Dec 30, 2011

HVX200 Color Test - Again!

Set the "Way Back" machine for 2005 after the venerable HVX200 hit the HD professional video market:

This was a camera test I created to show just how gorgeous the little Panasonic could look if you dug deep into camera settings to make it more "film like".

Obviously this camera has been succeeded by the HVX200A and HPX170 and of course the newer crop of AVCHD-based cameras such as the AF100 and F3 however, it still amazes me how good this "older" camera still makes images - and it's newer brother the HPX170 is even better.

And personally, I still prefer the P2 cams 422 color space and global shutter to any flavor of 4.2.0 AVCHD and it's associated rolling-shutter issues.

So while the HVX200 is old tech now, it's always good to know that any professional camera can be tweaked to create almost any "look", if you know what you're doing.

Enjoy this blast from the past:

Dec 23, 2011

Where's all the cool OSX Holiday Screen-savers?

Back in '08-'09 there was a flurry of new, advanced-animation 3D screen-savers for Mac OSX that hit  the 'net just before the holidays.

Since then, nothing new has really come out, in fact some of the oldies going back to OS 10.5 aren't around anymore.  Worse yet, many aren't compatible with OS 10.7 Lion!  Huh?

To date the best OSX Holiday-saver I've seen is "Snowmen" from Jason Sikes.  You can get your copy here:

If you know of any newer screen-savers for OSX that are this well-done and look this good, I'd love to hear about it!

Cheers, and Happy Holidays to all.

Nov 4, 2011

Canon's "big" Announcement: The C300 camcorder

As noted in a previous post about Canon's "big" announcement, it seems the rumor mill was spot-on this time.

Canon did indeed reveal a new HD camcorder system, the C300/PL.  Technically two different bodies with the latter offering a PL mount rather than Canon EOS type.

Unfortunately for Canon I can't help but feel they really missed the mark here.  This new camera only shoots an 8-bit MPEG2 long-GOP codec.  Yes, it's a 4:2:2 color space at 50Mbps, but it's still long-GOP using a CMOS chip which means the dreaded rolling shutter issue still exists.

And the price point is way off too, starting somewhere between $15 to $20K.  RED also just announced the long awaited Scarlet, which seems to do the same job but offers RAW capabilities and few other niceties the Canon doesn't - at half the price.

And to top it off, Canon makes mention of yet another DSLR that's supposed to have 4K HD video capabilities. (??)  Huh?  Why the hell didn't they put the 4K option in this new cinema-type camera body instead of a DSLR?  That just makes no sense.

Now if the Panasonic AF100 and the Sony F3 hadn't already hit the market - and if Scarlet wasn't an option - then Canon would surely have cornered the market on a truly game-changing digital-cinema camcorder.  But all they've accomplished is a slight tweaking on already shipping technology and put the Canon logo on it.  That's hardly game-changing and what's worse, there's really no value-add to this new offering.

Neither of these new cameras is shipping yet so the dust is far from being cleared out yet from this latest announcement, but personally for the money/capabilities the Canon is offering you'd be better off with either the Sony F3 or Scarlet.

Vincent LaForet, who almost single handedly showed the world what DSLR video was capable of, has a video review of his use of the new C300 but unfortunately it's quite obvious he was paid by Canon to use it for a new film and, to give a subsequent glowing review of the new toy.  So basically his supposedly unbiased "review" is easily debunked by the reality of what this new camera does and doesn't offer, and the fact that he's had his hands in Canon's pockets now for years also adds to the review being less than independent and without bias.

I really hate it when over-glossy marketing hype attempts to take over reality, something Apple has mastered for years, but clearly Canon has been drinking their own Kool-Aid and is now offering the public to share the drink.

Thanks, I'll pass and keep my real-world sobriety.

Sep 27, 2011

1992 Kawasaki Zephyr 750 Review


It may seem odd to some that a review is being given to a motorcycle that's more than 10 years old but in fact, one of the great things about 'bikes is that regardless of age most of them (with few exception to the exotics) are just as viable today as when they were brand-new.  The reason for this is that little has changed in motorcycle technology.  Sure, newer bikes have fuel-injection rather than carburetors and the ultra-high-end sport-bikes have engine and frame technology that's become completely high-tech, but at the end of the day does all this expensive technology make for a more enjoyable ride?  No, it's still just a motorcycle with 2 wheels, a seat, side-stand, mirrors, brake and gear-shift levers.

