Lens Align Pro Focus Calibration System and Long Ruler Kit By Robert Jensen Most people who take photographs using a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera buy a camera body, a lens or two, and shoot away, happy with their results. However, some people are not so happy. If you've been around the various camera forums on the Internet you've read countless postings over the years by less than happy owners of Brand X or Brand Y camera's stating that it was consistently focusing in front of, or behind, where it should be. ...Read More »
Apple's Soundtrack Pro 3 By Kevin McAuliffe Soundtrack Pro 2 was a great application. You could harness its power for not only Final Cut Pro timelines, but for any editing application that could export an OMF file. What Apple had essentially given us was a professional, production-ready application to take any audio project to the next level. But, I had one concern. Where would it go from there? ...Read More »
The Sony Vegas Pro Production Assistant By Jeffrey P. Fisher As editors we are always looking for ways to be more efficient so we can focus on what we do best: telling stories with sound and visuals. But let's face it, there are a lot of mundane and routine tasks when editing that swallow our time but don't call upon our collective creative inspiration. ...Read More »
Sony Vegas Pro 9 By Jeffrey P. Fisher When a software program matures into its ninth iteration, you expect big things from it. I've been on-board Sony Vegas when it was an audio-only, version one application. It's been really interesting to be a part of the software's growth. As my go-to app for many years, I was excited to give the newest version a test drive. This review looks at Sony Vegas Pro 9.0b 32-bit (VP9), the second (free!) update since its release at NAB earlier this year. ...Read More »
Mecablitz 58 AF-1 Digital flash By Robert Jensen Metz (or Mecablitz) may be an unfamiliar name to a lot of you but for many decades its been the workhorse flash for a lot of pro photographers around the world. Metz is made in Germany and marketed in the US by Bogen Imaging Inc. ...Read More »
Final Cut Studio's Motion 4 By Kevin McAuliffe Star Wars Episode 1 and Apple's new Final Cut Studio have something in common, and that is the hype. Final Cut Studio has been hyped for more than a year, and every time someone blogged about its release coming up, nothing happened. Well, mid-way through July, Apple snuck Final Cut Studio (not called 3, just Final Cut Studio) onto its website, and needless to say, the tidal wave began. ...Read More »
Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) By Heath McKnight Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6), the new version of Apple's 8+ year old operating system, Mac OS X, is an impressive upgrade from Leopard (10.5), which came out in late 2007. While it doesn't sport many new features as in years past, it does feature many "under-the-hood" improvements that make it worth the upgrade. ...Read More »
Wacom Intuos4 graphics tablet system By John Virata Wacom graphics tablets are the standard to which all other graphics tablets are judged, and for the most part, there aren't a whole lot of competitors that can match the usability and fit and finish of a Wacom. The Intuous 4 is a medium size tablet that features an 8.8 x 5.5 inch drawing area on a 14.6 x 10 inch platform. It sports 2048 pressure levels with +/- tilt sensitivity of 60 degrees. ...Read More »
Building a Better Mouse: Contour Design RollerMouse Free By Jeffrey P. Fisher Like me, you've probably been mousing around for some time. You may have even tried some mouse alternatives, such as tablets, trackballs, and their ilk. But, eventually you found yourself back with the mouse in hand. I know, it's not an easy habit to break. But now there is an alternative that is well worth considering: the Contour Design RollerMouse Free. ...Read More »
Apple Compressor 3.5 By Heath McKnight With the long-anticipated update to Final Cut Studio, Apple has introduced an upgrade to Compressor. Not a full new version, but still a significant update, nonetheless. However, you need to consider that while Compressor is a stand-alone application, it's now a major part of Final Cut Pro 7, and that is where its strengths lie. ...Read More »
First Look: Panasonic AG HMC150 AVCCAM camcorder By John Virata Back in 2005, my aunt asked me to videotape her wedding. Now I am not a professional videographer, but rather, over the years I've enjoyed shooting video with all types of cameras, be it via my digital camera, my Flip video camera, to a variety of miniDV cameras. So I agreed to tape her wedding. ...Read More »
Apple Final Cut Pro 7 By Heath McKnight A little more than two years after Final Cut Pro 6 introduced the ProRes codec, Background Processes, Smooth Cam, and many other functions, Apple debuts Final Cut Pro 7 (FCP), part of the third version of Final Cut Studio. There are more ProRes options, export settings that can be done in the background without Compressor 3.5 open, iChat Theater support (an excellent collaboration tool), and much more. FCP is 10 years old this year, and they've been listening to us, the editors! Let's just dive in and take a look at all the new stuff. ...Read More »
Verbatim SureFire 500GB Firewire 800/USB 2.0 external hard drive By Joshua Virata In today's world of digital cameras, home movies, music, and all of our other media, storage is everything. Convenience and reliability are two big sellers when it comes to storage, and this is where the Verbatim SureFire line of portable hard drives comes in. Sleek, portable, fast and large capacities are some important aspects to portable drives and the SureFire has all of those aspects. ...Read More »
Round-up of USB mics By Jeffrey P. Fisher For many people, connecting and recording mics is too complicated. They have a simple question: "Why can't I just plug a microphone right into my computer like a mouse?" Well, the industry listened and responded with a bevy of USB-based mics that are, for the most part, plug and play. ...Read More »
