Why buy-to-let property could be the biggest investing misstep you can make in 2020

first_img I would like to receive emails from you about product information and offers from The Fool and its business partners. Each of these emails will provide a link to unsubscribe from future emails. More information about how The Fool collects, stores, and handles personal data is available in its Privacy Statement. See all posts by Harvey Jones Image source: Getty Images Why buy-to-let property could be the biggest investing misstep you can make in 2020 Enter Your Email Address Click here to claim your copy now — and we’ll tell you the name of this Top US Share… free of charge! Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we’re offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our ‘no quibbles’ 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee. Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.center_img The writing is on the wall for buy-to-let, although the truth is, it’s been there ever since former Chancellor George Osborne unveiled his tax crackdown in 2015.Tax attackThat’s when he announced that landlords would face cuts in the tax relief they can claim on mortgage interest payments, to a maximum of just 20%. The cut, introduced over four years from April 2017, was designed to create a “level playing field” between homeowners and investors, and it has certainly levelled the buy-to-let market.5G is here – and shares of this ‘sleeping giant’ could be a great way for you to potentially profit!According to one leading industry firm, the 5G boom could create a global industry worth US$12.3 TRILLION out of thin air…And if you click here we’ll show you something that could be key to unlocking 5G’s full potential…Growing numbers of private landlords are exiting the market because they struggle to make ends meet, and we can expect a further exodus this year. A quarter of landlords plan to sell at least one of their properties in 2020, new research from Simply Business shows, blaming uncertain market conditions, government reforms, and tax increases. An astonishing half a million homes could be put up for sale.Stamping downLandlords also face a 3% stamp duty surcharge on purchases, which bumps up the levy on a £300,000 property from £5,000 to £14,000. No wonder 82% of landlords are not planning on buying any properties in 2020, according to Simply Business. Just 13% said they would buy this year.Along with tax increases, the other main reason landlords are selling include increased government red tape, such as House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing, which added new stipulations on the minimum size of rooms and banned administration fees.Other issues include rising rental costs, economic instability, and slowing house prices. This means income from rental isn’t just under pressure, capital growth is too.This confirms my opinion that the life is being squeezed out of the once hugely attractive buy-to-let sector. Remember, the Treasury has even reduced ‘wear and tear’ allowances for landlords. When the government effectively goes to war on an investment, resistance is futile.Shares are so much easierAmateur landlords also have all the effort of doing up and maintaining a property, finding and replacing tenants, appointing and paying a managing agent, and sorting out the income tax and capital gains tax. House prices are also expensive, and continue to slow. Despite December’s pick-up, prices rose just 1% last year, according to Halifax.By comparison, the US S&P 500 index rose 27%, the global MSCI index jumped 25%, and the FTSE 100 grew more than 10%.The other big advantage is that if you invest inside a Stocks and Shares ISA, you do not have to pay any income tax or capital gains tax on your returns, for life. Also, there are no leaking roofs to fix, lazy letting agents to chase, deposits to collect, or tenants to chivvy into paying their rent.You can build a portfolio of top FTSE 100 stocks in just a few minutes, then sit back and leave your capital to grow and your dividend income to roll up, making you steadily richer. Here are three FTSE 100 stocks you could buy for an ISA today.Of course, share prices can be volatile, and do not rise every year, but in the longer run the general trajectory is upwards. And whatever happens, it will be a lot less bother than a buy-to-let. Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s quite the statement from Motley Fool Co-Founder Tom Gardner.But since our US analyst team first recommended shares in this unique tech stock back in 2016, the value has soared.What’s more, we firmly believe there’s still plenty of upside in its future. In fact, even throughout the current coronavirus crisis, its performance has been beating Wall St expectations.And right now, we’re giving you a chance to discover exactly what has got our analysts all fired up about this niche industry phenomenon, in our FREE special report, A Top US Share From The Motley Fool. Harvey Jones | Sunday, 12th January, 2020 “This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon in 1997” Our 6 ‘Best Buys Now’ Shareslast_img read more

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A master’s degree that’s more than something to sing about

