Posts Tagged ‘Software’


I Got 999 Songs But A Dud Ain’t One – 22. February, 2013


First, the positive — the first SXSW music torrent is out. I have only a matter of days to sample 999 songs and it’s pure bliss.

Now, the not-so-positive — I’ll only love about 30 songs but that’s 30 new artists to check out @ SXSW. How fucking awesome is that?!

And if you’re on a Mac, Transmission is my preferred client (if you like what they do, feel free to send them a donation).


Be on the look out for updates about tracks I like and bands I’m exited to discover (so that’s how I get me to update my blog).


Posted in General

A Fistful of SXSW – 3. March, 2011

As it’s March, that can only mean one thing: my trip to Austin for the SXSW Music Festival is right around the corner. For those of you not going, you can still check out some of the bands playing this year.

That’s right, once again a kind soul has bundled all the available MP3s as a single torrent. And if you’re new to torrents, you’ll need an aggregator and once again I recommend Transmission for the Mac (if you really like the software, support the developer by making a donation).


I’m currently slogging my way through the 4 GB of songs (somewhere in the middle of the letter “E”), but if you find something you like, give me a shout.

Posted in Off-Topic

A Taste of SXSW 2010 – 2. March, 2010

For those of you not lucky enough to be heading to Austin for the SXSW Music Festival, allow me to offer you a taste of what you’ll be missing. Just download this torrent and you’re ready to rock.

Now, before you get your panties in a twist, all of these MP3s are available for free from the SXSW website so it’s all legal. Someone was kind enough to gather them together in a single torrent.

For those of you that have never used a torrent, I suggest you download an aggregator. I happen to like Transmission for the Mac (if you really like the software, why not support the developer by making a donation).


Once installed, just open the torrent file with downloaded software and wait for all that musical goodness to arrive.

Posted in Off-Topic

Friday Fun: 25 Most Played Tracks – 8. January, 2010

When I first downloaded iTunes, I deleted all those pre-made smart playlists. I don’t need iTunes telling me which metrics to watch.

Years later, I saw my friend Todd Sklar post his 25 most played tracks and that got me curious. I put together a new smart playlist and… before you look at this let me just tell you that I’m positive iTunes missed a lot of play counts.

That said, here ya go:

How about you? Why don’t you post your 25 most played tracks. Come on, we won’t judge you (much).

Need help? In iTunes, click “File”, then “New Smart Playlist…” and use these parameters (FYI, I did this on my MacBook Pro but I’m sure it’s practically the same on a PC):

Looking forward to those lists and have a great Friday.

Posted in Off-Topic

MarsEdit – 6. January, 2010

As I now run not only this blog but also one for work, I’ve grown all that more dependent on this bit of software.


I discovered MarsEdit when I went hunting for a way to write posts while offline. Sure I could have used a text editor or Word but when I did it felt like I was working in the stone age of the internet. Maybe I could have used Dreamweaver but that feels like using a laser guided bunker buster to catch a mouse. A bit of research led me this software and I’ve been in love ever since.

Why? Because it can handle multiple blogs on various platforms (Blogger? WordPress? Tumblr? Yeah, it can handle them.), because it comes with shortcuts for the most basic markups but it’s ridiculously easy to crete your own, because it can easily link to your Flickr account and use those photos, because it just works.

As an added bonus, Daniel (the software’s author) is AWESOME. I’ve had more than a few questions (and maybe one misguided complaint) and he got back to me promptly and in a professional manner (thanks for that).

In short, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was “to get serious about blogging” then you have to get this software. If you’re a vet but aren’t using this software, give it a try and see the light.

Posted in Off-Topic

FCP Rig of the Day – 8. December, 2009

Check it out, I’m the rig of the day.


Thanks Final Cutters.

Posted in Post-Production

Dropbox – 17. November, 2009

The cloud is coming!

Yes, I speak of cloud computing. Looking to dip your toe into the pool before plunging in head first? Let me introduce you to Dropbox.


Think of it as a simple storage space in the cloud. Use it to store files, to share files or even to sync files between 2 or more computers. Even better, there’s an iPhone app/interface so I can look up PDFs on my phone. Neat!

