25 June 2011

Final Cut X

Having had a chance to play with this software and read up on it’s features and what other professionals say about it I have to report FCX is not aimed at the professional film maker or editor but rather the one man show at the office who must put together the corporate videos and the small film makers working on you tube and on the internet. While being a bold step forward in many ways, it’s also a huge step backwards, away from the professional work of collaborative and high end video production.

the good:
There is plenty of interesting and worthwhile ideas in this software. The magnetic timeline, the 64 bit and Motion 5 integration, the addition of larger formats, the on screen image is much improved on my monitors, the implementation of the the sound editing and color correction as well as the ability to burn DVD (including Blu-ray) directly from Final Cut are all inspired changes. The metadata ideas are very welcome and will greatly cut down the endless searching for clips. I have no doubt that many of these features are in the future of digital editing and many other non linear editors will be embracing them as well.

the bad:
Apple’s rush to “the future” is really just a rush to get rid of features it didn’t like supporting in place of creating something much too stripped down for professional use. No multi-clip? The iphoto/imovie approach to file management is great for some one person operations and a nightmare for most anyone else. In the film/broadcast world, there might be several if not 100’s of people working on a film and this current system is not good for that. Not being able to import older projects is annoying but not a fatal flaw in my view. Apple seems to think the world has moved on from DVD but as many FCP users are editing for weddings and events or independent filmmakers who need to send their work to investors and festivals by delivering these projects on DVD, the included solution is not a solution at all. I have been already using Adobe’s Encore to make DVDs as Apple had done nothing to improve DVD Pro (now defunct) since almost a day after version 1 came out. The killing of Soundtrack Pro is also a huge loss for those of us who are not and can’t afford musicians for every small project but I supposed Garageband is more or less up to that task at this point. Sort of.

If you are a video professional who found FCP too daunting to use and wanted a more full featured version of imovie, FCX is really a huge step up for you and together with Motion 5 it will up your game to new heights. If you work alone and don’t mind having all your media organized for you instead of by you (which does have it’s advantages) this will also be step forward. If, however, you are working on anything more collaborative, or complex you will find FCX lacking in basic features too important to make it’s pluses outweigh the minuses. Apple’s back peddling recently and re-writing history with statements that FCP was “never intended for real professional work flow” not to mention the recent statements the this next version would have lots of things for the professional community is just a way to avoid admitting they have decided not to support a well and hard earned user base. Though updates may come fast and furious and this may become an incredible way to make broadcast in a year or two, that may be too late to attract the professional market who can more easily move back to Avid or the ever improving Adobe suite of video products.

I personally won't be using FCX anytime soon as imovie currently fills the niche I would use this sort of software for well enough and Final Cut 7, though still slightly buggy is much more appropriate for larger projects.

22 June 2011

Motion 5

Apple released some major software this past week for video professionals and for the first time only from the Apple store. I’d love to try the new Final Cut Pro X, but 300$ for something I’m not sure I really need was a little high to pay and Compressor I rarely, if ever use as it is. Motion 5 was the logical choice for a test spin. It has some of the same new interface ideas behind it as the new Final Cut and was only 50$.

Buying from the app store is easy, these are big downloads and then you must download even more to get some of the templates etc. So watch your bandwidth. Installation is all automatic but be prepared for some bugginess and weirdness first time you open the software.

Using it:
Not much difference from earlier versions to tell the truth. The interface is the most noticeable thing and it is a great improvement in my opinion. Getting used to it might take a little time but it’s much more intuitive overall. it’s full screen, 64 bit and much faster overall. I found it did most things I use Motion for very well but it crashes pretty often. This could be because Apple recommends you use it with a version of the OS they haven’t actually released yet. So while it was stable enough for most things, it’s not going to be a good idea for critical or professional use until this gets works out. Some feature look promising, like the tracking features. I have to say look promising because while the tracker did a pretty good job, applying the movement to another layer crashed the software every time I tried it so I have no idea if the tracking is really useful or not right now. I didn’t notice any new emitters, which is a shame since it’s one of the thing I like about Motion over After Effects. The rigging feature seems a nice way to make changes in templates easily and quickly.

