Dealing with odd files like: .mpg, .mp4, Powerpoint, Animated GIF’s, Flash .swf .flv .fla

My secret weapon: The VLC player and screen recording software like Screenflow or Camtasia to make files into a Quicktime movie.
Flash
Read this to learn what an .swf file is.
When you receive .swf flies to use in an edit, ask the developer for the .fla files. Or better ask them to export a Quicktime in dimensions and frame rate of your edit to avoid alignment errors. Flash is vector based so in most situations it can be resized without getting pixelated. This is especially important when something was created for the web and now has to be sized up for broadcast.
The .fla file is the editable project file that was used to create the .swf file, it also holds the audio. When you re-import a .swf into Flash the audio does not get imported.
2 steps to pull audio and video from a .swf
1. VLC and screen recording software to record the audio.
2. Flash app (download free trial) to export the animation. Change the stage-color to black (or ignore stage and make Alpha) and use the Quicktime settings to match the dimensions and frame rate of your timeline.
.flv are flash video files that most software can import. MPEG Streamclip and VLC also open it.

Tips for getting out of password hell

The number one reason I get into password hell from time to time is because I’m juggling so many passwords and I mix them up. That said, I think it is sometimes hard to determine if my password hell is caused by human error or an error on the end of the entity I’m trying to log into. Company’s like Microsoft, Adobe & Apple juggle millions of passwords that they have to pass along between their websites, user accounts and applications. It doesn’t always work smooth, they are not honest about glitches in this system and there is not a lot of info on the web. Most web searches direct you to a page to reset your password, sometimes creating an infinite loop of resetting the password, trying to log in, resetting again etc.

Watch out, not every website lets you copy and paste a password or store passwords with browser or keychain.
Example: readkit & paypal don’t let you paste. Results will be wrong, that’s how their site is coded to prevent spammers.

Read this great times article about creating good passwords.

 

Apple
Apple is famous for it’s password loops, sometimes it happens on the iphone/ipad sometimes with appstore/itunes. They seem to have problems passing passwords along to the different parts of their servers. Biggest lesson I learned recently is: Reset your password on an Apple device! The browser iforgot solution is glitchy.

Problem: When changing your apple ID password in a browser you get message:
“your password contains unacceptable characters”
even though the green buttons are all lit and the password checker says “strong”
Solution : reset password on an Apple device instead.

Problem: Sometimes you unknowingly created multiple Apple ID’s because you thought you where giving an alternate email address.
Solution: pay attention to the email address Apple replies to, when you reset your password.

Problem: Even though you just successfully changed your Apple ID password, your iphone, ipad, mail application or itunes reject the password.
Solution: reset password on an Apple device.

iPhone email

Problem: Can’t send email using PoP/IMAP:A copy has been placed in your Outbox. The sender address “xxx@xxx.com” was rejected by the server.”
Solution: Fill username (your full email address) and password in on the smtp part of the email settings even though it says “optional”

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress (self hosted blog)

WordPress (wp-login.php) brute force attacks are common place lately.
Read this login trouble article
13 Vital Tips and Hacks to Protect Your WordPress Admin Area
In WP always try to change passwords from within the admin page.

If you’re caught in a loop, can’t get in or password new user doesn’t work then go in using phpMyAdmin. That should always work because it lets you edit the password database direct.
Make sure you edit the correct database! (I use unique email addresses for each user to make it easy to double check)

Adobe
Adobe creative cloud seems to have propagating issues similar to Apple’s.
Problem: You can log in to Application manager on one machine but not another.
Solution: Reset password on the computer that you want to work on. (and deal with the other machine later.)

Google
Google is great when it works and their servers are up, it sucks when they are down. They are not transparent about ongoing problems and because everything is free, there is nobody to yell at over the phone.

