If you have an Apple Account (iTunes, iPad, iPhone) there is a Phishing email scam going on. Here's an email I received, note that the return email address is fake. Looks real though, pass this along and if you receive the email do not reply to it or click the link.
After lots of testing and comparing, we've made the decision to move two original series to Avid Media Composer 6. PBS series "This American Land" is starting up Season Two next week and in about a month or so we'll be kicking off a new original reality series.
Over the past for months or so, I've had one of my editors working primarily in Adobe CS 5.5 with another working in Avid Media Composer 6 to really see how they operated in all sorts of situations. Short stories, longer form, news features, etc... My editors and I struggled to come up with a definitive answer as to which we should use for "This American Land" as that's the first broadcast series to fire up for us again since we dropped Final Cut Pro.
What it really came down to is just how well Avid Media Composer works with our existing Final Cut Pro infrastructure. Mac Pros with AJA Kona boards connected to a Small Tree Communications 48TB shared storage system. It's interesting because as many of you know, Avid required their own hardware until just this past November. As I reported previously in my CreativeCow.net article, Avid's software works incredibly well with all our third party hardware. Even the shared storage works brilliantly without any sort of Avid / Unity based control.
Despite what people report and the industry wants us to believe, Tape is far from dead in our workflow. We have shooters who still have beautiful cameras that shoot tape and of course we have to master everything to HDCAM for delivery. Tape controls are just so rock solid with Avid, even better and more precise than we ever had with FCP.
So ultimately both myself and my editors felt most comfortable moving our broadcast workflow for these two shows over to Media Composer 6. We'll certainly keep y'all updated on how things roll as we move forward.
Me setting up Avid in our shop, never thought THAT would happen!
We’re one week into our search to transition our facility away from Apple and Final Cut Pro so I wanted to bring everyone up to date on where we stand so far. This was a very busy week as you can imagine with both production work in the shop and many MANY requests for myself to speak to national media outlets, podcasts and personal visits to our facility. So the testing will really ramp up this coming week.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5
This has been installed both on my home machine (27″ iMac) and our testing Mac Pro at the office which also includes the AJA Kona 3G board. Early testing shows that the workflow is remarkably similar to Final Cut Pro and in fact Adobe even includes preset keyboard remapping for Final Cut Pro 7.0 and Avid Media Composer. The new AJA 9.0.1 Plug-Ins for CS 5.5 are working very nicely and Premiere is talking to our SAN. So it’s essentially plug-and play to get going with the system.
Is it perfect? No and the Adobe reps I’ve been talking to have been very upfront about the good, the bad and ….. well nothing’s ugly so far so that’s a good thing. The most difficult part of the workflow is that Adobe might actually give us TOO many choices and settings.
For example, there is no direct equivalent to “Easy Setup” in Premiere so you do have to through several menus and settings to get your Project set up correctly. However, those Project Settings remain with the Project. So to create an “Easy Setup” you simply create multiple Project Templates with all the settings as you’d like them for various projects. So I create a “720p / 59.94 AJA Project” which has all the settings for a 720p / 59.94 project using the AJA Kona board for Capture and Playback. When I have to do a project using those parameters, I simply Duplicate the project and my entire system is set to work. That’s an elegant workaround and with the multiple workstations in our shop, I can create all the Template projects on one machine and share them with everyone else. By the way this was a great tip given by the book “An Editor’s Guide to Adobe Premiere Pro,” which you can find on various websites and even iTunes for download.
The most refreshing part of testing CS 5.5 is the openness and willingness of the Adobe team to admit that they still have things to be improved and they are listening to what editors have to say. I have heard stories of their development team literally watching the editors work through screen sharing to learn the “why” and “how” editors work in their daily sessions. That’s pretty neat.
Oh one last thing, Adobe Premiere Pro is cross platform so I have purchased one copy of Windows 7 Professional for installation in a new clean drive on our Test Mac Pro system. I want to see how this works out because this will open us up to working with freelancers and shops in town that might be Windows based, thus giving us an even larger pool of shops to work with. Much more testing to be done, but early testing has been great.
Avid Media Composer
Honestly don’t have a lot to report just yet as it is being installed on our testing Mac Pro at the facility. What we have done is to install a clean hard drive inside the machine, which we actually partitioned so we can install a clean copy of Snow Leopard on one side and the Windows 7 on the other side.
I wanted to ensure that we don’t create any issues by having Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5 and Avid MC all installed on the same drive. Most folks I talked to said they always installed FCP and Avid on separate boot drives, so I followed that advice. This way if we have any issues or crashes I don’t have to wonder if anything is being caused by the other apps. So this will be installed by itself on the drive to ensure we are only testing that software, that workflow.
Of immediate concern to me is that there is no support just yet for the AJA Kona Board. Avid did hint at NAB that support is coming and a recent exchange on Twitter states that Avid is listening. So hopefully we will hear something official in the near future. Secondarily, I’m not sure how / if it will work with our Ethernet SAN. That will be even more crucial than the Kona testing. I’ve been told that Avid doesn’t like third party storage that much, so this will be a good test. The guys from Small Tree Communications happen to be coming to our shop next week so if we do have any issues, they are going to be right there to investigate.
I’m excited to be testing this out actually because this brings me full circle back to the very first NLE I learned back in 1993 / 1994 when Avid was introduced to CNN. And from my conversations with Avid at NAB 2011 and subsequent communication since, Avid is truly listening and responding to years of complaints about being a very closed and hard to work with company. As with Adobe, I’ve heard more from Avid reps since April than I ever heard from Apple in 11 years. More to report soon.
Autodesk Smoke 2012
Autodesk was kind enough to send us an evaluation copy of Smoke 2012 which is something I’ve always known about, really like the interface, but have never had the opportunity to put my hands on. It’s not installed anywhere yet as this will be the last software we’ll be testing. It’s a very new software to me to I want to spend time with Avid and Adobe first, then we’ll test Smoke. Not sure it will be the primary editor for us, but it could very well fit into a finishing role for some shows and series.
It does accept interchanges with both Adobe and Avid so I’m most interested in how well handles the myriad of codecs we get and does it like mixed timelines / mixed formats? We’ll find out soon, but I’m really REALLY excited to give this a test drive!
So that’s the basic update for the moment. On a personal note, I have to be very honest and say that the FCP X roll-out has actually made me re-think some of my overall support of Apple in general.
At a recent event (I think it was the WWDC) Apple reps said they’ve heard from many consumers that they would love to tablets to be their primary and sometimes sole computer device. Well how can that be if Apple has decreed that Flash will not be supported by the iOS devices?
Sure it’s a “legacy” format and can cause “performance issues” with the tablets, but since Apple says it’s so, they don’t appear on the iOS devices and we simply accept that. With the iPhone, sure I don’t care because that’s primarily a phone, but if the iPad is supposed to be a “primary computer device,” I don’t think so.
I have visited hundreds of sites that incorporate Flash one way or another and it’s incredibly annoying when you can’t use the site, so I have to pull out one of our computers just to use that site. I hate Flash as much as Apple does, but that doesn’t mean I won’t visit a site that uses it. Try planning a cruise on your iPad, for example, and you’ll find that most major sites like Princess.com use Flash to display their cabin layouts when you go to select a cabin. Sure the world will probably be going HTML 5 soon but how many years away are we from that? In the meantime it would be nice for the iOS devices to support Flash if I as the consumer who bought the product would like to use a Flash enabled site.
With Final Cut Pro X, Apple did the same thing with third party capture cards and tape formats. Because Tape and Capture Cards don’t fit with the “modern workflow” model Apple dropped all support for them natively inside the application. Without that support for tape formats, I cannot make a living in our workflow.
The same apparently applies to “legacy projects” too. As in “You will not be able to open old projects because we say so.” Apparently Final Cut Pro X is only for “Modern Projects” and cannot be sullied by “Old Projects.”
So I gotta say, while I was really looking forward to whenever the iPad 3 comes out, I’m starting to get very annoyed with “You Can’t Do That Because We Say So”
and the “You Will Do It Our Way”
attitudes from Apple.
That’s not really “Thinking Different,”
that’s “Telling You How To Think.”
With Final Cut Pro X, that was Apple “Telling You How To Edit Video.”
Does any of this remind of you of a certain 1984 commercial from an upstart company? Only now that upstart is directing the minions…….
I’m gonna take a close look at that new Galaxy Tab from Samsung and other tablet options out there that don’t close off part of the internet experience just “because they can.” Also going to take a really close look at Windows 7 when it’s installed on that machine because I have some hard-core Mac fans who are telling me “it’s good.”
The debacle of FCP X has caused me to “lift the blinders” that kept me focused solely on Apple and Apple development. There’s a whole new world out there and I am now open to accept the possibilities no matter where that opportunity comes from.
I’m seeing this all over the various forums, blogs and twitter feeds in one variant or another in regards to the big Final Cut Pro X reveal at the FCPUG SuperMeet in Las Vegas last Tuesday.
