27 December 2014

Danseuse, acrobate dessin

Feels good to be drawing again... after months of not being able to do anything but work and having to put all my ideas and projects on hold. Not even a week on my own again and I was able to re-edit my short documentary "Parc de L'espoir", do a drawing on paper, then this one and finish reading 2 books. Having been putting in months of work without a single day off and working 10-16 hours each day... I also got to sleep again. Almost forgot what that was like!

That all said, STILL not happy with how I am doing hair these days.

25 December 2014

new drawing on paper

haven't had to to draw for months and haven't done a drawing on paper in an even longer period so it was time to go back to basics. Just a practice (and from a terrible, blurry reference photo as well), but not totally unhappy with it.

21 December 2014

MYP t-shirts on the way!

The t-shirts to give to the contributors to y Million Year Picnic documentary are ordered and should arrive soon at my parent's place in the USA so I can distribute some of them in person and mail the rest out. Special thanks to the producers Denis and Spike for their large help in making the film get further along.

01 November 2014

real objects made in C4D

As I've been updating stuff with the new computer I ran across some old files I had made of objects I had around the house (none of which I still have). I was amazed at how well they stood up after all this time when rendered in the new version of C4D.

31 October 2014

27 inch Imac

It’s been no secret my 2009 tower is getting long in the tooth and it was time to update my main computer. The new mac Pro towers are very fast and cool looking but also expensive and a little beyond what I can reasonably use in my home studio so I decided on a new iMac. For a lot less money, I got all the upgrades I needed (the best graphics card, 32 gigs of RAM etc) and didn’t need to go Thunderbolt drives for storage. Someday maybe.

The machine itself is really nice and I mean REALLY nice. The screen, though not the new retina, is well above many monitors I see on other computer and sold separately. The thin design is striking and having an all in one is appealing for limited desk space, especially since I use my older LED monitor as a second for my work. 

It is fairly quiet, but not silent. I do a lot of 3D rendering these days and the fans certainly come on often enough. It’s not annoying though. The only hiccups are with the new OS.. Yosemite so far. Wacom tablets were not compatible, something that is now fixed, my key chains were a mess and quite a few files didn’t get transferred over from the old computer with the migration tool and had to be done manually.  Having to sign in to every account and many websites that automatically knew my login before and the damn FaceTime would like your password for « …. »  is a huge annoyance when you just want to get going on your new machine. Another problem were the Seagate drives I bought as a place for my files and as back-up. They really don’t like Macs for some reason and needed to be reformatted several times before finally giving in to the fact they were never going to touch a windows machine in their lifetime. 

The speed with rendering is fast than my lower but not as fast as I would have liked. The overall user experience is amazing, the he amount a RAM does a lot more than a fast processor in many cases to make things go quicker. The screen real estate is fantastic and working in Cinema 4D went from being  a little difficult when matching animations to video backgrounds to something a lot more precise and agreeable. 

I knew there would some compromise going from a tower to an all in one workstation but I didn’t realize how minor they would be in the end. 

26 October 2014

Why I HATE FedEx

Despite their self proclaimed reputation for getting things to you fast and on time, my experiences with FedEs have, for the most been terrible.

Case in point is my current iMac shipment... still currently in transit despite an arrival date of 2 days ago before noon. (Which I took a day off work for). As you can see from my crude graphics, it is zig-zagging all over two countries to get to my house. For several days it was said to be on time and fact said so until 45 minutes after it was supposed to arrive when it was suddenly in Calgary, the other side of the country. Thing is, they knew it was going to be late the night before and didn't say so.

Customer service is horrible, they blame customs of course, leaving out the fact that if it was in customs that morning in Memphis and then going to Calgary and not Montreal for some reason right afterwards, there is no way in hell it was arriving on time. What can they possibly do? they always ask. They are FEDEX, they could over night it directly to my door.. that is, after all, one of their best know services!  Don't worry it will be there Monday is the next statement... like I can trust them with anything at this point but even so... I am supposed to take another day off work in the vain hope they will accomplish task from 3 days before? You can ask a friend or family member to be there... to what..  also miss a day of work and spend the day sitting in my house waiting for my delivery? Do they think the entire world population has nothing better to do than wait for FedEx deliveries to arrive... whenever?

