Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Multicam and Changing the Elusive Active Audio Source


This one still has me a bit stumped. Let's say you're editing a three-camera shoot, all nicely synced up and loaded into your timeline as a multicam edit. You've set your main hero audio source to underlay the entire piece and have either edited in real time or using Command + (numbers) once you've set your keyboard layout to multicam, edited your final cut cut-by-cut.

But there's one last thing left to do: you need to change the audio source, not the video source, of only some of the clips. How do you do this? As an example lets say you need to change one clip in particular so it uses another synced audio source. Say camera/angle 3 needs camera 2's audio feed rather than the hero main audio which was connected to camera 1. What do you do?

It took me some playing around but I found a way to do it while keeping everything in sync. I'm not sure if this is the correct way to do this, or it's just something someone forgot to put in a few tutorials but the secret is to highlight the video AND audio of your clip and hit Command + L to Link them.

What's this do? It will let you hit 1, 2, 3 or whatever angle number on your keypad and switch BOTH the video and audio of that clip. Then, once the audio source is from where you want it to be, hit Command + L again and to Unlink the clip's audio and video and then tap the camera angle you want it to be with the keypad.

Let's look at a hypothetical example. We'll say our hero main audio is from camera/angle 1. In our multicam timeline we have a clip that's camera/angle 3 and currently has audio from angle 1 but we need it (for whatever reason) to use and sync to angle 2's audio feed. Here's what you do (assuming you're editing with the multicam keyboard layout which is under the Tools menu):

01) Highlight both audio and video of the clip in the timeline and tap Command + L.
02) Hit the number 2 on your keypad and watch as both Audio and Video sources change in your timeline. (it may take a moment for FCP to update this if you have many angles loaded in the Viewer)
03) Now, our Audio source is correct but our Video source is not, so tap Command + L again to unlink them.
03) Tap the number 3 on your keypad and watch as only the Video source changes in the timeline.
04) Hit Command + S to save.

If there's an easier way I haven't found it yet but I'll keep looking. For now this is mostly painless.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Adjusting Subclips In and Out Points



Some people will tell you that they don't like subclips (Command +U after you set In and Out points of a clip) because they can't adjust their In and Out points after they make the subclip or place the subclip in the Timeline. Maybe they can't, but you can.

It's simple; make your subclip and then highlight it in the Browser or in your Timeline then head up to the Modify menu and choose "Remove Subclip Limits". Done. Now your subclip references the original clip rather than being -as far as FCP is concerned- a separate master clip itself.

You'll notice one thing different when you have a subclip highlighted in the Timeline or in the Browser when you select this menu though:

Make Independent Clip if it's in the Timeline or Duplicate as New Master Clip if the subclip is in the Browser. Essentially both do the same thing and both -as far as your concerned overall- do the same thing as Remove Subclip Limits. Most people, including me, rarely need anything more than Remove Subclip Limits.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Comparing Files


Sometimes we end up with two different versions of a video or file and dont' know if they are, in fact, different. Or, sometimes when we hand off a disc to a client they claim they can't view the video or it's "corrupted". So, here's how to compare files a simple, straight forward and built-into the Mac way.

Method #1 "MD5".

01 Launch the Terminal. (I like to hit Command + Shift + U to open the Application folder, then hit the letter T and up and down arrow from there, then hit Command + O or use Control + F3 if the terminal is already in the dock)
02 OPTIONAL STEP: Hit Command + COMMA to open the Terminal's Preferences and goto Settings > Window > Background Color. In the color window that opens set the transparency to something like 60%. Close the preferences.
03 In the Terminal type exactly, without the quotes "md5" in lowercase.
04 Hit Spacebar.
05 Drag the first of the files you want to directly compare into the terminal window. You'll end up with something like:
md5 /Volumes/HD01/Video/Files/Movies/movie01.mov

06 Hit Return.

After a moment (bigger files take longer) you'll see a number appear as a result. Something like: aa3f30d5e8977965702c4acc83f645da

Now, do the exact same thing with the file you want to compare this first file with. But why did you mess with the preferences to alter the transparency of the window? A quick trick to compare the numbers, since they're so long, is to run md5 in two separate Terminal windows, and since they're transparent -or at least translucent-, overlap them and see if the images of the generated numbers match.

If the numbers are identical, the files are identical.

If you need to generate md5 sums on many files in one directory, from a fresh Terminal prompt, type "cd" then hit spacebar, drag the directory (folder) into the terminal window and hit Return to change it to that directory. Then type "md5 *" and hit enter (that's an asterisk after a space) and you'll see a list of md5 numbers.

Method #2 "CMP".

01 Launch the Terminal.
02 Type "cmp -l" (that's a lowercase letter L)
03 Drag the first file you want to compare into the window.
04 Drag the second file, the one you want to compare against the first, into the window. You'll end up with a long line of paths and directories to the two files.
05 Hit Return and wait a while. There is absolutely no indication that anything is happening while it compares them. If you return to the standard prompt, the two files were identical. If it outputs some sets of numbers the files are different. Be patient, it can take a while to compare large files.

"cmp" will compare the files byte-by-byte and let you know if they are different. The difference it will spew out won't make much sense to the average viewer, but the importance is that it'll let you know they are different.

Use both command-line tools to be even more sure of the files are the same or not.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Firewire is dead

The new spec will support data transfers at 4.8 gigabits per second, or Gbps, nearly 10 times faster than the current standard's 480 megabits per second and six times faster than FireWire 800. It's also 400 times faster than the 12 Mbps offered by the original spec, USB 1.0.


Firewire is dead.

Monday, October 20, 2008

On Further Evil

Another little evil tip for when a client just knows what they don't want but doesn't know what they do is to desaturate the entire project a bit, then after a round of changes you know are or are near the final changes, ramp up the color to over saturate it a bit.

The client will think it "just looks so much better".

Friday, October 10, 2008

Impromptu Sound Booths


If you don't have access to a proper sound booth or simply don't have time to get to one when the client notices a week later that their copy for the VO was wrong, you can record your VO in a car away from traffic without the engine running or inside a closet (preferably with lots of clothes around to absorb sound) or if time is of the essence (like I said, when the client suddenly reads the copy they handed you and hours before airtime they notice their mistake that only they'd know) by placing your talent and microphone under a thick blanket in a quiet room.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Be Evil, & Save Audio Sweetening Till The End

Here's a little evil tip: Save your audio sweetening for the end. Why? Well, have you ever had a client who keeps monkeying with the project making irrelevant changes and basically just toying with the edits for no real rhyme or reason?

What I do is save the audio sweetening and music levels until the very end. After seeing so many versions with poor audio, then suddenly seeing a version with music levels up, audio panned correctly (usually just centered if someone decides it's a good idea to have offset audio channel levels when audio was recorded to "save" the peaks...grrr) the client will think some miracle just happened and often they'll love the version. Evil yes, but so is making dozens of meaningless tweaks over a week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Set Your Favorite Video Filter's Key Command



This one is quick and simple. If you use a filter regularly or just very often for a project you can set it up as a favorite filter with a specific key command. But, what's a little cooler is you can set your favorite filter to be the same key command all the time. The trick is after you drag a filter in your Effects window to your Favorites bin, rename it with a space before it's name so it's always listed at the top (in alphabetical order).