If you even think this might be useful, sign up and give it a spin.

BTW, I wasn’t compensated in any way for this review. I’m just a fan of this software/service (take that, FTC).

Posted in Off-Topic

iPhone Hitchcock – 19. August, 2009

Attention all directors!

I think I just discovered the iPhone app you’ve been waiting for. It’s called Hitchcock and it seems pretty damn cool (although $20 is steep for an app). Take a look and judge for yourself.

And thanks to Wes Craven for turning me on to this.

Posted in General

Amazon Spec: Debrief – 3. August, 2009

So while I wait for August 24th to roll around (that’s when Amazon announces the 5 finalist for the audience award and the jury prize winner), here is my promised debrief. Warning, it is very tech heavy.

First, my 30-second spec combined live action and stop-motion animation. I’ve done one other film like this (check out CONVERSING). For that short, I shot both the live action and stop-motion animation with a Panasonic DVX100; I used iStopMotion to record the stop-motion animation to my laptop. The digital video was shot 30p and the animation 15 fps. I used a Sennheiser ME66 and ProTools 6.4 to record the voice talent. I edited the film with Final Cut Pro and mixed in ProTools. I was going to use the same setup for this project but I really wanted a higher resolution final so I thought I’d put the final cut through Instant HD and viola, I’m done.

Just one problem: the test I put through Instant HD didn’t look as good as I hoped. I don’t blame the plugin, I just didn’t know how to punch up the optimum settings for export. Plus I was haunted by this post.

I also had access to both a Sony A1U HDV camcorder and a Nikon D100 plus I was looking for a good excuse to learn After Effects so why not take the plunge with this project? Who doesn’t love a challenge, right?

So, first I recorded my four actors (big thanks to Curtiss, Dan, Karina & Michael for lending their talent) using the above mentioned setup. I quickly cut and mixed the dialog so I could sync it up to my “proof of concept” cut. I then shot the live action (an extra thanks to Dan) as 59.94 HDV with the Sony “fake” Cineframe 30 mode turned on. After shooting I immediatly transcoded all the footage to ProRes for the rest of post. All of that went according to plan. The animation, not so much.

I thought about shooting RAW files with the D100 but I’d heard from my photographer friends that it’s a whole other beast so I chose large RGB TIFF files (3000 x 2000) instead. Unfortunately, the camera came with one 512MB CompactFlash (CF) card. That card coulldn’t hold more than 17 shots so if I had any animation longer than 1s4f (1 second, 4 frames), I’d have to download the card, wipe it clean and pray I hadn’t bumped the camera in the process. Um, no thanks. I looked in the manual and it said the camera could handle the “promised” 1GB card but nothing bigger. Guess what? Today it’s hard to find a CF card smaller than 4GB. Thank the lord the 4GB card worked. Unfortuantely, that was just the start of my troubles.

After shooting my first stop-motion shot I immediately ran head first into another problem. Although I put the camera in full manual, including the iris, the camera still adjusted the f-stop by 1/3 to 1/2 a stop according to the built in spot meter. That meant that the brightness of some frames in a single shot would be different than the others. I’d have to correct brightness frame by frame. Tedious? Yes. Doable? Yes. But that wasn’t the biggest pain in my neck.

No, it was the camera and the CF card that almost killed me. The camera could shoot 6 shots before it needed time to write the images from the internal memory buffer to the CF card. It could take 2-5 minutes to write one image to the CF. But the bigger problem was downloading from the camera into iPhoto. This took around 20 minutes per download and once took almost an hour. This forced my one-day shoot to take twice as long. Ugh.

Once in iPhoto, I renamed and exported the TIFF files to an external drive. It was then time for some After Effects magic. I was glad AFX allowed me to import a folder of still images as a contiguous video clip. Once in a timeline, I corrected the gamma to fix for the iris adjustment. Damn, that took a long time and boy did I grind my teeth. After that I created JPEG proxy files for the TIFF clips (a very good idea that saved me a ton of time). I then created another AFX project where I would lay in the animated clips end to end to get a sense of editing and pace. And, as I had 3000×2000 images but knew my final output would be a 1920×1080 HD Quicktime, I decided to create camera moves in post. Oh boy, the results looked so good I couldn’t have been happier.

