Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What happens in Vegas...(FCP X preview)

One variant of the saying goes 'What happens in Vegas...stays in Vegas' (substitute 'on location', 'on the road', 'in the cutting room' as you like).   But this time what happened last night in Vegas will be spreading round the web as the world (or at least the FCP-aware part of it) awakes.   And why should this blog be any different?

The best account I've found so far is thanks to the ever-reliable (!) macrumors site.    Yes, US spelling of rumour.   Read it here.   

Welcome back.   By the way, did you spot anyone you know in the snaps?   I hope to have some first-hand reports from our agents in time for the next wefcpug meeting.   Of course, the next stage will be a bonfire of speculation, further rumour and spurious advice.   Again I say, why should this blog be any different?

So here goes:
- as widely expected, it'll be the full monty regarding Cocoa coding, 64-bit, use of all processor cores, internal workings reliant on core animation, 'Grand Central Dispatch' and other OS X thingies.  Background rendering (yay), background 'conversion' of footage during ingest.   Flash interface with new wizzy timeline (no-one mention iMovie, right?)

- some nice surprises in the handling of sync (in theory it'll all stay together 'magnetically' folks) and audio processing in the timeline.   Looks a bit Soundtrack-like:  it's very easy to add fade-ups and downs at the ends of clips in STPro by option dragging the edge.   I hope and expect they've added the other nice thing I like in STPro of automatically mixing between tracks if you deliberately extend one into the other.

- no mention of the future plans for the rest of the suite - though there is a hint here that there's more to come.

- the big news for me is the promised scalability of performance - the implication I read is that FCP X will use as many cores as it finds (or is allowed) and this will mean it's worth buying the big Mac Pro towers after all!

- I see a familiar looking top menu bar and timeline in some screen shots, so it's not going to be a start-from-scratch for any of us.

- I 'look forward' to seeing demos of the face recognition, automated filling in of metadata and sorting, and 'advanced precision timeline'.   Time will tell if these are help or hindrance.   Same thing goes for the helpful automatic syncing of footage.   An aside:   there's always an exception that will trip up automated processes.   Take the 'Ben Hur' theatre project I shot and edited last year.   The master takes had two sound tracks - direct feed from the theatre sound desk, and my own mic feed.   They weren't in sync with each other:  not a technical error, just a matter of physics.   Although the delayed feed to the house speakers didn't help either!   How would the automatics cope with that, I wonder?

Predictions I feel safe in making:   it'll need 'Lion' running on as powerful a Mac as you can afford, with much RAM as you can afford.  While you're at it, you might want to upgrade your internet connection too, since FCP X will be bought via the online Apps Store.   BTW the US price quoted is $299.   No mention of upgrade price - this seems to be the way Apps are priced on the store (see 'Aperture').  And there probably won't be much change from £299 either, once VAT is added - but that's speculation on my part.

What we don't know about.   Where to start?   The rest of the suite (see link above for a hint).   Interchangeability with older project files (bet that's one way).   Will legacy projects be analysed and 'improved' on the fly?   Is ProRes the one-size-fits-all setting?   Do we have the same runaround with settings and preferences as today?  How long until there's more to see on the Apple site?  

Your views, fears and hopes welcomed - at our next meeting if not beforehand.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The truth about Salford

One (amongst many) irritations in the news coverage of the Beeb's move to Salford has a light shone upon it today in a piece in the Manchester Guardian.   (I know, I just write that to annoy).
Read about it here

Apart from the writer's perceptive comment that
Salford has never lacked creative talent. This is the city that produced Ben Kingsley and Christopher Eccleston, Tony Wilson and Shelagh Delaney, the Ting Tings and Happy Mondays,
(which puzzlingly fails to mention me), the comments below the piece online give a hint of the tough choices that people are facing.

To add a personal perspective (what else are blogs for?):
I was born in Manchester, grew up in Salford (actually in Eccles, to be even more pedantic) and, like all Salfordians, wish to preserve the distinction between the twin cities.   Alas, my campaign to echo the Minneapolis-St Paul concept (even the initial letters match) has not yet borne fruit, but I remain hopeful.  I well remember the 'Nations & Regions' conference held in the Lowry centre at which Tony Wilson campaigned for a significant BBC presence (he was talking of a channel) in Manchester - and was somewhat patronised by the audience for walking into fantasy.
I wish the Beeb folk at the Media City well, obviously, but not without reservations.   For a start, I'll quite miss that horrible 60's block that is 'New' Broadcasting House, Manchester.   Nor am I a fan of the modern mega-blocks that the BBC now inhabits - Media City has the look of a sterile environment, and the PR about how exciting it'll be smacks of hysteria to me.   What is it about the BBC that's driving it to the waterside in all its office moves?  Glasgow - check, Birmingham - check (canals, admittedly), Salford - surrounded on 3 sides by the stuff.

A hint here for Bristol?

RTS Bristol meeting - Freesat HD

I should have noted our thanks to the RTS Bristol Centre for acting as co-host to this month's wefcpug workshop on DSLRs - and here's a reminder of their next meeting, as mentioned on Monday.  It is open to members and guests - so do come along.  The meeting, at the BBC building in Bristol, starts at 7.30pm.  I'm promised news of exciting and significant developments in the subscription-free world at this meeting.

This is the RTS notice:

Freesat, the UK’s fastest growing television platform is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV, offering over 140 television and radio channels, including free HD channels - and all subscription free.
James Strickland  is a leading figure in the innovation world and has been responsible for developing the Freesat platform to offer new services and features for viewers. James will explain the operation and take a look at the future for subscription free television.
Please note that this meeting is preceded by the Centre AGM  at 1900  members will receive full information  by post.

The DSLR night - and our next meeting in May

Despite the plague epidemic that struck two of our guest speakers on Monday night (get well soon ) there was plenty to see and touch.   Thanks to Nick and Sundeep of Canon UK for coming along with such an impressive selection of hardware, I think I counted 4 DSLRs plus two video cameras.   (I couldn't get close enough to see them all and count!).   The stunning projector was also a Canon - the WUX10 if anyone's  interested (and let's face it, most of us were).

The next meeting will be the second Monday in May - safely after all the bank holidays and wedding celebrations.   So it's to be Monday May 9th.

Plans at the moment are to do a retrospective of NAB and any announcements that may or may not have been made then :-)