We're excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at NAB for the first time this year. We'll be at booth SL15408, right near the Post Pit in the lower South Hall.
The booth will be fairly interactive and we will be encouraging people to experiment hands-on with our products, so it's worth coming along if you want to try out the products or ask a question before you buy.
We will be making a major product announcement and most of our products will be receiving major or minor updates in time for the show, so we promise our booth will be well worth a visit.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Monday March 4 2013 12:48 PM to DR News, Front Page News, Industry
Many within the RED community have been clamoring for an official conform tool to simplify online/offline RED workflows. Well, RED's gone one better with RED Rocket
Rocket is a hardware R3D decoder and debayer capable of realtime output of up to 30 fps @ 4K or 24 fps @ 5K. This completely removes the need for an offline (at least with the RED One - Epic will still need it at high resolutions), allowing you to work with 4K directly in FCP, Premiere, After Effects, RED Alert!, REDCINE, REDrushes or any application using the REDCODE SDK.
It is PCI-Express (laptop users are out of luck here), is compatible with Windows, OS X and Linux, and features Quad-DVI and Quad-HD-SDI.
This is bad news for DVS which just introduced Clipster
at NAB, however there could be a place in the market if they can undercut Rocket's $5k pricetag and beat it to market. There is currently no ETA on RED Rocket.Update: Jim says two months
but RED's release dates have been pushed back on many occasions.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Wednesday April 22 2009 1:54 AM to Industry, Hardware, Cameras
Yesterday was the first day of NAB. I'm not going to list every single announcement (for that you can go here
), but I'm going to focus on what I feel were the biggest or most interesting announcements.Avid completely redesigned their logo
- I can see what they were trying to do but I'm not a big fan of it. Luckily they had some bombshell announcements to go with it. In a surprising move, Avid qualified Final Cut Pro to run on its Unity MediaNetwork and ISIS storage
. This makes it considerably easier to use both FCP and Avid systems on the same project.
Avid also redesigned its support offerings
and showcased RED support and stereoscopic 3D integration. Avid has always had the edge on FCP when it comes to media management but the recently-introduced AMA architecture takes that one step further. There is no need to Log and Transfer - just link to the P2 or XDCAM volume and all of the clips just pop up in the bin, complete with metadata. This is clearly a lot better than FCP's clunky implementation (hopefully something Apple will address in FCP 7) and Avid were keen to show it off.Adobe
announced it has partnered with several manufacturers to create TVs with Flash support
. So you could theoretically watch a documentary on a subject and then view interactive content related to that subject.
But far more interesting was Adobe's post announcements
. Adobe Story is a collaborative screenwriting application that is integrated with Adobe Premiere. There are very few details but it seems likely that it will build on Premiere's transcription function to introduce an Avid-like Script Sync feature.
This continues the recent trend of linking pre-production processes directly to post production software - something we will no doubt see more of in the future. Right now Apple appears to be considering storyboard integration
- 3Gb/s SDI and optical fibre scopes for $695. This is huge. Hardware scopes cost more than some cars, so a scope for $695 is a real game-changer. Lets hope it's good - Blackmagic's products normally are.
It is a PCI Express card that plugs into a Windows computer with a 24-inch monitor (alas no Mac support as yet) to display output on the screen. As one PVC commenter notes
- the lack of Mac support is not necessarily a bad thing as you would probably not use the machine for any other purpose, thus a cheaper PC would be a better option.
This is a clever solution to an age-old problem and I wish I was at NAB to see it in action.
looks to be a worthy opponent to the original Matrox MXO. This gives you HD monitoring via DVI or HDMI for only $495. Monitor 4:4:4 SDI video on a regular computer monitor.
In addition, Blackmagic have lowered the prices of several of their existing products.Matrox CompressHD
is a PCI Express hardware H.264 encoder. This allows you to encode H.264 faster than realtime using Matrox's MAX technology. Also announced is the MXO 2 Mini
, which is a cut-down, smaller, cross platform version of the MXO 2. It lacks XLR and SDI ports, unlike its larger and more expensive brother but it works on PC, Mac, and all QuickTime-compatible editing applications. It costs $449 or $849 with the H.264-accelerating MAX option.AJA
has a very nice new website
and have introduced the KI Pro
. It connects to a camera and records to ProRes422 in the field, without the aid of a laptop. It is the only device to do this because AJA have an exclusive contract with Apple for ProRes support.
This means you can import footage into Final Cut Pro instantly without the need for transcoding. It also means that the post production team is dealing with the same video format each time, no matter what type of camera was used on set.
