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BlogVeteran Apple pro video product manager on future of post-productionTuesday, September 3 2019

Steve Bayes worked for Avid for 10 years on Media Composer: the application used to edit most TV shows and feature films. He spent over 12 years working for Apple as the Final Cut Pro product manager. Now he is a freelance marketing consultant for businesses serving the post production industry.

He left Apple in July 2018, so is now free to join us on the internet in a private capacity. He has joined fcp.co as a columnist and commentator on the Film, TV and video production industry.

In his first column he outlines what to look for at the IBC 2019 video trade show that is coming to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks:

Look for more advanced workflows that handle HDR better. Use your dynamic range for good and don’t lose track of it on the way to the final display.

and he especially wary of those offering pure cloud solutions for video editing:

Every time someone talks about “the cloud” you need to down a shot of aquavit. Then ask, “I just shot a terabyte of 8K footage yesterday with my 3-camera rig, how long to upload it from my hotel before I can start to generate proxies in your cloud?”. They will point you to a workflow that requires very little footage and lots of GPU computing.

[…]

In the end, is there a clear ROI benefit to the cloud over local storage when working with the speeds and quality we expect today? I’d like to see those numbers and the justification. I predict it will remain a cloud/local hybrid for quite some time.

Here is the first of the fcp.co YouTube discussions featuring Steve Bayes on the fcp.co channel on YouTube:

 

 

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BlogAdmin tool distributes Apple’s additional content for Logic Pro X, GarageBand and MainStage 3Friday, August 16 2019

If you are comfortable with Python and building packages on GitHub, version 3.0 of Appleloops is available.

It is for those who administer large networks of Macs that have Apple’s audio editing applications installed. Don’t understand the following requirements? Appleloops isn’t for you:

Requirements

  • macOS.
  • Any version of Python from 2.7.10 onwards.
  • Deploying packages will require any or a combination of these apps to be installed (the packages run checks at install time to check):
    • GarageBand.
    • Logic Pro X.
    • MainStage 3.
  • If a local HTTP mirror is being used, appleloops expects to find the packages in the same folder path as they exist on the Apple audio content servers.
  • If a local Caching Server is being used, you will need to provide the correct Caching Server address.
  • Your firewall/proxy must whitelist https://audiocontentdownload.apple.com
  • Whitelisting https://raw.githubusercontent.com
  • Access to https://audiocontentdownload.apple.com is a requirement.
  • Proxies may need to be managed via environment variables set prior to running the utility.
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BlogApple Notarisation: Current Mac software installers might not run smoothly on macOS CatalinaTuesday, August 13 2019

Apple’s new ‘notarisation’ security requirement for macOS Catalina might mean that installers you have for pre-2019 software will not run if you double-click them in the Finder. Also many installers available online that are not updated will not run in macOS Catalina.

Those of us who have created installers of all kinds – including for Final Cut plugins – should prepare for extra work before macOS Catalina is released in Autumn.

For installer applications to run as normal, they will need to be ‘notarised’ by Apple.

This process includes using Xcode or a Terminal command to submit your application to Apple. Once an automated process approves your application (which takes less than 30 minutes at the moment), it is notarised. That means when a user double-clicks it (or a browser attempts to start it), the Mac will go to the internet to see if it has been notarised. If notarised, it will run. If not, it won’t. If there is no internet connection – if someone runs an installer on a Mac with no or restricted online access – the application will not run.

So that notarised applications can run on offline Macs, there is an additional process known as ‘stapling’ which attaches the notarisation ticket to the application itself. If the installer application has been ‘stapled,’ it will run as normal on non-internet connected Macs.

I used Plugin Manager (from Digital Rebellion’s Pro Maintenance Tools) to make the many installers for my free Final Cut plugins. Part of the process was signing the installers with my Apple developer ID. These installers from years ago will not work smoothly with macOS Catalina.

I watched a long presentation on notarisation by Tom Bridge who has written on his blog:

I found a package that is properly signed that delivers Motion and Final Cut Pro templates that also triggered the quarantine warning. They were signed for distribution, but not notarized. They still flagged the quarantine check because they were distributing files.

Developers might see this as an opportunity to review old installers. I hope Digital Rebellion can help me with my NLE plugin installers. I might also need to make a whole load of new installers that I can notarise using other tools.

It is time for macOS developers to do the research to make sure their applications will easily run in macOS Catalina and newer.

Watch Tom’s presentation (aimed at Mac administrators who are happy building applications using Xcode) from 33:22 to find out more about the notarisation process:

If you do nothing, users running your pre-2019 installers will see this (from Tom’s blog):

How to run un-notarised applications in Catalina

There are many useful Mac software installers on the internet that remain safe to use, but whose developers have moved on – who are very unlikely to go through the notarisation process.

