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.

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The Dark Side of DROBO


IMPORTANT NOTE: This post was updated on Wednesday; November 4, 2009 with new information regarding resizing partitions on the Drobo using iPartition.

As brought to my attention by reader Bradley Davidson (thanks Bradley), iPartition does not actually support the method that I mentioned, and neither does drobo directly.

In my testing, I performed the resizing operation on a newly formatted drive that didn’t have any data (since I had just lost all of my data that was on the drobo). If you try to resize a partition as outlined in this post, you WILL LOSE YOUR DATA. So don’t try it. In theory it was a great idea, but apparently this too will cause problems.

You can find more information on the iPartition website, as well as from Drobo. Like we’ve pointed out many times, we’re also learning here at SuiteTake so thanks for the feedback.

Before I start, let me just say that I am a Drobo fan. I have 2 of them (an original USB and a newer FW version) and plan to purchase more Drobo’s in the not too distant future. Overall I’ve had a great experience with the units and when I needed assistance their tech support was very helpful.

All of that being said, there is a dirty little secret that they don’t warn you about and if you’re not careful you can have your Drobo crash beyond recovery, which is what happened to me this past week. I lost nearly 4 TB of files and there was nothing I could do to get them back. If you own a Drobo, this is a must read.

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The Top-Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Final Cut Pro…Ten Years Ago.

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I’ve been an editor for a while now at several different shops. Through those days and places I have mostly been self taught until I ended up here with SuiteTake. At SuiteTake training and skill development is not just encouraged, it’s part of our daily responsibilities. Therefor, in the recent past my learning curve has increased dramatically.

The Top Ten things I wish I knew:

10. Shift and option dragging

9. Quick Ken Burns effect

8. QuickTime vs Quicktime Conversion.

7. The Black and code button.

6. Option 1,2,3 for transition alignment

5. Esc, tab, spacebar to navigate windows

4. Apply normalization to audio in FCP

3. Disable dropped frames warning.

2. Disable rendering with caps lock.

1. Map your keyboard.

The SuiteTake Take?

If you’re an experienced editor you probably know most of these already, however, if you’re just starting out like me so many years ago you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the game by learning these tricks now and not 10 years from now.

The following video tutorial demonstrates a list of 10 efficiencies and workflows with Final Cut Pro that I wish I had known from the start. If I had these often simple tricks in my pocket from day 1 I would have saved myself countless hours and heaps of frustration.

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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Permission to take Permission?

I’m not sure exactly when it all started, but over the last several months I’ve been having permission issues while using OSX. Every so often I’ll go to save a file in a folder I should have access to – and I’m told that I don’t have permission to do so. Normally it’s a local drive, but it happens with network drives as well. I thought maybe it was something specific to Tiger, but recently we updated to OSX Leopard and the problem actually got worse. And when I say “upgrade”, what I mean to say is we rebuilt each system from scratch, formatting a drive and reinstalling all apps from scratch. Our last few upgrades have been OS upgrades using the “Archive and Install” option, but we wanted to really start clean this time.

To make matters worse, I got tot he point last week where I had locked myself out of making any further changes somehow. We have a common folder on a local network server that we use for web approvals. It’s been there for years without having any problems at all. Then all the sudden, I couldn’t copy over my QT movie so that it could be processed with the rest of the files. I did the usual “get info” command, unlocked the pane with an administrator account, but when I tried to change the permissions it would not allow me to. I could click on any of the users or groups and set “Read & Write”, but as soon as I clicked off it it went back to either “Read Only”, or even worse “No Access”.

You might be thinking that I should just run Apple’s “Disk Utility” and choose to “Repair Permissions”. That would be great except that it’s not a boot drive. Disk Utility needs to have an installed version of OSX on whatever drive it’s to repair permissions on. Without a OS it has nothing to use to determine what the correct permissions are.

So an hour has passed now and I’m getting very frustrated, because nothing about this should be hard. So I did what every good editor does when backed into a corner. I did a google search on the problem.

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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

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