Final Cut Pro X Test Video: XBMC Media Center


Lately, I’ve been trying to get over the learning curve of the new Final Cut Pro X. A lot of people have been pissed off by the total 180 that Apple pulled with this new version. It resembles iMovie for than Final Cut (you can import iMovie projects but not earlier FCP projects), and the new ‘magnetic timeline’ is the bane of the non-linear editor’s existences.

For me, it’s been more of a positive thing. True, the learning curves truly sucks. I’ve been using Final Cut Pro since it’s beta testing days. I had been in the hell that was Adobe Premiere, and when I saw that Apple was developing a video editing app, I was already onboard.

This video is just a some screen capture video i made of my media center using Camtasia. The initial footage was around 15 minutes and i did some quick cuts to take it down to 3 minutes. The logos were jpg files with effects from Motion 5 and the title graphics were generated using Final Cut presets.

Nothing special. I’m just excited my Final Cut Pro game is getting better.

Final Cut Pro X + Motion 5


it’s been a little over a year since Apple’s Final Cut Pro transitioned from a ‘hobby’ app to one of my most useful professional tools. My goal was to spend the year transitioning out of Adobe video tools (Premier and After Effects) and relying solely on the entire Final Cut Studio Suite. But as time went on, and my job got more intense, I didn’t have the time for the transition. Although I moved away from Premier and relied on Final Cut Pro as my main video editing tool, the transition to from After Effects to Motion grind to a hault. Although robust in its own right, Motion just didn’t seem to be the powerhouse that Adobe After Effects is. Plus, it took me SO LONG to get into that program and now I’m pretty proficient. And add to the fact i’ve invested hundred of dollars in templates. I just didn’t seem that important to switch.

That is, until I peeped Final Cut Pro X. Apparently, built from the ground up, FCP-X is sporting a whole new interface, it looks like a monster. I watched the introductory video and it looks like they’ve cleaned up all the negative aspects that you had to work around in the previous version. I’m loving the dark interface. I’ve always liked how After Effects and Shake looked. It feels nicer when you’re dealing with bright video. They stand out more and work better for color correction (don’t ask me why. I just does.

And then… there’s Motion 5, which also has an interface update. It looks like it’s more integrated with FCP and the UI seems to be much easier to work with than it’s earlier version. I decided to purchase both Final Cut Pro and Motion today. Why? Well, one BIG thing in it’s favor is the price. With the previous FInal Cut Studio, you were pushing out almost $1000 for the entire Suite (Final Cut + Motion + Color). This new version (which seems exclusively for download from the App Store) runs a total of $350 for Final Cut and Motion (there is no more Color app. It has been integrated into Final Cut Pro X)

After playing around with it all, I can say i’m pleasantly surprised. Even thought there’s a slight learning curve for the UI changes, it runs and performs like a dream. I have it running on my iMac at work and my Macbook Pro 17″. Since it’s a 64bit app now, there seem to be no ‘preview renders’ needed for transitions and most effects. I haven’t played with it enough so i can’t say. Motion seems to be a bit ‘buggy’, but i’m sure that’ll be fixed over the short run with updates from the App store.

All in all, I can’t wait to get my feet wet with a project. I’ll do a full review in a week once I get the hang of the entire suite.

New Media Center: The Mac Mini


So a week ago, the 4TB G-RAID drive that holds all my movies and tv shows started to act up. Wireless transfers of media that use to take a few minutes were taking an hour. Videos would take almost 30 seconds to play and would periodically freeze while I was watching. I tried running diagnostic tools, but all I got were messages to back up my data and reformat the drive. I started panicking because I didn’t have anyspace CLOSE to 4TB to back up my data. So with a heavy heart and a slight case of buyers remorse, I forked over $370 and bought a second 4TB G-RAID to act as my transfer drive, and then added space for content. The G-RAID drive has been the best media drive I’ve ever had. So I decided to stick with what I know.

So I got the drive, daisy-chained it to my old one using a firewire 800 cable (I LOVE FIREWIRE800)! Aaaaand I started copying over the data. i didn’t ┬áthink 4TB would be that much of a pain to copy over firewire800. I was wrong. I forgot my first drive was in the process of failing. The transfer was going to take 30+ hours!!! I didn’t panic, though. That was ok. I could do two days without media content. So I copied and I waited.

About 4 hours into the transfer, the Macbook Pro started acting funny. The screen froze and when i tried to move the mouse, the screen went blue! So i let it sit for an hour. I was hoping it would straighten itself out and I wouldn’t lose that 4 hours of transfer. But alas, nothing happened. I did a hard reboot and instead of the clean grey apple logo popping up, I got a foreboding grey folder with a question mark icon. I already knew that I was screwed. Somehow my hardrive got hosed. but before I could do anything the folder went away and I got a black screen with a little primitive white grimacing mac box on it. NOOOOOOO!!!! Logicboard failure!!!! So what i thought would be a simple hardrive replacement, actually turned out to be a dead logicboard. I had two options. I could take the laptop in to be services or i could just break down and buy a proper mac to be the media center. I chose the latter.

So with a heavy heart and an EXTREME case of buyer’s remorse, I scurried down to the Walnut Creek Apple Store and spent a GRIP on a shiny new Apple Mac Mini.

Setting up was a breeze (once i got the wireless keyboard and Magic Trackpad to sync). I promptly installed xbmc 10.1 and attached my two G-RAID drives to it. At first I was a little disappointed with the screen resolution. the 1600×600 was the highest resolution offered through the onboard HDMI port. But then I remembered that the miniDVI port was the real graphics powerhouse, so i used my HDMI/miniDVI adapter and presto, full 1080p resolution.

Aw we speak, my data transfer should be finishing up (went from 30+ hours to 12). And xbmc is scraping the hell out of my content getting the right metadata for all movies and tv shows. I spent WAY too much money on tech this week. Add my new iPad 2 being delivered on the same day this all happened and you get the spot i’m in. But i can’t complain. Just take the hit and enjoy my toys!