 

 

Shooting Video with the Nikon D600

When you buy a D600, you basically buy 2 camera’s in one box. You understand this when you notice that there are separate iso settings for video & stills.


pros
-great still camera
-audio with separate box to add  XLR, a little noisy, but ok for a DSLR.
-rolling shutter ok, comparable to 5Dm2
-haven’t noticed any overheating issues when shooting multiple 20 min takes.
-Nice dynamic range and low-light performance up to 1600 ASA. Grain, especially in the blacks looks bad at higher iso settings.


cons
-terrible moire & false colors etc. in almost every shot! I’m talking about 1080 24, 25 and 30 fps.

The 60fps 720p settings are even more useless. This is with sharpening turned down.
Sorry Nikon, you are still lightyears behind Canon & Sony.
The weird thing is that this full frame 24Megapixel sensor is made by Sony, the Nikon processing just screws it up. The internal H264 compression doesn’t help either and right now (Dec 2012)
you can’t use the HDMI out because it is not full screen. You can’t shoot any wide shots in focus because of the moire and watch out for anything shiny in a shot because it will be busy as hell.
-recording length limited to 20 mins.
-you can’t extend the dynamic range using a picture profile like the Technicolor profile

iTunes Match explicit/clean problem fixed.

For Mac OS X 10.6 or later!

1. Download SUBLER
2. In iTunes select the songs that are recognized as clean but you want the explicit version of.
3. Right-click and “Show in Finder”
4. Select all the songs again in the finder, or work in batches per album.
5. Drag the songs onto the Subler app to open.
6. In Subler set each song to explicit and close to save.

7. In iTunes, reset the cache.

8. Click the songs and see if they are now showing as explicit.
You might have to turn iTunes Match off/on to get it to recognize the new tags.

 

Shooting with the Canon C300

2.5 hr shot @ 50Mbits 1080p 29.97
Copy 60GB using USB-2 for the reader and FW-800 to the drive > 30min > 1/5 realtime

FCP-7 (with Canon XF plugin installed)
WARNING DO NOT UPGRADE TO OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion! 

Log & Transfer to Prores 422 using 2009 Core Duo macbookpro > Realtime, half realtime with i7 Quad-core
FCP-X can edit immediately (but secretly transcodes to Prores 422 when the machine is idle)

AVID (with Canon XF AMA plugin)
Can edit immediately with AMA
Transcode to DNxHD-45 > (using i7 2.7GHz) > half realtime

So:
-Transcoding in FCP or AVID seems to be half realtime with an i7 Quad-core CPU.
-Avid & FCP-X have the advantage of being able to read and edit the card immediately.
-I still have to test editing with DNxHD-45 and then relinking to the AMA files or the other way around. Don’t know what the limit is on how many hours you can link with AMA

 

 

AVID MC 6 now 100% compatible with most camera formats.

No more transcoding or re-wrapping of most current camera formats and codecs! That’s a big deal I think.
I’m cutting a show with 5D, panasonic AVC INTRA, EX1, EX3, and P2 footage.

With Final Cut I would still have to rewrap or transcode all this footage.

Sony came out with their AMA plugin in Nov 2011 and it works great.
I still transcode H264 from 5D to DNxHD 175 because of performance issues, the other formats  link and play fine.

Here is a recent discussion about the RED AMA plugin, a lot of people still prep their R3D files using RED CineX.
This is the link to the Red AMA plugin for MC6 

Sony XDCAM AMA plugins for MC6 downloads:

Using Photoshop to resize images

-100% Rule: determine what the tightest framing of a picture will be without scaling the picture above 100% in FCP or AVID.
Do this:
-open the picture in photoshop
-make the Info palette visible
-set options to Pixels

-select the Marquee tool
-eyeball different zooms on the picture using Marquee
-on the info palette read the width of your tightest framing.
-devide 1920 by that number
-in my example 1920/987=1.9
so I know I have to blow this picture up about 2x to be able to zoom in as far as I want.
-Image > Image Size
-Enter the new number for Width
-Check Scale Styles
-Constrain Proportions
-Check >Resample Bicubic
-Resolution > leave unchanged

 

Pulling video from web pages.

