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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for February, 2008

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.

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 Texas…it 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 work…as 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 all…as 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 BareFeats.com 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 ATI…in 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.

EDIT: Ahh…I found this post on Barefeats and it mentions the x1900 XT. But it says, in bright red: “One user reported that the Radeon X1900 XT did NOT work in his 2008 Mac Pro 2.8GHz. We didn’t do anything special to get it to work in our 2008 Mac Pro 3.2GHz or our friend’s 2.8GHz. However, we do recall running the firmware update on the card back in October 2007 when it was installed in our “Apr 2007″ 8-core Mac Pro.” So flashing the card might indeed be the solution. I missed this the first time around.

A couple posts ago I pointed out the great PSA “Indie Fever” that Scott Simmons of the EditBlog made.

In what seems like perfect timing, I found myself watching a great short documentary on IFC on Monday called Failure. I stumbled on this by accident. My wife and I always watch the Henry Rollins Show and before I could change the channel, I saw the lead in to this documentary. I watched it…and it was hilarious. It was a documentary all about this guys attempt to make an independent film. In short, it was a disaster…and from the scenes he showed, I wondered what the heck it was about, because none of the scenes made sense. And he seemed to fall into every single pitfall that beginning filmmakers make…well, there was no “dream sequence,” so he avoided one. But it showcased a lot of the points made by the Indie Fever PSA…and what was really neat is that the documentary was VERY GOOD. The movie he was doing was so bad, yet this was great. He spent three years making this, and it shows. Lots of time to fine tune it. Pure joy to watch. Because I have made a short film or two in my time and this seems all to familiar to me.

While I am linking like a mad man, I might as well link to the FAILURE Myspace page.

I love this town…LA. Every now and then I see some character actor in the park or in the store. I cut off Danny DeVito in front of Warner Brothers my first week in town…got an earful. I walked thru the airplace crash set of the new WAR OF THE WORLDS one week before they shot, because the production I was working on was just up the hill on the Universal Lot. During my lunch hour from jury duty I walked into the Bradbury Building where they shot a lot of Blade Runner scenes. Snuck onto the lot at Warner Brothers and walked down the street where they shot Seinfeld.

Then today, I am driving to work on the 101 Freeway, on the Barham pass near Universal City, when I come up behind this semi truck towing a flatbed trailer with a large tube on it. I took small notice, thinking it was some large pipe for some sort of underground irrigation. Then I start passing it as I approached my exit into Hollywood and I look closer and notice that it isn’t a pipe, it looks like some sort of rocket. So I speed up to get a closer look and then I see what it is.

One of the nacelles from the U.S.S. Enterprise. Most likely a LARGE SCALE model for the new movie…no doubt on the way to the Paramount lot. This thing was HUGE! As long as a light post. I quickly whipped out my iPhone and snapped a couple hasty pics.


What is this? Where does it go? This is a nacelle:

OK…I’m done geeking now.

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.

Do you feel driven to making Independant Films? Do you watch art house films…and actually LIKE them?

Then you might have INDIE FEVER. Indie Fever is a crippling addiction that effects people nationwide…heck, GLOBALLY. But don’t worry, there is help. The first step is to admit you have a problem. Once you do that, then please visit the Indie Fever website to find out how you can get help.

And you better not miss the Indie Fever PSA.

Please spare yourself and your loved ones from further pain and misery from your independent filmmaking addiction.

(Thanks to Scott Simmons of the EditBlog for bringing this to light, and for making the PSA)

I was alerted to this by three people this morning. Here’s the first to give me a link:

Final Cut User

First up, Apple releases XSAN 2.
“Now a single workstation or server can access Xsan volumes simultaneously. MultiSAN is ideal for users who need to access multiple Xsan volumes from the same workstation or server, such as newsrooms with separate SAN volumes for production and broadcast.”

Now, since I am new to XSAN, I am not up on the capabilities of the current, or rather, OLD system. I am just starting on one today. This is why I announced this…because I am not beginning to work on these. Click on the link to learn more.

But more interesting is the news that Apple discontinued the XSERVE Raid line. It is no longer offered at the Apple Store. As the first link notes, Apple is turning to a third party vendor, Promise VTrak, a company that I haven’t heard of yet.

Like Mike Flynn over at B-Scene Films, Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie…number 1…top of the list. I liked the third movie, Last Crusade, but want to forget the second one. So of course when they announced the fourth movie…I was excited.

A TRAILER IS OUT! And at a place that is fitting, as when I heard about it I went YAHOO!!

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 updated…as 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.

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.

OK, this is just too funny to pass up. The voice actors from Spongebob Squarepants voiced scenes from classic movies. I am too big of a movie fan to NOT want to share this.

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 10.5.2
Then Update to Leopard Graphic Update 1.0
Then 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


(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 card. 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 versiontracker.com. 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 5.0.4….to 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 sense…you 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 specific

But 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 www.versiontracker.com) 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 up…dating 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.