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.A person who sings, plays many instruments, and is fluent in four languages can garner so many opportunities it’s hard to focus. What to make of one’s mastery?Jeniris González-Alverio, 29, decided on music therapy, using the power of music and song to help children and adults recover from injuries and overcome disabilities.“If there’s one thing my life is focused on, it’s using my skills and resources to change the world for the better. I want to be of service,” said González-Alverio, Ed.M. ’18.Her parents weren’t musical, but González-Alverio was a natural singer and musician from an early age. She can play “at least” 10 instruments, including piano, guitar, ukulele, drums, bass guitar, flute, and piccolo. Languages have come easily too. She’s fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and American Sign Language.González-Alverio was a teenager when she first thought about music therapy: She noticed while singing lullabies to a baby cousin that the sound of her voice calmed him.Music therapy is the therapeutic use of music to address individuals’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and/or social needs, according to the American Music Therapy Association.Becoming a music therapist did not come as easily as learning to play all those instruments. González-Alverio spent several years singing and playing with touring bands across Puerto Rico to save money for college. She first attended the University of Puerto Rico, then transferred to Berklee College of Music, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with a degree in music therapy and psychology.After graduation, González-Alverio worked as a music therapist at Boston’s Community Music Center and Massachusetts General Hospital’s pediatric unit. She then moved to Orlando, Fla., where she spent two years running her own practice. She also played at a dueling-pianos bar, Howl at the Moon, to keep her performance skills sharp and learn new songs. (She continues to play at the bar’s Boston location.)The piano gig helped her save money to return to the Boston area. Now González-Alverio wanted to teach music therapy, on her own or at a hospital, and that meant getting a graduate degree. On a lark, the unassuming González-Alverio applied to the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), feeling almost certain she would not be accepted. She was and started in September 2017.Soon after González-Alverio arrived in Cambridge at Harvard, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. Unable to reach her family, González-Alverio was scared for their safety. She could not sit idle. Tapping her Berklee connections, she went about organizing a three-hour concert to raise money for hurricane victims, enlisting local entertainers to perform with her. She quickly realized her new classmates from Houston and across the southeastern United States had been affected by devastating storms and expanded the fundraiser’s scope to include them.The event’s success was no surprise to those who’ve watched González-Alverio at Harvard. Eileen Berger, assistant director for access and disability services in the student affairs office at HGSE, said González-Alverio has demonstrated qualities that have made her a role model to her peers and will make her a success after graduation.“What will always make her successful is her work ethic and clarity and ability to articulate a vision,” Berger said. “And people find it kind of hard to say ‘no’ to her.”González-Alverio has accomplished all this in the face of personal challenges.A decade ago, an exhausted González-Alverio fell asleep behind the wheel of a car and crashed. She suffered a broken pelvis that has not healed and she struggles with mobility. Then after starting at Harvard, she was diagnosed with diabetes. She still has not allowed any challenge to become an obstacle.In January, González-Alverio joined Beth Israel Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as a music therapist working with premature infants. She envisions doing this work full time, and hopes to teach music therapy in the unit.Premature infants can be easily alarmed by loud noises or sudden movement. According to González-Alverio, it has been shown that premature babies given music therapy are discharged from the hospital sooner, saving parents, insurers, and hospitals money.She said a common misconception is that music therapists are people in the hospital lobby strumming guitars. Music therapy is acknowledged as a legitimate form of therapy, and her work with patients is based on specific conditions and what is known about the effect of music on the brain, she said.“The work I try to do is because of where my heart is,” González-Alverio said. “It’s not entertainment.”last_img read more

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OVERTIME 8-21

first_imgBILL NEAL:10 Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord . . . yes Brothers and Sisters, he has delivered! What am I talking about you ask? Ole School is back my Brothers and Sisters and in a big, big, big way. It’s WZUM 1550 A.M. mmmaaannn, and it’s kickin’ Ole School. Not the satellite stuff. I am talking “Superfly”, “Betcha-By-Golly-Wow,” “I Know I’m Losing You” and “Get on the Good Foot”.  Alright I am done. . . Just turn it on and enjoy the new best time of your life. (Listen, whatever you do, don’t tell Mr. Doss I put this in the paper. You know he doesn’t play that free promo stuff . . . Hey WZUM, now it’s your turn to step up. Advertise in the Courier. Do the right thing):09 OK then . . . I am sorry the . . . I mean your . . . Pittsburgh Pirates are only one game up on St. Louis. Now you might want to worry . . . Just a little, not a lot, just a little.:08 The Steelers are in Washington against an RGIII-less Skins team. Trust me, as of this writing at 6:00 a.m. you will see a lot less mistakes than last week or you’re gonna see a lot less Steelers.:07 If you missed the press conference or the TV interview, here’s the point plain and simple. Black leadership in this city, State Representative Ed Gainey, B-Pep President Tim Stevens, long time entrepreneur Luther Sewell, Austin Davis representing the Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, businessmen Chuck Sanders, John Bettis, Marcus Robinson, owner of the Pittsburgh Bullets Pro Basketball Team and others joined together to make a bold but true statement. The Pittsburgh media must do a better job showcasing the good in the Black community and stop presenting the entire inner-city as a war zone. “And We The People” must step up and help present the better and brighter side.:06 Forget – About – It !!! All the New York Yankees can give you is a good feeling from time to time. A-Rod not enough and Jeter is still hurt. But . . . . they are the Yankees.:05 Let’s all welcome home Manasseh Garner the former Brashear Bullet will suit up for the Pitt Panthers at wide receiver this season. He has also played a little tight end as well as some defense. After two seasons at Wisconsin, Garner is happy to be home.:04 Boxing is at center ring again. The Ray Schafer Boxing Association, located in Sharpsburg is reigniting the sweet science for amateurs and pros. Oh, don’t worry. The legendary Jimmy Cvetic is still trading punches. You can never get too many gyms to take kids of the street.:03 “Big Ben” Roethlisberger says he’s good to go and stronger than ever. I still have the Steelers at 10 and 6. If Ben can stay healthy. (Charlie Batch stay healthy and ready!):02 Speaking of Ole School, and I was if you were paying attention, take this ride with me. Darkness of Night, With the Moon Shining Bright, There’s a Set Going Strong, Lot of Things Going On, The Man of the Hour, Has an Air of Great Power, The Dudes Have Envied him for so Long, Ohhhh . . . . Super Fly, You’re Going to Make Your Fortune By and By, But if you Lose, Don’t Ask No Questions, why, The Only Game You Know, Is Do or Die, Aaahhh Super Fly !!!01: Shout it loud and proud and don’t stop till we get there. L.C. Greenwood for the Pro Football Hall of Fame!!!:00 I know I am out of time here . . . but there’s something I am forgetting . . . what is it . . . man I hate when this happens . . . gee whiz, it’s right at the top of my pen . . . wait, wait, hold up a minute. Now I remember . . “The Champion All Stars” led by the legend that is Myron Brown, along with Gene Wilson, Warren Wilson and Coach Tim McConnell (yep, that McConnell) BEAT – THAT – “SAVOY ALL-STAR’s” ASS AGAIN along with scoring assassin Tracy Foster. 75-72.~ GAME OVER ~ Your comments are welcome. Follow @NewPghCourier on Twitter  https://twitter.com/NewPghCourierLike us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hlDownload our mobile app at http://www.appshopper.com/news/new-pittsburgh-courierlast_img read more

