Viggle: Get Rewarded With Cool Stuff For Watching TV

Viggle is a service I just discovered and signed up for, after finding a news story on it (via Drudge). Basically, you check in on the Viggle app (for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch; Android coming soon), and you get points for what you’re watching. You can also view information, see what people are saying, post to social networks, and a whole lot more, related to the show. You can earn points by playing games, watching trailers and more. The rewards points can be redeemed for all kinds of cool things, including gift cards to Starbucks, Amazon and more. You can also donate your rewards to charity, too.

It’s all free, and you can sign up at Viggle.com, and download the app, also free, from iTunes.

VLC 2.0: Full-Screen Support, Blu-Ray And More

VLC 2.0 New UI, photo thanks to developer Felix Kühne.

Just read on 9 to 5Mac that VLC 2.0 from VideoLAN was announced, and includes some cool new features, including support for Blu-ray (not burning, apparently), fullscreen in OS X Lion and more. Check out the details and see some videos of the new UI on 9to5Mac.com. It’ll be available for Mac, Windows and Linux at their site, in the very near future.

Look who's making a cameo in the new VLC 2.0! Photo from developer Felix Kühne.

I use VLC a little bit, mostly to see raw XDCAM EX files without having to open up the Sony XDCAM clip browser or Final Cut Pro X.

Philip Bloom Asked Seven Pro Editors To Discuss Final Cut Pro X Observations

The great filmmaker and writer Philip Bloom recently had seven pro editors talk about their Final Cut Pro X observations and experiences, and I wanted to share them with you here. This is especially timely with the 10.0.3 update, which brings even more important features and functionality to FCP X. Sit back and enjoy!

Apple’s Richard Townhill Talks Final Cut Pro X 10.0.3: Multicam, Broadcast Monitoring, and More

Final Cut Pro X Adds Multicam Editing

I just got off the phone with Apple’s Richard Townhill, senior director of applications marketing, who took the time to update me on the latest major update to Final Cut Pro X, ver. 10.0.3. Apple is delivering multicam support, broadcast monitoring via third-party cards and boxes (in beta), advanced chroma keying features, XML 1.1, the ability to import layered Photoshop graphics (PSD), and media relinking.

Apple has been listening to us and have introduced their second big FCP X update since the app “shipped” via the Mac App Store in late June 2011. We had the first update in September 2011 (which brought XML, media stems and more), a minor bug fix in November and now another major update for January 2012. I mention this first, because Apple usually released major updates to past versions of FCP every year or so. I believe FCP 7 only got two major updates and a minor one after it shipped in August 2009. So we’ve had just as many in seven months, and everything comes through quickly via the Mac App Store!

The big feature is Multicam, and as usual, Apple doesn’t just add in the feature to FCP X, but they make it better and easier to use. You can mix up to 64 different camera angles and sources, using mixed formats, codecs, frame rates and frame sizes, and also you can mix stills with the video. Syncing has always been tricky with multicamera editing, but FCP X makes it simple with their auto sync feature, which will sync up video and audio based on timecode (all cameras have to have matching timecode) or a time-and-date stamp (again, all cameras must match). You can also sync based on metadata, along with customizing that information. FCP X also goes a step further if you’re using the GoPro, HDSLRs or cameras that don’t match timecode or time-and-date. They use the audio from the cameras and match up the waveform and then sync the footage up that way. That’s pretty incredible! So if you’re shooting a three-camera production of an interview, FCP X will sync according to the audio waveforms of the person talking, or if you’re shooting a live event, like sports, it will find the similar audio waveforms and sync them up!

FCP X Adds In Broadcast Monitoring With Third-Party PCI-e Hardware and Thunderbolt.

In beta right now is Broadcast Monitoring, which uses third-party PCI-e devices and cards, and Thunderbolt, which is still one of my favorite new features on pretty much all new Apple computers. AJA has already updated their drivers, and Matrox and BlackMagic are working on some cool Thunderbolt devices. You can also do on-set, in-the-field monitoring, as well! (By the way, I heard from my sources that Apple was working on 10-bit broadcast monitoring, last July.)

Apple also introduced more robust Chroma Keying controls, so it’s not only easy to do a quick key, you can also tweek it and perfect it, especially if your green- or bluescreen wasn’t lit well. No need to export to Motion or After Effects, plus you can view it in real-time, thanks to FCP X’s 64-bit architecture. Richard also mentioned that Jimmy Fallon and SNL use FCP X’s one-step chroma key feature, which is pretty cool.

