Archive for the 'Useful tools for editors' Category

Useful Apps for Digital Filmmakers webinar now available

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

If you missed Thursday’s Useful Applications for Digital Filmmakers webinar it’s now available for download as an On Demand webinar. For $25 you get the full 90 minute, screen captured webinar, a podcast about the topic, an extra 15 minute (or so) video presentation with several tools we didn’t discuss during the webinar. There’s also a PDF included with links to all the Mac, iPhone and iPad apps we discussed during the webinar as well as a few we didn’t get to as we ran out of time.

Here’s the actual webinar description:

This webinar will be a fast, fun walk-through and discussion of handy, useful Macintosh applications that would be at home in any digital filmmaker’s toolbox. The software discussed will run the gamut from free to paid, a few dollars up to a few hundred. While all stages of filmmaking will be discussed with useful tools for pre-production, production and post-production, a strong emphasis will be placed on post production.

This was really a fun webinar to present as it wasn’t the usual task or workflow oriented program but rather a fun, fast walkthrough of a lot of tools that I know I couldn’t live without. I hope it might help in spending some money!

Review of Get phonetic search tool over at PVC

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

If you saw the cool application Get at NAB 2010 then you might want to check out my review of Get over at the Editblog on PVC. It’s a $499 application that allows you to search your media for words and phrases. Quite a cool tool.

In the Editblog garage: Euphonix MC Color

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

A package arrived yesterday that contained a shiny, new MC Color control surface from Euphonix. We have the unit under our roof for a month of testing. This surface has been eagerly anticipated by Apple Color-using community for quite a while. First glance right out of the box feels like a very solid unit. We’ll see how it performs both from a hardware and software POV as we test it out in the coming month. Stay tuned to the Editblog on PVC for first impressions and a full review.

New Editblog on PVC post: Tangent Wave review

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a Tangent Wave in my edit suite for the last month for testing and review. It’s a very pleasant unit to use and will totally change your opinion of Apple Color. Click over to the Editblog on PVC and give the review a look.

Get DaisyDisk for free and view your hard drive space

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

daisydisk

There’s a lot of Macintosh applications out there to let you view and manage the contents of a hard disk in a visual type of way. There’s  Disk Inventory X (Editblog article) but it’s from the PowerPC days so it requires emulation with Snow Leopard which doesn’t install by default. There’s also the great Baseline (PVC article) which is quite full featured but costs $20.

Enter DaisyDisk. It also scans a disk and presents the disk in a very fun and very visual way. You can look via files and folders, see the size of files and folders via both a visual view and a list view. Best of all you can use QuickLook to preview the files. You can’t delete from within the app but the developers are working on that. Right click to reveal in Finder and then delete from there is the workaround. The app isn’t perfect as there’s not a lot of documentation and it includes something called “Super-User” mode that isn’t documented. I would have thought that it would unlock a lot more features for how you could manipulate files but it doesn’t seem to do anything.

Is it worth the $19.95? It is not, especially with Baseline being available for $20. But right now you can get DaisyDisk for free by checking out the upcoming MacHeist bundle. If you click around the MacHeist page enough and go to coordinates 151.7, 174.4 (I think that’s right) you’ll see the TWEET FOR A TREAT button appear. This is the key to getting a free license for DaisyDisk. If you click it you’ll be asked to sign in to Twitter. If you do you’ll tweet about the upcoming MacHeist bundle.

Now I’m not a fan of how companies are now giving away free stuff and entering users into contests only if they tweet about it on Twitter. It totally spams followers and the more people do it then the more companies will use this type of marketing and the more it will devalue Twitter as a useful user-to-user communications platform. More noise, less signal. In the case of MacHeist and DailyDisk I didn’t sign in and tweet about MacHeist but when I went back to the MacHeist page there was a download link to a free DaisyDisk license. Sign in to MacHeist and you’ll get a license code, without having to spam your Twitter followers about it. This isn’t exactly what they want but it is getting DaisyDisk into the hands of more users so this is a good thing, right? DaisyDisk is off to a good start so with some improvements it might be worth that $19.95.