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Collins finds a welcoming home in Nets locker room

first_imgBrooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce, left, and center Jason Collins cheer from the bench after the team scored during the first half of an NBA basketball against the Los Angeles Lakers, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Jason Collins has a week and a half to prove himself to the Brooklyn Nets.He signed a 10-day contract, one of the toughest deals in sports because it gives non-superstars almost no time to impress their coaches and teammates in hopes of sticking around.With this group, Collins did that long ago: The Nets locker room is filled with former teammates who have already accepted the league’s first openly gay player and his on-court habits, which are the ones that matter most to them.“Guys already know what to know to expect from me. It’s like, OK, he’s not going to magically have a 40-inch vertical (leap) and shoot 3s,” Collins said.That made it the ideal place for his historic return to the NBA.Perhaps, as numerous players insisted after Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated article last April, athletes were ready to accept a gay teammate. Maybe Collins would have been welcomed anywhere he signed.But maybe not. As the bullying scandal involving the Miami Dolphins proved, the locker room can be a place where abusive language can divide a team and threaten to derail a season, to say nothing of the fallout for the players themselves.The loudest voices with the Nets, however, belong to the team leaders, and they’ve already made up their mind about Collins.Old teammate Jason Kidd coaches the team. Collins played with Joe Johnson in Atlanta and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in Boston, and they are now the respected veterans in Brooklyn.“I know those guys over there in Brooklyn, KG and those guys, played with him in Boston, and they’re going to welcome him with open arms,” said Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins, who also played with Pierce and Garnett with the Celtics. “It’s a veteran locker room, so they’re very mature, and they’re going to accept him.”Added Clippers and former Celtics coach Doc Rivers: “It’s a perfect place with Kevin and Paul. He was with us in Boston, so they know what he can do defensively.”Collins played 6 ½ years with the Nets, where some in the organization still call him “Twin,” his nickname when he played for them and reached the NBA Finals with Kidd in 2003 and 2003. One of his first calls when he came out last April was to Kidd.“You look at all the connections that Jason has,” Kidd said, naming not only Jason Collins’ former teammates but also some who played with his twin brother, Jarron, “and also being that he played with the Nets before, so I think this is a great opportunity for him.”Brooklyn proudly boasts of its diversity — Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier playing for the Dodgers — and the Nets’ locker room makeup fits. Right next to Pierce and Garnett toward one corner of their room at Barclays Center are Russian Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic from Bosnia.They are owned by a Russian, Mikhail Prokhorov, who clearly doesn’t share his country’s anti-gay policies. Prokhorov isn’t afraid to take chances, firing Avery Johnson last December after he’d been Eastern Conference coach of the month in November, and later hiring Kidd when he had no previous coaching experience.Signing Collins is another risk, but only because he’s 35 with limited offensive skills and hadn’t played in the NBA since finishing last season with Washington.As for his sexuality? Well, there was a time when only whites were trusted to coach and more than a third of the league’s coaching jobs are now held by blacks, so the NBA has seen the benefit of embracing groups who previously felt shut out.“Twenty years ago or 30 years ago, I wouldn’t be standing here, probably,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who is black. “If you’re going to exclude one group of people, you’re going to exclude more than one group. I think it’s great for the league.”The next gay athlete may not have the benefits that Collins enjoys. Perhaps Michael Sam, the Missouri football star who is expected in May to become the NFL’s first openly gay player, will end up with a team that isn’t quite ready for him — or maybe he doesn’t find a team at all.Collins had already spent 12 years in the league by the time the world knew he was gay. He’s a well-regarded Stanford graduate who just attended the State of the Union as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama and has made friends around the league — and particularly inside the Nets’ organization.“They have good group of guys here and again, either my brother or myself has been teammates with a lot of guys in this locker room,” Collins said, “so they’re very familiar with what you’re going to get from the Collins twins.”___AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Oklahoma City and freelance writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.___Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoneylast_img read more

