Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Time Code

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

If you don’t understand at least the basics of timecode, you really can’t fully understand and appreciate video, at least as we know it today.

While reading B&H Photo/Video/Audio’s latest email newsletter (i.e., advertising) there was a nice little introduction to timecode. Sure, the article is littered with links to products — B&H is in business, after all — but this is a good introduction for beginners.

And, while I’m on the subject, here are a few freeware timecode calcluators for Mac and Windows.


From The Edit Blog: The iPod as a Time Code Slate

First Red Cameras Slated to Be Delivered Today

Friday, August 31st, 2007

More news on the Red Camera’s release as updates and footage become available.

Until then, assuming you haven’t been following this camera’s (fairly open) development, you can get caught up by reading the official propaganda from Red and Apple. Then check out the various forums:


Red forum on

UPDATES (last update 9/6/07):

FX Guide – “Red One Starts Shipping”
Words and photos about the release.

FX Guide – Shooting With Red

FX Guide – RED Podcast Discussion

“First Pictures” thread posted at
Links to first known still grabs and short clips from Red users. Registration is required to view the photos.

OffHollywood Studios’ Red Diary: Day…. 1, 2, 3

New! Slightly Improved! Subscribe to SRF by Email!

Monday, August 20th, 2007

A reader of Self-Reliant Film emailed me today asking if she could somehow subscribe to posts on the blog by email instead of having to use a news reader. A quick search of the internets told me how to do this via Feedburner. Happily, setting it up took all of two seconds.

If you want your SRF delivered to you in via email, look over to the sidebar on the right… then click on the link that says “Subscribe to SRF by email.” Follow the painless instructions from there and you’re all set.

Updating Mac Software: Use Extreme Caution

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

To cut to the chase about what the headline of this post means, just click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below. If you want backstory, continue on, dear reader.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had a few problems setting up my new editing system. For the most part, it was fairly straightforward. Still, there was at least one big headache. Right about the time that I had everything set up (MacPro, LCD and CRT monitors, RAID, and HD capture card) I started having problems.

What kind of problems? For one, Final Cut Pro kept freezing on startup, and — if I was lucky enough to get it loaded — FCP would freeze upon my first attempt to monitor footage off of my Multibridge. Oh, and I had a dreaded kernel panic or two. If you’ve never seen a kernel panic, consider yourself among the lucky. (For the uninitiated, here’s a photo of Mac’s equivalent of the “blue screen of death.”) To say that my excitement about this uncompressed workstation was dampened would be an understatement.

I suspected that the root of these problems was either a conflict between hardware components or just a plain ol’ dead piece of equipment. After all, this new editing system has many more elements to it, and the longer the chain, the more likely it is that one of the links is weak.

I wasn’t the only one to believe this. After spending an hour on the phone with a knowledgeable representative at Blackmagic Design (the folks that make the Multibridge) the rep said, “Yep, it’s dead. Send it back.”

That was last 5pm on a Friday, of course, which meant I could do nothing about it over the weekend. I couldn’t even ship the Multibridge out. All I could do was reflect on what else could be causing the problems. And, being the obsessive-compulsive person that I am, that’s what I did. Surprisingly, this was time well spent.

I decided to spend the weekend troubleshooting every thing possible. I tested cables, I tested drives, I tested RAM, I trashed preferences, I repaired permissions, I ran UNIX maintenance, and I swapped cards into different PCI slots… you name it.

Finally, after several hours of troubleshooting, including a complete rebuilding of my editing system (including uninstalling and reinstalling of LOTS of software) I discovered that the problem was not the hardware, but a software problem.

I have no way of knowing for certain, but it appeared to be a software conflict between Multibridge and Apple’s QuickTime and 10.4.10 OS updates.

As best I can tell, the problem might have stemmed from the way that I had used Apple’s “Software Update” to update my OS (i.e., using Software Update) and because I had applications running (like Final Cut Pro) while doping so.

After several fixes and reinstalls, everything seems okay now (knock on wood), but here are, for me at least, the morals of the story:


How to Set Up an Uncompressed HD Workstation

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Last February, Mike Curtis of HDforIndies, authored an article in DV Magazine about how to Build Your Own Uncompressed HD Workstation. Most people that visit this site probably also visit Mike’s site and/or DV Magazine, so I didn’t bother noting it at the time. I figured it’d just be redundant.

But now Mike’s written a follow up article that concerns the audio side of the equation, and it’s equally essential reading for any filmmakers looking to upgrade their editing system. So now it seems appropriate to mention them together. There are two versions of the audio article available online — the Mac version and the Windows version.

Last Fall, when I started putting the wheels in motion to upgrade my editing system I consulted Mike about what would be best for my needs. A lot of the suggestions generated by our conversation (and, no doubt, several others by filmmakers like me) are now in these articles. I was particularly intrigued to see that the specific system I “built” has elements from all three of Mike’s quality tiers, from desperate cheap-o indie stuff to true pro stuff. That’s the beauty of DIY — you tailor it to your needs.

Mike’s recently teamed up with Silverado Systems, who will now sell you one of Mike’s pre-configured systems. For a lot of people that might be just the kind of convenience they need. For myself, I can say that, though I’ve had a few headaches in the process, it’s been great fun — and a great learning experience — to do it myself.

Again, here are the articles:

Build Your Own Uncompressed HD Workstation

Upgrade Your Images with Audio – Mac edition

Upgrade Your Images with Audio – Windows edition