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  • McPhee hangs onto ‘American Idol’

    first_imgLocal songbird Katharine McPhee did it again Thursday, keeping her standing among the remaining dozen contestants on “American Idol.” The Sherman Oaks native, who performed Aretha Franklin’s “Think” in the week’s competition, was not among the four aspiring singers booted from the popular talent show. Instead, Kinnik Sky, Ayla Brown, Will Makar and Gedeon McKinney were sent packing during the fifth season’s third elimination round. The contest began with 24 hopefuls – a dozen males and a dozen females – at the start of the voting process. Judge Simon Cowell liked McPhee’s performance, saying the song choice was “a risk, but you pulled it off and made it seem effortless.” But Sky, 28, wasn’t so lucky and received the lowest number of votes for her rendition of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.” “I think you just booked your plane ticket home,” meanie Cowell told the singer. Brown, 17, a student from Wrentham, Mass., fought back tears as host Ryan Seacrest announced she would be leaving the show. “It’s OK to cry,” Seacrest told her, “because you care.” Makar, also 17, from Woodlands, Texas, was chopped after his version of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is,” prompted Cowell to brand him “very juvenile.” And McKinney’s reading of Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman” didn’t help. But after he was dumped, the 17-year-old from Memphis, Tenn., smiled and said, “By the blood of Jesus, I’m saved. This is only the beginning.” Also on Thursday’s show, last season’s runner-up, rocker Bo Bice, returned to sing his hit, “The Real Thing.” “American Idol” continues to dominate the ratings for its time slot, drawing between 25 million and 30 million viewers per telecast this season. Seacrest said more than 46 million viewers voted during the past week. After running three times a week since the season began Jan. 17, “Idol” will now run twice weekly. The winner will be named May 24. “The singers have to show real consistency to make it all the way through to the end,” said vocalist Phil King, manager of the Singing Store, a Lake Balboa shop that specializes in accessories for amateur and professional singers. “You have to be great every single time you sing before the camera. That’s the true test of a pro.” McPhee, 21, grew up in Sherman Oaks, attended Notre Dame High School and worked in musical theater in Thousand Oaks. Her mother, Peisha McPhee, is a cabaret singer and vocal coach. Fred Shuster, (818) 713-3676 and [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

