Apple drops ProApps from corporate definition

Monday, 15 September 2014

For over 10 years Apple have included a mention of their professional video and audio applications in their corporate definition. Like most companies they define who they are in every press release they put out.

This week they dropped the words 'professional applications' from their definition:

Apple reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, defined the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad and has announced Apple Watch, its most personal device ever. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, continues the rapid pace of innovation of mobile software with iOS and integrated services including Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world with OS X, and free iOS and OS X apps like iWork and iMovie.

The first mention was in July 2004:

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning desktop and notebook computers, OS X operating system, and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital music revolution with its iPod portable music players and iTunes online music store.

Apple's previous nine definitions: 1995-2012

 

 

UHD: Logo and minimum specification

Tuesday, 09 September 2014

Digital Europe have announced a logo and minimum specification for UHD:

UHD-logo-Alex4D-black-on-t

UHD-logo-Alex4D-white-on-black

UHD-logo-Alex4D-white-on-transparent

The display device accepts UHD input via HDMI [2.0 according to appendix]

It shall support HDCP 2.2 Copy Protection

  • a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • at frame rates 24p / 25p / 30p / 50p / 60p
  • with a minimum supported bit depth of 8 Bit
  • at a chroma sub-sampling rate of 4:2:0 for 50p/60p and 4:2:2 for 24p/25p/30p
  • with minimum supported colorimetry according to BT.709

PDF including specification and logo information.

 

 

BBC adoption makes Apple's Final Cut Pro X seem more 'Pro'

Thursday, 04 September 2014

Peter Wiggins of fcp.co has broken a big story:

After a successful trial period BBC news cameramen/editors will be upgrading to Final Cut Pro X from FCP 7 for their news gathering field operations. A full roll-out throughout all the English regions is expected next year.

[…]

Further trials are ensuing within other divisions of the BBC and, aside from it's widespread use on The Culture Show, FCP X is about to be deployed for several other productions within the BBC including several popular daytime shows.

Interesting that two very different uses are mentioned in this story: news gathering field operations and popular daytime shows.

The first use shows that Final Cut Pro X is good for individuals with very little support while on location, but with standards-based exporting that integrated well with higher-end systems back at base. A popular news editing system at the BBC at the moment is based on Quantel iQ.

The second use shows that Final Cut works well with the kind of productions made by small production teams and medium-sized production companies. 

Following on from ITVs adoption of Adobe Creative Cloud for larger teams and dramas, this isn't a good sign for Avid and editors who only know how to use Avid Everywhere tools. It may be that the software at the core of Media Composer can't be tuned for recent Mac and PC hardware as well as Premiere and Final Cut Pro have been.

The French Final Cut Pro X website Yakyakyak.fr has reported that French broadcaster TF1 has also adopted Final Cut Pro X for its news department (Google's English translation).

In other news this week, Hamburg Pro Media have stopped selling their Mac OS X MXF tools. MXF is the wrapper for movie footage captured by many modern cameras and also the delivery container for submitting programmes to UK TV companies from October 1st. Hamburg Pro Media used to provide a suite of tools for UK TV production companies to be compliant with the new delivery rules (the old product page archived on the Internet Wayback Machine). Hamburg Pro Media's AS-11 Suite Workflow Guide.

Next week is IBC 2014, the main European trade fair for the TV production industry. There's a good chance these stories will influence some of the conversations next week in Amsterdam.

Read the fcp.co story and stay tuned to find out more!

 

2010 Apple patent: Final Cut Pro X concepts

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A patent filed by Apple in 2010 shows a possible future direction for iMovie that includes ideas that have appeared in Final Cut Pro X. More evidence of the large amount of research and development Apple put into editing user interfaces.

I've written before about Apple's patent concerning wider story structure as well as timeline structure. This week saw Apple being awarded a patent that seems to have arisen out of making editing easier for a wider range of people. A step on the way to general video literacy.