Apple have said that users will always be able to run any software they like on their Macs. Their security policies in recent years have been about making running unchecked applications less straightforward – to protect naive users from malicious software.

In the Finder, use the File:Open command (or control-click its icon to see a context menu that includes the Open command) to get a dialog box that asks if you are sure you want to open it – which includes an ‘Open’ button which you can click. Here is what that dialog box looked like in 2013:

Click ‘Open’ and the un-notarised application will always run on your Mac. For each new Mac you move the installer to, you will have to go through the same process.

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BlogHappy birthday Apple Motion – here’s to the next 15 years!Thursday, August 8 2019

Apple’s oldest professional application – their real-time motion graphics tool – was first made available to buy 15 years ago: on August 11, 2004.

Motion was first publicly previewed in April 2004. Here is Apple’s video of that 15 minute demo:

The amazing thing about many features shown here is that even 15 years on, it would be hard for today’s other animation applications to match what Motion users could do in 2004. Although the final animations can now be exported into tools like Blackmagic Fusion and Adobe After Effects, they still can’t match the real-time responsiveness of Motion (1)’s user interface.

Since 2004 animations in Motion can modified in complex ways in real time while the animation is playing. No stopping to change settings, waiting for a render, then playing back a lower-resolution preview. Motion users play with ideas while users of other applications make plans of what they will try next.

A thousand nos

Although it is possible to make animations complex enough that slow down Motion’s UI responsiveness, Apple’s focus has made sure it remains a real-time animation application.

They have done this by saying ‘no’ to new features that make the UI less responsive. Features that would allow motion graphics designers who also use After Effects or node-based compositing systems to apply methods they know from these other applications.

Too late to beat Adobe After Effects

When Motion was introduced in 2004, After Effects was already the ‘Avid Media Composer’ of motion graphics and video effects. There were already established industry workflows using After Effects – few users saw a reason to switch. They saw that it was a lot faster, but it also seemed strange compared with what they were used to. It didn’t offer enough to make up for its steep learning curve.

Although Apple regularly improved Motion during the rest of the 2000s, it didn’t capture the imagination of a significant proportion of motion graphics designers. It was eventually included in the Final Cut Studio bundle, made up of Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro and DVD Studio Pro and more. Even when hundreds of thousands of users got Motion for ‘free,’ few could justify the time needed to ‘get’ it.

Final Cut Pro X to the rescue

Despite versions 1, 2, 3 and 4 never really breaking out, Apple stuck with Motion. They have kept developing it because Motion became a vital element in the 2011 reboot of Final Cut Pro: version 10.

Motion benefits Final Cut in three ways.

The reason why Final Cut Pro is the fastest video editing application is that since version 10.0, there has been a whole copy of Apple Motion 5 built into it. Motion’s real-time animation system is now Final Cut’s real-time rendering system. Rendering changing scale, colour, position and rotation of a video clip is now slower than a clip that only has one parameter changing.

Final Cut also benefits from Motion because it is through Motion that nearly all of Final Cut’s built-in real time effects, titles, transitions and graphics are implemented. Many feature updates to Final Cut insect 2011 are accompanied by a new version of Motion.

Lastly, third-parties (like me) can use Motion to create plugins that improve Final Cut. As well as a huge paid plugin ecosystem, there are over 1,000 free plugins for Final Cut.

Final Cut Pro X to the rescue?

The other side of Motion being at the core of Apple’s Final Cut development is that Motion is mainly improved to support Final Cut. Since 2011 there have been few improvements designed to benefit those who use Motion to make motion graphics.

With Motion there is the classic chicken and egg situation: designers don’t pick up the tool because it hasn’t improved and Apple can’t justify making it better for those designers because few of them are picking it up.

I hope Apple will soon act as if they see Motion as more than a Final Cut developer tool.

Happy birthday Motion

Apple Motion has a future as long as Apple’s Final Cut Pro has a future. I’m sure Final Cut will be around for many years. Apple’s video Applications team want it to break though the 20th century timeline barrier as typified by Avid Media Composer and continually being popularised by Adobe Premiere. That means years more improvements for regular people upgrading from iMovie and to attract established post-production people currently sticking with old systems.

Motion evolution – and hopefully revolution – will be at the heart of Apple video applications for years to come. I’m looking forward to it!

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BlogApple introduces a tiny hint of collaboration to iMovie for iOSWednesday, June 12 2019

Yesterday Apple updated iMovie for iOS and macOS. There’s one new feature in the iOS version which could set Apple’s video tools on the path to collaboration.

