Tag Archives: Apple

Final Cut Pro X

 Final Cut Pro X

It’s now around six months since I got my copy of Final Cut Pro X.

A bit of history. My first video editing experience started off with Windows Movie Maker, but I soon wanted something that could do a bit more, and could also do HD. I mucked around with the 14 day trial versions of various programs and eventually settled on getting CorelDraw’s VideoStudio Pro X2. Cheap ‘n’ cheerful and did a competent job.

It didn’t take long to settle down to some basic YouTube video editing, and I could see that this, for the money, was quite a powerful editor. However it’s one thing to be a powerful editor, it’s another for the user to know how to use these powerful features, and perhaps its one biggest weakness was lack of availability of really good on-line tutorials.

I must have had it about a year (6 months of getting to know it, then 6 months of getting frustrated with it!) when I decided it was time to move on, with the priority on not just finding a good video editor, but an editor with good tutorials!

It was then by chance I came across Izzy Hyman and his www.izzyvideo.com web site. Here was a place with some really well presented tutorial videos on 1) making videos in general; 2) using Final Cut Pro 7; 3) using Final Cut Express. This was exactly what I wanted. The cost of Final Cut Pro 7 was way out of my budget, but Final Cut Express, at student price, was affordable. This also meant a shift from Windows to Mac (which was something I’d been thinking about anyway), and through the help of a friend I got hold of a 2nd hand MacBook Pro. This MacBook was a couple of years old and not exactly ‘high spec.’ but ran Express quite nicely.

It was about 7 or 8 months after this that Final Cut Pro X came out – and met with a very errrr…. ‘mixed’ reception! The pre-release press comments had been quite favourable, however when it came out they gave it a serious slagging. A lot of this was because they had thought that all the new features in FCP X would be in addition to / on top of all the existing Final Cut features, but on release they discovered that quite a few features considered important by the film making community were now missing. However for my use these missing features were not important and Apple had priced it very competitively. Izzy Hyman very quickly got onto his site some really good Pro X tutorials, so upgrading for me was an obvious thing to do.

The install went without a problem and it appeared to run smoothly, however the window that displayed the actual video stream only displayed it in what looked like 16 colours (the editing & other windows were still in full colour). After a bit of investigation it turns out that my MacBook had a compatible graphics card, but Pro X wanted 256 meg of RAM minimum where my machine only has 128 meg. Though a pain, this was not the end of the world, I was surprised though that the Apple app store / iTunes had allowed me to install it on a below spec. machine.

After using Pro X for a while I also realised another reason why some of the ‘professional types’ didn’t like it – it was too easy to use! Here was a powerful bit of software that had, with it’s new drag ‘n’ drop interface, taken out a huge amount of the mystique of video procuction, and at a cheap price too. It really has speeded up my routine of processing a video. Selecting which bits from different clips and adding titles and effects has not just become easier, but so much quicker.

I have since upgraded to a MacBook Air which runs it very nicely, this now means I can get most of my editing done on the train journey back from things like YouTube gatherings, which is nice.

So if anyone is thinking of a move from their basic editing software to something a bit more powerful, check it out. I certainly have no regrets, even though I had to change operating systems too.

Apple thoughts

Apple Thoughts post iPhone 4S.

It’s now a few days since the new iPhone 4S was announces by Apple, so a few ‘Apple thoughts’. A variety of improvements compared to the iPhone 4 but in the same case, and I assume, because they have retained the case, calling it the 4S rather than 5.
However lots of unhappiness at no iPhone 5, but how much of this unhappiness is hidden vanity. I want to show off that I’m rich (I have more money than sense), that I’ve got the latest new toy and you haven’t, that I’m cool and you aren’t. However by retaining the old case there’s no easy way of differentiating between the old and the new. Those who go for the new phone because of say the better camera and / or longer battery life will be getting a great new device (functionality over form). Those who wanted something new to pose with will be disappointed.
On the other hand Apple is not just a company producing new and exciting electronics, but a company of innovating design, a company whose products turn heads and grab attention. Have they missed something here by putting new wine into old skins. I suspect not.
Those who want the new features will get it, the Apple ‘must have’ fanboi crowd will, of course, go for it, the vanity crowd will have to wait (though of course they can always pretend their old 4 is actually a 4S).
What it does do is give Apple a huge amount of free publicity as speculation continues about an iPhone 5. Will there be one at the turn of the year, or not till the spring conference; will it have the features that were predicted for the 4S but not included, or will it be something totally new. By not drawing a line under all this speculation they have ensured countless more column-inches in the press that would have cost them a fortune had they had to pay for that amount of publicity.

