Back from my trip

Safely back in the UK and in catchup mode following my recent extended holiday to the UAE, India and Napal.

Despite the best of intentions, I wasn’t able to post many photos of the trip. There are various reasons, but they may not hold up due to the fact that others on the trip did so much better than I did!

However, between us we managed to create over 500GB of photos and videos. I’m sure you’ll be seeing some soon – fresh media is always good for demonstrating various apps in the ScreenCastsOnline screencasts. Especially due to the fact that I should be doing the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library screencasts very soon, once they come out of beta.

The trip did have some unique challenges as far as the tech was concerned.

One of my fellow travellers (and ScreenCastsOnline Magazine contributor) Allison Sheridan has done a great write up of International Travel Through the Lens of Technology as part of her NosillaCast Podcast which describes some of the challenges.

I do get a mention in the piece:

Don McAllister brought a drive called the Western Digital My Passport Wireless. This is a cool device that lets you stick in an SD card and it automatically backs it up, all without a computer. It did work well but it was impossible to verify that it was actually doing the job because there’s no display. We used my Mac to verify it from time to time because it would sometimes lose power, or take so long that we were sure it had failed. It’s a good idea, but I sure wouldn’t erase my memory cards if I were using that device. Don said that he wouldn’t travel on a trip like this with only an iPad again, he has his eye on the new 12″ Macbook for future trips.


Just one slight correction in that you can monitor when the data transfer from the SD card starts and finishes by viewing the flashing white light on the front of the device. Insert the SD card and a flashing white light indicates that data transfer has started. Once it stops flashing, the data transfer has finished and you can eject the card. You can also double check that it’s been successful by using the iOS app to view the content on the MyPassport drive. Saying that, it is pretty slow but if have patience, it seems to do the job just fine. One really neat feature is that incrementally copies your SD Cards into separate folders organised by days – very neat!

However, on such a long trip, I really would seriously consider taking a laptop with me next time, to manage, process and organise my photos and videos “on the go”. Although technically I could have used my iPad Air 2 with the SD Connection kit, even with the 128GB iPad, I soon ran out of space.

The fact I was using an iPhone 6+, a GoPro Hero 4 and a Panasonic LX100 shooting JPG, RAW and 4K video, I suppose that comes as no surprise.

The new MacBook is looking very attractive as a travel based laptop!


Final Cut Pro X Vindicated?

fcpFinal Cut Pro X has taken quite a beating since launched back in April 2011 at NAB.

The video editing industry recoiled in horror at the alleged “dumbing down” of this stalwart application. Many editors stated publicly their disgust at Apple for letting them down, many vowed to continue with Final Cut Pro 7 until they could find a suitable opportunity to jump ship with Premiere or Avid. A few took a peek and decided that it wasn’t quite ready for prime time.

The reason for this tidal wave of negativity was that Apple had taken the decision to re-write Final Cut Pro X from scratch, with a whole new take on editing.

As a consequence, many of the “Pro” features were left out of the first release, either for technical reasons or more likely because they just couldn’t manage to incorporate them for the first release. I thought I did a blog post on Final Cut Pro X when it first came out but on checking, I did a 10 minute rambling video which I’ve linked to below.

No need to view the video, but it took me back!

The ScreenCastsOnline Final Cut Pro X show I was referring to in the video was eventually published as SCOM0305, followed up by show SCOM0306 – both overdue for an update.

There was no open letter of response to the complaints from Steve Jobs. The closest we got was responses from Apple Product Managers conveyed through David Pogue.

What Apple did do though, was to continue working systematically on Final Cut Pro X and add back in the features that were missing as well as streamline and improve the application.

Check out this impressive list of updates since the original release.

Update: Since publishing this blog post, Jesús Pérez-Miranda @jesus_edits was kind enough to send me the graphic below showing the Final Cut Pro X development timeline. Click on the graphic to see the full version. Thanks Jesús

FCPX Development Timeline

Now, in February 2015, we’re at 10.1.4 and Apple have added back in the majority (all?) of the features that were left out of the initial release. They’ve also done some course corrections on some major topics such as how Final Cut Pro X handles storage, projects and media.

Suffice to say, Final Cut Pro X is now (and probably has been for the last couple of years) worthy of the title of a “Pro” application. If you need anymore convincing, check out the Final Cut Grill Podcast by Chris Fenwick – over 100 episodes of professional editors and developers giving their stories on how they’ve adopted Final Cut Pro X as their editor of choice. Overwhelmingly, most are blown away by the latest version of Final Cut Pro X and how it has been re-engineered from the ground up.