It can accept SD/HD SDI, HDMI and component inputs and can connect to your computer via FireWire 800 or Ethernet. It can also convert from one video standard to another in realtime. You can record to removable ExpressCards or an external hard disk. It can be remotely controlled through Wifi via a laptop or iPhone (nice!).
AJA also announced the Io Express
which looks to be similar to the Matrox MXO 2. I haven't had time to do a feature-by-feature comparison yet though.
Finally, Panasonic is developing a 3D camera
and JVC is developing a very pricey $200,000 4K camera
That's what interested me... did I miss anything?
Look for the FCPUG SuperMeet on Day 2 (today) where a brand-new exclusive version of our very own Preference Manager
will be given out on the SuperDVD.
Also, a lot of people think that Apple will release new details of Final Cut Studio 3 today. I don't think this will be the case - we'll have to wait and see I guess.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Tuesday April 21 2009 5:17 AM to Video Editing, Industry, Analysis
I'm sure everyone's probably noticed that this blog's been pretty quiet of late. That's partly because I haven't had much time lately and partly because I generally don't like to pre-announce things before they are due.
However, there is one thing I would like to announce right now. If you're going to NAB this year, be sure to check out the FCPUG SuperMeet
on Thursday 21st April, 5:00 PM-11:00 PM at the Rio Hotel Amazon Ballroom. This is a great place to meet up with fellow Final Cut Pro users, learn new things and win great prizes in the raffle ($70,000-worth of prizes in the bag and counting). Entry is $15.00 ($20 at the door) which includes two raffle tickets.
The doors open at 4:30 PM, so be sure to get in there quick because the first 1000 people in the door get the SuperMeet DVD. This is a disc containing gigabytes of software, tutorials and discount codes. And the lucky recipients of this DVD will also exclusively receive the brand new, completely redesigned version of Preference Manager
This version has taken into account much of the feedback from the original version, and version 2.0.0 aims to simplify the most commonly-used tasks while still providing customization for those that need it.
Brand new features include the ability to categorize backups, and the ability to link backups to specific projects so that settings are automatically applied when the project is launched. This is in addition to its prior functions of trashing, backing up, restoring and locking preference files. Preference Manager 2.0.0 is Leopard-only.
Preference Manager remains completely free but this version will be exclusive to those with the SuperMeet DVD. If you're not going to NAB or you miss out on the DVD, don't fret. You'll get version 2.0.1 a few days later which has some very minor features (like Tiger support and an improved application icon) that didn't make the deadline.
Also on the disc is the current version of FCS Remover
and a minor new release of Compressor Repair
that now displays a warning stating that it is designed for Compressor 3.0.x. This is to clear up confusion over some of the warnings 2.x and 1.x users were getting about missing Compressor files.
As this is a completely rewritten version of Preference Manager, we'd really appreciate feedback. We think this is a major improvement over the previous version but we'd love to hear what doesn't work for your needs and workflow (and of course, it's always good to know what does work too). You can use the bug report
/ feature request
links within the application itself or contact us on Twitter
If you're waiting for the 2.0.1 release, you can subscribe to this blog, our appcast
, or follow our Twitter
feed to hear when the new version has been released.
Wish I could be there, hope everyone has a great time.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Saturday April 11 2009 4:01 PM to DR News, Front Page News, Industry
ZDnet is reporting
that many of the problems preventing Blu-ray from coming to the Mac should ease in mid-2009 when new licensing comes into place.
A new licence will be established by mid-2009 as a "one-stop shop" for device makers. The licence will include all necessary Blu-ray, DVD and CD patents for selling Blu-ray players. The licensing programme will be handled by a new licensing company to be led by Gerald Rosenthal, former head of intellectual property at IBM. It will be based in the US, but will have local branches in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Instead of having to approach Blu-ray, DVD and CD holders individually and paying them separate royalties, the single licence should cut down the total cost of royalty payments by 40 percent, according to Sony.
The fees for the new licences will be $9.50 for a Blu-ray player and $14 for a Blu-ray recorder. Making Blu-ray Disc will cost 11 cents for read-only, 12 cents for recordable discs and 15 cents for rewritable discs.
Hopefully this new license coupled with new DisplayPort Mac Pros will encourage Apple to consider Blu-ray drives as an option for its high-end systems.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Friday February 27 2009 1:49 PM to Industry, Hardware, DVD
I've been busy today so apologies for the lateness of this post. I almost entitled it "Macworld 2009" before adding "Keynote" when I remembered that there is more to Macworld than just the keynote. And, of course, that's something IDG will be banking on next year when Apple will sadly be absent.