FedEx also has what can be called nothing but a scam set up between some merchants. They will charge you extra fees, usually ½ the cost of your order, to cross the border. They insist that it is the border charging this fee and they don't get any of it. For some reason no other carrier seems to have this issue with my deliveries.

To add insult to injury if you can't devote your every waking hour to waiting for a package you overpaid to have shipped to your house, it will go to some storage centre a "short" metro, bus, then another bus, then a walk away.... if you think 2 hours one way is short.

The kicker is.. I don't use FedEX. Ever. I will take Canada post over them any day. Apple computer however will only ship through them and some places I have ordered from using the regular post option have decided, without telling me, to use FedEx... and then charge me the extra fees. The ratio to getting my order on time and at the price stated is something like 8-10, not in FedEx's favour.

19 October 2014

Still trying to get this done

I took a long (4 month) contract to work on children's show doing quite a few 3d animations and it leaves no time for anything else. I did get a few minutes to put my almost done character into my street scene for my Lovecraft project and it encourages me that I might be able to pull it off.

Hopefully I will be able to get some time to myself and my work before the year ends... but I doubt it.

08 September 2014

Indie gogo campaign almost over!

Only 2 weeks left to donate to the Million year Picnic Documentary! As of now, i have received some donations but only covering about ½ of what I've already spent so anything anyone wants to give will be a big help.

In the fall and possible the start of next year I will be re-doing some early interviews and doing more b-roll. Hoping against hope to get some photos as well. I will need to to stay at a hotel in Harvard Square near the store to do the interviews in a quiet space so, hopefully, I will have enough at least for that so I can edit and start putting this together all winter.

03 September 2014

Another Acrobat drawing done!

I spent the good part of the last few days just working on this drawing. Feels good to get something done you want to do and not have to do! I feel this one was much more of a success than the last. Might be because the face isn't visible or that this one has a better silhouette.

02 September 2014

Cinema 4D release 15

2004 render

2014 render 

Today Cinema 4D release 16 came out, but since I hadn’t been able to afford the every escalating upgrade prices since version 11. There isn’t much to complain about in my opinion as far as the software goes. Of course there are always a few things that need to be worked out. 

Rendering: fantastic improvements, the « physical render » really can make things go faster. It does tend to render « city" with grain but that can be adjusted and the simplified way you can add depth to field and motion blur is a real godsend. 

Rigging: this has always been a huge pain to do but C4D has made it a lot simpler with their auto rigging tools. pretty much all the programming and annoying zeroing out of joints is not done in the background and you can mix and match arm, leg, wing etc set ups from different types of pre done rigs and then move them to fit your model with amazing speed. the sole issue I’ve had is the thumb is rotated in the wrong direction and has to be manually adjusted. Binding is also done automatically, and isn’t perfect but takes hours of trial and error away with a click. 

Simulation tags: these are a true innovation in the software. The physics set ups in times past have been painful and often badly realized. These rage make simple collision set-ups extremely easy and, again, save days of fiddling with settings the average user knows nothing about. 

Sculpting and other modelling improvements: haven’t played with sculpting much but it’s very cool and nice to see it integrated into the software directly. Chamfering and some other tools are greatly enhanced as well. 

The camera simulation tag: I really love this. You import a photo into this camera tag, draw out the perspective lines and C4D automatically lets you drop objects into the scene with correct perspective and positioning. Version 16 has a similar video tracking feature which I could really use in this new contract, but I won’t be making enough to get this version and I doubt the studio will drop the cash for it either so quickly after buying version 15. 

New interface: It take some getting used to but putting things together that go together like the tools/arrange objects item can make finding things less of a safari. the default interface set ups (sculpt/animation/standard etc) are now on the right top corner with a drop down menu that’s easier to switch back and forth with. Giving a selected item an orange outline really clears thing up in the viewport when you need to move or change things. 

There are tons of other things of course but these are the ones I’ve noticed the most so far. I have to say the current Maxon owners are milking the upgrade thing for all it’s worth, most of the features I love were introduced in version 13 and it seems every three versions would be the way to update except if you don’t update more frequently you end up paying full price again. 

