In Adobe Character Animator, click File > Import and select the puppet file.
2. Import a green screen
Since we’ll want to overlay the exported character animation on other elements in a video editing program, we’ll want to add a green screen so we can key it out. Create a solid green image (RGB = 0,255,0) the size of the scene, e.g. 1920 x 1080. Then, import it and drag the imported item to the lowest layer it the Timeline panel.
3. Enable Puppet Track Behaviors
We can tell Adobe Character Animator which parts of our face and body to track as we move and talk in the camera. Click on the puppet layer to reveal the Puppet Track Behaviors panel.
The red button indicates that the particular item will be tracked when you move in front of the camera. For example, the Face item, when expanded, will show a red dot by “Camera Input” meaning if move your face in front of the camera, your facial gestures will be tracked and the puppet’s face will move accordingly.
For the lip sync item, the red dot is by “Audio Input” so if you speak, the microphone will capture your voice and convert it into lip movements on your puppet.
For Adobe Character Animator to track your head and lip movements, you need to enable your camera and microphone. You’ll see a circle where your face should be centered in your resting position. Once centered, click the “Set Rest Pose”. You’ll then see a bunch of red dots on your face indicating points where Adobe Character Animator will track your facial gestures.
5. Start recording
Click the red record button. A 3 second countdown timer will begin. Start talking naturally and when you are done, click the red button again to stop recording.
You’ll then see some layers added to the timeline including your voice audio layer.
If some of the layers are longer than the audio layer, e.g. the puppet, Visemes and green screen layers in the screenshot above, trim the scene so the duration of the scene is the duration of the audio. Drag the right end of the gray Work Area bar to the right end of the audio track. Then, right click on that bar and click on “Trim Scene to Work Area”.
Now, your scene duration will just be the duration of the Work Area, in this case 5:20.
6. Preview and export the result
Click the play button to preview the recording. If you are happy with it. you can export it by clicking File > Export > Video via Adobe Media Encoder. This will open Adobe Media Encoder. In the Queue panel, choose a format (h.264) and preset (Match Source – High bitrate or YouTube 1080p Full HD). Then, click the green play button to start encoding.
You will see the encoding progress in the Encoding panel. You’ll also see the video duration as 5:21 seconds as that is the length of the scene in this example.
So, in my 2 story house my internet modem is in the family room in the back of the house. The internet comes over coaxial cable by Comcast xFinity 1Gbps. There is a security camera at the front of the house facing the driveway. Every now and then, the security camera would go offline. To spread wifi all over the house, I have the tp-link deco M9 plus AC2200 mesh wifi router (3 wifi access points). The backhaul between access points is wifi, unfortunately. I can’t have a wired ethernet backhaul between access points because running ethernet cable would require opening up walls which is a lot of work. Fortunately, however, there is existing coaxial cabling throughout the house. So, I can use MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) adapters to bridge ethernet over coax so I can have a wired coax backhaul between access points. This allows the wifi signal at each access point to be much stronger than with a wifi backhaul. There are many diagrams and tutorials online but none that I found were clear enough hence this blog post. Below is my setup with a diagram which should make it clear what goes where.
The continuity tester doesn’t work through splitters. Once you’ve tested all cables, you can label them in your junction box like I did below. As you can see, there is a 1 – 2 splitter where the one input is the coax cable from xfinity. The two outputs each go to the master bedroom and family room.
I added a new coax cable to go to the garage but it’s not connected in the picture because I need to add another splitter or replace the existing splitter with a 1-3 (or more) splitter. For MoCA to work, you need a splitter that
is not amplified
goes up to at least 1.5 Ghz (1500 Mhz)
Before and After
You can also bridge ethernet over your home’s existing electrical wiring using Powerline adapters, e.g.
However, these adapters don’t work if there’s a surge suppressor. Also, there’s a lot more activity in your home electrical wiring that could interfere with the signal, e.g. from the refrigerator, hair dryers, air conditioners, washing machines, and other appliances.