  • iOS version adds green screen keying from macOS version
  • Adjust the green screen effect with a 4-point mask and strength slider
  • iOS version adds 80 new soundtracks
  • Overlay still images with transparent backgrounds
  • Both versions tidy up video sharing on iCloud Photos
  • Collaboration-wise, ClassKit support lets students deliver video assignments to teachers using the Schoolwork app

ClassKit and collaboration

I don’t know how much of iMovie for iOS is ClassKit compatible, but ClassKit has interesting features for developers to integrate into iOS apps:

  • Define and Display Assignable Content “When a student taps an assigned activity in Schoolwork, they are taken directly to the corresponding content in your app.”
  • Report Student Progress “The progress information your app can report includes time spent, start and end timers, percentage of completion…”

ClassKit and Schoolwork are built with student privacy in mind. Schoolwork only receives and displays student progress data for activities a teacher explicitly assigns, and only when students use the Managed Apple ID that was created for them by their school on their device

Could the ‘Define and Display Assignable Content’ feature could help a feedback note show exactly the timecode it is referring to.

I wonder if Apple’s eventual workgroup collaboration features will involve using Managed AppleID for participants, and tools for a team member to administer membership of groups. Last week’s WWDC mentioned managed AppleID for business in a forthcoming update to Apple Business Manager. I’ll keep a look out for more information from Apple.

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Blog2019 Mac Pro: two ultimate configurationsWednesday, June 5 2019

As previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 2019, the 2019 Mac Pro has quite the technical specification. What is it’s ultimate configuration? Just how powerful can you make it? There are two ultimate configurations: the Professional configuration and the Hobbyist configuration. As months and years go by, I’ll keep this post up to date.

The hardware is all about overhead. A power supply that can handle the needs of multiple hungry PCI cards – those for sale today and those expected to go on the market in coming years. A cooling system that can handle more heat than hardware can produce today.

The ultimate Professional configuration – ‘Available Fall 2019’

CPU

28-core 2.5Ghz Intel Xeon W CPU with Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz.

Could be a version of the Xeon W-3275 modified to access more than 1TB of RAM. The W-3275 is available for $4,449.

Memory

Each of the 12 memory slots can take a 128GB DIMM, fully loaded that adds up to 1.5TB.

Apple sells memory kits for the Mac Pro of up to 64GB – made up of four 16GB DIMMs. Apple’s 128GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory configuration for the iMac Pro costs $2,000. Other World Computing sell a wide range of RAM kits, their 256GB kit (64GB x 4) for the 2017 iMac Pro costs $2,279.

Graphics

Two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX modules + Afterburner ProRes and ProRes RAW accelerator card.

Storage

52TB:

4TB made up of two 2TB SSD storage modules. 4TB from Apple for the iMac Pro currently costs $2,400.

In exchange for one AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo MPX module, an additional 32TB of storage in a Promise Pegasus R4i MPX module.

Plus 16TB made up if a Pegasus J2i (which comes with an 8TB drive with space for an additional 8TB drive), which is fitted on a sled that can be placed next to the CPU heat sink.

I/O

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports on top of enclosure.

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports and two USB-A ports in the Apple I/O x4 PCI Express card.

Two 10Gb Ethernet ports. No 25Gb Ethernet or 40Gb Ethernet PCI cards yet announced for the 2019 Mac Pro.

Power supply

1.4 kilowatts – the maximum possible for use on US domestic power networks.

Aftercare

AppleCare+. For the 2013 MacPro this costs $249.

AppleCare OS Support Preferred costs $19,995 – for unlimited support with a two hour response time and custom post-production workflow design.

The ultimate Hobbyist configuration – Less than $2,000?

The best sign that Apple think that the Mac Pro would suit hobbyists would be for them to supply a special configuration just for them.

Instead of choosing the minimum configuration and having to remove an SSD, a couple of PCI cards and RAM, it would be better to buy a configuration with none of these things. One where hobbyists can source the parts suited to their personal needs from Apple or elsewhere.

CPU

None – a heat sink.

It seems that the CPU is socketed.

Memory

None.

Other World Computing sell a wide range of RAM kits, their 256GB kit (64GB x 4) for the 2017 iMac Pro costs $2,279.

Graphics

None.

There are a wide range of PCI-based GPU cards. For those who want to use NVIDIA GPUs, they can use BootCamp to run Windows.

Storage

None.

I/O

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports on top of enclosure.

Two 10Gb Ethernet ports.

There is range of PCI-based I/O cards for Thunderbolt, USB, Ethernet, Fibrechannel, iSCSI, ADB…

Power supply

None.

For those who can guarantee the power they will supply their Mac Pro – for example if they can put it on a 50 Amp circuit.

Aftercare

None.

I would guess that Apple would not want to provide AppleCare+ for this configuration. It will be up to expert hobbyists and their suppliers to troubleshoot their configurations – with the aid of a section of the Apple Support forums.

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