VFX for Guerrilla Filmmakers: New 4-week course!



  • It's a 4-week course. Where are you seeing 8?

    Glad you liked the muzzle flash tute!

  • Obviously I am wrong. I'm still not on my game, buddy. 

  • Hey guys, I've tried to be pretty active on the Futurelearn discussions to support the community where I can, on thing that has popped up a bit is the performance of Hitfilm, some of which is due to old hardware or below spec, but some appears not. Here is the thing, is the source video in Simons first tutorial the problem? Is its compression the old age issue that some have seen as a lag in play back? I realise to host and download a DHxND format as this would be large.

    Just want to be able to steer people in the right direction.

  • Performance was always going to be a factor on this particular course because it's attracting such a wide userbase, many of whom are new to VFX in general. There'll be a mixture of low spec hardware, unrealistic expectations and, to be fair, areas where we could improve performance.

    Many thanks for jumping in on comments - that's been really useful!

  • No problem @SimonKJones, I remember what it was like when I first started with new software. Some of these users are using other editing software that has either performed fine or not but they have worked around the issues. Often people see a shiny new thing and think it must work its cool, and in most cases it does, but as we all know the hardware architecture ranges so widely that it is hard to get it right all the time.

    Am I on to something with the compression or am I bowling down a blind alley with no hope of hidding pins 2 ft away?

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited February 2016

    I've not downloaded the project myself, but I betcha it's h.264. Although probably a reasonable bandwidth. 

    Checking the actual project files it's mp4 @43mbps or so.. 

  • edited February 2016

    The files are all different bitrates. The guy is only 13mbps (although the audio bitrate is 350kbps!), the flare is 47mbps and the sparks are 55mbps, which is pretty high for 1080p @ only 25fps.

     Perhaps someone could pass the course files through something to make them a bit more consistent, lower the bitrate where it won't be noticeable (as the guy looks fine at 13) and maybe play with more 'I' frames or make them CBR if that would help decompression speed on laptops with 5400rpm drives?

  • Yep Simon confirmed via the course discussion that the video is compressed and therefore a performance hit would be noticable on some hardware.

  • There's some improvements that can be made there, especially in terms of fast seeking on slower machines. I'll look into doing some optimisations.

  • edited February 2016

    Without getting technical the tutorial example videos could be encoded in Baseline profile in AVC verses High/Main.  That would increase decode performance. At least turn CABAC encoding off, even if High profile. Baseline does not allow CABAC. CABAC and the loop deblocking filter are two items that can sap decode performance in AVC.

    The loop deblocking filter is something Hitfilm  could turn off on any AVC file in something like a preview display mode. Half/Quarter view certainly.

  • I'm so happy I signed up for this course. I actually signed up for another on  futurelearn. Exciting!

  • @johnnyjelko - there's tons of great FutureLearn courses. It's well worth browsing the other stuff they have on offer.

  • @SimonKJones I'm seeing that! Just forwarded a course on Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales for my wife and daughter

  • @Triem23 what muzzle flash tutorial???

  • @Palacono Aladdin posted it. Get thee to the Hitfilm YouTube page and subscribe, because right now they're putting out one a week. It alternates a Kirstie/Josh tutorial focusing on on-set topics with Simon doing related VFX. 

    Incidentally another way to do muzzle flashes is procedurally with fractal noise. This is an AE tutorial, but easily translated into Hitfilm. 


  • Also one can always get good Hitfilm news and info from the application startup Home  tab. Latest News and Video tutorials tabs. That is where I always found out about things.

    Now that Hitfilm are on a weekly schedule (Tuesdays I think) I impatiently go straight to Youtube for the new videos.


  • Aha. OK, I usually go to YouTube when I see something pop up in Hitfilm.

    OK, just went and watched the videos. I'm pretty sure Josh and Kirstie could be replaced by a page of bullet points on a blog page somewhere. In fact, that would be more useful, because I could cut'n'paste the info somewhere to read again, as I'm never going to watch one of their videos twice.

    Well...the first muzzle flash tutorial was clear, informative and easy to follow, and I learned a lot from it, even though it's been covered before.

    But the second one skipped a lot, I mean: a lot, of steps.

    Why? What was with the blithely passing over the complexity and steps required to move the (two?) masks around to follow the second gunman? I don't think anyone who wants to emulate that is going to be able to join the dots between the two examples (the first was about a 2, the second a 4) without a lot of frustrated experimenting.