When you need YouTube video’s or any other video’s from websites for editing.
Do this: (for PC or Mac)

1. install the latest Firefox browser
2. install the Download helper add-on
USE this link if you google it, you will get a spammy page where the real link is hidden.
3. go to the page with the video, you’ll see the Download helper Icon, come to life.

4. click on the little down arrow to the left of the address bar.
5. choose the highest quality, biggest frame size available from the list
6. in this example the 3rd one from the top 1080p.mp4 (flv, Flash is usually worse than mp4)
7. let the file download to your computer.
8. use MPEG Streamclip on one of the FCP systems to transcode to DVCPROHD.
Sometimes this plug-in can’t pull the video > use Screenflow instead.

SCREENFLOW TIPS

Use Screenflow to capture a web page in action, including video playing on the page.
Look for: ScreenFlow-Tutorial, Shortcuts and manual on the right.

-For capture set your resolution temporarily to 1344×840 (in OSX System Preferences)
This is to make the capture resolution closer to video resolution.
-Find a neutral desktop BG don’t have browser all the way on top. (or export will not be title save)
-Use “Browser zoom” to make pages as big as possible CMD + – (examine this)
-Time and rehearse the moves on the web page.
1. Start screenflow. (Set Audio to computer audio if you need it)
2. Record the web page.
3. Save screen flow project as (in a screen flow folder with your other GFX elements for the show)
4. Add video + Call action
5. Crop at 1344×800 (this is to counter distortion during export/import to FCP)
6. Export out as Custom DVCPRO-HD 1080i60 29.97 1280×1080, Audio PCM, 48k 16bit.

 

Good Computer Habits

Pay attention when you look at 20-year-olds or experienced computer users. They usually use “secret” keystrokes that do things in 1 second that would take you minutes, and they seem to click the mouse less. If you want to become an efficient user of editing software you have to try to copy some of their behavior.
Actually, copying habits of experienced users is key to making the deadline and getting into bed on time. Here are some tips:

1. On a Macintosh a right-click is Control-Click. Connect a 2 button mouse with scroll wheel to your system. Contextual Menu’s (right-click) are very important in FCP.
Try right-clicking in different windows and see what options you get.
2. Don’t close windows (red x button)
You create extra work for yourself if you have to re-find or re-open things you had before.
If windows are in the way, CMD-tab to switch between open applications, minimize or hide (CMD-H)
3. Switch between applications and open windows, using CMD-tab (MAC) or alt-tab (PC)
Apply this habit to all your computers, all the time, everywhere.
4. Use the mouse for pointing to what you want, shortcuts for an action.
Example: move the pointer to a cut then press I to put an in-point. Print out the shortcuts. (linked on the right)
5. In the Finder Press SPACE bar to preview files. (no double clicking!)
6. Hover over buttons and other areas, wait, and see a tooltip appear explaining what it does. It shows the shortcuts too!

7. Cross Platform File Names
When you edit you will exchange files with people over the internet, servers and Windows formatted hard drives. Biggest problem with OSX is that it doesn’t force you to be Internet/Windows compatible.

These are the rules:
A. Always save with extensions. (the 3 lower case characters after the period)
B. No_spaces_in_file_names.
C. No period at the end of a file name
D. Don’t use illegal Windows characters: ? [ ] / = + < > : ; ” , * |
The most common offender is the forward slash, illegal in Windows file names but popular with Macintosh users who like to include a date in the file name. Write a date like this instead: 20090823_vo_johnny23.aif
If you always write your file names like this, they are easy to read and sort.
Please follow this naming convention for FCP projects:
20090423_SA_NEWS_164_mikeP.fcp
YYYYMMDD_SHOW-NAME_episode#_editor.fcp

Color coding is a big waste of time!