Monday, November 27, 2006

What happened in November - and coming up..

November’s meeting was a night at the movies:

The Player

Emmy award winning filmmaker - and wefcpug member - David Herman gave us a preview of ‘Fairplay’, the documentary he’s making which explores the relationship between a playwright and her elder brother who has Down Syndrome. It’s based on the highly acclaimed play ‘The Choice’ that Claire Luckham wrote about a couple who decide to abort a child with Down Syndrome.

Short Cuts

Richard gave us a run-down of what’s new in the latest ‘point’ update to FCP. Running against the usual form, Apple have incorporated several all-new features and improvements, rather than just fixing bugs. So we gasped at the new all-singing all-dancing, all-TV lines scopes and waveform monitors, and played to our hearts’ contents with the newly-incorporated plug-in ‘Motion’ effects, all there in the FCP interface, waiting to enhance your footage.

Pret a Porter

So what will come 'off the shelf' with the next OS X? Phil polished the crystal ball and divined the future from the runes on Apple’s ‘Leopard’ preview pages and their latest notes to developers. A proper write-up may appear here one day, possibly even before Leopard itself, but Phil’s tips on what he liked were:

1. Time Machine - the first backup/restore application that might actually be used regularly. Brilliant intuitive interface, check out this link
2. Core Animation and resolution independent window resources - pointing the way to an even cleaner, classier interface to apps like FCP
3. Improvements in iChat (integration into the OS) and QT (including alpha channels in QT movies using H264 coding).

(Mondays are soon here)

December's meeting is Monday of next week, meaning December 4th,usual time of 7pm. It’s probably our last meeting at Granada Bristol, so come along to see out the old year there. Main topic will be audio - we’ll be demoing a cost-effective control surface for audio mixing which works (with a bit of pushing) with FCP, and in tribute to the late great Robert Altman’s overlapping dialogue style I suggest we all talk at once in the ‘Stump the Guru’ section. So no change there then. See you on Monday, Phil

And yes some of the titles were rather forced...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

November 6th next meet

Blow the horns, bash the drums, start the countdown for the next season of wefpug meetings. Put a big ring around Monday November 6th, and meet up at Granada Bristol 7pm.

In the mix so far: catch-ups on FCP changes and updates; a look forward to Leopard and how to get ready; survey of new hardware that's caught our eyes.

What we'd also like to see: anyone with a good show'n'tell for the group to kick off the new season?

Phil & Richard

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

FCP 5.1.2 is now out

the latest 'point' upgrade has now hit the Software Upgrade button on your macs, folks. You have to be running the 'crossgrade' FCP5.1 - that's the one where you sent your discs out to the tender care of the Royal Mail and hoped to see the new Universal Binary version come back to you. And if you haven't done that yet - you only have until the end of the year until they presumably whack the prices up...

Lots of new capabilities for those editing in HD in the upgrade - they also promise bug-fixes and performance enhancements, but aren't specific. All works well for me. Details on the usual page

Saturday, September 16, 2006

When updates don't - console is your friend..

A cautionary tale to keep the wires warm as behind the scenes we prepare for wefcpug's next season...I'll probably be expanding on this theme elsewhere!

The good news came with this week's 'Software Update' - updates to Quicktime and to Compressor, which brings Compressor up to 2.3 Not much information about this, beyond saying it improves performance and stability. There have been many reports (and I've seen for myself) that 'high-quality' VBR compressions - the slower, 2-pass version - can be lower quality than quick once-over compressions. So, with luck this will have been fixed (it wasn't the case with earlier versions of Compressor).

With a couple of other updates (iTunes, QMaster) showing, and a second machine to install on, I opted for my usual 'Update and Keep Packages' technique, which saves download time and bandwidth, because the same packages can be used on the local network. Enough there for the 1st machine be left alone to download and upgrade itself.

When I came back to it, some 30 minutes later, all appeared fine (restarts are involved with the QT upgrade) until I ran Compressor to check the performance of the upgraded version. The icon appeared then vanished again, each time I tried to run the program - not a good sign.

Without an error to see, what's an editor to do? Look for consolation of course (sorry about that, been trying to work the pun in for several paragraphs) by running 'Console'. This is the program that partially lifts the lid on the running engine(s) that are Mac OS X. I won't pretend to understand much of what the screens say - but when there's a misbehaving program, this is where the error messages will be found. Sure enough, there was a host of lines written by Compressor, mostly incomprehensible, but all referring to a missing 'framework' called Helium. I'd already tried a cold-boot of the Mac, and the usual voodoo of permissions repair, so there was nothing to it but to re-install something. Compressor seemed a good bet, so I dusted off my recent Intel upgraded disc set for FCP, and made a CUSTOM install of Compressor only. Quick check, this version worked - nothing reported amiss in Console. Fingers crossed, I re-applied the downloaded upgrade - and guess what, all is now well. And better still, the 2-pass VBR compression works again and is giving very good results on the latest work.