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Monmouth County Archivist Gary Saretzky Closes a Chapter in County History

first_imgBy Eileen Moon Monmouth County archivist Gary Saretzky, who retired at the end of October, gave a public tour of the county archives during Monmouth County Archives Day Oct. 12.Photo by Christina Johnson And although he’ll no longer have a “day job,” his post-retirement schedule is a busy one. He’ll be lecturing on 19th century New Jersey photographers through the New Jersey Council on Humanities. He’ll also continue to write for Garden State Legacy, an online history journal, and will remain engaged as president of the Princeton Preservation Group, which meets four times a year. He’s also writing accompanying content for a book of photos of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The archives, which are open to the public, contain marriage records, naturalization records, war records, property transfers, court cases, photographs and ephemera that open doors to the past for historians, genealogists and other researchers who turn to the county for help. Fortunately, it’s a job Saretzky was deeply interested in and thoroughly qualified to do. “If you find what you are looking for, (the site) opens up an email to the archive. Then, the archive team will locate the record and copy it at no charge. “It’s a wonderful public service,” Saretzky said. “Without these indexes,it would be really tedious togo through these thousandsof boxes,” Saretzky said.Among the records indexedonline are marriage licensesand immigration documents. The archive also compiles an annual exhibit on some aspect or era in Monmouth County history. Some past exhibits focused on World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. The current exhibit is Four Centuries of Monmouth County Women. Today, more than 1,000 people a year use the archives to do personal or professional research and find information they need. Thanks to the ongoing work of employees and volunteers, much of the county’s collection is searchable online. “We’re constantly scanning records,” Saretzky said. “We use volunteers extensively to help organize and categorize the material. Everybody wants everything digitized overnight but it’s very time-consuming. Last year we actually captured more than a million pages and images.” On October 31, Monmouth County archivist Gary Saretzky will close the door on one chapter in a career that has placed him at the heart of Monmouth County history for the past 25 years. He’s also happy about establishing public events that include the annual Archives and History Day that takes place each October. “Every year now we have about 300 people come,” he said. The event features exhibit tables staffed by members of some 63 organizations engaged in public history in Monmouth County and other counties. “The public can learn about all these different groups and join them if they want,” Saretzky said. Relocating to his home state of New Jersey, Saretzky took a job with the Educational Testing Service in Princeton. He was the first archivist hired by the organization well-known for administering SAT and GRE examinations and other educational tests. That changed in August 1994 when the collection opened to the public. The county archive, which is located on the lower level of the Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan, is now under the direction of Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon. In addition to his work with the county archives, Saretzky is an author and photographer who taught history of photography at Mercer County College and coordinated the public history internship program at Rutgers University. He left Rutgers in 2016 after 22 years engaged in placing students in archival internships. In the early 1990s, when Monmouth County Clerk Jane Clayton was seeking professional input in preserving and organizing the county’s vast collection of records, Karl J. Niederer, the state archivist, recommended Saretzky as a consultant. When he began his career in 1969, there were about 1,000 archivists nationwide. Today there are 6,000. It’s a career in demand by a wide range of organizations these days, from corporations like IBM and Disney to sports teams and music groups like the Grateful Dead. center_img The records are searchable via the indexes the county has created with the help of staff members and volunteers. Since 1994, Saretzky has presided over a collection of government records and historical ar tifacts that are a treasure trove of information spanning more than 400 years of Monmouth County history. Another event held each spring is Preservation Day, when the county archives branch offers tours of the archives and lectures on historic preservation topics like how to preserve family photos. Saretzky earned a bachelor’s degree in history and master’s in American history with a concentration in archival administration at the University of Wisconsin, where he also worked part time in the manuscripts division of the Historical Society of Wisconsin. Saretzky views the creation of the index and the development of the archives’ extensive web presence to be two of the things he is most proud of accomplishing in the past two-and-a-half decades. “We currently have more than 280 different web pages,” he said. Anyone who has attempted to organize their own family archives may have a small inkling of how challenging it must be to organize the records of an entire county. “The first task after Istarted here was to get thearchives open to the public,”Saretzky said. “They had acollection here but it wasn’tset up to handle visitors.” One of the recommendations Saretzky made following his review was that the county hire a full-time archivist. Clayton offered him the job. His role was to compile and organize ETS archives, which involved everything from conducting oral interviews to writing the histories of each testing protocol the organization of fered. During his years at ETS, Saretzky was appointed to the State Historical Archives Advisory Board, established by Gov. Brendan Byrne in 1975. “When I left Rutgers I had more than 800 students, and some of them are now archivists,’’ he said. “That was a very nice experience. I also liked that I was helping young people develop careers in a field that interested me.” As he reaches the end of his 25 years as Monmouth County archivist, Saretzky admits to feeling a little regretful that 25 years wasn’t long enough to finish the archiving job, but he’s confident the work will continue in good hands. The archives include the photo library from the Daily Register newspaper ranging from 1971-1987. Earlier photos from the Register were destroyed in a fire. “We still have over 300,000 photo negatives and color positives,” Saretzky said. “My plan is to pretty much continue what I’m already doing, but not here,” he said.last_img read more

