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You down with FCP?

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Compressor Repair to the rescue.

I have thankfully not needed to ever use compressor repair before. It has always lived in the back of my mind as one of those backup plans, like triple-a, or life insurance. At work my tower has somehow really tweaked itself and compressor was the hardest hit. This was the first sign that something was amiss. I got this error immediately after logging in.



From there it got worse. FCP wouldn't open up, qmaster wouldn't/couldn't start, and compressor wouldn't let me submit any jobs. I was stopped dead. Multiple restarts, zapping the pram, and repairing permissions (remember doing that back in the day?) ended up fixing Final Cut, but not Qmaster. After I.T. frustratedly left I decided it was time for my ace in the hole. I downloaded Compressor repair from digital rebellion and gave it a shot.

This is what the opening screen looks like.


And this is what Compressor Repair found! Weird, right?



I did what it told me and reinstalled from discs. Voila! I'm back to work! I know that many people will say that Compressor repair didn't actually fix anything. Reinstalling compressor is a somewhat logical step in troubleshooting too. What Compressor Repair did do was to tell me WHY I should reinstall. It told me that there were missing files. Nothing short of a reinstall or restoring from a backup could have helped me then.

Compressor Repair saved me the trouble of reinstalling all of Final Cut Studio and it got me back on my feet much faster. Best of all it is free! Keep it in mind for when the sailing isn't so smooth, and hopefully it can save your day as well.

PS digital rebellion makes a few other FCP related apps as well. I haven't tried any of the others, but by the sound of them, they seem helpful. In addition to a bunch of smaller apps like data rate calculator, they make "FCS Maintenance Pack" , "FCP Versioner", "FCS Remover", and "Preference Manager".

Posted by: Ross Daly on Nov 30, 2010 at 1:00:57 pm compressor, final cut pro
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+2

edit from the beach, upload in the bay.

I spend a lot of words here showing how to automate things so that editors can “set it and forget it”. The reason for that is that there is nothing worse than having to wait around for an hour watching your computer work. Well, there sometimes isn’t any way to automate the “next step”, but this will enable you to hit render, go home and then do the rest from home! Here’s how.


The best thing about this whole operation is that you probably don’t need any new software! We will be using a protocol called VNC in order to connect our two mac computers. If you have a pc at home, you can still do this, in fact, you can even do it via your iphone! Vnc stands for Virtual Network Computing. You need to run a server app on your desktop machine and a client app on your home machine. I believe Mac OS 10.4 and higher include a vnc server by default. Here is a quick guide to setting that up. On your home computer side, all you need is to do is: in finder hit command k. Now type ̶0;vnc://” then type your work computer’s address and hit connect. The finder will ask you for your password, and then you are in! A good thing to know when you are setting this up is that you can connect “remotely” from the same room, just make sure that you aren’t using an internal ip address. Once configured, you can log in remotely to your desktop and check on renders, start compressions, or upload files to FTP. There are limitations on this tech, though. Due to lag and bandwidth issues, you probably won’t be able to view video playback and editing would be an incredibly frustrating affair. Audio also is not transmitted, so forget about sync audio.

Tech notes on configuring vnc. Networks can be tricky things. Each computer is assigned a local IP, and then you usually have an external IP as well. How your network is setup can entirely change the specific steps you need to go through, but the end result is the same. You need to have an ip address or a web address that will go directly to your computer. For my specific home network I use dyn-dns to forward a .com address to my cable modem’s frequently shifting IP address. I also use port forwarding on my home router to forward the standard vnc port to my laptop.


Note on vnc security. When you install a vnc server you are effectively punching a hole in your firewall. This is not something you should do without consulting your IT department. You should also create very strong passwords (a mix of uppercase and lowercase, numbers letters and symbols, and longer than you would like) The safest thing to do is to only run your vnc server when you anticipate having to use it. Our IT department suggested that we VPN into the internal network, and then vnc in through the secure tunnel. That solution has the security of VPN with the ease of vnc!


As a bonus tip, vnc can be useful in reverse as well. I often vnc into my home machine, put a few files in my dropbox, and then grab them from my work computer (again, via dropbox). If you haven’t gotten a dropbox account yet, sign up! It’s super useful for everything from file transfer to serving up small websites and links for review.




Posted by: Ross Daly on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:23:05 am final cut pro
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How to hijack the Mocha for AE tracker for use in other apps. (like NUKE!)

Mocha is awesome. Its inclusion in the CS5 suite is amazing, and I think it has really blown open the world of what entry level vfx artists (and even amateurs) can do. One problem with the AE-only version is that it is AE-only! It prevents (or rather doesn’t enable) you to use it with other apps. It exports its data in a specific format meant for after effects and it does a great job of that.


At work I am working my way through nuke, and it is really a pain to be able to use Mocha with AE but not nuke. The simplest fix would be to buy Mocha for nuke, but the powers that be haven’t done that yet, so I had to figure out a way. I got to thinking the other day, and tracking data at it’s simplest is only x,y points, so what is stopping me? It turns out that the only thing is formatting!


