The Power of Bezier Curves in Video Editing for Smoother Keyframe Interpolation

The Power of Bezier Curves in Video Editing for Smoother Keyframe Interpolation

Examine the work of professional video editors carefully, and you’ll notice that their animations, zoom, and transitions are silky smooth. Step back and consider your own work – how does it compare? Are your zooms and pans abrupt and shaky? Do they look unnatural and forced? If the answer is yes, you need to understand the power of Bezier curves and how you can use them to up your video editing game, no matter what kind of project you’re working on.

What Are Bezier Curves (and Why Should I Care)?

The mathematics behind Bezier curves has been known and understood since the early 20th century. By the mid-20th century, they were applied to design, allowing smooth curves to be generated by the application of a few control points. These curves can be easily “scaled up,” so they’re well-suited for design applications.

In video editing and video animation, Bezier curves are an excellent way to specify the velocity of an object over time. This provides a template for objects to move smoothly or allows pans and zooms to occur in a natural, organic way. That’s a vital aid in the video editing process.

Common Bezier Curve Applications

Bezier curves are used in a variety of applications directly and indirectly related to video production and editing. Here are some of the most common ways that they’re utilized.

  • Digital Graphics – Digitally created graphic elements are at the heart of many video production. Drawings and images require smooth curves that can be scaled up or down with accuracy, as well as be quickly and easily adjusted to modify the shape. Bezier curve-based drawing tools in digital graphics creation applications make these much easier to accomplish.
  • Animation – When creating animation for video production and editing, smooth motion is an essential element in producing work that’s realistic. Consider your own body – if you’re performing a motion like swinging a hammer, your arm will accelerate throughout the movement. Bezier curves allow animation of this action to replicate this steady acceleration at the beginning and quick deceleration at the end.
  • Video – Consider the number of effects that you may add to a video editing project. Changes in opacity, color grading, and correction, zooms, pans, transitional dissolves – all of these can benefit from the application of Bezier curves to create a smooth effect, as opposed to a constant steady-state change.

Some Common Examples of Bezier Curve Keyframe Interpolation

Let’s look at a few other real-world examples where Bezier curves play a big role in smoothing out your transitions between keyframes in the video editing process.

  • Zooms and Pans – In video editing your work should be either completely obvious or so subtle that the viewer doesn’t realize you’re using an effect to influence their perception of the scene. For the first instance, consider an effect like the snap zoom. These quick zooms in and out will ratchet up the excitement of an action scene, like a chase or an aerial dogfight. An abrupt start and stop are perfectly suitable. But with more subtle zooms and pans, it’s important to vary the speed of the effect. For example, you can slowly zoom in on a character to build tension as they reveal a secret. Utilizing a Bezier curve to slowly initiate the beginning and end of the zoom creates a subtler effect.
  • Text and Titling – The role of Bezier curves in smooth keyframe interpolation may not bring text and titling elements to mind, but text and titling animation can benefit from the smoother interpolation between keyframes that Bezier curves yield. Animated typography and titling sequences often employ elements of text in motion to catch the attention of viewers. The process of sliding a text block in or out of the frame of your video will look much more polished and professional if there’s a corresponding acceleration or deceleration to match the beginning and end of the movement.
  • Animation Elements – Animation elements must be constructed and deployed realistically for maximum effectiveness. When the animation element is being manipulated in a 3D environment over time and distance, the smoothing motion of a Bezier curve is vital. Here’s an example: an animated vehicle approaching from a distance must accelerate in the eye of the viewer, just like you would encounter if you were watching a car approach you on a country road. A Bezier curve can provide the timing to make this process realistic.

Use Bezier Curves

You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to use Bezier curves. Most popular video editing and animation creation programs include tools that allow you to adjust your keyframe interpolation with the use of Bezier curves. As with learning any new skill set, there can be a learning curve, but once you jump in you’ll find that your progress will accelerate (like a Bezier curve) once you dig in. Search for tutorials and experiment in your work. The results will be noticeable, as your work takes on a more polished and professional look.

– Video Caddy

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X Upgrade Adds 360-degree VR Video Editing Capability

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X Upgrade Adds 360-degree VR Video Editing Capability

Anyone who’s familiar with Apple’s upgrades realizes that sometimes big changes appear despite small changes in the OS numbering. The bump to Final Cut Pro X 10.4 from the previous 10.3 version is a great example of this. While Final Cut Pro X is already well regarded for its powerful editing tools and affordability, this upgrade adds some highly in-demand features, including new tools for 360-degree VR video editing.