Now, that filter will always be Control + Shift + 2 even if you add more filters to your Favorites bin.

Zoom In For Color Correction


Really this tip applies to any close up work but it's especially handy for color correcting.

Launch System Preferences and go to Universal Access. Under the Seeing tab (are they still called tabs?) hit the Options... button under Zoom.

At the bottom of this sheet you'll see "When zoomed in, the screen image shows:" and three options. Adjust these to your liking but under it make sure "Use scroll wheel with modifier keys to zoom" is checked. The text box there is for you to choose what key(s) you want to hold down to zoom in and out with your mouse.

Now, when you're working in FCP and need to hit that specific pixel for color correcting or just to get a better view of something hold down your modifier key and scroll up with your mouse's scrolling wheel or ball and you'll zoom into your screen. Scroll or wheel the other way to zoom out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My 16:9 DV Exports Are Squeezed!



When you bring 16x9 DV footage into FCP it loads it as 720x480 pretty much no matter what. So when you export your timeline with a quick Export To Quicktime Movie you end up with your 16x9 footage squeezed into a 4x3 space. Why? Blame all this non-standardness mess. So, how do you fix it?

First off don't Export To Quicktime Movie, instead use Export Using Quicktime Conversion.

Btw, I've assigned Command + E to "Export To Quicktime Movie" and Shift + Command + E to "Export Using Quicktime Conversion" because I can.

In Final Cut:

01) Make sure the thing you want to export is active (ie..timeline, sequence, viewer...)
02) In the menubar goto File>Export>Export Using Quicktime Conversion.
03) In the Save window that pops up hit Options.
04) In the next window, called Movie Settings, hit Settings under Video.
05) In the next window, called Standard Video Compression Settings (I think), under Compression Type select DV/DVCPRO - NTSC.
06) Then, in that same window at the bottom left set Aspect Ratio to 16:9. The rest of the settings are up to you but I like to choose Progressive and Best quality under the Compressor setting.
07) Hit Ok, hit Ok then hit save (after you make sure it's going to save it where you want it.

Done. Your footage will play back at 853x480 in a nice widescreen QT window. Yays!

QuickTime Player is Muddy & Blurry


Does it look like your QuickTime Player window is smeared with Vasoline™ when you try to look at something you've exported from FCP? Here's the trick:

01) Launch QT Player.
02) Tap COMMAND + , to bring up it's preferences.
03) Under General checkmark the box next to "Use high-quality video setting when available"

and you're done.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Random Green Frames

I was working on a small 30sec commercial that someone handed off to me which was mainly graphics and VO when I noticed that every time I rendered it a seemingly random and different each time frame was just full screen green.

Usually QuickTime does this when it can "read" a file or codec or something along those lines. Checking the timeline I saw that the background layer, the only thing to go green in a bad way, was a .mpg, specifically MPEG2 Muxed. Quicktime seemed to have an issue with it either rendering in the timeline or exporting to a QT Movie.

So, I tossed the offending .mpg into QT Player, exported it as a DV stream (this wasn't HD, obviously) imported it into FCP and replaced the old .mpg with it in the timeline and all was well after re-rendering and re-exporting.

The lesson here is despite what Apple and the FCP manual's tell you highly compressed codecs aren't the best thing to work with if there is a lesser compressed choice.

Yes yes, I'm aware of generational lossy-ness...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Scrubbing in the Finder's Preview Column

If you're like a lot of people out there, you dislike the new Preview window in Column View. Why? Two main reasons: one you can't control the volume readily and two, there's no way to scrub through media there.

Scrubbing IS possible if you have an Apple Mighty Mouse. Just hover over the disclosed media in the Preview window and Scroll UP to go Forward and Scroll DOWN to scrub backwards. I have no idea how to do this using just the keyboard unfortunately.

One thing that bugs me about the new Preview window in Leopard is that you must click on the play button to start a preview's playback but you can click anywhere on the preview to stop it. That's inconsistent Finder behavior. And while I'm at it, why doesn't Quickview have a volume slider?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Letterbox, Pillarbox and Windowbox

Tired of having people ask you what the difference is between letterboxing and full-screen? Sick of people complaining about the black bars cutting off the top and bottom of their new giant tv? Me too. Here's yet another page, this time from Apple, trying to explain it all.

Choosing A Hard Disk

Apple has some revised advice about choosing a hard disc for FCP here.

Faster Firewire Finally

Looks like faster Firewire is on it's way come October. Apparently it's called 1394-2008 and it supports speeds of 1.6 Gigabits/sec and 3.2 Gigabits/sec using the same kind of connector that Firewire 80 now uses and it's all fully backwards compatible.

Monday, July 28, 2008

FCP Troubleshooting Basics

Apple [quietly] updated their FCP Troubleshooting Basics Knowledge Base Article recently.

P2 Log Pro

P2 Log Pro is an app which:

can instantly view all formats of native P2 (MXF) video in any format or frame rate. Insert the P2 card into a PowerBook or read it from the camera or FireStore. P2 Log Pro views the card displaying thumbnails, metadata, and links to the video clips. Enter text, sort, re-name, or delete clips. Marks clips to output what you need to Final Cut Pro via XML. Exporting automatically converts MXF clips to HD QuickTime files, ready for editing. With P2 Log Pro, you can also save new P2 Volumes of select clips for direct importing into Avid and other P2 compatible NLEs.


Sounds neat. A bit redundant, but neat.

Voltaic

Voltaic is a $35 app that...

..."converts your AVCHD movie clips into a Mac-friendly format, ready for editing in iMovie (HD and 08)and Final Cut Express/Pro."

I haven't used it but a friend likes it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Invalid Content In Journal

Macfixit.com has a small interesting bit on a specific error that fortunately you've never seen. It involves an unmountable hard drive and when it's journaling is kaput. it wont' mount, but there's apparently a handy dandy terminal command to fix it.

The thing is it's generally unwise to use journalling on your Capture drives, namely speed issues. But if you have a drive that suddenly won't mount and flip on Repair Disk and see the Invalid Content in Journal error here's the fix.

Essentially copy this into the terminal with the appropriate name for your problematic drive:

/System/Library/Filesystems/hfs.fs/hfs.util -N /dev/disk0s2

The -N flag disables journaling on the device. You can find the device's name in Disk Utility's Info window.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can't Eject A Volume Because it's in Use? Use lsof.

macosxhints has a really handy bit of terminal magic to find out just what's in use when you can't eject a volume.

Low Disk Space Script

I haven't tried this but it just seems like it could be handy somehow.

Low Disk Space Script "Low Disk Space Script is a simple AppleScript that tests two things:
That there are no hard drives missing
That there is a certain (pre-defined) amount of available space.
If one of these tests fail, it then automatically sends an email (to one or more pre-defined addresses) to inform you of the relevant problem."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Disksomnia


Disksomnia is kinda like the great grandson of Sleeper from the old Classic OS days who rebels against everything.