  • 7 Things Filmmakers Can Learn From Incredible Aerial Footage

    first_imgThere’s a lot to learn from this collection of visually spectacular aerial footage.We live in the golden years of drone filmmaking. Everyday there’s a new inspiring aerial reel released online, so it’s not hard to stay in a perpetual state of drone inspiration. One great example is this awesome compilation from Shutterstock. The video features many great examples of cinematic drone footage from filmmakers around the world.Now that we’re inspired, what are we to do with all of this information? Well, there are a few takeaways that can help both aerial cinematographers and filmmakers alike.1. Great Footage ParallaxesWhen shooting (not just aerial footage) you need to examine the foreground, subject, and background to determine if your frame is well-composed. When it comes to drone footage, it can be easy to simply view your footage as a flat surface. This is a mistake. Take this clip for example:Sure, the subject is interesting. You have the Manhattan skyline with good colors, but the movement is incredibly limited. This is fine for certain circumstances, but as filmmakers you want each clip to have the greatest cinematic potential.For a better example, take a look at this next clip.Notice how cinematic it looks when you have a foreground moving at a faster rate than the background. You have the bridge, cars, and skyscrapers in the background, all featuring interesting movement across the frame.2. Dynamic Range is Incredibly ImportantIn a nutshell, dynamic range is the key difference between a cinematic image and a “video-like” image. Essentially, dynamic range deals with the number of stops your camera can handle. A quick way to know how great you camera’s dynamic range is: look at the sky. Is it blown out? Or can you see sky detail? If it’s blown out or almost completely white, you might want to get a better camera or shoot at a better time of day.This footage was shot with an ARRI Alexa, which has 13.5 stops of dynamic range. Notice how much detail is in the bright sky and the dark ground.If you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on an Alexa, check out the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. With 13 stops of dynamic range and the ability to record in RAW, the camera is a dream for aerial filmmakers.3. Unique Perspectives Create Incredible FootageAs with most cinematography, unique camera angles help separate good and bad aerial cinematography. Instead of doing the usual fly-by, try thinking of unique perspectives.This video is a great example of looking at a scene from a unique angle.Instead of shooting from a traditional angle, the cinematographer let the camera look straight down toward the ground. Take this same approach. Drone footage of all kinds is cool right now, but soon the market will get so saturated that you’ll need to separate your footage from the rest. Unique perspectives can help.4. Composition is KeyComposition applies on the ground and the same is true in the air. Instead of simply having your subject in the center of the frame while circling, try thinking of ways in which you can lead the audience’s eye toward your subject.When an audience is viewing piece of video, there’s a fight for attention going on. Good composition will guide their eyes where you want them to be. Composition is not something that can be learned overnight, it takes years of practice to become a compositional master. A quick way to make your compositions better is to treat every frame as a still photograph. At no point should your audience be able to pause your film and not be impressed.5. Color Grading Puts it Over the TopColor grading is essential for separating professional cinematic drone footage from amateur footage. Unfortunately, many filmmakers simply apply presets to their footage or, even worse, skip the process entirely in post-production. This is a huge mistake.Take this clip for example. You’ll notice that while the subject is cool, the real thing that sets this clip apart is the color grading. The artist/filmmaker took special consideration into the color palette of the footage instead of letting it remain flat.All cinematic footage deserves to be color graded by hand, but when it comes to aerial footage this is especially true. In order to have greater control over your colors in post, you will need to make sure your footage has a high dynamic range like we talked about in point two.One of the best color grading tools on the market right now is DaVinci Resolve, which just so happens to have have a free version. You can have great control over your grades using DaVinci Resolve and it’s regularly updated interface is making the grading process easier with each update.6. Patterns and LinesAerial footage gives you a unique chance to shoot perspectives that can’t be found in everyday life. Great aerial footage utilizes patterns and lines to increase visual interest. For example, the following footage showcases a seemingly average suburban neighborhood, and yet it’s visually stunning because of the incredible design patterns created by the houses.Here’s another great example. Check out this breathtaking footage of Thailand. While the footage would certainly be amazing without the river flowing through, the river actually helps guide the viewers eye throughout the composition.Next time you’re filming aerial footage (or regular footage for that matter) make Stanely Kubrick proud and take time to look for lines and patterns.7. Movement = CinematicIf you wanted to shoot incredible footage on the ground, you wouldn’t simply stick your camera on a tripod. You’d try using a slider or glidecam or even a crane. The same is true in the air. Movement can do wonders for boring footage. Instead of keeping your camera still, try playing around with complex camera movements in the air. It takes practice, but once you’re able to maneuver your drone as needed, you can achieve incredible results.This clip is a great example of movement:Sure a simple stagnant aerial shot would have been cool, but the real visual impact came from the camera movement in combination with the parallaxing effect.One particular drone you might want to look at is 3DR’s Solo Smart Drone. The drone was designed to help with camera movements by automating complex movements. Users can set virtual cable cam lines and orbit points while monitoring the footage on their phone. For more info about this drone check out our overview post on the Solo Smart Drone.Want to learn more about shooting spectacular aerial footage? Check out a few of the following links:How to Get Cinematic Drone Shots – VideomakerGreat Tips for Shooting Aerial Footage – Shutterstock3 Awesome Videos Shot with Drones (and How They were Made) – B&HHave any other tips for getting cinematic footage? Share in the comments below.last_img read more