Messages to you all: have a peek at Console (usually it's within Applications/Utilities) before you need to.
If you're not familiar with updates from stored packages - the option, in the top menu bar, is BEFORE you hit 'OK' on the Software Update Dialog. Packages (ie downloaded software updates) are stored in Library>Packages on your system disc. To install a package, you click on the .pkg and it works just like you're used to doing on a download.

Why did mine go wrong first time? Ah, if only I knew... Obviously the downloaded package was fine (downloads are checked by the system before they're run) - maybe it was something to do with having FCP running on another machine on my network when I first ran the updated Compressor. It IS legal to have 2 copies of FCP, under the Apple SLA, and in fact mine are the classic 1 on a laptop, 1 on a G5 desktop, but you can't run both simultaneously: normally you get a reminder dialog box (either from Compressor or from FCP) not a crash though!

Now, next challenge is to get clustered compression working....any hints from anyone?

Comments and suggestions please.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gone away for the Summer, nearly

A reminder that we've no meeting scheduled in August, and given the time it takes to get the machinery going again, (plus a few little local difficulties about venue) it's going to be (at least) late September until we meet up.

In the meantime, watch this space for a write-up of our (rather successful thanks to Robert at Panasonic) last meeting, co-hosted with RTS Bristol Centre. Plus the promised links to the BBC R&D papers I brandished there. It'll probably turn out to be a 'commentary' upon Alan's paper, if I can get the translation done in my head. My engineeringese is rustier than my French.

So, enjoy the heat of your cutting rooms, wherever they are.


Monday, June 26, 2006

July 4 meeting - HD on a budget

We're delighted to say that for the second time in our short existence we're teaming up with The Royal Television Society's Bristol Centre to present another evening of High Definition. This time we'll be taking a look at Panasonic's HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 camera courtesy of a visit from Robert Holland of Panasonic. We'll be demonstrating both the quality of the pictures and the ease at which they can be imported and used within Final Cut Pro.

Of course quality is purely subjective so we leave you to be the judges. And why are those P2 cards so expensive? A question for Robert Holland to answer. (And we hope you can think of a few more!)

But, we'll also be looking at Sony's HDV camera's and maybe making a few comparisons. And talking about the HDV workflow. If anybody doesn't know what a long GoP MPEG2 video stream is, now is the time to find out. (Its how HDV is recorded, for those of you that don't already know, by the way!)

Location details can be found on the RTS website:

(click here)

Entrance is via the "back gate" of the BBC and kick-off (topical reference, of course) is at 7.00 O'clock, Tuesday next (July 4th).

Please let either Phil or Richard know if you intend to turn up so we know how many KitKats to buy!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

BBC editors forced to work on tube shock

(note to BBC and Apple - just joking folks - please employ me still)

More seriously though - check out this Apple FCP movie on their 'Hot News' site. Last time I looked the direct link was

It's the news hot from the source on how they're moving towards an FCP (sorry, FCS) oriented workflow.
Also - great technical quality - one of the best looking streamed movies I've seen.

Don't forget our next meet on Tuesday...

Friday, April 21, 2006

How many macs in your house?

I just spotted this, one of many pictures on another blog here at, written by a chap from the Microsoft Mac Lab.

The full article, which puts my own setup into perspective somewhat (including their rack of 150 Mac Minis), can be found at

this link here

Don't forget our next meeting is not on a Monday, 'cos of the Bank Holiday. See you next month.

(If you're going to NAB, feel free to bring presents back)


PS Sorry about the junk mail that got attached to our blog. Steps have been Taken.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

May meeting - May 2nd

Yes folks, that's a TUESDAY, on account of the Monday Bank Holiday the day before.

Meet at 7pm at Granada Bristol: content is pencilled in as yet, but we should have the chance to get up close and personal with the new Panasonic HVX-200 camera, hear first-hand from a delighted MacBook user (provided his trousers aren't still on fire), and swap second-hand anecdotes about NAB 2006.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

So who'll be first?

Out today, as you're about to be told on all sides, software to compromise the security of your MacIntel...

has the story.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

April Meeting - 3rd April

We're back to first Monday for next month, wefcpug meets again at 7pm on Monday 3rd April at Granada Bristol.