Disksomnia stops external disks from going to sleep. Video editing and sleeping disks are a bad mix, particularly if you have media spread across several external disks. If you've ever moved the playhead to another part of the sequence and stared at the spinning beachball while a disk wakes up then you'll know exactly what we mean! Disksomnia stops external disks from going to sleep (including those that ignore the Energy Saver setting to stay awake) by giving them a gentle poke every five minutes when Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express is running. After installing and launching for the first time, Disksomnia is totally automatic and works invisibly in the background. There are no settings, no need to launch the app manually and best of all...no more sleeping disks.


A few people (including me) have had the exact same problem, where something in the firmware of an external -and sometimes internal- hard drive prevents it from listening to Energy Saver's preferences and it spins down every time there's lack of activity for what seems like 30 seconds.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Caffeine 1.0.3

What's Caffeine besides that vile temptress which producers hand you for free late at night while your Tivo silently weeps for your return?

A tiny program that puts an icon in the right side of your menu bar. Click it to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep, dimming the screen or starting screen savers. Click it again to go back. Hold down the Command key while clicking to show the menu.


Maybe useless given Mac OS X's Hot Corners, but could be handy if you just like staring at logos trying to come up with just one more reason why they shouldn't use them.

- It's tricky to find a screenshot of this one ;)

Two Knowledge Base Updates

Final Cut Studio: Optimizing PCI Express card performance.

Final Cut Pro: Improving performance using an AJA Kona card with a Mac Pro.

Flip Mino Footage

If you're unfortunate enough to have to use some footage someone brought in captured with a Flip Mino, I feel for ya. Here's a page I found after someone phoned me asking how to do it.

I love the bottom part which is all you really need to know:

After ensuring the "Open Using Rosetta" is not selected, and DivX is installed, you should be able to view your videos in iMovie '06.


If that's not "Mac Friendly" I don't know what is. Thanks Flip! (Warning, their site plays music as soon as it loads...yay!) This from the company who's working with Apple to resolve the problem -like it's theirs- ...yeah, whatever.

Next up we're going to start getting footage recorded via Google's Vidnik.
At least the Vidnik guys have a clue and actually try and fix things:

Quicktime is producing MPEG-4 encoded movies with an edit list. The first displayable frame of the movie is a b-frame, not an i-frame. Other transcoders and players, when they encounter such movies, drop the initial sequence of b-frames from the video. I'm making a change to Vidnik detect that the first displayable frame is not an i-frame, and rewrite those movies, such that the first frame is an i-frame. I'll test, then upload a new version.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Security Update 2008-003

Security Update 2008-003 / Mac OS X 10.5.3 is an important one for a few reasons, but relevant here are some exploits that have existed for a bit which Apple patched:

Apple Pixlet Video
CVE-ID: CVE-2008-1577

CoreGraphics
CVE-ID: CVE-2008-1031

Flash Player Plug-in
CVE-ID: CVE-2007-5275, CVE-2007- 6243, CVE-2007- 6637, CVE-2007-6019, CVE-2007-0071, CVE-2008-1655, CVE-2008-1654

Image Capture
CVE-ID: CVE-2008-1571

Image Capture
CVE-ID: CVE-2008-1572

It's always good to wait a week or so for the dust to settle whenever you update a production Mac (ie..a Mac that you use to make money with or use for an important project) but afterwards if the discussion boards are clear-ish go ahead and update.

QuickTime's Legacy Prefs


Here's a quick tip:

01) Launch System Prefs
02) Tap QuickTime
03) Select "Advanced"
04) Tick "Show legacy encoders"

Now you'll see some familiar old-school ways to encode your video in QuickTime.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

AtomicView

While it's not Final Cut Server, AntZero's AtomicView is in many ways similar. Final Cut Server is overkill for many small companies but some of it's core features are invaluable. AtomicView basically does one thing that everyone needs: seek out and pull together all your media into a nice manageable interface. It doesn't monkey with any of the media, just creates a central place to oogle at it all. This is how they explain it:

AtomicView is a digital asset manager (DAM) software program available in versions for Mac and Windows. It can handle a multitude of formats and this permits unlimited organization of your photos, images, videos and sounds.


But I think this paragraph is funnier:

Our program is extremely rapid and reactive because its motor incorporates technology derived from video games and it uses advantageously the multiple processors available in the new generations of computer. Thus, for example, zooming in your files, changing the arrangement of the interface, can be done with an ease rarely attained in a utility program.
AtomicView shows its full speed potential from the moment of importation and allows the user to continue working while importing without blocking or slowing down.


You can check out some video demos at their site as well and see how it's rapid modularity environment interfaces with your upstream workflow paradigm or something. It's slick -even though I haven't personally tried it- and looks promising. At least it's not iView, right? Apparently AtomicView is about $188 USA.

Final Print

Final Print, which lets you print out a list of markers in a FCP sequence was updated today. I've never used it but I can see where it would come in pretty handy at times.

Final Print is a standalone application which prints a list of markers from a Final Cut Pro sequence. This provides a very useful workflow enhancement when handing off a project to someone else for further work.

Btw, it's $99. Yikes.

Drives that Won't Eject


Macfixit.com has a good reminder of why you should love the terminal. If you can't eject a drive it's likely that one file on it is in use for some reason or another. Pop open a Terminal window and type:

lsof /Volumes/VOLUME_NAME

You'll see a list of files that are "in use" on that volume. Lsof literally means List of Open Files. Things get tricky if you have oddly named volumes however. Like mine, which use parentheses in their names (I know...) but still, a good tip for troublesome drives.

Coincidently, macosxhints.com has an article about something very similar, although with a different way to eject stubborn volumes. They propose you download and run a GPL'd applescript.

Turns out there are about a dozen ways till Sunday to eject these ejectless drives. (yes, I'm making that a RealWord™ now). Here are some Terminal commands to eject stuff:

hdiutil detach `mount | sed -ne 's|^\(/dev/[^ ]*\).*/Volumes/'"$VOLNAME"'.*mounted by.*|\1|p'` -force

hdiutil eject -force /Volume/volumeNameHere

Hushing Loud CD/DVD Drives

Here's a neat little utility someone just emailed me about. DiscRotate 0.2 is a little freeware app that lets you control the spin speed of your CD/DVD drive to try and make it a bit more quiet.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hack to Sort Sub-Clips

Macosxhints.com has a user submitted tip to sort subclips numerically here.

Basically, it's a quick alteration of some text files within the FCP Application package. Check out the hint and see what you think. I think it may cause some file save/export issues with XML project exports.

Friday, May 16, 2008

QuickLook's Rounding Math


QuickLook in Leopard, which you use by tapping the spacebar when a file in the Finder is highlighted, tends to round some numbers. As you can see in the screenshot of a flash drive a client handed me to use it's actual Get Info stats are:

Capacity = 3.72 GB
Available = 2.97 GB

QuickLook says it's:

Capacity = 3.7 (GB)
Available = 3.0 (GB)

Not much of a difference, I guess but still bothers me.

