Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rack your brains

No contrary reports having been received, it's off to Racks in Bristol for the wefcpug Christmas absolutely-not-technical festivity.

See you there at 7ish...Monday 21st December.

The elusive RI

By accident I found myself with a couple of hours to spare in London's West End last week, so where better to have lunch than the Royal Institution on Albemarle St.   This wasn't totally by chance - it's been on my 'visits' list since last year when they announced the refurbishment and public opening of Michael Farday's lab, as part of a lottery-funded project.   What I'd forgotten was that early December is when they record the RI Christmas lectures, and this was indeed underway (although I could still get to see the labs in the basement).

Two signs of the times though:

No great fleet of OB vehicles parked outside - all to be seen were a couple of electric vehicles attached to fancy recharging posts (nothing to do with the lectures).   It was all done as a temporary rig in an ante-room to the lecture theatre.

No longer do the RI lectures occupy a peak position in the EPG.   They moved from the BBC some years back, to I think Channel 4 then five:  now they're to be found on more4 - and of course on the web.   At least the programmes are still available somewhere - I'd imagine it's not the easiest of productions to place, or even to produce.   To my eyes there's been a growing disconnect between the pace of science demonstrations to a live audience and the current look of TV - it's possible to bridge between the two, but with more money than I suspect would ever be available to educational TV.

Taking up the challenge this year is furnacetv - and, I was pleased to see on my chance visit, a colleague of mine from long ago, Paul Sen, is producing.   TXs begin tomorrow - Monday 21st Dec.   Set your PVRs to series record because you've got another appointment - see the next mailing!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Tomorrow's the day - and another date

A reminder to all that our last formal (ha) meeting of 2009 is tomorrow - that's Tuesday 8th Dec folks - at the BBC but up in the big conference room, kickoff at 730pm.

It's a meeting in association with the Bristol Centre of the RTS, hence the Tuesday booking.

Details are down on this blog a post or two back - so all I'll say here is that the speaker is Alan Roberts, one of the world's most knowledgeable guys on cameras and imaging technology, well worth listening to at any time but especially so when he's come all the way to Bristol!


Tomorrow night is also a good chance to collar Richard (I'll be somewhat preoccupied getting the RTS show on the road!) about attending the wefcpug Christmas get-together, which is provisionally 'arranged' for Monday 21st Dec at Racks (as last year). To secure the table we need names and a small deposit from you - if enough people show interest it'll happen!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Minefields and Homeric Nods

I've just been watching the BBC 'Click' programmes essential guide to setting up your TV. Well, someone has to.
Admittedly, the webpage says that it's a minefield, and alas they set one off. So what does it say on the middle column of connectors in the screen grab? Y Pr Pb, I believe. Or 'Component' as we might say in the trade. I'm afraid 'Click' falls into the infamous AppleTV trick of confusing this with RGB. Yes, they may be red, green and blue connectors, but RGB it ain't (which isn't what the confusing commentary says at this point in the clip, muddying the waters with the horrible SCART connector for good measure).

See how not to do it here. So don't believe everything you see on the telly. Whereas, in band rehearsals (as I know from long experience) confident but wrong is a Good Thing, here it's a Bad Thing.

Yes, I did write to the Clickerati first, but I'm confident my email got filed in the green ink bin. Maybe this blogging will show up in their feedback.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Next wefcpug / RTS joint meeting Dec 8th

The next wefcpug meeting is a 'must-see' for anyone interested in camerawork and photography. It's a meeting held in association with the Bristol Centre of the Royal Television Society, who are very kindly providing a glass of wine and a mince-pie (but only if you arrive early - I think this will be a sellout!).

Here's the official announcement: it's an open RTS meeting, though we'll happily sign up anyone who wants to be a member during the break. I'll be blogging more about this in the coming weeks. Please pass this info on... Alan is a great bloke, with a brain the size of a planet and a rare knack for explaining and enthusing.

Things we forgot we knew.

As television moves into the high definition age, each year (though sometimes it seems like each month) brings new models from the camera manufacturers, promising better quality and higher levels of technical sophistication.

But the job a camera does is, at heart, the same as in the first days of stills and movie photography: to capture and convey images of the real world, tailored to human senses, and deliver at the best quality - within the limits of the technology available.

Some things have certainly not changed: a racing car photograph taken in 1912 shows the same problem as the latest High Definition video cameras. Many of the lessons learned, the compromises made, by the early movie industry are in danger of being forgotten. What can we learn by taking a fresh look at the basic challenges of image-making?

One of the world’s leading experts on TV imaging, Alan Roberts, is talking to the Bristol Centre of the Royal Television Society, in a meeting open to all. Alan is known throughout the worldwide industry as the man behind the ‘BBC settings’ for HD cameras, and has recently conducted a much appreciated set of technical briefings at the IBC in Amsterdam. As a consultant on the ‘DVDoctor’ website, he’s gained a reputation as the plain-speaking voice of the practical engineer, cutting through the jargon and manufacturers’ hype. He’s the author of a new book on the subject ‘Circles of Confusion’.