They removed soft IK with no way to get that effect for some reason which is a deal killer for some people and for good reason. I don’t get the reason and couldn’t find one, only that it was removed. Doesn’t seem to have returned in version 16 either. There are still no fluid dynamics, which even free programs offer which is another mystery. There are plugins for that but it seems a no brainer to have it included. 

29 August 2014


I have been very frustrated not having the time and privacy to draw lately... like all summer.  The past week I've had some time to finally get started on the 16 or so images I have ready to go (in my mind anyway). I did try to draw a couple things more piecemeal, 5 minutes at time here and there and they were HORRIBLE. I've just finished this so I might hate it later, but for the moment I feel like I got something back I had been missing and can add this to my series of acrobat illustrations. Still not happy with how I've been doing hair.. but overall I think it works.

26 August 2014

Introvert, "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

I have a very satisfying inner life. 
When told I am extremely introverted, the very idea seems to go right past most people. Simply put, I just don't get much from and actually lose something when I have to interact  with others. My ability to tolerate social situations is by most standards very, very short. While observing people can be interesting, I rarely have any desire join them. I get pleasure from solitary activities like drawing, reading, cycling to name a few. I get nothing but stress from group activities.  

I do have friends but I don't require any sort of social interaction even if they are sometimes enjoyable. I have been alone and isolated for weeks at time and never once did I miss the company of other people. By myself, I get a lot done, am never bored and my mental state is never better. I don't get lonely, I can’t even imagine myself feeling that way. I don't want solitude, I require it to function properly. Too long without and I have trouble eating, sleeping, working...even thinking.

There are huge advantages to being this way. I am self motivated, independent and can focus on my work and fun intensely for long periods of time. I don't need personal contact or hand holding to get through the day or a project. To process intense situations, like grief for example, the best way to support me is to leave me alone. I need personal reflection much more than discussion. 

If a more extroverted person is isolated from social situations for one reason or another, pretty much everyone knows its damaging, even dangerous to their heath physically and mentally. However, when I am forced into social situations, despite the having the same dangers, I am told it will be "good for me".

It won't be. 

Creative work is perfectly suited for my temperament. In fact, having other people around is deadly for many creative fields where focus, introspection and being able to experiment without people looking over your shoulder is key to being productive. The problem isn't being introverted, it is persuading people to let someone like me, with different strengths to take advantage of them instead of putting me into unproductive (to say the least) situations. 

This has been coming up a lot lately and no matter what I say, I get the same attitude that if I was just around more people ( like I haven't spent my entire life around them) I would magically go contrary to my entire life’s experience and see how "enjoyable" it is or because people find my company enjoyable then I automatically must feel the same way when I make it clear the opposite is the case. Just because I need to be left alone doesn’t mean I want to be an asshole about it. 

22 August 2014

Sketchbook Pro update - a huge disappointment

It's sad, I really loved using Sketchbook Pro to draw with as it's pen brushes look like the real thing, something photoshop has yet to pull off. The stripped down interface also helps. It wasn't without it short comings, most drawing have to be finished up in photoshop, but it was getting closer and closer to a one stop drawing program for my needs.

The new version was inching even closer as they released news of the new features, but this was all thrown in the trash when it suddenly arrived for sale on the Mac app store.

Yes, the features were there as promised but Autodesk dashed all hopes of me (and many others) buying it  when they decided to let their marketing department take over the company in same way Adobe has and made the software subscription only. Yes, they offer a non subscription version outside the app store, for more than I ever paid for a full version before, and yes, they do offer an upgrade price, which is about what I paid for a full version before but that is not available to app store buyers. To top it off, their online chat help is a robot whose answer to ever question is to tell you where to buy the new version online.

"You just lost a customer, sorry"
"The upgrade is available to those with serial numbers online"


The thing is, this pay us protection money every month or your software will "have a little accident and not work anymore" scam has not been working out all that well for Adobe or Microsoft so I don't know why anyone else would adopt it. They might as well be screaming "please pirate our software" at the top of their lungs at people who would never normally even think of doing such a thing.

So I'll be sticking tot he old version, finishing in my CS version of photoshop and looking around for the alternatives who are ever so quickly nipping at the heal of these money hogs for eventual replacements.