US Patent 8,819,557 is for "Media-editing application with a free-form space for organizing or compositing media clips." It follows on from the way older editing applications gave space in icon-based bins for editors to play with clip order. In Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe Premiere and Media Composer bins can show clips as icons that can be arranged in any way prior to being added to a timeline. 

This Apple patent turns icon-view bins into spaces where editors can combine clips together into timelines, as well as perform many other operations - including assigning keywords, defining selected ranges, skimming, trimming sequences and trimming edits and more.

8819557-editing-pasteboard-a-editing

 

8819557-editing-pasteboard-c-dynamic-trimming

The patent includes a storyboard that shows an element of dyamic trimming. Here is an excerpt from the text:

During playback, a playhead moves along the media clips in the sequence. Before the playhead reaches the end of the media clip, the user can invoke a command that will cause the media clip to continue playing content from its source file after the current out-point is reached. When the playhead reaches a location in the media clip source at which the user wants to set a new out-point for the media clip, the user can invoke a command that will cause the frame at that location to be set as the new out-point for the media clip.

As well as the full text of the patent, you can view the whole 119 page patent - including many UI storyboards in this 13MB PDF. The easiset way of reading the patent is to have the text in one window with the PDF in an another.

 

 

Why Avid is No. 1 in Hollywood

Thursday, 28 August 2014

When Premiere and Final Cut users try to convince Avid editors that they are living in the past, they often don't understand the day-to-day experience of high-end TV and feature film post production.

To provide an insight into why Avid is still number 1 in Hollywood, Chris Fenwick invited TV editor Austin Flack to talk on his Final Cut Pro X podcast: the FCPX Grill.

fcpxGrill logo

If you don't have the time to listen to the whole 74 minute episode, here are my notes on what was said:

[6:05] AF: I’m a reality TV editor, I’ve been doing it for 6 or 7 years…

[6:47] AF:…I’ve done a lot of Top Chef, I did a season of Masterchef

[7:25] AF:…and I’ve done a few seasons of Catfish, that’s the latest thing I’ve been doing

[10:48] AF: USC, big film school, they had a big partnership with Avid…

[11:17] AF: I was using Premiere on my computer at home… I would try and click on the clips to drag them around and it wouldn’t work and I was “this is lame - screw this” and so I gave up on Avid

[11:55] AF: When I got my first TV assistant job, it was Avid, and I bluffed and said I used it in college

[12:23] AF: Since I got into TV it has been primarily Avid…

[13:08] AF: I did prefer Final Cut 7 - strongly - for several years. It was way more modern… a year into being on Avid shows, I realised I was faster on Avid. It was a more fluid process.

Collaboration

[15:26] AF: The primary reason that most editors and post people in L.A. working on big TV shows don’t think that Final Cut X or Premiere are ready are because of shared storage and multi-seat edits… Avid is fantastic at huge post-production projects.

[16:02] CF: So by shared storage you mean… all the media for all the episodes is going to go on one shared server …and everyone has access to the same media.

[17:14] AF: …we’re not just talking about editors, we’re talking about story producers, story assistants, assistant editors, even our supervising producers - they all have Avid …everything is happening at once. I’ve been on shows with 10–15 editors, another 10 story assists and story producers, other producers, five assistant editors … we can work at the same time in the same projects. That’s the big thing.

 

[18:20] AF: Final Cut X is not terrible, I’ve cut with it and there are things I like about it …Final Cut 7 was not a big threat to Avid in Hollywood …Final Cut 7 was never the incumbent. Avid has never let go of the throne

[20:04] AF: (On MTV’s Catfish) We are constantly jumping all over the place …I’m am touching virtually every episode and the other editors are touching my episodes

[20:40] AF: Right now I’m cutting the 5th episode of this show. I didn’t start it, other people are working on different things in it. We can break it up by act, we can break it up by scene and we’ll have the same project open - we are sharing the project. I can be editing Act 1, the editor down the hall can be editing Act 2, the assistant can be adding footage, graphics and music, and story producers can be making string outs for Act 3 and that is all happing in the exact same project.