It’s pretty clear now that mesh networks produce stronger wifi signals throughout larger spaces when compared to regular wifi routers even with range extenders. But, many mesh networks only instruct users to connect each router over wifi. While this may be fine in some situations, e.g. where you can’t run ethernet between a main router and a satellite, having a wired backhaul produces a much better wifi signal coming out of the downstream satellite router. Here are instructions to set this up using the TP-LINK Deco AX1800 X20 (W3600 if you bought it from Walmart).
Restart the modem
Follow the instructions to set up the main router
Follow instructions to set up the satellite router over wifi (default)
When the light on the satellite turns green, then you know the satellite router is connected to the main router. At this point, since you haven’t connected an ethernet cable between the two routers, the connection is over wifi. You can verify this by opening the Deco app and clicking the satellite router. You should see the “Signal Source” value the wifi symbol followed by 2.4GHz/5GHz.
If you have a laptop or smartphone that is connected to the satellite router, you can run a speed test. In this example, I have a laptop that is connected over wifi to the satellite router. After running a speed test, connect an ethernet cable between the two routers. The light on the satellite router will turn red temporarily and then turn green when connected. Similarly, the satellite router’s status in the app will appear disconnected. Click the refresh button and you should see the “Signal Source” value change to “Ethernet” and shown in the screenshot below. This confirms that you are using a wired backhaul.
Now, run a wifi speed test from the satellite router. In my case, my laptop was still connected to the satellite router. The wifi speed test results were clearly much faster when the satellite was connected over ethernet rather than wifi. This setup is very useful when you need a strong wifi signal very far away from your main router and you can run an long ethernet cable between routers.
Note: I got this 2 router TP-Link AX1800 mesh wifi system from Walmart for $129. At Walmart, the model number is W3600 whereas on Amazon it’s X20.
Modular and therefore can add modules that offer different / better features
HDR (high dynamic range) for better image quality
More advanced desktop editing software
Modular and therefore can be a hassle to have to switch modules, especially quickly in order to capture a moving target
Easy to use without having to assemble modular parts
No HDR (high dynamic range)
Desktop editing software not as powerful as the Insta360 Studio
Insta360 One X2
HDR (high dynamic range) for better image quality
Ricoh Theta SC2
After testing the GoPro Max, Insta360 One X2, and the Ricoh Theta SC2, it clear that the Insta360 One X2 is the better camera.
Virtual Reality / 3D Panorama Software
Marzipano is free and open source. You can use the Marzipano tool to quickly upload 360 photos and then download a complete website with all code to host yourself. However, you can only zoom out so much as shown in the screenshot below.
Kuula lets you upload 360 photos and embed a 360 viewer of your photos on your website. You can also zoom out much more than with Marzipano as shown in the screenshot below.
You can then take a screenshot of the zoomed out 360 photo which doesn’t show very warped and curved lines.
Metareal is a great alternative to MatterPort. You can create floorplans as well and pay a nominal fee to have Metareal convert your 360 photos into virtual tours for you.
In Adobe Photoshop, you can import a 3D panorama photo
In the lower left corner, when you have the white grid enabled, you will see orbit, pan and dolly buttons to move the image around.
Under Properties, you can adjust the Vertical FOV (Field of View) to zoom in and out.
GoPro Player Desktop App
The GoPro Player desktop app will also open 360 photos and let you rotate and zoom in and out. But, unlike Photoshop and Kuula, you’ll get a fisheye view as shown below.
Google Photos Mobile App
The Google Photos mobile app has a Panorama feature but you have to move your camera horizontally or vertically to capture create the panorama. It’s not a full 360 degree panorama but it does support scrolling in Google Photos.
The Insta360 Studio desktop app is definitely better than the GoPro Player desktop app. It’s got more features and is intuitive to use.
This type of light is used to highlight certain subjects or stage pieces with a relatively narrow beam angle.
Parabolic reflectors (PAR)
This type of light is used to light up large areas. They come in a variety of lens types to get different beam angles. This light doesn’t have zoom or focus options. This is the most common fixture because it’s the cheapest.
This type of light is a happy medium between a PAR and an ERS. They have a zoom function but not a focus and usually cast a much “softer” light than ERS light fixtures.
This type of light can move. It offers different beam angles for spot (narrow), wash (wide), beam (laser) and hybrid light effects. It is the most versatile stage lighting option.
