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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


Last week, on Thursday (March 13th for those who really want to know) we needed to output the rough cut of the first show and send it to the network. In actuality it was the SECOND show, but episode one was still being edited...but that's besides the point. So on Thursday I was pulled off my editing of a segment for show one (EP 101) and assigned to cut the tease for show two (102). "Cut the tease"....sorry, that always makes me giggle a little.Anyway...this was the beginning of a series of "missteps" that caused a couple complications with the assembly of the show. For the record, we are editing DVCPRO HD footage mainly shot with the Varicam, at 720p 23.98 This footage was captured via the Kona card and not via firewire, as firewire capture throws the audio off sync by two leading by two frames. Instead of adjusting the sync on each and every clip we drop in the timeline, we captured via HD SDI from the Kona 3 ensuring perfect sync. Because of this, the Easy Setup we chose was AJA KONA 3-720p 23.98 DVCPRO HD Varicam:OK...that in mind, let's move on to the series of events that caused a few complications. We are in an XSAN environment. Each machine connected to shared storage, with multiple editors editing sections of the final show. One editor handling two segments, another on the third, and me working on the tease. When we were all done and ready to "stitch the show together," something odd happened. The lead editor opened our projects on his system, copied the contents of our sequences then pasted them into his main sequence and...the aspect ratio and dimensions of the clips were off. They were wrong from both me and the editor working on the third segment. The image was squished and stretched. And when we looked at the MOTION tab of one of the clips, the scale was 133%, and it was distorted at -33. Hmmm...odd. Why was this? Well, I looked at my sequence settings, and they were...well...wrong:1280x720...not 960x720. Square pixels...compressor was 8-bit uncompressed. What the...? How did this happen? Well, I looked at my Easy Setup...I chose the wrong one. AJA Kona 3-720p 23.98 8-bit Varicam...8-bit UNCOMPRESSED, not DVCPRO HD. That means square pixels, uncompressed timeline. And that any clip dropped into this timeline would be scaled to fit that timeline. But you ask "how could this be when FCP 6 prompts you to change the sequence settings to match the clip settings? Surely THAT would have made the sequences right...right?" Well...yes, that does happen, but only when you CUT or OVERWRITE footage into the timeline. This DOES NOT occur when you copy and paste footage into the sequence, like I did. I was cutting the tease...meaning that I culled scenes and soundbytes from the main sequences from each segment...copy and paste. And then we have the great OPEN TIMELINE of FCP 6. Because of this, I can put footage that doesn't match the sequence settings into said sequence and NOT have to render. No more RED render bar...dark green. A very unnoticable dark green I might add. So I copy and pasted merrily along blissfully unaware that I was doing anything wrong.THIS is the proper sequence settings I should have used:The other editor was in the same boat. Apparently he too had the same Easy Setup (I believe I set up that computer as well...ahem...) and he took bits and pieces of a couple sequences full of selects to start building his cut. So too did not get the "settings" warning.Whew. OK then. Now we need to fix this. We fixed one clip...scaled to 100%, distort back to 0. Then we selected the clip, hit Apple-C to COPY, then highlighted the other clips and hit OPTION-V, Paste Attributes, and chose BASIC MOTION and DISTORT. This fixed the other clips. We had to do this carefully, as not all the footage in the sequences were DVCPRO HD. We have plenty of archival footage that was captured at DV resolution, and loads of stills with moves applied to them. Fixing the DV clips was easy, just did the same Paste Attributes thing. But the stills...the moves were now all wrong, so we needed to fix those.Needless to say, editing went on longer than anticipated and we missed FedEx (started the final assembly at 5PM for a 5:30 PM output to be gotten to the LAX FedEx drop off with a late drop of deadline). Since we missed the deadline, we took a little longer to tweak the show and then output it as H.264 that we then uploaded to an FTP site for the network to download and view.Oh, and when I say "we did this" and "we did that," I mean the OTHER editors did most of this fix and output. I had to leave at 6PM sharp to get home to watch the kids as my wife had an important meeting to get to. So I got to miss out in all the fun. At least locally. I was on the phone for a bit of this.This is the sort of thing that happens when one is deep in the "creative" aspect of cutting. You attention is so focused on story and content that you aren't really paying attention to the technical. When I was an assistant I'd notice this a lot in the other editors. They would render to the wrong drive, or mix AVR (Avid Video Resolution) formats in the timeline, typically titles rendered in the wrong format, causing the WRONG FORMAT error to pop up. Now that I am the editor, I am the one not paying attention causing the WRONG FORMAT errors.Needless to say I won't make THIS mistake again.COMING UP: On the next episode of Little Frog in High Def...Shane's edit station goes from the occurance a few small minor annoyances to a complete system meltdown.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Mar 19, 2008 at 12:31:06 amComments (2) editing, documentaries, adobe, final cut pro

TIME MACHINE...and other things.

Here is the Kona KBox mounted on the back of my IKEA "rack." I had to add an extra piece of wood to the side, but the 2U rack brackets fit nicely.Now...onto TIME MACHINE. In my MacPro I have 5 drives. The system drive is in Bay 1, I have three Seagate 500GB drives in the other 3 bays. One stands alone as a work drive, where I store show exports, imported footage and other odd and ends that I transfer to the server. The final two are RAIDED as RAID 0 and I use them to capture media too before I transfer it to the XSAN.I have a fifth drive installed in this MacPro. The fifth drive resides in the normally empty second optical bay. It is connected to the computer via one of the two spare SATA connections on the logicboard (accessed by removing the fans) and a 3.5" to 5.25" adapter kit. I use this drive as my TIME MACHINE drive, since I am using Leopard. Already this has saved my behind.There was a small bit of temp footage that we had in the system that was accidentally ripped from the DVD as h.264. When I added this to the timeline, it required rendering...a clue to me that it was not an editing codec. So I copied the file to my computer, used Compressor to convert it to DV, and copied the DVD file back to the XSAN. I then went to reimport this clip and dropped it into the timeline STILL recuired rendering. HUH? I looked at the clip and it STILL said it was h.264. Somehow it was still referencing the clip on my desktop, or in the trash...somewhere. So I dragged the clip to the trash and tried to empty it. It couldn't...FCP was still referencing it. So I quit FCP and then emptied the trash. To make sure that it linked properly, I also trashed the converted file on my drive. Then I opened FCP and...and...the clip was offline. I looked at the file I copied over and it was KB.It was gone. Crap. Here I am, Sunday night and hour 10 into a 12 hour shift, and I lost media and I don't know where the DVD is, and it is footage I need. Crap crap crap.Then I remember that I have Time Machine running. What the heck, I'll check. So I open my desktop folder and then hit TIME MACHINE. I go back one notch and...YUP, there it is...on the desktop. So I copy the DV file over...RESTORE it...and drop it on the XSAN. Import that into FCP and all is good. I like Time Machine.But this also points to an issue with my connection with the XSAN. I know something is up because I have to type in my password any time I want to copy footage to it...AUTHENTICATE it. And I can't create folders on it, nor set it as my scratch disk. I gotta call the IT guys and get them to look at it.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Mar 11, 2008 at 11:21:25 pm editing, apple, adobe, final cut pro


