Monday, March 26, 2012

The Berenstain Bears

I am nearing the end of my stay at Fox 56 Wolf TV. Coworkers must consider me to be in the “in” crowd now because they are sharing stories and talking to me like I matter; it was a momentous celebration in the office preparing for my upcoming departure (not really).  I still have one to two weeks left though, so maybe I can get them angry at me before I go?

The workload was a bit low for me this week, so I was able to fully appreciate my life. I wasn’t stressed over pending deadlines, I finished all my work with plenty of time to spare, and all in the world was rather peaceful. I even had the chance to smoke a cigar this week (not at work) for the first time in around three months.

My primary boring focus this week was Keylight 1.2 in Adobe After Effects. Sadly, I wasn’t able to nab any of the footage to show you what I was doing but I can easy explain the process considering it is kind of routine in the biz. The same Keylight program is available from the Foundry in Final Cut Pro but it is marketed as Keylight 2.0.

At Fox, their job for me was to key out, refine and soften the edges of all the green screen footage they had for a wedding proposal they planned on broadcasting at a later date. Earlier this week, they filmed a young man on a green screen saying loving things about his girlfriend, memories, personality traits etc… at the end asking her to marry him. I had to weed through the footage, looking to find acceptable clips to use because he was nervous and stuttered a lot, sounding as if he had a social conniption, half the time. I had to get this young man out of that flurescent green environment, maybe this was why he was tweaking out.

In After Effects, Keylight 1.2 is the typical way one would go about "keying" out green screen footage. “Keylight is an award-winning production-proven blue and green screen keyer.” And after a little bit of research on my own, I found that Keylight is used for many movies with green screen special FX. I watched a YouTube video which showed a scene from Harry Potter highlighting the power of keylight.

My first task was to make a simple garbage matte around the young stuttering man planted in the middle of the screen. He didn’t really move much and wasn’t really at all animated so I didn’t need to worry about him moving out of my garbage matte.

There were multiple settings to adjust after I did my initial garbage matte and color key. It was my duty to make sure the clip to his body was done as naturally as possible. After the initial color key, I used clip white, clip black, clip rollback, screen softness, screen shrink, and screen gain to make the edges recede a bit. The main looked a little dark as well so I turned up the screen contrast and brightened the clip so he looked as crisp as possible. My advisor said “good job” and quickly corrected another file after me to “show me up.” The one he corrected definintely looked a little better considering he had about 15 years experience on me but nevertheless, the difference was barely noticeable. “You did great for the first time, grasshopper,” he told me. I told him I wasn’t a grasshopper.

After all the files were keyed correctly, I rendered an uncompressed .mov file with an alpha layer embeded to make sure transparency was saved within the clip.

My work was done for the week.

On the way home, I called my grandma and wished her a happy birthday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Angry After Effects

The submission has been completed. After 15 hours on long work, screaming at the top of my lungs and wanting to punch every ounce of Adobe Software I came in contact with (even though that's not possible because software isn't tangible), Nona Poehler and I completed our submission to the Wilkes video contest.

The video contest at our school was a student competition to submit videos that promote our school in a good light. "Come to this school because it's friendly, warming, welcoming and have a promising future," this was my girlfriend and I's mission. Considering both our lives revolve around our ability to create from scratch, this wasn't an impossible task. Our competitors consisted of every other student on campus with little or no technical skills in relation to film editing, graphics and motion animation.

At Fox 56 (my current internship), I taught myself all the basics of After Effects and how to "key" type for unique effects. If I was never forced to be in After Effects for every project at Fox 56, I probably would have never committed to learning the program. I am happy I learned, learning is fun! Now, I love it. I can't wait to learn more when I get my MacBookPro charger back. Ugh... my charger broke: sad face.

It all started with these ugly cords... 
Much of my life I have dabbled in video editing. It was my self-proclaimed calling ever since I laid a simple audio track by manually pulling an audio cable out of my external dvd burner to plug into my CD player. A simple music track was enough to fulfill my want to create. This was before there was a such thing as a .mov file to drop on my computer; back in the day I actually had to use Firewire to capture standard definition video off a mini-dv tape. Digital files are the best. Hooray for technological advances in the film industry.

During those gray days, I wanted to be Steven Spielberg. I dreamt of making my actors fly across the screen on white unicorns but then I realized I needed to learn the Adobe Creative Suite first. And I also needed to have have talent, talent is important. If you aren't talented at anything, you can't make those actors fly on white unicorns.