Above are only some of the more common types of lights.
To hang your lights, you can get a lighting stand with T-Bar.
DMX (Digital Multiplexing) or, officially, USITT DMX512, is a unidirectional serial data protocol, meaning the signal leaves the controller (computer or lighting board) and travels through all lighting fixtures in a daisy-chain. It was standardized in 1986. DMX networks typically only have one master device on the network, usually the DAW software / controller, and many slave devices — the lights.
The 5-pin XLR the standard connector.
The reason for five pins is that pin 1 would be the ground, pins 2 and 3 would be data link 1, and pins 4 and 5 were reserved for data link 2 and/or proprietary data. Over the years, the second pair of pins (pins 4 & 5) on the connector stopped being used, since 3-pin DMX proved to be very reliable. This is why you may sometimes see fixtures with a 3-pin, 5-pin, or both connectors on the fixture.
DMX vs Audio/Mic XLR Cables
Some DMX cables are 3-pin cables. Don’t confuse them with 3-pin audio or mic cables. DMX cables use roughly 110-ohms whereas microphone cables are typically around 45 ohms. The different impedance between these cables matters with lighting networks and can cause your lights to either not respond or respond sporadically.
Number of light fixtures per DMX cable
You cannot have more than 32 devices connected on a single chain. If you have more than 32 light fixtures, you would need to use an Opto-Splitter. A splitter like the Chauvet DJ Data Stream 4 will allow you to have 32 devices connected to each DMX output connector. You cannot use Y-cables, as this approach does not electrically isolate the DMX lines and would cause data reflections.
DMX Channels / Universe
A DMX line is limited to a total of 512 channels, which is also called a universe. Each lighting fixture you have uses a number of DMX channels depending on how many parameters the fixture has. Lights can also have multiple personalities, or profiles, depending on how much or how little control you want. Note that the 512-channel limit is independent of the 32-light fixture limit.
Let’s say you have 40 lighting fixtures that use three channels each: you are only using 120 channels total. You can fit these all in the same universe of control, however, if you have more than 32 devices. You would implement an Opto-Splitter and split your devices up among the outputs in whatever configuration you would like, as long as each DMX leg has less than 32 devices on it.
Let’s look at the Chauvet DJ SlimPAR Pro H.
This light has three different personalities, or profiles. It can be used in a 6-, 7-, and 10-channel mode, and again the more channels a fixture uses, the more control you have. Let’s look at 7-channel mode:
Channel 1: Dimmer
Channel 2: Red
Channel 3: Green
Channel 4: Blue
Channel 5: Amber
Channel 6: White
Channel 7: UV
Each DMX parameter on a fixture operates independently. Say I was to make this fixture a magenta color. I would turn up channel 2 (Red) and channel 4 (Blue) until I got my desired shade of magenta. However, turning up just these channels on the fixture (2 & 4) would not put out any light. I would also need to turn up channel 1, which is my dimmer that controls overall intensity. On moving fixtures, this control becomes even more complex, because there are other parameters available, such as Pan and Tilt or gobos, again all independent.
The best way to understand a light’s capabilities is by checking its DMX assignments. For example, the ADJ Starbust’s manual shows this.
When setting up a lighting rig, each light fixture needs to be assigned a starting address. If I have four of the same fixture mentioned above in the same personality (7-channel mode), their addresses would be: 1, 8, 15, and 22. All 512 channels of data flow through every fixture in a DMX lighting chain so each fixture needs to know which which channels control it based on channel addressing.
There are many different DAW software, for example, Ableton Live and Pro Tools. They can be used to create music and control lights. This article isn’t about creating music but just controlling lights in sync with existing music. Therefore, the software we’ll use is Show Buddy.
To sync light effects with music (e.g. an existing mp3 file), we’ll use this setup.
Terminate the DMX cable chain by inserting a DMX terminator into the DMX Out port of the last light fixture.
Show (group of songs) You can create multiple shows. A show typically is the name of a list of songs, e.g. Yanni Concert
Bank (a song) You can create multiple banks per show. A bank can be the name of a song, e.g. Santorini
Preset (a light effect) You can create multiple presets per bank. A preset can be the name of a light effect. You can create multiple presets (light effects) for a bank (song) in order of when you want the preset (light effect) to occur during song playback. You can drag presets up and down to order them.
