How I Work: App List

I use a lot of extra, smaller programs to make my work easier. After gauging interest on Twitter, it seems many people are curious about what I use. A while back, I wrote about some iOS apps, but an expanded and updated list including Mac apps is due, since many of those apps have been abandoned, or have been replaced in my workflow with others.

Mac

Post Haste (Free) As the original developer of Post Haste, I may be a little biased, but it’s such an indispensable app for preparing a folder structure (and template project files) to keep everything organized. Digital Rebellion has done a terrific job with version 2 and is continuing to take it places I never could have.

Alfred (Free, £15) A long time ago, I was an avid Quicksilver user. But Alfred has since taken it’s place. Alfred is a great way to not only launch apps, but quickly browse or search the file system, open 1Password logins, assign system-wide hotkeys to nearly anything it can control, and so much more through extensions. To get the most out of Alfred, you’ll need the Power Pack, but it’s well worth the cost of entry.

iStat Menus ($16) I like to keep an eye on my system, especially now that I’m on a laptop. iStat Menus is an easy way to do that. With a quick glance to my menu bar, I can see how hard my processors are working, how much RAM I have available, the ambient temperature of my machine, disk activity, and network activity. There’s also a free dashboard widget available with access to the same info, but I’m not sure if it’s still actively maintained.

Transmit ($34) FTP is just a part of online life ((Personally, I prefer not to use services like YouSendIt, DropBox, etc… It just never seemed very professional to me. But I realize not everyone has access to their own FTP server.)). Transmit is my go-to FTP (and more) client. It’s just very well polished, and can even keep favorite connections in your menu bar, or mount servers right in the Finder. There are other free FTP clients out there, but Panic really knows what they’re doing.

Carbon Copy Cloner ($20) Although many might dismiss this as simply an rsync wrapper, Carbon Copy Cloner is such a great utility to have. For me, it makes a weekly bootable clone of my system drive, and will also be used to make incremental backups of project files and assets to archive on a 3TB Guardian MAXimus I have coming in.

CrashPlan (Free, $1.50-$12/mo.) I know I am no longer biased since I work for Code 42 Software, but CrashPlan has been such an integral part of my backup solution for many years prior. It’s free to use if you just backup locally or to a friend’s computer. If you wish to backup remotely to CrashPlan’s servers, a CrashPlan+ subscription is required. I have the Family Unlimited plan which allows me to back up up to 10 computers.

Growl (Free for OS X 10.6 and lower, $1.99 for OS X 10.7) I really don’t like pop-ups interrupting me while I’m working, but sometimes they can be extremely useful. Growl lets me configure notifications from supported apps and even has a Boxcar plugin, which is great for getting notifications from BG Renderer.

iOS Apps

ColorSchemer (Free) I’ve only recently started using it, but ColorSchemer is a great app for browsing and generating color palettes. You can arbitrarily set up your own color schemes, or pull them from a photo. This has replaced both ColorSlide and cliqcliq Colors (the latter has since been abandoned).

Animator SW ($2.99) Sometimes, you just need an easy way to time out actions when animating. Animator AW allows you to time frames of action. For example, if you’re animating a character, you can act out the motions yourself, and mark a keyframe at each important step. You’ll then have a list of how long each action takes and on which frames they occur. FPS is fully customizable and a log can be emailed out.

KataData ($4.99) Video footage takes up a lot of space. KataData can calculate storage for various camera & codec formats. Just enter the total running time of your footage (or renders) and it will show you how much drive space you’ll need.

Timecode ($6.99) Panoptik’s Timecode is just a great timecode calculator. It can even display comparative timecodes of different formats (eg, DF vs NDF, PAL vs NTSC, frames vs 35mm 3-perf, etc).

Due ($4.99) I usually need reminders or timers running. Due is the best timer/reminder app I’ve seen for iOS. It’s extremely fast and easy to set up reminders or timers on my iPhone 4, which is important because I want to do stuff, not spend time setting up a reminder to tell me to do stuff. There’s also a companion or stand-alone OS X app available.

Clear ($2.99) While a simple list app, you really have to use Clear to see how smart it is. Completely gesture driven, Clear a fun way for me to keep lists throughout the day, and check things off or remove them as needed. Are there other apps that do the same thing? Definitely, but this just works for me.

So there it is, the list of small but important software in my daily workflow. Do you use anything you think I should check out or that might work better? Let me know. I’m always willing to try something new.

Making Intuos 5 Touch Work

Part of my everyday gear includes a Wacom. At home and my previous jobs, that would have been my personal Intuos 4. At Code 42, I received a brand new Intuos 5 which includes touch gestures, similar to a trackpad. Unfortunately, those gestures just don’t work reliably. And because of the way I use my tablet, with the keyboard above, I got a lot of accidental touch events. Here’s how I tamed them.