To wit, the 1992 Kawasaki Zephyr 750 remains one of the best all-around "standard" style 'bikes ever produced.  Based on the bullet-proof oil-air cooled engine in use for more than 40 years and frame designs going back to the 1970's legendary "Z1" the Zephyr 750 combines classic design with modern touches, such as the three-spoked, brushed lip magnesium wheels, a 4-into-2 chrome exhaust and updated emissions controls for EPA regulations.

The Zephyr isn't a sport-bike by design but it's no slouch either; twist the throttle on the rev-happy motor and you'll be greeted with plenty of low-end torque for full-stop starts and even more pull from a roll-on power-up.  And unlike it's Ninja cousins it's not top-heavy with the power-band giving the rider a very usable boost right in the middle about 5000rpm.

The decades-old engine design is not only rock-stable reliable but glass smooth too; since the compression ratio of this older motor design isn't pushed to the limits like the ZX series the engine doesn't have to work as hard nor rev as high to find it's usable power, making the Zephyr as playful in town as it is comfortable on extended high-speed freeway jaunts.  And unlike it's typically buzzy Ninja cousins you won't find any annoying bar or footpeg vibrations killing your desire for long rides.

The exhaust note from the dual pipes is equally pleasing, with a very smooth purr at idle up to low-level rpms and opening up with a slight growl with hard acceleration or high-end rpms.

From the cockpit the retro-style chrome plated gauges are easy to read and adds to the nostalgic effect the bike produces from onlookers.  And from the seat, the handlebar and footpeg distance and positioning are near-perfect, making the Zephyr 750 the most comfortable and best ergonomically designed bike I've ever ridden or owned.  Great ergonomics is something Honda totally missed the boat with on their earlier Nighthawk-S and later "Nighthawk" 750 as their footpegs were positioned too far forward to properly setup a natural balance between your hands, feet and butt.

But the overall riding experience in the Zephyr 750 is so good it's almost hard to describe.  The combination of ultra-smooth motor, predictable and usable power-band, superb riding position and retro-yet-gorgeous looks really sets this bike apart from everything else on the road, even today in 2009.  In fact, there's no bike in current production today at any price that comes close to the near-perfect riding experience from the '92 Zephyr 750.  None.

So how is the ride on the 750 Zephyr?  I've always said that riding a 'bike is the closest thing to flying while stuck on the ground and riding the 750 Zephyr certainly falls into that same feeling of freedom and a general sense of excitement. 

Because the frame is the "old-school" dual-downtube design which cradles the engine rather than making it a stressed member there's plenty of flex when you bank the Zephyr hard-over into a corner.  You can definitely feel the swing-arm bend to outside of the corner you're in but at the same time the frame is transmitting 100% feedback from the road and tires; you know *exactly* the point just before either tire starts to lose traction and can either back off throttle or unwind the lean-angle before you start kissing precious metal to the road.

In most standard and even low-end sport-bikes one of the major complaints from aggressive riding is that the stock fork-springs become easily overloaded and even bottom-out during hard braking.  I never found that to be the case with the 750 Zephyr and never did any alterations to the front-end.

Similarly, the dual-shock rear suspension had ample spring pre-load to adjust to my regularly aggressive jaunts through the twisties and never seemed to get out of sorts.  I often wondered how the 'bike would handle if it did have a box-section aluminum frame rather than the decades old dual downtube but I'm sure it would have made for a more ZX-7-type stiffness rather than a compliant ride that could handle being tossed around.

One of the great things about the bike is that because of it's retro-meets-modern look most other riders dismissed it as being lethargic and not much of a performer.  I can't tell you how many times I got surprised looks from Gxx'er, Ninja and YZF riders who couldn't  believe that not only could I gain on them in corners but often pass.  Of course in a straight-line it was no-contest as the pure sport-bikes would out-muscle the Zephyr with greater horsepower.  In fact even the '92 ZX-6 E model made more horsepower and was more fuel efficient than the 750 Zephyr.  But again, being the fastest wasn't the point of owning a Zephyr.

And speaking of performance there's yet another benefit to not having a pure sport-bike:  Insurance rates.  My '92 750 Zephyr cost about 1/10th the amount of my '92 ZX-6 to insure for a year.  And honestly, the Zephyr was a lot more fun and, much more unique.