Phil spent a lot of time on iLife and iWork. I won't say much about them except that the Keynote Remote is an awesome idea.
Onto the 17" MacBook Pro. There's been a lot of disappointment with Apple's recent pro notebook releases, and Apple has luckily made some excellent decisions with this new one. It's glossy but you can thankfully change it for a matte screen for $50. It's considerably faster than the 15" one (up to 2.93 GHz, 6 MB cache, up to 8 GB RAM). It comes with a 320 GB 5,400 RPM hard disk that can be upgraded to either a 7,200 RPM disk or a 128 or 256 GB solid-state drive (I didn't realize they made SSDs so big nowadays - they're really advancing within the market). Like the 15", it comes with two Nvidia graphics chips and a large glass trackpad.
Like the 15", it's also Firewire 800-only. Luckily FW800 is backwards-compatible with FW400 so it's just a case of using an adapter, but that's one more thing to carry around with you. Not really a deal-breaker though.
There is some controversy over the battery. You see, it's fixed. I see that as a good thing for some and a deal-breaker for others. It will give you up to 8 hours of "wireless productivity" which is 3 hours more than the 15". It will also take much longer to deteriorate. For me, as someone who doesn't own spare batteries, I see that as a very useful thing.
However, if you regularly use your machine outdoors for more than 8 hours at a time, or are planning a trip to the Amazonian rainforest where it might be days before you see a power outlet, that could be a problem. So it's neither great nor terrible - it all depends on your needs. I can see third-party manufacturers filling this gap in the market though, much like the iPod "battery packs" that you can strap on.
The base model is still the same price - $2700. The 128 GB SSD adds $500 to the price and the 256 GB SSD adds $900. SSDs have now reached the point where their storage space is comparable with that of a regular laptop hard disk. Hopefully SSD manufacturers will now focus on lowering the price because they are still far too expensive.
It's going to be 3-4 weeks before they ship but Apple is accepting pre-orders today. If you select the matte screen it changes to 4-6 weeks.
The other announcements can be summed up quite quickly - fixed-price iTunes tracks are a thing of the past and Apple will now adopt price tiers of $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29. 8 million songs DRM-free today, the entire catalog DRM-free by the end of Q1. You can now purchase songs from the iPhone itself.
I was hoping Apple would go out with more of a bang considering it's their last Macworld but I guess their whole point was that they didn't need to save their big announcements for Macworld any more, as people would listen wherever and whenever it was. I wasn't expecting much to interest me as it's mainly geared towards their consumer line, but I was disappointed to see nothing of Snow Leopard.Update:
You can now view the keynote video online
Posted by Jon Chappell on Tuesday January 6 2009 1:08 PM to Apple, Industry
As you are probably all aware of, tomorrow is the date of the Macworld San Francisco 2009 keynote by Phil Schiller instead of Steve Jobs.
MacRumors has done a great job of rounding up the rumors
pertaining to this event. It's definitely worth checking out - even if a lot of them seem to be from the same source.
It's also important to remember that Macworld SF is a consumer-oriented show so if don't expect too much in the way of professional products and equipment.
(As a side note: I would always advise buying the later speed-bumped version of a product, not the original. If Apple does
release a fixed-battery MacBook Pro, there's lots of potential for problems and issues with the first-generation.)
Posted by Jon Chappell on Monday January 5 2009 1:45 AM to Apple, Industry
Now, 2008 has been a year of frustration for us editors. We've seen few Final Cut Studio updates (and some of those have broken more things than they fixed), we've seen matte displays replaced with glossy ones, we've seen no Apple at NAB 2008 and we've seen very little in the way of Mac Pro updates.
Has Apple abandoned pro users? Are they more interested in making iPods? Yes and no. Yes, of course, they will want to put a lot of resources into something that contributes strongly to their bottom line. However, I don't believe they have abandoned pro users at all.
Everything changes with Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard is Apple's way of telling us it still cares. Look at the feature list - Grand Central, OpenCL, QuickTime X, even the 2.2 gamma change - is there anything there that will benefit the average Joe Bloggs user when he's checking his email? No, this is a lean operating system designed for performance. And it's also designed to sell Mac Pros of course, and make the 8-core Mac Pro you bought a year ago worthwhile. This is an operating system designed to put the Mac back on top of the list of pro must-haves. Apple has a massive head-start on Microsoft here.
And what better way to promote Snow Leopard and the Mac than with a highly-optimized version of its flagship pro suite, Final Cut Studio.
