Sony’s new Media Navigator: How deep is its Final Cut Pro X integration?

Thursday, 20 August 2015

fcp.co has linked to a Sony Professional UK product announcement:

Media Navigator is the powerful, affordable asset management solution that’s a perfect fit for today’s smaller and medium sized production environments.

Media Navigator orchestrates all phases of your content workflow – from ingest, catalogue and editing to review, approvals, distribution and archive.

As regards how it can support the editing phase of production, the NLE integration isn't clear in the accompanying video which uses Avid as the example.

The interesting bit is how they describe it working with Avid, Adobe and Apple products:

Media Navigator plays nicely with today’s favourite production tools. It integrates directly at an API level with industry leading NLEs like Adobe Premiere, AVID Media Composer and Final Cut Pro.

They mention Final Cut Pro X compatibility specifically, but X doesn’t have a third-party accessible API! This point may be marketing-speak hyperbole, but you never know. Third party media management tools that ‘integrate directly’ with Final Cut Pro X can't be created… yet!

Update from Sony Pro Europe

Following this post Sony Pro Europe tweeted a response:

All our NLE integrations are Edit in place. For FCPX we are able to create a storyboard in Media Navigator and send it to an FCPX project, that storyboard will appear in the FCPX timeline. Media Navigator Metadata is also visible from FCPX. You will be able to see the whole workflow during IBC, come and speak to us!

So initial edits - storyboards - can be done in Sony Media Navigator and sent to Final Cut Pro X as timelines in projects stored in a library whose related media has useful metadata assigned. Looking forward to seeing how producer notes entered via Media Navigator appear in Final Cut.

Extending professional applications: Different takes from Apple and Adobe

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

These days big developers are looking to create platforms: hardware and software environments where third-parties can add features through their own hardware, software and services.

One aspect of the choice between choosing Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro is what you think of their take on how to build an ecosystem around their applications.

Adobe popularised the use of plugins for software when they opened up Photoshop for developers to make effects to apply to images. Apple included a scripting language with Final Cut Pro 1.0 that could be used to make plugins. They introduced XML export and import with Final Cut Pro 3.

With Final Cut Pro X, it is much easier to make plugins - by using Apple’s Motion 5 application - and it’s XML format can express almost everything about X databases in a text form. This has resulted in a huge range of plugins for Final Cut Pro X and large variety of of X XML processing applications and cloud services.

As Adobe’s pitch for Creative Cloud says that the application suite can take care of every aspect of creative design and post production, they haven’t promoted third-party tools quite so much. Their plugin development system hasn’t prompted a large number of commercial and free plugins, and they don’t have their own published interchange format that works well with other post production applications.

On the other hand, Adobe have opened up Premiere Pro CC with their ‘panels’ technology. Third party tools makers can create user interface elements using HTML5 that can be used in the application itself.

It looks like Apple are far away from enabling third parties to add user interface tabs to Final Cut Pro X. This might be a technical limitation (i.e. not high up on their long feature request list) or a philosophical restriction (they don’t think third parties have good enough ‘taste’ to be allowed near the Final Cut UI). Once third party developers start doing interesting things with Premiere Panels, Apple might want to take a look at this form of extending applications.

Last year I wrote about how Nativ’s third-party Adobe Premiere panel works for workgroup collaboration at ITV. Marquis Broadcast’s Edit Bridge gives access to Avid Interplay servers from within a Premiere Panel:

Marquis Edit Bridge enables the seamless integration of Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects CC in an Avid Interplay environment. It includes two Custom Panels for Premiere Pro which allow you to control the workflow directly from the Premiere Pro user interface.

Today Scott Simmons has written about a forthcoming third-party product for Premiere that supports note taking:

A tool worth keeping an eye on is Post Notes. While in its infancy Post Notes is building a panel for Premiere Pro that lets you take notes right in the application. Here are a few screenshots with some notes from the developer about what they are planning. 

…a feature that would be impossible for a developer to add to the current version of Final Cut Pro X.

I hope that ‘Phase 2 of the Apple Video Applications Universe’ is about Apple developing a iMovie iOS/iMovie OS X/Final Cut Pro X ecosystem. A big part of that would be giving third-party developers the ability to add to the to user interfaces of those applications.

