Stuff, Guts, and Video 015

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

One of the goals of good design is to properly position graphic elements in a harmonious way. This includes good video design, especially when compositing titles, images and other video clips together. Both Final Cut Pro and Motion make it easy to reposition, rotate, crop and distort video clips and images in their respective Canvases. In Final Cut Pro the Image and Wireframe mode must be selected from the View pop-up menu in the Canvas (see figure 1). This tip focuses on moving the clip around.

Selecting Image and Wireframe from the View Pop-up Menu.

Figure 1:
Selecting Image & Wireframe from the View pop-up Menu.

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Stuff, Guts, and Video 014

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

Each video editor has their own style and unique workflow, and Final Cut Pro’s remarkable flexibility—from clicking buttons, selecting menu commands, to using keyboard shortcuts—allows editors to work the way they like best. No matter how you work in FCP, using keyboard shortcuts can make you a quicker, more efficient and agile editor. Here are a few keyboard short cuts that, with practice, can improve your clip trimming performance in FCP.

Normally when trimming clips in the timeline an editor selects the appropriate tool (usually the ripple, or arrow tool), then clicks and drags on the edit point to perform the required trim. If your playhead is near the edit point of the intended trim then press the V key to select the edit point. The V key selects the edit point nearest the playhead location (see figures 1 and 2).

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Running Leopard on sub 867 MHz G4 Macs

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Hints & Tips

Excited about Leopard’s super cool groovy new features, but your Mac doesn’t meet the stiff new system requirements? According to Apple, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard cannot be directly installed on Macs with a G4 processor slower than 867 MHz. However, provided that you have access to a Leopard compatible Mac, there is a workaround. I discovered while trying to get Leopard working on my 800 MHz Titanium Powerbook, that while it can’t be installed directly, it will run from a drive with Leopard already installed.

So here is what needs to be done. First, get a Leopard compatible Mac. Take the older Mac start it up in target disk mode and connect it to the LCM (Leopard Compatible Mac) via a Firewire cable. Insert the Leopard installation disk in the LCM and start the installation process. When the installer asks where Leopard is to be installed, specify the Target Disk Mode connected Mac’s hard drive. Complete the installation process and once the LCM has happily booted from the new system shut it down, disconnect the older Mac, and power it down. Start the older Mac up and it should now be running Leopard.

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That’s not a typo, Despite the excitement and fervor to rush out and upgrade to the newest cat in Apple’s litter, there are actually good reasons not to upgrade to Leopard right away. Here are five to consider.

Number One: First Isn’t Always Best
Technology always needs early adopters, brave souls living on the bleeding edge trying each new electronic gadget or software program because they are driven to be the first. They are the ones who take the punches, suffer the glitches, crashes, and report the bugs that are inevitable with new technology and software, and many times provide workarounds and fixes. More cautious Mac users should follow the basic tech rule, “Never buy version one of anything.” Some may argue Leopard is just the evolution of the current Mac OS, and while it’s Officially Mac OS X 10.5, it’s still version one of Leopard. Wait a few weeks after Leopard’s release into the wild to see what problems, gotchas, and solutions the first adopters discover. This makes transitioning from Tiger to Leopard smoother and less painless. Places to check to see what is going on with Leopard include Apple’s support site for Mac OS X (www.apple.com/support/leopard/) where there will be technotes regarding problems and solutions, and forums where other users discuss their experiences; our own MacCast, as well as MacFixit.com (www.macfixit.com) and Macintouch (www.macintouch.com).

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New iPhoto ’08 Library Tip

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Hints & Tips

If you recently upgraded to iLife 08, no doubt you’ve noticed some rather dramatic changes in how the updated applications look and work. One particular change to iPhoto is starting to annoy digital photographers used to diving into the iPhoto Library folder to directly access images imported into iPhoto. The new iLife 08 version of iPhoto’s Library is no longer a standard folder, but is instead a package. This new format prevents users from easily viewing and opening images in the iPhoto Library in the Finder or applications like Adobe Photoshop. But there is a simple solution.

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Stuff, Guts, and Video 013

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

After a short summer hiatus, in part Final Cut Pro Studio re-certification, we return with more Stuff, Guts, and Video.

One way to a more efficient Final Cut Pro workflow is to re-use bits and pieces created during the course of a project. Motion effects, transitions, and filter settings that you’ve spent valuable time adjusting, tweaking, and finessing, can easily be re-used by turning them into favorites. There are a number of ways to create, store and organize favorite effects in Final Cut Pro and I outlined several of those in Stuff, Guts, and Video 008. The problem with storing all these cool items in the Favorites Bin of the Effects Tab in the Browser is, if Final Cut Pro’s preferences ever go bad, get replaced, or if you reset FCP’s preferences. . . boom . . . there go all those favorites.