CoverFlux Free Plug-In


idustrial revolution has released a free plug-in called CoverFlux which replicates Apple's coverflow with images. I'm not sure if it does video clips as well but the results with still images are fun. Seems like a niche ready-to-be-overused-to-death thing like Comic Sans but what can ya do?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Free Apple Seminar Videos

Here's a page where Apple lists some free instructional seminar videos. You'll need a free Apple account to view them.

.zips turning into .cpgz files!


A client today decided it would be best to send me a 400+ MB file via mediafire.com split up into 5 pieces. Downloading them is not a problem but I did end up with five files named something like videoproject.zip.001, videoproject.zip.002, etc...

Of course I have all of Safari's auto uncompress, trash and mount stuff off in it's prefs so I double click one of the files and BOMArchiver launches as it should and tries to unzip the things. No go. I end up with .cpgz files, errors about not having permission to write into a folder...and when you double click them they magically turn back into .zip files. Yay.

Here's the trick: download Split&Concat which was last updated -as of this post- on April 2nd 2006, and drag the first original videoproject.zip.001 to it and be amazed as Split&Concat will join them into one sane .zip file.

If you're not sure what the .001 file is or there's some other problem here's a tip: Launch the terminal (really, it'll be okay) and type "file" then hit the spacebar. Now, drag the first .001 file into it and you should see something like "Zip archive data, at least v2.0 to extract", ok, cool. Now, do the same for the .002 file and you should see something like "data". Get it? The 001 file is the zip "master", let's call it, and the subsequent files are the slave data files.

Luckily I bill by the hour on this project...

UPDATE:
If you happen to run into a lone .zip file that when double clicked turns into a .cpgz file then it's likely a .rar file in disguise. If you toss it into the Terminal as described above and see something like:

RAR archive data, v1d, os: Win32

Try un-raring it with something like The Unarchiver.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TapeDeck


TapeDeck is a neat little piece of software from SuperMegaUltraGroovy which emulates the portable cassette decks from the days of yore. It's essentially a simple GUI to what QuickTime Player Pro does when you hit Control + Option + Command + N which is make a new audio recording.

What TapeDeck does that QT Player doesn't, aside from the retro look and feel is it allows you to label each recording and then search through them afterwards. It also automatically saves the recording when you hit stop. It records to compressed MP4-AAC audio and has an adjustment for low and high quality recording. It's $25 which seems a bit steep for a one-trick pony to me but it could be helpful if you're going to be doing a lot of small recordings in a short amount of time. I hope they make an app called VCRDeck or something next :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Converting Audio with iTunes Tips


Often when I have to convert audio from one format to another I'll toss it in QT Pro Player or AudialHub. I've been doing this because iTunes loves to drop the converted files into the iTunes library, add a second listing to my music library and other minor annoyances. Here's a great tip to avoid most of that nonsense and use iTunes to convert audio.

Basically hold down Option before you select the Advanced item from iTunes menubar and instead of "Convert Selection to AAC (or whatever your prefs are set to)..." you'll see "Convert to AAC..." again, or whatever your prefs are set to, and iTunes will ask you which file on what HD you want to convert. Now, hold down Option again before you tap Open and it'll ask you where you want to save the converted file! That's handy.

Command + Tab App Switcher

Here's a simple one that's VERY handy.

You can use Command + Tab to bring up the Application Switcher and keep tapping tab to cycle to the right (including wrap-around). But here's the one that some people don't know about: once you have the app switcher up you can tap ~ (tilde) to cycle to the left with wrap-around.

Handy if you're doing more than quickly using Command + Tab to switch between two apps; if you're using three or more this is a very fast way to toggle between apps and easier on the fingers since some people use Command + Shift + Tab to cycle to the left.

Apple kbase Updates

Apple updated a fair bit of FCS knowledge base articles the other night:

Color: Video out from Matrox MXO may appear stretched

Compressor: Don't export from Final Cut Pro using a QuickCluster

Fibre Channel Hardware Compatibility Guide

Final Cut Express: DV widescreen 16:9 workflow for iDVD

Final Cut Pro 6.0.2: Holding the Option key invokes snapping

Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express: Application-specific key functions with the aluminum Apple Keyboard (2007)

Final Cut Pro: Disabling visibility and its effects on rendering

Final Cut Pro: Dropped Frames--Causes and Solutions

Final Cut Pro: Render required when outputting to tape

Final Cut Pro: Tips for archiving memory card-based media

Final Cut Studio: Encoders not seen in export options

You can subscribe to the lists here.

RevolverHD


RevolverHD is a little shareware app that lets you dump your HD exports from iMovie'08 or FCP specifically to your Playstation 3. I haven't tried it yet but it seems like a fun toy. There are ways to do this without this tool but this tool makes it easier, however it limits your options a bit.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mp3 & Cue files


Lately, for some unfathomable reason, a client has decided to send me the background music for a project as single huge mp3 files replete with a cue file that they made. Great. Trying to find a way to split up an mp3 file with it's corresponding .cue file on a Mac is nigh impossible.

I tried an app called cue-splitter which is great...fast simple and clean. The only problems are that it's old, the last update was 12/28/2005 and it's buggy. I've had it crash on a few .cue files and it seems to insert some distortion like a "blip" sound at the beginnings of some but not all, split mp3s.

So, two options popped into my head; One, toss the giant mp3's into FCP (Soundtrack would be overkill for this overall, I know, I know) and split it up manually and just use them there or Two, find another app to do it. I seriously thought about splitting them in FCP as a final solution but I'm all about speed (sorta) thought it would take too long manually for so many 30 sec music clips, so I looked and asked around and found a little known app that does this and it's for Mac so, yayz...no running junk in Boot Camp. It's called MP3 Trimmer and using it to split up large mp3's with .cue files is pretty simple.

1) Launch it.
2) Drag the mp3 to it.
3) Open the .cue window. (Command + E)
4) Drag the .cue file to the .cue window.
5) Hit go.

Done. Granted they're still in mp3 format but it's simple enough to convert them with QTPro or something like AudialHub. The only caveat is that you can't empty the trash of a file that's still loaded into MP3 Trimmer, you have to load in another mp3 file or quit MP3 Trimmer for that.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Apple's Not Selling Off It's Pro Apps

Macrumors has an article on the long whispered rumor of Apple trying to sell off it's Pro Apps. While it makes sense in many ways (lack of any real updates to address FCP's quirks or interface issues, DVD Studio problems...etc...) I think Apple is making too much from them to let them go.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Episode Pro

Episode Pro (aka Compression Master) was updated to 5.0 today, does much of the same things Compressor does (incl. watermarks, TC burn in & encodes to various formats such as ATSC A/52, H.265 High Pofile [their misspelling on Macupdate]) and only costs $895.00.

If that's too much, there's always the non-pro "Episode" version for $395.00.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Easy Fast Resizing for Transcoding


Lets say you have a video that's 1280x720 but you want to transcode it (using whatever tool you like) to half it's original size. Here's a very fast & simple way to do it: Open it in Quicktime Player, tap Command + I for the info window and Option + Resize the player's window until you see at the bottom of the Get Info window "(Half)".

