How To Create a “Before & After” Wipe in Premiere Pro

Written by: Nate Hernandez

Even though we live for a good “Before n’ After”, we don’t watch HGTV only for the home makeover. It takes courage to admit that we watch for the crazy house hunting mom-drama.  We get so caught up in the house hunting drama, that we forget about what we originally tuned in for; that transformation.

A powerful transformation can sell the dramatic change the “Property Brothers” worked so hard for. VR, however, has the potential to make the makeover even better. One small problem stops us from making it effective in VR, however. A wipe in 2D is easy to animate, but it isn’t easy to do that in 3D.

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to animate a transitional wipe in VR. It’s perfect for a transformation like in HGTV or the wipe on Avengers: Infinity Wars when Thanos reveals the destruction of his home planet.

While you may be a magical Premiere Pro warlock, getting the footage perfect before post-production is essential. Here are your goals when filming:

  1. Make sure to stick the camera in the exact same position. Place it on the same spot on the floor as well as the same height.
  2. Next, the camera and its settings should be the same. Ideally, you should use the highest resolution and use 30fps. If there are dark shadows, change the white balance so that the image is brighter. Brighter pixels are sharper pixels!

Now that we have all our footage ready to go, stitch your footage and we can finally open Premier Pro! Import the videos and lay them directly on top of each other. Place the Before above the After.

The second step is to align the footage so that the landmarks are on the same part of the screen. Reduce the opacity of the top layer so that you can see both simultaneously. Then apply the “VR Rotate Sphere” and adjust the layers until they are aligned properly.

Side Note: If you are just a bit off and you can’t get it in the EXACT position, don’t worry too much. The human mind will compensate for small differences.

Moving on, we are going to start adding effects. Select the effects tab and look up the “crop” tool. Drag the effect onto the top layer. Select the “Effects Controls” tab on the left of the screen. The effect on the bottom should say “Crop”. Click it.

Enter for the left is 0% and then 75% for the right. You can personalize the size to your tastes, but I found this to be a good balance between the “Before” and “After”.

There should be a small chunk of the before shifted slightly to the left with a harsh line revealing the “After” layer under it. No feathering. No motion.  Just a block of footage standing alone like a kid in the supermarket pretending that they didn’t get lost.

To get some motion going, we need to use the dreaded key frames. They can be a little tricky for first timers, so it is important to carefully follow these instructions.

Make sure your timeline in effects control is at the zero mark. In crop effect, you will see a stop watch icon. Click on the stop watch on the left and the right crop effects.  Two diamonds should appear in the beginning of the timeline. Move the timeline cursor to when you want the animation to end. 15-30 seconds should be enough. Now you can change the values to 75% for the left and 0% for the right.  Two more diamonds should appear in the timeline.

You can now play back the video and see that it’s moving. The hard part is over. You can relax, now.

To give it the finishing touches, we need to feather out the harsh lines of the top layer. Luckily, this effect is already in the crop effect. The value of the feather tool should be at zero. Change it to 500. This will ensure that both layers blend seamlessly.

If “ifs” and “buts” are candy and nuts, you should be finished. Congratulations!

Tabletop Games in Lexington

It’s true that more people are playing Dungeons and Dragons and games like it than ever before. Role-playing games, or RPGs, have even seen a resurgence in the Lexington area. Within the city, there are about five stores that host game nights weekly.

Two Lexington gamers talk about their experiences and the community that has developed around these stores in this 360-degree video.

Video by McKenna Horsley

The importance of exposure in 360 video

In typical photography or video, creators have a lot of control over what their camera picks up. A key aspect that can help or hurt a final image is exposure.

With the field of virtual reality and 360 video expanding rapidly, it is important for budding videographers and photographers in this area to take care to properly expose the images they will capture.

Flattened 360 photos taken at different exposures with the RICOH Theta V.

For this tutorial, I will mostly talk about controlling exposure with the RICOH Theta V. This model is RICOH’s newest 360 camera and allows users to capture high-resolution photos and videos in 4K/30 fps. The Theta V retails for $399.95 and has some accessories, such as a spatial audio microphone, that can be bought separately. I believe that this camera is easy enough for beginners to use, but has enough quality for advanced videographers to use as well.

A videographer could manually control when the Theta V records, but he or she should download the mobile app the works with the camera. The app, called “Ricoh Theta S,” can be found for free on the App Store and the Google Play Store.  From the app, users can not only turn the camera on and off, but they can preview what the camera sees and adjust ISO, shutter speeds and white balance as needed. Theta V users should note that in order to adjust these setting, the camera must be connected to the phone over Wi-Fi.

A screenshot of what previewing an image looks like in the Theta S app.

To adjust the exposure, a camera operator needs to open the preview viewer within the app. From there, users can press “EV” in the lower left-hand corner and use the slider to allow more or less light into the camera. The shutter speed, ISO and white balance can also be fine-tuned from this screen.

According to 360Rumors, “the correct exposure is the one that shows a real world object at the same ‘brightness” as in real life.” The previous hyperlinked article, which also gives a pretty general overview about exposure itself, said that with most 360 cameras on the market, users have limited exposure control but these types of cameras also are less susceptible to getting the wrong exposure because it can evaluate the whole scene around the camera.

As someone who has just learned how to create 360 videos, I did not personally take exposure into account as I should have until was presented a challenge in my recent video that I made with classmate Paidin Dermody.

Last month, we decided to film the University of Kentucky’s MacAdam Student Observatory as a 360 video project. The facility is only open on clear nights, which does not allow for much light for starters. Also, some white fluorescent lights were also available within the observatory, but most of the research and study done within the observatory is completed under red lights, which allow person to preserve their night vision.