I don't think Apple is abandoning us at all. I think they are just diverting their pro app resources into something much better. Think how the number of patches and the number of fixes has dwindled lately. Updates are rare and they only fix major issues. It makes sense that Apple would only put resources into fixing major bugs if Final Cut Studio 2 was at the end of its life.
Another thing I find interesting is that Apple is putting Shake updates in Pro Applications Updates but it is not putting Logic or Aperture updates in there. This would suggest that there may have been a merging of the Shake and Final Cut Studio teams.
And let's look back at the original launch of Final Cut Studio 2. If you remove Color from the equation, there's really not much there. Worth upgrading, sure, but no big architectural changes like FCP 4.0 to 4.5 or 4.5 to 5.0. Could it have been a version designed to tide us over until the big changes came along? Only Apple knows the answer to that question.
So here are my predictions:
1. Final Cut Studio 3 launches in 2009 to coincide with the release of Snow Leopard. I don't know how backwards-compatible it will be, it could well be Snow Leopard-only (which also means Intel-only). It will be largely rewritten to take advantage of new Snow Leopard features and hardware acceleration.
2. LiveType will be killed off and its features will merge into Motion. Motion will inherit some of the features of Shake. This will better position it to compete with After Effects. It remains to be seen whether Apple will keep the node-based interface from Shake or spin it off as a separate application. I don't think Apple will completely merge the two together as they have different target markets and different complexity levels.
3. There will be greater interoperability between Final Cut Studio applications. Color will be redesigned to better fit into the studio. Interfaces will be improved so that there is greater coherence between applications.
4. Media management will be redesigned and there will be tighter integration with Final Cut Server.
5. The current NLE fashion is to have an automatic transcription tool. I would imagine Apple would implement this too, as it has great potential, even with the inevitable inaccuracies. Imagine this with Final Cut Server - you could easily search for that elusive line of dialogue within hundreds or even thousands of media files.
Ok, some of these are predictions, some of these are wishful thinking. But I believe Apple will at least optimize FCS3 for Snow Leopard technologies, because Snow Leopard is pointless if software isn't written to support it. At the end of the day, performance is what matters most.
Other features that may not come but I'd like to see anyway:
1. Why do we have to keep exporting to XML? Why not just make the FCP project file XML?
2. Add scripting abilities to the applications in the Studio and improve their expandability. Apple can't possibly think of everything - let third party developers fill in the gaps. It might also win over some larger companies who will be able to integrate it with their other applications and databases.
3. Blu-ray - Who even knows? It might interfere with Apple's iTunes business model but either way, BD support in Adobe Encore is proving that there is a demand for it and it is possible to provide it in an authoring application despite the draconian licensing issues.
Roll on 2009!
Posted by Jon Chappell on Wednesday December 31 2008 1:50 PM to Industry, Final Cut Studio, Analysis
Apple just released a press release
stating their intention to abandon all Macworld trade shows after January 2009. This is big news because Macworld is the most important trade show in Apple's calendar, and was the one they chose to use for announcing the iPhone.
Apple states that it has less need for trade shows due to the greater media presence it experiences nowadays, and I would say this is probably true. It's the reason they pulled out of NAB 2008 and it's the reason you shouldn't expect them at NAB 2009.
However, the more pressing question is this: why is Phil Schiller delivering the last keynote and not Steve Jobs? Surely Jobs should be present for the last one? Apple offers no explanation but this is likely to fuel further speculation about the CEO's health.
All I know is this - there are unlikely to be any huge announcements at the event, and it will become much harder to predict the best time to buy a computer now that Apple could spring new models upon us at any moment. But the computer industry is constantly changing and if you keep waiting for the next big thing, you'll be waiting forever. The best thing to do is buy what you need when you need it. Without the benefit of foresight, that's all you can do.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Tuesday December 16 2008 3:30 PM to Apple, Industry
As an editor, there are certain technical things you can do that will, in most cases, result in instant dismissal by your employer. Here are some tips on how to avoid these pitfalls.
We've all done it - you've got the timeline zoomed out, you drag a clip and think
it snapped to the end of another clip but really it snapped to a marker or overlapping bit of audio right next to it. Consequently there'll be a gap and a flash of black when the clip is played back - which producers and audiences never fail to notice.
Before you output, put the playhead at the start of the timeline and press Shift-G
. This will jump the playhead to the next gap in the timeline. If you encounter a gap, press Ctrl-G
to close it. If no more gaps can be found, the playhead will jump to the end of the timeline.
