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Little Frog in High Def

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The Edit Bay: An Unexpected Journey

Here's a quick video I did featuring some of the cool things I found at NAB. And a strawberry shake from the Mad Greek in Baker, CA that is to DIE for.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Apr 26, 2012 at 8:37:07 pmComments (2) NAB, Post

Tips for updating your OS

So Apple came out with this shiny new operating system with a really cool name...LION. And you are thinking to yourself, "Hey, I'd like to install that new OS on my computer." OK, I can dig that. But there are a few things you should do FIRST, before you install. Especially if you use this computer to edit with Final Cut Pro...and depend on that machine to earn your keep. Because if you install LION, and things don't continue to work as well as they used to, then that will cost you in lost time that can lead to lost money.

Step #1 - RESEARCH!!!
You need to look into whether or not your current applications will even work under the new OS. You might be shocked to find that many of them won't. For example, Final Cut Studio 2 will work...but the INSTALLER will not. Because the INSTALLER isn't Intel requires Rosetta to work, and LION doesn't have Rosetta. For this reason, MANY applications that rely on it won't work. Adobe CS2 will not work on Lion. So do your research to find out if the applications you rely on will work on the LION OS. Make sure that the hardware you rely on for video input and output (capture cards) have drivers for LION.

Clone your current working OS drive. Get a cheapish firewire drive...something that the system can boot from...and use Carbon Copy Cloner ( to completely copy the current working system drive to another drive. This way you have a copy of your working setup in case LION doesn't work out. If things don't work, just boot from that drive and erase your main drive and clone it back. You will lose a day, tops. And this keeps you from needing to reformat the drive, install the OS fresh, and all the applications fresh, then bring back all of your files, set up all the applications properly again...stuff that can take days.

You can back up any files you want manually as well..but the clone will have everything in case you forgot something.

Boot from the LION drive and then ERASE your system. Wipe it clean. Then install the Lion OS fresh. This ensures that you are getting the best possible OS install. Installing on top of existing OS might does for some...or it might not. Some people report issues, others do not. But doing it completely fresh ensures that you have the best possible install. After the install, check for any possible updates with the SOFTWARE UPDATES in the System Preferences.

DO NOT use Migration Assistant for applications. Install them fresh from their install disks or installer files. Because many of them, like FCP, install bits and pieces of the application throughout the OS, and Migration Assistant might miss those files. Correction, WILL miss those files. So if you want to have a good working application, install from the installers. You can migrate your files if you want...or manually drag them from the clone drive...but not the applications.

Then run the updates for the applications (if they are Apple apps, use the SOFTWARE UPDATE in the System Preferences) to update them fully. And install any drivers, firmware, other bits for other things on your system. Like Capture card software (make sure you get the latest versions of the drivers) and plugins and graphics cards drivers.

If I forgot anything, please feel free to comment and add that to the list.

Personally, IMHO, if I have a good working system, I do not update. Because my system is working, and I might not need any of the new things the new OS offers. I recently upgraded to Snow Leopard only in March, because one application I relied on...the new version of it...only ran on Snow Leopard.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Aug 5, 2011 at 10:35:48 amComments (1)


I will summarize to the best of my ability, what I heard and experienced at the Avid Event held at the Warner Brothers studio, Stephen J. Ross Theatre, July 13, 2011. To the best of my ability because I didn't take notes, didn't tweet, and had three Heinekens.

The evening started off with a video showing all the movies and TV shows that used Avid in their post. But when I saw TRUE GRIT (the new one with Jeff Bridges), I was perplexed, because I knew they used FCP on that. But then I remembered that this wasn't just a show about Media Composer, but ProTools as well. And I have no doubt it was mixed with ProTools. They had sound bytes from many industry people, including my friend Norm Hollyn. All positive comments...very typical marketting video.

Then on stage they had two editors who had used Avid, switched to FCP, then back to Avid. Alan Bell and Jonathan Alberts. They both started on Avid, and switched to FCP...and both for similar reasons. Cost. Avid systems used to cost upwards $65,000 to $100,000. And renting them was a huge chunk of change. Alan said that the budget for the system was more than the budget for him... so he explored other options, found that he could buy FCP and then put the full post budget for editing and the system into his pocket. This is very true. This is why a lot of people went to FCP...cost factor. Jonathan had a similar experience...and was able to convince Fox Studios that FCP would be right for a feature he was cutting. But then after a few years, they both went back to Avid MC. Project sharing being a big factor.