The official title of the History Channel Series I am working on is STRANGE HISTORY. The stories will mainly deal with taboos, cultural and sexual, and strange cultural practices from around the world. There, now you know.The first week there I was working on one of the rental systems. Because my computer hadn't come in yet and because they didn't play on renting my system for a few weeks yet. Now, this rental system was a bit lacking. Sure, it had the Octo Mac 3.0Ghz and a LARGE Mackie Mixer (that you would find on an Avid system) with 16 channels, 4 of which we use. Two for FCP, two for the deck...oh, for the microphone (temp VO). It had a Kona 3 card, was on one of those HUGE editing desks, was nestled in a rack, and had big HD LCDs. Not color correctable ones, but an early model Sony Luma series that was fine for producers to look at. The computer monitors? Lacking....WAY lacking. 17" square LCDs...brand I haven't heard of. SMALL, to say the least. I suffered on these for two weeks. The third week I was on my system. The rental didn't start on it until THIS week, but I wouldn't allow myself to suffer any more.About the mic. We had it plugged into the Mixer, but then, how to get that audio from the mixer into the computer? The Kona 3 cards only have AES EBU audio in, so what do we do? Well, I happen to have the Griffin iMic, a device that takes an audio input via RCA and plugs into the computer via USB. This shows up on the INPUT list in the VO tool just fine. ISSUE...I had one, but Griffin no longer made the iMic. So for 3 weeks we have been shuttling back and forth from bay to bay. I finally searched EBAY and found a few. We will be getting them in soon. Why not get a USB mic and be done with it? Well, we already had mics, and to control them from the mixer is a breeze, so why not just get the $20 tool that allows you to use that?Now for the types of footage we are working with. Plenty of Varicam DVCPRO HD 720p24 footage. A few 32GB cards worth of P2. Then comes the temp footage. DVDs with screener footage, temp stills, FLASH MOVIES from the internet...VHS screeners. Hoo boy...where to start. DVDs we are ripping using DVDxDV. I find it much more stable than MPEG STREAMCLIP, and the encode process is fast and very clean. I have the PRO version on mine, because one show I worked on had DVD as a master, and I needed to encode it uncompressed SD to match everything else. The flash video (odd that we have to do this, but the clearance people said that is where they were directed) presented a problem. We tried FFMPEGX but that didn't do it. And we tried iSquint, but that didn't encode to an editable format. I could have gone with Visual Hub....but our budget was tight, and we had other fish to fry. OH, and FIRST we had to get them off the web using a few website services that did this. SO I did a test capture using iShowU and that worked out very well. I took the result into Compressor and used the Advanced Conversion presents (DV/NTSC) to upscale it and make it into a workable codec and all was good. And because of the open format timeline, we could mix DVCPRO HD and DV just fine without rendering. Mind you all of these DVD rips and internet downloads are ALL temp. WE are putting reel numbers that indicate that they are TEMP only. When we lock picture, THAT is when we order the master footage and capture it on to how I spent my days. The first 3 days I spent looking at footage of female boxers. Figuring out how to use markers to mark and name the footage, then use those markers to subclip the master tapes. The other editor just went with the markers, but I liked the actual subclips. Of course this presented me with a few issues in dealing with these subclips...which I talk about on the Apple forums. Then I was presented with a script...well, semi OUTLINE with interview soundbytes paraphrased...and no transcripts. So I then spend the next two days listening to interviews and making a few selects. The BIG producer came in and said that this segment wasn't going to be in the first episode anymore, they have changed the order of a few things, so I was asked to start looking at footage for another segment. Again, no script, just interviews, so I listened to them.The next week I was told to move onto yet ANOTHER segment, as it had more stuff to get into. And it did, the other one had no b-roll, it was all interview. It had to be, the story takes place in communist China in the 1970's. There would be generic b-roll, but we didn't have any yet. This other segment had more, and the producer had more of an idea about what points he wanted to hit, so I moved onto that. I spent the rest of the week cutting up the 3 hours of interviews into a 15 minute story. On Friday, I was handed a script. I was off.Did I mention that the first rough cut for the first show was due the FOLLOWING Friday? I didn't? Oh, well either did they. I find this out on Tuesday. Well, I can't go into details, but the delivery was pushed until Monday, then after a screening it was pushed to Tuesday, because huge structure changes needed to be addressed. What looked good on paper didn't on TV...which is typical. So I came in on Sunday and worked for 12 hours, then came in on Monday and worked hard until I finished my segments at 3. WHEW. All we needed now was a quick tease, to tie the segments together and find a bridge...or leave that alone for now. Just need to get the network something to show how we want to approach things. Then I come to find that we need more changes, and delivery was pushed until this Friday.WHEW.So today I was back on boxing girls until I get a new script. Mind you, this is all very typical for this kind of work. I grow to expect it. And I know that all the effort I put in on the weekend might get tossed aside in favor of a new approach. BUT, that work still served a purpose. To find out what works and what doesn't. Knowing what doesn't is a pretty big thing. Now all we need to do is find out what does work.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:50:07 pm editing, television, documentaries, adobe, final cut pro, workflow

NEW SYSTEM Part 7: Install, part 2

Here it is. It took me a while to get this post up because...well, I am beat. I spent last weekend finishing the desk...and taking the remaining wood and unused scraps to make THREE bird houses...well, help my daughters make them. Kids demanding their dad's can I refuse? So that was Saturday.But I am jumping ahead a little. The computer arrived on Thursday, Feb 28...a day ahead of schedule. I jumped for joy at work when my wife called. And when I got home from work...and after a quick meal...I put my full attention onto this machine. Installing three 500 GB Seagates into the spare drives, yanking out the fan to access one of the SATA ports on the logicboard and installing a small drive into the empty optical bay (this I am using as my Time Machine backup). I replaced the stock ATI 2600 card with the x1900 XT card. You heard about that mess last time. OK, bouncing ahead again.Sunday evening I moved the desk and all my gear to the edit bay at the office in Hollywood. Yup, actually working in Hollywood. This installation took about 3 hours. Lugging equipment and desk upstairs, assembling desk, fixing HD CRT as the power button was stuck IN and I couldn't turn on the monitor. I fixed that and finished the build. I was pleasantly surprised that the desk was as steady as it was. I realized a small design flaw in my desk. The legs flare IN from the front. They need to flare OUT, as the bulk of the weight is in the back. I will be getting two more single legs from IKEA to add to the back.I was up and running on Monday. Not on the XSAN yet, so I worked with the footage on the internal drives...I striped two of them as a Raid 0. Running the AJA SYSTEM TEST I found that I got 200MB/s read/write on this. NICE. I had the media stored on these drives for now, so I could edit. This afternoon, Tuesday, is when I was finally added to the network. So far so good...smooth sailing.SIDE NOTE. I hooked up my G5 to the MacPro via GigE and was able to share the media drive from the G5 to the MacPro. And I was able to do three streams on the G5. The MacPro, connected to the G5 that was acting like a Server, was able to do 2 streams. That was cool to kown. SO if I have a two computer shot, this is a pretty cheap SAN.ANYWAY...dying of sleep deprivation, so I gotta try to get some shuteye. I can't post specifics about the desk, as I have partners who want to make ALL the desks like this, but I will say that everything came from IKEA. Everything but the shelf...that came from a lumber yard.EDIT: I am on the XSAN this morning, and it is SWEET!