UK TV delivery standards: 2015 Title safe area specifications

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Since October 2014, all delivery of TV programmes to UK TV stations must be by file: no video tapes are allowed any more. As part of standardisation, the Digital Production Partnership has been set up to keep the post production industry up to date with TV show technical specifications. As these specs apply to new UK production, they are likely to apply to any TV programmes made elsewhere bought by UK TV networks.

If you have been charged with preparing an output destined for UK TV, visit the DPP to download the official specifications.

Although there are documents for individual networks, only the first few pages of each PDF differ: nearly all the specifications are standard for programme submission.

One of the first things to know is what part of the image is ‘Title Safe’ or ‘Caption Safe’ - the area within which text and overlays must remain within. As the number of 4:3 ratio TVs in use in the UK is very low, the rules assume everyone is watching on a 16:9 display. That prompted an increase in the title safe area. The margins were 288 to the left and right of the 1920 HD frame, now they are 190 on the left and 194 on the right:

HD pixels (inclusive) - first pixel numbered 1: 191-1726

The page from the specification:

TechnicalDeliveryStandardsBBC-2015-text-safe

A PNG with the safe area transparent:

UKTV-text-safe-area-2015 

PDF version.

20 August update

Looks like the UK specification documents are going to change:

I'll update this post when I can confirm the new official margin values.

Looks like the size of the safe area is correct, but in future the guidelines will say that it should be centred so both left and right margins are 192:

 

Solution to vertical video ‘problem’ - but what about T videos?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Allen Murabayashi writing on PetaPixel:

It’s clear that vertical video isn’t going away. Mobile-native content rules the day on mobile devices. But for people who want to shoot horizontally while holding vertically, there is a simple fix that manufacturers could make: Allow the camera to shoot horizontally in the vertical orientation by taking advantage of the fact that the sensor is more than large enough to accommodate this.

The 8-megapixel iPhone6 camera has a pixel dimension of 3264 x 2448. Full HD video is 1920 x 1080, and 720P (which is more than adequate) is an even smaller size of 1280 x 720. A virtual switch on the camera app could switch orientations without having to hold the phone any differently.

Another solution would be to make phone sensors square. In the case of Apple, imagine if the next version of the iPhone camera didn’t have any more pixels (unlikely), the same number of pixels in the current 3264x2448 sensor would result in a 2826 square sensor - good enough for oversampled and software steadied footage for both vertical and horizontal video.

T-video?

In the 2006 film Children of Men, their vision of the future London buses had video based advertising on their sides.

At the moment UK print designers have the opportunity to design bus adverts that have both horizontal and vertical aspect ratios at the same time. From bus ad booking agency TransportMedia:

Bus T-side advertising is the most premium standard of bus side advertising. The additional coverage on the bus space allows the advertiser more creative space and a more eye-catching ad to the consumer and provides instantly noticeable publicity on the high street.

Maybe one day filmmakers it will be have to make T-video versions of commercials and other videos.

Apple presenting at FCP EXPO in Amsterdam in September

Monday, 17 August 2015

fcp.co has linked to an announcement from Soho Editors that they are hosting an ‘FCP EXPO’ in Amsterdam during IBC on September 12th and 13th:

Each day will start with a presentation from Apple marketing on Final Cut Pro X, followed by expert presentations and exhibits from Soho Editors, FCPWORKS and our partners with a special emphasis on multi user installations and workflows.

We will be showcasing the latest software, products, workflows, case histories and third party partner solutions.

If you work in broadcast, feature film, corporate or educational media institutions, this is the place to learn more.

Interesting that Apple once again are appearing in public presenting Final Cut Pro X to professionals. It seems that after the March LA event, the FCPWORKS NAB 2015 suite and their presentation as part of the 2015 FCPX Creative Summit, nothing bad happened.

If Apple don’t instigate heavy security on those with cameraphones ane computers, that’ll be another sign that they are lightening up - although previous restrictions were probably due to footage rights issues.

Another sign that Apple’s Pro Apps marketing is able to engage more with the wider community than before. 

I wonder what they’ll do next?

 

How non-pros see Final Cut Pro X

Sunday, 16 August 2015

As most video editing applications are bought by non-professionals, developers need to consider their needs.

When I say ‘non-professionals’ I mean people that don’t say that a good proportion of their income comes from being a video editor - even if they use video editing to tell stories.

To get some perspective on how others see Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere and iMovie, here are a couple of YouTube videos.