Unsafe luma levels
Maximum white is higher on a computer than it is on a TV. Consequently, it is possible to set white levels beyond maximum levels for NTSC broadcast. If this happens, overmodulation can occur which means that the signal can leak to radio frequencies other than the ones assigned to the TV channel, resulting in the TV company getting into big trouble with the FCC. Not surprisingly, this trouble would come your way very quickly (that's a worst-case scenario by the way).
When I am color correcting, I always switch on the luma indication in Final Cut Pro (View > Range Check > Excess Luma
). This will tell you with a warning triangle and red "zebra" lines which areas are above the recommended limit. You can then use a 3-way Color Corrector to bring down the highlights until the triangle changes into a green tick.
Then, just before my project is ready for output, I create a new sequence in Final Cut Pro and nest the old sequence inside it by dragging it from the Browser into my new timeline. I then go to Effects > Video Filters > Color Correction > Broadcast Safe
to make the entire nested sequence broadcast safe.
Why do I perform this step when I already made it safe earlier? Because you can't be too careful. Maybe I thought
I'd corrected each one but I'd actually missed one out by mistake. Maybe I added a last-minute clip that I forgot to correct. And if you're wondering why I nest it instead of just selecting all the clips and applying the filter to all of them, that's because I might be asked to make a last-minute change right before it goes out (in the world of broadcast TV anything is possible at the last minute). Nesting the sequence ensures that everything inside that sequence will be broadcast safe, no matter what I change later on.
It's also worth mentioning that the default settings for the Broadcast Safe filter work for the vast majority of cases. It's rare to have to modify them.
Like luma levels, audio levels have a maximum limit as well. If they exceed 0 dBFS on Final Cut Pro's audio meters, they will produce an audible "crunch" noise that is very ugly to hear and will instantly distract any engaged viewers.
For broadcast work, it is recommended to have your dialogue around -12 dBFS (but not lower than -18 dBFS), with very loud sounds not exceeding -6 dBFS. Film post production tends to work with a higher dynamic range so the dialogue is normally around -18 dBFS.
The most important thing, however, is that your audio doesn't exceed 0 dBFS. To ensure this, after you've completed your mix, drag the sequence from the Browser to the Viewer, then go to Mark > Audio Peaks > Mark
. This will put markers in your timeline at every point where the audio exceeds 0 dBFS. This is another of those situations where even though you've already mixed it, it's so quick and easy to check for peaks that there's no reason not to do it.
To remove the markers again, go to Mark > Audio Peaks > Clear
or Mark > Markers > Delete All
Incorrect field dominance
Here's one you probably won't spot unless you are using a broadcast monitor. This is why it's important to use a broadcast monitor or at worst, a regular TV, to view your work before output.
Interlaced video uses fields to display the image. There is a field for odd-numbered lines and a field for even-numbered lines, and they are displayed one after the other for every frame. But which one should be displayed first?
NTSC video uses the Lower (Even) field dominance, meaning it shows the even-numbered lines first. If you add a clip to your timeline that has Upper (Odd) field dominance, its fields will be reversed and the motion between those fields will be reversed, so moving objects will tend to judder as they move forwards and then backwards. PAL and HD video use the Upper (Odd) field dominance, with the exception of DV-PAL, which uses Lower (Even).
This is generally not a problem with footage acquired from an NTSC or PAL camera, as it will already have been shot with the correct field dominance. The problem usually occurs with motion graphics and visual effects sequences because they have been created in software that can create both types of footage and has to be manually told which dominance it should use.
If you have been given footage that has the wrong field dominance, first try to obtain correct footage from the person who originally supplied it. If this is not possible, go to Effects > Video Filters > Video > Shift Fields
to swap the fields around.
In some cases, Final Cut Pro can get confused and think that a file with the correct dominance is incorrect, so it automatically adds a Shift Fields filter when you import it. If you suspect that the file is actually correct, first check the clip for automatically-assigned filters and remove them.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that when you drag the first clip to a new sequence, Final Cut Pro 6 will ask you to change the sequence settings to match the clip if they differ. A lot of people click Yes without thinking, but taking a moment to check whether the clip in question does actually have the correct settings will save a lot of head-scratching later on.
I hope this article has given you ideas on how to avoid these problems because in a lot of cases, mistakes aren't made through ignorance but instead lack of time, lapses in concentration, tiredness, etc. That's why most of the steps in this article are very quick and easy ways of double-checking after you've already implemented corrections. These are important aspects to keep under control so it helps to have a range of defensive measures in place. When your job could potentially be on the line, you can't double-check often enough.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Monday November 17 2008 5:32 PM to Industry, Final Cut Studio, Analysis