Option + Resizing the Quicktime Player window resizes it incrementally to nice aspect-ratio-correct sizes. Doing this you'll quickly see that half of your video's original size is 640x360. (I know this is an easy one but imagine if your video's size isn't something so common.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quickshareit.com

Someone told me today about a new way to share files with clients, quickshareit.com. It's a free service (they'll ask you to sign up but then tell you that no account is needed "You do not need an account to use QuickShareIt, by default, all uploads are anonymous. Just drag 'n drop files onto the QuickShareIt icon on the dock.") from twenty08 that you can use without an account. They'll track your IP address "Log your IP Address to measure usage of the services" and "Disclose any of your information we have to protect our legal rights. Disclosure will occur if required by law, or if we receive legal processes" so be aware.

One troubling thing is that once you've created an account I can't find a way to delete that account. Their account page as of this post simply reads "Coming Soon! Stay Tuned" possibly because I have yet to xfer anything via their service.So as of right now I'm not sure what a free account buys you. They didn't even send an email to the account I used.

The way it works is you download an application, then drag a file onto it that you want to share and it's uploaded to their servers, then you send someone the URL to that file. Sounds simple enough, a bit like the old days of Whalemail actually. On their FAQ page I can't find anything about filetype or size limitations which seems odd.

In a very early (the first?) post about Quickshareit I found this:

• Easily Upload Any Type of File
• Free Unlimited File Serving
• Drag & Drop 1 File or 100 Files (Multiple files or folders automatically get zipped before they’re uploaded)
• Get the URL to your file FAST! QuickShareIt automatically copies the URL to your clipboard.
• And best of all, It’s Free!


The origins of Quickshareit seem strange to me which you can read here. Why use imageshack and then IM the url to another person in the same building when they're using Macs? iChat and other IM clients allow direct file xfers, and it's even easier with Bonjour. After all the post specifies that they were just xferring screenshots which aren't terribly large.

So for some reason file transfers over IM from client to client were out, and uploading the file to imageshack, then IM the URL to someone was too much of a hassle, but...downloading an application, installing it, launching it, dragging a file to it, and then having it optionally wipe out what's on your clipboard, then still having to IM or email someone the file's URL is easier?

I still prefer using gmail for file transfers if the file is less than 20mbs. Especially when you can just drag the file to gmail's "Choose" file button. Plus gmail will archive the file for essentially forever.

Still, it's not a bad alternative. Try it out and see what you think. Here's what happened the very first time I tried to upload something with it:



Oh and be cautious if you have Comcast because uploading with QSI could trigger Sandvine, yay.

smcFanControl


smcFanControl is a little free app that allows you to control the fan speeds (and hence the temperature) of your Mac. It works on most Macs but not all. I use it a lot to crank up the fans when I have a long encoding/transcoding or rendering session that I leave overnight.

It runs as a little menubar item which shows the CPU temp and the rpm of your fan(s). You can set preset fan speeds like one for Rendering and another higher speed for Encoding and another for Gaming if you want. On top of that it, running it seems to have fixed a reluctant-to-speed-up fan in my GF's Mac Mini which was beeping as the fan wasn't spinning up in response to increased CPU usage and therefore heat so the overheating beep or tone was sounding every few minutes. (About 185°F @ 2700rpm seems good for an Intel 2Ghz Mac Mini at ≈ 98% CPU usage.)

smcFanControl is even safe to run constantly and set to run at login because all it does is modify a few plists and read the temperature sensors built into your Mac. What it does is set a minimum fan speed, allowing the fan to ramp up as needed as temperature increases, also, it won't allow you to slow down the fans to anything below the default speed Apple has set so it's quite safe to use. I've been using it since release 1.0 without any problems. Plus it's just fun to watch the temp and fan stats update in the menubar.

It's simple, free and could end up prolonging the life of your hardware. Plus their website has girls on it.

LiveQuartz Image Editor


LiveQuartz Image Editor is a tiny free image editor that's something to look forward to when it matures. Simple interface (which needs some tweaks) and some handy features like the background eraser really shows off the potential for this little app. It could be handy for quick image adjustments when you don't want to launch something slow and bloated like photoshop or don't feel like messing with pixelmator.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

AudialHub


From the same company who make VisualHub comes their new audio conversion tool, AudialHub.

Conversion from dozens of audio types to popular formats like AAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, WAV, Apple Lossless, 3G (cell phones), Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and even Audio and MP3 CDs!
Audio tracks inside video files can also be converted!
Common tags (Artist, Album, etc) are automatically passed when applicable.
Up to 16 hours of audio can be converted to a single MP3 CD.
Easy-to-use Trim capabilities to narrow down short segments of audio.
Quick Preview capability to check out compression quality and Trim settings before a full conversion.
Dynamic file queue, allowing mid-conversion changes or additions, Pause/Resume, and an "always ready" Assembly Line Mode!
Run multiple simultaneous conversions in separate queues with separate settings.
Growl notifications, Dock progress indicator, and AppleScripting automation support!
Normalization, audio track selection, multiple decoder options, and direct access to add custom low-level command-line settings!
Detailed Users Guide and Help Center.


Even the price is funny: $18.81 alone or at a discount (if you bought VisualHub) of $14.41.

(btw, VisualHub was updated to v1.32 today)

FCP Manager is $99, Preference Manager, FCP Rescue are free

There's a fourth FCP pref manager app on the loose. This one is called "FCP Manager" from Reinphase Inc and it's $99. What's it do?

Save Final Cut Pro® preference & environmental settings as 'presets'
Launch new Final Cut Pro® projects using previously saved presets specific to users, formats, etc.
Efficiently manage preset files
Group multiple presets into folders
Add title, comments and user information to presets
Protect presets from accidental overwrites
Import/Export presets
Delete and restore Final Cut Pro® preference files
Intuitive and simple user interface


Compared against FCPResuce or Preference Manager which are free, this seems pretty steep to me. Even FCP Attic is only $15.

As "craigkabis" said at macupdate.com "Wow a hundred bucks! Can I have some of the crack you're smoking. $20 would be high for what this does."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Knowledge Base Updates

Apple released several updates to the FCS knowledge base the other day. I'm late, again :)

Final Cut Express: Deleting audio tracks
Final Cut Pro 6: About the Render All command
Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express: Troubleshooting FireWire using direct connections
Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express: Unexpected quit with Panasonic HDC-SD9 AVCHD
Final Cut Server: Changes made to browser headings do not appear in metadata
Final Cut Server: "Original media" appears in version comment field
Final Cut Server: Media in Final Cut Pro appear as "Media Offline" when using a Contentbase device for edit-in-place
Final Cut Server: Some Final Cut Pro projects may not always check out correctly
Final Cut Server: Support resources
Final Cut Server: Uploading and transcoding a file without a filename extension will stop the job
Final Cut Server: Windows client cannot copy files with filenames longer than 152 characters
Final Cut Studio: Kernel Panic with Kona 3 cards on Mac Pro

Artifacts and Fast User Switching


I've been editing on a friend's system for the past few days under a newly created account on their Mac. We've been using Fast User Switching a bit and I've noticed that if I leave FCP running on my login while my friend logs into their account, when switching back to my account sometimes, but not always, the Canvas will display heavy artifacts and skip considerably while playing something from the timeline. The footage was shot to a P2 card as DVCPro HD, 720 24p.