06 August 2014

Whale animation test

I might have a contract using Cinema 4d version 15 so I had to get access to it quickly and learn it as my current version was 11. I will write something up as I get more into it but I did manage to put together a short test.

You can also see the difference After Effects can make in this before and after still.

26 July 2014

Give me money! (help fund my next film)

My new film about the Million year Picnic comic book store (the oldest comic book store in the USA and one of the world’s first) needs funding for me to finish it and get it out there. So I’ve set up an Indie GOGO page for people to contribute with little incentives for people who give above certain amounts. I have already begun filming at my own expense and just traveling to see more people, clearing images and music for the film is beyond my finances now. 

If you can’t give, please post my desperate plea for cash on Facebook or whatever other social media you have and tell anyone you think might be interested. I have been on this film over 4 years now and I’d like it to be DONE by next summer and out into the world. 

Thanks everyone! 

12 July 2014

Streets of Prague

Just returned fro a photo trip of Prague and Berlin. I have 2500- 3000 photos to process and sort now so it will take a while.

09 June 2014

Parc de l'espoir

Enfin, après 9 mois, mon court métrage est fini! Ou presque... il est possible je vais changer la voix pour la narration... on verra.

OK, J'ai changé la narration et le timing. Il est prêt pour voir dans parc cette semaine!

01 June 2014

30e tour de l'île 2014

Most  people who know me, know I am an avid cyclist. Usually I just do long distances alone, but sometimes I do long distances alone with a big group. I don't have any cycling friends in Montréal for some reason but I had quite a few in Boston. In any case, this year the tour actually was doing the perimeter of the island completely.. not just half of it as it does normally. As it was something I wanted to do for 10 years but could never figure out a good route I decided to do it. 25000 regular riders and 3 000 of us doing the 130km version. I have a feeling not the entire 3 000 did the 130km, there was a 100km turn off option and I seemed to run into a ton of them at the point we reconnected again while I only saw maybe 3-10 people at time on the uncut route. In the end it was 138 km, and I spent the last 30 minutes of so not going into the finish area and ate an ice-cream instead. Too many damn people for my taste. My Garmin behave admirably and I was able to upload all the stats online. Almost 4600 calories and I had to force myself to eat just now. Just wasn't hungry.

19 May 2014

Talk about Art

I recently listened to several Movie Meltdown podcasts about art (and some movies about art). I was struck firstly about how I really have no one to talk about the stuff I do with who can relate to it at all and secondly about how universal attitudes about art are. 

I have written about being creative before but I don’t think I mentioned some obvious things the podcast gang brought up. One thing the artists talked about was that many people don’t understand that being artistic isn’t a gift from on high you are somehow able to realize effortlessly and immediately. Creating something takes lots of practice, experimenting, false starts, dead ends and years of experience. Too often they were asked to draw me something cool or do something well outside their artistic field. It appears to outsiders that if you can paint a picture you can make a sculpture, draw a comic book and film a movie as well. All completely different talents and skill sets. It is the same problem I get with my graphic design work, because I can use photoshop etc I am expected to be able to program and create software, fix hardware and automatically be able to do anything involving a computer. 

Another thing was the why don’t you draw me this, you are creativeyou can make a sign for our street fair sort of conversations artists get from friends, family and even clients. The assumption is they are somehow doing you a favour by letting you do something creative for them. I have never heard of an accountant being told hey! you can do our cycling club taxes!. There is an presumption that an artist will jump at the chance to anything asked of them as though they don’t have their own ideas or their own work to accomplish. It’s pretty rare anyone thinks to pay for these requests, just being asked to do weeks of work is payment enough I guess. I suspect artists don’t often refuse, mostly because there is the blind hope that if they do it, the requesting parties will somehow realize how much effort it takes to accomplish something creative. 

I don’t think these demands are badly intended, it’s just that ART in all caps is thought of as being something leisurely and fun, something that doesn’t take work to do well and is, to be frank, something kids do for amusement… not for adults as a career. 

BTW: look up the Movie Metldown podcast, it’s a conversion between friends more than anything else and can be very amusing and informative.)

