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BlogWhy is there an offline/online editing distinction in 2015?Saturday, August 8 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.”

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BlogGenerous Final Cut Pro X plugin maker goes commercialFriday, August 7 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.

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BlogApple’s video application prioritiesFriday, August 7 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
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BlogIBM to sell and support Macs in large organisations: ProApps one day?Thursday, August 6 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.

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BlogSway: Microsoft’s vs. Apple’s market engagementThursday, August 6 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.

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BlogEDL-X 2.0: For Final Cut Pro X offline editorsWednesday, August 5 2015

Although devoted fans would say that whole productions can be edited and finished in Final Cut, X plays very well with other post production applications. It has an XML format that supports full transfer of timelines to other applications. Sometimes these applications support X XML import and sometimes intermediary applications are needed.

Editors who need to collaborate with those who use high-end systems used in big budget commercials and music videos use XMiL EDL-X to convert Final Cut Pro X XML to the CMX 3600 industry standard EDL format.

Hollywood-based feature film trailer editor Charlie Austin: “EDL-X is indispensable for finishing offline cuts here in L.A. EDLs are still a ‘universal’ way to talk to pretty much any video application and they’re required by most post houses here.”

The version 2.0 update is out now (Mac App Store link):

  • Role Filtering: control what footage is included based on Roles assigned in FCP X.
  • Support for retimed footage on all nesting levels.
  • List Effects including some parameters and keyframes.
  • Fades at the head or tail of clips can be represented as dissolves in the EDL.
  • EDL-X can be used as a Share Destination straight from FCP X’s Share menu. This means that an XML file doesn’t have to be explicitly saved to disk any more, and sequences/cuts/projects can be made to EDL-X from FCP X in a single step.

If you already have an older version, the version 2.0 update is free.

The fact that an application used for such tasks is being updated to match the needs of offline editors shows there is a market for such tools.

Charlie tweeted:

London based commercials and music video editor Vid Price says “Speed changes on all levels is a massive one for me. If I change the speed of a clip that I’ve synced through Sync-N-Link there’s previously been no easy way to get this out as an EDL. I used to have to eye match the original non synced shot and try and match the retime. Not any more!!”

Award-winning ad editor Thomas Grove Carter has tried it out and says “This is a FANTASTIC update. It’s really very good! One example: If you have a Multicam clip where one of the angles is sped up 200% inside, and you speed up the Multicam clip itself to 150%, EDL-X will correctly represent this a 300% speed change in the EDL. Same goes for compound clips!”

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