Here are a couple of ways to protect those cool favorite effects, filters, and transitions.

First, back up your FCP preferences. I talked about how to do that in the last episode, Stuff, Guts, and Video 012. That way if preferences die, it’s easy to restore those lost settings. Be sure to back up the preferences regularly so that any new favorites that are created are preserved.

Second, create an Effects Bin in each project and copy the favorites that are used in that project into the Effects Bin (see figure 1).

Effects Bin for Preserving motion effects, transitions, and filters.
Figure 1: Create a bin in each project to preserve motion effects, filters, and transitions.

This keeps a copy of the motion effects, filters, and transitions used by each project with the project, so that even if preferences die, the effects will still be there. I often make a copy of the entire Favorites bin in the Effects Tab in a project as another way of preserving all my effects. Then if something happens to the favorites I can quickly restore them by opening a project and copying them back to the Effects Tab.

No one expects that catastrophic events will happen to them while editing a project to a tight deadline, but the better prepared you are the faster it is to recover and keep on editing.

Next time on Stuff, Guts, and Video we’ll look at some cool editing keyboard shortcuts you definitely need to know.

This tip is good for all versions of Final Cut Pro.

Stuff, Guts, and Video 012

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

One thing that can take down applications in Mac OS X is bad preferences, and Final Cut Pro is just as susceptible to this problem as any Mac application. Here are tips to protect against corrupt preference problems.

First, once FCP has been tweaked to your satisfaction, back up FCP’s preferences. Mac application preferences are stored either in the /LIbrary/Preferences folder or in the /Users/”your_user_name_here”/Library/Preferences folder. Final Cut Pro’s preferences consist of the com.apple.FinalCutPro.plist file and the Final Cut User Data folder, both stored in the /Library/Preferences/ in your home folder. Simply copy the plist file and the Final Cut Pro User Data folder to another hard drive or burn it to a CD (you might as well copy the plist files for all the other FCP Studio applications to keep them safe too). Then if FCP’s preferences ever become corrupt, replace them with the back up copy. By backing up the Final Cut Pro User Data folder all of the custom button bars, window, column, and track layouts are also preserved.

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Stuff, Guts, and Video 011

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

Final Cut Studio Box shotNow that Final Cut Studio 2 is shipping (I should have my copy soon) here is our first tip for Final Cut Pro 6. I know that many of you are itching to dive in and install the new Final Cut Studio applications and start playing with all those really cool new features, but before you do, take a deep breath, count to ten, and wait.

Why you might ask? Because this is brand spanking new software and although Apple does a pretty thorough job of testing, they can’t possible cover every possible configuration users might have. So a few glitches could appear when FCS2 is installed on your Mac. The last thing you need is to redo a project from scratch because upgrading nuked the previous project files or a filter no longer does what you expect.

It helps to follow these two basic rules:
1. Never, EVER, upgrade software in the middle of a production.
2. Don’t upgrade your primary editing station until the new software has been tested on a non-critical editing station (i.e. the Mac) in a non-critical situation.

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Stuff, Guts, and Video 009

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro

After some delay, here is The missing Stuff, Guts & Video Episode 9, with more to follow shortly.

In editing it is often necessary to compare frames of video in a sequence, for color correction, matching clips shot at different times or with different equipment, adjusting filters or aligning visual elements in several clips. Final Cut Pro’s Frame Viewer tool makes makes these kinds of comparisons a snap. Here’s how it works.

Access the Frame Viewer by selecting it from the Tools Menu or use the Option-7 keyboard shortcut. The Frame Viewer appears as a tab within the Tool Bench window (see figure 1).

Frame Viewer Showing two views of the same frame
Figure 1: Frame Viewer showing two views of the same clip with a blur filter applied.


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Stuff, Guts, and Video 010

Written by: James Alguire

Categories: Mac Pro, News

by James Alguire

I’m reporting this week from the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas (www.nabshow.com), where cool things are happening in the world of video editing and podcasting. NAB hosted it’s second Podcasting Summit, further establishing podcasting as a legitimate and viable content delivery method. Sessions held Saturday and Sunday covered podcasting essentials, encoding tools and techniques, demystifying RSS, distribution strategies and metrics, marketing your podcast, and the legal issues of podcasting. Serious podcasters should consider attending this event next year.

On Sunday, April 15th, at the Venetian Ballroom, at the Venetian Hotel, Apple hosted a special event, basically a keynote presentation followed by a finger food reception. During the keynote given by Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Product Marketing, Apple announced a brand new product, Final Cut Server and an updated version of Final Cut Pro Studio (FCPS 2). By now there are many web sites commenting on the new products and features, so I’ll just summarize here and provide links to the appropriate pages at Apple’s Web site.


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