Media Relink makes it easy to relink your footage, audio, etc., when you’re exporting or importing items from third-party software, such as color corrected footage, cleaned up audio, etc. It will also find footage that was transcoded, as well, which is great, since many of us prefer to use Apple ProRes and other codecs that are easy to cut with.

Richard told me that they have a tremendous number of third-party developers onboard with FCP X, who are putting out some great stuff for FCP X, including Red Giant Software, Nattress, GenArts’ Sapphire Edge, FxFactory, and many others.

Richard talked a bit about my friend Philip Hodgetts (and his partner Greg’s) 7toX app, which will allow you to bring Final Cut Pro 7 projects into Final Cut Pro X! That’s right, no more using two different FCP NLEs on old and new projects, just use the 7toX app and you’re ready to go. Make sure you read the information on the above link, because things obviously change when going from bins, etc., to FCP X. It’s only $9.99 and is already available on the Mac App Store.

7toX takes advantage of the new XML 1.1 feature, plus the update allows you to export to color correct in DaVinci Resolve and other third-party color correction apps. You can also “import and export audio keyframes and intrinsic effects parameters such as opacity and scale,” according to Apple.

While you could import and work with layered Photoshop graphics in Motion 5, you couldn’t in FCP X. The new 10.0.3 update allows you to do just that, which is a fantastic feature that many of us loved in FCP 7 and earlier.

Full rundown and details of the 10.0.3 update can be found here, plus the 30-day free trial of FCP X includes all the new updates, including those for Motion 5 and Compressor 4.

Idea for Apple and Final Cut Pro X: Road Shows and How-To Seminars

Final Cut Pro X

I wanted to put an idea out to Apple to get the word out about Final Cut Pro X, and not just from bloggers like me, or websites like Digital Media Net. That’s right, I’m talking about road shows and how-to seminars! And why not? I once went on the road with the great Douglas Spotted Eagle of VASST to talk about HDV in late 2005/early 2006, and we had showed off everything from the proto-HDV JVC HD10 to the newest cameras from Sony, JVC and Canon, including the great Sony Z1u. We helped teach users about the technology and the jump from DV to HDV, plus they got hands on experience and instruction with the gear and software.

I think a road show would be great, because Apple can have the exclusivity, but also bring out their friends from Matrox, AJA and others, including third-party software developers making plug-ins for FCP X. It would be a lot of fun, and as a former film school teacher (and presenter with Spot and VASST), being able to get everyone involved and hands-on experience with top-of-the-line Macs is always better than just reading about it online or in a magazine like Videomaker.

As far as cities go, perhaps the big ones, like L.A., San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Denver, Cleveland, Seattle, Atlanta, Orlando and Miami (or Ft. Lauderdale, since it’s in between Miami and Palm Beach), plus some others. I also suggest hitting the international film and video scene, including Toronto, Vancouver, London, Paris, Sydney and others. Final Cut Pro X is a great NLE, I really love it and use it, and I think this would be a great way for Apple to meet one-on-one with editors, videographers and filmmakers, and really get the word — and instruction — out about FCP X.

I know they care about the pro users, and they’re listening. I feel this is a great way to not only show off and teach FCP X, but to also here positive stories and ideas. FCP X isn’t just a new interface for their famous and wildly popular NLE, but it’s also a new way of organzing and editing. It’s a seismic shift from what we’ve been doing for years, and I have seen my editing become more efficient.

Apple Releases Final Cut Pro X 10.0.2 Update, Resolve Roundtripping, Automatic Duck Free

Apple has put out an update for Final Cut Pro X, 10.0.2; while it may not be as big as the terrific, huge update that was in 10.0.1, it’s still important you update it. According to Apple, the update fixes:

– Fixes an issue in which a title may revert to the default font after restarting Final Cut Pro X
– Resolves an issue that could cause files recorded with certain third-party mobile devices to play back incorrectly
– Addresses a stability issue caused by changing the start time on a Compound Clip

This update is recommended for all users of Final Cut Pro X. For more information, visit www.apple.com/finalcutpro.

Get to downloading this free update! Also, it was recently revealed that DaVinci Resolve 8.1 can roundtrip with FCP X, and trade FCP X and FCP 7 projects, as well! Get the details at FCP.co.