The odd thing is it's not consistent and I can't reproduce it every time at least so far. It may have something to do with this little-acknowledged Quicktime bug 7.4.5 but I'm not sure. Another report of this bug is here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Phantom Cine QuickTime Toolkit 1.0.5 Update

If you're doing any high-speed video shooting/editing then you'll be happy to hear there is an update to the Phantom Cine toolkit.

Denser, faster, cheaper hard drives.

I'm not one to post youtube videos really but IBM's new technology dubbed "Racetrack Memory" could lead to more storage, fewer failures and faster access to data. Hopefully this will lead to smaller storage devices with less heat, less power consumption and faster access times for video editing.

Sleep your display with Keyboard Command


Try this:

Shift+Control+Eject. If it works your display will go to sleep as if you had turned it off while the Mac runs happily in the dark. Of course, just tap a key (I like Shift) to wake up the display.

Firmware update helps Firewire Problems?

Not only did Apple release another pro-app update today updating FCP to 6.0.3 but some sites are reporting that the recent iMac EFI Firmware update helps with Firewire volumes refusing to mount on some iMacs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Keep an "AirDisk" spinning

If you use an "AirDisk" to keep shared data on but find it's spinning down annoying here's a really cool way to keep it spinning all the time.

I haven't tried it yet with other hard drives or shared volumes but this may be a solution for pesky external firewire hard drives with firmware which refuses to obey your energy saver settings and spin down no matter what.

Fastest Firewire Yet

Symwave which deals with firewire technology (among other things) announced today the fastest firewire yet.

It's called FirePHY-1600, and increases the speed of regular FireWire to about 1.6 gigabits per second (Gbps) in theory-ish which is twice as fast as FireWire 800.

The cool thing is that it's all backwards compatible with FireWire 800 and 400. And expect people to call it FireWire 1600 any second now. (don't get too comfy as FW3200 is on it's way already)

The true name of this technology is "IEEE 1394b S1600 Physical Layer (PHY)"

They're sending out samples to companies as I type this :)

FCPRescue vs FCP Attic

We all know (hopefully) the freeware app FCPRescue which will backup your FCP prefs and restore them from your backup if they ever get corrupted. The bottom line is that trashing your FCP prefs or restoring a known good set can solve all sorts of strange behaviors and problems.

But, there's a new bit of kit on the block called FCP Attic which is shareware at $15.00 from Chesapeake Systems. I couldn't find it listed at macupdate for some reason. They say it's worth the $15 (up from free I suppose) because of:

Trash, Backup and Refresh your Final Cut Pro preferences with the click of a button. Can be used with all Mac OS X compatible versions of Final Cut Pro (version 3.x thru 6.0.x). Unlike other preference utilities, FCP Attic allows you to choose your backup folder location so you can move your preferences from machine-to-machine with external media.


It's not hard to know where FCPRescue stores it's backup and truth be told, it's not hard to whip up an applescript to perform all of this yourself which sounds like something I'll give a go later on tonight if I have time. I'll post the script here.

Chesapeake Systems also makes something called Multiuser Pro for Final Cut which:

Multiuser Pro brings an Avid-like project window to Final Cut Pro. Create multiple Final Cut Pro users within a single Mac OS X user login. Migrate your preferences easily from machine-to-machine in a SAN environment. Create preferences based on a user or project name... do what they said couldn't be done!


Now I haven't tried out any of their tools but frankly, if you know your way around Final Cut it's not hard to do all of this yourself. In fact, you should know where all the bits and pieces of Final Cut are spread around on your hard drives so you can troubleshoot things manually. But that's me :)

Final Cut Server Ships


After much hullaballoo Apple has finally shipped Final Cut Server. Press Release here.

$999 (US) for one server and 10 concurrent client licenses and $1,999 (US) for one server and unlimited client licenses. The requirements can be found here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Multiple P2 Cards Mounted Simultaneously



I love P2 cards and cameras like the HVX-200. But here's a tip from Apple that has bitten me a few times and I never put the two together. Apparently when you have multiple P2 cards mounted at once the likelihood of Final Cut crashing is increased. Go figure. I wonder why Apple has chosen to just post a note about it rather than issue a patch for it.

On computers with Mac OS X 10.4, Final Cut Pro 6 may quit unexpectedly while you're using the Log and Transfer window to transfer media from Panasonic P2 cards. If you have multiple P2 volumes mounted simultaneously, the likelihood of this happening may increase.


So do this...

To work around this issue, have fewer P2 volumes mounted at a given time.


All the more reason to buy a few of these, I guess.

HDV Capturing Hassles

I've never liked HDV for many reason so here's one more straight from Apple:

When you capture footage from an HDV camera using Final Cut Pro, the image displayed in the capture window may lag slightly behind the image displayed on the camera. This is normal and does not indicate any issue with Final Cut Pro or your camera.


What do you do to solve this hassle? Nothing really...other than stop using HDV...

This inconsistency is related to HDV's Long-GOP (Group of Pictures) MPEG-2 format. With the data structure for this format, Final Cut Pro must assess information about several frames in a row before it can accurately display them all.

When you need to make decisions about where to place in and out points for clips you wish to capture, the time reference point on your camera is more accurate. However, with HDV it's a good idea to give yourself an extra second or so on each side of the clip when marking in and out points for Log and Capture or when using Capture Now.

Friday, April 4, 2008

AppFresh


There's a little freeware application for Mac OS X that's hard to come by on your own. It's called AppFresh and all it does is compare the versions of all of your installed applications with the ones listed on some common software download sites. What's funny is that this free software updating application isn't (generally) listed on the popular for-profit software update sites. Funny how that works, eh?

Anyway, check out AppFresh, it's free and can save you some time. I've already come to rely upon it for non-Apple updates overall. Because of AppFresh I've abandoned versiontracker.com and now only use macupdate.com as a handy one-url-to-remember source to download commonly used apps I install on the networks and editing machines I manage.

Bonus Link: iusethis is a great site to discover new shareware, freeware and donationware.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

No Name


I've noticed on a few edit stations I've been working at with FCP 6.0.2 and Leopard 10.5.2 that when you mount P2 Media from an HVX-200 they won't show up in the Finder's windows sidebar but they will show up at root level in a Finder window. I'll have to do a bit of testing but it may have something to do with the users selecting not to show mounted volumes on the desktop.

The P2 media work as expected mounting and ejecting reliably but they just do not show up in the sidebar on some machines.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Missing Encoders?

Check this out: If you're missing some encoders in Final Cut Studio here's how to solve it straight from Apple.

Take the following steps to enable additional encoders:

Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
Choose View > QuickTime.
Click the Advanced button.
Select the checkbox next to Show legacy encoders.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Audio Input


Behringer has announced the easily remembered U-Control UCA202. It's basically a USB cord sticking out of a box that allows audio input and output from your Mac or "other". Seems neat and could solve some problems for some smaller editing setups I guess. I'd love to try one hint.