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Kootenay Ice gets snowed under by Cariboo Cougars

first_imgCariboo, first place in BCMMHL standings with a 7-2-1 mark, completed the sweep Sunday, pounding Kootenay 9-2 Sunday.It took the Cougars just over a period to get rid of their bus legs.The slow start allowed Kootenay to take a 3-2 lead into the first period intermission thanks to goals by Quinn Klimchuk of Castlegar, Trail’s Jake Lucchini and Mitch Foyle of Fruitvale.But Cariboo erased the one-goal deficit by outscoring the Ice 3-1 in the second.The Cougars added a four-spot in the third, including three goals on the power play, to complete the rout.John Skeet of Christina Lake completed the scoring for Kootenay.Ryan Forbes, who finished the game with five points including two goals, led Cariboo. Logan Styler also scored twice for the Cougars.Sunday, Cariboo held leads of 2-0 and 6-1. Eli Jarvis paced the Cougar attack with five points — a goal and four helpers.Nathan Craft scored three times for Cariboo. Grayson Reitmeier of Nakusp and Lucchini replied for KootenayFemale goalie Kimberley Newell and Brett Soles split the netminder duties for Kootenay.The Ice, falling to 1-6-1 on the season, travel to Victoria Saturday to meet the South Island Thunderbirds in the first of two meetings.The T-Birds, 1-6-3, are two points ahead of the Ice in BCMMHL [email protected] The B.C. Major Midget Hockey League leaders put some serious hurt on the basement dwellers from Kootenay this weekend in the Sunflower City.The Cariboo Cougars out scored the Ice 18-6 in two games to sweep the BCMMHL series this weekend at the Community Complex.The Cougars opened the series scoring four power play goals en route to a 9-4 victory over the Ice Saturday.last_img read more

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Mt Sentinel off to provincials despite dropping final to Falcons

first_imgThe Mount Sentinel Wildcats ran out of gas in the quest to capture the Kootenay High School A Boy’s Basketball Championships Saturday in Nakusp.The Cats lost 68-62 to the Fernie Falcons in the tournament final.Mount Sentinel trailed for much of the contest, cutting the Falcons lead to two points in the final 30 seconds of the game.However, the Cats were unable to overcome the Fernie lead falling to the East Kootenay squad by six points. The Wildcats were led offensively in the tournament by Oliver Cougar and Johnny Johnson. Despite losing in the final the Wildcats still advance to the B.C. High School A Boy’s Basketball Championships as the second seed from the Kootenays.The Falcons enter the 16-team tournament as the top Kootenay seed.The Wildcats open against two-ranked BC Christian Academy Panthers of Port Coquitlam while Fernie meets Unity Christian of Chilliwack in round one games at the BC Championships.Sparwood Spartans defeated Grand Forks Wolves in the Kootenay tounament bronze medal game.Host Nakusp Cougars got past Salmo Falcons and Elkford Celtics in consolation action to finish in fifth spot in the seven-team tournament.The B.C. High School A Boy’s Basketball tournament is scheduled for March 6-8 at the Events Centre in Langley.last_img read more

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Tigers take the Little 4, beat Ferndale

first_imgThe Arcata Tigers ran through the Ferndale Wildcats in a physical back and forth game, winning 39-26 to claim an outright Little 4 Conference championship, Friday night at the Redwood Bowl.With Friday’s win Arcata (5-1, 6-4) earns its first league title since winning the Big 5 Conference back in 2012.“Our guys are always going to respond,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones said. “They have a lot of fight, characters and that’s just who they are.Halfway through the first quarter and with …last_img read more