Add a light fixture If the light fixture you want to add isn’t in the DMXIS library, you can search for it at http://fixtures.dmxis.com/ where you can download user-uploaded DMX light fixes for importing into DMXIS. If you don’t find your fixture there, you can create and upload DMX light specs for your particular fixture. It is just a text file defining channel.
Assign each light fixture to a starting address, e.g.
PAR light 1 (3 channels) starts at DMX address 1 (channels 1-3)
PAR light 2 (3 channels) starts at DMX address 4 (channels 4-6)
PAR light 3 (3 channels) starts at DMX address 7 (channels 7-9)
PAR light 4 (3 channels) starts at DMX address 10 (channels 10-12)
Create a “show”, e.g. “Instrumental Songs”
Create a “bank”, e.g. “Santorini”
Create a preset, e.g. “Red”
Adjust the sliders for one or more light fixtures, e.g. by making them show red light
This software allows you to load audio files (e.g. mp3s) and for each song, place a preset (light effect) creating in DMXIS at certain points in the song. Light effects can fade out over a specified amount of time.
Add audio files (songs / mp3s) to the Track Library
Choose the DMXIS show to use in the DMXIS show dropdown
Choose a DMXIS bank to use in the list of banks
Choose a DMXIS preset to use in the list of presets
Drag the preset to the wave form at the point you want the preset (light effect) to run
Repeat steps 2-5 as much as needed
This software allows you to preview light effects.
Create a 3D stage
Add one or more light fixtures to the 3D stage
Patch light fixtures (assign them to DMX addresses)
If the light fixture address assignment in Capture matches that in DMXIS, then DMXIS can control the light visualizations in Capture
Here’s a quick intro to 3d modeling using SketchUp in the browser.
Note: you can use SketchUp online or using the downloaded app. The free version of SketchUp doesn’t support creating Bezier curves. For that and other features, you’ll have to upgrade to SketchUp Pro.
When we create a new SketchUp sketch, we see this screen.
Let’s say we want to make 4 posts for a pergola. The posts are 6″x6″x10′ tall (actual dimensions are 5.5″x5.5″x10′).
First, under Model Info, we set the length format and precision.
To create our first post, we choose the Rectangle tool.
We click once in the 3D space and drag to create a rectangle which is 5.5″ x 5.5″. When dragging, we see in the bottom right corner the dimensions of the rectangle.
Instead of dragging until you get the right rectangle dimensions, just type 5.5,5.5 and then hit Enter.
Now, to complete making the first post, we need to “pull” the rectangle (actually, it’s a square) up 10 feet. Click the “pull” button.
Then click the square and drag up.
Again, to simplify getting the right dimensions, just type 120 and hit Enter to make the post 10 feet tall. Since all measurements are in inches, we type 120 instead of 10. SketchUp then converts the 120 to 10′ in the Dimensions box in the bottom right corner.
To verify the dimensions of any side of the object, click the Select tool.
and then click a side, e.g. a long side of the post, and in the Entity Info panel, we see that the length of that side is 10′.
Now, we’ll copy and paste that post by selecting the entire post, hitting Ctrl+C and Ctrl-V, and clicking where we want the other posts to be.
Now, the 2nd post is clearly not lined up with the first so we have to move it. Moving objects in SketchUp can be confusing to new uses. Here are some ways to move an object.
Moving an object against another object
Let’s say we want to move the 2nd post flush against the first post. First, we orbit the view, if necessary, and select all of the 2nd post.
Then, we click the Move button.
and click on one corner of the 2nd post that we want to touch a corner on the first post.
Then, we click on the corner of the first post where we want that corner to touch. Now, the posts are flush and lined up together with each other.
Moving an object along an axis to line up with another object
Let’s say the 2nd post is higher up than the first post. We want to lower it so that both are on the ground, so to speak. We want to move the 2nd post vertically along the Z axis down until it’s bottom is on the same plane as the bottom of the first post. To do this,
select the 2nd post
click the Move button and click the bottom left corner of the 2nd post
drag up and down until you see “On Blue Axis” which is the Z axis
hold the Shift key – you will see the tip “Constrained on line from point” which means your movements are constrained to the axis you were on (blue / vertical / Z)
while holding Shift, drag and click on the bottom right corner of the first post.
