Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How To Defish The GoPro In FCP

    GoPros are awesome. Over the winter I use them on at least a weekly basis. They are great for sports and getting right up close to the action. The Fisheye lens on the GoPro is perfect for that, but what happens when you want a shot without the extreme barrel distortion?

   I have looked all over the internet for examples of how to do this and for the most part the tutorials require either a program I don't have, a plugin I don't want to pay for or it only will work for photographs. So here is a quick rundown on how to do some quick lens correction in Final Cut Pro.

Image size, image after pin-cushion and usable area.
   What helped me figure this one out was actually the articles on defishing photographs. A lot of them mentioned using a pin-cushion tool to pull the corners out. I started looking for a way to do this in FCP and found the Bulge tool could produce similar effects.

   First I imported the footage I wanted to use--a rotating time-lapse from the top of a fan gun at Pats Peak. Now hold on a second. I'm sure at this point you are saying to yourself, "Isn't a time-lapse just a series of photos? Didn't he say this was for video?" Yes you are correct but this method works for video too, the first step is just me converting the photos to a .MOV, so if you are just importing plain old video you can skip the next paragraph.

   Ok, I brought everything into Quicktime and exported my image sequence to Apple ProRes 422 (LT) as a 1920x1440 video, down-resed from its native 4:3 size of 2592x1944. Even though my timeline will be 1080x720 16:9 I still want my 4:3 image to better adjust where I want to crop and a better resolution to reduce artifacts and keep the picture as clear as possible.

And under motion tab: Scale 125
   Now we can take our footage and bring it into Final Cut. I apply the Bulge filter to my footage and then adjust it to make the corners pulled out as far as possible yet shrinking the video as little as possible (because having to zoom back into it will take away the sharpness of the overall image). I also included the Fisheye filter and gave it a negative value because I found Bulge tends to still have some slight distortion in the corners if used alone. See screencap for the settings I used (you can ignore the Flop filter just because I shot this upside down). If you look at the pole on the left side of the video in the viewer you can see how little distortion there is.

   This trick may take some tweaking and as long as you use the same size video throughout, this set of effects can be cut and pasted to other clips rather easily. And the great thing about this trick is you don't really loose all that much off the edges! Sure there comes render time but for a quick and easy lens correction for free with the tools you already have? Perfect.

EDIT: Here it is in the video I just posted!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Keyboard!

   In my quest to be Final Cut Extraordinaire, I got myself a new keyboard! So pumped. Actually it was pretty lucky I got it in the first place. I had been having crazy luck last week with the Goodwill a few towns over (laptop stand, $40 slide trombone for a friend) and wound up finding this old Mac G5 keyboard for 5 bucks. After bringing it home I hopped on eBay and lo and behold, a set of G5 keys for FCP for for $20! These keyboards normally go for $150 and I just snagged it for $25, so this is pure gold to me. The only problem now is I need more stuff to edit!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Occupy the NH Primary

   The past few days I have been very busy doing coverage of the "Occupy the Primary" movement in Manchester, NH and around the state. Starting Friday several occupy movements took the trek up to New Hampshire to form a temporary camp located in Veteran’s Park, right across the street from the courtyard where news organizations such as CBS have set up camp for the duration of the primary.

   Traveling into the Occupy camp for the first time since they were evicted of Victory Park, I got the impression of a stronger and more organized group of people. I was pleased to see plenty of laughing, singing and drum-playing people--even a group immersed at the art tent making signs and other unrelated paintings.

Vermin Supreme
   While I am sure most of the candidates currently in the runnings are thinking the occupy movement is the last thing they want to be around, one of the most noticeable people at the encampment that day was none other than Presidential Candidate Vermin Supreme himself. Ponies for every American, now I can get behind that.

   Meeting up with several people I knew there, I was introduced to some members of Occupy Boston and everyone talked shop over coffee at Greg's Place down the street from the park. After grabbing a little more footage from the camp I called it a night.

   The next day was even more exciting than the last. After arriving I saw what must have been at least a hundred people gathered at the entrance of the park. Soon after a march began down Elm Street with a Pride Rally taking the lead, the Leftist Marching Band playing away, banners flying left and right and people chanting "We are the 99%!" An interview with Ian Struthers of Join the Impact after the march explains:
Basically, what we're here for is to explain how the 1% has a really heavy impact on the LGBT community, and we are part of this movement and we need to have some attention focused specifically on [us] because we have been ... oppressed for so long.
The 1% is often affiliated with a lot of corporations, organizations who are mainly based with the religious right who link politics, business and policy together.
Attempting to open a portal to another dimension!
At one point the march paused in front of a Bank of America with cries of "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" After everyone gathered in Victory Park where I met up with and  who were also covering the event. I did a few more interviews and then headed up to a local church for lunch.