Join Alan Roberts at the RTS Bristol Centre's December meeting on Tuesday 8th December, 7.30pm at the BBC, Whiteladies Rd. (Night entrance at the rear of the site)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Diary Date - 30th Nov

There's a networking do for post-production folk in Bristol (and the surrounding wefcpug area, I'm sure) being run under the 'BBC Anchor' flag - details as supplied by them:

BBC Networking Event for Post-Production Professionals.

Following the signing of the Bristol-BBC Memorandum of Understanding, the BBC is joining with one of the partners – Watershed – to host a networking event for industry professionals involved in post production.

We’re keen to connect with established and emerging post-production talent (both creative and technical) from across the region.

If you have experience in any of the following fields, we would like to invite you to an informal gathering at Watershed on Monday 30th November between 6 – 9pm.

Audio Editing/Mixing
Drama post-production
Ingest/Edit Support/Media Management
Whether you are a seasoned freelancer with years of experience behind you or seeking to develop your career in any of these fields we hope you’ll come along.
The event will be supported by the key personnel from the following BBC Bristol programme-making teams:

Factual Productions
‘Casualty’ Series (Drama)
Post Production
Production Innovation
Further information and R.S.V.P to Deborah Brewer on 0117 9747546.

Anything leap out at you?

Nick prompted me about the Channel 4 3D experiments running this week. The hardest part seems to be getting hold of the coloured specs, which are available (free) from Sainsbury's, but you have to ask at the Customer Service desk.

Mixed results here at the City of Bath TV advanced research institute. The 50's movies are fascinating footage, 3d or not - to me the compromise in colour rendition is too high a price for the (to my brain) less than overwhelming impression of depth. Maybe watching on a bigger screen in the dark would improve things.

I have fond memories of the old View-Master 3d stereoscopic viewers - what I didn't know is that they're still available - and it would appear you can even get your own slides made (at least in the US).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Links from November meet

I hope that the sound of applause is still ringing in Nick's ears after last night's presentation on Colour profiling, which should have been subtitled 'and why we need it'. (And, for me certainly, how come I knew so little about what is going to be one of the hot topics for us all in the HD age now dawning).

A more considered write-up from me in the future, but as promised here are the quick links from Nick and his recommended setups:

the calibrators he was demonstrating are from the eyeone (which now seems to be spelt i1) range by x-rite . For prices you need to google eyeone, I've found.

Nick's preferred settings for video/TV compatibility are

Colour temp 6500Kelvin / D65
Luminance 120 cd/m
Gamma 2.2

The pdf he talked about is called 'The Language of Colour' - it was written for Canon and published in 2004/5. He informs me that, though the cameras have been replaced, the basic information is still relevant and applicable to whatever make you have.

The download is here. I've just had a sneak preview and recommend it highly.

Extra! Nick's own website is here. Visit and be amazed.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Nov 09 meeting - Monday next (9th)

A reminder that our next meeting is at the BBC in Bristol on Monday next. A slight change of venue - we're up in the small conference room in the main block - and it's a 7.30pm kickoff. You may, of course, wish to meet up in the bar beforehand!

Nick Wilcox-Brown is talking about monitor calibration, starting from his experience as a professional stills photographer, but now moving into video colour science too. He'll be demonstrating his gizmo of choice, and we may even get two monitors to match without too much trickery. Then again.

There's also at least two raffles, one of which I'm struggling to understand. So no change there either.

Plus as ever, what you bring to the party...please email me (phil_at_brightfilament_dot_co_dot_uk) this time to get onto the list for security, if you haven't done so already. But don't leave it until Monday afternoon, 'cos I'll probably be offline then.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Free Webinar TONIGHT 15th Oct 7pm

A final reminder that current 'Out of Vision' podcast star Peter Wiggins, FCP masterchef, plug-in writer and friend of the wefcpug, stars in his own Apple webinar tonight at 7pm.

It's free, open to all, but you must register in advance - read more and register here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

RTS meeting in Bristol - Tuesday 20th Oct

RTS 'meet the expert' talk next week - exclusive to RTS Bristol Centre.

Mandy Rose, who was co-founder and producer of BBC2's Video Nation project, and Creative Director of multiplatform BBC Wales, will be exploring what's now possible in the arena of collaborative film making.

She'll show some examples of past productions as an introduction to her forthcoming project (with the Digital Cultures research centre at UWE) on what happens when web 2.0 meets documentary production. Her current research explores the role of the documentary director working online with remote collaborators, as former documentary subjects now become co-creators.

The meeting is open to members and guests*, and there's no charge. It's at the BBC conference centre in Whiteladies Rd, usual tradesmen's entrance at the back: Prompt start at 7.30pm on Tuesday 20th October.

*wefcpug please note: If you're not an RTS member and you'd like to come, email me ( to get 'on the list' as a guest.

What we learned in Oct 09

Greetings, blog readers. This month's links and a snapshot of what went on at the wefcpug this week.

Timelord Richard demonstrated the all-new way to change clip speeds without (at first) the use of a keyframe timeline. Hey folks, it now works the way we all thought it ought to when we first tried it (and messed up our timelines!).