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The Video Editor’s Guide to Color Grading

first_imgIncreasingly, color grading is being handled by video editors working on laptops and desktops instead of calibrated displays. Here are some ways to make this reality work for you.Professional color grading applications have plummeted in price from six figures to zero. Meanwhile, accurate, grade-quality monitors have continued to remain expensive and out of reach. This bifurcation of technology has created a whole generation of people doing color work on video without the ability to evaluate the results on a properly calibrated display.First off, a caveat: it is a much better experience to color grade in an environment suited for accuracy with a color-calibrated display. The problem with color is that it is so hard to do right, and so easy to really screw up.If your pipeline includes finishing in a color suite with a skilled colorist, then stop reading now. If, however, you are part of the vast majority of people doing color work for video who are precisely NOT colorists, then this article will have some helpful tips to get you through to the finish line.Increasingly, color correction and grading is being handled by editors on portables and desktops, creating content that will live on mobile phones and in someone’s Facebook feed. For most content, color doesn’t need to be perfect — it just has to be in the ballpark.You’re Not a Colorist. So What?Image via Blackmagic DesignYou are not a trained colorist, yet your post-production pipeline requires you to play that role. This is especially true on the corporate, indie, and industrial end and for material that will live in the social media ecosystem. It’s not wrong, it’s just projects with deadlines and low budgets — how media is created now.For decades, shows were shot and edited with post-color handled as an afterthought — if it was ever thought about at all. In the early 1990s, I used a Time Base Corrector (TBC) to make sure color values were “kinda right” and that was the extent of it.It was up to the DP and camera crew to make sure the light sources were a consistent color temperature, and the camera was properly black and white balanced. Everything came to me as Rec 709 on a tape, and there wasn’t a lot I could do beyond the most basic of signal adjustments.Nowadays, editors have to deal with terabytes of log encoded or RAW video streams, where the options for screwing up color are literally endless. This is fine on the high-end of the production ecosystem, since there was a DIT on set and a colorist in post to handle all of it. What’s disturbing to me is how much I am seeing this workflow on the lower-budget end, where it seems that the decision was made to set the Sony to S-Log and that was that.Like I said, you’re not a colorist, but everyone in the pipeline before you decided you would be. Blame it on the culture of delayed ambivalence that permeates a technology-saturated industry. Whatever it is, you have a bunch of clips and you need to make sure that the people don’t look purple and the budget didn’t include a grade accurate monitor.NLE or Dedicated Grading App?Image via Blackmagic DesignThe first choice you have to make is which kind of application you’re going to use. Color grading can be done in either your NLE (like Premiere and FCPX) or in a dedicated color grading application like DaVinci Resolve (which is also a program you can do all your editing in, by the way).While there are fantastic tools inside Resolve, and it’s a free download, chances are you’re coming from the editorial side of the post house and it’s going to be easier for you to just work with a program you’re familiar with. So stick with coloring in the NLE for now. I will limit this survival guide of sorts to working in NLEs with some plug-ins.Don’t Switch Monitors or RoomsThis may seem simple and kind of dumb, but post workers are constantly hopping from machine to machine based on traffic and need in a small post house. It may be tempting to do a quick color pass on the iMac in the office and then just finish it up on your MacBook Air at home.While you don’t have the resources to be working with an accurate display, don’t add in the variable of working with multiple inaccurate displays in to your pipeline. The relative differences between your iMac and MacBook Air’s monitors is enough to send you spinning in iterative circles for hours.Same goes for your environment. Dedicated color grading suites and theaters are blacked out rooms that starve poor colorists of much needed Vitamin D. I know colorists so starved for natural light that they resemble Gollum from Lord of the Rings — a necessary sacrifice to their craft.Everyone else in post has a window, fresh air, and sunshine. You don’t need to draw the shades, or paint the walls in soul-sucking gray tones, just do your color work in the same place. Your eyes and brain make constant adjustments to your perception of color and brightness when changing lighting conditions, don’t add this to the mix.Scopes and ToolsNow, let’s take a look at how to make color adjustments to your image based on what you’re seeing in the tools and scopes that already exist in your NLE. The trick is knowing what you’re looking at, making a change in the right direction, and gauging feedback based on what’s changed in your scopes and tools.  Every single NLE, color grading app, and plug-in suite contains a multitude of tools to help you make sure color is spot-on.Think of these things as the instruments on the control panel in a cockpit of a plane, and the windshield is a grade accurate monitor. A pilot is going to use both to not crash the 737, but, if she had to, she could land everyone safely with the instruments alone. I don’t really know anything about flying planes, but it seems like a useful analogy. You are the pilot landing in pea-soup thick fog. Thankfully that’s really just a metaphor. It’s just desktop color grading. You’re going to be fine.So, now that we’ve talked about all the reasons why you can (and probably have to) color grade your projects without a calibrated display, here are some specifics on landing your plane with instruments only.What Kind of Footage?You are most likely going to be handling clips that were shot one of three ways: RAW, log-encoded, or “video” with or without a profile. All of these are strategies by the camera and camera