Our presenter was Steve Bellamy's son, Nico! (Note from Dave: APPLAUSE!)
Not only that, but we did this via video chat! (Note from Dave: I did run out and get my little external speaker because Steve's laptop, like most other laptops, does not have speakers with the oomph to fill a room. Oh, and then I had to run out and get my speaker's power supply because the batteries in the speaker were dead. After that, the speaker did great.)
Nico was on iChat. (We had a webcam so he could see us also without Steve having to turn his laptop to face us.) And Nico made sure to have a nice blank wall behind him so he could more easily demo backdrops. What's a backdrop? It lets you replace the background where you are sitting in iChat with a photo or movie, Oooo, Nico is on a roller coaster! That video effect comes with the Mac iChat. Glub, glub, now Nico is in the ocean, now on the moon (no helmet, gasp gasp), France, Hawaii, and Yosemite.
You can upload your own backdrops to use in iChat. Nico showed a penguin backdrop, then Times Square. iChat backdrop does not like changes in light or shadows; Nico demoed that when he cast a shadow on the wall behind him, which created a green blob on the backdrop. He showed an effect called dizzy: it made animated birds circle his head. He showed lovestruck, which was hearts orbiting his head. He then morphed his face (well, the image of his face, he does not have Plastic Man superpowers), he showed the effect to bug out his eyes. This effect followed his head as he moves, keeping his eyes nice and buggy. Then he showed off alien head, nose swirl, and chipmunk cheeks. He showed the twirl effect on his arm and his face. He did the mirror effect and face-to-face kissed himself.
On macupdate.com is More iChat Effects. For free, it gives you 56 iChat effects, such as animated snowflakes. Or you can put your mouth in Steve Ballmer's mouth, or a clown's mouth (Note from Dave: What's the difference?). He showed later effects that were pretty cool: film stock (make the view darker), and a favorite of Nico: he becomes a hologram. (Note from Dave: Like a Star Wars hologram, not Star Trek!) He did Invisible (which he felt does not make sense, it just makes him, the speaker, disappear). Fire dips made it look like he was iChatting from hell. He had a magic glowing comet ball follows his movements; he moved the ball with his hands. The noise effect makes static on the screen. The radar sweep effect made us see Nico as an outline as the radar screen scans. He showed the pixelate effect. And a 1960's spaceship effect. And his face inside a shiny ratting teapot. The trace effect let Nico move around and leave a ghost image behind him.
The reverse effect let him iChat by hanging from the ceiling (well, it looks that way). Motion blur just blurred the whole screen. He did the Mona Lisa eyes and mouth effect. The false color effect just turned everything yellow. The comic book effect made everything look like comic book art. (Note from Dave: Well, sorta, it looked good, but I have seen a lot of comic book art, and it varies a lot.)
You can download the iChat effects at http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/26236/more-ichat-effects
Showing text files.
You can drag a file to the iChat, and either send the file or share the file via iChat theatre. In iChat Theatre, you can show that text or PDF file, scroll through it to show the other person. in this case, us Smug members. It was a bit hard to read the text, you need a good Internet connection for this. Another option is to just send the file by dragging it into the iChat window. The recipient will get a request at the other end to accept the file. iChat Theatre also does video, but it would likely have been difficult to see it with much quality. Nico did drag over a project from the summer. Wow, it was a 1 gig file! It worked from Menlo Park, but it was not coming for us. Aw, Nico had to quit: force quit, still loading, will be right back, still here, Nico had to power down his Mac.
Nico's back! iChat was ringing! He tried to demo the video again, and it worked. Nico picked a smaller video file this time, one he worked on over the summer. He got the sound for the special effects from Soundtrack Pro in the Final Cut Pro Suite. Earthy sounds! Oooo, the video showed the secret rock mating grounds. Oh no, the baby rock fell into the water to CERTAIN DOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!! Now a predatory plastic bag chasing the poor prey piece of paper! Mother Nature is a cruel mistress! Oh no, its the king of predators, the trash can, eating innocent trash to lion roars sound effects! EEEEEEEKKK!! A very entertaining spoof of nature documentaries.