First, a picture of my setup…

As you can see, any time I reach over the tablet to type, that could cause problems for touch gestures. ((I prefer my tablet here, as opposed to the side where a typical mouse would be, because it feels more natural that way.)) To remedy that, I disabled most of the touch gestures and limited them to mostly scrolls/pans. Here’s my settings:



I slowed down the pointer speed to reduce unwanted cursor movement as I use the keyboard. I also completely disabled any clicking. Zoom & rotate were finicky at best, and don’t even seem to function in After Effects, so they were disabled as well. This leaves scrolling and navigation, which is what I really want touch gestures to be. It’s really nice to just lift my pen and use the same hand to switch between desktops, reveal the desktop, and even use Launchpad. ((Yes, sometimes I use launchpad. If set up right, it can work well.)) For custom gestures, I modified three finger tap & hold to save, and disabled five finger anything. Holding a pen, it’s not an easy gesture, especially when trying to keep the pen far enough away from the tablet to enable touch.

Ideally, I’d like to see Wacom do three things with their drivers. 1.) Somehow increase reliability of touch, but I have no idea of the engineering already involved in the current drivers. 2.) Be able to relegate touch input to a certain portion of the tablet, in my case the left side or corner. 3.) Add a customizable delay to the “Show Express View” option. This wasn’t covered here, but if you rest your finger or hand on the Express Keys, a HUD pops on screen showing you what they do. Current delay is just under a second, and I hit it a lot while typing.

So that’s what I do to tame touch on the Intuos 5. After using it this way for about a week, it’s working well so far. I still have to customize the Express Keys and customize settings for each app. But I’m waiting for my tower to come in before I do that. ((I’m temporarily on an i5 iMac, waiting for my tower to arrive with dual displays.))

So Long Milwaukee and Thanks For All The Beer

For the past several years I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best video and advertising talent in Milwaukee. Most of those years were spent holding residency at Civilian Edit, then Wonder Wonder, but also freelancing for additional projects. Milwaukee is one of the only homes I’ve known, both professionally and personally. As of May 2012, that will no longer be the situation.

In January, I was approached by Code 42 Software in Minneapolis for a motion design position within the company. After many emails, Skype calls, and a trip to the Twin Cities, I signed the papers last week to accept the offer. I will be continuing my work at Wonder Wonder through the end of April, then packing up the family to move in the beginning of May.

This was an extremely difficult decision to make, in no small part because nearly our entire family, our support network, and most of my colleagues all reside in Milwaukee. To a lesser extent, but still a factor, moving to a full-time in-house position from a multi-client full-time freelance position had to be weighed ((This might warrant its own blog post as I’ve had several discussions with many wise people about this topic.)). In the end, my family and I decided we had to give it a chance.

Fortunately, we live in a time where my kids can have a video conversation with their grandparents back home, where most of my outside freelance work could be (and is) done remotely, where social networks and the Internet in our pockets let us easily communicate with anyone at any time. Distance is becoming less and less of an obstacle. But even when we do travel home, it’s only a five-and-a-half hour drive from Minneapolis to Milwaukee.

Every single person I know in Milwaukee we be missed. And I truly mean that. I hope to continue the relationships I have with everyone here.

So long, Milwaukee! We’ll keep in touch!

Post Haste v2.0 – Now With More Awesome


Post Haste is a simple app that started as a script for a post house I was working in. They needed a simple way to set up a project folder structure consistently for all the edit suites. I got to work in Apple Script, though quickly realized it was limiting; I opened up Xcode for the first time and got cracking. The response was great. Some people had some really great ideas for the app that would make it even better. Unfortunately, being a motion designer & video editor first, my coding skills were lacking to add the features I and others wanted to see in Post Haste.

Several months ago, I began a conversation with Jon Chappell, CEO of Digital Rebellion about Post Haste. A few tweets and emails later, and he was fast at work coding alphas of Post Haste 2.0.

From this point forward, all maintenance and future releases of Post Haste will be handled by Digital Rebellion. I am staying with the project as a co-project director with Jon.

So today, right now, you can get Post Haste 2.0 from Digital Rebellion’s site, still for free. Here’s some of the new features:

  • 64-bit
  • Multiple Template Support
  • Edit and Create New Template In-App
  • Live Preview of Project Name
  • New Template Files Allow Easy Sharing of Templates
  • Optional History for Fields to Remember Previous Entries, Such as Clients
  • Folder Breaks for a More Robust Folder Structure
  • Assign a Hotkey to Launch Post Haste (Requires FCP Maintenance Pack 1.3 or Higher)

This is a huge update and Jon’s done a fantastic job. If you have any questions about this release, or the future of Post Haste, feel free to contact me or Jon at Digital Rebellion.

Thank you so much for your support of Post Haste 1.0-1.1. The enthusiasm & support from the post community is what made it possible to develop the software in the first place. Now, it will go even farther in the hands of a talented developer.

