April 2014 has come and gone and with it no less than 12 promo projects in a little over 4 weeks. Insane! The upside of course is that with this much content to produce you’re presented with an opportunity to really think outside the box to keep things innovative and unique. One of my biggest projects for April was a combined video/interactive project on DVD for the NWU’s School of Music and Conservatory.

Above: main menu page of the interactive development. The project is rolled out on DVD and is Windows and Mac compatible.

Adobe Master Suite and Avid Media Composer’s powerful green screen editing capabilities provided me with the best possible tools to incorporate a presenter, the School’s Lecturer in Voice, Dr Conroy Cupido, into an interactive environment created in Flash, After Effects and Photoshop. The video workflow basically comprised cleaning up Conroy’s green screen sequences in Avid first before passing them on to After Effects and finally Flash. 

This might seem like an extra step but it did actually save me hours of manual work in After Effects. While Keylight in After Effects is very capable I find that Avid’s SpectraMatte is much quicker and more forgiving for this type of chromakey work. With the limited timeframe we had to complete the project in this workflow allowed me to save a lot of precious hours.

This was also one of the first projects where I used a camera drone. A friend of mine, Andrew Wallis, recently invested in a high-end quadcopter with GPS guidance and an onboard gyro-stabilized GoPro mount and we were able to use this very effectively both indoors and outdoors to film cine-style jib shots for a series of promo videos that accompany the interactive project.

On the topic of drones - I find the current legal issue around their use silly and extremely short-sighted. Clearly these little machines have very legitimate roles in filmmaking, surveying, industrial site inspections and an endless list of other real world applications. To try and legally ground everybody just because some idiot tried to fly his over an airliner at OR Tambo airport is about the same as banning all cars from public roads because someone was caught drunk driving in one. Prosecute the offenders, not the technology. Really, is it that hard for the authorities to make the distinction?

On the post-production side I took Boris Continuum Complete 9 trial for a test run on this project. What’s really cool about it is the set of GoPro presets that allow you to magically remove the characteristic wide angle lens distortion from your footage, right from within the Avid timeline. BCC is insanely expensive but after this I might just look at purchasing their Image Restoration toolset.

Visit the School of Music’s YouTube channel for more videos and have a look at their blog.