In the first GeekaWhat compares NLEs from the point of view of someone who makes gameplay videos. Although the visuals aren't relevent, what he says is interesting:

I get a lot of requests for videos like this: “What is the best video editing software if you are an aspiring gaming YouTuber” […]

Final Cut Pro X is probably the easiest to learn with an iMovie-type feel and with all the added functionality of the higher end - for $200 it should have all that you need.

That’s just his first point of measurement: the UI. Listen in for much more.

In the second, Gabrielle Marie shows YouTubers the difference between iMovie and Final Cut Pro X, and at what stage they should buy Final Cut. 

Remember that as well as Adobe, Avid and Apple paying attention to Twitter and Facebook editing communities, they should also be watching Instagram, Snapchat (Stories) and YouTube to see how the next generation see their software.

 

Many editors would be happy with a Mac version of new Lenovo notebook

Friday, 14 August 2015

At SIGGRAPH this week, Lenovo previewed an interesting notebook they describe as a ‘Mobile Workstation’ AnandTech reports:

Lenovo will offer the new P series with up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory […] Also part of the new Xeon will be Thunderbolt 3, and both models have this connectivity.

[…]

There is also up to 1 TB of PCIe SSD storage available, and up to a 2 TB hard drive. In addition to the Thunderbolt, there will also be HDMI 1.4, mini DisplayPort 1.2, ExpressCard, SDXC, and of course what workstation would not have Gigabit Ethernet, so the P Series has this as well.

[…]

Other than the larger display, the P70 can also be had with a DVD-RW drive, but hopefully but the time it launches they will at least offer Blu-ray as an option.

Speaking of the displays, Lenovo has packed some pretty impressive sounding displays into both models. The P series will offer a 1920x1080p as the base, with optional touch, and there is also a UHD 3840x2160 IPS offering as well.

Looks like a great specification for a new MacBook Pro for mobile editors.

The CPUs these computers will use are the newly announced mobile versions of the Xeon chips used to power late 2013 Mac Pros.

Thunderbolt 3 was announced in June. It offers 40 Gbps and more power for peripherals.

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X timecode overlays experiment

Thursday, 13 August 2015

For many years Final Cut users have been asking Apple for an overlay layer that shows the timecode of clips at the play head. Chris Hocking of LateNite Films tweeted some evidence of some Apple experimentation:

You can only enable Guards in Final Cut by accessing the Debug preferences.

If you want to risk modifying your copy of Final Cut Pro X to make the hidden debug preferences visible, follow the instructions on Chris Hocking’s blog post, or watch my YouTube video showing how it’s done.

Cloud-based DCP service: What next?

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Here’s an interesting service for editors who need to create a Digital Cinema Package for distribution. 

AutoDCP:

Drop Apple ProRes or other video files into your Dropbox folder and automatically create DCPs!

After you install the application, a special AutoDCP folder appears beneath the Apps folder within your Dropbox folder.  This folder can be managed and shared just like any other Dropbox folder.  And AutoDCP works anywhere Dropbox works including Mac, PC and Linux platforms.

Simply drag your video files (such as Apple ProRes files) into the AutoDCP folder and the application makes DCPs automatically!

Two service levels to meet your needs

Our expedited service utilizes a dedicated machine and begins creating your DCP immediately. Our economy service uses system resources as available to save you money.

Having someone else’s hardware and software providing post services could be very useful. 

For example, imagine a service that would take all the footage in a Final Cut Pro X timeline or event and use audio recognition technology to generate a new Final Cut library that has the same clips but with metadata added so that all spoken dialogue appears as text in Favorite titles.

Avid’s new target: You

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

In the last year the case studies Avid chooses to report on on its blog have changed. As well as regularly reporting on aspects of making studio feature films…

August 2014:

We’d take a 2.40 frame and decide where it’s going to be when viewers see it displayed in regular, non-IMAX theaters. I did versions of the tilt scan for setting the 2.40 look from the IMAX frame using the Avid resize effect. Then the assistants replaced the Avid footage with a black-and-white trackable grid pattern, which we then rendered out and delivered to EFILM.

October 2014:

The Expendables 3 features a huge cast of A-list action stars, which posed a major challenge for the editors. “You’re trying to fit in a lot of big personalities, and a lot of big sequences,” Sean says. “There are about 17 main characters in this movie, so we needed to make tough decisions about which individual character stories got told.”

…they’ve started to report on much smaller films:

June 2015

Because of the film’s small budget, I served as both the editor and the VFX artist. And as you can tell from the following photo, the production scrimped and hired a total noob as my assistant.  He turned out to be a lazy punk, uninterested in performing his DIT and assistant editor duties.