10 May 2014

Still anti-social

I have been using the Google + app for a while now, trying to give it a shot and find some sort of usefulness for it. It's not working out very well.

I decided to follow several groups, mostly science and sci-fi stuff and while I didn't expect to like even ½ of the postings there, it is all the other crap Google forces me to look at that really gets me angry. I know not many people (relatively) use Google + but I find it impossible to believe that stock photos of flowers or rivers are "popular on google" by any definition of popular. They also force you to receive posts from discussions you have no interest in, like "caturday" gifs. The only thing you can do is mark things as spam or ignore the post. I find I do both of those actions a hell of a lot more than I read posts I've actually requested to see. I did complain several times that being forced to see full screen images with horrible graphics proclaiming "Jesus is Lord" every 3 posts is verging on criminal harassment. What algorithm decided I wanted to see that? It's insulting.

The amount of tacky "funny"gifs is another issue, who posts these things? I have a feeling it's Google itself trying to puff up how many people are using the service. At least I hope it's Google and there really aren't that many mentally deficient people online making these insipid images and posting them 100 times a day for all to see. Opening the app is like the end of Clockwork Orange but instead of being forced to watch violence until it makes us vomit, we are forced, with no option otherwise, to have religious, love and "funny" gifs burned into our defenceless minds.

The saddest thing is the structure of the app is not terrible and works fairly well. If they want to have people use it, there needs to be more control over what comes in and ways to not just "+" things but "minus" them as well. There is a lot of bad information and abusive people, as with all social media, but no way for the community at large to control the abuses.

I do not use anything other social networks (Facebook included) and I imagine they aren't much better. As it is I am looking for ways to limit my use of even this service as much as possible. The annoyances still outweigh any benefits in my view.

07 May 2014

Change of format comparison

I have been working on updating my demo reel and, as always, look back to work in the past to see if any of it should be included. I have little choice since new work is pretty scarce. I came across a project I did for a friend in 2008, a 3D animation set of a camera panning across a field of widescreen Tv sets (which were rare enough in 2008). We liked the final product and it was interesting enough so I decided to re-render it in HD. Not as easy as it seemed at first. For some reason the old Cinema 4D files wouldn't render more than a single frame except in preview mode. So used the original model and did the rest from a new project file.

The image is the origin standard definition frame sitting in the new HD one and it's amazing how much higher the quality is now. I have had a few people complain that Blu-ray os no better the a standard DVD but I think this image shows there is a huge difference

12 April 2014

Quick Illustrations

I volunteered to do a couple quick illustrations for a local skeptic group run out of the Cracked Science web site. (The project is called "Moutons no more")I recently went to a very nicely done lecture by Jonathan Jarry and replied to his request for some design help. I am not really an illustrator, but nice to be able to help out.

09 April 2014

Bad advice: Jack of all trades

As design work and other creative fields become less and less lucrative and jobs less and less available due to various causes (over abundance of graduates, do it yourself design for websites and many print projects), advice for how to deal with it is rampart. « Be a jack of all trades » is one of the most heard old chestnuts…  but is it good advice? 

Full disclosure, I do qualify as a jack of all trades to many people even though I specialize in only a couple of things. I can edit video, take and manipulate photos, do some web design, make illustrations, do high end after effects work and even some 3D animation. I’ve learned to do these things of a long period of time and most of them I learned as they emerged and caught my eye. They are all visual as well and so have that one thread in common. I will maintain that knowing a little bit about anything that touches your work is a good thing. A graphic designer’s basic job is to take elements, usually already created, and arrange them and text into something understandable to the viewer. Knowing what can and can’t be done with html (or whatever code) how to extract elements from a photo etc aid in making outstanding designs. 

Where this all falls down is that knowing a lot of things of course doesn’t make you good in all or any of them and more to the point - doesn’t get you work. Getting a good reputation with a couple of things with a large number of clients that will « call you first » (or a least second) when something comes up is how you stay alive. Too many HR departments and job descriptions for deign work are an alphabet soup of programming language requirements whether the potential client knows what they all mean or not (usually not). If designer was replaced with driver, that is like requiring a driver to also be able to build a car from scratch before getting a job delivering flowers. Sure a very few, might be able to do both but they are completely different skill sets. 