    I know how to do those extra steps because I've learned through lots of frustrated experimenting myself, and it's only because I needed to do something that there was no instruction for that I persevered. I'm 99% sure I'm not doing it the most efficient way, though. New potential customers will say "screw that" and go onto something else. You're only making work for yourself (or other helpful people) in the forums!

    Hand rotoscoping the (two) masks on a fast moving figure is going to be slow and painful the first time, even if you're told how to do it, which you aren't here, nor are there any pointers to other videos to explain it. Pretending it's all just 'more of the same' compared to the first example doesn't help anyone. People who try it will know you lied when you say how easy it is to do in Hitfilm. 

    How about a bit less puff and a bit more meat in the next video please?

    I did learn something new though: the Demult effect is now the fourth way I know you can composite stock footage onto something. So many ways to do that and still no scopes. :(

  • I thought that Simon's video was an excellent tutorial and very clearly presented.  I am also a big fan of Josh and Kirstie's videos, so please continue to make them.  I am very pleased with the Hitfilm software, and I am grateful that I have it in my arsenal of tools that I use to make videos and films.  Is the Hitfilm software practically perfect in every way? No, but I have not found a piece of software that is.  Nor is anything else for that matter... except of course for Mary Poppins. :)

  • edited February 2016

    @senseihaynes I'm not saying Hitfilm isn't an excellent piece of software, it's just that sometimes the tutorials are like: "Here I have a box of tools and some wood. Take the saw and start to cut one of the pieces of wood. After some effort and practice, you too can create a scale model of Noah's Ark like I've done here."

    By all means do 'beginner tutorials' to show how to get great results with only a few steps in Hitfilm; while also  explaining how part of that process is planning the shot to make life easier for yourself later. The first part of the muzzle flash video was an excellent example, although it dismissed the use of tracking without explaining what it was and why you would (or in this case: wouldn't) want it. To a complete beginner, it probably sounded like: "Don't worry about using the flinge splanning feature; it's only necessary if you want to mogglify your flurp pingles, on a Tuesday"

    But, the second half could have been an advanced 20-30 minute tutorial covering all the tasks to get to the final result: the manual adjustment of points and restarting of the tracker when the gun barrel went off screen? "...occasional bit of manual nudging..." was all that got.  Then actually rotoscoping and moving the mask about and doing the whole thing from start to finish would have been much more useful. And honest. Pretending that some things aren't going to be difficult is pandering to the lowest common denominator of people who expect an easy fix for everything at the push of a button. Some things require effort, so show the effort and how rewarding the results can be if you're prepared to put it in.

    The whole process was presumably video captured, so how about a "Director's Cut" of the tutorial with more (all of the)  details; warts and all?

  • The style of tutorials we make aren't really the 'warts and all', hour long approach of, say, Video Copilot. At the same time, we don't do the rapid fire approach of Film Riot. We tend to fall somewhere in the middle.

    That said, I've just gone through the video and added info cards at appropriate points which link off to tutorials on tracking, rotoing masks and animation in general. That way the tutorial remains focused, while still providing the additional information for people who need it. I'll aim to do that for future vids as well.

  • Tutorials take time. Also, Simon's been busy on the course this thread is about. So a 30 minute tutorial wouldn't have been done on deadline. 

    I disagree about the Muzzle Flash tutorial needing to talk about tracking since Hitfilm has done several tracking tutorials already, and, frankly, Simon just doesn't need to cover it again. However, I would agree that it would be helpful to say, "For more information on tracking in Hitfilm, see this, this and this (links also in description) as well as other tutorial this, this and this on Muzzle Flashes. 

    See, my critique would be that some of the newest tutorials are redundant, covering information already presented in HF2/3 tutorials where the execution hasn't changed. But there's some catering to users who will complain if you point them at a Hitfilm 2 Ultimate tutorial, because that different shade of UI gray is confusing. 

    As far as Kirstie/Josh tutorials go, yes, they are covering super basic checklist stuff, but, again, many users don't know that stuff. They slam their cameras into Auto, then wonder why they have crap footage. Now, users like me are way way beyond what they cover (Although the YouTube one had things I didn't know--like YouTube being more likely to actually tell subscribers about uploads if one uses a consistent time and date.), but it's valid subject matter. Also they've hit a few things I am flipping tired of answering, so video reference is good. 

    @Ady @SimonKJones a thread on tutorial wishlists and critique seems in order--perhaps starting with comments split from this thread. 

    Although it should be noted week one of the Futurlearn course covers... Oh, yes, tracking! 