However, one group that has remained silent on Final Cut Pro X is the major Hollywood studios.

Until now.

Cursor_and_Apple_-_Final Cut Pro X_-_In_Action_-_Focus

Apple has just released a new section on the Apple web site with contributions from the directors of “Focus”  –  a traditional Hollywood big budget movie staring Will Smith, produced with Final Cut Pro X.

Well worth a read.

I find it interesting that this is now being pushed with this year’s NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show only 7 weeks away – the start of a major push from Apple to coax back those editors that left?

Now would be a good time to stimulate some interest and seed the idea of at least revisiting Final Cut Pro X during the show.

For the first time, I’ll be able to attend the NAB show as it’s now co-located with the New Media Expo (NMX) conference so I’ll be checking out the latest video gear and will be interested to see what sort of presence Final Cut Pro X has within the show.

I’ll also be attending my first Supermeet at NAB this year too.

Whilst there will be plenty of new gear on display, I wonder if the timing will be right for Apple to announce any major new features in Final Cut Pro X?

Final Cut Pro X 10.2 anyone?

Fallen off the Blogging Wagon – Again

Back at my desk following the Christmas break and I’ve been shamed into making a blog post – Thanks Gorm!

The period leading up to Christmas is always quiet on the news front plus I tend to be working feverishly to produce the shows required to publish whilst I take some time off over.

But now Christmas is over, hopefully the news will start to flow (actually the rumours have started but no real news as yet) and I’ll be able to get back in to blogging again.

I won’t mention the fact that I want to take some time off in March so I’m already working hard again to produce a buffer of shows to publish whilst I’m offline.

It’s tough but someone has to do it!

Black Friday Weekend – ScreenCastsOnline Memberships

It’s that time of the year again and although I haven’t participated for a while, I’ve decided to offer a discounted ScreenCastsOnline Membership for the Black Friday Weekend – Link.

The offer is a 40% discount on the first period of a Quarterly or Annual ScreenCastsOnline membership for new members.

The thing that always pains me is that I have to restrict it to new members only, and can’t offer it to existing current members for renewals.

The problem I have is that most members are on auto recurring renewals and these are spread throughout the year. It would be impossible to set up a time based discount for existing members and be fair across the board. Believe me, I’ve thought long and hard on how I could accomplish this fairly.

So the only option available is that I offer a discount to new members, but just for the first membership period.

I appreciate that this might upset some existing members, but I usually try to go out of my way to keep my existing members happy. Some examples are:

  • Other than a price increase when I switched from just one Mac show per week to two shows per week (Mac and iOS), I’ve managed to not increase prices for existing members since then.
  • I also included the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly magazine subscription as a free add on for existing members when introduced.
  • I’ll also be providing regular high resolution versions of the shows in the new year, all at no cost for existing members.

So I sincerely apologise to any existing members that may be disgruntled that I can’t extend the Black Friday discount to renewals, but I think this is common practice across all membership systems and subscription services.

It goes without saying that I really appreciate the support from all of my members, and I’ll continue to try and think of other ways to make your ScreenCastsOnline membership even more valuable in the future.





Back at my Desk

Just had a wonderful few days over in Iceland where I tried to polish my photography skills. I was also fortunate to see the Northern Lights and was able to work out how to set long exposures on the Panasonic GH4.

Here’s just a single image from a set of about 20 I took.

This is untouched, straight from the camera. Here’s a link to a larger version of the image on Google+

I was blown away at how the images turned out, although I have to say, the images are more spectacular than can be seen by the naked eye. The long exposure gathers more accumulated light, so the camera images are more colourful and vibrant. When viewing with the naked eye, the lights are more muted but still very impressive.

Once I get this weeks shows sorted, I’ll spend some time tweaking the rest and publish to Flickr.

I’ll also be able to experiment with some decent 4K video footage using Final Cut Pro (not the Northern Lights, but some other spectacular Icelandic scenery).

One of the things I wanted to test out was sorting out my workflow when using the  iPhone, my iPad, my Panasonic GH4 and the new iCloud Photo Library. I wanted to use the iPad to view the photos and videos I took with the Panasonic GH4, but didn’t want everything to be sent into iCloud Photo Library. I think I came up with a sensible solution, but will leave that for another blog post!