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Blender is a powerful open-source tool for 2D and 3D graphics, full-on animation, compositing, and post-production. It is used to create movies and special effects, even in HD. In Blender Essential Training, Roger Wickes offers new Blender users a thorough explanation of its interface, tools, and features. He also demonstrates practical techniques and shows how to access the online and openndash;content resources of this amazing tool. Specific 3D techniques covered include navigating in 3D space, using cameras and lights, and rendering. Roger demonstrates how to rig, animate, and composite a character over live action. Exercise files accompany the course.
The purpose of this video is to introduce you to the VSE. The VSE stands for the Video Sequence Editor. It is almost like a separate functional component of Blender that is used to arrange and sequence and merge and overlay and do all sorts of neat stuff to the video that comes from either the CG Scene or from a saved file. I'd like to go over this Desktop now, because there's a couple of really neat things that are going on here that help you to be very productive in using the VSE. You access this desktop by selecting it from the Screen Layouts.
A similar sort of desktop layout is in the standard B.blend that comes with Blender, or it's in number 7 in the B.blend that I've given you. There's a couple of different window types that are used here. One is this VSE window. In the VSE window, there's actually two windows here. One is the Image Display Mode that shows you the results of a channel. The Display Mode is selected right here.
We have the Image Preview, which is what this mode is in right now. We also have the Sequence view, which is what this window is in here. We also have a Luma Waveform, which maps the luminescence of the image, as well as Chroma Vectorscope and Histogram and I'll show you those as soon as we get some video edited. So, the first thing we want to do is go ahead and load up some video. VSE works with the concept of strips. Just like you have strips of film, the VSE works on strips of video and/or audio.
To add a video strip, we just click Add and then depending on what we want to add, we have a couple of choices here. We can add a movie that has the interleaved audio already in with it. We can add just a movie file without an audio track. We can load a sequence of images or a single image. We can also load in the scene from the active Blend File. We have two options for adding audio, one is from the hard drive and another is from Random Access Memory where the audio is loaded into memory.
We have another video on that. Then also, we have a whole bunch of different special effects that we're also going to be going over. But for right now, let's add Movie + Audio (HD) and down in your Library, under Images, under the Garden Spot folder, we have a couple of video strips that we can work with. Let's click on the Intro section for the Garden Spot and just select it. Now, as soon as you'll select it, we now have the strip that comes in that represents the movie strip and as we're moving our mouse, we're moving it up and down and left and right.
Left and right changes the frames start and up and down changes the channel. I'm going to talk a little bit about channels later on. So, let's go ahead and just drop it almost anywhere, because we're going to be moving it using some of the Edit panels. So, now if we click somewhere on an empty channel, we can see that this strip has now two strips. One strip is the movie itself, the frames, and then the other strip is the audio section. So, if we click here towards the beginning, we can see that on frame 112, she is getting ready to go and then we'll also be listening to the audio and like that as well.
If we wanted to examine this from a luminescence standpoint, we get a graph that shows us across the image how the luminescence varies and it shows us basically where the luminescence center of the image is. We also have a Chroma Vectorscope, which shows us graphically the distribution of the colors within the image, and obviously since this is a green screen, we're pretty heavily weighted down here towards the green end of the spectrum and we're almost devoid of blues and purples.
You can use these for achieving color balance and color matching between shots. Going on to the Histogram, that shows us in terms of Red, Green and Blue across the color spectrum how much color of each channel there is. So, coming back to Image Preview. Let's look over here. There's this whole separate subcontext under Scene Sequencer that has a couple of panels that control and show you the amount of information that's available about a particular strip.
So, let's right-click on the image strip to get information about the image. First up, we can see that the Input panel shows us where the file is coming from, the folder, what its name is and if this is ever updated, if say we're working on this and somebody else is still doing rendering and they update the rendering and redo it and they plop the new file in there, we can click the Reload button here to go ahead and refresh our strip with the latest and greatest. We can also do some automatic cropping right on the fly.
I believe I mentioned that a lot of times the green screen does not cover the entire width of the camera display. So, you have to do some automatic cropping from the top and bottom corners and up to the upper right corner. We can also automatically translate and shift this image anywhere within the screen by setting the X and Y Offsets. We can also trim this in time automatically by offsetting and setting the Start and End time in the animation. For MPEG types, we can do some Preseek which helps to speed up the loading.