A new presenter came on stage and talked about Avid's recent often updates happened. Avid MC 3 in June 2008, then 3.5 a year later. Then 4.0 six months after that. Then last year in June, MC 5.0...and this year, March 2011, Avid MC 5.5. That updates were happening faster than ever, because they knew they needed to keep up with current tech. That they no longer needed to follow, but lead. They talked about people demanding to work with formats natively, and Avid responded with AMA...and it works with P2, Red, XDCAM, DSLR...and won an Emmy for their efforts. And that they know that the future of the NLE are the kids, so they have a great pricing plan for students...$295 for a fully functional Media Composer and 4 years of free updates. DUDE...great time to be a student!

Then the presentation turned to third party support. Before they continued they put up a legal disclaimer that they said they HAD to protect themselves. They said that anything they discuss about future possibilities and features "are not a promise." They may or may not happen. They said this was for legal reasons only...that stuff is coming. But, they needed to cover their butts.

They started off with showing the Matrox MXO2 Mini....then the AJA IO Express, and how they work with Media Composer. But also showed off the M-Audio device (pardon me for forgetting the name/model), and said that now you can run Avid MC and ProTools on the same system without hardware conflicts. And then the screen shifted to a new device...the AJA Kona 3 (much applause from the crowd)...and they said "yes, we are listening." And then they mentioned that they are not only working with AJA and Matrox...but also MOTU, BlackMagic Design and BlueFish. And then went on to show that they are looking forward to more plugin support, from Red Giant Software (more applause...from me too. COLORISTA 2 is what I want on Avid MC).

NEXT...the new UI. Now, rememeber that I said that I had three Heinekens earlier? Well, I had two before the presentation, so I had to go to the bathroom really bad. So when they started to show off the UI, I had to dash. But I did come back in time to see some of the presentation. Here's a pic I borrowed from pietaricreative:

But I had seen the new UI before. I am on one of Avid's "Customer Advisory Boards." They invite groups of working professionals to talk about what they are planning for the future, and want our feedback. I saw the new UI then (Oh, UI is USER INTERFACE). Nice update, great look without changing the tools and locations of buttons we have gotten used to. VERY sleek. I love the look of the Audio Tool.

And not only that...64 BIT! Meaning that it can access more processors, more RAM...and render faster. 64 Bit, and a new UI that doesn't completely change the way you do things... That's what we look for in an NLE. Unless the change is for the good (Smart Tools), changing the user interface because you THINK it will be better is one thing (FCP X for example...not designed by a professional editor with professionals in mind)...but changing the look to make things better. There were a LOT of working professionals working on this interface, and that is all the difference. Added speed and functionality under the hood with 64 bit...a new look that is cool, but the steering wheel, gear shift, turn signal and window controls are where you are used to them being.

What else? Support for Dolby Surround 7.1 mixing...IN MEDIA COMPOSER. More audio functions because editors demanded them. DNxHD 4444 (more applause!)...and ProRes encoding. Yes, ProRes ENCODING. From Media Composer, Mac or PC based. Because they know that a lot of deliverables are now based around that format.

Then they showed a video of the ELLEN SHOW...on how they were Avid, switched to FCP, then a year later came back to Avid. This video was a little dated, and very much a marketing tool. The editors involved were all definitely from Avid backgrounds, so when they said things like "something I did in Media Composer with two steps took five to six steps in FCP," I rolled my eyes. Because I know that people from Avid backgrounds don't run FCP properly. When i was on a show with 6 editors...4 FCP experts and 2 Avid converts, the only people who constantly had issues where the Avid people. This was a case of switching to a tool and not having people who knew how to use that tool they switched back. BUT, I will say that Avid MC in a shared workflow environment is hands down better than FCP. No question. MC lets you work without having to think about the technical stuff. And with FCP, you need to pay attention to the technical stuff, or crap will happen. That's the big difference. But, with creative editors, not having to think about the technical stuff is a weight off their shoulders. Only a good thing.