Will the gurus be stumped this month? Who's next to show-and-tell ?

What I do know is in the running order:
  • As threatened / promised (delete where appropriate) Phil is compressing everything you ever need to know about chroma-keying in FCP into a short demo
  • Richard is plugging into plug-ins with another mega-mix
  • We will be guessing what's coming up at NAB
  • and, thanks to our good friends at Granada, we'll be taking a look at one of the new compact HD/SD cameras now creeping into the market, the Panasonic HV-200.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Meeting today - March 13th

Have we got a show for you tonight!

As in:

Um, have we got a show for you tonight?

Well, actually, yes we have. In fact, we're brimming over with exciting things to talk about and miraculous images to show.

For a start, I'll be guiding Tessa through authoring her very first DVD with a Final Cut timeline as her starting point! (And a DVD to take home at the end!)

And then somebody asked Phil "how do you do Chromakey?" We reveal all!

And that's just for starters!

So please come along, bring your worries and your cares and your work in progress and settle down for a natter of weFCPug-ers! (That's the collective noun I've just made up for us!)

Usual place, Granada TV, Whiteladies Road, Bristol at 7.00 pm.

See you there - with your showreels


Monday, March 06, 2006

March meeting(s)

There was a request to shift to 2nd Monday not 1st for meetings, (and it's been difficult to get things together anyway so) the request is granted and we're setting the controls of wefcpug to point at Monday 13th March at, we hope, the usual place, 7pm.

There's an element of 'BYO' about the meeting - bring your own videos / problems / tales of success. I'll have (yet) more Software of the Month, and it's FREE this month. Richard promised to 'make' a DVD before our very eyes: his demo is 'hardware dependent'.

If you're desolate about the thought of waiting another whole week for a meeting, there's a talk hosted by the RTS Bristol Centre on Thursday March 9th at 7.30pm Local producer/director Martin Weitz, of 'Focus Productions' is presenting 'How to get a commission for an unfilmable film'. The film is 'The Boy with the Incredible Brain', commissioned by 5, which won the RTS West of England 'Best Network Feature' award last December. The meeting is open to all, no charge, and it's at the BBC - entry via the security gate at the back.

Phil Ashby

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February meeting reminder

Next week sees the 2nd meet this year for wefcpug, same place (Granada Bristol), same time (7pm), but following requests we're moving to MONDAY. That's Monday, ( the day after Sunday ), Feb 6th.

Slated to appear are Simon with a show'n'tell involving Filters and cunning manipulations
Phil with a show'n'tell involving Filters and not-so-cunning manipulations
Richard with nothing to do with Filters. No, I lied, it's a variation on a theme of travelling mattes, which count as filters.
Plus...stump the gurus. If we have any gurus.
Software offers of the month,
and for this month only: Anyone going to VideoForum - prearrange your social life.

If you can, let Phil know you're coming so I can pre-warn the guys at the door.
And did I say it's on Monday, not Tuesday.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Reported problems with flip4Mac

I've added a rider to the previous post about software. Currently flip4Mac doesn't play nicely with 3ivx. See earlier post for (corrected) details.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Switch from Tuesday to Monday nights?

Hi all - at the last meeting, we briefly mentioned the possibility of meeting on a Monday night (rather than Tuesday) in Feb. It would suit me better than a Tuesday - any other takes for a night switch?

Also, Phil, which night(s) were you thinking of - Mon 6th Feb?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Useful and free / reasonable software

Somethings old, something new - as promised, I've collected the URLs for my 'useful software' presentation from way back in Oct 2004, together with some new announcements.

Windows Media files (.wmv)
You may have seen the statement that M'soft will no longer be supporting Windows Media Player on the Mac, but for each door that closes, another opens. As a gift to the community (and a handy way of publicising the paid-for upgrades), Flip4Mac are now offering a free download of their WMV player. It gives Quicktime the ability to play .wmv files and, if you go for the paid upgrade, you can export them too. Good documentation in the package, available at

**WARNING - I'm reading reports around the web that the current Flip4Mac doesn't play nicely with 3ivx - If you have the 3ivx codecs (as QT plugins) on your system and install Flip4Mac then Microsoft Office, for one, won't work. Also a report that DSR30 decks lose function with FCP. Apparently Flip4Mac are working on the issues.

Video data calculator
As demonstrated by our very own Richard Atherton at last week's meeting, a free download to calculate data storage needs based on media settings and duration. The web-page has a load of AJA-related links on it, the free stuff is at the bottom.