In the Editblog garage: Tangent Wave control surface

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Wave_photo

The good folks over at Tangent Devices recently sent us one of their control surfaces for testing with Color; the Tangent Wave. After hooking it up and checking it out for an hour or so this afternoon I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that color grading (and using Apple Color in particular) without a control surface dedicated to color grading is like doing most any task with one hand tied behind your back. And that’s mainly from just using the trackballs and dials and not really digging deeper into all the keys and functionality. Stay tuned to the Editblog on PVC for more thoughts, impressions and a full review of the Tangent Wave.

A free pan and zoom tool from Noise Industries

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Our friends at Noise Industries recently released one of their very best freebie plug ins for FxFactory: Pan and Zoom. Of course everyone needs a tool to help with motion control moves, panning and zooming, Ken Burn effect, whatever you want to call it … on still photographs. The FxFactory version ups the ante a bit by allowing the same types of panning and zooming on video clips as well. There’s also a Pan and Zoom transition included for good measure.

I’ve been through a lot of pan and zoom plug-ins, some are better than others but none are perfect, and this one for FxFactory is one of the best. Noise Industries plans on improving the tool and keeping it free so I don’t know what more we could ask for.

Set-up is simple. Drop the Pan and Zoom (free) generator in the timeline, load up a still image or some footage, select your animation style, start and stop positions and a number of parameters for the duration and animation curve and you’re done. There are preview boxes in the canvas for the start and stop of the animation to help. Once you are done uncheck the Setup Mode check box, render and you have a nice move. The biggest question I had was exactly what the “eases” on the animation curve presets would feel like:

You can, of course, preview the animations but you can also look at these images to see a visual of what things like Quadratic and Sinusoidal mean.

The biggest problem I have with most any Final Cut Pro effect / generator is that you can’t just click and drag in the canvas to set a lot of your parameters. You have to always click the little + in the Controls tab and then the little + in the canvas to change the position. It would be great to just be able to click the box in the canvas and change position, rotation and size all with a drag or two. Most all FCP effects and generators act this way so it must be a Final Cut Pro limitation. Other than that the FxFactory Pan and Zoom (free) is a nice Halloween gift!

Looking at Colorista from the Magic Bullet Suite 2008

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Colorista is a 3-way color corrector very similar in design to the built-in 3-way color corrector that Apple provides with Final Cut Pro. The first question that most people would ask, myself included, is why would anyone want another 3-way color corrector? The short answer is that it produces much better results. That’s a great reason to supplement any default FCP tool with that from another developer.

Colorista interface in Final Cut Pro

When you apply Colorista to a clip and open its controls in the Viewer you see that it has similar looking color wheels to that in the default FCP 3-way color corrector. But Red Giant Software, makers of the Magic Bullet Suite 2008, call these color wheels lift, gamma, gain which are terms that more resemble that in a high end color grading suite like a DaVinci. A name change is one thing but those things have to have functionality to really make a difference. I think one of the best ways to see how Colorista works it to compare some of the same corrections in both Colorist and the FCP 3-way. Stu Maschwitz of DV Rebels Guide fame is the inventor of Colorista and has done that on his website. Since there is a demo of Colorista available you can do the same and decide if Colorista is right for you. For me, I think color correction and color grading is something best left to a professional colorist. They can do a lot better color work than I can. I’ve seen a real colorist work wonders with the FCP 3-way that made my jaw drop. That said I often need to color correct footage myself so I want a tool that is easy to use and produces great results quickly. That’s what Colorista can do.

Another powerful aspect of Colorista is the Power Mask:

Similar to Power Windows in a DaVinci suite it allows you to mask and isolate only parts of the shot for color correction. You choose a rectangle or ellipse shape and then manipulate the size, positions and feathering. While something similar can be achieved with masking and FCP’s built-in 3-way, having this as part of the Colorista filter makes it much easier and faster to work on a specific part of an image. Positioning the mask is the most difficult thing in FCP since you have to click the position + sign in the filter tab before you can get the target to show in the Canvas to allow click and drag positioning of the mask. In Motion those targets are always visible when the filter is selected. It would be great to see a bezier drawing tool to create a custom shape for the mask as well.

Real power can be achieved with Colorista when you apply multiple Colorista filters to a single clip. A great example of this can be found in Red Giant’s own tutorials. They show examples of Colorista in both Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro and how you can use multiple versions on a single clip for a quickie secondary color correction.