Then the presentation ended, and the mingling began. They invited us to talk to Avid representatives about our concerns, our wants and our needs. I stayed in the theatre for a while chatting with my friend Dan Wolfmeyer (@dwolfmeyer), and with Rob Ashe (who I know from twitter as @robtheeditor and just met that evening). We all came from Avid, and switched to FCP...and were shooting the shit when Angus McKay (Avid employee) came by and wanted to hear our thoughts.

Then I wandered out to the vendor tables. I spoke to the Red Giant people who assured me that they were working closely with Avid to make plugins for them...GREAT news. Saw MOTU there, but they were demoing FCP (odd...)...Avid, Matrox, Sorenson. I wandered outside and looked at the Euphonix Artist Series including the Artist Control and Artist Transport. Not sure how I'd integrate these into my editing workflow, but I sure would like to see what they would add. Completely programmable..get my hand off that mouse, which I'd like to do.

I met a lot of people I knew, more that I didn't. Got a ribbing from Terry Curren of Alpha Dogs (who has a podcast with Phil Hodgetts) about my steadfast devotion to FCP in the past... yeah yeah. I have always walked in both worlds, but yes, I did prefer FCP. Now...well, we all see where FCP is going, so coming back to Avid isn't that big of a transition.

The biggest thing they wanted us to take from this event is..."We are listening." Avid of yore (8 or so years ago) became this bloated, content, arrogant thing that we had to listen to. They released products and we had to do things they wanted...and had to pay through the nose to do it. They had a strangle hold on us and knew it. Then when then dumped Apple as the platform...Apple released FCP and slowly FCP crept into Avid's territory, eating up it's market share. That woke Avid up...because suddenly they went from top dog to being on death's door. They were on the brink of foreclosure. Avid realized they had to change, and change fast. LISTEN to the demands of editors, otherwise we would switch to another application...because we could. And they did change. A full 180 in a few short years. Now they heed our advice more than their own internal voices. That is the makings of a good company. One that listens to the users.

Oh, and they did mention at the presentation that they are used in 80% of the "professional" marketplace (I quote that because the term "professional" is the topic of much debate lately)...and that 50% of the Avid workforce were editors and people who worked professionally in post. So they have people who worked in the trenches, who worked as editors and sound working at Avid to make the tools better. That instills in me confidence that they will continue to do right by us...and hopefully not let us down again like they did years ago. Like Apple did weeks ago.

OK, I'll end this with a final note. One thing that I have taken from the NLE wars is on your toes. Don't be content with one system. You do a great disservice to yourself by being proficient on only one system. When Avid fumbled, I was familiar enough with FCP (from all the small side work I did), to be able to pick up the ball and keep running without missing a step. Now that Apple fumbled, I can pick up the ball with Avid and again continue without stumbling about. I am also learning Adobe Premiere Pro, just in case I need to use that in the future on some job, or in case Avid stumbles again. Be on your knowledgeable with multiple tools. You only make yourself more employable.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jul 14, 2011 at 12:57:12 pmComments (8) Avid, Media Composer


