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Tools

Slugline. Simple, elegant screenwriting.

Red Giant Color Suite, with Magic Bullet Looks 2.5 and Colorista II

Needables
  • Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony Alpha a7S Compact Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera
    Sony
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video (Body Only)
    Panasonic
  • TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM DR-100mkII 2-Channel Portable Digital Recorder
    TASCAM
  • The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap (Peachpit)
    by Stu Maschwitz

Entries in Apple (30)

Friday
Jun272014

The Battle for All the Photos

Today The Loop broke the news that Apple will (or really, has long ago) ceased development of Aperture, their pro app for photo management and processing.

The new Photos app will also replace iPhoto, giving users a more seamless experience on Apple devices. The app will allow you to edit and search your entire photos library in the cloud on any of your Apple devices.

“Edit and search your entire photo library.” Sounds great, although I suspect there are some asterisks. Can we add any photos to this library, or just ones we took with our telephones?

My last post was about how Adobe is using its Lightroom mobile apps to add mobile editing and organization (but no search yet) to Lightroom. Not for all your photos though—only those you choose to sync. But the default setting on the mobile apps is to automatically upload every photo you take.

John Nack, formerly of Adobe, now at Google, recently wrote about (and demoed) how Google is doing the same thing with Google+. Google clearly wants you to consider Google+ a home for all your photos, inasmuch as they can remember it exists or consider it anything but a mistake.

Each implementation is slightly different. Should the master photo file be on your computer (Lightroom) or in the cloud (Google)? Should you be able to add photos from anywhere (Google), or should this service be tied to a device/app (Apple/Lightroom)? Should you be the paying customer (Lightroom, Apple), or should advertisers (Google)?

The consistent vector here is this: All your photos in the cloud, available and editable anywhere, anytime.

Ubiquitous, non-destructive, metadata-powered photo management is going to be great, and three powerhouses are competing to do it right. So while some may mourn the discovery of Aperture’s long-dead body, I’m excited for the very near future of photography.

Monday
Jun112012

Tall Computers

Today, amidst many exciting announcements about thinner laptops and operating systems, Apple quietly updated their Mac Pro line. As Marco Arment put it:

After two years, the Mac Pro was “updated” today, sort of: now we can choose slightly faster two-year-old CPUs at the top end, and the other two-year-old CPU options are cheaper now.

That’s about it.

Folks who make moving pictures for a living have been eagerly awaiting—and debating the likelihood of—a Mac Pro update. This non-update update does little to squash the debate. Is this a placeholder bump while Apple readies the “real” new Mac Pro? Or is this the death knell for the Apple’s tower line?

When I described the ray-tracing 3D renderer in Adobe After Effects CS6 usable only by those with high-end graphics cards, many commenters took the opportunity to turn it into a Mac vs. Windows debate. That’s not how I saw the problem, but it did raise an interesting question:

Is it Apple’s job to build computers for our (Possibly Adobe) software, or is it Adobe’s job to build software for our (Possibly Apple) computers?

The easy answer is “both.” But there’s more to it than that. Apple clearly showed today a continued commitment to making computers lighter, prettier, and where possible, faster. The emphasis is not solely on performance—performance is one aspect to consider when buying a computer, but Apple has had great success getting customers to consider other factors, such as, you know, what it’s like to actually use the thing.

If Apple continues to focus on thin laptops with long battery life rather than dozen-core towers with $2,000 video cards, should Adobe reconsider its focus on features that require high-end hardware?

Or should Adobe concentrate on making kick-ass software that blazes on modern workstations, and leave their customers to select the best machine for their needs?

“Just get a PC. They’re cheap.” This has been a common refrain in the face of Apple’s seeming disinterest in the workstation market. And it is very true that a pimped-out, top-of-the-line Windows tower can be had for a steal compared to what Apple charges for these barely-reved Mac Pros.

But it’s Not That Simple

If you use a Mac, and you decide that you’d rather run Adobe’s Production Premium CS6 on a “cheap” Windows machine, you’ve got some decision making ahead of you. Most of Adobe’s software (a notable exception being Lightroom) is licensed for one platform only. You can crossgrade your license, but there are some gotchas. If you’re not on the very latest version, you’ll have to upgrade as you crossgrade. But more significantly, your Mac license becomes invalid. If you do the very common (And Adobe-sanctioned) thing of running your CS6 license on both a laptop and a desktop, you can’t split that happy arrangement across OS borders. Switching to a Windows CS6 setup means either giving up CS6 on your laptop, switching to a Windows laptop (ugh), or buying two seats of CS6.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who pointed out that a Creative Cloud membership earns you two platform-agnostic CS6 instalations.

The other issue could be your display. I currently use a MacBook Pro and an iMac. If I bought a Windows tower, I’d need to buy a new display. This is not something I’d cheap out on—you know, because I look at it.

So let’s review. “Get a PC, they’re cheap,” for me, really means buying:

  • A tricked-out PC
  • A high-end display
  • Either a Creative Cloud membership, a 2nd license of CS6, or a Windows laptop (kill me now)

This cheap PC is not turning out to be so cheap after all. And we haven’t even discussed the other software I might need to buy. Not all developers are as enlightened as Red Giant when it comes to cross-platform licensing.

Tower? I Don’t Even Know Her.

I haven’t kept a Mac tower in my home since they were blue. At The Orphanage, I had various Mac and Windows workstations at my desk over the years, but I did most of my work on Mac laptops. Now I split my work between my laptop—often connected to a 30” Cinema Display, and my wife’s iMac.