Yesterday:

Given the scale of the project, and the fact that I would be acting as my own assistant editor and liaison between later partners in the post production process, Media Composer was the logical decision.

Avid’s Tier 3

The change in case studies is due to Avid targetting a different market.

As quoted from a Seeking Alpha transcript of Avid’s Q1 2015 analyst call in May:

So we generally think about the media technology market in three tiers comprising a total addressable market of almost $8 billion. We define the three tiers as large media enterprises, businesses and institutions and finally individual creatives. It’s worth noting that there’s also a consumer market at the very low end of tier 3, which is not an area of focus for us. However, we do have tools for discovery so that nonprofessionals and enthusiasts can determine if they like to aspire to become a creative professional. (My emphasis)

There’s a video on Avid tiers on their investor relations website (Uses Flash and requires an email address to play).

In yesterday's Q2 2015 call, Louis Hernandez, Avid’s Chairman, President and CEO:

We have had our early returns better than we expected, but we think that the Tier 3 leadership, the programs, the systems, the processes, those are still being put in place so we’re encouraged with the early returns there.

Other interesting Avid facts:

  • 12,000 paid subscribers (5,000 at end of 2014)
  • 25,000 MediaCentral licenses sold so far to Tier 1 accounts
  • Tier 1 is mostly buying still on a licensed perpetual model
  • Tier 3 market, a largely untapped by Avid - potentially amounts to $1.8 billion

While others have forced customers to move off of perpetual contracts on to subscription, we recognize that this model does not work for all of our customers

Big Final Cut Pro X events: Make them happen

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Without much fanfare outside Latin America, at the weekend Leo Hans and the Argentinian Association of Audiovisual Editors organised one of the biggest Final Cut Pro X-dedicated events yet.

Leo has written up a detailed report on the day at fcp.co:

We didn’t have learning centers here since Apple is not present in Argentina, but we do have resellers. So I started to teach FCP X to some friends of mine until one of the members of the board of EDA (Argentinian Association of Audiovisual Editors) offered help trying to find a location to hold that meeting I'd been thinking about for a long time.

Interesting that an professional editors organisation thought an initial meeting about Final Cut Pro X was worth supporting. Perhaps this is more likely in countries with less of an established high-end post industry. 

Countries concentrating older workflows don’t yet consider those using newer tools much of a threat. This might change when local ad agencies and production companies start spreading the word to mulinational clients… “that Argentina ad works well, repurpose it for Asia.”

Maybe the EDA has a higher proportion of freelancers, who might not all be moving over to X, but need to be more open to newer tools and workflows.

We took the risk to ask the Audio-Visual District to use the main area, a tent for 330 people. And again, we ran out of space in a matter of hours with 450 people who signed up including those who wanted to stay in a waiting list.

An important lesson from Leo’s story: he didn't wait for Apple to kick the Final Cut Pro X marketing into gear. He took on the task of spreading the word himself.

In this case it is a matter of the Final Cut community not waiting for Apple, but going out there and getting it done -  even if sometimes it’s down to just one person making it happen.

 

MacBreak Studio: Final Cut Pro X - Shiny 3D text

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Ripple Training have uploaded another free Final Cut tutorial to YouTube. This week it covers how to use two of their free plugins to make 3D type look extra shiny.

If you like Ripple’s style, subscribe to them on YouTube or download their free Mac application Lessons for Final Cut Pro X. It has a 8 free lessons with the option to download an additional 14 additional lessons through in-app purchases.

If you'd like to brush up on individual topics, I've made a playlist of 136 of their Final Cut-related MacBreak Studio videos. As Final Cut Pro X 10.1 changed the way timelines and footage are organised, I start the list explaining the new way of working, followed by most of the rest in order - apart from the content that has been superseded. 

Final Cut Pro X: the Android of NLEs

Monday, 10 August 2015

The choice of which video editing application to use shouldn’t be based on market share. You should choose the tool that fits you best. 

However some people find comfort in choosing popular tools - especially when it comes to hiring editing talent. On high-end jobs the ability to fire staff is important too, which you can only do if there are talented people to replace them.

As to what are the market shares of Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere might be, none of the NLE vendors regularly reports on sales, all anyone can do is make guesses.