Nico's video is an example of what you can do with Final Cut Pro 7. In Final Cut X, your project files are named differently. The older Final Cuts were updates, and the older projects you load onto a portable a hard drive and take to someone else, but any other person with Final Cut X cannot use these older Final Cut projects.
The Final Cut X timeline looks a lot like iMovie; this is really like iMovie 2. Apple supposedly made it easier to use clips, but it means that if you just want to move a clip, you need to select a tool, use a different shortcut key that Final Cut Pro, which Nico found kind of irritating. The browser in Final Cut X is different: Final Cut used to have thousands of clips with strange filenames, now it is supposedly easier to see what the clips are, easy to give them keywords so you can search them without having to use those strange filenames. Nico found this confusing. The keywords would organize clips by keywords, but if you are an editor, you organize the clips yourself, the Final Cut X way does it automatically on keywords, which Nico finds to be kind of a headache. Final Cut X looks different, flashier, and Nico does not know what these flashier tools do. In newer version of Photoshop, the tools stay the same: in Final Cut, the tools are different with different icons.
You likely want to use a professional video editor rather than one that looks pretty. But something that Nico likes is FInal Cut X automatically syncs sound, it matches the clips up on timecodes.
Apple is trying to make Final Cut easier for people, and less of a professional program. Some people who want a professional program are switching to Avid.
Nico started iChat screen sharing: now we see his screen! But Nico could not see us, and if Steve moves his mouse on the receiving Mac, it controlled Nico's mouse. Nico showed his project in Final Cut Pro 7. There was LOTS of audio in the timeline! Lots of separate audio files he had attached to the project, like door open and close, footsteps. (Note from Dave: I have used little audio clips in Final Cut Express, and I can see how a more elaborate video project like Nico's can get lots of audio clips piled up in the timeline!)
The video showed him sit up at desk with piece of paper on face. The video had background music, the sound of a flag waving for the sitting up sound, and paper crumpling for paper movement. In a movie that would show a thousand knights marching, they are likely using a bunch of keys rattling for the sound.
The audio clips used for sound effect included flag waving, an arrow hitting a tree, a car crash, and bird noises. The guy in Nico's video got out of bed outside and started running: the bed flipped over with a sound. In the Final Cut Pro 7 timeline, Nico showed the line in a video clip for opacity, and the sound volume in its audio. He can add a transition to fade out the sound. And he can put in a scream noise and cut it with a razor blade tool. He can change the length of the fade. (Note from Dave: I have also done fading in and out with sound, and it does make the audio a lot smoother when switching audio tracks.) Nico expanded the timeline horizontally to make the clip look bigger and thus easier to edit. He could tweak the sound to level it out. Final Cut X limits the tweaking you can do! Nico could also change the vertical size in the timeline to make the clips easier to see.
You can get plugins for Final Cut. There are filters you can drag onto a clip, like a blur. Nico got a plugin called magic bullet. Nico is a bit color blind but this allows him to still do color effects with a lot of presets like basic, cinematic, etc. There were 12 different types of black and white presets: one is graphic novel. (Note from Dave the comic book lover: Hurray!). There was a vintage tint. and vignette where you can adjust the size of the vignette: an example was a circle around someone's head, showing darkness outside the circle.
Nico showed that you can export then video from Final Cut with different resolutions. You send the video to Compressor, where you can convert and export them, and you can continue to edit your project while you are exporting it. Nico shoots video digitally, so he can just drag the files off to a card. One of his video projects was on 16mm film; that was for a school project (film is expensive!) and he had to send it off to have it converted. Nico says shoot digitally. (Note from Dave: AGREED! I hate dealing with film of any form, it is much nicer to work with digital video and digital photos.)
Nico showed his movie again. Laughing students, someone running down a school hall, now he is in bed with scary sound effects. (Note from Dave: Spooky, I guess.) He fell off his chair and wakes up again. The video got a bit choppy toward the end, but we got the gist. Now again we see the scene with the paper on the face. And he gets a paper back with an F on it. (Shudder!) Now he is sleeping in a tree, now on a rock, he wonders why is this happening to me? And the guy wakes up. The name of the movie: CLICHE. A satire of M. Night Shyamalon. Thank you , Nico, and please invite us to the Oscars someday.
Dave Strom, SMUG Vice President