Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May2011 notes: FCP X, NAB snapshots, BBC HD camera list

Despite stated intentions and best endeavours, to nobody's surprise we indulged in flights of fancy, speculation, unfounded rumour and downright guesswork when the wefcpug discussed the almost-announced Final Cut Pro release.  Admittedly, some of the guesswork was pretty intelligent, and the group's collective thanks and respect go to Paul D for his contributions.

On surer ground, Phil presented his own take on how best to prepare.   Simply put, it goes:  fast mac, fast GPU, lots of RAM.   To back this up he drew extensively from a useful paper that Silverado (a US re-seller) have made available for free download – all they ask is your email address.  Kudos to them.   Even better, we agreed with their conclusions.  If you want to know more about hyper-threading of CPUs, Turbo boost and the intriguingly named 'Grand Central Dispatch' this paper is a must.  Or you can plough through the tons of useful info on the Apple developer site (which I was halfway through when the Silverado paper came through – saving a great deal of thinking).

This month's contenders from the useful and free shelves of the apps store were:

Alfred – a simple, unobtrusive apps launcher that has found a permanent home on my macs and persuaded me to retire the Dock
and from Blackmagic the equally simple and useful diskspeed tester.   On my 2010 4-core MacPro this gave some very interesting results:
Firewire 800   64.1 MB/s write, 70.6 MB/s read
Internal SATA (single drive)  58.3MB/s write, 46.2 MB/s read
Two-disc internal RAID  264.3 MB/s write, 259.7 MB/s read

The first two figures are as expected, but the simple RAID result surprised many of us:  they are a brand new install, less than 2% occupied at present – we'll revisit this test in the coming months to see what happens when they've been used a while.
The output of the app is visual and full of the detail you need.  The green ticks and so on in the lower half of the pic (detail lost in fitting into this blog) correspond to the various flavours of video file that might be used (from DV to 2K).

Blackmagic designs also featured in the informal and partial NAB review:

 there's an interesting add-on piece of hardware - the Hyperdeck shuttle -  to record uncompressed material onto SSD via HDMI or HDSDI
 there's a very interesting development in their top-range colour correction suite 'Da Vinci' – with a limited feature-set version (Da Vinci lite?) promised in July as free software.   The idea is presumably to tempt us all to become colourists and upgrade to the paid versions.   Hearty cheers from me at least – a brave piece of marketing which I think will pay off for them.

Left unanswered at the meet were the big questions about FCP to come:  what happens to plug-ins and filters, tape ingest, compatibility with prior versions.   Probably no answers in June, but we'll be meeting again on the 6th on the offchance.

Postscript – Kudos too to the BBC HD commissioning team, and especially Ian Potts, for the recent revisions to their website and the clarity they've brought to the question of which cameras are approved for BBC HD productions.   I'd like to think we in Bristol can claim a little of the credit for this, when one awkward individual took Ian to task at a BBC/Bristol Anchor meeting about the issue.  He promised to take another look at the site, and this is the result.  The current camera list is linked at the top right.  I confidently predict this page will be updated frequently over the year.

Thanks again to Noise Industries for donating the raffle prize - 'Light-Kit' from their plug-ins store.