One disadvantage when using Colorista in Final Cut Pro is the realtime playback performance. It isn’t nearly as good as that of the built-in 3-way. Colorista has what is called its DeepColor RT engine that offers better realtime performance by “efficiently using your system’s graphics processing power.” This is true in an app like Motion that utilizes the computer’s graphics card for realtime performance but not the case in FCP. Red Giant suggests using the Unlimited RT setting on an FCP timeline but you will get a lowered resolution during what might be a choppy frame rate. According to Red Giant’s engineers this is due mainly to the way FCP uses the FxPlug technology. It will be a great day when we get an FCP update that can use the graphics card as well as Motion can. Bottom line is you can get great color correction done with Colorist you just have to render it when you are done!

Colorist interface in Motion

And one final thing to like is that Colorista will run on a number of different hosts and they are included in one installer. Not may plug-ins do that:

As you can see Avid is included in that installer list. Currently Colorista won’t run on the newest Avid Media Composer 3.0. The engineers at Red Giant Software are working on updating Colorista to run on the newest version of Avid. If you use Avid you know that is has much more competent color correction that Final Cut Pro so the need for Colorista might be less on Avid. But Avid’s color correction toolset can sometimes be a bit overkill so a simple and good tool like Colorista can be good to have on Avid as well. Now if they can just get it updated to run on MC Soft 3.0.

What’s next for Colorista? danrubottom posted a couple of suggestions via Twitter a while back that would be nice:

That’s a great recommendation for the next version. If they would build a powerful secondary color correction tool into Colorista as well then it would more than double the power of the tool. Colorista might still be considered early in its life so there is a lot of room to grow. It’s also a good tip to know that when you are working on the overall settings for the lift/gamma/gain you may feel like you want to drag around the circle of the color wheel to move the slider. It’s designed to follow the left and right moves of your mouse. If you stick with left / right movement then it will work a lot better. There’s other 3rd party color correction tools available; Color Finesse and Apple’s own Color but for a great price / performance ratio it’s hard to beat Colorista. And since there is a demo available there’s really no reason not to the Colorista for you color correction needs.

Looking at Magic Bullet Suite 2008

Monday, September 29th, 2008

While 2009 isn’t that far away I’m happy to report that I have recently gotten my hands on the Magic Bullet Suite 2008 from Red Giant Software. It’s a comprehensive suite of software that would go well in most any editors toolbox, especially if he/she does finishing out of the edit suite. There’s really a lot of things that this package can do and you might not use everything on one job. But then if you put them all together and use them to complement each other you just might find Magic Bullet Suite 2008 cab help put a polish on your edit that isn’t possible with the stock Final Cut Pro tools alone.

The biggie in the suite would probably be Magic Bullet Looks. There’s been a lot written about Looks and its innovative approach of simulating different parts of the filmmaking process in order to achieve a desired look. It shows that someone was thinking outside the box when they designed the interface and the results can be stunning. Presets or custom looks, you can do things in Magic Bullet Looks you can’t do anywhere else.

Magic Bullet Colorista is color correction tool similar to the Final Cut Pro three way color corrector but only in the color-wheels they both share. While you can do nice work with the stock FCP 3-way corrector Colorista comes much closer to what a higher end color grading suite could achieve. Use it once and you won’t want to color correct with the FCP’s built-in tool again.

Magic Bullet Frames is for giving interlaced video the 24P look of film. And everyone who has interlaced video these days wants the film-look right?

Magic Bullet Steady is an image stabilization tool. Wobbly, shaky, jittery … Steady will attempt to smooth it out and give you a few options for the smoothness level, all the way to a lock down. It’s goes head-to-head with Smoothcam and claims much faster time when analyzing footage.

Finally there is Magic Bullet Instant HD. Designed to convert standard definition DV to high definition Instant HD uses sharpening and anti-aliasing to up-rez to any number of HD formats.

I’ve begun kicking the tires on the Suite and so far it’s a nice package. Stay tuned for an upcoming review of the different parts and pieces.

