29 September 2009

The Editor Updates :: Photoshop

Last night I struggled with my first major glitch in the upgrade.  My ancient copy of Adobe Photoshop CS refuses to run on Snow Leopard.  I take that back, it almost runs.  It will fool you well, launching as normal, even letting you create a new file and edit for a bit.  After enough usage of the font face tool you will find that your screen(s) will turn bright blue and all your current applications will close.  I assume this is the experience of Rossetta crashing.  Hurm... a Mac version of the Blue Screen of death?! No, your Finder will return shortly, and the system recovers itself nicely.  The down side is, more money will need to be invested into this upgrade.
Since photoshop is $700 application (the $299 upgrade I believe only applies to CS2 and above but this will require some more investigation), it might be worth the extra $400 to grab the production bundle (which includes the latest After Effects, Illustrator and Flash software... oh yeah and those other editors I'll never use... what was it call.. oh yeah Premiere).  I should eat my words though.  I've heard some fantastic things about Premiere CS4, including the script/transcript sync.
Back to Photoshop.  I also took a stab at using my friend's copy of CS2, which resulted in the same failure as CS.  Does anyone have any experience with CS3?  I've heard many conflicting reports and would be interested in people's first hand experience.
There are some freeware alternatives to Photoshop which I used last night to accomplish some basic titling tasks.  I found that several of the programs were fantastic, but my 11 years of photoshop use has rendered my ability to migrate difficult and a bit frustrating.

28 September 2009

The Editor's Upgrade: Why iMac?

Let me begin by saying, I almost didn't get a Mac.  After that long pause of "huh?" silence, let me explain.  To be frank, I wasn't excited by the idea of having to upgrade hardware in order to run an OS update.  I had it all planned out in my mind that I would stick to Avid, after all they're attempting to clean up their image, right?  I'd get a much better deal on a certified PC and continue frolic down the freelance yellow brick road.

Then logic set in.

On the NYC freelance scene, it feels as though more than half of my clients use Final Cut for editing.  To deny myself the flexibility of Avid / FCP could possibly be the thick-headed act a freelancer could make†. 

The choice to invest in an iMac over a MacPro editing station was not an easy one.  I had long been under the (at the time correct) assumption that iMacs were the consumer product that fell short of any professional needs.  That thinking is " so 1999" of me. 

 After reviewing the tech specs, High end graphics cards and Duo Core processors, 8 gigs of RAM, oh my!   Apple has seriously made the higher-end iMacs into a true workstation.  I will admit, they are limited in upgrade paths, meaning in about three to four years I'm sure it will need to be sold off, and another investment made. 

BUT.  Yes. There is a but.  The iMac comes with significantly lower price tag than the MacPro.  Which, unless you're doing very high-end graphics or plan on mastering directly to HD tape from your home/office, you're really buying up a lot of extra processing power you're never going to need as an editor.  Also, to all those like me coming from PowerPC (PPC) land, the proformance difference is astonishing.

I asked myself some very basic questions about the use of the workstation.  I edit, occasionally do some light graphics work.  80% of my clients use tapeless workflows, meaning the lack of a secondary firewire port isn't a big deal (I can use my old system to capture DVCAM / HDV matchbacks).  If I do have large format tape outputs to do, its way cheaper to outsource that to RoofTop Edit, PostWorks or what have you than owning a deck myself, so no need for a Mojo, AJA or BlackMagic boards.

On a side note, there has been lots of rumors about new iMacs ready to hit the market between mid-October and January.  Supposidly faster, and a little cheaper than the current models.  I stray away from Alpha releases.  Sure, they've been tested in a lab, BUT just ask my cousin Larry (a mechanical engineer by trade, Assistant Director and gaffer by hobby) that the first release of any product is never a good investment.

Comments, questions, war stories?  Please post comments or share (herrhaas@gmail.com) and I'll be glad to talk about them in my next post.

In the end the decision fell to the iMac, 3.06 gHz, 4Gb Ram, NVIDA 512 vRam, wired keyboard (pfft, I can't stand wireless interface devices!)

Image is © 2009 Apple.com used without permission, please forgive me! I show your products lots of love in my posts!

† I know what some of you are saying, "Avid does not work in Snow Leopard!" I'll cover this in another article

The Hidden Track now on IMDB!

Congrats to the rest of the cast and crew of "The Hidden Track" for our official posting on IMDB:

Celtx update!

For all you Celtx users out there, version 2.0.2 was released and can be downloaded (free as usual!) on their homepage at celtx.com

"Celtx is the world's first all-in-one media pre-production software. It has everything you need to take your story from concept to production. Celtx replaces 'paper, pen & binder' pre-production with a digital approach that's more complete, simpler to work with, and easier to share." - About Celtx Home

Upgrade :: "Intel-Only" Part 1

Apple shifted gears back in 2006, moving away from IBM "PowerPC" processors to shiny new Intel based chips (read). Many people were upset, how could, after years and years of intel bashing, how could Apple get into bed with the enemy (Does anyone else remember the Intel Slug advertisements)?

It wasn't the first time Apple has done something like this. Their move to IBM PowerPC also confused many who had been told through Apple's own advertising that IBM was the "Big Brother" of the computing industry (see here).

Regardless of the past, all of us who had made substantial investments in G5 workstations felt the small drop in the back of our stomachs. We remembered the pain of upgrading to OS X when Apple dropped "classic." But that was software, this, this was hardware. I looked down at my already aging workstation, knowing my investment had a shelf life.

Apple continued support of the PowerPC for a number of years after 2006, but now in the late summer / fall of 2009, after several operating systems (Tiger, Leopard) Apple has released "Snow Leopard", their first slimed down Intel-Only operating system. The fate of my now six year old workstation was sealed: Apple support and applications are dropping support of the dinosaurian PowerPC, Avid in Media Composer 3.5 stopped supporting PPC, and new video formats such as AVCHD and RED are equally intel only.

Over the next few entries I will follow a real-life-working upgrade path to OS 10.6. There's lots of speculation, conflicting reports and misinformation out there about this seemingly strange and mysterious upgrade, so I hope that fellow editors (picture and sound alike) will find my experiences helpful.

Next up: From G5 workstation to ... iMac ? What Gives?!

Note: This blog is also being posted on www.peterjhaas.com/blog , my first attempts at wordpress!

04 September 2009

The Hidden Track Website is up!

Ron stopped by tonight for the final upload of The Hidden Track's website.

Check it out: www.thehiddentrackmovie.com