Before I get to the crux of my post, I would like to explain a few terms that a few people might not know about. Here is the progression of a cut as I do it...when dealing with a documentary project that has a script:RADIO EDIT - Laying out of narration and sound bytes. Just getting things in script order on the timeline.ROUGH CUT - Filling in the cut with footage. This is also the time that I start to ad pacing to the cut. Adding slates (title cards) where footage is missing and needed.FINE CUT - Fleshing out the cut with music and more footage. Deal more with pacing as music is added...give breath to scenes and add montages when needed. Start to get into creating the style of the show, creating transitional moments and unique pacing. Sound effects added at this stage. Perhaps adding lower thirds (ID tags for interview subjects).FINE CUT 2 - Addressing the producer and network notes. More versions as the notes progress.PICTURE LOCK - Polishing the transition moments and all segments of the cut. Bringing the show to time, meaning making the duration as long as the network requires. Adding the required act break durations and title/credits.When it comes to editing a rough cut, I am used to delivering what to many would seem like a "fine cut." What that means is that it has music and transition effects and sound effects. I have gotten used to this because many of the producers and production companies I have worked for have demanded this sort of cut. Many producers can't watch a rough cut for what it should be...just a rough assembly of the footage to get an idea of the story structure. They get distracted when they don't hear music or the cut isn't smooth or a sound effect. Here's a great audio clip that explains this well:Rough Cut LadyLast week a producer, who typically wants the "Fine" rough cut just wanted a rough cut. A typical rough cut. I am not used to this. I haven't delivered a ROUGH rough cut in a long time. So I had to try to re-train myself NOT to add music and transitional moments and sound effects. And after a week of cutting I presented the producer with one of the roughest cuts I have done in a while. The other editors also did rough cuts for their segments...well, except for one who had more time to add music and transitional moments. So I strung the segments together and watched it with the producers as we output it to DVD for the network. While watching it all sorts of story structure issues popped up. We found parts that needed to be moved and other things that simply just didn't work. here are a few paraphrases of the session:"We have too many subjects in this segment. Two people are fine...the third makes this too long." "This part is good, but we need to move it earlier so that the rest of this segment makes sense." "This doesn't make sense...we need to add some narration to explain this better." "Isn't this (task we are talking about) actually harder when done in this manner? I recall an interviewer talking about this...perhaps we should add that.""The segment order doesn't make sense...let's try this one, then this, then this, and finally that."Perfect. Just what we needed. Normally we would have spend a few more days on the edit, making it all fancy and FINE...and THEN be hit with these notes. Meaning that we just wasted days of our time on something that was cut. And sometimes as an editor you feel like "Hey, I spent a long time on that, I'd hate to see it go." The same reason that the director shouldn't edit their film. "But I spent a week shooting that scene...I can't cut it!" If it doesn't work, it needs to go.Anyway,it was refreshing to go back to a rough rough cut,not spending days cutting something, then to lose a sequence that then messes up the music timing so you have to spend time trying to fix that...something that is very frustrating. Now we can move things around and get the story in order, THEN add music and pacing.BTW, our first show is at the colorist and will be done VERY soon. No clue as to an air date yet. I'll let you know when I find out.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jun 1, 2008 at 1:26:27 pmComments (2) editing, final cut pro


Rick Young of MacVideo interviewed me last September in Amsterdam, when I was working at NAB. He asked me about my thoughts on the Avid vs FCP debate.Here is that interview.Now you get to see what I sound like.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jun 1, 2008 at 1:24:35 pmComments (1) avid, final cut pro


Well, about time this came out. Too bad it had to be third party, but least we have it now.Final Print 1.6To quote:"A standalone application which prints a list of clips in a bin or markers contained in a clip or sequence. This provides a very useful workflow enhancement when handing off a project to someone else for further work.""- Displays a list of clips/sequences in a bin or a list of markers found within clips/sequences.- Flexible customisation of columns including thumbnail.- Customise print output with colour of header text and your own company or production logo.- Print marker list to paper or PDF."Downloading demo now...

Posted by: Shane Ross on May 22, 2008 at 12:13:42 pmComments (1) adobe, final cut pro