Learning new things always a good idea, but requiring unrelated skills under the designer label is just not helping anyone. The advice to struggling creatives is too often learn programming, learn 3D modelling for games, and so on. All great things but also not easy to learn and do not use the same talents. Better to just say « give up and change your career completely » because that is what you are really doing and honesty, might be better advice. 

Remember, those new fields are also very competitive and already filled with people who have the same client reputations and networks you had when design work was the rage. The idea that you can learn html and have the world at your feet is an old way of thinking that has long, long past. It’s bad advice to tell someone to learn something new just because they both involve computers (what doesn’t involve computers these days?). Courses and software to learn these things are not cheap and can take years. Not everyone can just not work for a few years and hold on to their home, family and the rest. 

So before you take the advice to learn some random new field, step back and ask yourself if it’s really going to get you somewhere. Many of those design jobs also require things like knowing microsoft office and answering the phones. In other words, they want a secretary who they can pawn off design work for free. Desperate times call fro desperate measure to be sure, but don’t kid yourself that knowing more will always get you more in today’s market. 

04 March 2014

Colour or Black & White?

I have a tendency towards black and white but occasionally colour makes it's way into my drawings. In this case I drew the black and what version then colourized it for sort of a pen and water-colour look (I think). The colour does seem more dramatic. 

If interested, click to see expanded versions.

19 February 2014

D5000 to D7100 macro test

So a few posts back I put "a new camera" on my list of things I wouldn't be getting anytime soon. Happily, due to a couple generous birthday cheques and mid-life crisis reasoning, I was able to get a new camera. (Plus my cousin Sheila recommended it as she has one as well and she has a lot of sway with me).  I decided on the Nikon D7100 based on a few features it had a I really wanted and the reviews of it saying it was as close to full frame sensor you could get for the price. It does in fact seem to have all the same features as the 610 except for the full frame sensor.

Because I need to know I didn't waste 1 000$ I did a few tests to make sure there was a noticeable difference in the images.

Basic shot - D7100 is on right

I think the sharpness and colour show the purchase was an improvement

100% side by side -  D7100 is on right

I was little disappointed there wasn't a bigger difference. The D5000 is 12 megapixels and the D7100 is 24. Maybe naively, I thought the new camera's images would be twice the size. There is a definite difference in the sharpness and clarity with the new camera though.

Differences I noticed right away
The D7100 is so much faster than the D5000 taking photos it took me a few days to adjust to it. The camera can also do 5 step bracketing over the normal 3 step which is a great help to me in some of my work.  There seems to a be less noise in low light shooting and the controls are much better situated after you get used to using them for a while. I miss the graphic menu system in the sense the D5000 visually showed you how much the lens was open when changing the f-stop, I just like visual queues over numbers but the menu itself was a lot more easy to understand in the newer camera overall.

18 February 2014

My book for sale on iTunes!

My photo essay of Copps Hill Burial Ground his now for sale in iTunes in the ibook store for Canada and the USA! It will work on iPads and on Mac computers with Mavericks installed on them. I have no idea what to expect from this so please if you or anyone you know is interested in historical cemeteries, photography or Boston history... please tell them buy a copy and give me a stellar review!  It's 4,99$ !  I also did the illustrations taken directly from the stones themselves.

07 February 2014

Film and digital differences still exist

I somehow persuaded myself to get a new camera after passing a certain age recently… better than a sports car I suppose. As usual when I have a new camera, it’s a digital SLR and it always makes me nostalgic for my film cameras. So, while I am in this mood I thought I’d bring up some of the differences between the formats that still exist, and might always exist between them. 

Conservation: Film is still the best way to conserve images. For one thing, a negative can be  reprinted and even scanned at different sizes and into different formats. It does degrade over time but so does digital and digital is less reliable over the long term for conservation. Digital files are pretty much in the highest quality they ever can be when you make them and it’s very hard to get them into a new, especially larger format without losing a noticeably in quality. 

