storytelling, fuelled by a growing counter culture and lack of trust in authority. Three Days of the Condor epitomises this change perfectly. Robert Redford plays an insignificant CIA desk man who one day finds all his colleagues killed and himself caught up in a conspiracy that may go all the way to the top. He’s then on the run for the next three days following a structure that is replicated in The Winter Soldier.

The Captain America sequel was an unquestionable success for both the character and his directors who would go on to make Marvel’s most successful films. It also reveals a very powerful element of storytelling that is clearly as useful now as it was 40 years ago. Blind faith is not always the right way to maintain your values. Remaining true to yourself in spite of a rapidly changing world is. It’s a parable that proves true for everyone no matter where you’re from.


5. Guardians of the Galaxy – Starship Troopers


Sci-Fi is a genre that can discuss many different things. However, cinematically it can have a bit of a homogenous aesthetic (look at the amount of Star Wars knock-offs made post ’77). One of the most enjoyable aspects of Paul Verhoeven’s filmography is that the movies he makes are entertaining in a mainstream way and yet he, subtly, still remains the agent provacatuer. Starship Troopers has all the trappings of a campy space adventure where a lot of giant alien bugs get shot and blowed-up, right up until the moment you realise it’s actually a very astute satire of fascism. More specifically the dangers of homegrown fascism.

Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t so much as have the same story as Troopers as the same effect. When it came out we were surprised; surprised that Marvel had other tricks up its sleeve; surprised that we could fall in love with a space rogue who wasn’t Han Solo; surprised that we could empathise with a talking racoon. Gunn’s film doesn’t tackle the same serious themes of fascism (opting for outsiders and family instead) but it also recognises that big ideas needn’t be taken seriously to still be discussed with value.

5 Ways You Can Break into the Film Industry

Gatekeepers don’t hold the key to the film industry; they hold the lock. You have the key; you just don’t know it yet.

Oh, gawwwwddddd! How do you get into the film industry, you guys? It’s exhausting to even think about because it just seems like such an impossible goal, right?

What do you gotta do? Move to LA and pay $3000+ to live in a 7×7 space in someone’s eat-in kitchen so you can compete with hundreds if not thousands of other aspiring filmmakers for a PA gig you’re not getting paid for because art is life and life isn’t monetary?

I mean, not always.

Unless nepotism buys you a first-class ticket to Hollywood, we all have to skunk our way from the bottom of the creative food chain. Maybe we go to film school, maybe we go straight to work on a no-budget indie flick. There are many, many ways to get your foot in the door and Ted Sim of Indy Mogul goes over five of them with filmmakers and creators of the Just Shoot It podcast Matt Enlow and Oren Kaplan in the video below.

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Profoto’s Connect: Easy Function / Relaxed Style

Profoto's Connect: Easy Function / Relaxed Style

Take a quick moment to watch Profoto’s latest clip showing off their wireless flash trigger, Connect, used by Hélène Pambrun. When you’re done, give Profoto’s accompanying story a read.

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Canon Expects a Massive Drop in Sales by the End of 2020

Canon Expects a Massive Drop in Sales by the End of 2020

Canon’s chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai acknowledged in a recent interview that the company expects camera sales to drop from 10 million to 6 million a year by the end of 2020. Despite this dramatic fall, Mitarai is confident for the camera manufacturer’s future.

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Your Guide to Finding Crazy Instagram Photography Hashtags

Your Guide to Finding Crazy Instagram Photography Hashtags

I have no idea where some of the trends are born from when it comes to hashtags, but with Instagram search and related hashtags feature, you can follow the breadcrumbs and grab a number of fresh tags you would never think of on your own.

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Initial testing shows Canon’s new 32.5mp APS-C sensor improves dynamic range over predecessor

cgarcia, a contributor over the forums has done some initial tests on dynamic range from Canon’s new 32.5mp image sensor. There is good news Read more…

Veydra LLC, maker of prime cinema lenses, has gone out of business

Veydra cinema lenses has gone out of business

Veydra made it to the market in 2014, aiming to offer the best glass available for mirrorless cameras. The adventure ends now, according to co-founder Ryan Avery.

We’ve seen new  companies producing cinema lenses appear as mushrooms, and one wonders if there is market for all those lenses. Maybe there is, but that does not stop some of the brands from leaving the market, too. Veydra is the new name in that list, and apparently it goes out of business not because there isn’t demand, but “due to the conclusion of ongoing litigation between the founders of the company.”

Ryan Avery, co-founder of Veydra, shared the news online, adding this: “I offer special thanks to everyone involved in the success of Veydra; first and foremost all Veydra Kickstarter backers and customers. Specific thanks to those who made it possible from the start; Phil Holland, Illya Friedman, Matthew Duclos, Joshua Brown, Alex Jacobs, and all the supporters too numerous to mention here.”

Veydra appeared in 2014, when Los Angeles lensmen Ryan Avery (formerly with Schneider Optics) and Jim Zhang (a behind-the-scenes designer for the likes of Century Optics, Chrosziel, and 16×9) teamed up to build the “Veydra” line of Micro 4/3 Cinema Lenses. Adam Wilt, who writes for ProVideo Coalition, announced the lenses and told the whole story when the name Veydra make it to the market.