[22:00] AF: We cannot work on the same timelines…

[22:26] CF: (In Final Cut Pro X terms…) So I open a library, you open the very same library, I open a project named scene 2, you’ve already opened up a project named scene 1

[23:14] AF: If I’m the first person to open a bin (an event in Final Cut Pro X terms), it locks to me - it’s my bin. No-one can change it while I have it open. When I close it someone else can open it and change it. They can still open it… if I had a bin open… they can just open it as read only

[25:13] AF: In Avid an assistant editor can email me or ping me and say the graphics are in, all I do is save mu project, which is a refresh all of a sudden these bins pop up in my project (events appear in a library) and everyone else’s project…

[25:51] AF:…As soon as I do something someone else has access to it, as soon as they do something I have access to it.

 

[26:02] AF: Although Avid isn’t easy to use, it’s a lot easier to use especially for story producers and story editors, who are not technically savvy, it is a lot easier than anything in the Finder (connecting to servers, uploading, version control)

[26:32] AF: It takes about two buttons to log into the servers… to log into the project and you are up an running… people can watch my cuts as I’m cutting… they can open them read only

[26:53] AF: You can load sequences into the source window (event viewer) from someone who is working on a project, but I want to steal some stuff from their timeline… (you can open their read-only compound clip in it’s own timeline) …you can pick out some stuff you want to take and overlay it onto your project… if I’m doing a flashback and I need a bit of that thing to flash back to, I can set an in and out, pick the tracks - maybe I don’t want their music, and I don’t want this graphic or something - and I can just lay that into my sequence

 

[27:58] AF: A lot of people in Hollywood love Adobe, they love Final Cut X, but if you add a bunch of editors to a project, that’s an Avid project.

 

Designed for editors to edit and assistants to assist

[28:37] CF: Austin, were you the person who Tweeted me once “I’ve been listening to the Final Cut Grill and everything you talk about helps the assistant editor” 

[29:14] AF: I will admit that I was an Avid assistant, once, but these days I could not do that job…

[29:27] AF: Avid is not easy… technically-speaking. …I could still be a Final Cut 7 assistant editor… Final Cut X, I really understand it, I’m a tech-savvy guy, DaVinci Resolve, After Effects. …in Avid’s world, the editor becomes an idiot. Why I need something, I call an assistant and say “Could you take care of this, I don’t really know how to do it” …there’s just some things that are kind of old and kind of weird to use.

[30:27] AF: I don’t do any tasks that would be an assistant editor’s task… I’m just editing… it’s a failure of the process if I have to string-out a scene. They’re paying me a fair amount more than the story producers to edit.

 

[31:00] AF: When I’m editing, I find Avid much easier, much faster. …the kind of work you describe in Final Cut Pro X, which is great - with metadata, keywords and all these wonderful things you can do… that’s not ever what I’m doing.

[31:26] AF: When I start editing in Final Cut X I get really frustrated …when I’m in a timeline doing a cut that’s when I think Avid is much more fluid…

 

CF talked about at his company different editors sharing media in different rooms using Final Cut Pro X, a million Final Cut Pro X sales vs. 25,000 professional editors.

[35:49] AF: (with Final Cut 7) the fact that we couldn’t have the same project open at the same time was a frustration.

 

[36:05] AF: Now Final Cut Pro X has reached parity with where Final Cut Pro 7 was, but Final Cut 7 wasn’t good enough. 