I haven't seen any of these on the road in more than, geez... 10 or 12 years now. Kawasaki never sold these in great numbers because the American public never fell in love with the "naked sportbike" or even retro-bike concept to the level that cruisers or sport-bikes have enjoyed.  Which is really too bad since some of the worlds best motorcycles fall into the standard or "naked-sportbike" categories such as the Bandit 400, Nighthawk-S/Nighthawk 750, CB-1, CB1000, Kawi ZRX, Yamaha Fazer, GPz1100... the list goes on.

If I could find another '92 Zephyr 750 even in fair condition I'd jump on it, restore it and keep it until my bones are too old to swing over the seat.  The 750 Zephyr is by far the best looking, most enjoyable motorcycle I've ever owned, without reservation.  And that's saying something since I've owned more than 100 motorcycles in my lifetime - so far!


Final Cut Pro X: The second attempt

Like so many others I deeply panned the release of Final Cut Pro X for various and solid reasons, many of which Apple finally admitted to having "goofed" without actually saying it outright.

However they just recently released a free trial and so I thought I'd attempt a second look at FCP X, dig deeper, spend more time getting my head around the interface to see if my opinions had changed at all.

And not surprisingly my opinions haven't changed one bit:  It's still is iMovie on steroids.

There are things that "X" does better than FCP 7, such as being able to immediately and effortlessly scrub, organize and preview effects on clips, but overall the interface, workflow and handling of assets is so completely removed from traditional methods that it *forces* the editor to work in this new environment, rather than giving him the *option* as to whether or not to fully adopt it.

An easier analogy would be to say this:  Imagine you're working in FCP 7 and all of a sudden your interface becomes iMovie... and you'll start to understand the frustration levels you'd endure if that actually happened.

As I expected prior to the release and most certainly now that I've given FCP X a second-chance overview, I'm thoroughly convinced that it's target market is the iMovie editor who wants FCP capabilities but wants the overly simplistic "do it for me" interface of iMovie.

Maybe someday somebody wil figure out how to incorporate all the cool and fast interface tricks FCP X is capable of but put it into a traditional - and more logical - NLE package.  Then we'd really have a game-changing editor.

But, that's exactly what the entire community *expected* FCP X was going to be.  Sadly, it's just not and most likely never will be.

Sep 25, 2011

Panasonic AF100: HD-DSLR Killer, or not?

Ever since the AF100 hit the market there seems to have been only two kinds of people relevant to it's existence:  Those who love it, or hate it.  In fact there was for a time a handful of people who seemed to enjoy slamming the new camera with baseless rhetoric on one particular forum to the point that the forum owner took down that category since the posts seemed to go out of control.

Perps with just too much time on their hands or a calculated - and paid for - back-door slander campaign from Sony?

I can tell you from personal experience that it wouldn't be the first time that Sony used the public to spread unsubstantiated lies about their competitors.  Think corporate sabotage happens only in dark rooms with shady players?  Sometimes it's all done right out in the open; people never expect subversive behavior to be going on right in front of them.  But that's a post for another time and place...

But what about the topic of this post?  Even before the first retail unit of the AF100 was available to the public it was being deemed the, "DSLR Killer".  So, is it?  That depends on your point of view and, your budget!

Recently, Zacuto released a series of very expensive and well-produced short series of videos called, "The Great Camera Shootout", which featured all the current players of high-quality HD video cameras from the 7D all the way up to the ARRI Alexa and RED and compared them to traditional film cameras.  If you haven't watched it yet I highly recommend it.

In it you'll find that in all the tests, there was very little difference in image quality between the Sony F3, Panny AF100 and the two Canon bodies, the 5D MkII and 7D.  (Interestingly enough, I found that the 7D seemed to outperform the 5DMkII just slightly in several areas).

Now that may come as a big surprise, that the DSLR's weren't "terrible" up against real video cameras.  But ironically, the AF100 and F3 were also not night-and-day better than the Canons!  That being the case, why bother with an AF100 then?  Good question!

The big thing filmmakers have always wanted from their video cameras was the film-like depth-of-field that true film cameras have; the AF100, F3 and the Canon DSLR's all have this look.  But that's only half the equation.