Reading this article by Horace Dediu on smartphone switching prompted me to see some parallels in the NLE market:

Apple may have also lost a few users to Android but overall gained switchers from other platforms, mainly Android. This is what would support Tim Cook’s comments.

Thinking further ahead, as the markets mature globally, they may well evolve into the way the US market evolves today. Apple’s brand promise ensures loyalty while competing platforms slowly “leak” users. If this sounds eerily familiar then you’d be right. This is exactly how the PC market behaves today.

My first thought was that Final Cut Pro X is iOS in this story. However, this article is about those switching from and to iOS, Android, Windows Phone and not having a smartphone.

Perhaps Avid is like Blackberry, established users are sticking with it because of its business support and traditional business use. Windows Phone is like Final Cut Pro 8 - if Apple had brought out a more modern version of an established application.

Most established editors are probably switching to Adobe - as it offers an Apple-like walled garden of a complete solution but doesn’t require them to change too much.

Most Final Cut Pro X users are switching from not having edited before - just as most Android users are switching from not having had a smartphone before. Experienced editors might also consider X as the application that people who “who don’t know any better” would choose.

In case of these competing NLEs, which one is likely to ‘leak’ users? What makes a platform leaky?

Switching isn’t just down to price, it’s down to the whole experience. As it is inconvenient, there have to be very good reasons to switch. Those switching to iOS from Android find the Apple brand promise appealing.

I think Apple consider that video editing is an untapped market, whereas professional video editing isn't. For an NLE to do well, they should go after both markets.

That means once the Final Cut Pro X users who were new to editing get comfortable, Adobe must entice them over to Creative Cloud.

Conversely Apple must also convince people who help Adobe Premiere ‘free’ with Adobe Photoshop to try a video editing tool they have to pay for, and that is less well integrated with the tools they use already.

I’m looking forward to those Adobe and Apple case studies.

Want to predict the TV graphics of tomorrow? Try the smartphone graphics of today

Monday, 10 August 2015

If you are working on graphics to be used in TV shows and documentaries that you don’t want to go out of date too quickly, it is a good idea to keep up with TV graphic design trends.

Given the lead times of some documentaries can be months and years, it is best to be influenced by trends that TV follows instead of following TV itself.

Over the last 10 years, smartphones have become much more important in most of western culture. It’s no surprise that smartphone OS design is a major inspiration on TV graphics. Take the UK’s Sky News for example. If you visit tvnewsroom.org, you can see their branding seemed to change in 2008 in response to the launch of the iPhone. The graphics started looking like iPhone on-screen buttons.

In recent years the design of iOS and Android has flattened - Apple and Google no longer need as many UI cues to say that an object is interactive - that it can be tapped or dragged. Sky News has followed - their news graphics have become flatter.

Directions in iOS and Android design

Given this ‘TV follows mobile’ trend, if you want your documentaries not to look out of place over the next few years, I suggest you absorb Onur Oral’s Mobile:2015 UI/UX Trends:

Whether on an app screen, a web browser, or a wearable watch face, design is one of the most important drivers of consumer engagement. From flat design to Material design, I analysed what trends have evolved, and share a few of my insights with you — what are these trends? Why are they beneficial to the user? And how are they created?

On the other hand, if your audience will primarily be online, consider keeping up with trends instigated by Kickstarter videos and YouTubers!

The 2015 ‘Media bubble’ - will it burst or deflate?

Sunday, 09 August 2015

Two stories this week point to a parallel between today’s media market and 2008’s credit market.

The LA Times reports that a statement from Disney in about a lack of subscribers for premium cable content caused media stocks to be sold off:

“One sentence from Disney and nearly $60 billion in market value gets wiped out,” Doug Creutz, media analyst with Cowen & Co., said Thursday. “Can you say panic?”

The Hollywood Reporter quoted FX Networks CEO John Landgraf:

“This is simply too much television. My sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and that we’ll begin to see declines coming the year after that and beyond”

[…]

Still, the FX/FXX chief was careful to note that he doesn’t foresee the aforementioned bubble outright bursting, so much as slowly deflating in the years to come. What will become increasingly key, in his mind, are strong network brands, which he likens to a mission statement or promise to viewers. “Programmers without a defining brand identity and the scale to support that brand with great and plentiful programming and marketing are going to have a huge struggle as time goes on”

While those who fund content weather the storm over the next few years, maybe it would be a good idea for those who make content to develop alternate business models. Part of that might be involvement in developing brands that appeal to modern audiences. For creative people, it’s a matter of finding different routes to market. Gary Newman, chairman of (TV show makers) Fox Television Group as quoted by the LA Times:

“On the most simplistic level, our point of view is create content, we'll figure out some way to get it into the homes and on the mobile devices of consumers,” Newman said. “We'll be able to figure out a business model that will allow us to continue to do that.”