Phil plugged in to noise reduction on video and demo'd the Neat Video plug-in for same. I liked it so much I bought the filter! A longer review with some frame-grabs will follow, when I've grabbed the frames (and the time to do it). In a nutshell though - it worked really well for me, on what was admittedly ideal subject matter, a locked-off shot - but at a price of $49.90 for the home edition, comes highly recommended.*

I also gave a very quick round-up of free software/services that I've grown into using over the Summer, all of which are tied in to cloud / network use, and in particular the challenge of keeping multiple systems in sync with each other.

These are Xmarks for bookmarks sync across browsers/machines
and Evernote for 'stuff'. I particularly like the OCR aspect of evernote - alas the 3G network in our meeting room was non-existent, so I couldn't demo it. But it's a great party trick using the iSight camera built into your laptop to record hand-written notes, which are then computer-read and filed once they're uploaded.
Plus a reminder that iCal now supports the CalDav format - meaning that Google Calendars can now be read/written in iCal. Info here.
And not forgetting Dropbox for files generally.

All of these are 'Freemium' services - it's a new business model, whereby you are enticed in with a free offer, upgradable (usually meaning extra storage) on payment of a monthly fee.

Two caveats: as Nick reminded us at the meeting, you may not wish to share all your confidential emails/data with companies whom you don't really know much about. And, as happened just this last week, data stored 'in the cloud' might disappear one day, thanks to someone else's mistakes, or a company going down the tubes. So always keep your own local backups.

*For the benefit of US readers, who are (sensibly) beginning to mandate full disclosures, the writer of this blog has no connection with the companies and products mentioned, has (alas) not been paid anything by the companies to promote the products, nor has he been given any products or services without fee, excepting the trial downloads available to all on the websites of those companies.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Podcast resumes

I've just put up the latest and newest 'Out of Vision' podcast. If you're already subscribing through iTunes, it's there already when you hit 'refresh'. If you aren't so doing, visit and follow the easy links.

'A day at the races' is the account of my day's visit to the ITV4 Tour de France production company, V Squared TV, for Sunset&Vine. Hear all about 4 FCP suites all on a fibre network, turning round a daily 1 hour show, airing some 90 minutes after the race finishes in France.

How do they do it? Producer James Venner and chief editor Peter Wiggins (one of last year's notable visiting speakers at the wefcpug) explain all.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Year 6 kicks off

Yes, we made it to the sunny uplands of our sixth glorious year with a birthday inaugural meeting at the most comfortable and well equipped venue we've ever know - the preview cinema at Aardman in Bristol, to whom many thanks.

As the picture evidence shows, the audience were (mostly) able to keep awake despite the comfy chairs.

Following extensive discussions with our new technical advisor (see above) Phil (he's the one on the left) and Richard (on the right) are pleased to announce the next meeting, business as usual at the BBC club-room on the BBC site in Whiteladies Rd, Bristol.

That'll be Monday next, 12th October - meet at 7pm in the bar. I'll be demo'ing a new (to me) plugin that so impressed me I bought it, plus a review of umpteen new ways of syncing your macs for free (thought that'd get you interested). And who knows, if we ask nicely, the Chippenham Mac Fan-boy might reprise his recent Amsterdam presentation? Plus loads more of your problems solved. Quite Possibly.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Next meeting - 12th October

We're making valiant efforts to stick to the '2nd Monday in the month' rule that we follow, oh at least 3 times in the year. So the next meeting will be 12th October, not as may have been previously pre-announced in a speculative sense.

What, where, to follow in a later posting. Plus pictures of the 5th birthday meet.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The next wefcpug year - 101st birthday

And cue another set of fanfares please, join with us as wefcpug celebrates our 5th birthday with an extra special meeting. Details have 'evolved' a little since the last meeting, and from the emailings that have been decorating your electronic pigeon holes. So read carefully:

We've arranged a special evening in conjunction with Quad Logic at Aardman's new private cinema at Gas Ferry Road, Bristol.

This is a ticket only do (£5.00 each) with all proceeds going to The Wallace & Gromit Appeal Fund. (Sorry, no spouses, partners, etc.) Send no money now, it'll be collected on the night. If you would like to come along then you MUST please let Richard know as we only have a limited number of spaces

And what's on the agenda?

Well, first and foremost the guys at Quad Logic (and our old friends from London, On-Sight) are there all day demonstrating FCP 7, Red, CatDV, Color 1.5, etc... If they have any energy left then they'll carry on in the evening just for us! We can't presume that this will happen but I bet it does! (If you want to know more about what Quad Logic are doing during the day then get in touch with Ken at Quad Logic -

Plus we want a showing! Please bring with you about 5 minutes (no more, please) of the best of what you have done with Final Cut Studio, preferably on DVD - or on some format that we can play off a Mac! (Other) Production deadlines mean we've shifted away from doing a pre-edit, it'll be a live play-out on the night. So there should be plenty of fun and enjoyment at the slick presentation so typical of a wefcpug playout. With scope for spontaneous applause and audience participation. (Juke Box Jury anyone).

And there'll will be a Phil-style raffle with a prize of one FCS3 UPGRADE courtesy of Apple !!!!!!!

Go on... give us your best, help us kick off another glorious year.