Cinema lenses for mirrorless cameras

When launching the company, the founders of Veydra wrote this: “forged in the flames of on-set production and decades of lens design experience, Veydra makes the highest quality mirrorless cinema lenses available” and added that “we believe a set of good glass will outlast any digital camera 10:1. We hope that you will join our growing family of dedicated filmmakers and commercial cinematographers. Trust Veydra and invest in the best glass available for mirrorless cameras.”

Interchangeable lens mounts was something the team wanted to offer: Micro 4/3, Sony E, Fuji X, and C mount. All standard configurable options for your mirrorless cinema lenses. But since August 2018 users knew something was wrong. Ryan Avery took to Facebook and commented about supply issues of the highly acclaimed Mini Primes, apologizing “for the lack of response from our sales and information email addresses”.

Following that first note, a new one appears, March 2019, stating, “ Veydra is currently not fulfilling orders primarily due to supply chain and related issues pertaining to our Mini Prime lenses. We are aware of lenses that have appeared recently on the market that seem very similar to our design. All the current issues are being actively investigated and we are working toward more answers soon. We set out in 2014 to provide high quality mirrorless optics to filmmakers everywhere. The issues that have arisen are temporary problems that we hope to overcome soon. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

The end of August, a new information from Ryan Avery, on Facebook, confirmed that Veydra cinema lenses has gone out of business. The co-founder and CEO of Veydra LLC ended with the following note: “It’s been a wonderful journey and I thank you all for your support and kindness.”

On Amazon a note says it all: “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”

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Surprise: New Luminar 4 comes with this new AI structure software. See it in action!

Recently Skylum announce the new Luminar 4 software (info here). It’s available for preorder now and it will be available this fall. Among the many new features it also will have the world’s first Sky Replacement technology. And today  Skylum…

The post Surprise: New Luminar 4 comes with this new AI structure software. See it in action! appeared first on sonyalpharumors.

How I Edit Monochrome Portraits

How I Edit Monochrome Portraits

In this quick guide, I’m going to demonstrate how I edited a particular set of portraits for a magazine. Taken as part of the Face of London Runway 2019 contest, these black and white images were shot in studio and processed with a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop.

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3 Ways to Control Natural Light for Portraits

3 Ways to Control Natural Light for Portraits

I usually use natural light as my go-to for quick group photos or for portraits that need to be done very quickly or with very little gear. That doesn’t mean you can’t shape or control natural light to create studio quality images wherever you are. Here’s three easy ways to shape natural light for your next portrait shoot.

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MEN IN BLACK – INTERNATIONAL: Creation of Pawny by Sony Pictures Imageworks

VFX Supervisor Chris Waegner and Animation Supervisor Craig McPherson from Sony Pictures Imageworks talk about the creation of Pawny for MEN IN BLACK – INTERNATIONAL:

Sony Pictures Imageworks: Dedicated page about MEN IN BLACK – INTERNATIONAL on Sony Pictures Imageworks website.
Chris Waegner: My interview of Chris Waegner, VFX Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019

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A 5-Year Late Review of the Canon Pixma Pro-10

A 5-Year Late Review of the Canon Pixma Pro-10

Canon released the Canon Pixma Pro-10 around 2014 and changed prosumer printing. Even though it was released over five years ago the Pro-10 (and the Pro-10S) is still one of the the flagship models until you reach into professional level territory.

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After Effects Classic Course: Shadow/Highlight

In addition to creating motion graphics, we are both also into mixed media art, which often means trips through Photoshop to process imagery that will be part of our final works. We shoot all of our photos using Camera Raw (it’s the digital equivalent of the negative, compared to the normal JPEG which is the equivalent of a print from the corner drugstore). Two of our favorite parameters inside Photoshop’s Camera Raw dialog are Highlight and Shadow. The former rolls off the brightest areas without affecting the mid-point luminance of the image, while the latter lifts details out of the shadows of an image.

Well, After Effects has long had a Shadow/Highlight effect, which has probably been ignored by most video users because they don’t know what it’s for. It has long been one of our secret weapons to help correct poorly-lit footage we’ve been handed:

This movie previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making the movies from it available publicly for free. You can either scan our page on ProVideo Coalition to see the other free movies, or click here for the playlist of previous movies we’ve made available.

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Video is Changing: Creative Edits Reach New Heights

Video is Changing: Creative Edits Reach New Heights

Video is an amazing way to showcase things when people are watching something of interest. For years, people have been glued to TV shows and movies but now there seems to be a shift to fast paced, fun edits that people can watch and be inspired by.

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The CamRanger 2 Available for Pre-Order Now (Starts Shipping September 16th)

The CamRanger 2 Available for Pre-Order Now (Starts Shipping September 16th)

Originally released in 2012, the CamRanger has finally announced the CamRanger 2. Set to be released on September 16th, the wireless tethering device has added a variety of features including support for Sony and Fujifilm, an SD Card slot, and dual-band Wi-Fi. The starting price is $349.

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Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel shares his wisdom on focal length choices

Vanity Fair has published an interview on its YouTube channel with American cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel – who was director of photography for Bohemian Rhapsody, X-Men: Apocalypse and The Usual Suspects amoung many others. He talks about the way different focal lengths make people and objects in the scene feel closer together or further apart, and how the sense of perspective is altered depending on the camera position and the amount of background included in the shot.

During the interview Sigel talks us through clips from Three Kings, Drive and Bohemian Rhapsody explaining what he hoped to achieve in that particular shot and the lenses he used to do it. It’s a fantastic watch with an experienced and well-spoken artist.