MCA-I Madison Session Notes

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at a breakout session for the MCA-I Madison Spring seminar. The topic was tapeless post-production workflow (specifically for FCP, but we did briefly discuss Avid & Premiere Pro). I promised everyone there I would post links to resources and some of the software we discussed in that session (and some we didn’t get to), so here it is:

Software:
Canon EOS Plugin – The official Canon plugin for Log & Transfer. Convoluted download process: Select Mac OSX, then click find “EOS MOVIE Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro Ver1.2” in the list, and accept agreement.
Magic Bullet Grinder ($49) – Batch processing of DSLR footage, including proxies with timecode burn in.
5DtoRGB – Process DSLR footage with more control and bypass QuickTime.
5DDtoRGBB – (Unmentioned) Will launch multiple instances of 5DtoRGB for pseudo-batch processing.
Clipfinder 2.2 – Software to reconform FCP XML to RED proxies for passing to Color, among other advanced RED functions.
RED Final Cut Studio 3 Installer – Includes QuickTime codec, Log & Transfer plugin, and Color REDRAW plugin, as well as a useful whitepaper on RED workflow.
REDCine-X – 1st light color correction and transcoding of RED files.

Resources:
RED User Forums – (Unmentioned) Community of RED users, including posts from RED staff.
Inexpensive Archiving for Tapless Media – Post from Little Frog in High Def (Shane Ross) covering some LTO solutions he found at NAB2011.
FCP 7 Digital Workflows (PDF) – (Unmentioned) Straight from Apple, covers working in several formats, including REDCODE, P2, XDCAM, and AVC. Unfortunately, it does not cover DSLR footage. And for obvious reasons, only covers Apple software.

So there’s the things we went over, and some items that didn’t make it into the discussion in the alloted time. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

Interlacing: A Twitter Conversation

It all started with this tweet:

the sooner interlaced video dies a horrible death, the better.less than a minute ago via web

Once I retweeted that, it elicited the following response:

@dan_hin @conigs |W|h|a|t|s w|r|o|n|g w|i|t|h i|n|t|e|r|l|a|c|i|n|g|?|less than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac

@vonherwig @dan_hin |h|W|t|a|w s|o|r|g|n i|w|h|t n|i|e|t|l|r|c|a|n|i|?|g| #WrongFieldOrderless than a minute ago via Echofon

@conigs @dan_hin Looks fine on my Trinitron. *shrugs*less than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac

Movie Barcodes

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Just ran across this interesting Tumblog that reduces films to a barcode. The image shown here is from Inception. While I don’t know their exact process, it looks like they are essentially taking frames from the films (reduced to a tiny size, a couple pixels at most) and stacking them to fit into a 1280×480 image (top-bottom, left-right). The result is an interesting look at how color can vary over the course of a story—and contribute to the feel of that story.

Something New…

ML-Banner

If you’re a motion designer, you’ll be interested in something new I’m helping with. A few of us are starting something called The Motion League. More details will come in the next couple weeks.

Post Haste 1.1 Update


I just updated Post Haste to version 1.1. This update introduces a few new features and some bug fixes. If you are unfamiliar with Post Haste, it is a Mac OS X application to set up and automatically rename a project folder template & project files. It was originally developed for an in-house solution to keeping projects organized. You can customize the template and add any files you would like. Any file with the name Template in it will be renamed based on information you enter in the main window, such as project number, client name, date, etc…

The primary new features are:

  1. Template names can now include prefixes & suffixes; ie, only the word “Template” is changed when creating the project. For example, you could use Template_v1.aep, and it would be renamed along the lines 14237_Client_Project_v1.aep, keeping the v1 at the end.
  2. Folders can be renamed in template. Handy if you’ll be moving separate folders to different locations; ie, Template_gfx, Template_sound
  3. “Check for Updates…” added so you can be notified when new updates are available.

There are more features planned in future updates, mostly from user suggestions. If you have any feature requests, find any bugs, or have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Post Haste is completely free to use. No shareware or nagging dialogues. Though if you do find the application useful, donations are always welcome. Thanks for your support and patience while this update was developed!

BG Renderer Hits Version 2

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BG Renderer has officially hit version 2! I use this script daily, and this update is a must have. This time it comes in a basic and pro version. The basic version is very similar to version 1. However, the pro version has several feature improvements. These are the two that caught my eye right away:

  1. Render notifications through email, sms, Growl, or Prowl (for iPhone notifications, though Growl + Boxcar could be used as well).
  2. Render CS3 or CS4 comps in the CS5 render engine (if installed) to take advantage of 64-bit without having to update your project file.

Due to the massive amount of work that went into this update, Lloyd Alvarez made the tough decision to make BG Renderer a paid-license script (currently $4.99 for Basic and $19.99 for Pro, moving up to $14.99 & $29.99 respectively in a couple months). However, if you’ve used version 1, you know this script is worth every penny!