“Hey, don’t knock down this product when it was just a SNEAK PEEK people! Sure there’s some questions out there but we should all be happy that Apple has at least shown us something. You know they’re normally super secret so the fact that actually showed Final Cut Pro X is a big change in the company. I’m excited about these new changes! Now we have to wait till June to see what features are still in the application before we start to complain.”
Apple had two freakin’ hours of stage time available and they wasted it on just one hour of a super slick presentation.
Of course we’re going to knock the presentation because all it did was leave us with many more questions than answers.
How long would it have taken to mention planned support for third party filters? 30 seconds?
Third party capture cards? 60 seconds?
Log and Capture / Edit to Tape support? (are they still there?) 20 seconds?
Customizable interface to replicate a more traditional editing style? 2 minutes?
Continued support of OMF, XML, EDL, AAF import / export? 30-60 seconds?
Text Tool? 2 minutes?
Track management? (as in allowing us to specify audio tracks for elements for ease of sending to ProTools and other sound editors) 1 minute?
The other ProApps? (as in are they being updated, retained and if so, expected releases?) 2 minutes?
In other words, MANY of the unanswered questions that all of us are asking could have been answered in that additional hour with plenty of time to spare.
Even if they didn’t want to show one of their patented slick slides or video demo, they could have at least told us about the various professional features that many of us use every day. But apparently those questions I’ve asked up above are somehow trade secrets that simply cannot be revealed because what if (gasp) one of the competitors (Avid, Adobe, Quantel, Autodesk, Vegas) finds out that Apple intends to retain standard pro features?
I’m sick and tired of sneak peeks and teases quite honestly. Put the product out there where we can truly test it out and ask questions like the Adobe, Avid, Autodesk, Quantel and all the other demonstrations that were out on the show floor. Put it in the hands of 1,000 beta testers in all sorts of production situations to get real world feedback instead of relying on a couple of post houses and maybe 10 beta testers. I spoke one on one with the CEO of Avid about the product and the future of the product. That was a useful conversation with frank questions and answers.
“I cannot speak about anything except what you just saw in the presentation”
is the response one of my colleagues got from the Apple ProApps team after the “sneak peek.” In other words, you have questions, I have no answers.
So what was the point in coming at all if you didn’t want to address the Pro Editors’ questions?
For fanboys it was the ultimate Apple dog and pony show last Tuesday.
But in the end, in front of 1700 video editors, on what could have been the night Apple completely re-invented non-linear editing, quite simply, Apple dropped the ball. Next time come prepared to answer very simple, very basic questions from the professionals in the room.
So NAB is rapidly approaching and as par for the course, we know nothing about Apple's plans for the event. We know they don't have a booth planned but will they announce anything at all?
Last year we had a completely underwhelming (you might say embarrassing) presentation by Apple at the SuperMeet. What will we see / hear this year?
In particular I'm curious what is going to happen to Color. Apple has really done zero to promote this application since it was acquired. When it was purchased I felt strongly, and still do, that it was a mistake to roll a $25,000 application into the $1,000 price of Final Cut Studio. By doing that, it created a lot of confusion with the end users who:
1 - Complained it doesn't operate like other Apple products
2 - Didn't take the time to learn the proper workflows.
3 - Complained the application doesn't support all the codecs / workflows of FCP.
4 - Complained the application was too hard to use.
5 - Compared it to Davinci, Baselight, Scratch and others, many of whom could only say that the others were realtime while Color was not.
There are many more examples of what the over 1 million end users who suddenly had this $25,000 color grading application complained about. Not to mention a lot of Colorists who felt threatened that 1 million plus users suddenly had a very powerful color grading application dropped into their laps.
Add all of this together and what you end up with is a very negative net value for Apple Color. People didn't even want to try it because of all the negativity associated with what is a very easy application to use and works brilliantly so long as you follow the proper workflow.
If Apple had kept it a stand-alone product priced at $999 or even $499 the people who wanted to use it would have had to make an investment into the application. When you make an investment into an application, you generally take the time to learn it properly. When it's simply an add-on to a major editing system like Final Cut Pro, it's just a freebie throw-in that I'll open up and if it doesn't work in a few clicks, well then it's trash and I won't bother.
The silence from Apple on the future development of the overall Final Cut Studio Suite in 2010 was deafening and no more so than with Color. NAB 2011 will be the point at which I will have to make the decision for our company as to whether we continue with the Apple suite of products or transition over to either Avid or Adobe CS5. We're essentially using the same software that was released back in 2009 and the production world has changed greatly in those two years, particularly with tapeless workflows and codecs that are not supported natively in FCP.
One of the big reasons we stick with Studio Suite is because of Color and the ease of use in moving projects in and out of that application. We literally run hundreds of projects each year through that app. Yes we have Davinci Resolve now as well because it makes sense to have both with the new pricing, but Color is still our primary color grading app.
I'm very curious to see whether Apple intends to keep the development of Color moving along. When Apple purchased it, we were ready to start beta testing Final Touch 3.0 which was scheduled to have some really nice features that have yet to appear in renamed Apple Color. April 2011 will be a very interesting month.
As I've been on the Creative Cow Final Cut Pro forums about 9 years now, I have seen all manner of people whine and complain about stability issues with Final Cut Pro. Sometimes it's truly Apple breaking stuff or releasing versions of Quicktime or FCP before they're ready. But often, it's operator error / configuration error.
Here's an example of just how stable Final Cut Pro is.
Been running my current Mac Pro Octo 2.93 for about 18 months now. ATI 4870 and AJA Kona 3 are the graphics and video cards in there. On Sunday I pulled them both out and replaced with the nVidia FX 4800 and the Blackmagic HD Extreme 3D video card.
What did Final Cut Pro think? Nothing, just kept right on rolling along. In fact I had to swap out the nVidia card and ATI card twice for 10.5.8 because I forgot to install the nVidia driver on that disc. Kernel panics because the driver wasn't in there. Installed the driver, opened the Mac for the fourth time to put the nVidia card back in there and away we go.
In fact I switch back and forth between my OS 10.5.8 and OS 10.6.4 boot discs depending on what I'm doing. Why? Well there's a problem in OS 10.6.4 that is disrupting the Ethernet SAN so I do all my primary editing in Leopard. But for testing Davinci Resolve I need to be in 10.6.4, so I switch over to that and edit using my 8TB local SAS/SATA array.
What does Final Cut Pro think? Nothing. It doesn't care which boot disc I start from, it doesn't care which graphics card and video card I have in there. It doesn't care if I'm editing off the SAN or the local storage. I keep both boot discs set up correctly for the OS version I'm booting off of. Nothing extraneous in there, no long daisy chain of FW or USB drives, etc...
So if you have an FCP system that is constantly crashing, bogging down, whatever, I'm going to bet there's more than likely something wrong in your configuration than with FCP. Just sayin'.
Note: part of this entry appeared in a previous blog entry. Let's just say my opinions have been changed.....
Why did I purchase this?
I took delivery of the 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad in April. No, I did not wait in line, I took the leisurely deliver it to my front door method. I guess waiting in line could have been fun hanging with the crowd, but that's ok. It got here. No, I'm not typing this blog on the iPad. This is still easier on the laptop.
I'm generally not an early adapter. When the iPhone first came out, I waited for the 2nd generation because I knew they would be faster and probably cheaper in a year or so. And I was still happy with my Motorola Razr phone.
So why jump on the very first iPad? Well, it looked like fun and it looked like a nice way to start and end each day. In the morning I have my coffee, breakfast and usually check out my emails, the local newspaper, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Daily News and the Creative Cow website. The iPad looked like it had a much better screen and viewing experience than the 15" MacBook Pro I have been using. It's also a lighter device.
On an airplane, unless I'm in first class / business class, I can't open up my laptop comfortably to work or to view a movie. I played some games on the iPhone on my previous flight, but that is a pretty small screen. When I went to NAB in April we took the iPad and sure enough, it was perfect for watching episodes of Psych and some movies. Great screen, great viewing angle.
At home when watching television, we always have the laptop around to look up websites or look up information that is spurred by whatever it is we're watching. I thought the iPad might be a little more handy than opening up the laptop each time we wanted to look up something. For the most part, this has been true. Again, it's much lighter and easier to start up and look up something than using the laptop.
So I bought this thing for entertainment and to have something that's a little smaller than a laptop. It's a multi-media device that's big enough to see the screen clearly yet small enough to go pretty much anywhere comfortably. But primarily, this unit was purchased to be used at my house for pleasure.
The Prohibition of Flash
Ok, so going into this purchase, I knew Steve Jobs prohibited Adobe's Flash from the iPhone and iPad. I've had the phone for years now and don't miss Flash on that unit at all. I don't really surf the web at all with it. When I'm waiting around for something, hanging in an airport, whatever, I'll go to the news apps to see what's going on in the world. Check the Creative Cow's mobile site to answer some questions. And definitely I check and correspond with my office and clients via email. But I don't really surf the web with it where I would miss the Flash capabilities.
I think if you polled iPhone users, you would probably get a majority of users who feel the same way. Email communication is the primary reason why we have iPhone and the ability to use Twitter, Facebook, and News websites are a nice bonus.