crew to preserve as much color and latitude detail as possible to the image.The short history of video cameras and formats is a history in throwing away image quality and detail in order to reduce data rate. Video was the inexpensive way to capture an image but it did so by crushing shadow detail, blowing out highlights, and ignoring most of the color it was seeing. Video professionals of a certain vintage are traumatized by blown highlights and noisy shadows. Shooting in log, RAW, or creating a flat profile allows for the capturing of details that would otherwise be lost if the camera was set to a standard Rec 709 profile, particularly highlight and shadow detail.Start With a LUTIf you are starting with RAW or log-encoded videos, then the first step you need to take is applying a tool called a Look Up Table or LUT. This is the one of the easiest steps in the process, but also the easiest thing to screw up. There’s no magic to a LUT, it’s just a way to take that massive amount of image data (color, gamma, black point, etc.) in your source footage and reduce it to just the parts you need. A LUT moves an image from one color space (like S-Log) to another color space (like Rec 709).Premiere Pro CC has a nice set of pre-installed LUTs in the Lumetri Panel that you can use to easily drop on to your footage.This process changes the way the image appears, without changing the image itself. You, the lonely post worker, see the dull washed out image automagically transformed into an image that looks kinda like how it’s supposed to look. All that washed-out stuff is still there, it’s actually valuable information that you can use to tweak the output if you need to do that.The above image is out of camera. The below image has a LUT applied. Images via Kontent Films.There are times where everyone on the production side did their job correctly and all you have to do is drop the “Log to Rec 709” LUT on top of the clip and, voila — instagrade. You end up looking like a genius when all you’ve done is the thing that cameras had done for years but suddenly stopped doing as of late. As I said, this phenomena will happen to you once in a while, so, you know, don’t count on the LUT doing all the work.Start With a ProfileFlat profile video is just video with a flat gamma curve applied rather than the standard Rec 709 gamma. If production shot with a 5D or similar DSLR, this is the flavor your video will most likely come in. This is done in camera to try and capture detail that would otherwise be lost with Rec 709 gamma curve — it’s a strategy to squeeze out an extra stop or two.  It’s going to be your job to massage whatever detail was captured into a clean, bright looking image. You will need to apply a profile to get that dull-looking frame looking like a snappy image. Auto Color: Go Ahead! Use It! Auto Color or Auto Balance functions in color correction tools can be a total time saver. When they work well, they do a great job.Magic Bullet Colorista III has an exceptionally good Auto Color tool. I use it all the time. And of course, there is immediate UI feedback. Color correction is an additive process, meaning to get correct balance, color values are added to existing channels. If the shot is too blue in the whites, then yellow is added in the highlights control. Even if the Auto Color function doesn’t get you exactly where you need to be, it can be a very useful tool to point you in the right direction.Above is the UI for Colorista III. I’m going to grab the Auto Balance eye dropper and click on something white in the image below.I clicked on the hood of white car, framed between the man and the woman. Note that in the above Highlight color wheel on the right, the control dot has jumped into the yellow. Auto Balance looked at the color values in the hood of the car and determined that the image needed to be warmed up in highlights. It’s close, but it’s not right. This is where you need to look at scopes and think about the image you are correcting.The RGB ParadeMy favorite scope is the RGB parade. It’s a type of waveform monitor (there are many). You can learn so many things about your shot just by looking at it with this tool. Quite simply, it displays the Red, Green and Blue values of your image as individual waveforms, side by side, in “channels.” If you have an image that’s got a lot of red, then you’ll see a really busy looking red waveform and not so much in green and blue.You could probably tell that just by looking at the image, of course, but it becomes far more useful when you have an image with crushed or blown out parts of the shot and you need to determine which channel is blown out, and consequently, where you need to fix the color. However, with everyone shooting in log or with profiles, most likely your native footage is going to have a very conservative, quiet looking set of waveforms.Below, we have three waveforms displaying the color channels of our above source footage that was shot S-Log on a Sony FS7. Nothing brighter than the low 60s, and nothing darker than 9 or 10. The blue channel is lifted more than the other two, so it’s a cool image.Watch what happens when we drop a basic Log to Rec 709 LUT on top of the shot. It really lifts the blue channel, and consequently, the image cools down even more. Why is that? This is where you need to get some information, either by analyzing the shot, or emailing the folks in production.Take a look at the shot, what time of day was it recorded? What’s happening in the frame? There are lights in the background, but not all the buildings are lit up. So this is either the beginning of the day or the end. Either way, you have a dawn or dusk shot with no direct sunlight visible.This is a cool (meaning bluer) image than something shot during the middle of the day, or even at sunset or sunrise. An email to production confirms that it was indeed shot just after sundown. So it should appear cool in the highlights. However, Auto Balance doesn’t know that, it just “sees” something you said was white and corrected accordingly. See how nice and even those waveforms are? When the tops all line up like that, then you’ll have a color-balanced image, but it won’t be “correct” for the shot. An audience won’t have the visual cue of “cool evening right after sundown” that is needed to place the shot in the story. However, I thought the image looked “too blue”, and just walked the highlight