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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The Manual Duck

Ahhh the age old struggle between Final Cut Pro and After Effects. For what seems like centuries now us Final Cut Pro editors have been struggling with finding an efficient and, moreover, convenient workflow between FCP and After Effects. Sure, products like Livetype and Motion have come along and made life easier for some tasks but when it comes down to real motion graphics work and serious compositing nothing beats After Effects. Have you ever put Motion’s Primatte RT side by side with a key pulled from After Effects Keylight? To me there’s no comparison.

Coming from an editor’s chair, not a designer’s, it took me a while to really get up to speed with After Effects. In the past I was using AE infrequently for several reasons: 1. I didn’t know the interface and key commands well, 2. I didn’t know the software’s capabilities well, 3. I was intimidated by the rigid workflow between FCP and AE. All these factors equaled inefficent workflow and so I just usually opted not to use AE in favor of a faster and more flexible option like Livetype or Motion.

However, in the past year the work we have been doing has called more and more for serious graphics design and compositing, Livetype and Motion were simply not going to cut it. So I buckled down and really learned the After Effects interface, key commands and it’s capabilities. Through that hard work I quickly became much more efficent with AE and started creating some really cool stuff. But all this new-found efficency with AE itself still did nothing to help with a round-trip workflow to and from FCP. And if we can assume anything about Apple and Adobe there will probably never be an intergrated roundtrip solution between the two.

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XDCam Import Plug-In for Final Cut Pro

If you’ve ever had to edit with the Sony XDCam format, you already know that the work flow can be a challenge, especially if you’re using Final Cut Pro. While the Panasonic P2/DVCPro HD format integrates very well with the Log and Transfer tool, XDCam has had many shortcomings. That is, until now. 

Sony recently released version 1.0 of their log and transfer plugin that works with both XDCam and the newer SxS solid state media cameras like the EX-1 and EX-3. 

Installation is very simple, and no restart is required except for relaunching Final Cut Pro. When you open the Log and Transfer tool, you won’t find anything visibly different, but when you select XDCam media, either from a hard drive or directly from a SxS card, the footage now loads, and you can log and transfer the same way that you can P2 footage. 

In limited testing, we have found it to work as expected. The only downside is that you can’t transcode the footage into another format during import. This would be a helpful feature since editing in the XDCam format less then ideal. But for now, we’re pretty excited to see Sony improving the workflow and look forward to future upgrades. 

You can find more information by visiting Sony

DOWNLOAD THE SOFTWARE

 

QT Movie Exports with Split Track Audio

If you’ve been in the business long enough, you probably remember doing split track master layoffs to tape machines. For me it started with 1 masters that had VO on channel 1 and everything else on channel 2, and progressed to using D2 and digital beta that allowed you to layoff vo on one channel, natural sound on channel 2, and stereo music on channels 3&4. If you were fortunate enough to have higher end decks, you were able to layoff up to 8 discreet audio channels. 

If you’ve never done this you may wonder why you would want to do such a thing. It’s all about the revisions. Before everything was on the computer, doing changes to a tape masters could be a real pain and very time consuming. Often you would need to make a change to the VO, or maybe the client wanted to change the music. If all you had was a mixed master you were pretty much out of luck for the quick fix. It was back to all original elements. 

Now that everything is digital and all file based, changes are easier then ever. That is, as long as all of your original elements are still on the computer. But what happens if a project comes back for changes or an update a year after it was originally done? Maybe a translation into a different language (this happened to me recently). Most editors I know usually have a mixed master layoff (many of us don’t have access to the high-end decks that cost more then a house) and/or a QT export of the final master sequence that gets archived to a DVD or HD Backup system. But that doesn’t help much if the changes you need to make involve audio. However, since the release of QT 7 there has been the ability to export multi-track QT movies from FCP that retain all of the individual audio tracks so you can make whatever changes you need! The problem is, most editors don’t seem to know about it. This article will walk you through the process step by step.

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