Posted by: Shane Ross on Mar 5, 2008 at 9:16:12 amComments (1) apple, final cut pro, aja

NEW SYSTEM Part 6: Install, part 1

OK...the good news is that the ATI X1900 XT card works in the new Mac Pro. All that was needed is for the firmware update to be run on it. The bad news is that this update cannot be run on the current machine. The machine will say "this update is not needed," which is complete crap! What you have to do is find someone with a PREVIOUS Mac Pro, like the April 2007 model, have them install the card and run the update. Then the card will work. That is exactly what I did...I had my buddy Patrick Sheffield run the update and works. And it works well.So here I am installing software...and it is a LONG process. Microsoft Office, Adobe CS3, Raylight, Sorenson Squeeze...and of course Final Cut Studio 2. I know that I said that I wouldn't give out exact version numbers of the OS and QT and the FCS components...but I will say that I am fully updating everything to the current versions as of Feb 29, 2007. After I install FCS 2, I am updating it. Then I am installing CS3, and updating them (I downloaded the installers). Then I will test out the system before I bring it in to install at the production office. One thing I will test is the ability to SHARE a media drive on the G5...use it as a server and share the CalDigit S2VR Duo that I have connected to it containing DVCPROHD footage. I will see if this will work as a "poor man's SAN" for a two station DVCPRO HD edit. I will have to have both machines running FCS 2 and playing the it will be Darn...OK...when I install it at the office, I'll post all the pictures then.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 29, 2008 at 11:26:13 pm apple, final cut pro


If you have ever wanted to uninstall Final Cut Studio (FCS), for whatever reason, doing so was a bit of a challenge. If you are like me, you don't know where all of the components and extras that FCS installs are located, or what half of them are even called. Now there is a way to do this. Jon Chappell, a contributing member of the Apple Final Cut Pro forums, has developed a small handy little application that finds and removes all the components Final Cut Studio installs. It is called the FCS REMOVER. Now I haven't tested it yet, as I have no reason to remove FCP, but I hear it works well.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 29, 2008 at 2:45:26 pmComments (2) apple, final cut pro

NEW SYSTEM Part 5: Arrival!

IT'S HERE! It was supposed to be delivered tomorrow, but it got here a day early. I was tracking it on FedEx and it seemed to be sitting idle in Fort Worth was there for a while. But then I looked up the tracking number just after lunch yesterday and suddenly it was in Sun Valley CA (here in the Valley, close to Burbank Airport) and on the truck to be delivered! I called my wife...she was going to be out of the house from 11:45 to 3:00...and sure enough, that was when the delivery occurred. But then they made another attempt later in the afternoon and my wife was home and I GOT MY NEW MAC PRO!I raced home from fast as one can race in rush hour traffic...and burst through the door. There it was, in the entrance hall. Too heavy for my wife and kids to move. After dinner I unpacked it and...well, OK...I'll go into more of that later. Posting pics and if you all care. I'm getting a new machine, it is exciting to ME. But I'll post a few pics as to what I installed and how crowded it is inside there.But I did want to mention one thing. One thing that put a damper on this machine. I replaced the stock ATI x2600 card with the ATI x1900XT. I read on that this card works in the newer MacPros. I plugged in a monitor and fired it up and....nothing happened. The card was spinning VERY FAST AND VERY LOUD...but nothing appeared on the screen. DRAT! I took the Kona 3 card out and put the x2600 card back in and fired it up again. Yup, now I can see something. I looked in the System Profiler and it saw the 2600 card, but it said GRAPHICS CARD...then slot 1. It wasn't working.GAH!I updated the system fully. Nothing. I looked to see if there was a driver for this, and I found that there was a Firmware Update. I downloaded that and ran it, but the computer said "that is unnecessary for this computer" or something like that. GAH! So I e-mailed Rob-Art of Barefeats and told him my predicament. He responded with "You have to upgrade the firmware on the X1900 XT with it installed in a 2006/2007 Mac Pro." OK...fine. I can do that. Rather I can have a friend with an older MacPro do it for me. More after the weekend. BIG post when it is all installed into the edit bay.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:55:08 am editing, television, apple, final cut pro

NEW SYSTEM Part 4: Shipping

Quick update. My MacPro is finally shipping. And it turns out that I will be getting the original machine I ordered. Even though my dealer bent over backwards to get me the older version of the MacPro, I will be getting the new machine. Why? Well, the XSAN we will be getting will be running Leopard, so the fact that my machine will be running Leopard as well can only be good. And this saves me a few hundred bucks too...which is also a good thing. I am still tracking the progress of the shipment at Apple...building the excitement. And when it arrives I'll to the obligatory unboxing photos, followed by the installing of the accessories photos (Kona 3, x1900XT, hard drives). In the meantime I finished building the desk. Here is a quick photo of the desk...built entirely from parts purchased at Ikea. Well, except for the shelf, that was bought from the lumber store.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 29, 2008 at 8:49:21 am editing, apple, final cut pro

NEW SYSTEM Part 3: The Pickle

Ongoing discussion at the Apple FCP forum.I am in a pickle. And goes to show that even people who are FCP Gurus and forum leaders aren't infallible.OK...the situation thus far. I needed a MacPro 3.0Ghz that was to be included in a Tiger SAN network running XSAN. The new MacPros...the one I ordered, do not come with Tiger installed, they come with Leopard. In fact, they are designed to work with Leopard and Apple highly recommends AGAINST installing previous OS versions on the newer machines as they might not function properly. They are designed to work with the new OS. In the case of the new MacPros, it is because the PCIe slots are the new PCIe2 technology, and MacOSX Tiger is not designed to work with them. Since the x1900XT graphics card will be on these slots...when it was designed for the original slots...issue may arise. What they are yet, who knows. How often they will happen, if at all, who knows. But I really cannot afford to be testing that out, as this will be an edit machine used in a broadcast environment with deadlines and downtime is bad.Soooo...what I have to do now is figure out how to remedy this. Perhaps sell my machine with a slight loss, look for a previous MacPro 3.0Ghz and pay the higher cost for it. Yes, it stinks, but attention to detail is what is needed in circumstances like this...and detail is what I seemed to have missed. I was giddy to get a new machine so I was a bit blind to the details. BAD.Of course I'll keep this thread well as this blog.