I whipped up a quick applescript to strip the x,y data out of the MochAE exported text file and put it into 4 separate txt files for nuke. It’s really that simple! One thing that you need to do in nuke is to set the y axis to (frame height-curve) because the two apps have a different coordinate system.

After all of this I have a passable workflow, but I want to stress that if you have enough dough to be using nuke, buy Mocha! This app is intentionally a little rough around the edges because I don’t like the idea of taking away anyone else’s business. It also isn’t a replacement for the standalone Mocha; it doesn’t offer any of the other (quite worthwhile) features. It’s a fun little hack, and hopefully it helps someone out of a jam somewhere, but if you need this, then you need to buy the full version of mocha!
Click here to download the MochAE to Nuke converter




Posted by: Ross Daly on Nov 12, 2010 at 7:29:59 am After Effects, nuke
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New FCP plugin for canon 7d / 5d / 60d / 1d /

Canon recently updated their eos plugin for final cut pro to give it much better metadata reading capabilities. Now you have access to the Av, Tv, ISO, Lens, Focal Length, Camera Model name Camera Serial Number, and it give REAL timecode based off the cameras internal clock.
They also say that it should be much faster on multi-core Macs! The one weird thing is that they haven’t mentioned anything about it being usable with the lower end cameras such as the t2i, but if you have one you can always follow this link to enable the plugin to work with your camera.

To get the new EOS Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro click here.




Posted by: Ross Daly on Nov 10, 2010 at 5:55:02 pm final cut pro, dslr
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2 more applescripts for final cut pro and after effects!

This is a follow up post to my original “2 applescripts for final cut editors” post and boy is it a doozy! I didn’t write these – both scripts have been found elsewhere, but they are so useful I’m putting them up here to spread the word!



The first script is called “Render Notification 1.0.2” by Josh Petok from the current cut. It is a nice little script that watches the processor usage of a few pre-selected apps and will email you when the load goes down. In other words it alerts you to your render finishing. This is possible in a few other ways, but there hasn’t been a nice clean solution that works across multiple apps before.
Josh’s version is available for download here.
I poked around in the code a little bit and enabled it to work with after effects. This is relatively untested, so it might give you an email too early or too late. All credit goes to Josh, as I’m just adding a few lines of code to his.
If you’re feeling lucky, you can try the AE compatible version here.



The second script is the strangely named “AE Suicide” (try to find an ad for that google!) from scott at http://scott.j38.net/. It is a great little app that does one thing: it kills after effects! AE has a pretty good crash control system built in so that if it crashes, then it generally will save a version of your project file to you current directory. The only problem is that AE also loves to hang. It will get stuck for hours if not indefinitely. What this app does is it gives AE the little nudge off of the cliff that it needs for it’s self-preservation to kick in and save out a file. The author does have a disclaimer saying that it doesn’t always work, but then again if it ever works it is better than the alternative.

You can download AE Suicide here


If you have any other useful workflow scripts I would love to hear about them! Hit me up on the “Contact me!” box to the right, or leave them in the comments!




Posted by: Ross Daly on Nov 10, 2010 at 2:13:40 pm applescript, final cut pro
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How to change mpeg-1 export settings in compressor.

I would like to start by saying that I don’t know why anyone would ever want to use MPEG-1. I do get requests to make them, and sometimes I am unable to convince the person to go with another codec. It is a terribly outdated codec and most people requesting them are using terribly outdated spec sheets, or are just themselves outdated. Nonetheless the situation occurs where I am forced to make one and it was always fraught with problems. Compressor has a mpeg-1 preset, but it doesn’t let you modify it at all. Unless I want to pick the default size of 352×240, I am out of luck (That has always seemed to be a very strange default preset as well)
These are the default settings of the Mpeg-1 preset


Recently one of my coworkers figured out something really useful. It turns out you can build a custom preset off of the mpeg-1 one, then find it in the finder, open it in a text editing app, and modify it to end up with whatever frame size you want!



In Compressor search for mpeg and right click on the mpeg-1 preset. Select duplicate. Now quit compressor and browse to home>library>application support>compressor> and you will find your preset.


Open that in your text editor of choice and you will see something like this:

I am sure you can modify whatever you want in there, but this is what I changed to get a larger frame size.

Tweak to your hearts delight. Save it. Restart compressor and you will have your new preset!


________UPDATE!________
Based on Chapper’s comment, I looked into it, and it turns out that this method used to be as easy as described above, but something (possibly a pro app update?) has thrown another wrench into the mix. There are three variables that compressor will choke on and will need to be changed. In the pic below you see them highlighted in red.

You are going to replace the two instances of “-100″ in automatic framesize with “0″ and set the framerate to your desired framerate. Now save, restart and you should be good to go!




Posted by: Ross Daly on Nov 4, 2010 at 11:13:16 am final cut pro, compressor
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Hello all, this is my little corner of "the cow"! I'm a vfx artist and I work in final cut, nuke and after effects. I love finding workflow hacks, and I'm always looking for a new keyboard shortcut! For more posts check out You Down With FCP
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