With this ultra-compact, bus-powered interface, you can link your Windows® and Mac® computer with any audio gear. There is no setup or special drivers needed—simply plug the interface in a free USB port on your computer and get into the groove.

The UCA202 provides 2 analog inputs and outputs, as well as an additional S/PDIF optical output for direct digital conversion. The stereo headphone output with dedicated level control lets you monitor both input and output. And the cherry on top is that the U-CONTROL download area offers a huge software package for recording and editing.

All in all, this interface is a complete audio solution which provides a connection between the analog and digital domain.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ratDVD



Here's a tip: When a client hands you a disc with "footage" on it for the project and it's a .ratDVD file burned to a DVD-R...just walk away. Or laugh quite loudly and ask for something you can use. It's not worth it. .ratDVD is lossy, HIGHLY compressed and just about useless.

Toast 9.0.1 & Converting Audio


For some insane reason I've been getting audio files from a client in .FLAC format. Yeah, I know. So I decided to try another method to convert them en masse today. Earlier today I installed Toast 9.0.1 and decided to try it to convert the flac things to something I could use.

Playing around with different setttings in Toast 9.0.1 I noticed one got'cha: The Sound Settings window will revert to it's defaults every time you close and open it by hitting the BIG RED BUTTON. You'll see it revert back to "Average Bit Rate" and a Quality of "Normal".

Other than that, Toast 9.0.1 is fine for converting stuff it seems. A little slow but usable.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Scene Detector


Here's an interesting app. Scene Detector is a utility that will analyze your footage and place markers where there are scene changes. It works by comparing frames evidently and there is a threshold slider to determine the amount of difference required for it to judge a scene has changed.

I haven't tried it but it sounds interesting.

MyBook vs. Blank Media


If you've been having trouble getting the Finder to recognize blank discs (not iPhoto or iTunes) and have a MyBook Pro II and installed it's silly software here's the solution:

Find a file called "com.WD.WDDriveServices.plist" and trash it.

Restart.

If you have trouble locating it (not sure about Leopard vs Tiger here) look in /library/LaunchDaemons/.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Speaking of audio files...


If a client happens to hand you a bunch of .ape or .wv files for the projects's audio, one tool that can help convert them to something you can actually use is X Lossless Decoder. It can convert the following:

(Ogg) FLAC (.flac/.ogg)
Monkey's Audio (.ape)
Wavpack (.wv)
TTA (.tta)
Apple Lossless (.m4a) [10.4 and later]
AIFF, WAV, etc

And, it's free!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mp3 Audio Files


It's okay to use .mp3 files in FCP's timeline in a pinch, (.aiff is preferred) but you'll need to render the audio (usually) first. If you don't render it you'll hear FCP beep repeatedly until you do something about it. A quick way to check to see if you need to render your audio (aside from hearing the beeps) is to look at the two thin render indicator lines at the top of your timeline. If the bottom one is red (hold your mouse over it to get a pop up with info) you need to render your audio.

Why not just render all? Well, if you have effects that are previewed (green bars or even yellow) and just want to check the audio sync or timing you can save rendertime by just rendering your audio. A quick way to do this is to tap Control + Option + R which will just render your audio and leave your video tracks untouched.

Btw, a really fast way to convert .mp3s into .aiff is to open the .mp3 in Quicktime Player, then Export them as .aiff.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

FrameByFrame


FrameByFrame is a simple, free stop-motion application. It's pretty basic but what it does it does well. Don't expect any high-end features but if you're looking for a bare-bones stop-motion app this isn't a bad one to start with. For a more feature-rich stop-motion tool I'd recommend iStopMotion which is about $50 I think.

VideoSpec


VideoSpec is a small free application that tells you the specs of a video file and will even compare two video files. It's basically a one trick pony at this point but it could end up being a very helpful little app.

Glue Tools Cine Toolkit

If you deal in high-speed shooting you'll be happy to know Glue Tools updated their Cine quicktime toolkit today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Edit In-Decision Lists and Commas


Is it just me and my clients? Whenever they send me change lists it seems like there are never any commas in their cryptic lists of changes. Not only are there no commas, but numbers denoting each item (as in a numbered list) are absent so it's difficult to tell where one run-on paragraph of a change ends and another one begins.

What's fun is calling them after receiving the email and asking "Yeah, number 6 on the change list, I was wondering what 'edit point(,) back behind first scream(,) on last scene(,) needs improvement' means....No my list isn't numbered either. I'll wait."

Also reading "imporvment" and "needs be better" is always enlightening. Not to mention getting these changelists emailed to you usually around 5pm. Oh, and for the record it's "Inpoint", "InPoint" or "In-Point" not "in point". And "a sec" could mean to an editor literally one full second (an eternity in a 30 second spot) or just a 'lil bit; be specific.

I'm thinking that I can just take all the commas they forget and tack them onto my invoice and see if they notice.

Finder Not Loading with EXT HD Attached

Thought this would be relevant since many people edit with external drives:

Finder may not load with external drive connected in Mac OS X 10.5.2

Issue or symptom
The Finder may not load in Mac OS X 10.5.2 after connecting a third-party external storage drive. The menu bar may appear to "flicker," or desktop icons may repeatedly disappear and reappear.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fast & Cheap Ken Burns Effect in Final Cut Pro

So you want or need a Ken Burns effect quickly and you don't have $50 for a plug-in and don't want or feel like messing with Keyframes. What's another option?

iPhoto. It's free and you already have it installed. The Golden Triangle applies here: Good, Fast, Cheap…Choose Two.

With iPhoto you'll get Fast and Cheap since the export will be limited to 640 x 480.

So how do you do it?

1. Load your photos for the Ken Burns Effect into iPhoto.
2. Select them all in iPhoto so they're all highlighted.
3. Click on the little "+" plus sign at the bottom left of the iPhoto interface.
4. Fourth from the left, or Fourth from the right, click on "Slideshow".
5. Name it, Make sure "Use selected items in new slideshow" is ticked, and hit Create.
6. From here tick ""Ken Burns Effect".
7. Hit the "Music" button with the iTunes icon and at the top of this sheet UNTICK "Play music during slideshow". Hit OK.
(OPTIONAL) Leave Effect and Transition alone if you want the Ken Burns look, but feel free to experiment with them though.
8. Tap Preview for a quick preview of the slideshow or Play to actually watch it. (Tap Escape to cancel the slideshow if you hit Play and have seen enough) (iPhoto will start the Play from the image that's highlighted.
9. Click Settings with the gear icon if you want to adjust the duration of the slides (images). The default duration is 3 seconds. You should leave "Automatic Ken Burns Effect" ticked. Repeat Slideshow doesn't really matter since we're going to export this slideshow as a movie file.
10. Optional - If you want to adjust the duration of a particular slide, click it in the timeline at the time (or use the arrow key buttons on the bottom left) to highlight it, then click "Adjust". If you want to fine tune a photo's "Ken Burnsiness" then Tick "Ken Burns Effect" and adjust Start or End, the Zoom and by dragging it around the starting position of the image. (Keep in mind the speed of the Ken Burns zooms is a function of the initial zoom position of the image and the duration it's on screen)
11. Hit Shift + Command + E to Export it. From the export dialog choose Large (640 x 480) [I'm not sure if iPhoto supports larger exports than that, more experimenting is needed] then select where you want it saved, give it a name and hit the Export button.