Now the iPad is a different animal. It's not a phone. You can't make phone calls with it. It's a multimedia device with an incredible 9.5" screen designed to work primarily with the internet. The internet is full of websites that use Flash in one capacity or another. Hulu.com is one of the more recognizable names loaded with Flash videos.
Steve Jobs claims that Flash is the past and Adobe should move on to html5 support. (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/
) Flash will slow down the iPad. Flash will kill the iPad battery faster. And there's this line.... Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. Is Steve talking about Adobe or Apple?
Steve, look in the mirror and say that same line.
Steve, I don't see anyone selling Mac Clones. They used to, but it's not allowed now. I don't see any other computer manufacturer running Mac OS. I don't see anyone else running the iPhone OS. I don't see any competitive pricing for the Mac products (Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, etc...) no matter where they are sold. In other words, these products are 100% proprietary, they are only available from Apple and Apple has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc...
But I digress... Flash is used for other purposes like forms, images, schematics and more. This past week my wife and I were researching pricing and itineraries for a potential cruise in 2011. Of course I pulled the iPad out as we were sitting outside on the deck. The iPad screen is very easy to see even in the full daylight. Well, one site after another would only partially work. We could get the basic information on the company, but no ship overviews, cabin layouts, itineraries and pricing would work. Just big empty white boxes. Using the Atomic Web Browser app, I checked the source of the pages and without fail, they all had .swf elements on the pages. So we pulled out my wife's HP laptop to continue with our research. Again, her screen is much brighter than my MacBook Pro's screen so it was a better choice to continue the research.
The iPad luster starts to wane.
So the lack of ability to simply research these sites that don't have any Flash video on them, they use Flash for basic functionality, really made me think about Steve's claims. Again, the iPad is an internet centric device. So if it's an internet centric device then it should work with the entire internet, not just those parts that Steve Jobs feels we should be allowed to use. I paid over $600 for this device (price of the iPad + AppleCare + tax) and I'm being arbitrarily told what website I can and cannot use.
Look I'm not an Adobe fanboy by any means
, just go read my blogs about Encore and you'll see how much trouble Adobe has caused me. But Steve's fight does not hurt Adobe whatsoever. He says it's time for Adobe to stop looking back and start moving forward. Is he also going to tell all the thousands upon thousands of web sites using Flash elements they have to move forward too? Really? They have to spend thousands of hours to redesign their sites so they can operate on Apple's proprietary iPad device or create an iPad App to be sold in Apple's proprietary App Store after Apple employees approve it. Of course, they don't have to approve it and there's no arbitration or any other recourse to sell those apps for use on the iPhone and iPad.
Or, Apple could open up the iPad to Flash, one element being added to your device that opens up the entire internet. Oh and it still might not all work correctly. As Steve notes in his "thoughts" some Flash based sites rely on rollovers which a touch device doesn't support. At least not at this time. So not everything is going to work, but certainly much much more of the web will work than what works now.
And finally I bought this iPad for use today. Not for what it will do tomorrow when (if) the entire internet changes over to all html5. I'm sure it's going to happen, but just how quickly will that happen, especially when there are many millions more devices that CAN run Flash than can't. Why knock yourself out to support just the "cool" factor devices when percentage wise, they are a very very small portion of mobile internet devices in use.
So here in our house, the luster of the iPad has really started to fade and fade quickly. It's a cool device and the apps are nice, but we're pulling out the laptops more and more these past few weeks because the iPad is simply useless to do much of the research we're doing. You would think basic travel sites would work, but nope.
I originally purchased this base model of the iPad with the intention of upgrading next year. I figure it'll get faster, larger hard drive and maybe a camera next year. And then I was going to give this one to my wife. She's made it pretty clear she doesn't really want it now. She finds her HP laptop much more productive than the iPad.
At this time, it looks like I'll just use the iPad primarily for Twitter, Facebook and reading the news in the morning. When I fly, I'll watch videos on the plane. Can't really say that I would recommend the iPad anymore.
When I bought it I loved it, especially the video playback. But now that I've had it for a while, I wish I would have just put the money towards a 13" Macbook or a Windows based netbook. The "cool factor" would not have been there, but at least I would have the option to use the internet, the whole internet and nothing but the internet. I'll chalk this up to a $600 mistake.
In the lexicon of Twitter, I'd have to give the current configuration of the iPad a #Fail. It's still got a great screen, but honestly I could have spent my money better elsewhere. Oh, and before you all write to me, yeah I know all about the Cloud App
that allows you to run Flash video on the iPhone / iPad. Um, not exactly an elegant solution nor does it address Flash functionality on websites.
The 2010 National Association of Broadcasters
convention had the Post Production world buzzing about the Three A's of the industry. Apple, Adobe and Avid. Well, really more Adobe and Avid since they were actually at the show and had something to demonstrate.
Adobe brought their CS5 creative suite
to the show with some incredible announcements. Not the least of which to me is the ease of integration with other NLEs like Final Cut Pro and Avid. Adobe has decided to "play nice" with with their competitors to make it easier for Post Houses like mine to get projects into and out of After Effects for one. Right now this requires plug-ins like the Automatic Duck Importer for AE (which is totally awesome by the way), but with CS5, we could essentially take an FCP timeline, send it to Premiere and then send it over to AE. Ok, the Duck plug-in is around $500 and Premiere is $799 so it’s a bit silly to even consider Premiere just for this functionality. But......
Premiere has taken a huge step forward with their 64bit enabled Mercury Engine.
Much more realtime functionality and you can see in their online demos 4k and 2k material scrubbing and playing back in the same timeline. You will have to install CS5 in a 64 bit system to run and run an Adobe Certified graphics board in order to take full advantage of the Mercury Engine functionality. But the functionality of Premiere is very much on par to what Final Cut Pro based facility are used to and the real-time functionality of the CS5 package simply blows FCP out of the water.
Avid brought us Media Composer 5
and what really got the show buzzing was their support of Quicktime. More specifically, Apple’s ProRes codec. So now there is the very real possibility of Avid working right alongside Final Cut Pro in the same facility or for sharing projects across facilities.
Not only that, Avid’s H.264 native editing support refutes everything we’ve been saying about that codec and Final Cut Pro for the past few years. Whenever someone said they could not get H.264 to edit well in FCP (such as from a DSLR), we would inform them that it was not a proper editing codec, it was a finishing / delivery codec. Transcode it to something else like ProRes. Avid (and Adobe for that matter) is now showing that assumption to be false. Take the H.264 and start editing right away in realtime.
And like Adobe, Avid has a much more seamless P2 / tapeless workflow that does not require transcoding, wrapping to be able to edit with this material. Simply bring it in and start working pretty much instantaneously.
Now the one thing Avid has NOT really done is open up the platform to third party hardware.
Right now you can use the Matrox MXO2 Mini for display only. So you can watch your project on a monitor and do a crash record to a VTR or DVD Recorder but that’s pretty much it. No support for the AJA Kona Boards or the BlackMagic boards at this time and Avid was very vague on whether that would come in the future. “The MXO2 Mini is the first step” is what I was told during a meeting, but that was all they said. What I would ideally like to do in our situation is install the Avid Media Composer 5 software to work on our AJA Kona 3 based systems. This would allow me to hire any freelancer whether they want to work with FCP or Avid and we could work in one universal codec, ProRes so any system could access the media. This is going to be a wait and see with Avid to see how willing they are to really open up the software to third parties. Short term I might install one copy of the software with the Mini so an editor could use Avid in our shop and we would lay back to tape using a Final Cut Pro workstation utilizing Automatic Duck to move the project over. Right now to really use the Media Composer software fully, you still need the Mojo hardware and I’m not going to spring for that.
So that leaves us with Apple.
(sigh) Apple’s lone appearance was at the Supermeet. Note I said Supermeet and not FCPUG Supermeet. That’s because the FCPUG part of it was dropped and in this case, for good reason. Apple sent up Steve Bayes, Sr. Product Manager for Final Cut Studio to give a presentation. Mind you, this followed the two jaw dropping presentations from Adobe and Avid. Steve starts off with “I’ve got a secret” and proceeds to tell us really nothing at all about Final Cut Pro. There was no secret, just more marketing buzzwords about how wonderful Studio is and how many production partners are using Studio or something along those lines. See I can’t even remember much about what he said because it was basically meaningless.
Your two strongest competitors take the stage in what used to be the Final Cut Pro Users Group Supermeet, completely knock it out of the park, and all you can do is whiff? I would like to say we heard crickets in the room, but that would be a disservice to the Rio Hotel so it was more or less silence that greeted this earth shattering “secret” from Apple.
Well, now we’re all kind of laughing again. Apple’s notorious silence allowed Avid and Adobe to completely leapfrog all discussion about Final Cut Studio and leaves the post-production community wondering whether Apple can keep up. When your competitors can work with your very own codec (H.264) better than your own product, that’s a problem. When your competitors can work with tapeless workflow better than your own product, that’s a problem. When your competitors can work with more realtime functionality using your very own hardware, that’s a problem. Basically Apple sent up Steve as a sacrificial lamb and really should not even have bothered.