The details -
weFCPug 5th anniversary SuperMeet at Aardman, Gas Ferry Road, 23rd September 2009 @ 6.30pm on.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Back to work with news from the Continent

The trumpets are sounding for the next Supermeet in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. Click on the tasteful artwork that sits just below our own top-of-page graphic to find out more.

The warm-up act this year is none other than "editor, designer and all round Mac Fan Boy" Simon Walker of this parish, who is promising to teach how to colo(u)r correct with Color in less time than it takes to render an HDV sequence. With talent like this on display, how can you resist hopping over the channel? There's a little trade-show called IBC going on at the same time, too.

Normal blogging service is about to be resumed, too - and I've even got a couple of podcasts ready to go, awaiting clearance from Air Traffic control.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Well, here's a surprise... all about it. Increment those version numbers now: all-new Final Cut Studio

Who'll be first to read the small print?

(First from me - again no big surprise, but a disappointment I suppose - 'Intel only' is on the tech requirements for installing all apps).

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Snow Leopard - the missing OS

This has to be some kind of record. I've just received the invitation to pre-order (translation: order) David Pogue's latest.

The end of another year

Congratulations to all who negotiated the change in rooms - the big plasma in our new temporary venue made all the wandering around worthwhile! And relayed apologies again from Darren at Matrox for their last-minute non-show due to technical problems - they WILL be back, they promise, with a demo running 'on all cylinders'.

My demo this month was a tale of four keying methods for green screen: all working on some (non-ideal!) HDV material - a realistic challenge for many of us.

First off, to only moderate applause, is the FCP 'built-in'. Provided you choose correctly between the Green Blue Effect, and the Green AND Blue Effect, the latest version provides a graphical interface for eye-dropping colour and adjusting chrominance / saturation / luminance keying levels.

With a little more tweaking than I did on Monday night AND with the 'Color Smoothing Filter' enabled (!) the key looks like this:

There's noticeable fringing / stepping just about visible on the uploaded pic - on the edges of the arms especially - which is the result of trying to key off HDV, a 4:2:0 standard, meaning reduced chroma definition.

I'd rate the key as OK - but difficult to get good quality all across the frame, meaning I'd have to do extra mattes with garbage filters for uneven backgrounds.

Next up was the keying effect included with Motion - Primatte. The matte produced here was very good from the first 'eyedrop' - again you can see the interlace-like stepping caused by the lack of chroma resolution. (The footage is progressive, by the way, and we're viewing results obtained on a ProRes timeline). There are controls to soften the matte, which loses the jaggies, but makes for problems with details such as hair, of course.

Verdict so far - better keying from Primatte, but with the hassle of round-tripping to and from Motion, which isn't always practicable, especially on a project with lots of short keyed sequences, which may need recutting (frequently).

Two other contenders, one newly re-launched, and another established name:

The new kid on the block is 'Chroma Key Studio' from Boris. There's more than a simple key here, the package adds extras such as a wrap-around edge based on the background picture. There's also an option for working off a 'plate' - for locked-off cameras - a 'background only' shot used to generate the key (in the same manner as iChatAV now offers).

The grab here shows the matte with a little softening applied, which helps the jaggies - too much and the hair detail will disappear, of course.

And finally, one that I'd forgotten about until a chance conversation with Matt at the Supermeet last week - dvMatte Pro from DVGarage. This is another FCP effect (actually an FX plug-in), with a more complex keying system to set up - with two droppers for high and low background levels. Plus the now familiar edge lighting and matte softening.

This filter I found to be extremely easy to use, and gave results as good as Primatte in Motion (which until now I'd considered the gold standard for FCP keying).

For ease of use, I'd rate the Boris Chroma Key studio and dvMatte Pro joint equal. The built-in FCP key is fiddly and didn't give as clean or as adjustable an end result, and though the Primatte key is fine, sometimes you just want to keep in one App, on the timeline.

Both the Boris and dvgarage products are downloadable as trial versions
here for the Boris package. Note this also offers real-time keying for studio application.
here for dvMatte pro.

I ought to say - don't judge the quality of any of these keyers on my rough-and-ready efforts for the demo purposes. But at least they have the benefit of equal treatment and attention.

And while you're downloading, there's another filter tip from Monday, thanks to Jason.

It's new to me, and it's free - in fact one of many freebies on the same website. It's known as the Captain's blowout fixer, and is a clever repair, no a very clever repair kit for overexposed footage, written by Patrick Sheffield, who would appear to be a Shake wunderkind, and a generous one as well. The fixer works by abstracting detail from other colour channels (eg if Green is blown out, there's a good chance that Red isn't) and substituting. It shouldn't work, but it does.

The download page has some wonderful Technicolor simulators - great fun to see.
Here is the site.

And, apart from Richard's promised sumup of his DVD experiences, that's it for Year 5 of the wefcpug. See you at the 5th birthday big bash. There will be blog updates over the Summer (who needs vacations) and maybe a podcast too.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Next meeting - July 6th

No sooner has the dust settled on the Supermeet than it's time for the wefcpug to offer our collective wisdom on the tips, tricks, gizmos and gadgets we saw there. And even if you weren't there, share your views!