EDIT: OK, I got it all worked out. I was able to find a previous version MacPro 3.0Ghz and swap it out with the one I ordered. At a slight cost increase, of course. But the new machine will have 8GB of RAM...plenty.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 16, 2008 at 4:39:45 pmComments (1) editing, apple, final cut pro, aja

NEW SYSTEM: The Apple Thread

Well, I am still awaiting my MacPro. Everything else has arrived: Kona 3 with K-BOX, HD10AVA, RAM, X1900XT Graphics card...heck, I even bought the pieces to the desk I intend to build today. I am discussing the arrival of my machine on this thread on the Apple forums. Trying to build tension, and have fun discussions that aren't meant to solve issues.I'll post desk pics when I get the thing together. I bought various pieces at Ikea, but the design will be unique.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 15, 2008 at 10:23:42 pm editing, entertainment, apple, final cut pro, computers, aja


With the most recent Mac OS Update, OSX 10.5.2, the Matrox MXO is now compatible with all Mac models, INCLUDING the new MacBook Pros. Finally.To get this to work, the following is REQUIRED:Update to Leopard 10.5.2Then Update to Leopard Graphic Update 1.0Then install the Matrox MXO 2.1.1 drivers.This has been tested by Matrox and according to them, it works. This has always been a thorn in my side, as I try to recommend this great box, only to have to tell people, "sorry, it doesn't work with the new MacBook Pro models." Well now it does. Wheeee!EDIT: Well, apparently I was a little gung ho and announced it BEFORE it was official. Here is the official press release from Matrox, with a link to the MXO 2.1.1 drivers

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 14, 2008 at 9:32:15 am editing, apple, final cut pro


(Freemont Street light show - I was in Vegas this weekend)I am on the verge of buying a new edit system for my next project, so I thought that I'd take this opportunity to talk about setting up a good working system. Unfortunately I won't get into exact details on OS versions and QT versions, because that is information that I and others keep closely guarded as this is information we use for consulting. But I would like to explain the general steps and reasons for those steps.First off, lemme get into the specs of the system. This machine will be one of four edit systems on an XSAN shared network storage, so the specs of this machine will need to match the other 3 exactly. Not that you MUST do it this way, but the more the machines are the same, the better. I will be getting a Dual Core 3.0 Ghz Mac Pro with 4GB of RAM and a 4GB Fibre switch. I will also be getting a Kona 3 with K-Box and the AJA HD10AVA mini converter so that I can convert analog signals into HD SDI, since those are the only inputs the Kona 3 has. Finally I will be getting an Intel Mac, after relying on my trusty Dual 2.0 GHz G5 for 2.5 years (It will still see regular use, just as my home system).On this I will install Final Cut Pro Studio, Adobe Creative Suite 3 (mainly for Photoshop and After Effects), Panasonic P2CMS and HDLog, as we will be dealing with P2 footage. I might get Firefox on there as I like it better than Safari, but that is about it, besides the drivers for the Kona card, which is a given. No games, no funky widgets, no neat little applications from The OS and versions of Quicktime will all be exactly the same as the other three machines. All of the Final Cut Studio apps will be updated to the exact same versions. AND WE WILL NEVER EVER EVER PERFORM ANY AUTOMATIC SOFTWARE UPDATES ON THESE SYSTEMS. It is never advisable to do that. Go into the System Preferences and turn that option off. Ignore every prompt iTunes sends you asking to update to the latest version. We are going to inform every editor to NOT update the machines in any way. Print out, in big bold letters on a sheet of paper, "DO NOT RUN ANY SYSTEM UPDATES ON THIS COMPUTER." Put it on the wall behind each edit station. A simple system update, even to iTunes, can throw a system out of whack and suddenly it won't work well with the others, and the system administrator will have to wipe the system clean and install everything from scratch, and that is not a way I like to spend my day. When an update says "adds enhanced functionality to Quicktime. Recommended for all Apple users," don't believe it. Apple is lying to you...well, that little blurb is lying to you. Sorry, but you have to believe this. This Quicktime update might be designed for Apple's new video rental system, and often very little consideration or testing was done with Final Cut Pro and the third party hardware you have installed, so there is no guarantee it will work. Don't do it. This is the key to a solid functional editing machine. And when you are in a shared editing environment, you really should use exactly same machines, versions of OS, Quicktime components and versions of the software. Any deviation from this can lead to issues. Very often I have seen on the forums people trying to work on the same project but on different systems. From completely different systems like an Intel iMac and a PowerPC G5, one running FCP 6.0.2 and the other running FCP two systems running FCP 6.0.2, but one is a Dual G5 and the other is a Quad Intel MacPro. Obviously you will have issues with the iMac and G5, as the versions of FCP are very different. The only solution there is to exchange XML files of your sequences. Obviously this is far from ideal. And you would think that the Mac Pro and the G5 running the same versions of FCP and QT should work, but often they don't. The wonderful "the project is unreadable or too new for this version of Final Cut" might rear its ugly head, and you are stuck. It doesn't seem to make any have the same versions of everything. Well, it could be that one computer is running a different version of the OS than the other computer. And if they are both running the same version of the OS, then it might be the fact that one machine is running a PowerPC processor and the other is Intel processor based. So many factors, and such small ones that you wouldn't think they'd matter. But they do.Why would that matter? Well, I am not an engineer so I can't even fake my way through an explanation. Other than small system enhancements and applications might run some system resource that interferes with FCP or QT in some way. So the need to not have your machine cluttered with applications, and the need for everything to match as exact as possible (even down to the RAM manufacturer) is very important in maintaining a solid shared storage editing solution. This has always been the rule on the Avid editing platform...specific versions of everything, and all the machines running the same version of everything. Big notes on the wall warning against running system updates. Being on a FCP system doesn't change the fact that specificBut what if you aren't in a shared storage environment, as I'll wager 90% or more of you will never find yourself in. Finding and maintaining the perfect balance can be a difficult and time consuming thing. Once you find it, DO NOT MESS WITH IT. Same advice on automatic updates applies. DON'T DO IT. If you are a professional, avoiding the updates and neat widgets and small cute applications might be an easy thing, because your work computer is only for work. If you use the computer professionally, then find your balance, install the applications you need to do your job, then leave your machine alone. This is a bit more difficult for all of you prosumers, semi-pros, independent film makers and hobbyists. You might use your machine for not just editing, but all of your e-mail and web surfing and playing games. So you might need that update to iTunes and Quicktime so that you can rent those movies online like you have been wanting to do forever. Just know that in doing that you might damage your ability to edit. If you can, have the one machine for editing and get a second machine for web surfing and word processing and e-mail. If you simply cannot afford to do that, I understand I've been there myself when I was starting out. I had an iBook that I used for editing and for everything else I did. In this case, before you updated it would be wise to clone your working OS to a firewire drive so in case the updates mess things up, you can always go back to your working OS. I use Carbon Copy Cloner (found at to clone my hard drive before I perform any updates. And I recommend firewire drives because they are bootable, and you will need the drive to be bootable if you want to clone this system back to your machine. You'll need to wipe the machine drive clean, then clone back the OS on the firewire drive. OK...sorry for the long post. I hope even though I had to be vague with details that the overall general points I make are helpful. I have spent many an hour and day fixing editing machines that have had some small update mess things back to Avid Media Composers running version 6.5 on NuBus Macs. It isn't fun to fix, and is frustrating to find that one simple extension was the cause for the edit system not working properly. Play it safe, err on the side of caution and never ever mess with a working system, unless the update provides functionality that you need in your workflow (added support for new camera formats). And always cover your ass by cloning your system.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Feb 11, 2008 at 12:34:36 pm editing, hd, television, apple, final cut pro, computers