The integration of the entire Adobe Suite has been much tighter than the Final Cut Studio suite for a few years now, but there really wasn’t anything to get me to even consider dumping FCP for Premiere. In fact, despite the fact that many of us like to defend Final Cut Pro vs. pretty much any NLE out there by saying it’s the artist that makes the difference, not the tool, I never really considered Premiere as a viable alternative for editing. It just never felt like a “professional editing tool” for whatever reason. Probably just a personal bias and I just don’t hear of very many “pro users” that base their facilities around Premiere.
With CS5, the Adobe suite suddenly looks very promising as an alternative.
Even more so since it runs with all of our existing infrastructure we have in place for Studio. The only change would be to replace our ATI graphics cards with the proper nVidia cards to support the Mercury engine. If Avid opens up their software to all third party hardware, especially the AJA Kona boards, well then that certainly becomes a very viable alternative as well.
That’s one of the beauties of what Apple has actually created. A very strong third party hardware market that is software agnostic. By concentrating on just the software and computer hardware, Apple opened up the Audio / video hardware to multiple independent companies like AJA and BlackMagic who designed their products to work with multiple NLEs out there. And as we all know, FCP / Premiere / Avid all work essentially the same way so if you know one, you can switch to another one pretty darn quickly.
Will I make the switch?
I’m not doing anything immediately though I will upgrade all our systems to CS5 when that is released. We run CS4 on all of our systems currently as we’re very heavy After Effects and Photoshop users so we have the Production Premium suite. When the CS5 bundle gets here you better believe I’ll be poking around in Premiere to see how it operates and just how well it “plays with Final Cut Pro” and how it compares to working with Final Cut Pro.
No I’m going to wait to see what Apple has to show us, whenever that is. They have to not only hit a home run, but knock it completely out of the park. I want to see a realtime alternative to Adobe’s Mercury Engine. I want to see the ease of use of H.264 and other tapeless formats that don’t require Log and Transfer with a re-wrapping. I want to see very tight integration between the apps in the suite like CS5. And I would really like to see Apple open up an “ease of use” path for working back and forth with Premiere and Avid systems.
So right now, my feeling and what I heard very often on the show floor, at the Supermeet and my various meetings with people is it’s time for Apple to put up or shut up. They set the bar high for a full featured non-linear editing system at a very low price. Adobe and Avid just blew right by them using the same hardware that is available to FCP facilities. Is Apple going to move the Studio suite forward and really improve the workflow for professional editors as the other A’s have done, or are they simply going to maintain the status quo with a few updates to just continue to sell Mac hardware? At the moment, Apple’s silence is deafening. I'm reminded of the NFL Playoffs commercial campaign a few years ago, "Show Me Something." Anything..... Once I can see what Apple has to show us, then we'll make the decision on where we go from there. We're about to grow from 4 to 9 edit suites in the next few months so what we see revealed from Apple will make the decision on where our company goes from here. I'm hoping they hit it out of the park so we don't have to change anything, but it's easy enough to make the switch if that's better for our company.
Of course the one thing Apple still has going for it is Color. Adobe and Avid still don’t have anything to match that. Oh that’s right, DaVinci took care of that for them, but that’s another blog entry.....
We now have the actual product features page from the Broadcom 5764 Ethernet Controller
that's now in the i7 and i5 iMacs. It's been said a photo tells a 1,000 words. I think this pretty much tells the story of the "i" line of iMacs.
Jumbo Frame Support - NO.
Without Jumbo Frame support, there's no way to connect to our Final Share SAN which is all ethernet based. No Jumbo Frame support, no professional video editing in our facility.
I've had all sorts of people write to me with various theories and ideas as to why Apple would take a part as simple as this and cut corners
to make these the only products in their lineup that cannot support Jumbo Frames. It's pretty obvious to me that Apple either does not know about ethernet SAN or does not understand how it works. Integrating and promoting ethernet SAN based solutions would only make the iMac an even more attractive solution in the professional editing environment and promote sales.
Connectivity to a large media array is the weak link in the iMac design. Ethernet SAN is the answer, but unfortunately, not in their latest and greatest machines.
So once again, if you're considering the 27" iMac know that you will be limited to just local FW800 storage with the i5 and i7 iMacs. A real shame and we'll be avoiding those machines unless Apple changes out the controller to make it Jumbo Frame enabled.
SEE UPDATES BELOW, I've updated this story twice since the original entry.
We took delivery of the brand spankin' new 27" i7 iMac last week and connected it immediately to our Final Share SAN in about 5 minutes for video editing. Quick tests showed the SAN was connected and working fine.
Then today I started really editing on it and I'm dropping frames every 10 to 30 seconds. Now it appears the ethernet controller that is in the new Mac cannot support the speeds necessary to edit video via the SAN. Our 2 year old iMacs can, but the brand spanking new, most powerful iMac cannot.
I'm at a loss as to how Apple can improve every aspect of this machine, including the absolutely stunning 27" LED backlit display, but then cut back on something as simple as an Ethernet Controller that should be designed to work with today's equipment running high speed internet instead of stepping backwards to the speed of older model PowerMac machines.
We're working with a few folks to see if this can be addressed at all with a driver update or if it's just all that the card can do. If this is all the speed we get, this machine is going back and we'll move on with another machine. My original plan was to install up to 4 of these 27" iMacs in our new facility, but that may have to change now if Apple is going to stay with these crippled controllers instead of giving us the speed we're paying for.
I'll update you guys as more information becomes available. To say I'm disappointed right now is an understatement. Wonder what I need to do to get on a beta test team because I seem to the person pushing all the systems further than any of their beta testers are. Everyone always tells me "you're the first person to find this......"
UPDATE #1 - 2/25/2010
I've been told the problem is limited to the 27" i5 and i7 Quad Core iMacs.
The Core Duo machines appear to support full Jumbo Frames across Ethernet. We're going to do definitive testing on both my i7 and a Core Duo machine this afternoon. Will update with more later.
UPDATE #2 - 2/25/2010
We took the iMac to one of the local Apple Stores where the technician at the Genius Bar confirmed that the Broadcom 5764 Ethernet Controller in the i7 iMac 27" does not support speeds over 1500. This same controller is in the i5 iMac 27" machine too.
From what he could gather, the Broadcom website is very vague as to whether the controller itself cannot support higher speeds or if it's just a driver issue. I've been told by outside sources that the documentation on the 5764 states it does not support Jumbo Frames so that leads me to believe 1500 is the max.
Now the Intel Core Duo 2 machines, which is pretty much the rest of Apple's lineup, all support Jumbo Frames. This includes the Core Duo 2 iMac 27" machines. I've returned the i7 and have ordered the 3.33Ghz 27" iMac.
I'm dumbfounded as to what happened with the design of the i7 and i5 machines. How was something as simple as an ethernet controller allowed to become a bottleneck on the flagship machine of a company? I don't know, but be aware that if you plan to use this in a professional environment and will require true high speed ethernet data transfer, as of right now, the i5 and i7 iMacs will not support that.
Again, to say I'm disappointed with Apple right now is an understatement.
“Apple lays off 40 people from the FCP development staff right before NAB 2010.
Is it doomed?”
“Apple has laid off many people involved in the development in FCP. Will FCP languish now?”
If it’s getting close to NAB, it must be time for the new “Final Cut Pro is going away” rumor to start. By now, anyone who works with Apple’s Final Cut Pro software has probably seen the “tweet heard ’round the world” that Apple has apparently laid off 40 people from the Final Cut Pro development team. So of course we have to have multiple threads appear in the Creative Cow’s forums where we have the expected “Is Final Cut Pro doomed?,” “Why would Apple kill the product?” entries.
Why? I mean seriously. Why? 40 people were laid off, and as well noted by Shane Ross in multiple threads on the Cow, the bulk of these people were external contractors, not Apple employees in Cupertino. And suddenly the sky is falling? Entire COMPANIES have disappeared over the past year, some really HUGE companies have flat out disappeared off the map and we’re all up in arms that a product might disappear because 40 people were apparently let go from Apple?
Now I’m not taking their layoff lightly. 40 qualified people were apparently let go and that’s never a good thing when people lose their jobs, especially in this economy.
But in terms of the product line, Final Cut Pro and the rest of Studio, I don’t see why people get so uptight when the read something like this. Do you really honestly think Final Cut Pro, or the rest of Studio, would simply vanish overnight due to the loss of 40 people? Do you really honestly have any idea how many people are ON the Final Cut Pro and Pro Apps team?
There’s three reasons I can see for this layoff to have occurred:
1) Apple is trimming the fat on this department. Final Cut Studio is only $999 and accounts for a small portion of Apple sales compared to the consumer products like iPhone, iPods, iMacs and MacBooks. There comes a point where cutbacks are necessary in personnel and a decision was made to release these 40 people.
2) Apple has completed a full re-write of the software package to make it fully 64 bit compliant and have released the team members no longer necessary for the new build. This is standard procedure from what I have gathered at many software and gaming companies where a team is built up for a major software title and then that team is pared back down when the job is completed. This is much like any television production or film project quite honestly. In my own company we have anywhere from 2 to 12 people working in my offices depending on the jobs in the shop at any given time.