But that's not all - those guys from Matrox are promising to be back and this time they CAN talk about the red light and what it means on the front panel. Think Max, I'm told.

But that's not all - there's the promised look at HD workflows

And there's more - if there's time (there will be) there's a comparison of three ways of chroma-keying HDV in Final Cut. With a surprising winner (IMHO).

And there's a BIG raffle prize.

It's the last meet of the wefcpug year, it's at the BBC Bristol premises, it's at 6.30pm for 7 latest.
You have to be there MONDAY next JULY 6th.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just in - exclusive to the wefcpod

Despite all manner of technical hassles (such as Mr Horton's unfamiliarity with our complicated European mobile phones, and an unwillingness by Soundtrack Pro to deliver a final mix - of which more anon) there's a new podcast on the block, 10 minutes about what's coming in the Supermeet from the Men who Know: Mike Horton and Dan Berube, co-organisers and hosts.

Speaking from their chauffeur-driven limo, Mike and Dan took time out from perusing the London streets (at 5 mph) to giving wefcpug members an exclusive preview. Hear it before the other podcasts (if there are any) get in on the act!

And click on the ad above this post to find out more about the Supermeet. See you there!
(It's still £23,000 of raffle prizes btw)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Boss is coming to the UK

Hi all

Normal service isn't quite resumed after a couple of busy weeks, but here's a quick reminder in case you've forgotten what's coming...

Walter Murch at the Supermeet in London on Thursday.

I hope to grab the boss, Mike Horton, as soon as he touches down in London England for a special 'wefcpod' preview later this week. We're working on getting the circuits ready in time.

In the meantime, and if you haven't booked your tickets, hurry on down to

The vital statistics: £15 entry, fewer than 80 tickets left (as of Sunday) and £23,000 worth of raffle prizes to be won (and counting, Mike says).

Let's face it, Springsteen won't be giving away raffle prizes at Glasto next weekend.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Anyone remember the BBC VT coffee cup?

Way back in the Middle Ages of TV, when VTR meant proper big expensive machines, there was a running gag in the Christmas specials, based on the VT coffee cup moving around the world in 80 cuts - I'm sure it's out there on YouTube somewhere.

The gag lives on across the pond: here's how the NBC 'Tonight' show has moved from the reign of HM Jay Leno I to HM Conor O'Brien. (This a big deal over there). It's worth watching just for the scale of ambition,

If the Embed doesn't work (I've found it temperamental) the html page link is here

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

As demonstrated at the wefcpug

Never mind the front panel, nor whether the leds are blue or red (though WE know the difference now) - here's the business end of the Matrox MXO2 mini, which Darren and Donald from Matrox were kind enough to bring along and demonstrate last night.

All the details of this box to be found here

In super-simple terms, it's the must-have box for any of us working in HD either with FCP in the field, or with HDMI-equipped cameras (eg the Sony Z7) who need to monitor on site or offer SD outputs to existing equipment.

And that was only part one from Matrox - they'll be back next month, and it'll be personal - more new product to demo, the secret of the red LED to come, and a raffle prize too. Keep reading here for more details.

If you can't wait until July to know more from Matrox, there'll be another chance at the FCP Supermeet in London. See the banner ad at the top for details.

As seen on wefcpug ..2

Here's the link for the BBC-hosted video lauding 'Editor of the Year' Bill McKenna (as judged by the White House News Photographers Association. Exhausting, isn't it?

And the poor chap has to work on a park bench some of the time. Those cutbacks are going deeper. Long-term wefcpug blog readers will be, I am sure, reminded of the BBC editor who was forced to work on the tube. (as reported here). Good to see our licence fees aren't being wasted.

No prizes, naturally, for spotting the laptop or edit software. But what are those big things in cardboard boxes stored on shelves that he feeds into a machine. Some sort of pizza?

As seen on wefcpug ..1

Here's a link to the YouTube video that didn't stream beyond 30" in the 3G blackspot that is otherwise known as BBC Bristol. Thanks to Hugo for pointing it out in the first place, and to the excellent HD for Indies site who were first to put it about. If (unlike last night) your broadband supports it, there's an HD feed available - click on the HD button, needless to say.

Read more HD for Indies here

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Coming soon to the UK

In case you haven't heard the rumours, and the banner gif on this site hasn't rotated to the right page, it's been confirmed that Walter Murch, fcp guru, Hollywod editor and all-round top geezer is headlining at the London Supermeet later on in June. Follow the clicky-link on the image to read more and book your tickets.

Has to be worth a visit, even worth the hassle of breathing the London air!

And there's more to come - the UK is going to be the centre of the FCP world this summer - just you wait and see!

- don't forget wefcpug meeting tomorrow night as I write, that'll be June 1st -

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The June 2009 meeting - next Monday

A reminder that we've changed to the first Monday for the June meeting, which means it's next Monday: June 1st, usual place and time (BBC Bristol, prompt start at 7pm). Exact room to be decided yet...

On the agenda:

we're pleased to welcome back Darren Godwin and Donald Sievewright from Matrox, they're just embarking on a world tour - well, OK, a UK tour, with a couple of new products, and they've put us on top of the list to see them. This month we get a chance to see the MXO2 mini, and here I quote Darren:

We will be showing the MXO2 Mini which is a portable HDMI/Component I/O for Mac and PC. It's a snip at £338 and is ideal for the enthusiast or field editor. It can also be used by the workgroup editor who uses shared storage/IO and needs accurate monitoring at the desktop.