Speaking of speeding up the loading, this is an HD sequence and so we're going to be putting out nHD as we can see here. So, what I've done is I'm only rendering at 50%. I can also use proxies and when I use a proxy, the Sequencer will automatically that huge HD picture and since I'm going at 50%, it will create effectively-- they're not really thumbnails, but they're 50% sized images and those are much, much faster to work with.
When you do that, you have to specify the directory that you want to use or it will use the sub-directory underneath wherever the folder is and then you click this to rebuild the proxy and it will go through and build up a frame sequence for those images. That also saves some time if you have a complicated codec and they're trying to extract frames out of this MOV file. Now, you'll get a frame sequence that's also a little faster to work with. We also have some filters that we can apply right off the bat. If it's a premultiplied image, we can go ahead and click Premultiply for dealing with those Alpha values.
If it is interlaced footage, then we can automatically de-interlace it. We can also flip it on the X and the Y side, just the same way that the Flip Note does within the Compositor. We can also flip it in time. We can actually reverse this strip right off the bat, so that the frames kind of invert and it runs it backwards. We can also multiply the colors to go ahead and enhance the colors and brighten everything up or darken it down. But this is actually properly balanced, so we don't need to use a number different than 1.
We can also select every other frame or every third frame or every fifth frame to do kind of a slowdown motion effect. If this was, for example, some massive footage. It's recorded actually at 60 frames per seconds, and you don't need 60 frames per second, though you can strobe every other frame and end up with a video that's only 30 frames out of this clip. We also have some automatic color balancing controls, we can do lifting, gamma correction and we can do some automatic gaining by setting the color of the Gain or the Gamma and/or the Lift.
Down here in the Editing panel, we can name the strips. So, we'll go ahead and then name it Megan. A lot of strips can crossover with or replays or Gamma Over or Alpha Over other images and other strips as we layer them on. So, that saves us from having to add in any extra effect or anything like that. We can also Blend Over. When we automatic blending of multiple strips, we can change the opacity of the blend. If we're dealing with a strip and we don't want to see it, because it's interfering with some other strips that we're working on, we can mute the strip and then that takes it out of the video pipeline.
Here's where we can change the starting and ending and channel of the strip. So, rather than trying to drag it and drop it precisely here using the mouse, I always just click in here and we can just type 1 and then that starts it at the very beginning. We want to come over and reset also then the audio, because we want the audio to set right up with the video. In this case, we don't have the clapper, but this slate clapped before this and then we could use that to sync up the audio with the video, if the audio and the video had come in on separate tracks.
In this case, the audio is already interleaved with the video. So, we don't need to worry about resyncing them. All we need to do is make sure that they're starting at the same spot. Now, channels is kind of difficult to talk about without adding on some channels. So, let's go ahead and right-click on the movie and go ahead and let's process this green screen out of here. So, what we want to do is we want to Add > Effect > Plugin and I've downloaded the greenscreen plug-in for the VSE. Paprmh coded this and a shout out to Pap. He did a great job on this plug-in.
A plug-in is a dynamically loaded library of code software that's loaded as needed, so it doesn't take up a lot of extra memory until you actually use it. You can download these from the web and the one I've given you is in your Library under plug-ins and it's called greenscreen. So, you just click on that, click Select Plugin and click to drop it in place. Now, this plug-in is now on Layer 5. This is channel 5 right here. This is channel 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0.
Channel 0 is the net effect of everything. If I wanted to select a different channel, I can do it up here and look at just the video that's in a particular channel. So, to enable this green screen, we just click greenscreen. So, now we have different things on different strips. Notice that the video strip is blue, the audio strip is green and then the plug-in here is kind of olive color. So, we use different colors to denote the different kinds of strips.
If we added in an Image Sequence, it would be purple for example. The other window in this desktop that I like to talk about is down here in the corner just kind of hiding out and it is a way for us to use an IPO curve to control the effect of a particular strip. So, we add an IPO curve to this strip simply by holding the Ctrl key and clicking and when we do that, we define a curve that goes from 0 to 100% of the strip, okay, and applies whatever effect there is to it.
So, we can Animate, Fade-in, Fade-out, Crops, Translate. So, for example, if I wanted to translate her from one section down to another, and have her move, then I could just automate that and Translate effect over time and then she would scoot down into the corner. Like say if I wanted to do multiple fades-in and fades-out. Without anything else going on, just adding an IPO curve fades-in this video strip.
So, that's the VSE desktop layout, the different windows, the different modes and what they do and this steps us up for actually doing some work now.
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