Over the course of a week, Nona and I filmed our video separately so we would't influence each other's shots. Nona gathered facts about the school and I tried not to be too intrusive with the student actors. I said "Hello, I am filming a promotional video for our school, do you want to be in it?" And for the most part they said absolutely but their were some rotten eggs who said "Woah dude, woah, woah dude" and I said "Okay, Okay, Dude." Why wouldn't you want to be in an educational promotional video?

We started with a wonderful stop motion animation, all credit to Nona for thinking of... it consisted of a paper folding to reveal our names. A white paper.

Then we started rattling off random facts about our school, trying to put the most important facts in throughout. The "random facts" part was a bit hard for me though because it was my job to keyframe and think of a creative entrance and exit for the text. I made a lot of alpha mats and did a lot of keying (what I consider a lot). A real animation is one big happy keyframe, something I have little interest in... but a simple text animation can make all the difference when you create a video. It makes the video look complete; it looks like a cohesive unit, a big happy family consisting of raw footage, keyframes, graphics and a bit of love. And chicken nuggets from McDonald's, who doesn't love those?

Watch our video below!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Taxes Are Important

I had spring break last week so I didn’t go to my internship at Fox 56. I bet they missed my cheerful demeanor alongside my tactfully outspoken nature on the job site. My springbreak consisted of Call of Duty and a trip to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Scranton… these really weren’t the best skill building exercises but I thought I should live it up while I was young, healthy and moderately attractive.

When I arrived back in the production department in Plains, PA., I was given the task of creating a 10 second promotional video for their website in regards to the upcoming tax deadline. I seem to always get these small projects because they are neat little task with a lot of freedom. I get to exercise my somewhat creative brain.

I previously worked on this project on week one because it was one of the available projects for me to do, but it was terrible and I hated it. I decided it was time to do redo it so I would feel better about myself and my advisor wouldn’t secretly make fun of me with his coworkers. “Look at this 10 second tax web promo Bryan Calabro made,” te he te he… those te he’s are what I would do if I was watching the original one I made.

My first task was to hit the delete button on my original version, I hit delete.

My next task consisted of building a sticky note to go on the bulletin board stock photo I got off the internet. The building of the sticky note took me around 25 hours to make, considering it was a square with a simple linear gradient. I used a stock push pin button because I didn’t want to make one. Then, I turned the opacity down to 77% on my bulletin board so my animation wouldn’t be clouded by the background. I want people to be able to see my animation obviously, I am not dumb. I was kidding about the sticky note, it took me 30 seconds.

Next, I added text to my sticky note using the text tool in Adobe After Effects. I made an entrance animation with the cover of a tax guide on a 360° rotation. This rotation revealed my universally recognized little yellow sticky note; maybe not universally but definitely in our world. Aliens might use bananas for sticky notes for all I know.

I had my push pin on a motion track so that it would bounce up and down dropping sticky notes in the process with little messages to go with the announcer’s voice. The sticky notes were on a simple straight motion track, very easy to keyframe. And I made “myfoxnepa” do a simple opacity fade because I honestly didn’t know how else to make it enter. Sometimes, simple is better and sometimes, “simple is better” is an excuse people like me use to cover up a fact that I could have pondered a lot harder and came up with a better alternative to a simple opacity fade. I had an immaculate cursor come in and click on to make sure everyone knew they could click on the video if they wanted to go to the page; the href would be embedded in the video and go to the tax page.

My music was from an artist on

I was happy with my finished product. Check it out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Atlantic City, A Picturesque Destination

This past November, I made it to the big boy age of 21.  My trip to Atlantic City cemented my big debut into the "real world" with all vices available to me: alcohol, cigarettes, sex and gambling.

The trip began in a bronze Toyota Venza en route to Atlantic City, New Jersey. My quest and self-proclaimed goal to other members (in my family) was to win $1,000,000,000 solely from slot machines. This was all from the two dollars I had from left over from birthday cash. I didn't win.

I took a lot of wonderful (sure...) pictures on my journey throughout my trip. I will talk about each of my favorite pictures so you can put yourself in the moment and catch a glimpse of my life at a wrinkle in time <-- Great book about wormholes. The book took me on a journey, just as I am about to take you on (without Mrs Whatsitt, Mrs Who and Mrs Which).

Atlantic City was dismal for most of my vacation. It was overcast throughout our whole stay at the Casear's hotel. Talk about lame weather... God basically farted on Atlantic City while I was there.