Progress on the documentary trailer

While I am on a plane to New Jersey (business purposes), I thought I'd take a little time to make a quick post. I am taking a little break from editing the documentary trailer.Things are slow going and the deadline was extended, because of a couple reasons. First off, I have a LOT of interviews to sort through for quote. And second, because a script is being written while I do this, and it isn't done yet. But the script will really be just a guide, one that I can add to, subtract from...change. Typical stuff, but not something that I am normally used to. I am used to being handed a script with interviews and suggested b-roll, and cutting away. Get the segments done, get the Act assembled and then see what works. I don't normally read or watch all the interviews and know what else I can gleen from a subject. I work with what I am given and can rearrange things or add small things or take out other small things. That is the way things are done with a TV documentary. Short delivery times once editing starts. The producer and director and writer (often the same person) fix the script and get the changes for me to address.This is different. I like this, but it is time consuming. I have more freedom and that is nice to have. And I get to figure out the "editing style" of this as well. Something that fits with the topic...yet semi fast paced. Not MTV/VH1 hyper fast and full of effects...basically devoid of content. Nor will it be the smei-fast paced cutting I employed on several Discovery Channel and History Channel documentaries. But no way am I going to make this as dry as several PBS shows I have seen. Sorry, but many of those things bore me to tears. Documentaries have to be engaging, both story wise and stylistically. And the style cannot...or SHOULD NOT...distract from the story. Story is king, but it has to be told right as well. And since this is a documentary TRAILER, it has to be a bit different. Not the short 2 min trailers, but sort of an example of what you might expect to see if you watched the whole thing.ANYWAY, this editing the media manager compressed low res footage stored on my laptop hard drive is proving to be a dream. No dropped frames, time code matches up perfectly.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 30, 2008 at 9:37:49 pmComments (2) editing, final cut pro

Links to full Quicktime package installers

HUGE THANKS goes to Scott Simmons over at the Edit Blog.If you have trouble with ANY recent Quicktime update...specifically QT 7.4 or QT 7.3, The solution is to go back to a previous version of Quicktime. Apple still hosts them, and Scott dug them up. The name of the link has the version number is listed in the link. And if you don't want to do an Archive and Install of the old OS, you can use Pacifist to remove QT before you install the one you want.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 28, 2008 at 2:41:12 pm apple, final cut pro

Shane's MacWorld 2008 Wrap Up.










When Steve Jobs was giving his keynote speech for MacWorld 2008, my buddy Jared and I were standing in the CalDigit booth, both of us staring at our iPhones...parked on the MacRumors site and reading the announcements as they came. That's right...we BOTH had our iPhones out. Wy didn't we just look at one and conserve the other's battery? We were excited. WE ARE MAC ADDICTS! And last year the keynote was exciting. But, with each announcement, our excitement faded. iPhone update? Now I can make my icons dance. Now what? Oh, I can find where I am with a new feature...that is cool. And it is VERY close. SDK due soon for it...soon. The iPhone sales numbers excited me...I am a stock holder, I like good sales numbers. Time Capsule. OK, that is neat. Not earth shattering, but helpful. MacBook Air?'s thin, and it's...thin. But other than that....eeeeh. Slow processor, a battery you cannot change yourself. TWO external connections (USB, Mini-DVI). $1800. $1800!?! Who is this for? Sorry, that didn't excite me. And movie rentals on iTunes. BOOOORING. you have 30 days to watch them, and 24 hours once you started it. CRAP! I have Netflix and I can watch it whenever I limit. BETTER QUALITY. Sorry...dumb. Apple TV 2. Eeeh...I like my TiVo. Just ho-hum announcements IMHO. Last year was exciting. Not only for Apple, but for a bunch the other products that were on the floor. There was the iPhone announcement, that was huge. Another company announced a service to modify a MacBook into a tablet Mac. That was cool (they won best in show too).OK, so let's get to this year. If you want to know what Apple released (if you don't already know), go to and see for yourself. Don't get too disappointed over the MacBook Air. In the meantime, let me touch upon the things that I saw that caught my eye. MICROSOFT OFFICE 2008. Microsoft has the second biggest presence at MacWorld, next to Apple. Yes, people consider them the evil empire...I consider them a necessary evil. I use Microsoft Office because...well, I have to. I get scripts from producers and I need Word to read them (as opposed to NeoOffice and the iWork suite). Because one of my producers likes to put little notes that only pop up if you have MS Office 2004 or later to see. Microsoft released a new version this year, Office 2008. Apparently is has some really cool features...that I won't use myself...BUT I hear they are cool. A college friend of mine who works for Microsoft, and who was there in the both, told me so. Go to to find out what those features are. Just because a product caught my eye doesn't mean I know all about it. I just know it is new and has a lot to offer. Leave me alone...I worked the entire time for Caldigit. Speaking of CalDigit, lemme tell you what they had to offer. CALDIGIT . They have two things. First is their CalDigit Raid Card (at the time of writing this, it is not on their site). If you know about Apple's Raid Card ...this is similar, but different. When you buy a MacPro, the cool thing about it is that you have four internal drive bays to install hard drives. This means that you don't need to get an external drive right away to store your captured media. The advice I always give is "fill up these drives first, then buy an external solution," because internal drives are cheaper than external boxes. If you want to, you can even raid the drives so that you can have faster performance and edit uncompressed standard definition and many formats of high definition. Now, before the Raid cards, the only way you could raid these was to use the Disk Utility and do a software Raid. The problem with this concept is that if your operating system crashes, the software raid goes with it...and thus your media is lost. And you are limited to Raid 0 or Raid 1. With the Raid card, you can now raid the drives as Raid 0, Raid 5, or Raid 0+1 and have the cards manage the raid. They have an onboard CPU, as well as RAM and battery backup. What sets CalDigit's Raid Card apart from Apple are many things. 1. You can install it yourself. The Apple Raid card is really big, and to install it you need to take many of the MacPro components out so that you can get the card in. The CalDigit card is smaller, and is easily installed.2. Expandibility. With the Apple Raid Card, you are limited to the internal drives. That is all that it will control. CalDigit's Raid Card offers expandibility. It has three external mini-SAS connections that you can connect to external 4-drive enclosures (up to three for a total of 16 drives) that CalDigit makes. You can do Raid 0, Raid 1, Raid 5, Raid 6. AND....I love this...AND when you run out of space and need more storage, you simply buy one of these external boxes and ADD IT TO YOUR erasing, no loss of data. You just use the software to add it to the raid and boom, more storage. They call it "migration." I like it.3. Speed. The CalDigit Raid Card gets you slightly faster read/write times than the Apple Raid Card. 4. Price. The Apple Raid Card is $800. The CalDigit Raid Card is $550. So you won't break the bank.5. BOOTABLE. That's right...if you Raid all four internal drives and install the OS on that Raid (why would you do that?), that Raid is bootable.CalDigit also announced the HD ONE. This is the "little brother" to the HD PRO. Same capacity, same transfer speeds, less upgradability in terms of RAM...and cheaper. If you don't need to do Uncompressed HD 4:4:4 or 2K and 4K...this might be the box for you.SONNET TECH. Sticking with the hard drive enclosure theme, let's take a look at Sonnet Tech. First off, the D800 Raid 5 series has always been a fully populated drive solution, just like CalDigit's HD Pro and Dulce's ProDQ and a host of others. But, due to popular demand, they are offering the D800E...meaning "expandable." They will sell the case empty and ready for you the consumer to populate with hard drives of your choice. Now, while I find this cool and appealing to many many people (I get people arguing with me about wanting the CalDigit towers to be sold empty) it isn't the best solution. Why? Well, when the companies populate the enclosure with drives, they not only make sure the firmware on the drives is updated and compatible with their controller cards (a big thing if you want good performance) if something fails, you have one person to call. That company. They support the whole shibang...and the warranty they offer covers everything. If you buy the enclosure bare, then when a drive fails you'll get the run around as the drive manufacturer and enclosure company will point fingers at the other guy. My advice? Buy them populated