The other half is having real video-camera type controls over things like shutter, iris (aperture), frame-rate, audio, timecode, internal ND filters and external monitoring.  These are all attributes that are either slightly wonky to accomplish in a DSLR or just isn't possible at all.  Yet.

But all these things ARE possible in the AF100.  But yet again, with exception to timecode coming from the camera, there are a plethora of workarounds and third-party add-ons to get all these things from a DSLR.  So we're back to the original question:  Is the AF100 the HD-DSLR killer?  Yes, and no.  Huh?

OK, let's look at it from two perspectives:  One from the no-budget one-man-band type producer who needs the film-look but needs to spend the least amount of cash as possible.  That usually means a DSLR.  A bare-bones DSLR rig would amount to the camera body, a decent zoom lens (such as Canon's 24-105mm f/4 L), and an external audio recorder and mic.  All that would set you back roughly $3500... or so depending on what other accessories you needed like a decent video tripod/head, stands etc.

A bare-bones AF100 such as the kit Panny sells with the 14-140mm lens and battery sells for just under $5000.  So from a bare-bones cash perspective you could save around $1500 with a DSLR.

BUT, the story doesn't end there because the 7D can't do all the things the AF100 can such as:

  • In-Camera VFR (variable frame-rate recording, which means slow or fast motion)
  • In-Camera two-channel XLR audio
  • Built-in 3-stage ND filters
  • Black & White mode (yes, it really shoots B&W in-camera)
  • The ability to change advanced camera settings such as gamma curves, pedestal, chroma phase, vertical detail, etc.
  • In-camera timecode in and out
  • True 8-bit HD-SDI out allowing 4:2:2 color space recording
  • In-camera audio monitoring
...and a host of other features too long to list.

Most of what's listed above the 5DMkII nor 7D - nor any DSLR for that matter is capable of, period.  And you shouldn't ever expect them to be able to... since they're STILLS cameras, not dedicated video cameras.

So is there anything the 7D can do better than the AF100?  Yes, take still photos!  That's what it's been optimized to do.

Listen, I've shot with both the 5D MkII and the 7D and I like them both.  They've both been used in countless features, commercials and indie films.  In fact Philip Bloom recently used his 5D MkII on a feature for LucasFilm and I've used the 5DMkII for my own commercial work as well.  But at the end of the day, a DSLR isn't as easy, as fast to setup and use nor as versatile for real filming than a dedicated video camera.

So for me, given a choice I'll always reach for an AF100 before a DSLR everytime.

UPDATE:  One thing I forgot to mention, is that getting critical focus from the built-in rear LCD on any DSLR is almost impossible, and damned frustrating at best.  So that means you'd need to use a loupe-style viewer of some sort - such as the EVF Pro from Zacuto - to really be able to see what you're doing.  That setup costs around $1200, which for the most part negates any savings you might have hoped for using a DSLR-type rig.

So why bother and just get an AF100!  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.  That is, unless Canon's November 3rd "historical event" is going to give us another game-changing *real* video camera.


Sep 20, 2011

Apple Issues free trial of Final Cut X

If you've been paying attention to the recent debacle surrounding Apple's release of Final Cut Pro "X" you know the majority of the Final Cut userbase (including myself) were flabbergasted and disgusted with the direction it took.

Not to mention that a large number of people who purchased the new app got a refund from Apple because of the major issues and unseen gotchas that reared their ugly head.

However Apple in rare form has done two things to being to address the long list of issues surrounding "X":

They've just released a major update to the app with a few bug fixes and added just a few of the functionality items missing from X and;

This update also comes with a free 30-day trial (a first for any Apple-branded app!) so anyone can take it for a spin and see how it handles:

What's NOT clear - because it's not stated anywhere on Apple's webpages - are what limitations, if any, there are associated with the trial version.  I plan to find out myself and will update as needed.

I'd highly suggest anyone curious about FCP X to use the trial and put it through it's paces.  And while you're at it, download the free trial of Premiere Pro as well... and YOU be the judge, not the over-hyped marketing materials!

Aug 14, 2011

Adobe Production Premium CS5.5: The future for Final Cut Pro users

If you've paid attention to the recent Final Cut Pro X debacle and are wondering like so many others if Apple has either lost their mind or, given up on the truly professional editor, the answers to both should unequivocally be, "Yes".