Ilene Chaiken, an executive producer of ‘Empire,’ agreed.

“I would venture for most writers I know, none of that matters,” Chaiken said. “We're all about the story. Wherever our work is being seen, whatever technology is distributing or producing it, we're doing the same thing: We're telling the very best story we can. And I think you can tell those stories on broadcast TV, on cable, on streaming services — just give me the opportunity to tell my stories.”

Why is there an offline/online editing distinction in 2015?

Saturday, 08 August 2015

When I first started learning about computer-based non-linear editing, I understood that early NLEs were designed to replace part of the process where the work print is being prepared. The work print was the edit that would eventually act as a list of instructions for a negative cutter to combine the camera source footage into the final edit.

When computers were first introduced into post production, there was no chance that they would be powerful enough to work with original camera footage throughout the process. The term ‘offline’ in ‘offline editing’ comes from the world of technology meaning that the source media wasn’t being worked with. 

Now that computers are powerful enough to work with source media throughout the process, why is the distinction made? the online/offline distinction is mentioned in a new Avid blog on assistant editor Tom Doggart and his work on Aardman animated features including ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’:

The offline edit in feature film production is becoming less relevant, as software and increasing processing power is enabling editorial to be in control of their own DI, VFX and grading, right up to DCP creation.

Those who create workflows incorporating Adobe, Apple, RED and Blackmagic Design products over recent years would agree with that.

Now that Media Composer can directly handle modern source footage, Avid are starting to blur the offline-online distinction.

The distinction probably remains because the financial model for post production hasn’t kept up with technology. Post production houses still have expensive hardware and software to pay for. That means they need to market these ‘solutions’ to post-production supervisors.

That means a studio feature film edited using Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X is thus ‘finished’ on Quantel hardware, when it could have been onlined with DaVinci Resolve on a Mac or PC.

Even when post budgets are under stress, people still trust process A that costs more than process B. Price is a signifier of how ‘professional’ the hardware, software and staff seem.

The danger for the post houses, high-end vendors and specialist freelancers is that the correlation made between process price and final results might vanish at any moment. All it takes is for one or two post supervisors to realise what is possible to do with truly modern tools, post houses and freelancers.

Already being said by editors around the world: “What do you mean ‘who’s doing the finish?’ I’ve just done it.”

Generous Final Cut Pro X plugin maker goes commercial

Friday, 07 August 2015

Fox Mahony has been making Final Cut Pro X plugins since December 2011. There are over 150 available online. At the moment he makes some money from his YouTube demo videos - each video description includes a download link:

We offer free access to all of our templates and ask only that you watch (or let run) the entire video that accompanies the download information. That way, Google pays me and you don't have to!

As well as accepting donations via PayPal at his template site, he has now set up a store at Creative Market.

If you’ve ever downloaded one of his free Final Cut tools, it’s only fair that you visit his new store to see his first commercial template and return often to see what else he offers.

Apple’s video application priorities

Friday, 07 August 2015

As well as Apple’s product and service marketing materials, we can see have they think about their products by taking a look at two current software development job advertisements:

The iMovie for iOS team seeks an experienced software engineer to define and build custom technologies and features for visual storytellers.

[…]

This is an exciting opportunity to make visual storytelling easy, fun, and expressive for everyone. In this role you will guide other engineers as you design new features and maintain current features that help people tell their stories every day.

In another ad:

Apple’s Video Applications Team is an industry leader in applications and technology which delivers video to customers at all skill levels, on both Mac OS and iOS. We are looking for a Software Engineering Manager to drive the development of products in one of our key market segments. This individual will be responsible for leading multiple teams to ensure on time delivery of high quality products as well as setting the strategic direction for how these products delight the customers in this important market segment.

Key Qualifications

[…]

  • Demonstrated track record of delivering highly adopted consumer software products

[…]

You will be responsible for setting the direction of all products in a key market segment for the Video Applications Team. You will work with leadership, marketing, and end users to define product feature sets, help identify critical workflow issues, and then work with the engineering teams to schedule and deliver features which address these issues and, in many cases, deliver new functionality that the user didn’t even know they needed.