Fusion F2 w/AJA I/O HD



















What really caught my eye at the booth was the fact that they had a MacBook Pro hooked up to an AJA I/O HD which was in turn hooked up to a small flat hard drive, called the Fusion F2. A two 2.5" hardware raided BUS POWERED hard drive. But while it was powered by the firewire bus, that wasn't how it was connected. It was connected via eSATA. Because of this, it was a perfect solution to a field capture and edit package that includes the MacBook Pro and AJA I/O HD. The I/O HD connects via firewire 800, so that ties up the firewire bus. Your only option...which is a good option because of the speeds required for ProRes to connect an eSATA drive. The Fusion F2 is great because it doesn't require separate power. It pulls power from the computer via the firewire 400 port, yet doesn't get all caught up in the firewire bus, so it doesn't conflict with the I/O HD. SWEET! I'll be getting a unit to test and review soon.OK...what else. More iPhone and iPod cases that you can shake a stick at. The usual crowd of laptop bag manufacturers, drive enclosure companies, software vendors. I would mention that KIDPIX is now available for OSX...which is REALLY EXCITING to me, because I have 3 daughters that loved the original version that came with the original iMac, and they were bummed when I lost the disk. But I am sure most of you won't be as excited as I was to find that. So, moving on.

ELGATO. Not really a newly announced product, but one that I finally relented into buying...the Elgato TURBO.264 hardware encoder. This handy little device connects via USB and speeds up the H.264 encoding process enormously. It has software that comes with it with presets for iPhone, iPod video high res, iPod low res, and web streaming. And you can make your own custom presets as well. It is touted to take the bulk of the encoding burden off of your computer, but really I think it simply compliments it. It doesn't take it all on by itself, I am sure, and here is why I think that. When I took a 2 min DVCPRO HD 720p 23.98 file and encoded it for the iPhone on my Powerbook G4 1.67Mhz machine with took 15 min. QT Pro export took the same time, same export settings.. When I used the took 5 min. SWEET! But that is an OLD machine, what about a new one? So I took the same file to an Octo Core MacPro. Not the new one, the first version. On that, Compressor took a little over 4 min, as did QT Pro. But the Elgato? Well, on the Octo it did it faster than real time. A little over 1 min. So it was much faster on the speedier machine. This is why I believe it doesn't do all the encoding internally, but shares the burden. That makes this the best purchase I have made in a while.NEC. OK...this brings me to my all time favorite thing at MacWorld 2008. It was the thing that won the MacWorld 2008 Best In Show prize, for good reason too. I was on the way to the restroom when I walked past the NEC booth and glanced at the two monitors they had on display. My glance turned into a long look, one that stopped me in my tracks. On the monitors, a 24" and 30" model, were really vibrant pictures and a demo of Lightroom. What caused me to stop in my tracks was the fact that when i was walking by and looking at the monitors, the colors on the images did not change. Off axis viewing didn't diminish the colors at all. By off axis, I mean viewed at a 45 degree angle or more. So the image I saw looking directly at the monitor was exactly the same color when viewed at 45 degrees, and even more...70 to 75 degrees! THAT IS HUGE.

















The models on display were the LCD2490WUXi (24") and the LCD2690WUXi (26"). I looked the monitors over and noted that they hand only VGA and DVI connections. I asked the person manning the booth if they had plans to make one of these amazing displays for video editing monitoring, because the current crop of HD LCDs have issues with off axis viewing. Red becomes "salmon," dark rich blues become lighter. Only the high end TVLogic displays have realy good off axis colors, but they start at $8000. The NEC rep said that it was something they were exploring...but was not available at this time. Because the current monitors has a response time of 12ms (milliseconds), and for video it would have to be at 8ms. Plus if they add the appropriate connections...HD SDI, Component...that would increase the price beyond the $1200 for the 24" and $2100 for the 26". I was fine with that. If they are able to make this monitor for $4000, and have the same off axis viewing I saw'd be worth it. But for now, they are FANTASTIC monitors for photographers. Ones that I cannot recommend highly enough. These monitors really did deserve the MacWorld Best In Show.

























The NEC rep mentioned that a large production house was already using them in their edit bays, but they didn't indicate which company or if they were being used for anything beyond simple client monitoring. I would LOVE to see this monitor in combination with my Matrox MXO....or even AJA Kona LH and AJA HDP.


Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 28, 2008 at 7:29:25 am editing, digital photography, apple, travel, final cut pro, macworld, caldigit

Media Managing to Smaller Sizes

Until this weekend I have avoided the Media Manager, which has been dubbed the "media mangler" for good reason. In the past, when you used the Media Manager to do anything, it would produce varying results....none of them the correct ones. It still has issues with SPEED CHANGES, but that is because actual media isn't made. But other than that, its reputation has improved.So, here I am working on a project, that documentary trailer that was shot HDV and that I captured as ProRes and DVCPRO HD. I settled on editing it using the DVCPRO HD captures, because I get more real time performance with effects and layering, faster render times...and because this is only going to DVD. Now, this week I am scheduled to fly to New Jersey for a P2 Bootcamp at Panasonic. A trip that will shut me down for 3 days on this project, and I really cannot afford to lose 3 days. The flight will take 6 hours and that is time that I can use to work on this project, even though the most I can squeeze out of my Powerbook battery is 4 hours. But, if I had an external firewire drive attached...bus powered and fast enough to handle the 1080i battery would last at most an hour and a half. So...what to do...RECOMPRESS.Yup...recompress the footage into a smaller file size that I can then store on my main hard drive. I looked at my options and there was on called OFFLINE RT HD. That seems like it will do the trick. So I dove into the Media Manager. The first thing I did was highlight the two folders of footage I wanted to recompressed and copy. Then I right clicked on them and chose MEDIA MANAGER (or you can go to the FILE menu and see the same option):Now I wanted to recompress my exisiting footage into a smaller size, and retain the timecode, so I chose the following options:Now...this took time. 24 hours on my Dual 2Ghz G5 (I know...upgrading soon). But I started it on Friday night when I was done, and it went into the weekend, when I wasn't working. And I'm sure an Intel Mac would do MUCH better.The end result was 16.1 GB (from 435GB) and easily fit on my Powerbook. I could play it without dropping a frame, and when I brought over the cuts I already had, I could reconnect to the sequences pretty easily. I figure when i am done and bring the sequences back to the main project, they will reconnect as well. I base this on testing I did where I cut random shots into a sequence, put that into it's own project, brought that back to the main computer and reconnected. It all connected fine and matched up.Nice to see things have much improved.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 28, 2008 at 7:26:13 am editing, documentaries, final cut pro, macworld

Shane's Stock Answers, Part 1

One of the things I am known for are my SHANE'S STOCK ANSWERS to commonly asked questions. Getting a little tired of typing the same answer over and over, I decided to build a sort of FAQ (frequently asked questions) database and call them Shane's Stock Answers. So when the question came up, I'd simply copy and paste my answer. People have often asked if I had a place I stored all of my stock answers...a site they could quickly search through to find what they want.Well yes, as a matter of fact, now I do:Shane's Stock Answers, Part 1More to come...

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 21, 2008 at 3:55:51 pm editing, final cut pro

Capturing HDV as ProRes...via Firewire

Before I go into this, if you haven't read Chris Poisson's article here at the Cow on how to capture HDV as ProRes 422 via firewire please do so now. I'll wait., let's talk about what I am doing now.I have been hired to edit a 5-10 min "Teaser" for a documentary...a teaser that will be used as a fund raising tool to solicit more money to finish shooting and editing this documentary. This documentary was shot on HDV at 1080i 29.97 using the Sony VU1 HDV camera...with another one as b-camera, and at one point a small DV camera for minor pickup shots. When I mix the footage, I might treat the DV to look really grainy or something else to set it apart. That I captured natively with my DSR-11 deck. But the HDV footage I have set about capturing as ProRes via firewire. And thus far (on the second to last is finishing the encode as I type) it has been pretty smooth.I rented a Sony HVR-1500 deck that is FLUSH with connections. Yes, I could have captured via HD SDI or HD Component...but because I am running an older Dual 2.0Ghz G5 (PPC), I can't capture it as ProRes via my Kona LH. You can only capture as ProRes with a capture card if you are running an Intel Mac. And I don't want to capture as DVCPRO HD...the old way of dealing with HDV...because I'd lose some resolution. Sony HDV is 1440x1080 (anamorphic)...and DVCPRO HD at 1080 is 1280x1080...I'd be losing 200 lines of resolution! Well, that's just not acceptable, not with ProRes out there. And ever since the FCP 6.0.2 update, you can capture HDV as ProRes via firewire even if you are running and older PPC Mac, like I am. How cool is that? Pretty cool in my first question was...why ProRes and not the higher quality ProRes HQ? Well, when I captured a couple short clips and compared...I couldn't see any difference. Yes, I used my HD CRT to judge them. I'm guessing that this is because the HDV format is already highly compressed...and that the HQ ProRes is for higher end HD formats like HDCAM and HDCAM SR...where you can tell the difference. And because ProRes was 15.1MB/s and ProRes HQ was 22.3MB/s...I opted for the lower bit rate one...since there was no visible difference. And the Caldigit S2VR Duo that I am capturing this footage to is handling it all beautifully. (FYI, I wil be backing up all of this footage onto my homemade RAID tower, that has been designated as footage backup.)So as the article describes, when I start capturing, the actual capture window does lag behind by 33%. And it plays back in slow motion...this is I wager is because it is transcoding HDV into ProRes. So to monitor the footage, I connected the deck to the HD CRT via the SUPER out, so I could see timecode. When the tape ends, I press stop, and then the system takes about 30-45 min to finish the encode. This would be shorter on a faster Mac, I am sure.And as advertised it breaks up the footage at the start and stop points on the camera. When the tape is full of interviews, that is fine. There are about 1-4 clips to deal with. But when we are talking about b-roll and scenings...suddenly I have 65 clips to deal with. But, this is no different than with P2...footage is broken up at the camera start and stops. While I might be used to this, it doesn't mean that I like it. I don't...I really really don't. I like my b-roll of the desert and the desert sunset to be in 10-20 min chunks, not 5 sec to 1.5 min bits and pieces strew about. This makes scrubbing thru footage a BIG hassle. I'll probably end up linking them all together either as a sequence, or more likely as a self contained QT file. Although that is dangerous, as the new QT file won't contain the original tape timecode. Gah..what a pain!So I do what the article states, delete the CLIPS (not the media, just highlight the clips and press delete) from the Browser and then on the finder level in the Capture Scratch folder, open and rename the footage more descriptively. Then re-import that into FCP and organize it. NOTE: There are a couple issues with this workflow that I'd like to point out. When you capture this footage, FCP does not assign it a reel number. This is a pretty important piece of info to have on the clip. Fixing that is simple enough, just add it in the Browser. You'll be warned that you are "Changing the source timecode on the file," that's fine...just click OK.Hmmm...this brings up a concern. When you do this capture, you do it pretty much as a CAPTURE NOW. Roll the tape and let it go. There is no LOG AND CAPTURE, no place to add REEL numbers. So let's say that you lose a drive, and your footage is lost. How will you get it back? With logging and capturing, simply BATCH CAPTURE your footage and it will reconnect in the Browser and timeline. But with this method, CAN you batch capture? Because of the camera starts and stops will the recapture start on the exact same first frame and last frame? If you have to recapture the footage and try to reconnect it that way, how can you assure that you get the same TC start and end times...and the same clip names? The more I think about it...the more this workflow makes me nervous. This is why I am backing up my footage. I think if I have the time, I will also capture the footage (only 8 tapes) via HD SDI as DVCPRO HD 1080i 29.97 and see how things look. At least with this format, I can log and capture, label my clips, assign reel numbers as I capture, have the ability to capture the b-roll as one long clip. And piece of mind that I can re-capture via "batch capture" in case footage is lost. Sometimes I think slight loss in quality might be preferable when it comes to a proven stable workflow. We'll see...still figuring this out. What are your thoughts about this?