[36:53] AF: If you really wanted to, you could edit a very complicated show on Final Cut X, but it wouldn’t be as fast and fluid

CF talked about bullet-point marketing. From a marketing perspective MacOS and Windows were the same - until you tried them. The same with Tivos and Comcast DVRs

[38:45] AF: (With Avid) it’s all this version control, it’s this database …a robust database that can manage these enormous projects and keep these versions in control and make sure everything stays linked… 

 

Fluid timeline

[40:31] AF: As an editor… Avid is more fluid. Avid is, a lot of ways, antiquated… but when I’m editing - especially when I’m using dynamic trim, I’m so happy…

[41:48] AF: It’s a lot about not taking your hands off the keyboard… in Avid I can play the edit as I’m changing it …I change the edit with the J, K and L keys. If I select an edit, press L, the edit plays forward in real time, and if I press the space bar, the edit point has changed, and the great thing is that it loops forever until I unselect the edit…

[43:25] AF: (With dynamic trimming, you press the space bar when it feels right)

AF and CF discuss music editing.

[46:22] AF: I find it so terrible in Final Cut X that you are always mousing.

 

CF dismissed the need for dynamic trimming:

[47:59] FC: If it takes you five times to find the edit… you’ve got to get your chops up!

(Chris Fenwick does not speak for all Final Cut Pro X editors on this subject! AG)

[48:52] AF: (Dynamic trimming is) so wonderful… it gives you a second to think about it… there’s a fluidity, a simplicity and an elegance to just using your J, K and L keys… when you are rippling and rolling you get the four up, but you are still getting dynamic trimming…

 

[50:32] AF: I was a Final Cut 7 partisan… I preferred it in television… I preferred the mouse and clicking and dragging. In complicated television environments, the kind of cutting I’m doing am just way faster… when you are clicking and dragging, you are not seeing exactly what frame you dragged that out to. You are not seeing that frame play. You might look at the frame “that’s the frame where he closes his eyes” but then you play the edit and say “no that doesn’t work”

[51:35] AF: Dynamic trimming didn’t come to me quickly. The way it works in Resolve is powerful but sort of clunky… If you get into an Avid situation… you are not even clicking on stuff , it’s just a lovely world.

 

[53:22] AF: Probably 80% of what I’m doing… I am breaking audio sync on purpose in Avid… X makes it cumbersome to break audio sync and then… you can’t put them back together which is maddening to me… and it doesn’t show frame offsets, so you don’t see how much out of sync it is… I don’t like how its trying to keep audio in sync because usually not what I want…

[55:16] AF: I’m the editor. It feels like I’m in Microsoft Word and the paperclip is trying to tell me what to do… I’m in charge, I know what I’m doing.

 

AF then introduced “Franken-biting” making people say things they didn’t say.

[56:14] AF: (In Top Chef) We are trying to get them to explain the recipe in 10 seconds as opposed to a minute and a half…

[56:52] AF: The biggest reason why Avid is not going anywhere anytime soon is because of ScriptSync

CF agrees:

[57:10] CF: I’ll turn to the producer and say I need five different versions of where he says the word “and”

AF then went on to explain ScriptSync (for transcribed or planned scripts) and PhraseFind (detecting words in verité footage).

[1:01:41] AF: (There’s so much footage in reality TV that) we always work offline… almost never working full res… ScriptSync is virtually everything.

 

[1:04:36] CF explains how Final Cut Pro X’s product manager came from Avid, and that he understands how some editors see Avid’s advantages over Final Cut Pro X. He went on to say that one day Avid and maybe soon after that Final Cut Pro X will be the old way of doing things. CF also said that the vast majority of people who call themselves editors need to do the assistant editing stuff.

[1:07:09] AF: When I edit stuff at home, I often use Final Cut X if it is relatively simple… I did cut a TV pilot on it and I got very frustrated.

[1:07:24] AF: If you’re an owner-operator or a small production company, Final Cut X or Adobe are great choices, I don’t think I would invest in Avid…

[1:07:56] AF: For big-time TV work Avid is still virtually the only game in town… if you’re a younger editor who aspires to big-time TV work, you need to know Avid for at least the next 5 or 6 years. You are going to be cutting in Avid… that’s just what’s going to happen

[1:08:20] AF: In a lot of ways Avid is a dinosaur that is ready to be disrupted, and that there are a lot of things they’ve been slow to embrace. Frankly I think that Adobe is the real threat. They are better at software than Avid, they are a bigger company, their survival depends on it. Apple’s survival does not depend on capturing the very high-level professional TV market… what they need is a Final Cut Server, and if that’s going to cost $1500 and need dedicated hardware, I don’t know if they feel like its worth it… Did Final Cut Server even come out?

