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BlogWhat is ‘Six Degrees of Freedom’ 360° video?Sunday, November 26 2017

Six Degrees of Freedom – or 6DoF – is a system of recording scenes that when played back allow the viewer to change their view using six kinds (‘degrees’) of movement. Today common spherical video recoding uses multiple sensors attached to a spherical rig to record everything that can be seen from a single point. This means when the video is played, the viewer can…

  • turn to the left or right
  • look up or down
  • twist their head to rotate their view

…as look around inside a sphere of video.

If information has been recorded from two points close together, we perceive depth – a feeling of 3D known to professionals as ‘stereoscopic video.’ This feeling of depth applies as long as we don’t twist our heads too much or look up or down too far – because ‘stereo 360°’ only captures information on the horizontal plane.

6DoF camera systems record enough information so that three more degrees of movement are allowed. Viewers can now move their heads

  • up and down
  • left and right
  • back and forward

…a short distance.

As information about the environment can be calculated from multiple positions near the camera rig, the stereoscopic effect of perceiving depth also will apply when viewers look up and down as well as when they rotate their view.

Here is an animated gif taken from a video of a session about six degrees of freedom systemsgiven at the Facebook developer conference in April 2017:

Six degrees of freedom recording systems must capture enough information that the view from all possible eye positions within six degrees of movement can be simulated on playback.

A great deal of computing power is used to analyse the information coming from adjacent sensors to estimate the distance of each pixel captured in the environment. This process is known as ‘Spherical Epipolar Depth Estimation.’ The sensors and their lenses are arranged so that each object in the environment around the camera is captured by multiple sensors. Knowing the position in 3D space of the sensors and the specification of their lenses means that the distance of a specific object from the camera can be estimated.

6DoF: simulations based everything you can see from a single point… plus depth

Post-processing the 6DoF camera data results in a single spherical video that includes a depth map. A depth map is a greyscale image that stores an estimated distance for every pixel in a frame of video. Black represents ‘as close as can be determined’ and white represents ‘things too far away for us to determine where they are relative to each other – usually 10s of metres away (this distance can be increased by positioning the sensors further apart or by increasing their resolution).

Once there is a sphere with a depth map, the playback system can simulate X, Y and Z axis movement by moving pixels further away more slowly than pixels that are closer as the viewer moves their head. Stereoscopic depth can be simulated by sending slightly different images to each eye based on how far away each pixel is.

Moving millimetres, not metres

The first three degrees of environment video freedom – rotate – allow us to look at anywhere from a fixed point. 360° to the left or right and 180° up and down. The next three allow is to move our heads a little: a few millimetres along the X, Y and Z axes. They do not yet let us move our bodies around an environment. The small distances that the three ‘move’ degrees of freedom allow make a big difference to the feeling of immersion, because playback can now respond to the small subconscious movements we make in day to day real life when assessing where we are and what is around us.

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BlogFree plugin finds and tracks faces in footageSaturday, November 25 2017

For legal reasons it is sometimes necessary to have to hide the identity of people in footage. ‘Secret Identity’ is a free plugin for Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects and Motion that works out where all the faces are in a clip. It can also automatically track their positions as they move. You can then choose which people’s identity you wish to hide. The plugin can then obscure their whole face, their eyes or their mouth. It can also obscure everything but people’s faces.

Here’s a demo video showing how it works:

Secret Identity from Dashwood Cinema Solutions is available for free if you install the free FxFactory post production app store. It only is available for macOS.

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BlogMove over 800MB/s USB 3.1 externals, here come Thunderbolt 3 drivesTuesday, November 21 2017

There seems to be some competition improving the state of external drives. Most workflows are more than served by the kind of bandwidth available through the USB 3.1 protocol. There are always jobs that need more. Barefeats have done a new test comparing the fastest bus-powered SSD from last year with this year’s Thunderbolt 3 drives and enclosures from Sonnet, Netstor, AKiTiO and LaCie.

See how fast they can read and write data over on the Bare Feats site.

VR: Six 4K ProRes streams to the same drive?

Although read speeds are getting very high, write speeds are becoming more important for some productions. As well as quickly needing to make backups for gigabytes of camera media, some VR cameras can have external devices attached. The Insta360 Pro currently has a USB connection for an external SSD. It records media from six sensors at the same time to HEVC/H.265. Soon producers will want to record high-quality ProRes from 6 (or more) sensors at a time, and Thunderbolt 3 might be the answer.

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Blog120 Animation Transitions for Final Cut Pro X – Special Black Friday offer – $39 for one weekTuesday, November 21 2017

From today Tuesday 21st November, there is a special offer on my Alex4D Animation Transitions pack – which applies for one week only, until the end of ‘Cyber Monday’ – November 27th.

Very rarely the FxFactory professional tools app store offers sales on all the plugins. From today, they are offering 20% off everything they distribute – including my first product.