You'll end up with a .mov (MPEG4) 640 x 480 movie of your slide show you can then dump into FCP. Is this the best way to do this? Absolutely not; but it's fast. If you want a Cheap, Good -but not Fast- way to do this you'll need to bring all your photos into FCP then Keyframe moves on them (I suggest doing 10 moves then repeating them over and over with Option + V but that's for another post).

Friday, February 29, 2008

JVC's Evil .MOD and .TOD Files


JVC has chosen for reasons known best unto themselves to use .MOD files for SD footage for their Everio camcorders and .TOD for HD footage (they're Program Streams...shhh). Basically this means on a Mac, with FCP it's a hassle to work with them. At the risk of dating myself, I thought they were audio files when I saw them on the camera.

The other day I had to get some clips off of one of these things so what I ended up doing was tossing the .MOD files into VisualHub and moving on with my life. VisualHub converted them to footage FCP could use.

Granted, the clips I needed were few and were only SD .MOD files but it worked. If I get a chance I'm going to test simply changing the extension of the files to .MPG and so on since .MOD files are really just MPEG2 files in disguise. I'm curious to see how VisualHub handles the HD clips actually.

JVC provides some software to use with a Mac but from what I've read people are less than pleased with it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Super Fast Text Insert


Lets say you need to put some text into your project and want to use FCP's Text Generator. Here's a fast way to do it making a round trip from the timeline window, to the viewer full of text generating goodness and back to the timeline window without using the mouse:

1. Make sure your timeline is the active window so tap Command + 3 to bring it to the foreground. If it vanishes, don't panic, hit Command + 3 again to bring it back and make it the active window.

Now is the time to place the playhead where you want it with Left Arrow or Right Arrow (or if you don't want to move your fingers even that far use ; (semi-colon) and ' (apostrophe).

2. Now, lets set the target video track. Pick the one you want and hold down F6 then tap the track number you want in the top row of numbers on your keyboard.

3. Next, hit Control + X to bring up Text Generator in your Viewer.

4. Then, hit Shift + Command + ] (right bracket) to cycle through the tabs in the Viewer until you have Controls selected.

5. Tap Tab to highlight the "SAMPLE TEXT" you see there.

6. Type your text. The trick here to get out of typing mode and into a mode where you can overwrite or insert your text into the timeline is to tap Tab again. You'll see the Size text (number?) entry box's contents highlighted but ignore that for now unless you want to adjust the text size.

7. Tap F10 to overwrite or F9 to insert your text element into your timeline and you'll find the timeline window is already active ready for the next edit.

Use Your Flash Drive


Flash drive, thumb drive, tab drive, whatever you call them, if you're a freelance editor you really need one. Bigger is better, too.

Not only should you keep your plug-ins, various handy apps and documents on it but head over to User/Library/Preferences/Final Cut Pro User Data and grab what you find in there and dump it onto your flash drive. In there you'll find Window Layouts, Button Bars, Plugins (although this isn't the main plugin folder), your FCP prefs and Custom Settings. Keep all of this handy on your flash drive and you'll save yourself hassles later. I had to do this recently when an editing station I was at needed a reinstall. Luckily, I saved off my FCP prefs before the new HD was installed.

p.s. it's also not a bad idea to have some of your favorite music on there for iTunes ;)

AJA Kona vs. Quartz Extreme

...and "some video cards". And by some I mean ATI's 8800GT among others.

From AJA's support site:

(Release Date 2/14/2008, TAR archive)
This 5.1 NDD version is recommended for OS X 10.5.2 users. Note: The AJA
KONA driver version 5.1 NDD is the same as driver version 5.1, but removes
the Macintosh Desktop Display feature.

With the regular version of the 5.1 driver, some users may experience issues with Quartz Extreme, the behavior of their computer displays, and in some cases, kernel panics may occur with certain graphics cards installed. If any of the issues mentioned occur, the driver version 5.1 NDD should be used instead of version 5.1. Driver version 5.1 NDD is also the recommended version for use with the latest Intel Xserve with Xeon 5400 series processors, model (MA882LL/A).

Adjust your screen brightness


I was working on someone else's system the other day and the monitor was just too bright for my taste so a friend reminded me of DarkAdapted X, a screen brightness control app which has a free and a pro version.

DarkAdapted is an application program. It controls the amount of red, green, and blue in your screen gamma so that you may, for example, preserve your dark adaptation while using your computer.

DarkAdapted is being used by astronomers, planetarium operators, graphics professionals, medical professionals, airline pilots, air traffic controllers, and others worldwide to provide flexible, dynamic control over their monitor's screen color response. Users may define an unlimited number of gamma presets, and invoke them via global hotkeys, by menu selection, or by typing the first few letters of a preset’s name.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

VideoSpace Update

VideoSpace, a free tool from Digital Heaven which helps you calculate file sizes and duration of footage based on several parameters has been updated to version 2.5 for Mac OS 10.5.2.

Check it out here.

Image Capture & It's Greyed Out Scan Button


Okay, this isn't specifically a Final Cut tip but since you may need to occasionally scan in things for FC you may find yourself inside of Apple's free Image Capture app.

If you do, and you find it working perfectly except for it's Scan button is greyed out, here's the solution:

Click in the preview window and drag out a square for it to scan from.

Yes, that's it. It's that simple. Click outside the scan marquee square you just made to start over. This had me puzzled for far too long.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boris FX Update

If you use it Borix FX has been updated to 9.2.1.

Includes support for Adobe After Effects CS3, Vegas8, Mac Universal Final Cut Pro, Media 100 12.1 and earlier, Mac Universal Avid, older PowerPC hosts, and Windows hosts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jolt

Jolt is a bit of shareware that solves a common problem:

If you’ve ever wanted your display to stay on full power for just a few minutes, Jolt is for you. Simply click the Jolt icon and your system will stay on for a few minutes. After the time you’ve specified is over your mac returns to normal operation so that your battery doesn’t drain and you don’t have to fiddle with energy settings. Easily watch YouTube videos without moving your mouse every minute, deliver presentations without a blank screen showing up, or take your time reading a page without having to touch your mac.


What it may be good for is switching off Energy Saver for quick renders and edits when you're on the go. Plus, half of the shareware fee goes to charities listed on the Jolt site.

Quicktime 7.4 Update Problems

Looks like the latest update to Quicktime (v7.4) breaks some things, lest of all Adobe After Effects for many people. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not :) I'm not the biggest fan of AE in the world.

People are seeing this error after the update:
"After Effects error: opening movie - you do not have permission to open this file (-54)"


Some say it's a DRM issue others, a preferences SNAFU.