There are a handful of posts from people with a great deal more direct-Apple information than I have, who've very simply stated two things about Apple's perspective on "pro" users.

One:  Apple has always - and arrogantly - assumed that it's own direction, rather than listening to it's user-base - is the best direction, period.  End of story.  Apple may once in a while, give into mass-grumblings when things go really badly or if there's a widespread problem will issue a fix, but as a general rule, it's the Steve Jobs way or the highway.

Second, Apple only wants to produce things that nobody else is doing.  They don't want to fortify someone else's idea, expand on existing product structures or simply "update" older software/hardware.  They want to go Apple's direction only, and continue to feed the Jobs lemonade to the world.

And from the outside you'd be hard-pressed to think they've got it wrong, just recently during the week-long roller-coaster ride on Wall Street Apple was listed as *the* most valuable company in the world, with Exxon-Mobile coming in second place.  Apple has billions - yes, Billions of dollars in CASH and they've gotten there by concentrating in one single direction:  iProducts.

Apple has been, ever since the introduction of iTunes a consumer-centric and iProduct tunnel-visioned company and they've reaped their rewards.

So even if you're a loyal Apple customer and have been paying the bills using "professional" Apple products, and Steve Jobs decides that your current software - that being Final Cut Pro - is in need of drastic makeover and needs to be different than every other NLE on the planet, so different in fact that you no longer have a future path forward with your "old" version of Final Cut, Steve Jobs doesn't care.  Not one bit.

Why?  Because you're a pain-in-the-ass pro customer, and he's making his billions off the general consumer.  And so he's going to finally squeeze you out of the equation by turning Final Cut Pro X into "iMovie on Steriods" and laugh all the way to the bank.

In the meantime, you're sitting left feeling less like a professional editor and more like the red-headed step-child nobody will sit next to in class.  So if you're Mac-based are you now doomed to a future where you're  using old technology while your PC counterparts vault ahead of you in capabilities?  Of course not.

Just a few short years ago Adobe's Premiere Pro product lagged behind Final Cut and the rest of the NLE marketplace for years.  Why isn't quite clear, but what IS crystal clear ever since NAB 2007 is that Premiere Pro is back, and in a very BIG way, and in point of fact trounced FCP's capabilities starting with the version launched at NAB '07.

Today Premiere Pro and it's pro suite offering, Production Premium, is so far ahead of both FCP 7 and "X" that it's almost laughable to make a direct comparison.

I've spent the bulk of this post flushing out the future of pro-apps for Apple's software lineup, but my next post will talk about WHY every Final Cut Pro user on the planet needs to take a serious look at the Production Premium bundle from Adobe, and never look back.

Jun 26, 2011

Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Pro: You need this!

Every once in a while a manufacturer brings a new product to market that's a hit out of the park.  Apple has done it several times (although FCP X is *not* one of them), but Zacuto has just released theirs:  The "Z-Finder EVF Pro", and if you're a camera operator of any kind, you need this in your toolkit.

Every successful director, producer, DP and camera OP knows that the best imagery for motion pictures can only occur when the camera itself is in motion.  Static camera = boring compositions and less than compelling imagery.

But moving the camera around, whether it's on a jib, dolly, articulated arm (steady-cam device), skater or even a hit-hat sitting on the ground means that the camera's viewfinder and even flip-out LCD is no longer viewable or easily accessible.  That means you need an external monitor of some sort connected to the camera in a remote location so the operator can see what's going on!  That problem is exacerbated by DSLR's which have no built-in articulated LCD forcing the user to be at eye-level with the LCD itself, which also means there are several camera angles and moves that just aren't possible because you can't view what you're doing or, make critical focus adjustments.

Traditionally adding an external monitor meant you'd need at a minimum a 7" to 9" inch monitor with it's own mounting, power source and if you're shooting on location in bright daylight a hood to keep distracting glare of the screen.  And high-quality monitors - especially those that are color-correct with professional features - are not cheap.  When you add up all the stuff you'd really need for the average external cam-monitor you can easily break the $5000 mark, or more if you're willing to go top-of-the-line.  And that may sound downright crazy for those who "just want to get my monitor off the camera!".  Zacuto has you covered.

The Z-Finder EVF Pro is a god-send to every camera with an HDMI out, which covers a great deal of the latest camera models produced today including many DSLR's.