We wanted to be able to authentically capture this uncommon lighting, as we are both journalists and wanted to show what a typical experience is like in the observatory. Thus, we had to learn about controlling the settings on our camera while in the field.

Check out our final project below. It can also be viewed on kykernel.com.

 

The GoPro Fusion Review

Recently I was able to get my hands on the GoPro Fusion. This is one of GoPros newest cameras and is available to the public for the price of $699.99. This camera worked very well and was very easy to use, however there were a few things that bothered me while I was using it.

Pros

This camera is very much so, a turn on a go kind of camera. No setup is necessary, you simply turn on the camera, install the app, and go. At first glance I was admittedly worried that this camera was going to require some learning seeing as how I had never used a 360 camera before, however this was not the case. Ease of use is definitely what the people over at GoPro were going for and they succeeded.

Secondly the camera is very compact and if it wasn’t for all of my audio recording equipment it would have been very easily transportable and carried with you. It will easily fit into any backpack, purse, or bag that you have with you and weighs almost nothing so it will not be a burden.

Lastly the app that accompanies the camera is very straight forward and can be found here https://shop.gopro.com/cameras/fusion/CHDHZ-103-master.html or downloaded from the Google Play or Itunes stores. Upon downloading the app you simply connect to its wifi signal through your cell phone and thats it, your’e good to go. You can preview what your going to be seeing through your camera on your phone in real time and review footage right after you’ve recorded it.

image of the app required

Cons

My primary concern with this camera is that upon primary purchase (unless you add them to the purchase from the website) SD cards are not included with purchase. Normally this would not concern me however I heard from our local tech advisor that if you are to put the wrong kind of SD card into this camera it is very possible that you will ruin or disable the camera.

The angle of the video on the app and where the camera is physically facing is not always front facing. What I mean by this is that on my phone preview I believed that I was recording in front of me and that the camera was facing the right way. However upon playing the video most people say that they were facing the wrong way at the start. This happened regardless of which way I turned the camera. I would like to have a “look to front” option or something along those lines in the future to improve ease of use.

The app has very limited storage. Upon recording my videos and taking my pictures on site the first video and picture showed up just fine and I was able to review them just fine to check for quality. However upon recording one more video and three more pictures the app no longer allowed me to look at what I had recorded. Whether or not this was an issue of storage on my actual phone or the app i’m not to sure of but it really caused an inconvenience on shoot day.

How to Use

I hate for this section to be lack luster, however, this camera is probably as easy as it gets when it comes to 360 video. Upon unboxing the camera you simply connect it to your phone through the app, and thats it. you are also going to need to insert your own (or purchase them as a package through the website) SD cards before the camera lets you begin, but none the less. This camera took me all of 5 minutes to set up and in no time I was shooting high quality 360 video at the push of a button.

General Use

I can see a lot of people using this camera in both recreational life and all other aspects of journalism or documentation. As with most 360 cameras the footage captured is always fascinating to behold and with this camera being able to produce footage up to 5.2 K quality, I can see it being a big hitter in the video production world. From skydiving footage all the way down to a general local park documentary this camera can do it all

For an in depth review of The GoPro’s editing software you can visit my partners blog post here http://vrjamlab.com/gopro-fusion-studio-review/

VR Review- NY Times Colorado Autumn Colors 360 video

Here in is this short film video story, https://nyti.ms/2yQKPPl , “Fly Over Colorado’s Autumn Colors in 360” We see a over looked video of White River National Forest, Colorado. This video was crated by a team that included Will Strathmann working the video, edited by Joshua Thomas, and Produced by Nathan Griffiths. Also Samantha Quick was mentioned, but not listed in what specific role was played. This video was published by The New York Times. There were no specific viewings of this video on NY Times The Daily 360 website.

This Video story, includes a fly over video that flies right over the hillsides of aspen trees that grow for acres and acres throughout this area. This is where the narration begins. Lisa Stoeffler, Deputy Forest supervisor, U.S. Department of agriculture, is the interviewed narrator of this piece. She first describes the changing of the leaves and how they change, as she states, “in one massive clump”, due to the aspens growing from identical genetics. Lisa  is then seen for the first time in a valley by a river in the mountains known as “The Maroon Bells”. Lisa will continue to narrate on and off the camera with short pauses of word narration on screen in different views of both the river area and within the forest of aspens, with light music in the background. A shot transition to a bus of people coming to the Maroon Bells, begins another narration from Lisa where she states, “More than 300,000 people visit the Maroon Bells every year”. The final shot is The Maroon Bells which many photographers on the edge of a pond trying to catch photos of this spectacular place. Lisa, out of shot, commentates with the ending comment of , “This is one of the most photographed places in the state of Colorado, and you can see why”.  The narration structure wasn’t chronological, it was an interview from someone that knew about the location and was able to share some insights while viewing the video story.

This story is location driven. The location drives this story because it’s a specific area which is the main purpose of the viewers being interested in wanting to watch to get the “Fly Over” look of the autumn colors in Colorado. Even though there is narration on what lies in the White River National Park, Colorado you’re not moved to view things on screen because of it.

The weaknesses I found in this video story was time of the video, camera angles, and timing of the frames. It was definitely a video I wish was longer because this is a place I would actually want to travel too. The area’s were either repetitive of just no areas I believed were the best shots. The clips of the scenery where you had words on the screen to read were the only extended views the viewer of this video story was able to really see. I would’ve wanted the scenes of narration where I wasn’t focuses visually on anything to be longer so that the effect of being in that moment would’ve been better. If i wanted to see what was behind me at all I would have to start the video over and watch it from that side because I didn’t have the time to turn around before it would change.