   After heading back to the camp at Veteran’s Park I bumped into Captain Robert Cunha of the Manchester Police Department as he was talking to the protesters. Earlier when coordinating this event, the organizers were told that nobody could stay in the camp past curfew but apparently there was a misunderstanding about what could be left in the park overnight, so he was there to work it out. Throughout the existence of Occupy NH the relationship with the Police has always been a positive one--even with the aforementioned eviction Captain Cunha had nothing negative to say:
We've been very pleased with the relationship we've had, even during a difficult period in October when we had to clear the park for the park curfew. The folks from Occupy stood by their principals, but were peaceful. They did not resist, they were cooperative and are fighting their battle in court--They didn't take it personally against the officers.
   He went on to talk about their first time encountering Occupy NH during a benefit for Footrace for the Fallen which was to take place in the same park, the protesters elected to go to Victory Park instead and even helped set up barricades for the race and offered coffee to the officers. "That was the first gesture that gave us a very good reading on how our relationship with Occupy was going to be."

The madness that was the Free Speech Zone
   Later that evening marked the beginning of the Republican debate and so Occupy headed over to St. Anselms College with a few tricks up their sleeve. Arriving at the entrance of the school, banners of a Democrat/Republican symbol--half-donkey, half-elephant with dollar bill symbols tying them together--marked "Money out of Politics" could be seen everywhere. As the debate began a coffin arrived and so began a somber march onto the campus as they held a funeral procession for the American Dream. Nearing the designated "Free Speech Area" the procession was greeted with the yells and jeers of supporters of every other candidate out there (save Vermin Supreme who was absolutely thrilled that everyone could make it to his victory party).

   Once inside the yelling and shouting and chanting only continued until, just in the nick of time, the Leftist Marching Band arrived with fanfare and walked right up to the coffin playing a very nice jazz dirge. Four people surrounded by candles were kneeling next to the flower-covered coffin. Their hands were clasped and eyes closed as they awaited the end of the song. The eulogy began over the Peoples Mic as people stepped forward one by one to say their goodbyes.
American Dream. How I barely new ye [sic]. Your beauty was but an illusion ... I found that actually you are the opium of the greedy that have become so greedy they do not wish to just pursue their own American Dream. They wish to suck it from from everybody else. From our blood. And when I realized this I realize I can no longer support you.
New Occupy NH banner in front of their camp.
   After marching out of the college I myself took off to Portsmouth for a premiere of some films I had worked on and unfortunately after catching a cold that evening I was off to a late start and missed the Newt Gingrich hilarity and after most of the camp left to a Romney event, I hung around and got a few more interesting interviews, some footage of the drum circle and checked out the shiny new "Money Runs on Politics" sign. And gosh darn-it wouldn't you know, the cold got the better of me once again so I decided to take the day off and missed the Obama Headquarters Die-In. Well at least I have had a chance to sit down and look at all this great footage and catch up on some pending work from this weekend. Tomorrow I plan to be back in action for the last of the New Hampshire Primary and then I can get this video all done and ready! Keep an eye out for it and for more updates subscribe here and to  on Twitter!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pats Peak, A New Season!

   Pats Peak is open and snow is on the mountain! It was a slow start unfortunately--I mean considering we had more snow in one day of October then in the entire last two months of 2011--but none the less its started.

   The season opener video was something I was looking forward to do, and I was very happy with the end result. It was a good success on Pats Peak Facebook page as well, so maybe that had something to do with it. Like I said, there wasn't much snow around, only a few trails were even open so I had to shoot around that, but overall you can tell everyone was excited for the doors to the new ski season to be open.

   There are a few more videos worth mentioning from this season, a few months ago they had their Octoberfest festival complete with chainsaw sculptures, oom-pah bands and a Civil War reenactment, not to mention a ski sale, beer and horse-drawn skiers! The other video is of the day after Christmas, and the first day of night skiing and I also plan on making a trip up to the Peak again tomorrow to work on a new one. Hope you enjoy the videos!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Music Video Project

   So recently I have been working on a set of music videos for a local companies marketing campaign. Its been pretty intense, with three days of shooting I have produced six 60-second music videos for them. The company has planed to distribute the videos to prospective clients (all of which are household names) in a month or so, so hopefully I will be able to post them up here at some point--because at the moment its a super secret non-disclosure spec ops project!

   Its been fun shooting some funny stuff around Manchester but I'm looking forward to some new projects I have coming up in this month. I am still working on weekly Pats Peak videos (check back soon to see some I already did this year), there are some interesting developments with Darwin's Waiting Room Comedy and this weekend I might be covering some of the NH primaries. So check back here for more updates and follow @NJEdgar on Twitter to see whats going on!