You can also constrain movements to other axes as well.
Moving by Coordinates
Using the dimensions tool, we mark the distance between the two posts along the green axis. We get 12′.
Let’s say we want the distance between them to be 10′ instead.
Relative coordinates in SketchUp are indicated as <r,g,b> or <red,green,blue>. So, if we want to move to 2′ (24″) towards the first post (towards [0,0,0]), we can do this
select all of the 2nd post
click the Move tool and click the bottom left corner
drag a little anywhere to begin movement
type <,-24,> and hit Enter
Now, the distance between the two posts along the green axis is 10′.
Absolute coordinates in SketchUp are indicated as [r,g,b] or [red,green,blue]. So, if we want to move to the center of the coordinate system, we do the same as above except we enter [0,0,0].
Using the techniques above, we can make 4 posts that are exactly 10′ apart and all on the same red-green plane.
Have you ever needed to download a bunch of YouTube videos right before a long international flight for local playback? If so, one easy way is to add the videos to a playlist and use DL Now / YouTube DLG to download them all in one click. The software costs $19 but it saves a lot of time.
If you take an mp4 (mpeg-4) video and put it in a video editing program like Corel VideoStudio and then render the same video without any other assets (images, audio, other videos, etc), then you may find that the resulting video becomes out-of-sync with the audio. To fix this, you can use Avidemux as follows.
Open the mp4 file in Avidemux
In the Audio Output section, check the Shift checkbox and enter a value in the time field. Note that 1 second = 1000 ms. For me, I found that 500 ms works.
Hit the play button and update the time shift value until the audio and the video are in sync.
In the Output Format section, choose Mkv Muxer. This will produce an mkv file. If you choose mp4 muxer, then the output audio will be out of sync with the video again. You can upload mkv files to YouTube.
This article explains how to remove a green background in a video using Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2018 and the NewBlueFX Chroma Key.
When applying a chroma key to a video in VideoStudio, you have two options:
using Corel VideoStudio’s native chroma key feature
using the NewBlueFX Chroma Key filter
Native Corel VideoStudio Chroma Key Feature
To use VideoStudio’s native chroma key feature,
select a video on the timeline,
open the Options panel,
click the Effect tab,
check the “Apply Overlay Options” checkbox, and
adjust the settings.
From my experience, this feature doesn’t work well for imperfectly lit backgrounds. Unless you are filming in a professional studio, the chroma key results will likely be poor.
NewBlueFX Chroma Key Filter
For better chroma key results, you can use the NewBlueFX Chroma Key filter. Disable the native VideoStudio chroma key by unchecking the “Apply Overlay Options” checkbox described in the previous steps. This will minimize confusion due to the application of multiple chroma keys. To use the NewBlueFX Chroma Key, do this:
crop your video to remove any areas outside of the green screen. If you don’t, the background will be gray instead of transparent.
click on the FX Filter button
select NewBlue Video Essentials II in the filter dropdown
drag the Chroma Key filter to the video in the timeline
if the native VideoStudio chroma key panel is visible, close it by clicking the x button in the top right corner of the panel
select the “Chroma Key” filter and then click the “Customize Filter” button
The NewBlue Chroma Key control panel will appear.
Uncheck “Show in preview window” to improve performance
Uncheck “Use keyframes” to apply the same chroma key settings for the entire video. Unless you need to apply different settings for different sections of the video, you don’t need to use keyframes.
If your background is green, leave the “Default – Green” button selected.
Check the “Show Mask” checkbox to show a black mask for any color in the video other than green
Adjust the Sensitivity value until the subject is completely black and the background is completely white. If it’s difficult to use the radial slider, just enter numeric values.
Drag the slider to scrub through the video to see if any section of the video shows a partially gray background or white subject. If it does, further increase the sensitivity setting.
Uncheck the “Show Mask” checkbox to remove the mask and to see the video in color. If you see some of the green background spilling over on the subject (usually around a person’s hair), adjust the “Erase Spill” value.