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Artist Profile

Why I 🖤 Continuum: Kevin P. McAuliffe, Senior Editor

7 minute read

Veteran Avid editor on his top Continuum effects and tools and why the plugin package has something for everyone.

We recently caught up with Kevin P. McAuliffe, a senior editor at Extreme Reach in Toronto, Canada, who has over 20 years of experience as an Avid Media Composer editor and After Effects user. He creates French Canadian versioning (from English to French) for spots, cutting sizzle reels and spot tagging on projects from Disney (Onward, Raya & the Last Dragon, Luca), Marvel (Avengers: Infinity War & Endgame, Shang-Chi, Black Widow, The Falcon & The Winter Soldier), Warner Bros (Godzilla vs Kong, Justice League, Fantastic Beasts), and many others.

Avid editors might recognize his name from guest posts on Avid, articles on ProVideo Coalition, and his popular Media Composer YouTube channel. He also teaches Media Composer at Seneca College. Follow him on Twitter.

Discover why he can’t live without Boris FX Continuum plugins inside his Media Composer workflow.

What type of tasks do you look to a plugin like Continuum to help with on a daily basis?

The one thing that I tell people with Continuum is that it is a one-stop toolkit for everything you could ever think you need. Do you need to blur out logos on a shirt in a moving shot? No problem. Continuum with built-in Mocha tracking can do that. Need to add some 3D extruded text to an animation you’re working on? Title Studio can do that. Does your client want to add a gobo lighting element to a shot to show off the client’s new logo? Continuum’s BCC+Light effect can easily take care of that. Got a ton of green screen work a client needs to be composited?  No problem, Primatte Studio can handle that with ease. Pretty much every job I work on has some element of Continuum in it even if it’s something as simple as adding a drop shadow to a logo.

How did you first discover Continuum and how long have you been using it?

I’ve been using Continuum for so long I don’t even remember when I started using it. I’ve seen it go through so many versions from Title Studio being added (originally coming from Boris Blue) to Mocha integration to BCC+ effects. I can’t remember a time I DIDN’T see Continuum in my Effects Palette. Most Avid editors became familiar with Continuum when version 8 was included when you upgraded to Symphony many years ago.

Which Continuum features do you use most — and why? 

I’d have to say that integrated Mocha tracking has easily become the one feature that I use more than anything else in Continuum. It’s very rare that a static shot comes across my desk.  There’s always some kind of shaky camera or elements moving across the screen that need to be isolated or I just need the ability to realistically add an element like a lens flare to a shot.  Mocha has become so entrenched in my workflow that I no longer need to send shots out of Media Composer for tracking or roto work. Almost all of it can be done from within my Media Composer timeline.

If you could have only one Continuum effect, which would it be?

My go-to effect is easily Linear Luma Key. There are so many times where I’m taking logos off of one video to use them in another video. We do a lot of credit block adjustments. (You know, what you see at the end of the trailer, where everyone’s name is listed on one page)  There are so many times I need to pull the studio logos off that page and use it on a different spot, or maybe we’re formatting it for social media and the framing needs to be adjusted. Normally credit blocks are what we’d refer to as “HiCon” (meaning high contrast). White text on a black background or more specifically bright text on a dark background.  

Need to reformat for social media? It’s simple with Linear Luma Key and the built-in Transform options that are available in almost every effect. Or maybe I need to “borrow” a brighter text treatment that appears on one video and put it over another. Again, it’s super simple with Linear Luma Key. I easily use this effect once a day when I’m editing spots for clients. It’s been an absolute life and time saver. Once I’ve pulled the key and used the built-in transformation parameters to scale and position the element where I need it, I can even add a drop shadow from the built-in drop shadow parameter — all from within the same effect.

What are your top 3 reasons why editors like yourself should use Continuum?

That’s easy!

  1. Stay inside of Media Composer and do all your effects work here as opposed to having to export footage to do the work in After Effects.
  2. Continuum is a fantastic way to build up your skills with an application like Mocha (Mocha’s integration in Continuum is not the full version, but enough to do more than you’ll ever need it to), so if you ever need to take your skills to the next level, there will be little to no learning curve.
  3. Continuum is tools AND effects. Need lens flares? Got them. Have to fix a dead pixel?  Got it. Have green screen footage you need to pull some keys on? Primatte can handle that! Need to remove something from a shot? No problem. Need to create some text animations for a project? Easy!

Have you tried out the Cinematographer Toolkit (BCC+ effects) new to Continuum 2021?

I have and they are definitely a much-welcomed addition to Continuum! One thing that you’ll notice right away about these effects is their realism. The light effect is a fantastic effect that I can easily see every filmmaker using at some point. One of my favorites is the lens flare effect.  Now, I know that everyone is probably thinking that they have one of those in every effects package (and Continuum has Lens Flare 3D), but BCC+LensFlare takes it to the next level by giving you the Flare Editor, which will let you get in and not only create your own custom flares but also modify one of the hundreds of flare presets to create even more! And the best part?  The BCC+ effects will continue to grow, giving us better and faster effects with each yearly release!

Continuum includes Mocha’s award-winning tracking & masking/effects isolation tools. How has this integration helped streamline your overall workflow? 

Adding Mocha to Continuum has done one thing — it has cut down the amount of time I’ve spent on certain tasks easily by half and in most cases even more than that. Here’s a perfect example. I had a show that I was editing where one particular handheld shot had a monitor in it. There was content on it that we simply couldn’t use. The problem was that the camera was shaky and there were objects passing in front of the monitor.  A nightmare, right? Yes, but a nightmare made SO much easier with integrated Mocha across most of the Continuum effects. I needed to use Gaussian Blur to blur out the monitor. I quickly tracked the monitor to add the blur, and then just as quickly added some simple roto to make sure that anything that passed in front of the monitor didn’t get blurred as well.

What’s your best pro tip to artists new to Continuum? 

Training is key. Boris FX has a ton of training on their website and YouTube channel to get you going in the right direction. Whether it’s Mary Poplin’s awesome Mocha training or Ben Brownlee & John Dickinson’s excellent Continuum AE training, there’s something that can be learned from all of it. Keep in mind, just because you don’t know After Effects, doesn’t mean you can’t take the concepts learned in Ben & John’s Continuum AE training, and apply them inside of Continuum for Avid. The same can be said about Mary’s Mocha training. Just because she’s showing you some Mocha Pro techniques, doesn’t mean you can’t take the fundamentals of what she’s teaching you, and apply it in your Continuum for Avid work.

What feature requests do you have for the Boris FX product designers? 

One thing that I want to say is that the Continuum development team is always listening.  As a beta tester, I have direct access to the team, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t have the same dialogue with the team making the effects. The Continuum team are members of the Avid Editors of Facebook page and are always there to help answer Continuum questions, take effect suggestions, and log bugs directly from feedback they receive from the FB group. They are always looking to improve the bundle, and with all the editors out there using it, our feedback is essential to keep the package moving forward and getting better. 

What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on — and why?

I always say that my projects are like my children…I love them all, but for me, it’s the challenge of matching my graphics to the graphics provided by big Hollywood trailer houses that’s really exciting. They set the bar. My goal is to meet that and make it look like what I have created is just a version of something they have already done. As the expression goes, if an editor’s work goes unnoticed, they have done their job well.

I’m excited to push the bar forward — especially in Media Composer — as it’s not considered to be an effects powerhouse. Some of my favorite work is helping get the message out there to the community through my tutorials and articles. There are awesome effects like the ones from Boris FX to use in your projects, take them to the next level, and allow you to offer new creative options to your clients, which in turn will help put more money in your pockets!

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