SuiteTake Changes, And The Future

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While posts have been a bit hit or miss lately due to our heavy work load, that doesn’t mean that we’re not getting some work done under the hood! I wanted to do a quick post to let you know some of the not so obvious changes we’ve made.

Videos
Because of the increasing demand on our server, videos are now hosted by Blip.tv. One of the new advantages is that you can now more easily play the video within the post, or watch it full screen. All video is also available in multiple formats so you can also download clips to your computer.

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Recommended Reading: The Knack


For several years now I’ve made it a habit to read business periodicals as well as business books. As a business owner I feel it’s imperative to learn from those with more experience than myself, and I have to say I enjoy it more then I would have ever imagined. I keep up to date with Inc. Magazine and read between 4 and 10 business books a year. Some are good, some not so good, but I always seem to walk away with something of value.

It’s been quite some time since I was really excited about a business book, but I just finished reading one that I thought I would share. The book is called “The Knack:How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up“, and is written by Norm Brodsky, Bo Burlingham, both writers at Inc. Magazine.

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Leave Your Edit Suite On Time, Finish From Home – For FREE!


Back in 2003 when I converted my basement to full blown edit suite (a year long process), it was both a blessing and curse all at once. Gone was the commute and fighting with Chicagoland traffic. I could sleep in later and “get home” from work earlier. Sounds great! But the flip side of that, if you don’t have a serious commitment to putting up work/personal life barriers, you are always at your office and always working. And clients know that too. So what’s to stop you from working late into the evening or over the weekend? As I found out, not much.

First home edit suite, 2003
Basement edit suite, 2004

Luckily, the home edit suite was short lived. In less then a year my wife and I had outgrown it and had to get office space or we would lose some of the larger jobs. The separation of work from home life was back in balance. However, there have been times that I wished the suite was back at home. It’s one thing to stick around the office to edit, but it’s another to stick around watching a render bar or compression bar just so you can finish and upload a file. What if you could do this from home? And what if it was free to you assuming that you already have a high speed internet connection at your home and office? Well, I’m hear to tell you that the solution is not only out there, but it’s a lot easier to get setup then you might think.

I’m sure by now everybody knows about MobileMe and Back To My Mac on the Macintosh (just try to get Back To My Mac working reliably though) and services like GoToMyPC.com (now supporting the Mac platform). There is also a client/server based service called HamachiX for Mac, but I could never get that to work reliably and it would often get very frustrating. About a year ago I found a free service called LogMeIn.com, which supports both Mac and PC. They’re goal is to get you hooked on their free service, and then have you upgrade to one of their paid accounts. But for what i use it for the free version is perfect. I now have several computers registered with them and use it at least weekly, sometimes every day. It has become an important tool in my toolbox.

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The Emergency Boot Drive, Your New Best Friend


Several times a year I find myself on the road editing on-location with clients. These travel jobs are usually a convention, corporate conference or incentive trip. The locations can be as close as Chicago (20 miles away) or as far as Thailand and Hong Kong. I have a travel system that’s in cases and ready to go at a moments notice, and each year this part of our business at Edit Creations has grown.

One concern I always have when doing these jobs is having a system go down while being far away from the office. Part of my safety net is having a second laptop with me on every trip. I learned my lesson the hard way when a few years ago one of our editors was doing a job in California and the a AJA IO box stopped working. It was a Saturday so I couldn’t get in touch with tech support at AJA and no amount of google searching helped find a solution. By Monday the job was going to be all over, videos laid off or not. So in that case, after troubleshooting all night on the phone and realizing it was not going to be fixed, with only a 4 hour window I had to shower, head to the office and make a second system from one of our edit bays, stop and Home Depot and buy a hand truck and head to the airport. I made it in time to save the day, but it burned though all of the profits for the job.

While having 2 systems is great security, I always want to have the ability to troubleshoot, test or rebuild a machine with all of the needed software on site, should the need arise. In my worst case scenario that I play back in my head (rehearsing it like a fire drill) I imagine running to a local Apple Store, buying a new machine on the spot and reinstalling everything I need to get the job done.

Up until recently I’ve always brought with me a small selection of DVD’s. Everything from all of the original FCP and Adobe install disks, to Disk Warrior and a system restore disk. While this would obviously work, there is a better way. Why not buy a new, small portable FW drive (or even better, use one of those old drives that you have laying around) and created a multi-partition boot drive that contains everything? Then, not only do you have everything you need in one place, booting and running off of the FW drive will be much faster then working off your DVD drive.

The rest of this post will show you how to create your own emergency boot drive that is the perfect companion to your travel system.

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Sony EX-1/EX-3 and Final Cut Pro, What’s Your Workflow?

Late last year we added a new camera package to our offerings at Edit Creations. In part because we wanted to diversify the services we had to offer, and also because it played into a spinoff company we’ve been working on. That new company would be a lot more production based then Edit Creations currently is.

We looked at all the options out there in the sub 10K price range, and after weeks of research ended up with a Sony EX-1. That really surprised me because when we started the search I was pretty much set on the Panasonic P2 format and the AG-HVX200A model. Not only do I have experience with that camera, but almost everything else we do is shot in the DVCPro HD format, so we have a nice workflow in place. More then that though, I can’t stand editing in the MPEG-2 format. It’s fine for shooting and can capture great images, but once you get it into the edit system you can be assured you will rendering more then ever before. But in the end, the Sony EX-1 won hands down in image quality, built in features, and price. There was just no denying it.

So, what to do with the workflow?

On the first several projects we tried multiple different ways of attacking the projects. Everything from working in the MPEG-2 format natively to converting everything to ProRes and editing with the converted files instead. We also have extensive experience working with the Sony software, which includes XDCam EX Clip Browser and XDCam Transfer.

In addition to all of this trial and error, I was training a client on how to handle the workflow for his own project (he was renting our camera). But it seemed every time I met with him I was saying “OK, I know I said do it like this, but now there’s a whole new way to do it”. Nothing like learning on the job to keep everybody on edge!

So here we are now, about 6 months later, with what I believe is a solid workflow. So if you’re using EX-1 (or XDCam footage of any kind) you can learn from our mistakes and start off on the right foot.

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Inspired Editing – CHIFCPUG Presentation Video

Have you ever been fear stuck while looking at an empty timeline, with no idea where to start? Are you sometimes creatively challenged and questioning your career choice? Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly a plane? If you answered yes to the first two questions, this post is for you. I can’t help with the third one.

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