Don’t Sell That Old G5 Just Yet!

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With so many software programs and hardware only supported by the Intel based Mac computers, you might find that having that old Dual/Quad G5 around is becoming more and more problematic. And that may be true, especially as a production machine. More and more of the Apple and Adobe apps only support the newer processor, so upgrading starts to become difficult. Even Snow Leopard is only supported by Intel machines, so your G5 kind of gets stuck in time.

But I’m going to give you a few options to still make use of that older machine, and it will end up having more value to you than the few bucks you can fetch by selling it on eBay. Currently a Quad G5 (the last and fastest G5 made) is going for about $600, and that’s if you throw in a bunch of extra software/upgrades. And who wants to deal with shipping the beast anyway. My vote would be to keep the machine around and put it to work.

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FileServer

One of the best things you can do is add more storage to the machine and have it as a file server. For example, in our office we have 3 main edit rooms, but there are many files that we use on jobs that are shared. We have a music library, stock footage, stock effects, some Editor Toolkit graphics, SFX, Custom Compressor Settings and many template items that we’ve created in house. We used to have all of these items installed on every computer in the office. Not a big deal, except when you make an update you have to make sure that every machine is updated with the same items or you quickly get out of sync. Having just one place to store it all is much more manageable.

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Backup Server

Another option would be to add extra storage and make it a backup server that monitors the computers in your office and backups new files on a daily or weekly basis. You can do this using the new Retrospect 8 for the mac, or ChronoSync and Chrono Agent. Both packages work the same way, having a small client app running on your workstation, and the server software running on the backup machine. You select what you want to backup, when you want to back it up and where to. The nice part is that once it’s setup properly, you don’t have to keep remembering to back things up before you leave every night.

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WIKI Server

Finally, you can install OSX Server (10.5) software and use it for workgroup management, contact files, file server and even a WIKI. We have a WIKI that we use for ECU (Edit Creations University) where we have all training materials, tips and tricks, job specific information, client FedEx numbers and even the employee manual. It’s all accessible to all employees whenever they need to reference anything, and any employee that has permission can add their own posts or revise posts that are there with new information. It becomes a very centralized location to store information, files, and video tutorials.

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Creative Samples Database

Over the past 10 years I have slowly collected still images, QuickTime movies, DVD’s,  tv commercials, show opens, movie trailers and so on, of things that I found inspirational or creative. The main reason was that I wanted to have something to spark my creative juices when I was just dead in the water looking for a new idea. I don’t like to steal an idea directly, but there’s plenty you can take from any given example and than make it your own. Often just seeing something will spark an idea of your own.

I have so many samples now that I created a database called Creative Spark. Everything is processed into a friendly format and imported into the database. Once in there, it’s tagged for any number of attributes, from the type of video it is to what types of things is shows examples of (camera work, effects, text, graphics, etc.). This is the kind of thing that works great in a shared environment and it’s now accessible to any of the editors or producers in the office.

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It also comes in handy when you’re trying to describe an effect or look to a client. It’s much more effective if you actually have the example right there to play for them.

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TimeMachine Volume

Most people hook up an external drive for use with Apple’s TimeMachine. But by adding up to 6TB of internal space, you can do the same thing and take up no extra counter space. We have a TimeMachine volume on each edit computer that runs twice daily* to backup the active projects (and only the active projects). We’ve found this to be a very solid part of our overall backup strategy.

* If you use TimeMachine you know that you really don’t have a lot of choice when it runs and how often. However, you can use a free program called TimeMachineEditor to give you more control over this. I personally don’t need it to backup every second that I’m working, but even once a day is enough in most cases. It takes less of a toll on your system resources that way too.

Whatever you decide to do with that G5, more storage is probably going to help. Today’s post will walk you through how to install more storage than you ever imagined in your aging G5 so that it’s up to snuff for you’re data needs.  Of the ideas I outlined above, all could be implemented on a single machine and play nicely, and in that case you would absolutely want to add more storage.

Read moreDon’t Sell That Old G5 Just Yet!