[1:09:43] AF: Everything’s going to change: Avid has a lot of ridiculous qualities that are from the 80s…

[1:10:13] AF: Hollywood wants to use the best tool and right now Avid is the best tool for these things.

 

To see Austin Flack's video of how well dynamic trimming works in Avid, and more useful links, visit the FCPX Grill podcast episode page.

Following on from this episode there was a discussion about dynamic trimming on the fcp.co forum - showing advanced trimming in Final Cut and where it falls short compared with the Avid version.

Follow Austin Flack on Twitter and visit his website.

 

If Apple wants Avid's market, could they change Final Cut Pro X faster than Avid could change Avid Everywhere to capture some of Apple's editing market? We'll see!

UHD/4K and HDMI 2.0

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Many people are looking forward to devices that can send and receive HDMI 2.0 signals. Some manufacturers have said that their HDMI 1.4 hardware may be able to be upgraded to HDMI 2.0 using a software patch - the connectors and cables are the same.

When we do get computers, screens, cameras and recording devices that are compatible with HDMI 2.0, what are the limitations when it comes to the various flavours of UHD and 4K?

The HDMI.org FAQ has the answers:

Does HDMI 2.0 support BT.2020 (rec.2020) colorimetry?
Yes. HDMI 2.0 includes support for BT.2020 Colorimetry with 10 or more bits of color depth.
Video Formats defined in BT.2020 and supported by HDMI 2.0 specification:
– 2160p, 10/12 bits, 24/25/30Hz, RGB/4:2:2/4:4:4
– 2160p, 10/12 bits, 50/60Hz, 4:2:0/4:2:2

What are the 4K formats supported by HDMI 2.0?

4k-over-hdmi2

So if you need the best quality 4K high frame rate monitoring, HDMI 2.0 won't be enough. It also means that higher frequency 4K monitors will need to drop some colour fidelity in UI mode (when using the monitor as an additional screen with NLE UIs) in contrast with playback mode.

Find out more in the HDMI FAQ

 

Tour de Final Cut Pro X for Collaboration

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

It has been three years since Apple launched Final Cut Pro X. Although they marketed it as a new version of their venerable Final Cut Pro application, it was a completely new video editing software.

As the months and years go by, Final Cut is being used on more and more high profile projects.

Here's the next milestone in the history of Final Cut: how a team for UK production company VSquared used four edit suites and a 70TB SAN to produce 21 days of TV highlights shows for the 2014 Tour de France using Final Cut Pro X.

Producer James Venner:

There were some big hurdles to cross, the learning curve would be steep for the editors, EVS would have to be removed from the record path because they showed no inclination to make their files compatible. On the plus side we'd be doing something new, I wanted an edit system that made us re-examine our workflow; rethink why and how we did things and hopefully inject some new creativity. I wanted something that would grow with us over several years.

I didn't want a system that just let us keep doing the same old thing. Time to roll the dice.

Read the full report on how it was done over at FCP.co

More than a "What we did this Summer" report

Some Avid editors will take refuge in the fact that the kind of collaboration available in Final Cut isn't up to their standards of shared content available to multiple editors. Apple's development of Final Cut Pro X isn't about directly competing feature for feature with Premiere Pro and Media Composer as soon as possible. It is about adding features and workflows to Final Cut as flexibly as possible - allowing for years of future improvements to a system that is just starting out.