Final Cut X integration etc:
This version has some serious integration with the new Final Cut X which is a welcome addition to the functionality. Not having the new FCP, I didn’t test it out. This might be a double edged sword for some people. The New FCP seem much more template and quite honestly, corporate headquarters oriented than a serious film maker’s tool. It radically changes how editing is done in a way that will benefit more those who must put together a corporate presentation or a podcast than a feature film and the Motion integration is part of that change. Both Motion and FCP can output to social media directly like You Tube, Facebook and will even burn to dvd... including Blu-ray if you have a burner. How this will work out is anyone’s guess at the moment. Apple has stopped making DVD Pro and Soundtrack Pro as well as Color. In theory many, but not all of those functions are now part of FCP. I do know that motion is hardly useful as a colour grading tool as AE is.

Thought only 50$ this does mean a higher price for old time Final Cut users who upgrade. The 300$ for FCP X was the cost of the whole suite upgrade last time around. Still Buying FCP and Motion will likely handle most people’s immediate needs and it’s a damn good price. Time will tell if this is a step forward for editing or Apple’s first step away from truly professional software to more of a dumbing down of the artistic process of film making. Motion is a solid software but not much different than the last version function-wise. The 64 bit, speed bump and new interface is certainly worth 50$ or will be once the bugs are worked out.

the new OSX update is out and Motion has stopped crashing all the time. I also have access to try the new final cut X and will be reporting on that soon.

17 June 2011

Not Worth The Wait

I can’t speak for the other iphone apps from the iworks suite from Apple but Numbers was not worth the wait for it’s iphone counterpart.

I am not a heavy spreadsheet user and even I found important things missing. The most mystifying thing is the lack of landscape mode, if any iphone app needed it, it’s a spreadsheet software. Another thing is the lack of drop down menu support which is something else you really need on a device with limited screen space.

The interface is clunky, especially for an Apple product and the import/export functions are downright horrible. Mac doesn't seem to have a good plan for updating documents across the desktop to mobile and back arena yet. I am sure this «icloud» thing is going to address some of that but trusting my documents to be on Apple’s servers is not a comforting thought for as I mentioned in an earlier post.

Seems to me the Google online suite is much better thought out. If Apple wants to compete in enterprise more, these issues will need to be addressed. I wasn’t expected anything near a full features spreadsheet, but I was expecting something useful and this can barely make even that low goalpost. 10$ is a lot to pay for something this lacking in features and usability.

10 June 2011

New Look

Always trying new things, including the image of Behemoth media. This is the most radical departure in a long time. The portfolio/home will have a few more changes as well. I am experimenting with some HTML 5 techniques that should be ready for use in a couple weeks to add a little more interactivity. No one went to the mobile version of the site so I will use the new techniques to make the "normal" site more accessible to mobile devices such as tablets.

I think the new look is a little more universal and will hopefully give potential clients the chance to imagine their project in place of the Behemoth items. Sort of like preparing your place for sale, you have to de-personalize a bit so the prospective buyers can see themselves in your place.

03 June 2011

HYPE html5 app

The html 5 creation software HYPE has appeared on the MAC app store and has gotten a lot of attention. Not undeserved attention either. It is a great way to get basic animations, html 5 video, rounded corners and many other things normally relegated to Flash onto your site without worrying about mobile device compatibility.

Designed by a couple of ex apple employees, the interface is pretty easy to understand and use. The functionality is pretty basic at the moment but i have no doubt it will grow quickly, adding new features and functions as we all decide what exactly we want from html 5 anyway.

Strong points already present in the software are the key framing options for position, transparency, you name it. Also, the ability to have multiple scenes and then transitions from one to another is very reminiscent of early Flash versions... before it became an operating system on its own and stuck to animations and some interactivity. You can make custom slide shows, web page based presentations in practically less time ti takes to open other software. Adding buttons and functionality is a breeze and integrating into existing sites and templates is a simple copy/paste of 3 lines of code that references files saved in a dossier all nice and neat. Videos and animations can have overlays etc. All and all very well done. My only quibble is that it can't take illustrator or eps files.. might be too much to ask as it would have to rasterize them on export... but I can see a time that would be included.

I really look forward to seeing how this advances and 30$ is a very fair price. Once of the best versions 1.0 pieces of software I've seen in a long time.