Review – Lite Panels Micro Pro and Chimera Color Correction Screens

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What’this? Production gear reviews on a post-production blog? Yup, that’s right. We’re not all just codecs and compression here at SuiteTake; we do actually put on our shoes and socks and get to shoot too. In fact, there’s nothing better to appreciate parking your rear in a comfy edit chair all day long that luggin’ production gear around on an old fashioned shoot now and then.
So yes, we do shoot here too and have come across a few nifty little production gadgets that have proved very helpful in the field: The Lite Panels Micro Pro and Chimera’s Color Correction Screens for their softboxes.

What’s this? Production gear reviews on a post-production blog? Yup, that’s right. We’re not all just codecs and compression here at SuiteTake; we do actually put on our shoes and socks and get to shoot too. In fact, there’s nothing better to appreciate parking your rear in a comfy edit chair all day long then luggin’ production gear around on an old fashioned shoot now and then.

So yes, we do shoot here too and have come across a few nifty little production gadgets that have proved very helpful in the field: The Lite Panels Micro Pro and Chimera’s Color Correction Screens for their softboxes.

Read moreReview – Lite Panels Micro Pro and Chimera Color Correction Screens

OPINION: Even If You’re Cheap, Don’t Cheap Out On Your Hard Drives


Hard drives the single most important piece of tech we use as digital media professionals. When you think about it, every bit of work you do is saved to these mechanical/magnetic devices spinning at thousands of RPMs. You may spend hours, days, weeks or even months on a project – and all the time you’re trusting that the drives do not fail you. If you really let your mind dwell on it you may actually start to lose sleep!

Having regular backups is important enough (that’s for another day, another post) but how about starting with a quality drive system? I’ve seen too many people buy drives for their edit systems based on price and price alone, only to be burned and burned bad. It’s like shopping around for a heart surgeon and going with the cheapest guy.

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“Hi everybody!” “Hi Dr. Nick!”

I was told a story about an editor that was working on a big show for the Discovery channel for over 3 months, and 5 days before he was to master the show his drive system went down and all was lost. Every bit. There was no way to recover 3 months of work in time to make the broadcast date so they not only lost the job and all future work from Discovery, but 3 months of revenue that they had already worked for. Just pause and think about that. That’s the kind of thing that some companies can never recover from.

At Edit Creations we have a job that we do every year that lasts from January through the end of June (2 rooms, 5 days a week), creating multiple videos and various programs that all play at a show in July. Whenever we start to come down that home stretch I remember that story and start to get a bit nervous. I’m always making sure that our backups are in good shape.

This post is all about making sure the drives you buy are worthy of the work that you’re doing. Or more importanly, that you avoid the drives that are not.

Read moreOPINION: Even If You’re Cheap, Don’t Cheap Out On Your Hard Drives

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.

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

Is Your MacPro Louder Than Your Audio Mix?

Here at SuiteTake we try to be neat. We try to be clean. You know, it impresses clients when they walk into a nice neat and clean suite instead of a smelly pit of filth. So we vacuum, we take out the garbage filled with empty coffee cups, Chinese food containers, and the occasional empty bottle of Baileys Irish Creme, we wipe down the counters, we scrub the caked up residue of hundreds of lotiony hands turning the various doorknobs. Sure, this makes for a pleasant working environment for us and our clients but what about the real work-horses of the office – the Macs?

Read moreIs Your MacPro Louder Than Your Audio Mix?

Eternal Backup of the Spotless Drive (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second of a two part series on the Quantum A-Series LTO drive. You can find part 1 here.

Once Quantum released the unbelievably fantastic Version 3 upgrade three months ago, any minor inconvenience we were having with the tape drive seemed to disappear. They really did a great job listening to client comments and fixed virtually every problem that needed to be addressed. The interface is more fluid (you used to not be able to adjust the size of the windows), and there is no longer a self-destruct button next to the eject button. There is now an automatic preventative measure in place to no longer lose the table of contents (a problem we had early in its use, it appeared worse than it actually was). We can fill the tapes up as full as we want (we used to need to add a cushion of space to prevent filling the tapes “too full”). I can now let my pals < and ? into the drive without concern. Oh, they can invite the rest of their friends as well, the blacklist is lifted! There is still only a 97 character limit for filenames, but only once in a blue moon do I export FCP movies titled…

Read moreEternal Backup of the Spotless Drive (Part 2 of 2)