Unlike traditional external monitors, the concept behind the Z-Finder EVF Pro is this:  Take a high-resoution LCD monitor that's color-correct, such as those used on something like the 5D MK II, and put it into a dedicated monitor-only form factor with it's own power source.  And add commonly used external monitor features to boot.  And that's exactly what Zacuto did.

This newly released mini monitor has everything you need from an external:

  • A color & gamma-correct screen
  • Focus assist (peaking)
  • Waveform scope
  • Brightness, contrast, gamma and other manual corrections
  • Two-level Zebras
  • Color Bars generator
  • Blue Only option
...and more.

The Z-Finder EVF Pro is actually a combination of two Zacuto products, the EVF Flip and the Z-Finder Pro.  That means you can either use the monitor alone or, snap on the Z-Finder Pro and look through a magnified, focusable loupe with eyecup.

The EVF Flip is self-powered by a battery similar in size to what the 5D Mk II uses.  I used it for a shoot all day and still had nearly a full charge available.  Not impossible when you think that battery only has to power an LCD screen, not an entire camera!

Mounting this mini monitor is a snap; the unit comes with a hot-shoe micro-ball for mounting directly on-top of a DSLR (although some video cameras also have hot-shoe mounts) or, you can use on of several mounting options also available from Zacuto, such as the Z-American Arm, Zud or literally a dozen or so combinations of arms and mounts.

And how about actual usage?  It's a dream come true.  Again, I used the EVF Fiip/Z-Finder Pro combination literally all day on a shoot and had it mounted to the Zacuto Red Plate system via extension arm and swivel mount.  That gave me the ability to rotate the mini monitor in any position I needed it to be.

Not only that, but the color, gamma and exposure was spot-on right from the factory, no adjustments were required.  While using the 5D Mk II I made all my exposure adjustments on-camera and what I saw on the EVF Pro is exactly what I got in post.

The EVF Flip also has built-in setup and aspect-ratio presets for popular cameras - like the 5D Mk II!

As I mentioned above, the Z-Finder EVF Pro is designed for and HDMI input, however there are small converters on the market that will take camera component (RGB) or HD-SDI and convert it into HDMI.

And price?  You'd think something of this nature that's been totally designed by and for professionals would at least be $1000 bucks, easy.  Right?  Wrong.  How about less than $400 dollars?  Huh?!  Yep, for less than 400 clams (that's US Dollars, boys) you can get everything you need and then some for an external monitor.

Highly Recommended

There's just no way to beat the cost-effectiveness, versatility and professional utility this mini monitor.  Get one, be happy - very, very happy.

Final Cut Pro X: The Beginning of the End.

We've all come to expect new and amazing technology from Apple over the years, what with the revolutionary Mac OS X and game-changing iTunes, iPhone and of course the iPad.

But what myself and other pro-film/video industry professionals have noticed in the past 4 years - really ever since NAB '07, is that Apple has very distinctly been putting all their resources into the consumer world and nearly ignoring the professional.  Yet in spite of that general consumer-first direction Apple continued to produce and support some of the industry's best applications for pro-video and film, The Final Cut Pro suite.  Now that Final Cut Pro "X" has been released Apple's support for full-time professionals has clearly ended.

If you watched the Keynote address about the announcement and feature overview of FCP X on the web you'd think that all the glorious praise and applause was because Apple had finally produced an professional editing app that was a "hit out of the park" and this new iteration of Final Cut would be better than sliced bread.

However my take on that preview of FCP X was distinctly different, as what I saw was something that looked suspiciously like an iMovie interface and lo-and behold, a very iMovie-like approach to features and workflow.

Most disturbing was the "let the application attempt to fix everything on import" mantra, where FCP X will auto white-balance, auto de-shake, auto categorize... auto this, auto that... basically screw up all your "I shot it that way!" footage.

As any creative pro knows, you don't want the camera or your software packages making decisions *for you*, you want full control over the entire process from the first time you press the start-stop button to the final output.  That's not the methodology behind FCP X, Apple thinks professionals are stupid and can't figure out what they really need, so they're going to let FCP X make these all-important decisions for you. How nice.  But that's not the worst of it.