3) Apple is considering the sale of the entire Final Cut Studio package to a 3rd party and have released these people ahead of the sale. See I just don’t believe Final Cut Studio would simply disappear, not with over 1 million registered users around the world. I do believe at some point Apple would consider the sale of Studio to a third party vendor and in my opinion it could be a good thing, particularly if this was a software centric company and not a hardware centric company. If you are only making the money off the software, then you have to be constantly pushing the limits of it and constantly updating / upgrading it to meet the user base demands. If you are simply using the software as a carrot to sell your hardware, then you can allow the software to lag a little behind in development so long as you keep the machines improving at a fairly rapid rate.
If I were to take a guess on the reality, my guess would be Number 2. The fact that these were apparently external people who were let go leads me to believe these were primarily Quality Control and Testing type of people. The folks who hammer on the software to check that it functions as expected and to catch as many bugs as possible before the product is released. They might have also been folks who were advocates for new features and such.
Do I have anything to go on besides my own intuition? Nope, just a guess on my part based on what little information we have available to us. If we see a Final Cut Studio 4 or a Final Cut Pro 8 at NAB, then we’ll know that was the case. As usual with Apple, we’ll all know the truth when we know.
Apple quietly updated their Mac Pro lineup last Friday and the Octo Core 2.93 is now absent. This is the machine I purchased in July 2009 that has been pretty much nothing but trouble since it was installed.
As I've noted on this blog recently, there is a bad issue with the Intel Hartwell chip that runs the ethernet ports that causes the Mac Pro to disconnect from our ethernet SAN multiple times per day. We also have difficulties reconnecting to the SAN multiple times per day. Our other 5 workstations don't have these issues with the SAN and none of them are the 2.93.
We're also getting AJA Video Output Plug-In errors with Final Cut Pro just disappearing multiple times per day on this machine. Our other 5 workstations are not showing this issue.
Now Apple has discontinued the product after a short run, but the other two Mac Pros are still there, but they have been updated with new specs I was told by one of my vendors. It's circumstantial but this leads me to believe the 2.93 was a true lemon and Apple needed to get it off the market. Not sure where that leaves me but I'm going to be making some phone calls tomorrow.
2.93 is still available as an upgrade. Still checking the specs inside the machine. Making some calls today.
As we have discovered with worsening problems over the past 6 months, Apple has a very serious problem with their latest Mac Pro machines running the Intel "hartwell" chip on the ethernet ports. With bi-directional traffic to / from our ethernet based SAN, we can predict that our latest Mac Pro, the 2.93 Nehelam quad core machine, will disconnect from our SAN 8 times out of 10. The problem has been worsening and so far Apple has zero answers to the problem. Even Snow Leopard does not address this issue.
If you have any machine prior to the 2.93 Quad Core machine, you should be ok. We have three other Macs that all run on the SAN with no issues. It's only this machine and I have been told the problem is being repeated on other Mac Pros with this same "Hartwell" chip.
So if you're a heavy user of ethernet networking and especially looking at / using ethernet based SAN like we do, check with your networking folks before you purchase any new Mac Pros. To say we're disappointed with Apple right now is an understatement. Pay $6,000 for a new machine and find out it won't perform to the same specs as 2 and 3 year old computers.
My edit suite runs two 25' DVI extenders, VERY heavy duty extenders that were about $120 each. This suite has run with the G5 Quad 2.5, the Mac Pro Quad 3.0 and the Mac Pro Octo 3.2 with zero issues running two DVI monitors and the extenders.
Now I get the $7,000 top of the line Apple Octo Core machine with the ATI 4870 graphics card which of course Apple mandates with one regular DVI port and one Mini DVI port. I got the adapter that allows me to run two standard DVI monitors. The one connected to the Mini DVI port is not coming on. We even switched the cables in the back of the machine and only the regular DVI port is putting out an image to the monitors.
Now we're going to have to come up with another workaround. If you have a "special monitor" (i.e. Apple LED Display) that requires a "special DVI port" because you don't want to pay the licensing fees for regular DVI, why don't you create an adapter cable the OTHER way around? Regular DVI to the Mini DVI required by the Apple monitor?
In case you haven't read the light grey print on Apple's website....
Mac OS X Snow Leopard requires an Intel-based Mac.
No whining, no griping, if you haven't upgraded to an Intel Mac, then stay on Leopard and keep working away. When the time is right, you will be able to upgrade to an Intel Mac and Snow Leopard at the same time.
Oh and Snow Leopard is only $29 to upgrade from Leopard so that's pretty cool. No $129 upgrade fee or whatever is has been for the past few OS updates.
So I was at an Apple Business Networking event last week here in Atlanta and I asked my business rep about signing up for some One-on-One training for iWeb. It's a simple enough program but there are some aspects of it and re-working my website that would be better if I worked with a trainer one-on-one at the store. He told me I can't sign up for one-on-one unless I purchase a computer. It's Apple's new policy that people cannot simply sign up for one-on-one training anymore unless you purchase a product.
Ok, so I have 4 Mac desktops, 4 iMacs, 1 MacBook Pro, 1 Mini an iPhone, 2 iPods and 3 full copies of Final Cut Studio, iWorks and iLife. And that's just what I currently have. All told we've been through about 20 or 30 Macs since 1998 with my two companies. But I'm not permitted to purchase one-on-one training because my last purchase was about 3 months ago?
You would think that in this economy we'd be looking for ways to add revenue stream, not remove it. Nice way to treat a long term customer.
Editorial has been completed on the new business television pilot developed by Biscardi Creative Media, ideaWercs and Arriving with BB Webb. BCM Principal Walter Biscardi, Jr. served as Director, Editor and Post Production Supervisor on this project.
Additional credits include Brian Mead for logo design, Aaron R. Stewart for graphics design and Brian Little for opening title design. The episode was produced in 720p HD. More details will be provided as the series moves towards full production of Season One.
Biscardi Creative Media recently delivered an introductory project for an upcoming feature-length documentary about River Blindness disease. Produced by Gary Strieker and Cielo Productions, the project was a 10 minute overview of what the disease is and a brief look into some of the preventative measures being implemented by The Carter Center.
The presentation, "The Crab and the Fly" was shot in 720p HD in multiple locations in Africa and Latin America over a two year period. Editorial was performed by Aaron R. Stewart and the final presentation was delivered on 1080i BluRay disc using BCM in-house BluRay authoring & publishing tools.
The feature length documentary is scheduled for completion by mid to late 2009.
Biscardi Creative Media principal, Walter Biscardi, Jr., will be Directing the Pilot episode of a new business television series. Being developed jointly by BCM, ideaWercs and Arriving with BB Webb, the series will feature success stories and inspiration from women in the business world.
"I'm honored to be launching this new series as the Director and have always believed that editors make great directors," notes Biscardi. "As an editor you know what you want to see and what you wish you had when cutting the show together. Knowing what will make the show better in Post helps me in making sure we get everything we need, and then some, in the studio and on location."
Production is scheduled for late October, 2008 with all editorial scheduled to be completed by early December, 2008. The series is tentatively scheduled to go into production by the 2nd quarter of 2009.
Biscardi Creative Media is creating an original lifestyle television series. Developed by BCM principal, Walter Biscardi, Jr. the series will be presented to major U.S. networks by a production partner.
The series re-unites Biscardi with actress Cynthia Evans who played the lead role in BCM's "The Rough Cut" short film, and Producer Sharon Collins who worked with Walter in the Environment Unit at CNN. The Pilot is scheduled for production in mid October 2008 with editorial slated for completion by late November 2008.
BCM has completed all BluRay disc production for Season One of "Assignment Earth," airing nationally on PBS stations.
Assignment Earth covers environmental and wildlife stories from the front lines around the world. Lead by Producer Gary Strieker, the series has traveled to Mexico, Thailand, China and Africa in just the first season bringing back stunning 720p and 1080i High Definition footage. Artists Walter Biscardi, Jr. and Aaron Stewart teamed up to create the first 5 episodes on BluRay disc, bringing the full quality of the original shows to the home viewer.
The entire series is being self-published at BCM's facility.
Tools used: Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, DoStudio, Panasonic BluRay replicator, FlexWriter IV Printer.
BCM has completed all color grading for the feature film, "Keepsake" from Stormcatcher Films.
Shot on location in Virginia, the film was Directed by Paul Moore and shot over a 24 day period. D.P. Todd Gilpin did an incredible job with setting up the look of the film. He created a very rich canvas from which Colorist Walter Biscardi, Jr. was able to create an incredible palette of color. Biscardi worked closely with Moore, Gilpin and Producer Scott Tanner to bring out the gritty details and haunting images of the fight for survival.
Keepsake is the first feature film project for Biscardi Creative Media. The film will debut in Oct. 2008 in Hollywood, California.
For more information about Stormcatcher Films visit http://stormcatcherfilms.com/site.html Tools used: Color, Final Cut Pro, AJA Kona 3.
BCM is proud to have recently completed a fund-raiser for the Preeclampsia Foundation. When we started this project, we honestly had no idea what Preeclampsia is or what it can do to pregnant women and/or their babies.