  • Learn How to Animate Twitter Conversations in After Effects

    first_imgLower IconsBegin this project by creating all the smaller elements that you will assemble into the final piece. It’s good to have many little details like the retweet, reply, like and DM icons. Each one should animate on in a unique way.Reply IconStart by creating a rounded rectangle with the shape layer to get the general size and shape. Right-click on the rectangle path, and convert it to a bezier path before adding some extra points with the pen tool and extending the point of the speech bubble.To animate the bubble on, move the anchor point of the group inside the contents before setting keyframes for the rotation and scale. Move the stroke below the group to maintain the stroke thickness throughout the animation.Like IconThe like icon is a simple heart. We draw that shape with the pen tool and add a trim path. Only draw half of the heart, and use the repeater to make the second half using the scale of the repeater. The trim path will the end from 0% to 100%. Edit the speed graph so the trim path slows gradually to a finish.Before the trim path is complete, we can scale up the group’s scale (not the layer’s scale property) to cause the beating. Group the keyframes closer at the beginning and spread them out toward the end. The values are 100, 90, 120, 95, 100 — be sure to ease the keyframes. Move the stroke below the group to maintain the stroke’s width through the scaling.Retweet IconCreate a rounded square with the shape layer tool, and convert that path to a bezier path. Select the lower line of the shape, right-click on it, and choose Mask and Path Shape > closed to open the path, then delete the disconnected points of the curves and stretch the lines a little. Use the trim path to animate this line on animating the start and end to go from 0 and 0 to 45 and 100 respectively.We’ll make an arrowhead with lines by drawing the shape with the pen tool, and then we’ll animate that line on using the trim paths — similar to what we did with the heart to make the line come on from the middle. At the same time, we want this layer to follow the path of the curved line. Copy the shape layer path from the curved line, and paste it on the position property of the arrowhead. Adjust the keyframes to line up with the speed and duration of the trim paths used on that line layer.Finally, create a null object. Duplicate the arrow and line. Parent the new duplicates to the null object and rotate it 180 degrees to form the other half of the icon.DM IconThe DM icon is made of a rounded rectangle and a chevron drawn with the pen tool. The trim path brings both on, but we use the offset in the trim path of the rectangle to move the line around the curve as it comes on.We want the rectangle to complete at the point where the chevron starts to create the illusion that the chevron is part of the rectangle’s line.Avatar IDEvery tweet needs an avatar. This fake tweet is no different. Create a new composition, and make a circle with the ellipse tool by double-clicking on it. We’re going to use this circle to define the visible space of the entire composition, so the color isn’t very important.Set the circle to animate on from a size of 0,0 to 150,150. Ease those keyframes, and open their graph editor. Then, pull the influence handles of the value graph to pop the circle on quickly to beyond the final value (as pictured below) before settling to the end state.Finally, set this layer to Stencil Alpha before adding in other details of the avatar. This could be your own branding, someone else’s branding, or even simply abstract shapes. Whatever you put in here is only going to be visible in the space covered by the circle.I’ve put in a grey background and a couple circles to look like the head and shoulders of a person and animated the position slightly as the circle expands.Background BlockIn a new composition, create a shape layer rectangle that is 1200,280. Add an expression to the position of the shape layer rectangle by holding shift and clicking the stopwatch. Drag the pick whip to the size, and divide that by two so the rectangle is always moving away from the upper left as it changes size. That expression should look like this:content(“Rectangle 1”).content(“Rectangle Path 1”).size/2Animate the rectangle to grow from 0,280 to 1200,280 and use the value graph to introduce some bounce to the movement as the value goes beyond the ending value before settling at 1200.Attach the Null to the CornerWe’re going to resize the large background block, and we want the icons to stay at the bottom of that block. To do that, we’ll use a null object parented to the rectangle. Apply this expression to the position of the null objects:x=0;y=thisComp.layer(“Shape Layer 1”).content(“Rectangle 1”).content(“Rectangle Path 1”).size[1];[x,y]Next, position the lower icons you created earlier relative to the bottom of the rectangle.Handle, Name, and TimeClick and drag with the text tool to create a text block. Type in your desired text block, extending the bottom boundary as necessary. Select any text, such as links and hashtags, and change the text color in the character window.To animate, use the “typewriter” preset. It will change the opacity of the letter as if it’s being typed into place. Adjust the timing to taste. As the text takes up more lines, you’ll want to adjust the height of the background block. Set keyframes just before you need the box to expand and a little after. Use the speed graph to intensify the motion toward the beginning of the change in size.Text CountupThe text counters are text layers with the numbers 1 through to the highest value they will reach on separate lines. The font size is 35, and the line spacing is 55. Add a mask to the numbers you want to see — like a window.Inside that text, add an animator for the position. Animate that position (not the position of the layer) by 55-pixel increments to slide the text inside the mask. Ease the position changes, and manipulate the influence handles in the speed graph to achieve the desired characteristics of motion. Parent these to the null and position them in line with the lower icons.Putting it TogetherWith all the parts in place, and everything timed to your liking, you can take this Twitter composition and drop it into another comp. You could also duplicate the composition and edit all the text fields, retime the box expansion text animators as necessary.Grainy Gradient BackgroundTo make the grainy background, create a solid and apply a Gradient Ramp effect, moving the start and end points to opposite corners. Set the ramp to scatter up to the maximum 512, and choose bright contrasting colors (#1E5EDE blue and #A300EF pink). Apply a Noise HLS effect after the gradient set to uniform and 1% in Hue, Saturation, and Lightness to increase the graininess.Looking for more After Effects tutorials? Check out these articlesHow to Apply Animation Presets in Adobe After EffectsCreating an Interconnected Icon Tree in After Effects + 30 Free IconsWorking with Illustrator Files in Adobe After EffectsSetting Custom Composition Displays in After EffectsHow to Create a Pen Camera in Adobe After EffectsCheck out our entire library of After Effects tutorials here. In this tutorial, we explore how to create the elements of a Twitter feed and animate them for a realistic recreation of the platform.In this video tutorial, I am going to show you how to create a Twitter conversation in After Effects. We’re going to create a tweet (with all the icons), a reply, and another reply. Here’s a quick glance.Pretty cool huh? I’ll cover everything from creating the avatars and animation, down to the text and running RT and Heart counter.Ready to get started with the After Effects Twitter tutorial? Let’s dive in.last_img read more