So Automatic Duck is now offering their once-pricey software for free, including Pro Export FCP 5.0 and 4.0, Pro Import AE 5.0, FCP X Audio Exporter and others. It’s assumed this happened now that developer Wes Plate left for Adobe. I’m also assuming that there won’t be anymore developments to this software, so as FCP X and After Effects grow, these apps may not be compatible. I’m curious what Wes and Adobe have cooking. Check out the Automatic Duck website for details, plus a big thanks from the developer. Hat tip: FCP.co

November 3, 2011: NAB Comes 5 Months Early As Canon, RED, Avid Make Major Announcements

Canon EOS-300C

Canon EOS 300C (EOS Cinema), a hybrid HDSLR/pro HD camera, which I actually predicted to a friend. Here’s more coverage from my colleague Jeremiah Hall, who was at the event, plus looking at it from a director’s perspective. It’s basically a 4K hybrid HDSLR/Pro cam with a Super 35 sensor, that is small and lightweight, shooting film-like footage. It’ll cost about $16,000 for the base price.

RED Scarlet (image: RED)

RED (re-re-re-re-re-re-re-) announces the Scarlet. Impressive, but it adds up quick, REAL quick, when you buy accessories, etc. The Scarlet was first announced officially in April 2008 at NAB in Vegas (I was there), but the focus has changed to professionals (not hobbyists and pros, as stated in 2008) and the base cost is now $10,000; once spec’d out, it can run you $15,000 to $20,000, if not higher. It’s a dual-purpose camera, shooting video (5K, 2/3-inch sensor) and a digital still camera.

Avid Media Composer 6 (image: MacRumors)

Avid announces Media Composer 6, 64-bit, new UI, etc. Looks a little bit like Avid MC5.5, FCP X and Sony Vegas Pro. Avid needs to hit one out of the park, and they’re certainly aiming for the fences. The high-end NLE (non-linear editing) market is shrinking, so Avid needs to stay competitive vs. Adobe (Premiere Pro), Apple (FCP X) and Sony (Vegas Pro).

More analysis coming soon.

Rest In Peace, Steve Jobs

Sad news today as Apple has announced the great Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, and major innovator of technology and entertainment at Pixar, as passed away. Check out the nice page Apple has set up, and there’s an email where you can send your condolences to remberingsteve@apple.com. I owe a lot to Steve and his vision; my father bought me my first Mac for Christmas in 1994, as I was starting college. I wrote my first feature length script with it, and many shorts (and papers) for film school and college. It led me to buying a Power Mac G3 in March 1999 with Final Cut Pro 1.0 a little later, to edit my first film. From there, I’ve owned many Apple devices and software, and it’s always allowed me to be creative and get work done.

Thank you, Steve.

Nice tribute about Steve, and his history and legacy by Macworld.

Apple Calls With Details On Final Cut Pro X 10.0.1 Update: XML, XSAN, Video and Audio Stem Exports Via Roles, and More

I just had a great phone call with some of the Final Cut Pro X team at Apple, including Richard Townhill, director of pro video marketing at Apple, and I’m excited about the FCP X 10.0.1 update, now available for download via the Mac App Store, along with updates for Motion 5 (5.0.1 — includes dual display support and more) and Compressor 4.0.1. They are listening to us, and they care about the professional editor. This is a professional NLE app, and for me so far, it’s made my life a lot easier with organization and editing.

Some of the items in the FCP X update:

1. Xsan Support: You can store your footage AND your Events and Project files on a server (Lion does this very well), so multiple users can edit the same projects. Excellent for collaborative editing! Apple tells me this works better than Final Cut Pro 7 project files on an XSAN server.

2. XML Support: This is a big one, and it sounds great. Apple has broken up the XML export into two pieces, if you will, so you can export both Events and Projects. The metadata is more robust and comprehensive. Apple didn’t just add XML support, they made it better. You can use this to export to third-party apps, such as CatDV, and you can import an XML file from FCP X into DaVinci Resolve for color correcting and finishing. I understand that you can export a FCP 7 XML file, import it into CatDV and it will give you an XML file for FCP X, but remember, v. 10 features a sophisticated timeline, so there is no guarantee everything will be in the right spot.

3. Export audio and video stems via Roles: Much easier, more powerful and better than in FCP 7, you can use Roles to easily export audio and video stems as a single QuickTime movie, or as separate files. It’s no longer repetitive, no longer time-consuming to export certain audio and video files, etc., it’s one-pass, you choose what you want to export. Once again, Apple didn’t just add this support, they made it better and easier. I expect no less from them. You can then import these files or a multitrack QuickTime movie into third-party programs.

4. Camera input API: Camera manufacturers can now update their plug-in for FCP X when they put out a new camera. I remember waiting months or years for certain new codec support within FCP, so I could work with Sony HDV or Panasonic P2 files, etc. This is very cool!

5. GPU-accelerated export for faster exports of your projects.

6. Some other cool additions: Custom start timecode, fullscreen mode, one-step addition of transitions to connected clips (a BIG time saver), and a fully functional 30-day trial.