Of course, I’d re-think that if I was working for paying clients in the room. And even when my only client is me, I’m still not 100% satisfied with my laptop lifestyle. Do I want a pimped-out tower in my office and a lightweight MacBook Air for mobile work and writing? Or do I want a top-of-the-line mobile workstation and a serviceable desktop solution? Could I really run After Effects on an Air? How crazy-making would it really be to use Windows at my office and Mac at home? And sweet mother of internet, which PC would I even get? And which display?

And if I buy a tall computer, am I becoming even more of a niche user than we image-making professionals have ever been—focused on expensive, rarified performance that costs a ton no matter where you find it, rather than on the type of highly usable computers that Apple champions and the world copies? And encouraging Adobe’s rapid skating toward where the puck was a few years ago, rather than pushing them toward creating a great experience on todays lighter, more elgant machines?

Just get a PC, they’re cheap!

If only it was that simple.

Tuesday
Jan312012

FCP X Updated, Magic Bullet Looks 50% Off

Final Cut Pro X was essentially version 1.0 of an entirely new app, and it shipped with enough features absent that many questioned the continued use of the “pro” name. Today Apple released a free update to FCP X that restores many of those missing features, including:

  • Import FCP 7 projects via 7toX
  • Media re-linking
  • Multicam editing
  • Video out via Blackmagic and AJA PCIe cards, as well as Thunderbolt devices

In this way FCP X is following the Apple pattern that is as hated as it is admired: if you can’t make it perfect, don’t release it. Some of these reinstated features are better than they ever were in FCP 7. Multicam tracks can be synced automatically based on audio waveforms, or even metadata. The new chroma keyer is greatly improved.

All these new and not-so-new features are wonderful to see, and I’m delighted that Apple is advancing FCP X so quickly. But what makes me happiest today is that this new release represents the collaborative effort between Apple and Red Giant to resolve the issues that were preventing Magic Bullet Looks 2 from working properly. Starting today, Looks users can download a free update that enables full FCP X compatibility.

Red Giant is so excited about this that they’ve put Looks on sale for 50% off (that’s $199). For every platform.

So if you haven’t tried FCP X or Magic Bullet Looks, today is a great day to do either, or both.

The 50% off sale (offer code LOOKSFCPX50) is for the next seven days. Magic Bullet Mojo already works wonderfully in FCP X, and is still 50% off—only $49.

Wednesday
Jan042012

What I Do With My iPad Part 2: Write With a Keyboard

The iPad is a wonderful focused writing tool. Both Harry McCracken and James Kendrick have perfectly described how its simplicity and one-app-at-a-time model encourage attentive productivity. McCracken writes:

With the iPad… You can devote nearly every second of your time to the task at hand, rather than babysitting a balky computer. I don’t feel like I’m “using an iPad to write.” I’m just writing. It’s a far more tranquil, focused experience than using a PC or Mac.

McCracken and Kendrick agree that using an iPad to write tranquilly and focussedly requires a physical keyboard (both like the Logitech Keyboard Case). I love using my iPad with my Apple Bluetooth keyboard. I really wish someone at Apple did too, because unfortunately, the device’s keyboard support feels like a bit of an afterthought. I can’t help but feel that if anyone on the iPad team was passionate about the physical keyboard experience, a few glaringly obvious shortcomings would be corrected.

  • Command + Tab, optionally in concert with the left and right arrow keys, is the keyboard shortcut for switching apps on Mac. I want this functionality so bad on my iPad that I actually mocked up what it might look like. I hope this video makes it as clear to you as it is to me how incredibly useful this would be.

I know, first I extol the virtues of the iPad’s focus and single-app view, and then I beg for an easy way to bounce among my apps. What can I say—the only thing a writer likes more than a distraction-free environment is distractions. Now on with the gripes.

  • When a search or other text entry, such as an email field, presents a list of suggestions based on what I’ve begun to type, I should be able to use the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate that list, and Return to select—just like we do on OS X. iOS 5 added this functionality in a few places (address fields in Mail, for example), but there are still many text fields where it is frustratingly absent (most notably Search in Safari).

  • If you purchased your Apple keyboard after July 2011, your F4 key is devoted to Launchpad, the iPad-esque app browsing screen in OS X Lion. This key, with its grid-of-apps icon, is just dying to function as an iPad home button.

It’s not just Apple that thinks of iPad keyboarders last, if at all. Most of my writing apps exhibit an understandable, but nevertheless frustrating behavior when used with an external keyboard. Writing often means adding text to the end of a document, so frequently the part of the screen that I’m focussed on is the very bottom, as far from my eyeballs as possible (especially when I’m using my Incase Origami case/stand). You can work around this by padding the end of the document with a bunch of empty lines (or, better still, raising the iPad closer to eye-level if possible—not easy, but if you can pull it off you’ve created something much better for your posture than any laptop), iA Writer in full-focustard modebut I do wish that some of these apps would recognize that without the on-screen keyboard naturally pushing my words up to the center of the screen, there’s utility in padding out the bottom of the screen and keeping your typing area near the vertical center—the way, say, Scrivener does on the Mac in its excellent full-screen mode. Of all my iPad writing apps, the only one that nails this is iA Writer—but only in its full-focustard mode.

McCracken wrote about using his iPad as a laptop replacement. That’s not how I see it. There are many occasions when the power to do anything that my MacBook Pro offers is exactly what I want. But there times where that potential creates such a distraction that I long for something simpler. The amazing thing about using the iPad for creative work is that the device goes away, and the task at hand becomes the entire experience. With a just little more of Apple’s characteristic attention to detail, the physical keyboard experience could be just as transparent, and the iPad would truly be the best writing tool I’ve ever known.

If you agree with all or any of this, consider letting Apple know via their iPad Feedback form.

See also: What I Do With My iPad Part 1: Storyboarding