From the Preeclampsia Foundation website: "Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, it is a rapidly progressive condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine."
Ultimately the condition can lead to death of the mother and/or the baby in some circumstances. Editor Aaron Stewart and Artist Walter Biscardi, Jr. worked with Producers Pat Etheridge and Cindy Beckler to create the 24 minute feature presentation and an 8 minute preview. The preview version was featured at a major fundraiser in Washington, D.C. with 500 copies of the feature presentation given to the audience.
To learn more about Preeclampsia visit http://www.preeclampsia.org/index.asp
Tools used: Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, After Effects, DVD Studio Pro.
So many of you have read of our failings with Adobe Encore trying to create BluRay discs. Today we start a new chapter in BluRay authoring by transferring all our needs to NetBlender's "DoStudio."
NetBlender has instituted a really neat month to month licensing option that's approx. $250 per month to use the software. This is truly a month to month deal. So I can activate it for September for $250 and then sign up again in December. There's no extra fees, nothing. They have several plans for 6 months, 12 months or you can outright purchase the software if you want. But in my case, we plan to produce maybe 10 BluRays all of 2009. Probably in batches of 3 or 4, so I might spend $1,000 total next year in the licensing fees, which is significantly less than $8,000 for the permanent license. So to start out, I can just go $250 per month which is easily charged back to the client per job.
The only caveat to this software is that it requires a Window machine, and we're a full blown Mac shop here. So I did what I swore I would never do..... purchased an HP Workstation loaded with Vista. Of course, the sad thing for me is this is a fully loaded workstation for less than $1,700 and I know that if I created a fully loaded Mac Pro it'd be around $5,000 or more. So that's one good thing, I guess!
One really neat little gadget I added on is a 160GB "pocket drive" that slips into the bottom of the HP machine. We'll use this to transfer the large MPEG-2 files and graphics files from our Macs to the HP. Neat idea to essentially put a portable drive that slips in like a USB stick.
So that's Step 1 - get an HP Workstation! I went by NetBlender's recommendations and picked up the following machine:- HP Pavilion Slimline s3500t PC- Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium with Service Pack 1 (32-bit)- Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Quad processor Q9300- 3GB DDR2-800MHz dual channel SDRAM (1x2048,1x1024)- 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9500GS, DVI-I, HDMI, VGA adapter- 1TB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive- 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless LAN card- Blu-ray DVD writer/player & Lightscribe SuperMulti DVD burner- 15-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB, headphone port- No TV Tuner w/remote control- None (Integrated 5.1 capable sound w/ front audio ports)- Microsoft(R) Works 9.0- No additional security software- HP keyboard and HP optical mouse- 160 GB 5400rpm HP Pocket Media Drive
- HP Home & Home Office Store in-box envelope
I'll give you folks regular updates as we move forward with this new BluRay authoring tool!
Well Samsung has released the supposed "iPhone killer" and I've wondered how it stacks up to the newly released iPhone 2.0. Fortunately for all of us, MSNBC has done a really nice head to head comparison of the two. In the end, they both work well, but the one thing I was surprised about is that the "live Sprint TV" they advertise in the ads is not entire shows, just snippets of shows. And the comparison of the screen brightness and clarity is pretty impressive.
Anyway, really good reading for anyone thinking about one or the other.
For those of you who are purchasing a new Mac Pro Octo Core and planning to upgrade your RAM after the purchase, be aware that Apple's instructions on upgrading are actually wrong.
In my case, I purchased an Octo Core 3.2 with the minimum 2GB RAM and ordered an 8GB Upgrade Kit from Crucial. This consists of 2 sticks of 4GB each. According to Apple's instructions, if you have the standard 2GB RAM configuration (1GB on each Riser) you should install the next pair of RAM equally on each Riser.
So I placed a 4GB stick on Riser A and a 4GB Stick on Riser B. That didn't work. The machine still showed 2GB RAM and all the other memory slots empty. So I contacted Crucial using their handy dandy "live chat" service to speak directly with a support agent.
He told me to move the Apple installed RAM to Riser A and the Crucial RAM to Riser B. Did that, and voila! I have 10GB RAM now showing up in the machine. Just a note for you folks out there and kudos to Crucial for such a handy dandy live chat service. Got me up and running again in less than a minute. Yay!
So a while back I wrote about our new DiscMakers Medley and how it was a so-so DVD Printer / Replicator.
Well, I have to tell you, this thing is a piece of garbage and if you're considering one of these "all in one" DVD copier / printers, stay away from anything with the DiscMakers name.
To date, we've been able to duplicate and print about 250 DVD's. Then the printer stopped working. We've called tech support for approx. 6 straight days. Oh and tech support is not DiscMakers, it's a company called XLNTIDEA INC . They actually make the duplicators, and in fact if you look on various websites of companies that sell duplicators, you'll see the exact same machine with differnet names.
So Tech Support finally ran out of options and asked us to ship the unit back. 250 discs and it's already going back. Not that it has ever really worked well to begin with. We've probably thrown away over 100 discs due to bad printing problems. Wrong colors, low resolution, poor photo replication, etc... Our Epson Photo R200 easily out prints the Medley and it's a heckuva lot cheaper than the $2,000 I shelled out for the printer and computer.
And the worst part for me is that DiscMakers simply doesn't care. They won't return any emails. I've contacted the sales rep who was a really swell guy when he was selling me the unit telling me how much better this unit would work after my problems with the Bravo II. Now. Nothing. What do they care, if they sell 10,000 crappy units and people keep 9900 of them, that's a good margin.
You all do what you will with your money, but I can tell you from personal experience, DiscMakers has not been a company that I have enjoyed doing business with and they will certainly not get any money from me again. Fool me once, shame on me.........
We're experiencing a sudden Memory Error issue with Final Cut Pro that has led to bad renders. The issue has been happening on my Mac Pro for about three weeks now and it started happening on our PowerMac G5 Quad 2.5 yesterday. I also checked with a client in New York who is experiencing the same issue.
When working on a project and attempting a render, we sometimes get the following error.
Most often this error pops up if the system has been running a while, four hours or more, or I'm rendering out a full episode of 22 minutes or longer. Generally the error appears about 75% in to the render.
What then happens is the render actually keeps going, but the renders are all screwed up. Partial lower thirds, graphics in the middle of dissolves, graphics from somewhere else in the project.
As far as we can tell this issue started after installing QT 7.4.1 on all the systems. We have plenty of RAM on all the systems and the projects we're currently editing were all edited last year on the same systems, we're just revising them now. Checking to see if anyone else is experiencing these issues. Here are three examples.
The Lower Third should have a transpararent black bar and her name above the title. Also, it added a freeze of the person from earlier in the soundbite.
The Lower third should have her name above the locator and a transparent black bar behind it.
The words "West Virginia" appear in the middle of this transition at the end of a 27 mintue episode. West Virginia is part of a Photoshop graphic that appears approx. 2 minutes into the episode, FCP added it in the middle of the transition.
The New York Times reports that Warner Brothers has now lined up in Blu-Ray DVD corner effectively giving the Sony format about 70% of the high definition DVD market. They'll continue to release movies on both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray until May and then switch exclusively over to Blu-Ray. This leaves Universal and Paramount along with Dreamworks as the only major studios backing HD-DVD.
As a production company that had to jump into Blu-Ray production in support of one of our clients, this is welcome news for us. I have to say, if you have not seen Pixar's "Cars" and "Rattatoule" on Blu-Ray disc, you have not seen the true capabilities of Blu-Ray. Jaw dropping is the only way I can describe what these movies look like in HD. Better than what it looked like in the theater.
Full article on the New York Times website.
Just a note that I'll be bypassing NAB after all this year. Our production schedule is very fluid right now and I just can't justify the cost and time away from the office right now. I was hoping to meet many of you at the Artbeats booth this year, but it'll have to be another day. I will be creating a pretty cool demo for Artbeats that'll be online in April though.
Enjoy the show everybody!
Apple released some nice speed bumps on both the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. Can't remember the last time both versions of the laptops got updates on the same day.
2.1Ghz, 1GB RAM, 120GB HD $1099
2.4Ghz, 2GB RAM, 160GB HD, SuperDrive White $1299
2.4Ghz Black, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD, SuperDrive $1499 (larger harddrive)
MacBook Pro: (all have SuperDrive with the spiffy new multi-touch pad)
2.4Ghz, 2GB RAM, 200GB HD $1999
2.5Ghz 15", 2GB RAM, 250GB HD $2499
2.5Ghz 17", 2GB RAM, 250GB HD $2799
Nice update all around, but if you have a one year old or less MacBook Pro, don't really see any reason to run out and purchase a new one. But if you're still on a PowerBook G4 or older laptop, certainly some nice new machines out there.
These updates really separate the MacBook Air from the rest of the machines even more and really seem to position that machine as a very very "niche market overpriced, underpowered machine." All 6 of the other laptops are much much better values than the Air and much better suited to any and all tasks.