”Deliver what they don’t know they need”

Some points from these job descriptions:

  • iMovie for iOS is designed to make visual storytelling easy, fun, and expressive for everyone
  • The Video Applications Team wants to support customers at all skill levels
  • One of the jobs of the software engineering manager is to help identify critical workflow issues
  • The team expects to in many cases deliver new functionality that the user didn’t even know they needed

 

IBM to sell and support Macs in large organisations: ProApps one day?

Thursday, 06 August 2015

Yesterday IBM announced that they will be selling and supporting Apple’s Macs in large enterprises:

This new offering from IBM MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services is designed to help large enterprises incorporate Macs within their IT infrastructures

[…]

With these new services, clients can order Macs and have them delivered directly to their employees without any additional set-up, imaging or configuration, saving time, reducing costs and creating a great employee experience. Employees can then quickly, easily and securely gain network access, connect to email and download business applications. The services also can support personally owned Macs that are authorized in a bring-your-own-device environment.

[…]

Users also can access a range of self-help resources, including password reset, chat, and expert knowledge forums, as well as traditional help desk services.

Casper Suite from JAMF is the system IBM will use to provide this service.

Post production applications for enterprise?

As Apple would like professionals of all kinds to use their software, it’ll be interesting to see how IBM’s new support of Macs in enterprises will affect IT department support of Apple ProApps, Adobe Creative Cloud and Avid tools.

The press release states that the IBM service will allow employees to download business applications. IT administrators create network installer packages using an application called Composer.

IBM is offering to manage Macs to their client organisations. It is up to those organisations to decide if they need post production software. If IBM salespeople decide they can make money from selling Mac post production software and consultancy to their clients, this system can be used to support proposed solutions.

IT admins and Apple’s ProApps

JAMF maintain JAMF Nation: what they describe as ‘The world’s largest Apple IT community.’

The area associated with Final Cut Pro X is currently very quiet. However, perhaps this forum may become much busier.

Here is a useful tip from scottni from last year on keeping a 100 Mac Final Cut Pro X lab up to date:

I manage about 100 lab machines with FCP X. We purchased 100 licensee with our admin Apple ID, I download it once on my master machine, and then create my image and deploy it to the labs. When there's an update, I download it on my master machine with our Admin Apple ID, package it with munki and push it out to my labs. That seems to work for us.

It’ll be interesting if third-party post tools makers will be welcome in Mac IT admin forums like JAMF Nation. Given the complexity of post production it would be good if there were a few places where best practice can be shared and discussed.

Sway: Microsoft’s vs. Apple’s market engagement

Thursday, 06 August 2015

During my lunch with Philip Hodgetts, he said that it is Apple’s policy to always provide tools the support personal creativity. Given that Apple don’t seem to consider other video editing software as competition for their products, it’s worth looking at other tools that might be.

Microsoft Sway is a presentation/motion graphics creation tool that isn't at all like Microsoft PowerPoint or Adobe After Effects. As you can see in this Microsoft video on YouTube, users define the structure of the story they want to tell and the content they want to work with and leave the design up to Sway.

This works very well when you want to tell a story that works across a variety of screen sizes, aspect ratios and orientations. Here’s product manager Chris Pratley as quoted by Fast Company:

“Once they realize, ‘Oh right, I’m designing something that works across devices, and the way I do that is by expressing my intent rather than all these pixel-level sizes and so on,’ they have this eureka moment”

Microsoft learning from their market

An interesting aspect of the development of Sway is how Microsoft seemed to work with the potential audience for Sway:

The last time I spoke with Pratley, he mentioned that Sway was an experiment in letting users dictate the direction of a product. While he won’t come to any conclusions yet, he now points to the Windows 10 Insider program as an example of the company opening up more to outside suggestions.

”I actually think it’s the new way that everything new will be made, and we’re going to be adapting this to be the sort of agile approach where we react to feedback for everything else that already exists,” Pratley says.

Apple’s market insight?

The Apple position is that they don’t ask what a possble market wants. They work like Pixar: the policy is to make products and services for people like themselves, then work out which markets also need those tools. 

That works as long as the people who work at Apple aren’t too different from the people who make up the markets they want to sell to.

That means those of us who are interested in the future of Final Cut and iMovie shouldn’t tell Apple want we want; we should make sure Apple understand us well enough for them to give us what they think we need.