As you output your project to tape, or to DVD...whatever. Or before you encode it for the web or it all the way through. Even if you have seen it three dozen times, it would be very wise to watch your project before you do your final output, or an output that is going out to the network.Why? of the other editors here came to me with a big that I have never seen nor heard of before.Last Friday he finished cutting his show...strung all the segments together, checked everything before the final render, then rendered. He did a quick glance through and things looked fine. He started the output (DVD-output to DVD Recorder via a Kona 3) then left. The assistants stopped the output when it was done, duplicated the DVD and sent it off to the network. Come editor in and finds that the network has complained that there were three black holes in the show. The editor goes to those spots and yup, there is nothing there but black. All three are stills (tiffs) with basic moves on them. When he matches frame, he sees the still, but there is black on the timeline. He is stumped, and comes to me to see what is going on. I look at this and must admit that I too was stumped. I did a lot of fiddling...Made sure that the Canvas was set to RGB and not Alpha, but that wouldn't be it because we saw everything else. The scale was right, opacity was 100%. I fiddled with that and BOOM, the clip appeared. Hmmm...I moved it back to 100% and it was still there...but with the typical light green render bar above it. Another hmmm.I went to another one of the clips and de-activated it (control-b) then activated it again (control-b). Boom...the picture came online. It was a bad render...all three somehow rendered out black, and I haven't a clue why. Re-rendered and all was well.I bring this up to illustrate a point. The point is that you should watch your show as it that you can catch stuff like this before it goes out and you end up with egg on your face.I too was doing an output on Friday, and I too had a couple issues. About 20 min into a 45 min output I spotted a black hole that I forgot to add two stills into. I fixed that and started the output again. 24 min into the output and I encountered a clip where the filter hadn't rendered properly. I adjusted it, and then started the output again. This was going to DVD so there was no starting where I left off. Third time...DARN IT. 36 min in and there was a small 2 second hole of nothing where I did a pull up but forgot to close the gap. Fixed it and then started again. FINALLY the output was done and 2:30 AM.I picked up this habit of watching my outputs when I too did what the other editor did...sent something out that had a couple trouble spots. I didn't watch the output, so I missed them. HUGE bro-ha ha from the network, and quite a chewing out by the post supervisor and producer. So I no longer just let things go...I watch. No matter how many times I have seen it and how boring it might be, I watch my outputs until they are done.What does the above image have to do with all of this? Well, this is the subway station at Hollywood Highland at 2:45AM...when I realized that the subway stopped running and I needed to ride my bike ALL they way home.EDIT: My buddy Tom has seen the exact same issue a couple years ago, as he posted here on the Cow

Posted by: Shane Ross on May 12, 2008 at 6:30:13 pmComments (1) editing, final cut pro


My producer from The Mexican American War and Andrew Jackson is teaching a 4 week workshop. Time permitting I might see if I can pitch in when it comes to the editing phase. Anyway, here is the press release for this event:HISTORY/DISCOVERY Channel Producer to conduct summer HVX-200/Final Cut Pro workshop at LA's Citrus CollegeLA’s Citrus College of the Performing Arts is conducting a 4-week summer INTRO TO PRO HD workshop with Emmy-winning HISTORY/DISCOVERY Channel writer/producer/director Jim Lindsay. One of LA’s best-kept secrets for arts education, Citrus has been the home of the Grammy Foundation’s summer “Grammy Camp”. Having offered terrific “real world” education in the recording and performing arts for junior-college tuition rates, Dean Robert Slack is moving into the video world, kicking it off with this workshop using Panasonic HVX-200 cameras and Apple Final Cut Pro. Jim Lindsay’s daughter Sara (former “Grammy Camper”) attends Citrus in the singing/songwriting track, thus the connection. Lindsay has been responsible for many of HISTORY’s highest profile specials including the 3-hour ALEXANDER THE GREAT, 2-hour MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR hosted by Oscar De La Hoya and most recently the 2-hour ANDREW JACKSON,(edited by Creative Cow Final Cut/P2 guru Shane Ross). Workshop will run Monday thru Thursday, 10 AM to 3 PM, June 23 – July 17, 2008. Cost is $400 per student. (No, that’s not a typo, $400 for 4 weeks, not 2 days. That’s why Citrus is LA’s best-kept secret.) Class size is limited to 24.Lindsay has “done it all”, from shooting, to editing, to screenwriting (Showtime’s CONVICT COWBOY starring Jon Voight), to directing NBC’s UNSOLVED MYSTERIES all 9 years, and writing/producing/directing 50+ hours of prime-time specials for HISTORY, A&E, DISCOVERY, NBC, CBS, FOX & LIFETIME. So this will be no “academic theory” workshop. It will be classic Citrus “real world”, warts and all. Every student will come out with their own short film, shot in DVCPRO HD on the HVX-200’s and edited in FCP. (Jim will be taking students through the exact same HD workflow that he and Shane use for their HISTORY/DISCOVERY shows.) Jim will be covering every aspect of production: from story/structure, to network pitching, to prepping, budgeting, shooting, lighting, editing, finishing, distribution, the whole enchilada. Depending on their schedules, several members of his production team, including Shane, may be contributing as well. Overall, a rare opportunity to learn from folks who really “do it” for a living at levels of very high standards both creatively and technically.For information on Citrus College, go to or call the sign-up office at 626-914-8580. The workshop brochure page can be viewed hereJim Lindsay’s website is Specific questions can be directed to Jim directly at jim@jimfilm.comDigital Content Producer also featured the Lindsay team and their workflow in this article