Here’s hoping for some great filmmaking iPhone apps

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Yesterday my first generation iPhone was hit with the same problem that happened to many, after updating to the 2.0 software iTunes couldn’t connect to re-authenticate the phone … so it wouldn’t work (except to make an emergency call!) As pissed as I was that I had no cell phone / Internet communication device from about 9:00 am until 2:30 pm, at the end of the day it was quite refreshing as I was able to get a lot of stuff done with minimal distractions. I see no real need for a 3G iPhone since I have a good rate plan that AT&T no longer offers and have gotten along fine this far without GPS or 3G. That might change as the iTunes app store gets more and better applications available for download and more of those apps connect to the Internet for their functionality. I downloaded, installed, deleted and installed a lot of them throughout yesterday and today and while there are a lot of crappy iPhone applications available there are a lot of good ones as well. Between the games, productivity apps and Twitter clients there is amazing potential for iPhone applications.

What I didn’t find (thus far) are any applications geared toward the filmmaker. There are a lot of apps that check movie times and theater locations and things of that nature but I found none geared toward production and/or post. If you’re a developer looking for a filmmaking related application to create for the iPhone here are a few ideas:

A useful Timecode calculator. I’m sure this will be one of the first that become available. There are some timecode calculators available as stand-alone applications or a dashboard widget but to have a good one on the iPhone would be my first purchase. Hopefully the developer will look at the timecode calculator built in to Avid Media Composer. It does all of the adding, subtracting and dividing of multiple frame rates that all timecode calculators have to do to be useful but it also shows a scrolling window that holds all the previously entered values:


And if you want to make it really useful add a single preset button (the double 0 entry when pushing the . key on the keypad is a given) for 01:00:00:00 and/or the ability to assign a single timecode value to one keystroke!

A Final Cut Pro remote control. Apple has released a little iPhone app called Remote that give the iPhone remote control of iTunes or an Apple TV. I saw a real benefit of this with my Apple TV as it can be used to call up songs and movies but also as a keyboard to avoid using the terrible on-screen keyboard that things like that require. It works through wifi so I wonder if it would be possible to allow a Remote like app to control Final Cut Pro? I don’t necessarily mean doing any actual editing but if you had the ability to call up a timeline and at least play and navigate that timeline then that would be great for sitting away from the keyboard for viewing cuts or client screenings. A bonus if you could do something like adding markers.

A footage logger and batch list generator. In its most simple form an app like this could give the logger a way to enter a tape/reel number, a starting and an ending timecode and a clip name and description and then be able to save (perhaps email right from the app?) that file in a properly tab-delimited format for importing as a Avid ALE file or FCP batch list. Avoiding a spreadsheet application would be the main goal of something like this.

A hardware assisted logging tool. Taking the above idea one step further, if there existed some type of device that could wifi (or bluetooth ?) the timecode out signal from a camera or video deck and send that to its companion iPhone application where the user could just tap a button for IN points and OUT points then that would be fantastic. How easy and convenient it would be to just tap a couple of buttons to make a batch list or just get good timecode notes. Now if that piece of hardware could also send a video signal along with the timecode where you could record a still frame to go along with those timecode notes then that might be a post-production killer app. Package that with an iPod Touch and you have a great one box solution.

A footage / storage calculator. There are tons of these things out there in the world so the iPhone app is inevitable so I’ll just offer a few suggestions as to have to make it most useful. We live in a world of many, many, many, many codecs so if those codecs were broken down into categories instead of one huge list then that would go a long was toward making the tool quick and easy to use. SD, Avid DNxHD, ProRes, DVCPRO HD, RED’s R3D format are just a few that come to mind that I would like to access in their own list. If it worked via a hierarchical system where you choose the codec first, frame rate second, frame size third then that seems most efficient.

Now I’m not a software programmer so I have no idea if it is even possible to do some task in an iPhone app and then email the results in a file but it would be nice. Digital Rebellion has a number of great web apps that they say will be developed into iPhone applications. And I’m sure that the folks Digital Heaven have their eyes on the iPhone as well … at least I hope they do as they make some of the best desktop apps out there. If you’re developing anything like this for filmmaking and/or post-production and want a beta tester then let me know.  If you use any of my ideas above then I’ll be waiting on my consulting fee! Or at least a credit …