1.6Ghz, 2GB RAM, 80GB HD, No CD/DVD Drive $1799
1.8Ghz, 2GB RAM, 64GB SS HD, No CD/DVD Drive: $3098
The top of the line MacBook Air has less power, smaller hard drive, no CD/DVD drive than the bottom of the line MacBook, yet costs $2,000 more. Only Apple fanatics could look at that math and say "yeah, I can see that, it makes sense."
If you want a light laptop, get a MacBook. If you want more power to run something like the Final Cut Studio suite, get the MacBook Pro. Both are money much better spent than the Air.
If you really need a "super light" laptop, pick up the iPhone, now available in a 16GB flavor. I will actually be picking up the phone as I want to have a much lighter "laptop" for some extensive travel coming up. I like the idea of the iPhone much more than getting yet another 13" laptop.
Hello Apple Engineers! Word is Toshiba is dropping HD-DVD. BluRay is the winner by a knockout!
So how about including BluRay authoring support in DVD Studio Pro now? I mean hasn't Apple been on the BluRay side of things since the format was announced? Doesn't Compressor already create files for both HD-DVD and BluRay? Don't BluRay burners for the Mac already exist?
Why am I asking so many questions?
For some reason, despite Compressor supporting BluRay and HD-DVD, despite BluRay burners being available for the Mac, despite Apple supporting the BluRay format (how I'm not sure), we can't author BluRay using Apple products.
So we own Adobe Encore CS3, which of course required us to purchase Adobe Premeire in the process. We own the FastMac internal BluRay burner (excellent) and even own a Panasonic Dual Burner Blu-Ray Replicator (excellent). We've authored 4 BluRay titles to date and will probably author 8 to 20 more before the end of 2008. At some point, I would much rather prefer to work across the Apple Studio Suite rather than having to go from FCP to Compressor to Encore to Toast to the FastMac burner.
So hello Apple Engineers! BluRay Authoring! Please!
So after dropping NAB once then reappearing, Apple has decided to join Avid and skip the NAB show floor altogether. This is an incredibly disappointing decision for a company that supposedly supports over 800,000+ Final Cut Pro users and countless other pro-apps users.
NAB and IBC are the two shows each year where professionals, such as myself, can get the opportunity to see and try out the equipment and software we're all going to purchase for the coming year. People like myself spend thousands of dollars on these purchases and I have always found NAB to be particularly useful in making those purchasing decisions. No matter how much I read up on all the new releases from companies, there's nothing like actually seeing the product in action, even if it's a prototype.
Now apparently Apple feels they don't need to make the effort to present their products to the very professionals who are supposed to line up and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions, on their products over the next year. This is very disappointing and makes me wonder about Apple's commitment to the professional application market.
The consumer market is doing quite well with the iPod, iPhone and the incredible lineup of iMac and notebook computers (MacBook Air excluded). All of Apple's latest updates and efforts seem targeted more towards this market than the professional market.
Witness the recent 7.4 update to Quicktime that caused incredible havoc to many users of Final Cut Pro and Motion, two flagship pro-app products from Apple. Then Apple rushes out some sort of ProKit update yesterday but doesn't explain what it is supposed to fix, just that all users of Final Cut Pro should install this.
Maybe it's just me, but it seems more and more that software, OS and Quicktime updates are geared more towards iTunes, AppleTV and consumer apps than the Pro Apps. More often than not, these updates cause harm to the pro-apps. Considering I have my entire financial future tied to the un-failing performance of these pro-apps, this is a bit of a concern.
I'm not a consumer who can let a computer crash if an update messes up my quicktime player. I'm not a consumer who can let a computer get unstable if the latest OS update does something to my iTunes player. I'm not a consumer who cares a whit about the thinnest and most overpriced laptop on the planet.
I'm a video and film professional who requires stability and support at all times in order to earn a living. A computer crash can cost me thousands of dollars and lost clients. An unstable system can shut down my facilities for days at a time.
I fully expect companies like Avid and Apple to have a presence at the largest gathering of video and film professionals in the world. Apparently both feel it's not necessary for them any longer. Oh Avid says they will be at the show, but I guess you'll have to know the secret handshake or the code word to locate someone. I'm not sure Apple will have any presence outside of the SuperMeet.
So where does that leave us? Adobe, Autodesk, and Media 100/Boris FX are the three names that I recognize on the exhibit floor list and I am definitely going to check out all of them. They are taking the time and money to show up and I feel it's only right to see what they have to offer. I've always spent so much time at the Apple booth each year, I guess this will give me the opportunity to see what I've been missing.
Media 100 was my tool of choice until 2001 when I switched to FCP and I know they have lost a lot of market share, but it's time to re-visit them. Adobe has come back strong with Premiere on the Mac and from what I gather, it's essentially like FCP only with an incredibly tight integration between the entire Adobe pro line-up. Adobe has a long history with professional apps and support so I will definitely spend some quality time with those folks to really see Premiere again. Autodesk is one company I've never worked with, but they usually have a pretty cool booth, so it'll be fun to see what they have to offer.
As someone who was only weeks away from upgrading two of our workstations to brand new Octo Core Macs, this announcement gives me reason to pause on that decision. I want to make sure I still have solid commitment from Apple to support the Pro-Users out there as much as they want to support the consumers.
I guess NAB just isn't that important to the companies anymore. That's a shame because it's pretty important to this professional earning a living using their equipment.
I've found out that our very own Aharon Rabinowitz is now doing occassional Technology reports for NPR! How exciting is that?! He's done one report and hopefully this will lead to many more. As someone who has gained a LOT of knowledge from this guy with all his After Effects tutorials and training, I want to congratulate him on this latest achievement. Hopefully this is just the first of many reports we can expect to hear from Aharon.
For those who haven't heard his first report yet,
Peter Wiggins has released his newest creation for Final Cut Pro called SupaWipe! Ok, we've all had to create sliding graphics in order to create custom wipes. You know, you do an edge wipe underneath a graphic that you slide over the transition to make it appear as if the graphic is actually doing the wipe.
Well, this is what SupaWipe does all as one transition! Peter supplies you with a bunch of preset graphics like an airplane and construction tape, but the really really cool thing is, you can use your own graphics. Anything you've created and it will create the transition using that graphic.
This is incredibly cool and what a timesaver! Especially when you want to tweak the transition time, no more sliding the graphic around to make sure the wipe stays underneath. Now the graphic and the wipe are married together and the transition is always timed perfectly.
Thank you Peter! If you haven't downloaded the FREE 15 day trial, what in the world are you waiting for?!
Note this ONLY works in FCP 6.0.2!! So be sure to check your version before downloading.
So you want to work more efficiently in Final Cut Pro? Well I have just the answer for you, Tabs! Yeah, those things you see in the corner of every window. They can make your life so much easier if you would only use them. Here, let me show you how in my newest tutorial!
For those of you who followed my blog about the issues with the Primera Bravo II DVD Replicator printer, you know that I purchased a DiscMakers Medley unit to replace it.
Well, while DiscMakers claimed the print quality of this unit would be equal to the Bravo II, in reality it isn't. This is disappointing because they both feature the same printing unit from Lexmark. The difference appears to be in the Bravo II drivers as there are many more options available to the user to achieve incredibly sharp text and good solid colors. What was printed as a solid color on the Bravo II is a mottled mess on the Medley as it is just not capable of printing a very tight dot pattern, even at the 4800dpi print setting. And this is using the exact same 300dpi TIF image and exact same DVD stock that was originally printed on the Bravo II so we're comparing apples to apples here.
On the upside, the Medley does reproduce the correct colors on the disc from the original file with minimal tweaking. That was a major issue with the Bravo II as we would have to throw the colors and shading out of whack in order to get acceptable color results on the Bravo II.
As a straight replicator, the Medley performs as expected, absolutely no issues there. But if you are looking for a very high print quality, this definitely would not be your unit. Print quality is decent, but not something you would want to present to demanding clients.
So according to a new Reuters article, over 1/4 of the Apple iPhones sold in 2007 have "gone missing" by the end of the year. In other words, they have been unlocked and are running on other networks. Maybe they don't want to be snooped on by at&t (see related blog entry) or maybe they just want to be able to choose which phone they want to use on which network. Gee, that's an original concept!
Maybe there should be an iPhone hackers convention like the internet hackers convention. Which, of course, doesn't really exist, at least officially.
Interesting news from the MSNBC website that at&t now plans to monitor all internet use by users of their networks. Which of course will include all 4 milion+ iPhone users.
at&t claims they will be looking to stop illegal copyright sharing and such, but they will have full, carte blanche access to review all your emails, all your internet surfing and instant chat messages. Now of course all ISP's have the ability to review anything you do, but at&t has come out said they are absolutely going to keep an eye on everything you do.
Kind of creepy and quite honestly, I don't really see any ethical reason to go in and review everyone's use their network without some sort of a legal issue. If someone has been reported sharing illegal materials, then you go in and review their account. But just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
I have just noticed that exporting a still image from a DVCPro HD 720/60 timeline in FCP 6.0.2 yield a choppy, pixelated mess. Definitely wasn't the case with FCP 6.0 and I don't think it was a problem in 6.0.1 either.
