Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Software Update: Final Cut 5.1.3

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Apple has just released an update to Final Cut Pro (5.1.3). Apple describes it as a maintenance release that “resolves performance and other issues.” Specifically:

Render File Capability – apparently, render files created on a PowerPCs and Intel-based Macs weren’t playing nice

Keyboard Layout Issues – “adds several commands to the default keyboard that were missing”

Issues with Cross Dissolves in Nested Sequences – “resolves cases in which cross dissolves did not work as expected in nested sequences containing still images with adjusted motion parameters”

You can read more here.

Of course, as with any upgrade, you might wait and see how others are faring with the update before you upgrade yourself. The VersionTracker message board is one good place to look for this kind of feedback.

Also, if you move between different computers using the same project files make sure all the machines will be upgraded at the same time so that your files aren’t rendered incompatible, as sometimes happens.

Finally, use extreme caution when upgrading software while in the midst of working on a project. I have seen nasty stuff happen to FCP projects when someone upgraded their system from, say, 4.5 to 5.0. I’ve even seen it happen with a “dot something” upgrade. Such a small incremental update like this (5.1.3) is probably okay. But I’m not going to guarantee it. Safety first: If things are working just dandy for you with 5.1.2, don’t chance it. Finish that project, output it, archive it, and then do the upgrade.

DVGuru’s Demise: On AOL and the owning of blogs

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

DVGuru, the valuable group blog about most things video and film, is no more as of Wednesday. I read it daily, which I can’t say of many websites. I’m disappointed, as are a lot of other readers.

What made it an especially useful site was the fact that it served as a kind of aggregator for more specialized and esoteric film/video content-related websites around the web. But beyond aggregation, the writers had a talent for quickly summing up an issue and then leading you to the original source. As a reader — and as someone whose own writing was at times cited by DVGuru’s editors — I really appreciated that. Alas, I’ll now have to find some of my news from other sources.

The announcement caught a few people off guard. What’s the story?

I’ve heard and read that DVGuru, along with some other blogs, were given the axe by AOL, the company that owns Weblogs, Inc. There was nothing controversial about these sites that led to their shutdown — in these cases it’s always about money. Ads weren’t selling or getting clicked through or, in all likelihood, it was just too much trouble for AOL to do the research to figure out who should be advertising.

I understand why AOL wanted to acquire Weblogs, Inc. It’s a way to own content, and doing so would be a throwback to AOL’s dial-up heyday, those halcyon days when it housed a good percentage of the polished content on the internet. The difference is that, in the mid-late 90s, AOL’s content was general information, the “frontpage” kind of face that Yahoo and others provide these days. Blogs are different though; almost all of them focus on niche markets. Some companies get this; others mail out millions of CD-roms pleading with you to use dial-up.

(As a point of comparison, consider Google’s approach to weblogs. Google didn’t try to acquire various popular blogs. It acquired Blogger. The same thinking, no doubt, went into their acquisition of YouTube. Google doesn’t want the content. It wants the delivery system for the content.)

Anyway, I’m not going to wring my hands about this — there are, after all, another billion or so websites out there to read, and there is no such thing as death on the internet. Still, it only re-confirms my skepticism about the long-term viability of corporate-owned weblogs.

So long, DVGuru. It was good to know ya.

Sonnet Tempo E4P Firmware Update

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I realize this will have limited use for most readers, but I recently acquired a Sonnet Tempo E4P SATA card for a Mac Pro, and was having problems with it. Big problems. The computer wouldn’t recognize the card, much less run the two Sonnet Fusion 500p drive enclosures I had connected).

Searched around online, both on the Sonnet site and elsewhere (newsgroups, etc) for a solution. Couldn’t find one. Finally, I called tech support. After 20 minutes on hold I spoke with someone. It went something like this:

TECH SUPPORT: You need to update the firmware of the card.

ME: Oh…ok. That’s funny, the documentation doesn’t say anything about that.

TECH SUPPORT: It should.

ME: Um.. nope.

TECH SUPPORT: Hang on.

(puts me on hold … two minutes of elevator music later…)

TECH SUPPORT: Wow. You’re right, it’s not in the documentation. Uh oh.

By the embarrassment (and dread, knowing he’d be encountering a lot of calls like this) I sensed on the phone yesterday, I suspect that future versions of the documentation will have this detail added soon. Hopefully this post will help a few users until the nice folks at Sonnet can get that documentation fixed.

Users can find the Tempo E4P firmware update here.

Some Sound Links

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Sync.sound.cinema is a promising new blog by Christian Dolan. As you might guess from the title, its focus is all things related to production sound. One of Christian’s first posts links to an Open Letter from your Sound Department.

And while I’m at it, here are two other helpful sound-related sites:

Equipment Emporium

FilmSound.org

A Swarm of Angels

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Matt over at FresHDV had an interesting post the other day about A Swarm of Angels, which is a self-described attempt to create “cult cinema for the Internet era.”

On one level, this isn’t that different than what I wrote about in my last post: Filmmakers using the internet to raise funds for a project that harnesses the collaborative nature and spirit of the internet. Still, some key differences make me skeptical about its potential for success, at least compared with a project like Lost in Light on Have Money Will Vlog:

First, instead of trying to raise $1500, they’re trying to raise a little over half a million dollars. I have no doubt that it is possible to raise that kind of money over the internet, but this project is essentially asking people to pay about $18 to participate. Maybe that’s reasonable? Personally, I would rather give money to a more personal project like Lost in Light

Secondly, the project is trying to enlist 1000 people to help create it. Again, I think you can find this many people to collaborate on a project. Firefox, Wikipedia… these are great examples of internet, open-source collaboration. But are 1000 heads better than one (or even 20) when it comes to feature filmmaking? Snakes on a Plane, as one previous example, isn’t exactly Exhibit A for the so-called “wisdom of crowds.”

Reservations aside, I’ll be interested to see the project evolve and I wish the best of luck to the participants. All one thousand of you.