There is no special ‘Black Friday’ or Thanksgiving offer code to apply at checkout. For one week, everything is automatically 20% cheaper.

Alex4D Animation Transitions is a pack of 120 different ways of animating content on and off the screen. Instead of having to apply a series of complex keyframes to multiple clip parameters, just drop one of these transitions on for instant animation. The advantage of using keyframes is that you can quickly adjust the start time, finish time and duration of the animation by dragging the transition or changing its duration.

Here’s a new video showing how it works:

  • Spin, scale and fade clips onto the screen
  • Move clips from any location: drag on-screen control to choose
  • Change animation speed and timing without using keyframes by dragging transitions in the timeline
  • Animate overlaid logos
  • Animate titles
  • Animate connected stills and videos
  • Animate between full-screen clips in the main storyline
  • Animate between clips in secondary storylines
  • Animate off the screen using the same settings, or opposite settings to keep clips moving, spinning and scaling in the same direction as they animated on
  • Scale and spin around around any point on the screen: drag on-screen control to choose
  • Divide clips into two and control the timing and animation of each part separately
  • Crop animations
  • Works in all resolutions from 480p up to 5K and higher
  • Works at any frame rate
  • Works in any aspect ratio: landscape 20:1, 16:9, 4:3, square and portrait 3:4, 9:16, 1:20
  • 32 page PDF manual (10.6MB)

Transitions range from subtle and straightforward presets for editors who want quick results to complex and fully-customisable presets for designers who want instant advanced motion graphics in the Final Cut Pro X timeline.

25 minutes tutoriel vidéo en français par

Traducción de esta pagina en español por Final Cut Argentina.

Buy now for $39 


Buy by credit card via FxFactory

Download free trial

A fully-functional watermarked trial version of Alex4D Animation Transitions is available through at FxFactory post-production app store. The trial version includes all 120 transitions and a 32 page PDF manual.


Icon for FxFactory application

Free trial via FxFactory


If you don’t have FxFactory, click the ‘Download FxFactory’ button.

A little more help on installing FxFactory.

Restart Final Cut Pro X to see a new ‘Alex4D Animation’ category in the Transitions Browser.

Removing the watermarks

Trial version transitions include a watermark. To remove the watermark, select one of the applied transitions in the inspector and click the Buy button in Final Cut Pro, or in the FxFactory application, click the price button next to the Animation Transitions icon in the Alex4D section of the catalog. If you have entered your credit card and billing information, a dialogue box will appear to confirm your purchase. For more information on activating Alex4D Animation Transitions, visit the FxFactory website.

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BlogGenerate centre-cutout guides for ARRI shoots using free online toolMonday, November 20 2017

The highest resolution most feature films and high-end TV shows need to be delivered in is 4K – 4096 by 2304. That doesn’t mean there aren’t benefits to shooting at higher resolutions.

The advantage of using cameras such as the ARRI 65 is that 6K allows for reframing in post. The camera operator can shoot with a very loose frame knowing that editors can choose which part of the 6K frame to include in the 4K master. Also VFX can benefit from the pixels from outside the visible frame.

In order to make sure a 6K camera is being operated so that the 4K area of interest is framed correctly, it is useful to have a frame guide in the camera. ARRI have a free tool that generates these frame guides so that they can be shown on set:

You can choose which ARRI camera that is planned to be to used on your shoot and choose which guides you want to show centre cutout. In this case the 6560×3100 ARRI 65 has guides for 5K and 4K framing (based on a 2.39:1 aspect ratio).

These guides are useful in post, so the tool can also generate transparent PNGs that can be used in the production and post production workflow.

Try out the ARRI Frameline Composer on the ARRI website.

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BlogWhen Final Cut Pro X importing is not enough: A guide to rsync – free media copying toolSunday, November 19 2017

There is a point in post production workflow when only using your NLE’s importing function is not enough. When insurance companies want to know how you are confirming data transfers and where your redundant backups will be stored. Instead of investing a dedicated application for media management, Seth Goldin suggests a free OS alternative:

As far as I can tell, rsync remains superior to pretty much every other professional application for media ingest, like Imagine Products ShotPut Pro, Red Giant Offload, DaVinci Resolve’s Clone Tool, Pomfort Silverstack, or CopyToN. Each of these applications are great in their own rights, and they deliver what they promise, but they can be slow, expensive, and CPU-intensive. In contrast, rsync is fast, completely free of charge, and computationally lightweight.

It looks like the tradeoff is much more power in return for learning a command-line based interface. Seth has written a post that explains rsync’s advantages, how to install it and how to use it on Medium entitled ‘A gentle introduction to rsync, a free, powerful tool for media ingest.’ He includes how to use rsync to copy 9 camera cards onto three hard drives so that the process uses the minimum amount of CPU power while making the most of the maximum speed of each of the hard drives.

Although you may not need to learn it today, it could be the right solution for a friend now, or you soon.

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