Apple and third parties can learn much from case studies. Stories like these can be used to close deals when selling post solutions and as a guide for how to set up workflows. Another interesting use is to help Apple and third parties choose what to concentrate on developing next. Some third parties weren't ready to support a Final Cut Pro X workflow whereas new suppliers provided support and more:

We must thank Pierre Chevalier from Softron for not only providing excellent product support, but for also adding a few tweaks to the program which helped us a lot.

Depending on how well Final Cut Pro X does in TV post production, third parties will be wise to ignore it or to invest in supporting it.

As production companies get used to these kind of workflows - better in some ways than the Avid equivalents - Apple can then make the necessary improvements to their applications, operating systems and hardware that will satisfy more and more post professionals.

It is easier to understand how a new feature in Final Cut Pro X 10.1.6 fits into 2015 TV production if the workflows are already there.

Last night a very talented team edited the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Their workflow no doubt included Avid Media Composer. This Tour de France case study puts Final Cut Pro X one step closer to being at the centre of high-end live event TV post production.

 

How many copies of Final Cut Pro? Apple’s numbers

Monday, 25 August 2014

Creative COW forum member Franz Bieberkopf has done some interesting research and rounded up the numbers when Apple have announced how many copies of Final Cut Pro have been sold over the years:

Though I think user numbers are of limited value, it has become a bit of an interest to me (particularly in light of how secretive and vague the various developers tend to be, and in light of the sometimes outrageous claims here). I dug into past announcements from Apple in order to sketch the shape of the numbers that we do know (even including a graph!), and thus the growth curves over the past 15 years.

Read more at the Apple FCPX or Not: The Debate forum at Creative COW.

 

Post problems? Don't blame technology - FCPWORKS on workflow

Thursday, 21 August 2014

An excerpt from on a Red Shark post written by a cinematographer: 

The shenanigans we are seeing now, the re-framing and re-cropping of our work by less talented others, will only become more upsetting and egregious as the pixel counts rise higher. Alas, giving producers, editors and indecisive directors so much resolution invites foul play.  And that is exactly what many of us are experiencing now.

My first reaction to this was "now DPs will truly understand how screenwriters feel," but Sam Mestman of FCPWORKS is more constructive:

On the one hand, I can totally understand where he’s coming from, and he’s totally right. I’ve seen quite a few projects butchered in color correction, and I imagine it must be very difficult to go out and put your heart and soul into shooting/lighting something only to have it completely reworked in a way that’s entirely not what was imagined… and then be credited as if that was how you wanted it. That sucks.

However, this is not the fault of the resolution, RAW, or improvements in technology. The fault lies with the way that departments work together, and it’s my biggest pet peeve in the entire industry.

No one talks to each other.

Sam then goes onto to explain how the many little descisions made by different departments go towards increasing the cost of post production. 

An article that's well worth reading, and saving for when you need to explain the advantage of hiring someone who will take responsibility for the whole workflow.

 

 

Televisual Production Technology Survey 2014: Editing Software

Thursday, 21 August 2014

As part of a survey of '100 senior production staff' Televisual asked about what post-production software they use.

Televisiual2014

 

Great news for Avid.

Who will step up?

Although this looks like bad news for Final Cut Pro X fans, I'm surprised it is used by ten of those surveyed. 

…the FCPX upgrade which alienated many users. “We always edited FCP until Apple produced a useless upgrade version,” says one indie head of production.  Respondents score FCPX poorly in terms of workflow, support and feature set – but highly in terms of price.

If post companies find X is too limited 'in terms of workflow, support and feature set', then fewer companies will being using it next year.

Would higher usage amongst this group of 100 companies result in bigger sales to the many professionals who would find Final Cut Pro X useful? If X gets more high-end features that would be a sign the business of these 100 execs matters to Apple.

It also falls to third parties to provide better workflow consultancy and support options - if they still think there's a large enough potential market for Final Cut.

If you think what they said is relevant to your buying choices, go to the Televisual site to see what the 100 said about compositing, grading, 4K and cameras

Thanks to the MotionVFX mBlog for pointing me in the direction of this survey.