Also, at this point, I could fix any image problems while still in the highest possible resolution; the Clone tool became one of my most trusted tools and Keylight is awesome for green-screen work. Once that was done, I took each shot and output it as a 1920×1080 ProRes Quciktime so that I could combine my live action and stop motion in a single AFX comp where I could color correct with Colorista which is a GPU based plugin; As you’d know from a previous post, the TIFF files were too big for this.

Once I laid out all the clips, it was time to apply Colorista. I took the Stu Maschwitz method and used Adjustment Layers instead of loading effects onto the master clip. This came in handy when I wanted to swap out clips (which happened more than a few times). Each clip had one color correction layer and all the live action clips had a secondary correction layer so I could bring my actor’s eyes up out of the darkness. Lastly, I applied a final “looks” layer over the whole project.

On the sound side, I tried Soundtrack Pro but grew frustrated so quickly I fell back to ProTools for the sound edit, design and mix. I did have to add a bit of music and I used GarageBand to create the cues and then exported them to ProTools.

Lastly, FYI, it took 14 minutes to render out a 30-second clip in After Effects but I’m incredibly happy with the results.

Here’s hoping you get to see the fruit of my labors as a finalist.

Timecode Mismatch – 20. June, 2009

I’ve run into a post-production issue and I need to call upon the hive mind for help.

My film was shot on the HVX200 @ 1080/24pA (23.98) and the audio was recorded into a Sound Devices 702T as Wave Files (WAV). We jam synced both devices and also used a timecode (TC) slate. We then fed the audio out of the 702T and back into the HVX200 via the camera’s XLR inputs.

As the footage was transferred from the P2 cards and ingested into Final Cut Pro (FCP), we ended up with clips that had one video track and four audio tracks (a doubling of our stereo audio feed from the 702T, I believe).


Now, I was always told that I’d need to take my FCP ingested clips, rip out the four tracks of audio, import the original stereo 702T WAV files, sync audio to picture, lock the new clip and repeat until done. Why do this? So I can use the “better” audio.

For anyone that has ever had to sync hours of footage, you know this sucks big time. But that’s why we jam sync the TC; it’s supposed to make this whole procedure less painful. Plus Sam from the Confidence Bay showed me an awesome way to use QuicKeys to cut tens (if not hundreds) of hours out of this process.

Perfect. I’m ready. I’m excited. I’m dying to sync all this footage so I can hand it over to my new kick ass editor.

Just one problem: the audio and image use two different TC counts.

The WAVs use a 24 (23.98) TC count (check out the TC in the top right window).



The HVX200 footage, well, that’s a complicated story. If I recall properly, 1080 24pA DVCproHD footage is recorded to the P2 cards as 29.97. Then, in FCP, you ingest using the advanced pulldown setting and TADA, you have 23.98 clips. Unfortunately, what I found is that the 23.98 footage still uses a 29.97 count. I kid you not. A 23.98 clip counts up to frame 29. The TC doesn’t convert to a 24 count.



And here’s the proof that 1) the clip is 23.98 and 2) that the sequence is set to cut 23.98 footage.



Do you see my problem? I have one chunk of media that counts from 0-23 and another that counts from 0-29 and I’m supposed to use their respective TC to sync them together. “00:00:00:27” in the footage is “00:00:01:03” in the audio. Without resolving this discrepancy in counting, I can’t see a way to have FCP automatically sync the audio and image via TC.

How do I easily resolve this so I don’t spend the next month syncing my footage? Is there a way to resolve this discrepancy without 1) a massive re-ingesting of all the footage or 2) paying for some expensive hardware transcoding? Should I even bother with this now? Is the the audio routed from the 702T to the HVX200 via XLR that much worse than the original WAV files? Would it be simpler to just clone a drive for my editor now and deal with this problem after I’ve locked the cut? This violates the “5 minutes now saves you 5 hours (or days) later” rule I learned from my buddy Ken but maybe this is one where I just have to suck it up and sync the WAVs to the edited picture (that might take a month as well).

Thoughts? Questions? Solutions?