If we give them a warm enough reception, they're promising to come back in July with another surprise.

And speaking of surprises, the rest of the agenda may well be a surprise to Richard and myself. As I write wires are humming, demo software has been promised, Richard is flexing his mouse hand.

Plus the usual 'Stump the Experts' and the best editing gossip to be had in Bristol that night.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Diary dates

Write-ups of previous meetings and discussions are yet to come, but here in advance are the dates of the next few meetings, which we've had to move from our regular pattern - OK we're continuing with our usual highly irregular pattern.

June meeting is 1st June

July meeting is 6th July - this is a special, marking the end of another wefcpug year (year 5)

no August meeting (we 'could' skype each other from villas / gites / beaches but we won't)

September is our 5th birthday - tentatively 14th September - and it's going to be extra special. Promise.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Next meeting - May 11th

Those second Mondays keep on rolling around, and guess what there's another one next week.
So it's wefcpug week, see you at the Beeb in Bristol on Monday May 11th 7pm kickoff.

More news to come on this channel tomorrow.

BTW the website may say the next meeting is on March 9th, but that's only if your name is 'Who' or you're looking to meet up with the Eloi.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A picture for our times

image from BBC Internet Blog - link below for full version

Here's the next problem for the alphabetically-challenged - and a picture of the way the world of rights management is moving. It's from one of the BBC Blogs, devoted to HD tv and IPtv, and shows the current state of play of DRM that's applied to HD programmes on the FreeSat and other platforms. The blog page is here and it's worth reading down the long list of comments - my sympathies go to Andy Quested who's making the reasonable point (as a programme maker and rights owner, I would think that, wouldn't I) that the alternative to DRM is no programme in HD - but is being swamped by replies from people who just want tech that works without hassle.

And in related developments:
They've been busy with the BBC iPlayer this week. After a slightly premature announcement last week, there's now an HD channel to follow on the BBC iPlayer Desktop, and they've tweaked up the quality of 'SD' streams and downloads. There's a new version of the Desktop for download/update (the Desktop is BBC-speak for the programme download, assets and rights management software that is installed on your PC/Mac/Linux box - yes folks, all bases now covered) which no longer uses Peer-to-Peer (P2P) distribution. So once you've updated, your PC won't any more be talking to other machines and sending them bits, and using your uplink to your ISP.

It's still a confusing package - the 'Desktop' doesn't do the browsing for you, but wakes up your browser of choice to select programmes, which themselves stream or download - the word is that streamed programmes should look better too.

One link that (IMHO) is really useful is a new diagnostics page, to see how your broadband measures up, it's at BBC iPlayer - Diagnostics


PS fuller account of the last wefcpug and especially of SoundTrack Pro will be up here in a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tonight's meeting - in sound only

For those of you lucky enough not to be flying out to Las Vegas for NAB this week, a reminder that it's wefcpug night at the Beeb in Bristol. That is, if you're reading this on Tuesday 14th April.

No word has been forthcoming about the previously advertised schedule, so it'll continue in 'Sound Only' for some of the evening with an updated report from moi-meme on using SoundTrack Pro for real for multi-track TV dubbing. Note I say 'report' rather than demonstration - at times as I've been working this route I've felt rather like an early scientific experimenter as I've discovered many things NOT to do (which aren't mentioned in the manual) and quite a few things that should be done (ditto). I fully expect to be proven wrong with regard to the manual but I think there'll be surprises for most of you (certainly for me, if past experience is any guide).

And there'll be the usual round of news and gossip from Richard and the world of Proper Training, and we can all moan about the escapees who've gone off to NAB.

Viva Las Whiteladies, 630pm (ish) for 7pm tonight. etc. etc.


Monday, April 06, 2009

April Meeting

Reminder to all that we're not meeting on the Monday, which is a bank holiday, but convening in the usual spot (BBC back-entrance, Bristol) on Tuesday next, April 14th, 7pm.

Fingers crossed, it's the Photoshop guy, but if that doesn't materialise, watch this space. Wires will be humming.

Monday, March 16, 2009

report from March 09

Your scribe has been configurating a new Linux netbook to do things that aren't in the instruction book which meant a day lost in Software Configuration land - and with a large public event in Bath at the weekend I've been working on, not much time left over for scribing.

Disk Drives and backups appeared to be on our minds this last month. The ominous ticking sound from the drive in my MBPro led me to do some checking. Nothing ominous in the logs or in Disc Utility - but the system became very unstable (and HOT) so it was time to do some first aid. As recommended by Elliott, I'm now using SuperDuper as a backup app - which means I have a bootable firewire drive with the last stable system always to hand. So I boot off that, finish the job, and decide to reformat the HD in the laptop. I had a hunch there's something wrong with the drive (the ticking is Not Good) and although the initial file system checks are good, what I really wanted to do was reformat at low-level (ie marking the bad sectors). You can't do that as such any more - even if you find a utility on the web it's not recommended by the manufacturers - but what you can do (through Disk Utility) is reformat, with 'Write Zeros' under the Advanced Options. When the system writes to the drive, it also reads - and any errors lead to the sector being marked - so the end result is the same. Guess what - the suspect drive stalled at 60% through each time, presumably a mechanical fault or a persistent write/read at a damaged sector.