  • edited February 2016

    @Triem23 it didn't need to talk about Tracking in the first part of the video, it needed to explain that it's use was actually being foreshadowed. "...which we'll cover in the second half of this video...".  Basic narrative tactic.

    Any time you find yourself mentioning a 'Feature' (capital letter), then a link to that feature would be helpful.

    So the sentence "We're going to Rotoscope the Mask" Generates 2 links to Mask and Rotoscoping videos. "We need to Keyframe the position" generates one to Keyframing.

    Even the choice of screen layout could be mentioned "I'm using the Compositing screen layout <click>", as the default doesn't look like that.

    @SimonKJones, adding the "Suggested Info" in a few places is helpful, although easy to miss if you're watching what's on screen. I nearly missed them and I was looking for them, based on you saying they were now there. Putting the same links in the comments with a big banner "Check Comments Below for Related Video Links" over the end of the video would highlight them even more.

    Also, as you're showing off Hitfilm 4 Pro, but have a link to Hitfilm 3 Express in the comments, another link to the specific Add On packs you'd need to recreate the tutorial in Express might be useful, to forestall  any "How do I do this in HF Express...?" comments.

    Unless you go out of your way to pick a feature that requires a new Add On for every future video you do, you shouldn't get accused of cynical Upselling, :)

    Perhaps a comment that if people find themselves needing a lot of Add Ons, they might want to consider the full program, as it's ultimately better value for money? Honesty leads to trust, leads to sales.

  • Without a doubt, I am an absolute beginner when it comes to film making, so any tutorial is a good tutorial for me.  I have seen plenty of tutorials that are bewildering to me, but none of Simon's, Axel's, Josh and Kirstie's, or Mike's (Triem23) tutorials and/or written explanations fall under that category.  If they mention something that I don't know about or I don't understand, then I go searching for an answer, and usually it is pretty easy to find.  I appreciate that everything is not spoon fed to me, and that part of the excitement of learning is searching for and finding answers.  I know that I have a long way to go about learning the craft of film making, but as Abraham Lincoln once said, "I may be moving slow, but I'm always moving forward."

    What I don't do is complain about every little thing I see.  Quite the opposite, I am grateful for the resources that I have here in this community, and I am quick to thank everyone who takes the time to help me.  Thanks to Simon, Axel, Josh and Kirstie, Mike, and all the other community members who have patiently answered my questions, even though to you they may have been dumb or redundant questions.  You are the best!

  • @Palacono I understand your frustration, I want to learn something new and have all the info to do it fast and make something good, but that takes time, and as with all these videos often (not always - still waiting for my Stabilization vid, the exsisting one offers nothing) but you just have to go out and combine bits. It's not easy, but thats the point, if it was stupidly easy everyone would fireoff the same looking effects.

    Personally I get enough from the Hitfilm videos and when sometimes I dip into a community vid that is 30mins long and often skip lots of bits.

  • I agree, the quality of the tutorials that the HitFilm crew have been putting together has been consistently high. They're developing features more quickly than they're adding tutorials to cover them, though ;)

    One thing I'm wondering, is there a way to implement light wrapping in HitFilm? I tried it, but haven't found a way to make it work. Might be that I missed something, of course.

  • Can you be more specific about what you're looking to do, that isn't covered by the 'light wrap' effect?

  • edited February 2016

    Wait, I overlooked the 'light wrap' effect? Ack...

    Sigh... I should do a quick test this afternoon and show a comparison of what it takes to do in HitFilm vs what it takes in MambaFX (which is Mistika w/o a timeline). It ended up being something like 20 nodes...

  • @WhiteCranePhoto to share a Simon tip, when you play with Light Wrap, set the blend mode to "Lighten" not the default Screen. @SimonKJones get a dev to change that, chop-chop! That's just a flag. ;-) 

  • @Andy001z For stabilization, I also needed a good way to do it that wasn't just locking to a point, or removing X or Y or rotation; and I've come up with a method that allows you to adjust how much of an effect you want it to have as the shot progresses that works really well. Gives me better results than several other software solutions I have tried (Boris, Sony, VirtualDub plugin), Works best for scenes where you can track a couple of points throughout if you want to be able to remove rotation, or a single point for just up/down/left/right. I'll have to shoot something to demonstrate it and knock up a video. While making one to cover the gaps between "muzzle flash part 1" and "muzzle flash part 2" I discovered an interesting bug, so that video will be going up first.

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