FCP X doesn't like professional editors, not one bit.  That's why you CAN'T import any project built in any other version of FCP.  That's right, that big project you finished for your client that you want to re-make again?  You'll have to keep it in FCP 7 forever.  Period.  End of story.  Oh but it get's worse.

FCP X hates pros so much, that it won't talk to professional audio formats at all; no OMF, AAF or XML.  Not unless you want to spend another $500 from Automatic Duck to fix that issue.

FCP X also has absolutely no method for working with EDL's at all.  None.  Again, if you're a professional editor FCP X hates you.  Passionately.

How many other ways does FCP X hate professional editors?  Let's see:
  • No tape-based workflows
  • No separation of render files from original assets
  • No third-party effects plug-in support (the thousands of dollars you spent on your effects library, throw it all away)
  • No RED support!  Huh?  A brand-new editor that can't talk to RED out of the box? Are you kidding me??!!!  New versions of editing software always ADD support for more cameras/formats - this one is taking them away!!  C'mon, Apple.
  • No support for the current infrastructure of external video cards.  Yep, you'll need new versions of those my friends.
And the list goes on....

Look, if you're a guy with a video camera and like shooting home movies but have outgrown iMovie or Window Movie Maker then FCP X is your ticket to more creativity.

But if you're a full-time professional who MAKES THEIR LIVING from being an editor then stay away from FCP X and stick with FCP 7 for the foreseeable future.  At least until you can figure out a strategy to switch to another editing platform, say Premiere Pro or Avid.

Conclusion: FAIL - Miserably.

Again I say: C'mon Apple... WTF you idiots!!

Jan 4, 2011

Pro Flight Simulator - It's a scam!

If you enjoy the hobby/passion of flight simulation then you're most likely always on the lookout for add-on's and ways to make it more realistic.  And, whether or not there's something being developed that's better than Microsoft's Flight Simulator "X" or, FSX as it's users and fan-base commonly refer to it.

In my own perusal of the 'net looking for the "latest and greatest" in FSX enhancements I came across a "new" flight simulator that's been getting a lot of web-visibility called, "Pro Flight Simulator".  At first blush it seemed like something that would trounce the current flight-sim king, FSX, what with the glossy marketing campaign and short but well-produced video teaser.  But in fact it's a wolf in sheep's clothing:  Make no mistake, this is a very well-disguised and pre-packaged scam!!

I first became alerted to the possibility that this new flight-sim offering might be more hype than reality by three very significant things:

1.  I found that every "review" was nothing more than a boiler-plate of over-hyped positive commentary - and that nearly every review posted was nothing more than a copy-paste of this same initial review - a word for word duplicate.

2.  Every review I found also had several hot-links back to the primary website for "Pro Flight Simulator" and it became clear that the review sites were truly nothing more than affiliates who had jumped on-board to try and sell it.  In fact if you look at the internal pages for Pro Flight Simulator you'll find they're actively looking for affiliates to post their "review" and subsequently offer the product for sale.

3.  One of the supposed review sites actually had the title:  Pro Flight Simulator: Is it a scam?". And then of course it went on to say quite emphatically that it was not a scam and how absolutely wonderful the software is. Really?  How stupid do they assume the general public is, anyway.  You're trying to *sell* a product by initially defending whether or not it's a scam?  C'mon people.

Alas, Pro Flight Simulator is nothing more than the freeware package that's been around for years called, "Flight Gear", of which there are both Mac and PC versions. What this company has done is to simply bundle together all the code you would normally have to compile manually to make a complete installation and put it on a DVD with an installer.  Any average computer geek could do the same thing in about 10 minutes - again, totally for free.

And while Flight Gear does have some amazing features it's nowhere close to the technology built into FSX - or even X-Plane for that matter.  And the visuals in Pro Flight Simulator are... well, several generations behind FSX both in detail and available animations.

Pro Flight Simulator comes it two flavors:  Really cheesy old-school technology for $50 or, you can add more cheese with the world scenery package for a whopping total of $140 - not including shipping.

By contrast FSX Gold Edition costs less than $20 in most national software retailers and is the latest and greatest currently available.

Or you could get all the components of Flight Gear totally FREE and compile the components and have a fully functional - and fun - flight sim.

So, if you enjoy getting ripped off by very a smart, glossy marketing campaign then be my guest.  But if you're like me and actually want something that's worth the asking price then get FSX and enjoy!