This free software generates tones. Em, that's it. Don spotted it in my quick flick through slides, as presented way back in Oct 2004. Here's the link
Bad news is, it's not for OS 10.4 (hence the quiet tones it generated last week)

Joe's Filters
One of the earliest sets of FCP filters outside Apple. Still available at
Huge numbers of effects, as you can see from his site. They're available on trial, but none are free that I can see.

1z1 screenworks plugins
Another filters site at
There are a couple of freeware plugins here, including one very useful script to output source timecode and text in vision.

wefcpug members - feel free to add more! If the system won't let you, it's either because you haven't responded to the invite to join this blogging site, or because I've not sent you the invite (I had several bounce-backs and my list may well be incomplete). See the rhs column for my email address.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Apple event in Cheltenham - Wed 18th Jan

(Open to all on application as below - Phil)

An Audience with Apple

18 Jan 06 - 6pm | Cheltenham Film Studio

Calling all users of Final Cut Pro, Logic, Shake, Motion and Soundtrack… The Gloucestershire Media Group and Gloscat Arts and Media proudly presents an essential event focusing on the revolutionary development of Apple solutions for the media industry. Senior Apple representatives including Lionel Paillet (Director, Pro Markets, Europe) and Phil Erhart (Business Development Manager, EMEA) will personally deliver the latest product news and training opportunities in keynote presentations tailored for all those working in fields of video, tv, film, effects and audio. For full information and to register log-on to www.thegmg,org or email

Some of my HD consultancy work out soon.

Here are some of my recent consultancy projects.

"Dance" by Jeffron - Client: Split Image

Click image for half HD res 960x540

Shot on the ARRI D20 with Digiprime lenses,
Recorded on HDCAM-SR, 30p/25p 1920x1080 10bit
Edited on Final Cut Pro 5, compositing in Shake , Quad core PowerMac with Kona LHe card

"Industry" by The Modern - Client: Mainframe
Shot on Sony HDW-750p, Canon lenses, HDCAM
Edited on Final Cut Pro 5, compositing in After Effects, Dual 2.5 G5 with DeckLink HD Pro Dual Link.

"Sunshine" by Lear - Client: Tantrwm

Click image for half HD res 960x540

Shot on Sony HDW-750p, Canon lenses, HDCAM
Edited on Final Cut Pro 5, Composited in After Effects

"Derailed" Miramax Pictures - Client: JDC
Released on 3rd February in the UK
35mm (ARRI 435), Spirit HD Telecine to HD-D5
Background plates in train sequence
Final Cut Pro, Shake, DeckLink HD Pro Dual Link.

Jonathan Smiles
Managing Director - Digital Safari Ltd.
dCinema - HD - SD

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jan 2006 quick report and notes

This is called a 'quick report' because I don't want to tread too far down the path of this blog until I know it's a firm one (ie you can all read it!) - there's confidence in IT for you.
A fine start to the New Year, with Steve Jobs timing his speech just right for Richard's arrival with Blackberry. Thanks Steve - we'll be happy to trial any of the new Intel machines as soon as you can deliver.
I mentioned a software PPM that fell across my field of view this week - it's called 'PPMulator' and looks like this
Actually I've resized the screen-grab a little to fit this post, and it's resizable anyway - as well as configurable to other sorts of meters. (Bargraphs, Mono, etc).
With a couple of provisos that I mentioned at the meeting - it works best as a plug-in, but it's a VST plug-in which isn't usable directly in FCP - this little app should be welcomed on every desktop, especially at the £20.00 price. Reading the company's website, they're aware of the need to fit into FCP!
should get you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Welcome to the wefcpug blog

So this is it, our new home on the web (provided it works and until we get bored with it).
News about forthcoming wefcpug meetings will appear here, together with links, points arising, reports and whatever news we come across. As you'll have noticed, because it's a blog (and until I get round to tinkering with the code) postings will be dated, though that's probably a good thing. And, of course...comments. Provided you're on the wefcpug list, feel free to add useful comments to the posts. Writing is restricted to members, to avoid us filling with spam - but reading is free to all across the world. {Bear that in mind when you comment!} In theory you can edit your own comments too - I haven't got that far into this system to check it out. Nor have I got round to filling in the front page yet (hence the 'edit here' tags!).
Last but not least, there's an RSS feed of this blog. I haven't got round to putting the XML icon onto the page, so it's a manual job for the moment - you have to paste the atom feed, which is into your newsreader of choice.
I recommend NewsFire, to be found at or of course your browser may display RSS feeds as bookmarks (Safari and Firefox do).