Irate teenagers actually drew a penis in the sand on the beach outside this window right after the picture was taken. They were basically telling "the man" to **** off.

A man (not "the man") was on a surf board also when this picture was taken; he wasn't good at surfing. He was never actually even able to stand up on the board when I saw him trying to "catch a wave." (Mind you, the water was around 46 degrees.)

This was what I looked like throughout my trip (not acid), I was a bit hunched over with a knack for a perfect photo. I was in my "shooter's pose," a pose many photographers around the world could relate to.

This was also the inside the hotel room I was lucky to stay in during my furlough in Atlantic City. I am wearing button down Lacoste Shirt in this picture (I had to say that for my sponsors). I thought I looked like an oil tycoon's son without a gold plated belt buckle and or a gold Rolex. I am a carpenter's son.

This is my sister, Olivia. She is texting on her iPhone like she always is. I hate the kissy face

I was put on earth by these two people. These are my parents: Brian and Julie Calabro. 

Julius Caesar himself greeted me at the entrance to his casino. He told me "Experience is the teacher of all things" and then I asked him how he could talk, being that he was made out of marble. It was time to go into the casino. Sadly, I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the blinking slot machines all coupled with ding boop be bop ting ding noises. I also didn't even want to attempt to take pictures because I didn't have a tripod and I knew all my pictures would come out blurry because my shutter speed would have to be slow.

This "R" was all over the Julius Caesar's casino. It represented his reward's program dedicated to the hardcore gamblers there. The more "credits" you racked up and spent, the more "prizes" you could earn. No one won anything in my family; we lost around $120. We weren't really big spenders. Julius was probably disgruntled.

Check out this wonderfully constructed (but a bit cheesy) hallway in the Pier Shops connected to Julius Caesar's house. All my favorite high end stores with consumer goods I couldn't afford were along these hallways. 

My favorite store by far, was Lous Vuitton. Talk about elegance. And, Unisex. 

Louis Vuitton is well-known for his established reputation in the field of making luggage. In 1854, Mr. Vuitton was appointed as a trunk-maker to EmpressEug√©nie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III. To this day, you'll still need to be royalty or have a grande job to afford his extravagant collection of handbags and other muses. 

Coach was my second favorite store because of their marketing strategy toward women. Look at that pink emitting from their store! The place looks like a little treasure cove. 

While I was waiting for my mother to finish her shopping, I took a picture of this little fake water fountain out in the atrium of the Pier Shops. The water was bubbling, bu bu bu ub ub wub bu bu. Yeah, that noise.

Look at this spiral staircase topped by a couple radiant bursts. This was how you went to the three different floors of the mall, if you didn't want to take the elevator of course. The elevator is in the background of this picture, look... ah yes, there it is.

Outside the pier shops we traveled in search of the candy store along the boardwalk called It's Sugar. Leaving the Pier Shops was sad; all the fun experiences I had there were now gone and forever a fleeting memory. 

The candy shop was filled with an abundance of sweet treats from all different times throughout history. Yum, these candy cigarettes I saw were perfect to prepare children for real smoking! Smoking is like candy children. 

The next part of my excursion, consisted of my family and I taking a brisk stroll on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It was a bit cold, but we are a strong family that can handle it. 

Look at this crew of people hanging around trying to sell rental scooters (Jazzies) for the handicapped, this was a very shotty business practice, one that I would definitely not trust at all. Thank God I don't need a scooter... 

My grandfather fought in the Vietnam War so these statues hold some significance to me. These statues pay homage to all the people who died in the war from New Jersey. The soldier on the right looks as if he was flexing his muscle. He is strong. 

On my way back to my hotel, I snapped this bright picture of the Trump Plaza's entrance. Now, it was time to get ready for supper...

The climax of my stay in Atlantic City was at the Knife & Fork Inn. It is one of the oldest, and most historically charged restaurants in Atlantic city offering a relaxing and ideal atmosphere to dine. Eating here, was the best part of my whole trip. The food was perfection on a plate. I ate a 12 oz filet mignon steak drizzled with their house sauce.

I drank two grande glasses of Chimay Beer with my perfected steak. This beer on draught compounded my delightful experience in Atlantic City.

This custom cake was made just for my dad's birthday. It was a very moist red velvet cake, no need for ice cream. This cake was the best cake I ate in my life. 

The good looking waitress took this picture of our family. We were happy that day. Everyone put on their fake smiles to have this moment trapped in time.

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