I also noticed that the images are not being exported in the true DVCPro HD aspect ratio either. Generally when you export an image, it will show up in another application at the same 960x720 frame size as the original, but upon opening the image in Photoshop or Preview, the image is now 1280x720. I would expect this if I was using ProRes, but I'm not, we're just using DVCPro HD as the codec all around.
Just an FYI for folks. I've sent off a feedback form to Apple
1/19/2008 SUGAR HILL, GEORGIA
Biscardi Creative Media provided primary post production for the feature story, "Green Evangelicals" airing on The Weather Channel's "Forecast Earth" tonight. Artist Walter Biscardi, Jr. worked closely with Producer Bruce Burkhardt and The Weather Channel production team to bring the story together.
Using Final Cut Pro 6 with the AJA Kona 3 capture card, Biscardi integrated BetaSP, DVCAM and DVD material into an uncompressed, widescreen standard definition timeline. He also created original graphics and motion graphics in Photoshop & After Effects. The Weather Channel added all final lower thirds to the show.
"This was our first project with The Weather Channel," notes Biscardi, "and it was a great experience with a good workflow between our shop and the network. Since we're all on Final Cut Pro, I was able to deliver the story on a very small hard drive that would fit in your pocket."
This was also a reunion of sorts for Burkhardt and Biscardi having formerly teamed up at the CNN Enviroment Unit on the program "Network Earth."
For more about Forecast Earth: http://climate.weather.com/ontv/thisWeek.html
For more about Biscardi Creative Media: http://www.biscardicreative.com
For those of you, like me, frustrated with Final Cut Pro 6.0.2 turning on Snapping when you try to Option+Click a clip, Apple has a workaround. Actually, the FCP team steered me to it. Read this closely:
Ensure Snapping is turned OFF in your timeline.
Hold the Option key as you select and begin to drag either Audio or Video of the clip
As soon as you are dragging the edit point RELEASE the Option key.
Did you read that last part closely? I didn't the first time and it didn't work. So Option Click your clip like normal, start to drag and RELEASE the Option Key. This does work, I just tried it.
So thanks to the Apple team for steering me to that and yes, it is public information, I just never looked.
I don't know, maybe I'm missing something here, but overall, the announcements are a bit ho-hum for me.
Super thin laptop, ok, but I would have preferred a mini laptop, something smaller like the size of a portable DVD player.
Movie downloads, ok Netflix was already doing that.
Time Capsule, ok the Mac Mini re-branded as something else
Am I missing something here. Haven't seen the entire keynote yet, but nothing really jumps out and says "Dang! I have to have that!"
Walter Biscardi, Jr. www.biscardicreative.com
While spec'ing a new Mac Pro (8 core) system today, I found that RAM is now available at 3rd party sites. At www.crucial.com it's almost 50% less than Apple's pricing.
4GB RAM at Crucial - $269
4GB RAM through Apple Store with Mac Pro - $500
www.edgetechcorp.com has the same RAM for $229, though they only list the 3.0ghz as the top of the line machine, not the 3.2Ghz so I would check with them before purchase.
Other World Computing (www.macsales.com) has their own RAM for $249.99
Nice to see the 3rd party sites have caught up with the new Mac Pro's as Apple has always charged a premium for their RAM. Personally I purchase all our RAM from Crucial as it was recommended to me about 4 years ago and we've never had an issue with their products.
The big buzz leading into tomorrow's keynote speech from Steve Jobs at MacWorld is the potential announcement of a mini-laptop, possibly along the size of a portable DVD player or smaller.
Just a reminder that we have discussed this very scenario back in March of 2007 right here on this blog! http://blogs.creativecow.net/node/59
Back then it was just a "what if" question. Now it's possibly a reality in less than one year from that entry. I'm really curious to see if our discussion turns out to be a winner tomorrow!
So first we hear of Avid's pulling off the NAB 2008 Show Floor. During a lively debate in the Business and Marketing Forum, one Cow user noted that Apple had suddenly disappeared from the Show Floor Exhibit Map. I was looking over the Exhibitor List and Apple is not listed there either.
So by all outward appearances, Apple has pulled out of NAB 2008 as well. At least off the main Show Floor. Now Avid has been known to have had cash flow issues over the past few years as Apple's Final Cut Pro has made huge inroads in the Post Production community. So I attributed Avid's decision to leave the Show Floor as purely a financial move meant to better use what resources they have.
Now if Apple is truly pulling off the show floor, this is definitely different. Apple is certainly not hurting for money these days with the success of the iPod, iPhone and the resurgence of the Apple Computer products. Apple is one of the hottest nameplates in computers and electronics right now.
So does this tell us that NAB's significance for the Post Production market is slipping? Avid obviously feels it does not get a sufficient return on investment to be on the NAB show floor. Now it appears Apple is saying the same thing. As someone who has worked on the show floor in various vendor booths, I can assure you that putting a booth on the NAB Show Floor is not for the weak in the wallet. It's a very expensive proposition, not to mention hotel and travel fees for the support staff to run that booth. So if Apple truly does skip the show floor, we have to assume that Apple feels they get a much better return on investment by simply selling online and through their Mac centric trade shows like MacWorld and WWDC. And of course there is the large Reseller market and forums such as our own Creative COW Forum.
Of course, what does all of this mean for all the other exhibitors who put a lot of effort and time into this show. Apple and Avid drive a lot of traffic to the show floor and by doing so, they drive the traffic to all those other products we use in our day to day working lives and more we discover for the first time walking by their booth. If there's no Avid or Apple on the show floor, how many people will simply stay away from NAB, thus hurting all of these third party exhibitors. I know for me, it's not as desirable to go visit the show if I can can't get the latest information about Final Cut Studio and test out some of the new features.
On the flip side, if they are not there, that opens up Adobe, Autodesk, Media 100 and others to a lot more visitors they might not normally get. If you can't look at Final Cut Studio or Avid systems, why not look to see what everyone else has to offer? You might be pleasantly surprised by what else is out there.
So if Avid and Apple both say "No" to NAB 2008, who's next? I'm sure the rest of the industry will be watching the "A Team" closely as we approach the show.
In response to a query in the Final Cut Pro Basics forum, here's an example of why we would use more than one video track in FCP. This is an older project from 2003 hence all the video is offline, but it shows 17 track of video in use. Why? Because there is a lot of compositing and overlays going on to create an urban / gritty look requested by the Producer. When I get a chance, I'll pull a screen grab of this scene, but for the moment, as best as I can remember, here's what is going on in the area highlighted in yellow.
Track 17 is a Film Leader type of element overlayed on the video
Track 16 through 5 are all graphical elements created in Photoshop
Track 4 is a still image overlayed on top of the logo and hands element below
Track 3 is a film flash
Track 2 is a logo element provided by the Producer
Track 1 is a video element shot by the Producer slowed to 50%
The reason for all the photoshop elements is we like to very often have the main graphic full opacity so you can read it, but also subtly mixed in around the rest of the video frame.
Now if you look at the very head of that timeline you can see how Video Tracks 5 - 2 are Nested items "Donner B-Roll with Frame and Way Donner SOT with frame" Each of those nests are actually 6 video tracks so if I didn't nest them, I would have used 24 tracks of video to create that effect. Nesting allows me to easily place those video frames around the screen without having to drag 6 tracks at a time.
As soon as I have time, I'll pull a screen grab so you can visually see what's going on.
Well of course Apple would never say anything in advance, but thanks to the CEO of at&t, we know for certain an iPhone that can run on the 3G high speed internet networks will be out in 2008. No word on the exact date of availability or the cost, but at least it's something. This is what I've been waiting for personally, although I hope the new phone will also have at least 16GB of storage as well.
So there's been a lot of talk on the forums lately about Magic Bullet Looks now being available for use in editing systems and I'm even going to try it out shortly myself. But for those of you with Final Cut Studio 2, keep in mind you have probably the most powerful color grading software available for desktop computers in Color just sitting there. Yeah it's not perfect, there are some issues to work around, but I have to admit, even with the issues, the end results are nothing short of stunning.
I thought I would share some before / after shots of a recent project I did that featured all archive (read Old) material. BetaSP, BetaSX, DigiBeta, DV, DVCAM, HDV were all used in this project that was ultimately delivered on DVD for a special event and also the Web. As a piece focusing on the natural beauty of the American West, I felt it was extremely important to bring this project into Color to take advantage of all the color controls I would have. Especially the ability to essentially 'clean up' the image and 'wipe away' the dirt.
Sure I can show you what Color does with our HD projects, but those look pretty darn good before we even get to color grading. Making a bunch of archive material in multiple formats look good, well that takes some work. The project run approx. 6 minutes and was able to grade the entire show in about 3 hours. It would have been faster but I really spent a lot of time tweaking the skies and greens.
If you want to see the whole piece, just go to http://www.biscardicreative.com/sampleworks.htm
and then click on "Apple Color Comparison" under Corporate.
And of course, if you want to learn how to use Color, just pick up my DVD! Fresh from the Creative Cow Master Series - Stop Staring and Start Grading with Color!