Apple went on the record, something they don’t ever do (or at least not too often), by promising multicamera and broadcast monitoring support next year (2012 — btw, I mentioned this back in July). Apple also reassured me that they care about the professional editors, and they are listening. Everything that’s part of this update is from listening to feedback. I want to say it again, Apple CARES about us, and that’s great!

They also published a white paper, “Final Cut Pro X for Final Cut Pro X Editors,” which I’ll link to in a bit.

Update: Jon Chappell from Digital Rebellion posts some info on the new FCPX XML feature. Definitely worth a read.

Second Update: The great Larry Jordan has a significant rundown of all the new features on his blog.

Initial Final Cut Pro X Thoughts: Importing, Keywords, Smart Collections, Metadata

UPDATE: I wrote a more extensive look (and mini-tutorial) at importing, keywords, organization, etc., with some thoughts on settings and such (with images), over at Creative Mac/Digital Media Net.

Sorry for the long title, but I finally was able to get to work with Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, and I wanted to put some initial thoughts down. So far, I’m really digging the great new ways to organize all my media, especially with the interviews I’m going through for a behind-the-scenes doc I’m cutting. It’s a great way to dip my toes into FCP X.

Using a new Mac mini (base model with 8GB of RAM, which makes ALL the difference), I fired up Final Cut Pro X and easily imported footage that’s already been processed, from a behind-the-scenes documentary I’m cutting for a film I did a few years ago, and it was automatically put into various categories since the footage is a variety of formats and dates, including the Sony EX1, Panasonic HVX200, Sony V1u and an unidentified mini-dv camera (I received the tape from an out-of-town actor). No problems working with the footage whatsoever. I was also using some video tutorials to help guide me.

This reminded me of late 1999/early 2000 when I lived in Orlando and was cutting my first feature Skye Falling, while learning to edit with Final Cut Pro 1.0 on my old G3 Power Mac (bondi blue). I used a free video CD I got with the software, I believe hosted by Josh Mellicker. It took me a while to watch the video and cut the film, about 2 months, but it helped.

So with FCP X, I’m using my buddy Kevin P. McAuliffe’s training videos (part 1 and part 2), and they’ve been helpful so far. I may check out those from FCP X gurus Larry Jordan and Michael Wohl.

I’m only dipping my toes in, and just going through all the interviews, about 2 to 3 hours worth, and tagging keywords. When I imported the footage (even if it was off cards), I had the opportunity to allow FCP X to do an Auto-Content Analysis (done as a background task, and performed quickly), which would identify clips (single shot, wide shot, close-up, two people, etc.), analyze video for stabilization and color correction and analyze the audio, etc. I didn’t do any of that, but I can do it anytime by right-clicking the clip and instruct FCP X to do it.

The keywords are really handy, since everyone involved with the film, cast and crew, were asked basically the same questions, and I can easily find which ones said more about a certain question that I can pull from during that part of the documentary, plus anything of interest. Most of these interviews were one- to two-man bands, and no logging was ever done. So this is VERY helpful with all these long interviews!

From there, I can have FCP X create Smart Collections based on the analysis of footage, keywords, etc. This is a tremendous way of organizing all the footage, which is nicely organized to begin with, not just a bunch of clips I had to manually tell FCP to import into bins I named (tape 1, tape 2, etc.). Metadata also plays a big part in these Smart Collections. I’m going to start organizing things with the Smart Collections, because what’s the point of all my keywords if I don’t use them?

Which leads me to metadata, and this is one that I’m going to need to use Philip Hodgetts’ excellent book, “Conquering the Metadata Foundations of Final Cut Pro X.” This is my next step in FCP X, because I feel metadata, Smart Collections, Content Auto-Analysis, range-based keywords, and more, all put FCP X way ahead of the other pro editing software, including Apple’s own FCP 7. And make no mistake, this is a professional non-linear editing app.

I feel organizing media makes Final Cut Pro X stand above the professional NLE competition, and will make editing much faster. I won’t lie, it was daunting when I first launched the app, but I’m entering in slowly and trying to organize my clips the best way possible. I haven’t done any editing, other than putting one clip on the timeline (woo-hoo!), but that comes next, after I feel comfortable with my media organization.

More soon! Oh, and did I mention the 64-bit really made me smile? Things didn’t drag at all, and I’ve had an 8-core Mac Pro with 8GB of RAM, running FCP 6 three years ago, while cutting a feature film, and it wasn’t nearly as fast as FCP X on a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 (dual-core) Mac mini! That’s not to say a Mac Pro with FCP X won’t be faster than my Mac mini, because it will, of course.