On the subject of Apple hardware, I do use it but I’ve never been impressed with the early /first versions. My first Apple device was a G3 iBook to replace a Sony lap-top, however the Sony outlived it’s replacement and this experience put me off Apple for some time. It was only when I came across a ‘mature’ MacBook that I started seriously using Macs again. I really did not like the original iPad, but am very happy with my iPad 2. The first iPhone totally underwhelmed me, but when the 3GS came out I soon got (still use) one. The first MacBook Air I thought was a joke. Maybe thin but far too large, underpowered, and lacking in ports. The current ones with their i5 / i7 processors are awesome machines.

I guess there is one thing with all this Apple stuff, you can never really predict what they are going to do next, and when things do come out, quite how people will react to them.

What do I want from a mobile phone?

Well, what do I want from a mobile phone?! The least important thing is it as a speech communication device, the most important thing is it as a data communication device.

I do have an iPhone 3GS and I’m happy enough with it, however it does have its limitations. (One thing that has started to happen recently is that its battery life has fallen off. I don’t know if it’s because it’s now nearly 2 years old, or because of Apple updates, or both, but it is irritating.) Something I would find useful would be to have a device that could be used as a Wi-Fi hot spot, and I was actually on my way down to the shops to get a stand-alone MiFi dongle when by chance I bumped into a friend and mentioned this to him. He showed me his HTC Desire and said that the newer Android phones had that Wi-Fi service built in.

Being reasonably happy with my 3GS I’d not kept track of what had been coming out new onto the mobile phone market recently, so was quite surprised at how nice his Android phone was. (My only real experience of this family of phones had been with an early Google phone, and that had NOT impressed me!) This chance meeting got me into doing a bit of research into what else was around, and was impressed with what I saw. Although I have various Apple products I am not an Apple FanBoy, but I had assumed that my next phone would probably be whatever comes out to replace the iPhone 4. However it may well be time to switch across to Android.

So what do I want.

A 4.3 inch screen – big enough to be useful but still keeping the device pocket-size.
Dual core processor – I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something like a single core machine that’s just about to become ‘old generation technology’.
Front and rear cameras – I do like to make the occasional YouTube vlog using my phone, and a front facing camera would make that sooo much easier.
Wi-Fi hot spot facilities – the easiest way for me to have mobile internet for my lap tops and other devices.

So at the moment I’m just waiting for the HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S II phones to hit the phone companies, and then we’ll see how things go.

Kindness of maintenance.

A bit of kindness of maintenance on your computer really is a good thing.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve done three Windows 7, 32 bit, and one Windows 7, 64 bit, installs. Two of the machines with the 32 bit installs were about 4 or 5 years old – not the newest kids on the block, but all went pleasantly well.

I can’t get round the fact that over the years I have found Windows a decently stable operating system. Windows NT had its roots in IBM’s OS/2, a rock stable system, with each version of Windows since then being that bit more stable than the one before. People complain about Vista (and so do I), but that was (for me) more towards its overall speed and interaction with the user, not stability factors. My Vista-powered lap-top never once crashed or locked up on me. As well as knowing others with Mac lap-tops, I also have one and have found them no better (or worse) than my Windows machines. (Once upon a time I was a very keen advocate of Linux, but that has become such a fractured community it has lost any appeal to me.)

However I do make an effort to look after my machines. A bit of basic maintenance is carried out when I’m in the mood for it. A cull of all those crap programs that get installed happens, and a general emptying of TEMP directories and tidying up of files. Occasional back-ups and running of defrag. Updates are applied, both to the operating system and to programs.
So if I wanted something that is relatively simple to use and is just going to work in the format that you get it and you don’t want to use it for much more than that, then I’d probably be happy with a Mac. But what I’m after is a versatile, flexible system that can be used in a variety of different situations, and work almost any bit of hardware I can throw at it.

As much as I do like Macs, they just don’t do that for me. I’m quite happy to put in a little effort to my systems, they are complex bits of machinery, and like anything of this type, benefit from a bit of routine care. Maybe it’s a case of so many people in our throw-away society aren’t willing to make the effort. I guess it’s partly a matter of attitude.

Not just computers, but we all work better with a bit of love and attention. So why not give a bit of love and attention to someone yourself. A simple message through Skype or MSN, perhaps a comment to a video or picture. Do that bit of occasional ‘social maintenance’. To the receiver it could make all the difference between stumbling along not working very well, or finding their way in life.

A little bit of kindness can go a long way.