QuickTime Effects

By all appearances, QuickTime video effects (and transitions) are an afterthought. Adobe provides no documentation for them. Apple says nothing about them in its QuickTime Player folder, and you have to dig deeply to find any explanation of their attributes online?an Apple QuickTime Application Programming Interface (API) reference guide written in 1999 is one source.

Don't let this apparent disregard for this lonely icon fool you. As with QuickTime transitions, there's a lot of power and utility tucked away in the QuickTime video effects file folder. As I've mentioned before, the one caveat is that you cannot use keyframes with QuickTime.

Drag the QuickTime effect to a video clip or its associated Effect Controls palette. As shown in Figure 12.40, up pops the Select Effect dialog box.

Figure 12.40. The QuickTime video effects interface.


Scrolling through the drop-down list of effects, you'll note some familiar names. Several are exact or near duplicates of standard Premiere effects. In these cases, I recommend using the QuickTime versions simply because it's so easy to access this one resource and the interface is intuitive and consistent.

Several QuickTime effects are unique or much better than Premiere's, whereas others pale in comparison.

I'll take you through my eight favorite effects and their subeffects and then list the duplicates at the end of this section:

Alpha Gain? This effect works with a clip's alpha channel, varying the image's opacity and giving the alpha channel transparency. This takes some experimentation. For now, stick to the Transparency Settings (I'll discuss them in Hours 14 and 15).

Brightness & Contrast? Easier to use than the Levels effect for this narrow function (see Figure 12.41).

Figure 12.41. The QuickTime Brightness & Contrast effect has two sliders for exacting control.


Cloud? This is a "fractal noise generator" that simulates a changing cloud formation. You can use its alpha channel to lay the cloud over an image and then give it motion to move it through a scene. It's a very cool effect. Figure 12.42 demonstrates how you control the cloud's colors and speed of rotation.

Figure 12.42. The QuickTime Cloud effect.


Color Style? Color Style is two effects in one: Solarize and Posterize. As shown in Figure 12.43, the two controls for Solarize give you more options than the standard Premiere effect. Posterize, on the other hand, is on par with its Premiere cousin.

Figure 12.43. Color Style is two effects in one. Solarize works better than its Premiere cousin, whereas Posterize is on par.


Color Tint? This is a very nice effect. Figure 12.44 displays its four presets and one custom tool. In each instance, the effect converts your clip to grayscale and then, in the case of the tinted effects, applies two colors to the light and dark areas. Here's an explanation of these effects:

  • Black and White? Duplicates Premiere's effect.

  • X-Ray? A quick-and-easy negative (inverse) grayscale image.

  • Sepia? This gives your video a lovely, old photo style that will come in handy under numerous circumstances.

  • Cobalt? Gives your clip a brilliant blue sheen.

  • Two Custom Colors? Better than Premiere's Tint effect. Select your own two colors to represent dark and light areas. As shown in Figure 12.44, the custom color setting also gives you control over brightness and contrast.

Figure 12.44. Color Tint has four presets and one custom tool with Brightness and Contrast controls.


Film Noise? Offers the following two unique and excellent effects:

  • Hairs and Scratches? This effect simulates hairs and scratches on the surface of old black-and-white film. As Figure 12.45 demonstrates, you input five values for this effect. One nifty feature is that shortly before each scratch disappears, it begins to shorten. The scratch colors are randomly chosen shades of light gray.

    Figure 12.45. Film Noise's Hair and Scratches effect remarkably re-creates the appearance of old, damaged black-and-white film.


  • Dust and Film Fading? This effect simulates dust particles and degradation in the color of the film stock. As Figure 12.46 shows, you choose from four different film types. Because this algorithm performs calculations on every pixel of your original clip, this is a processor-intensive effect, leading to long rendering times and stuttering previews.

    Figure 12.46. Film Noise's Dust and Film Fading effect is a processor-intensive effect.


Fire? This effect simulates a wall of fire across the bottom of the screen. Like the Cloud effect, Fire has an alpha channel that lets you lay it over another clip. Figure 12.47 shows the four parameters you use to control the flames' behavior.

Figure 12.47. Add flames to any clip with the dazzling QuickTime Fire effect.


Lens Flare? This effect is different from Premiere's Lens Flare effect. It creates a more realistic series of flares and, as shown in Figure 12.48, has controls that let you set the flares' movement and rotation.

Figure 12.48. QuickTime's Lens Flare adds a line of flares that can rotate and move, more closely mimicking real lens flares.


The following seven QuickTime Effects do not perform as well as their Premiere counterparts: Blur, Edge Detection (use Find Edges instead), Emboss, General Convolution, HSL Balance, RGB Balance (use Color Balance instead), and Sharpen.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video