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 12, 2008 at 9:41:37 amComments (4) editing, hdv, hd, final cut pro, indie film


A.C.E. editor Harry B. Miller III ( over at the American Cinema Editors Blog ( talks about his experience in editing a feature film with FCP. A nice frank post about the strengths and weaknesses of the application in a tapeless feature film workflow.(thanks to Scott at the EditBlog for the link)

Posted by: Shane Ross on Jan 7, 2008 at 10:07:00 pm editing, final cut pro


Let me first point you to the target Apple Discussion thread that prompted this discovery. Full credit goes to ILMSTMF...whoever that is (real name not given, location unknown).

OK...while trying to troubleshoot a frame rate issue, Mr. ILMSTMF did something that shouldn't have worked. He imported an MXF file directly from the Contents folder...and it worked! He got the warning that the file wasn't "optimal," but still, it worked. Since he imported only the video file, there was no audio. He imported that separately and could sync it the HECK did he do that? I didn't believe it. So I did it myself. Wouldn't you know it...It worked. I got the same message, but it worked. did this happen? When did FCP import MXF files natively? I couldn't figure this out. How did this suddenly happen? And why didn't Apple tell us about this. Then Wes from Automatic Duck mentioned that he could do this...and he was running the same version. I iChatted with a couple other people and two of them couldn't do it. What was different? When I was looking around I noticed that I had the P2CMS application ( from Panasonic installed. I asked the guys who couldn't import...they didn't install it. So I went looking in my Quicktime Library and I found this:

Yep...that installed with P2CMS. This is what allows their software to read the MXF footage. With this installed, the MXF files are selectable...without it, they are grey and you can't click on them:

NOW...if Panasonic figured out how to get this working natively, why haven't they licensed it to Apple and let us work with the footage? This is a very valid workflow for many people. I myself still prefer to Log and Import, as I like to rename my footage and organize it, but many many people just want to have instant access to the footage.OK guys...we are ALMOST there. Just talk to each other and we can get the native support that so many people want.(not that Apple or Panasonic read this blog...I was just talking metaphorically.)

Posted by: Shane Ross on Dec 14, 2007 at 12:58:07 pm p2, final cut pro


This comes from the Scott Simmons over at the Editblog. have heard people ask for this all the time, and I didn't know how to do it either.  All these things that FCP can do...some people know how to do this, some how to do that.  Great thing is that we can share those tips with other.Thanks Scott.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Dec 14, 2007 at 12:54:35 pm editing, final cut pro


My FULL review of the Matrox MXO and the new 2.0 drivers (which actually came out in April) is up here at the Creative Cow.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Nov 28, 2007 at 3:46:04 pm editing, final cut pro


I saved posting the airdate until the time was close.  Well, it is close.  And it will air THREE times very close to one you will be sure to catch it.<a href= target=_blank>Andrew Jackson.</a>Sunday, November 18  08:00 PMMonday, November 19 12:00 AM (that's right...MIDNIGHT)Saturday, November 24 05:00 PM Not sure if these are Eastern or Pacific times...there have been times when it was set to air at 8PM and I find that it is on a 8PM eastern, 5PM Pacific.  But then it re-aired later that night.Anyway, this is my third History Channel high def show cut with FCP...and since I have maybe 4 shows that air a year (specials...all of them specials) announcing when one airs is a big thing.  Now, when I get a SERIES, I can be more casual about it and say "catch this every Tuesday at 8:00 PM" and it won't be such a big deal because you see it all the time.  Well, it will still be a big deal, just not a quarterly event.ONE of these day's the network will publicize a show I work of these days.  Until then I have to shout it from the street corner..."HEY!  WATCH MY SHOW!  IT'S REALLY COOL!"When my SURGERY SAVED MY LIFE episode airs on Discovery Health (gah, they HAD to move it from the main Discovery channel for some reason)...I'll let you know.  That will be my...2nd show this year?  The third I am working on now.  MAN, I need a series.


This serves as a reminder that there are so many things about FCP that I just don't know about. Here's one that I'm sure ALL the Avid people would love to know, because I liked this feature in the Avid.If you add effects to clips in an Avid, and DO NOT render them, the footage will play back fine, just without the effects. VERY handy when you make changes and want to see how the cut works without spending a long time rendering and re-rendering.Now, I felt this feature was missing in FCP...because when I made a change and then hit play, UNRENDERED lit up the screen in all it's RED glory. This forced me to render it before I saw it, or hit OPT-P and play through it slowly...which doesn't work when trying to look at a cut creatively and in context with the story.So I bitch about this to a friend of mine who says "Oh, just turn on PLAY BASE LAYER ONLY. That will do what you want." Sure enough, in the RT menu on the timeline, there is that option. If the clip has a filter on it and it is rendered, it'll play the rendered clip. But if the clip has a filter on it and ISN'T rendered, then it will play the base clip without filters. THAT, my cool. To me it is anyway.Play Base layer Menu Option

I'd sure like to take credit for knowing this, but...I can't. The friend I bitched about this to is Patrick Sheffield, a regular on the Apple forums. The credit goes to him. He mentioned that he discovered it pretty early on, and that it was the most "Avid-like" feature of FCP that he'd seen.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Oct 22, 2007 at 1:45:30 pmComments (2) final cut pro


Currently I am color correcting a short film shot on DVCPRO HD...this while I am working full time editing a Discovery Channel series. But that is par for the course...main project, occasional side project. ANWAY, I want to mention a pretty vital part of my color correction arsonal. The book ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COLOR CORRECTION by Alexis Van Hurkman (found at I have a couple tutorial DVDs on how to use Final Cut Pro's built in 3-way color corrector to match hue from shot to shot, and how to white and black balance, and some color correction tips. This book covers all of those basics and takes it a step further to go into advanced color correction techniques....and gives some pretty cool tricks too. My favorite is KEYFRAMING color correction, and making footage DAY FOR NIGHT. The book contains several tutorials in just about every chapter...and my favorite is the one that deals with turning out a light.The tutorial shows a hand turning off a light switch, and you see that indeed a light does go off, but the change isn't all that great. The director wants more. So this is something you fix with color correction. The tutorial shows how you set keyframes in the 3-way color corrector and shows the settings you need to use to make the room look very when the light switch is flipped, the change is more drastic. VERY cool. It also talks about color correcting and keyframing from when you go from a well lit shot to a prety darn one. And many more. This book is great because it will explain the theory, then show an example that you not only follow along you DO IT so that you retain the information better.This book does go pretty in depth into the technical aspects, why the monitor needs to be a certain color temperature and many theories and tech talk about color and light. Now, I am not a very technical person, I know how to ONLINE a show, but I am no colorist. So there is technical jargon that I catch only about 50% of what is being said...but that is enough to understand what the author is is a good book. If you have any desire to color correct, you have to read this book.

Posted by: Shane Ross on Aug 25, 2007 at 10:09:42 pm final cut pro

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