Positioned for the Future

A little background first. 360-degree videos have quickly become an essential tool in the repertoire of video editors and producers. The experiential impact of 360 videos, with its ability to put the viewer into the middle of the virtual landscape, has proven popular with viewers. Businesses have taken note and increasingly have developed video campaigns based on 360-degree VR videos. Real-estate agents, resorts, and hotel properties have used the medium in a powerful way to showcase their properties and experiences. As familiarity with the medium grows and new uses are found, the demand for video editors who can quickly and fluently create 360-degree and VR video experiences will certainly increase. Demand for video editing software that works seamlessly with 360-degree video will also be in demand.

The 360-degree VR Video Editing Landscape

Several software platforms have loomed large in the adoption of 360-degree and VR editing. Two of the most prominent have been early adopters of 360-degree VR editing tools, and have been proven leaders in the field.

  • Adobe Premiere Pro – Premiere Pro is a popular choice among professional video editors. Its list of video editing tools is exhaustive, and there’s a large community of users and tutorials available to get users up to speed with just about any kind of task. 360-degree VR editing tools have been a feature in Premiere Pro for several iterations.
  • CyberLink PowerDirector – PowerDirector is best known as a consumer, entry-level editing platform. But CyberLink wasted no time in jumping on the 360-degree bandwagon. It packs a big bang for the buck and includes intuitive tools for stitching footage, creating titles, and exporting 360-degree format video productions. One drawback – PowerDirector only works on Windows operating system based computers.

Apple’s upgrades to Final Cut Pro X are a timely response to the need for an integrated and comprehensive set of 360-degree VR tools in the Final Cut platform. While many of the new features and upgrades have been available, at least to some degree, with the use of third-party plug-ins, the upgrades are a welcome addition – and free to existing Final Cut Pro X owners.

Impressive Features for 360 VR Video Editing

As we noted, Apple has been a bit behind the curve on supporting 360-degree VR editing, but Final Cut Pro X 10.4 corrects that omission in a big way. The feature set for 360-degree video is fully realized enough to satisfy the most demanding professional video editors.

  • Import and export – 10.4 will work equally well with consumer level 360 footage as well as with high-resolution video formats all the way up (and beyond 8K) footage. You can share finished videos directly from the program to popular sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.
  • Effects and titles – A variety of useful effects, like blurs and glows can be layered onto 360-degree VR video. Both 2D and 3D titles are supported as well, and tools are available for removing camera rigs from the rectangular footage.
  • Headset support – With 10.4 you can wear a VR headset while you’re editing. This not only saves time in the reviewing process, but it also makes it much easier to edit within the context of the virtual 360-degree landscape.

New Features in Final Cut Pro X

Apple often pairs software upgrades with corresponding hardware updates. Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) 10.4 is a part of this trend, as Apple has added new software features optimized to work hand-in-glove with the new version of the iMac Pro. Even without new hardware, the range of new tools is impressive additions.

  • HDR support – Higher and higher levels of resolution are becoming the norm in video shoots and video editing. FCPX 10.4 supports popular HDR formats for impressively realistic images.
  • Easier to use color correction tools – Apple has stepped up the game with some new color correction tools and interfaces. Easy-to-use color wheels can adjust brightness, hue, and contrast, while ultra-fine adjustments are possible with color curves that let you hone in on specific color ranges. Need to sample a color? Eyedropper tools make it easy to sample specific colors or adjust white balance levels manually.
  • LUT support – Pro editors who need to perform extensive color corrections often utilize lookup tables (LUT) that will apply specific color grading effects to clips in your video timeline. FCPX 10.4 works with many popular third-party color-grading apps – a real improvement for color grading.
  • iOS project import – Like most software programs, FCPX supports many different camera formats and resolutions. They’ve taken that a step further in 10.4. Now you can shoot some footage on your iPhone, start editing with iMovie and migrate the project to FCPX to finish it up.
  • HEVC and HEIF support – This addition allows import and editing of high-efficiency photo and video formats from Apple devices.

An Integrated Package for High-End Video Production

Apple’s commitment to pro-level tools and 360-degree VR editing is confirmed with this update to Final Cut Pro X. 10.4 is a welcome addition to existing FCPX users, and makes it an attractive package to consider for those looking for an editing software suite that covers the cutting edge of video tech. With this update, Apple has signaled it wants to continue to be a serious choice for the serious video editor.

– Video Caddy