selection tool back down the vector that Auto Balance found. I “split the difference” between the Auto Balanced image and the role color is playing to tell the story in the shot.Other questions you have to ask about the shot, “What was the air like? clear? smoggy? cloudy?” This will help you determine where to set your black point (the darkest pixels in the image) and the white point (brightest pixels in the image).A full, bright day will have highlight values in those RGB parades approaching 100, while the deep shadows will be kissing 0. Foggy, or in the case of this image, smoggy, will lower the highs and bring up the lows. Next up: skin tones. Skin TonesSame skin color, different skin tones via ShutterstockAs far as coloring without a grading display, this might be the most complicated part, because it’s all about making sure people are the right color.Colorists spend a fair amount of time thinking about skin tone. They have to. Audiences never notice when skin tones are correct, but they wince when they’re wrong. All human skin is the same “color,” occupying a narrow band of a specific hue vector on a vector scope. This is called the “FTL” or Flesh Tone Line. It is the tonal differences that are most notable, and most often misidentified, as different skin “colors.”Skin Color is All the Same ColorHuman beings vary ever so slightly in terms of actual color (hue), since every person’s skin is made up of the same stuff: the pigment melanin, blood, and blood vessels.This is also the reason why getting skin color is so important in a color grade — we are experts at knowing when skin color is incorrect, even if we don’t know why. Call it the uncanny valley for human flesh tone. Colorists make sure that people look like people, and also that those people stand out from the background and other non-people things in the frame.The VectorscopeLumetri YUV Vectorscope in Premiere Pro CCWhen it comes to determining skin tone, nothing is as helpful as the vectorscope. It can honestly appear kind of mystifying at first. Think of it as a tool that maps the color information in your image to the color wheel you see at the beginning of all color theory and art “how-to” books. It has little target areas that match up quite nicely with the hue and tonal ranges you see on color bars. (Side note: color bars have become less and less de rigueur these days, but color bars and chip charts can be your best friend when it comes to figuring out where to push color.)There is also a very useful little line that cuts diagonally through the top left of the vectorscope, between the Yl (Yellow) and R (Red) targets on the Graticule. This is called the “Flesh Tone Line” or FTL.Since all people are the same skin color, and only our skin tone varies, then everyone in your frame will line up along this line. The lighter tones towards the center, the darker tones towards the outer edge.Fill the Screen With SkinWhat would be a really handy tool would be to isolate and display a certain subjects skin tone only in the vectorscope. There are some hacks and tools to do this in Resolve. Other dedicated grading systems, like Nucoda Film Master, do this very easily — but not so much in your NLE. The easiest thing to do is just scale your image until the target skin tone fills the frame and you are literally looking at just that — only skin.Top image of the two hands scaled up to 1300 percent and repositioned to fill the canvas with one of the target skin tones.You’ll quickly see all other extraneous information fall away from the vectorscope and see exactly where skin hue and tone values are landing in your vectorscope.Scaled the image by 1300, then repositioned the image so the skin tone on the left of the frame filled the canvas.If I reposition the image on the canvas so that the lighter skin tone fills it up, look what happens.The color falls right on the FTL just closer to the center of the graticule. Same color, lighter tone, closer to the center of the graticule.Cosmo and Skin Overlay ToolRed Giant Software’s Cosmo is a tool designed for skin color correction and “softening” (aka wrinkle removing). It does the kinds of things you’re already doing in your native color correction tools and plugins, just in an automagic kind of way. RedGiant Software’s Cosmo Skin Color Tool.The Show Skin Overlay grid. Note that the woman’s red hair shows up in the skin tone range.I use it quite a bit, particularly because it has a really handy analytic tool called “Show Skin Overlay” that shows the parts of your image, via an orange grid, that are the color of human skin. Which may not always be human skin, and human skin isn’t always skin color (more on that below).ExceptionsSometimes skin color is not the color of skin, and building keys and mattes to isolate skin tones to “correct” it is the absolute wrong thing to do. For example, take a look at the shot below. In context, your audience understands that this couple is walking down a sidewalk and they’re lit by colored neon lights and yellowish-red street lamps. Their skin tones don’t line up on the FTL, and they shouldn’t. You could correct the image so that they do, but then you’d be wrong. Whether your audience knows the reason why or not, the effect is the same. In these cases, your job as a colorist is to make sure skin color is correct for the shot and scene. In this case, it needs to look like the people are lit by a red neon sign.ConclusionThere are times when color management and monitoring tools will fall short of what your eyes are seeing. Particularly in shot-to-shot matching, when the subjective experience of color differences contradicts the objective measurement of color values. You, the valiant-yet-under-resourced post-professional, will be flying blind, so to speak, without a properly graded monitor. Use these tools to get you close, and then review the work on many screens: phones, tablets, TVs. Get a sense of what your color will look like in a multitude of different viewing environments. Color is a science and an art. Without the aid of a properly graded monitor, you’re going to have get really good at making educated guesses about where things are lining up. It’s not ideal, but it is doable, like many things in post-production.Got any tips for video editors that find themselves doing color? Share your insight in the comments below!last_img read more

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