Practicality: This is where digital shines. With one flash card you can take 100s if not 1000s of photos and they are all available to look at instantly. Processing film takes a room, chemicals and lots of expensive equipment. Not mention money. Once you have a a computer and a software for image processing (Photoshop is an example but there are more and more alternatives out there now) you are almost without limits as to how you can manipulate the photos and even make as many versions of it until you are happy with the results. many of the techniques in Photoshop are from ones used in dark rooms over the last century or so it’s just easier to accomplish now. 

The longevity of cameras: Film beats digital hands down in this respect. My old medium format from 100 years ago still works fine and can take awesome photos. Digital, is different, there is the every changing technologies, formats and the limit to the camera’s sensor lifespan. I also find digital cameras to be more expensive overall, something I don’t understand since they don’t last as long. 

Quality of image: This is a personal choice in many respects but I still find film a higher quality image and I think technically the amount of information in a digital image is still a long away off from the information you can contain on film, in most cases. I have yet to get images I like as much in digital that I got from my medium format camera. To be fair I don’t have medium format digital camera, nor the 10 000$ it would take to buy one. 

This conversation is pretty useless nowadays: While I might pine away for film, the fact of the matter is film is pretty much dead and even now is only used in a shrinking specialty market. Digital is not going away and the quickness and convenience of it doesn’t make it a bad thing at all. I do wonder and hope that eventually digital will catch up in the areas it it currently weaker in. 

15 January 2014

Final Cut X revisited (v10,1)

Several years ago I had the chance to work with the beta version of Final Cut X, the replacement for Final Cut Pro Studio, Apple’s very efficient (but now dated) professional video editing software. Sadly, it was a giant mess and not even close to being a professional product despite having some innovative new features. Where do I stand on it now? 

Having received the new version s a gift to help me work on my new documentary, I decided to spring for the video tutorial class with Ripple Training, something I would highly recommend as a time saver. My first impression is that it hasn’t changed all that much (in look and feel anyway) and a few of the things that bothered me were still front and centre. Other, more important things maybe, had changed in very substantial ways. The most noteworthy improvement is the way you handle media now. A film is a collaborative effort between not just other people, but other softwares so the « iPhoto » method in previous versions made it unusable for most projects. The new library and improved keyword functions go a long way to fixing those issues. You can now save your project to external disks and open it on other computers easily, letting you work on a laptop, another studio, at home… where ever. Handling of media, especially new digital camera formats seems second to none at the moment. You will need a plugin for some formats like RED, but most conventional footage is handled natively and efficiently. The lack of useful plugins and features has been largely addressed, but not completely. The sound features, while not stellar, lets you sync clips to external video (I did have problems with a few and returned to Pluraleyes for more complicated files) and the reduce noise noise and reduce hum features are fast and useful but not totally professional grade. The magnetic time line can be a time saver but it does have its drawbacks as well. They have addressed some of the lack of sequences problems with « compound clips » which in many ways a useless renaming of the term sequences to appear they haven’t caved in to the need for this feature and are giving you something new. Colour correction is still basic but not bad and easy to handle.

On the negative side, the scrubbing tool can be a nightmare, I have it off more than on and it’s still not possible to organize a project’s clips in a way you like, but just in the way Apple has decided for you. For me, this means lots of wasted time getting things set up. I do like the key wording a great deal in this version but to be honest the whole FCPX release fiasco could and should have been avoided by rolling the best features into the old Final Cut Pro and keeping to editing conventions… this « new paradigm » offers nothing the old one didn’t have covered and changing the names of things is more about appearing innovative than actually being innovative. It is clear with this version, however, that Apple has listened to the complaints from professionals and has started to back away from its « my way or the highway » approach to what is a very personal field of work that needs to be a lot more flexible to personal workflows. The program does crash, but not very often and there are bugs, like spotty playback from time to time that requires rebooting the computer to get it right again. Round tripping to Motion is still not possible. (Motion itself is almost unchanged since it’s earliest version and while useful, it is still extremely slow with some more complicate tasks like 3D and emitters so it’s in no way a replacement for After Effects but it is a good extra tool to have in your arsenal.)

In conclusion:

I will be using FCPX, reluctantly, for my future projects despite its current deficiencies since it’s strong points are finally starting to outweigh to the weak ones. At the pace it’s developing it will be still be another couple years before it’s really something I will be happy to work on, but its getting there.