  • Mailbag: How to Badmouth Your Competitor

    first_imgJohn writes:I am a landscape designer/landscape contractor.  I just took a call from a client about a drafting a landscape design.  They said they had also contacted one of my competitors and I really wanted to say, “Oh, they’re great at mowing lawns.  However, they aren’t very strong in landscape design and construction.”I don’t like to badmouth the competition so I kept my opinion to myself.  I think the right answer is that by working with me they will see why I am the better choice and who to choose will be a no brainer.  How would you have responded?  You’re welcome to use this query as fodder for your blog.It’s easy to answer a question like this by telling you not to badmouth your competitors, to remain professional, and to play your own game. But that’s not the right answer. The truth in that answer is it is wrong to badmouth your competitors by singling them out by name. It’s petty. It destroys trust. It doesn’t differentiate.There are three ways to badmouth your competitors and still remain professional, and the key here is differentiation. If you can differentiate effectively, you don’t need to single your competitor out by name.The first way to badmouth your competitor is to pick apart their business model. If they are the low price leader, you differentiate with a better product or a better overall solution. You can’t say, “They’re not really very good.” But you might be able to say something like, “They’re really very good at what they do. In fact, they’re the low price leader in this space. We cost a bit more because our focus is on design and construction. But we believe that we also provide a very different experience, a much greater value for your investment, and a much better result. Can I share of the ways we help our clients get the landscape design of their dreams and see if we might be a better fit for what it sounds like you need?”The second way is to badmouth the entire industry. This is an especially good method to differentiate because you don’t have to single out your competitor at all. You might be able to say something along the lines of, “Most of the industry is made up of lawn service companies that dabble in landscape design and construction. We think that’s a mistake. Landscape design and construction is a different business. It takes a greater level of expertise. It also requires a different team with a very different level of experience.”The final way to badmouth your competitors does come with some risk. You can badmouth your competitor’s business practices. But you can only do so if what you are saying is true. And you can’t accuse them of breaking any laws. I wrote a post about some time ago. One of my client’s competitors have revenue-sharing arrangements with their vendors, but they refuse to disclose the amount of revenue. These competitors price low, but they make their money on the revenue-sharing arrangement. This is the kind of business practice that you can badmouth (there’s no transparency).QuestionsWhat is the difference between badmouthing your competitor and differentiating yourself?Why do people dislike salespeople that badmouth their competition my name?How can you differentiate your business model from your competitors?How do you differentiate yourself within your industry? Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Nowlast_img read more

  • Chopper crashes in Dehradun hours after dropping Gadkari family, 2 hurt

    first_imgA private helicopter, hired along with two other choppers for the visit of BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and his family, crashed in Ladpur jungles in Dehradun on Sunday barely hours after the group had got down at the airport, leaving the pilot and an engineer seriously injured.Dehradun SSP G.S. Martolia told PTI that the chopper of SAR Aviation was flying to Sahastradhara helipad in Dehradun from Jolly Grant Airport when it crashed apparently due to a technical fault as the weather was clear. The other two choppers had reached the helipad safely.The Uttarakhand government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.The chopper was part of three helicopters hired by the Uttarakhand government to take Gadkari and his family to Chardham yatra, official sources said, adding that the group which had come in the three choppers from Badrinath had got down at Jolly Grant Airport at 1 PM and after an hour the choppers had left for Sahastradhara helipad.The pilot, Navin Vid, and engineer Navnil Kumar were admitted to government Coronation hospital in critical condition. Later, they were taken to a private hospital.Eyewitnesses said the chopper had broken into pieces as a result of the crash and its tail had got entangled in a tree.The debris of the chopper fell close to a residential area but there was no casualty on the ground, Martolia said.”Vigyan Vihar residential area is only 10 feet away from the jungles. We believe that the pilot must have avoided this colony,” he said. .advertisementThe chopper was owned by Swajas company for the Chardham yatra season and was being operated by SAR Aviation.”We are hearing this sad news at a time when we were about to close our chardham operations,” said an official of the SAR Aviation.Meanwhile, state civil aviation secretary P C Sharma said the government would conduct an inquiry into the crash.”We are conducting the inquiry to ascertain exact cause of the mishap. It appeared that some technical snag must have caused the crash. But the main inquiry will be conducted by Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” said Sharma.- With PTI inputsFor more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.last_img read more

  • Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad, Shantha Rangaswamy appointed Cricket advisors

    first_imgKapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy have been appointed as the Cricket Advisory Committee subject to all three being cleared of any conflict of interest.The 3-member committee comprising Kapil, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy was earlier picked on an ad-hoc basis but it has now been handed the responsibility of appointing India’s next head coach.The interviews of applicants for India’s head coach are likely to take place on August 13 and/or August 14. The deadline for filing the applications for the head coach and support staff is July 30The Indian coaching staff, currently led by Ravi Shastri, was given a 45-day extension after their contract expired at the end of the 2019 World Cup. Shastri was appointed coach after Anil Kumble stepped down following a rift with captain Virat Kohli.It is understood Kohli will not give any input on the selection of the next coach.Besides, there will be no meeting to review India’s performance in the World Cup as the “team leaves in a few days from now and there is hardly any time.” Touted as pre-tournament favourites, India to New Zealand in a tense semi-final.Also See:last_img read more

  • Arsenal a beautiful story – Giroud

    first_imgChelsea Giroud grateful to Arsenal after ending ‘beautiful story’ with Chelsea switch Peter Hanson 03:17 2/1/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) oliviergiroud - Cropped Getty Images Chelsea Olivier Giroud Arsenal v Chelsea Arsenal Premier League ‘This beautiful story ends.’ The new Chelsea striker posted a fond farewell to fans of his former club on Twitter Olivier Giroud described his Arsenal career as a “beautiful story” after swapping the Gunners for Premier League rivals Chelsea.France striker Giroud scored 73 Premier League goals during his five-and-a-half-year stay at Emirates Stadium, but has made just one top-flight start this term.Giroud’s chances of first-team football had further diminished after Arsenal forked out a club-record sum to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Chelsea’s pursuit of a target man during the January transfer window eventually yielded results with the signing of Giroud, after approaches for Andy Carroll and Edin Dzeko came to nothing.And their new striker expressed his gratitude to Gunners fans after completing his move.”I spent five and a half amazing years within the Arsenal family,” he posted on Twitter.I spent five and a half amazing years within the arsenal family. This beautiful story ends today. Thank you for your warm welcome. I would like to especially thank the fans for their unconditional support upon my arrival #nananana #ThankYou pic.twitter.com/GofNGAi3pW — Olivier Giroud (@_OlivierGiroud_) January 31, 2018 “This beautiful story ends today. Thank you for your warm welcome. I would like to especially thank the fans for their unconditional support upon my arrival #nananana #ThankYou.”last_img read more

  • RollsRoyce to Power Zhuhais New Fast Ferry

    first_imgzoom UK-based developer and builder of marine engines Rolls-Royce has inked a contract with China’s Afai Southern Shipyard to provide power and propulsion for a third Blue Sea Jet, a fast ferry being built for ship owner and operator Zhuhai High-Speed Passenger Ferry.The vessel, a catamaran, will be driven by twin MTU 16V 4000M70 engines powering Rolls-Royce Kamewa S71-4 waterjets, Rolls-Royce said.The ferry is the third in a series of Rolls-Royce  powered catamarans to be commissioned by the company.Scheduled for delivery in September 2017, the catamaran will carry 288 passengers between Zhuhai and Hong Kong, Rolls-Royce said.In February, Zhuhai took delivery of the first fast ferry, the Hai Qin, which was followed into service by the Hai Jing in March 2016.Rolls-Royce said that during sea trials, the Hai Qin reached a full load speed of 38 knots. Featuring a length of 41.5 meters and a width of 10 meters, the ferries are driven by MTU 16V 4000 M70 engines delivering 2240kW.last_img read more