So (and I won't go into details here) it's a surgical replacement of the drive, the patient has made a full recovery (no pun intended) and is running much cooler overall.

Full marks to SuperDuper - and a strong recommendation from at least two of us. My current setup is to use SuperDuper to clone the entire drive (bootable) on one partition of the F/W drive, and use the other for Time Machine. I've found TM to be a disk hog in the past, as it stores images of the system and the virtual drives that Parallels uses - and restoring from TM, easy to do though it is, takes an absolute age. So I've configured TM just to backup my documents and ignore the system files. Much quicker to run and much smaller too. There are a couple of flaws here - some annoying programs (like Mail) don't store data in the Documents folders, but inside ~/Library . iWeb is particularly obscure when it comes to finding the data for the websites produced. But the cloned drive has latest copies at least. (And my email archives are now in the cloud, as I use Gmail with an IMAP configuration).

We also heard reports of serious problems with Seagate drives - to be precise, the Barracuda 7200.11 models. Start reading here (Slashdot) and here (TechReport).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

March to the meeting

Just heard that our guest speaker can't be with us until April, so it's another 'bring your own' wefcpug night on Monday next. What we do have are reports from the Broadcast Forum Expo show in Earls Court, a show'n tell from Richard - aka Captain Morgan of the airwaves - and the usual roundup of Mac news, developments, gossips and downright rumours. And a chance to win a donated app - ProxyMill - from our friends at Imagine Products.

usual stuff about starting promptly at 7, it's the BBC Bristol back gate - email Richard to get your name on 'the list'...and it's Monday next, the 9th March of course. That's 09-03-09


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What we learned

..that is, apart from how treacherous even a thin layer of fresh snow can be, on top of an already wet road. Congratulations to all who came out into what later became the snow epicentre of the West Country, namely Whiteladies Rd last night. And special thanks to Stuart Wiley of Visual Impact Bristol who came along with the Sony EX-3 to demo.

With showcase material from Richard's new Morgan production line and Andy Chastney's Antarctic movies, last night's wefcpug became an XDCAM workshop. It's always gratifying to see Apple continuing the tradition of having at least 2 ways of accomplishing anything, so here is a record (and clarification for some, including me!) of XDCAM workflows. Both routes involve extra downloads from Sony (free) and neither will work with FCP below, I believe, 6.0.3

Richard demo'd the straight FCP-based 'Log and Transfer' from the File dropdown in FCP. This is an exciting applet for code aficionados, being one of the 'new' Cocoa-based chunks of FCP. IMHO the excitement is muted in the look of the L&T window, which is pretty standard FCP look but with a drop shadow for the app's window. Straight out of the FCP box, it works with P2 and AVCHD file, but not with Sony SxS / HDCAM footage. The necessary Sony software is called XDCAM EX Log and Capture and can be downloaded here. That is, if you're registered on the Sony Biz site: you might be bounced to a registration page. If in doubt, google 'XDCAM EX log and Capture'. Note this software is a plug-in to add XDCAM capability to FCP, it's not a stand-alone app, so FCP has to run first.

Method 2, which I demo'd, uses the Sony clip browser/import software which is a stand-alone app. I've been checking links on the web today and there is a bewildering variety of Sony clip browser software offered on their website, most of which is hidden in product pages. The version I use, which I recommend, and which seems to be the latest, is version 2.8.0 The bundle it comes with is PDZK-P1, which has the further Sony product number of BPE-SS-03A1 - I told you it was confusing! It's bundled with the essential SxS software driver from Sony so the card will be recognised by the OS. Now the easiest way to get this software is either (as I did originally) install from the supplied disc and then hunt for an update - or hit the Sony UK front page which is here and look down the page for the full list of (confusingly titled) software downloads. As I said, the first one bundles the app and the SxS driver.

The XDCAM transfer software is, as said, a standalone app. It looks better than the FCP window (IMHO) and is -slightly- more user friendly for non-FCP viewers (eg the producer who's breathing down your neck as you jointly decide which are the good clips). Care needs to be taken in setting up the import prefs (certainly more care than I did last night) so that they are saved in the project's Capture Scratch folder. The workflow for import is effectively the same as the FCP Log&Trans window: view a clip, choose a clip, import a clip (with optional inpoints), and it's possible to rename to something more friendly at this stage. There's one extra step: the transferred clips are put in a folder (with the card index number) and this folder needs to be imported in FCP, by dragging to the browser (where it becomes an FCP bin, as you'd expect).

So, you pays your money (or you don't, since they're all free apps) and takes your choice. One caveat - I'm not sure all the software works on PPC macs. The versions I've featured are OK, but I have a distant memory of getting an error 'architecture not supported' with another version of the clip browser software on my G5.

