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What I’m Looking At

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve written because I’ve been just too busy.  In that time, I’ve traversed the country multiple times for work and that thing they call a life that I try to fit in between projects.  I learned about the 3AM commute home by train in NYC (it takes a while).  I also learned that Virgin America is a godsend (thanks Google for free WiFi).  And that independent film has funding trouble (I doubt I’m the first to have this revelation).  But these are all just excuses for not writing more here.  I’ll now try to ease back into writing regularly by starting off with a small review…

Last week I started up on a rather large film project that requires I use multiple CPUs with multiple monitors at the same desk: for my Avid, FTP, and personal stations.

This is where the simple open-source utility from The Synergy Project is invaluable.  Originally demonstrated to me by my buddy Jacob Shea (who is an excellent composer FYI) this small program allows me to control all three computers using one computer’s keyboard and mouse.  All that it requires is that all the CPUs in question are connected to the same network.  Getting it to work is a little buggy, as is most open-source software, but once you get there, you’ll never want to be without it!

As utilities go, it’s very intuitive.  Because of the networked control, I am able to move back and forth between computers as if they were all running off the same CPU.  Gladly, though, they’re not, so I can harness each computer’s processing power for different functions without any hassle moving between different desks or keyboards.  It’s just that simple.  And while it seems like a small invention, you’d be amazed at how much more productive you can be without needing to move around so much.

It’s really a simple process.  Follow this link to download SynergyKM.  From there, install it on each computer you want to be able to control remotely.  Open your system preferences to gain access to the SynergyKM settings.  On your host computer, select the “default” location so you can make sure to save the settings.  Follow these two windows as guidance:

 

In the Server Configuration menu, hit the “+” symbol to create computers to access.  Enter the names according to your user’s Sharing name.  You’ll have to enter this for both the host computer you’re on and the client computers you want to access with the keyboard.  (Note: Spaces in the name should be typed as hyphens.)  No need to attack Server Options, but at least you know it’s there.

Next, on your client computers, use the following images as guidance.

Enter the hostname that matches your server computer’s Sharing name.  If you’re having trouble connecting, make sure the name displayed next to “This computer’s Screen Name” is the same on the server side for each computer.

And from there, voila.  You can now use your host computer’s keyboard and mouse on every computer you’ve set up with SynergyKM.  It’s fantastic.  Huge love to the developers!

The ever-brilliant Splice Here blog (soon to be Splice Now) by Steve Cohen lays out the perfect list of questions that every production should answer before they shoot one frame.  If you or someone on your production team can’t answer this question before you start shooting, STOP! and get it answered.  Not knowing the answer can get you in to trouble.  Original link: File-Based Basics « Splice Here.

  1. Production
    Which camera(s) are you using? Which audio recorder?
    What kinds of files are you creating?
    What frame rate, sample rate, timecode rate, raster size are you recording?
  2. Dailies
    Who’s doing them? What do you need for editing, review and conforming?
    Who syncs and how will they do it? Who backs up and when?
    How are drives being moved around; where are they stored?
  3. Editing
    What system will you use? What kind of drives/raid?
    How will you output cut material for review?
    What are you turning over to sound and music?
  4. Conforming
    Will you roll your own or have a post house do it?
    How do you handle visual effects created in your editing room?
    And those created by the vfx team?
    What kinds of files will you use for color correction?
    And for television, a crucial question — when do you convert to HD?

 

Thanks Steve!

Maybe I’m just seeing things, but check out this Janelle Monae video!  They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Could it be there’s a distinct homage to Yeasayer’s Ambling Alp, directed by Radical Friend and edited by yours truly?!?  You be the judge.

(Note: JUST AN EXCUSE to publish this awesome Janelle Monae video.  You know what I can’t do?  Dance like the people in this video.  Although I wish I could.)

So this week at NAB Avid released details about their upgrade to the Media Composer editing system.  Talk about gamechanger.  Avid now allows for dragging and dropping in the timeline, native Quicktime AND RED support (and I’m not talking about Quicktime Proxies here), solo and mute buttons in the timeline, a much stronger user interface, I could go on…  Hey Apple and the uninspired team at Final Cut Pro: now that Avid has co-opted all your awesome features, what about you maybe making some of your own innovations?

It’s been a long time coming for Avid.  Granted, none of these improvements would have ever come had Apple not entered the market.  The Cupertino computer giant does deserve that credit.  But when it comes to making decisions about what software I’d use on my next job, any argument against Avid has officially been nullified for me.  I used to have an expression: Final Cut Pro is a great editor on top of a crappy media manager, and Avid is a so-so editor on top of an awesome media manager.  Today I officially put that to rest because Avid has proven that they are willing to change.

As for Final Cut Pro, I can’t say the same.  It’s been months since I purchased my upgrade to Final Cut Pro 7, and I have to say, I’m not about to open the box and install that POS on my computer.  Sure, there are quality cosmetic changes to the editing system, like the introduction of ProRes Proxy and 4444 and the colored locators that trim with your edits, but that masks the fact that Final Cut Studio 3 actually runs SLOWER than Final Cut Studio 2 [link 1] [link 2].  And Avid already has the best project-sharing functionality, so tell me what I should choose Apple next time around?

Apple entered the market strongly and has done great things to bring professional editing to the people.  But the truth is Avid has responded by doing laps around Apple while Apple is distracted by their innovations at the consumer level.  It’s high time that Apple either sh*t or get off the pot when it comes to Final Cut Studio.  Sell it or fix it.  I’m tired of dealing with this.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive.  No sooner than I write this post do I see and article from MacSoda that quotes the almighty himself Steve Jobs as saying “The next release will be awesome.”  Scanning through the comments, there’s a mixture of excitment and true disbelief as to whether that is indeed true or simply spin.  Color me undecided, but at the moment, I’m still waiting for something more than Steve’s curt emails.

If you disagree with me, please comment.  Check out the first comment left already by Zach Fine, who presents an excellent rebuttal about the FCS3 upgrade and makes some great points about workflows and benefits.  I still disagree about the state of Final Cut Pro, but hey, he’s a smart guy and he makes some great points.

Wow!  I just installed this and have already regained 7.2 GBs and it’s not even done!  And in 15 minutes!

Squeeze is a preference pane (in your System Preferences) that runs in the background and auto-compresses your files using Snow Leopard’s new compression technology to compress your files without deleting media or limiting your abilities at all.  It runs in the background, using only free resources on-the-fly to keep you working.  Your files work as usual, but it just shrinks their hard drive footprint.  While I would advise against using this on things like your Avid and FCP projects, because you can ill afford one bit of data corruption, I’ve been using it on my FCP Documents folder, Applications, Movies folder, and am still adding other stuff too!

Usually this software is $10, but for TODAY ONLY, you can get a free license through MacHeist.  Just visit the site and create an account with MacHeist.  This place is awesome to begin with, but today is a extra-special day!

MacHeist via Lifehacker