Posted by: Shane Ross on May 7, 2008 at 11:25:40 pm editing, hd, television, panasonic, p2, final cut pro


It hasn't been a good week for my hard drives.On Wednesday my old G-Raid...the one I bought four years ago...finally gave up the ghost. It had begun clicking over the weekend when I was copying footage to and from it, which is not a good sign. It did this before, when I owned it for about a year. But, I took it to G-tech in Santa Monica and in two days, I had it back in my hands. The same thing happened back then...clicking when copying. Well, after a few days of the decided not to show up on my desktop at all. Nor in the Disk Utility. And the warranty expired. So I cracked open the case, pulled out the two PATA drives and connected them both directly to the computer via a spare PATA firewire case I have lying about. One worked, the other did not. Dead drive. Fine, I relegated it as a Clone Drive for my G5 and tossed the bad drive in the trash.Then comes Saturday. I need to work one day this weekend on my current show, and I had copied all the media used in that project to my main S2VR Duo from Caldigit. I was editing fine on it with this project for weeks now. But on Saturday, it was acting up. Well, to be totally honest, it had been acting up for a while. A few months ago, I would try to copy large files to it and it would get only so far before it would hang...all the activity lights would stop, and one of them would remain solidly on. I would turn it off, back on, try again...hang. Since I always have a backup of my footage, I reformatted the drive, rebuilt the raid, and tried again. Nope...same error. I called CalDigit, they ran me through the paces of doing all that again, but also updating their drivers...tried again in vain. They figured it was a bad power converter and sent me a new power cord and brick. That did solve the issue.Then it started again. Three weeks ago. Same issue. Any file larger than 2GB caused the drive to hang. Again, called CalDigit, directed to remove drivers, download and install new ones, in specific order. It worked. For a a couple. Then it was hanging again. So again, reformat, copy footage. Got it working...until the current issue this weekend. I thought it might be the card, as my Dark Tower homemade RAID (my backup unit) had an issue starting up once...said the drives weren't recognized. A restart solved that. Then I was gone all day the beach. Came back, worked on m project for an issues. I thought all was well when...render caused the drive to hang. It seems that the drive needed to warm up before it decided to stop working.Well, this is why I have backups. The Unit is under warranty, and drives do fail...fact of life. Time for a call to tech support to get this replaced. Thank goodness for warrantees. And...that goodness that I back up my footage. I do this because the Duo is a RAID 0 box, meaning one drive goes, they all go. If I had a nice fancy RAID 5 unit in here (a product on the horizon), then I wouldn't be backing up like I do. But, I have the space, and I am paranoid.This is just to let you all know that this stuff happens. Drive technology, as good as it is, isn't infallible. I'm not mad, I'm not pulling my hair out...OK, I am a little miffed. But I have backups in place, so little time was lost on this.MORAL? Always have a backup plan.

EDIT: Just got off the phone with Jon at CalDigit and a replacement plan is in place. Shipping back the Duo and the card so they can figure out what is going on. 

Posted by: Shane Ross on Apr 28, 2008 at 3:23:26 pmComments (3) storage, final cut pro, caldigit


As you may or may not know, RED is set to announce their new "pocketcam," code named SCARLET, at the upcoming NAB Show. This announcement has generated quite a bit of buzz, and many people, myself included, are looking forward to this camera.I have a few friends who work on the RED project and one of them has been secretly chatting with me about it. They said that they were impressed with the camera design as it lends itself to being that you can get those much wanted candid shots without drawing too much attention to yourself. Unlike the main RED camera that looks like a weapon out of Star Trek, they took a different approach with this camera. My friend snuck a quick snap of this camera with his iPhone and e-mailed the picture to me last night. I'm so impressed with this design I had to post it.Quick, before I am ordered to remove the link.SCARLET PIC

Posted by: Shane Ross on Apr 1, 2008 at 12:10:30 amComments (2) red camera

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