The other software I was using is ShotPut, which is an app I featured in the podcast recently. It's a file backup/copying app for SxS and P2 cards which you can read about here. I see they're no longer selling the SxS only app, only the pro version which covers both cards, price $89. It is certainly quicker than finder copying, I can vouch, with facilities I didn't use for printouts and DVD burning. If you're seriously into file-based workflows AND need to offload material from the cards frequently, I'd say it's worth the money for peace of mind.

We also saw another solution to the high cost of SxS cards problem: using an SD adapter (Richard waved the Kensington adapter - available here ) plus high speed SDHC memory cards.
According to Richard and Dave, they've not had problems with this method - no dropped frames, no nasties. Plenty to read on the web about it (the good folk at have summarised the reams of comments here )

And finally
we all got to play with the EX-3 and gave it high marks for picture quality, with some reservations about usability off-tripod. Seemed to be 4 1/2 thumbs up out of 5.

Next meeting will be 2nd Monday in March, that is the 9th March.
(remember M2=wefcpug@BBC)


Monday, February 09, 2009

It's on folks!

You may need your wellies, your thermals and big umbrellas, but come out if you dare to the wefcpug TONIGHT, meet at BBC back reception Bristol, 630pm for 7pm prompt start. We'll have the EX-3 to dissect, it'll be more of a camera workshop than a presentation, but we may also have an extra guest to talk about editing this material...

See you there.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Future may be cancelled - watch this space

(Gin & Tonic buried under 18year record snowdrift shock)
thanks to Linton for the headline

Speaking as one who spent most of Thursday and Friday afternoons shovelling snow, I'm losing my fondness for the white stuff. The met office are currently promising another great shovelful, with the epicentre over Bristol tomorrow at 6pm, so we may be taking a raincheck (snowcheck?) over tomorrow's meeting.

Watch this space, update tomorrow morning as to whether we hold or cancel - or, in true BBC fashion, email us your comments now!


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

February meeting - Monday next (9th)

The next meeting is a chance to get upclose with file-based workflows. Our special guests are Stuart and Ollie from Visual Impact Bristol, who are bringing a Sony EX-3 camera along. With their help, we'll go through the process from capture to output - and of course there'll be plenty of opportunity for informal discussions with them about the hows and whys of hiring gear.

You've heard of 'theatre in the round' - well this will be 'post-production in the round' - not sure yet how we're going to manage it. Shades of 'how many editors does it take to...'

Plus a couple of others segments we're still working on, they may even work.
And 'stump the gurus'.

Usual time, 7pm at BBC Bristol (back door) - we're trying for the big comfy conference room - and usual plea to email Richard if you're planning to come, so that you're On the List.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Broadcast Expo visit

I'm planning to go on the Tuesday (17th) - anyone else going that day?

S :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Next meeting - Feb 9th

I so nearly got it right in the last message. It is the second Monday in the month from now on, and the year has indeed changed to 2009. But it's the 9th Feb not the 10th.

It's looking promising for another big demo night, we have agents working on our behalf with Sony, and Richard is promising a big name to (gasp) talk about editing programmes, so it won't be all tech.

More details when we've inked the names in....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Notes from Jan 09

This is the blog equivalent of blowing down the big Alpine Horn then:

Yes, a reminder to all who were present, in body if not in spirit, that we decided to switch meetings to second Mondays in the month. Back to tradition, then.

So the next date to circle / highlight is Monday Feb 10th. Or in the conventional calendar, that's Feb 9th. Thanks to Nick for pointing this out.

Quick links from me:

> the ever-so-clever BBC iPlayer app for the Apple TV is called Boxee (not Beebox as I said last night, which was something altogether different). To make it work you have to 'modify' the AppleTV too, which is an adventure in itself. Boxee is found here. There's a good introduction on the wikipedia entry here. As I mentioned last night, the boxee support for iPlayer (on XBox as well as other platforms) is thought to be a Good Thing by BBC insider bloggers, but they issue a caution about changes in iPlayer to come which might break it temporarily. This I interpret (in my usual 2+2=5 fashion) to be an oblique hint about Dirac adoption for iPlayer rather than the alpha nature of the Boxee app.

> read down a couple of posts to find out more about the iPlayer on the Mac platform

> and finally, this month's free software is Dropbox, cloud storage and syncing across pcs, mac, unix, etc. 2GB of storage for free from the Amazon/S3 folk. The web interface works well on iTouch/iPhone too. Register or read all about it here.

Watch this space for news of upcoming events and resumption of raffles.


PS Thanks to my friend Quentin who was first (amongst several) to point me in the direction of Dropbox. Now why did so many people think I'd be interested in freebie software?

Friday, January 02, 2009

Next meeting - Jan 12th 2009

Happy New Year to all wefcpug members, and the wider community of readers to this blog who appear to be out there, from my user stats!

The next wefcpug meeting is a week later than our usual pattern, so we can all readjust gently from the holiday season: It's Monday Jan 12th, 7pm at the BBC Bristol as usual.

Nothing fixed yet on the agenda, though pencilled in are a catchup on the BBC iPlayer's move into the Mac highground, unfounded rumour and speculation about MacWorld (why should we miss out on the fun) and a chance for YOU to help plan the year ahead for wefcpug.