Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 2

If you recall from Monday’s post, I related an example of a very complicated and convoluted set of media files related to a one hour-long nature documentary. 10 camera formats. 1080 & 720. 23.98fps. 29.97fps. All delivered on 25 external hard drives.

With all the the recent advancements in cameras and acquisition technologies, the expectation is the process of media production should become faster, easier and more stream-lined. We associate improvement with advancement, right?  If it’s new then it must be better. As I mentioned in part one of this post, though, as media production has moved into the digital space, it has become bogged down by the plethora of choices available to creators. The work  feels more complicated and time-consuming, and it doesn’t necessarily result in a better product.

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Faster. Stronger. . . (not necessarily) Better. – PART 1

It’s the whole premise of The Six Million Dollar Man: “We have the technology to make him better, stronger, faster than he was before!” I’m all for it in most aspects, but some things have become faster and stronger, but not really better. And in some cases, much worse than before.

Take acquisition. I’m talking about capturing material in the creation of a program. It can be whatever kind of show you’d like. Developments in digital acquisition have exploded in the last few years. We have such cool toys with which to capture events in 2D or 3D – Red EPIC, Phantom, Viper, DSLR, P2, XDCAM, F3, AF-100, 5D, 7D, C300, GoPro – the list goes on and on.

The image quality cannot be denied for many of these new cameras. They are amazing. If you had told me I would be working with HD images at 5K resolution just 5 years ago I would have doubted you. The detail and latitude these new devices provide are incredible. But there’s a downside to it all. A downside I don’t think anyone really thought through as these new technologies were being proposed, designed and invented. It’s a downside that many production people don’t see or even think about. It’s a downside that foists responsibility onto the last person in the chain of program creation that needs more responsibility.

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FCP-X: And the Uncertainty deepens…

Late last night, as I finished the previous post, a link to this little discussion popped up on my Twitter Feed. Here’s the original message from the thread:

I took a shot in the dark and sent an email to Randy Ubillos, the designer of FCP X.

I don’t want to share it all, but I did ask about using FCP 7 projects in FCP X and here was his reply:

“FCP7 projects do not have enough information in them to properly translate to FCPX (in FCP7 all of the clip connections live in the editor’s head, not in the timeline). We never expected anyone to switch editing software in the middle of a project, so project migration was not a priority.

Final Cut Pro X 1.0 is the beginning of a road, not the end.”

So, there you have it. This was never a goal of theirs and it is not coming in the future.

Excuse me, while I go weep quietly in the corner.

First of all, if someone got any kind of response out of Apple about this, while the uproar is still going on, I would hope they’d share it all with the world. Apple being tight-lipped about this is part of the problem.

Secondly, and this is the scary bit for me. If an FCP7 project does “not have enough information in them to properly translate to FCPX,” then I think it shows us that XML import from FCP7 is not likely to contain enough to be viable – an XML from FCP7 wouldn’t contain more info. But, think about it for a second, if what is needed to import into FCP-X is more info than an FCP7 project contains, then I think we may have to rule out importing EDLs or OMFs from other apps. This may be more telling as to how FCP-X works (& won’t work) with interactions between other applications.

Oh dear. Maybe Randy U. would like to clarify this?


The coming Digital Dark Age…or maybe Not-So-Dark Age

Just a few days ago, I was talking with someone about tape versus P2 (&other tapeless formats). We were talking about longevity of formats and how we do backups of the tapeless media. We use LTO tape – yes, we take all that wonderful tapeless, random-accessible media created on some of the most cutting edge video production gear and we back it up with tape.

“You put it back on tape? Why not just shoot tape in the first place?, ” they asked. Good damn point. I replied. Well, we know that it isn’t likely we’ll see a return to tape formats. At least not completely. Tapeless gives you a huge advantage in ease-of-entry into an editable form. 40 minutes of P2 footage, takes 6 minutes to import into FCP. You can’t beat that kind of turn-around for getting source footage into an NLE to turn it into a finished project. We won’t see a return to the days of tape only acquisition or even a return to film-based acquisition. We’ve turned the corner.

“But then we’re going to hit a speed bump, ” I said.

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What’s in the Air?

Here’s my prediction for the hubbub surrounding the impending MacWorld Keynote:picture-1x400.png

What’s in the Air? Quite simply, Change.

I predict that Steve Jobs will announce that Apple will be splitting into two companies – a computer software/hardware company & a consumer electronics company. Everyone is all a-twitter about a new sub-notebook computer, but I don’t think it is going to be that. Apple is too spread out now – for their own design-oriented view of a simple, clutter-free world.

They are a company going in too many directions. Microsoft can do the same thing because they have done it from the very beginning. M$ gobbles up companies then re-brands the IP as M$ without really changing the product. Apple has gobbled up companies or IP and then re-engineered or re-worked the product as an Apple product (i.e.-FCP, Shake, AppleWorks, Coverflow, etc.) adding layers of complexity – not always for the better. In my recent dealings with Apple employees on a macro level, they are severely lacking in the humility area (no surprise there) and they really don’t understand the concept of not talking trash another division of their own company. See, that’s another thing that doesn’t bode well for Apple staying whole – they have divisions that are in direct competition with each other. In my case, Apple Enterprise vs. Apple Professional Broadcast Channel.

They would be better off to split into two parts. Apple, Inc. goes back to handling computer hardware and software. And a new company takes iTunes and all it’s supporting characters out to compete in the marketplace. Hell, based on this post at Gizmodo, they might even announce that they are entering a partnership with Braun to tap into it’s established cred in the consumer world.

That’s my prediction…we’ll see…