Autodesk's Mudbox 2009 By Kevin McAuliffe The world of 3D design and animation has always had a "what came first, the chicken or the egg" mentality. What I mean by that is when it comes to someone getting into the world of 3D animation, normally (not all the time), they are either strong at the computer/technical aspect, or strong in (classical) animation, and they end up having to bulk up on either one or the other. ...Read More »
e-on`s Vue 7.5 Xstream By Jon Carroll One thing still challenging to 3D animators and visual effects artists is the creation of realistic landscapes and integrating objects created in their animation software into those environments. There have been over time several different pieces of 3D software that were specifically intended for the creation of 3D environments, and they have used various means to incorporate their landscapes into the rendered images. ...Read More »
I'm a Juicer By John Haley Whether you are someone who is running errands all day, or have a business which requires you to be away from the office, or even a student who loves music or a avid gammer - this is for you. Not many of us are stationary long enough to to recharge our all in one mobile computer, or at least that is how some think of their iPhones! ...Read More »
Red Giant Software's Instant HD By Heath McKnight I love third party plug-ins and software apps for Final Cut Pro, and for this article, I'll be taking a look at Instant HD from Red Giant Software (www.redgiantsoftware.com), makers of the terrific Magic Bullet line of plug-ins. I am only focusing on one plug-in this time because I wanted to add a little workflow in. ...Read More »
Lenovo ThinkStation S20 workstation By John Virata The Lenovo ThinkStation S20 is the company's mid range workstation that works well in a variety of creative environments, be it video and special effects creation to CAD and animation. Configured with the right graphics card, the unit will fit well in any creative environment. The S20 is larger than most mid-tower cases, and sports ample room inside for user upgrades. ...Read More »
Use Dropbox to store and share your files online By Heath McKnight I came across Dropbox because I am always looking for an online solution to upload and share video files, music, documents--any type of file that I would want to access remotely. Dropbox is a free program you can download to your Mac, Windows PC, or Linux system, and use it to upload and share all sorts of files with multiple computers you use, or people whom you'd like to share those files with. ...Read More »
Mercury On-The-Go By Ko Maruyama There are tons of reasons to check out this lightweight drive. The OWC Mercury On-The-Go drive is a little powerhouse in your pocket. If you're going to run out an purchase an external drive for your Mac laptop, you already know what you want in a drive: FW 800, USB 2.0 for those other connections you may need to make, and bus powered (no external power supply). ...Read More »
Adesso Wireless Mini Trackball Keyboard By John Virata Notebook computer users often place their notebooks on a stand in an effort to get a better viewing experience. Others don't like to be tethered to their notebook's keyboard and opt for alternative solutions. USB keyboards are often used to good success in this type of workspace, but still others often like the freedom that wireless provides, and this is where the Adesso Wireless Mini Trackball Keyboard comes into play. ...Read More »
First Look: Photo Mechanic 4.6.1 By John Virata Photo Mechanic is an image management and organization tool that helps you to speed up the process of viewing and culling your digital images. The application is not an image editor, but rather, it helps you to better view your digital images and then organize and apply keyword and other text information to them to help keep your image collections manageable. The application is super fast, and enables you to quickly scroll through and manage a lot of images. ...Read More »
Rapid Prototyping with SketchFlow By Matthew David A challenge when working with clients is the ability to quickly develop a prototype identifying what the client wants on the screen without spending too much time developing the solution. With SketchFlow, built into Expression Blends, you can quickly develop effective prototypes with visuals, workflow and integration into the final solution that can effectively present to the customer their vision without you having to do all the work. ...Read More »
Motion Designer's Toolkit from Digital Juice By Kevin McAuliffe As editors and graphic designers know, time is our worst enemy. Clients want the best looking product (obviously) in the absolute shortest amount of time, and that's where companies like Digital Juice have helped us in the past by providing us with stock elements that we can use to not only spice up our projects, but get them finished a lot faster. ...Read More »
First Look: Pixelmator image editor for the Macintosh By John Virata The Mac OS doesn't have a whole lot of image editors available for it due in part to the excellent iPhoto application that ships with every Mac. Why should a developer build something for the Mac that when there is a like application that ships with every Mac? And not everyone needs the power of Adobe Photoshop, nor wants their hands held with Photoshop Elements (though Elements is a great image editor/organizer). ...Read More »
The 10 most important features in the iPhone OS 3.0 By Matthew David Apple has done it. Three mobile OS upgrades in two years. The latest upgrade, iPhone OS 3.0 (also available for $9.95 for the iPod Touch), comes packed with features that build upon the already rich feature set. So, without adieu, it is time for a David Letterman Style Top Ten of the best features in the new iPhone OS. ...Read More »
Class on-Demand training with Sue Jenkins By Ko Maruyama For those of us new to the Photoshop experience, Adobe's Photoshop Elements is the perfect way to start exploring the creative potential you have, and pushing the boundaries of your photographs into uncharted areas. However, you may need a guide to lead you through these waters. The latest class on demand DVD will help you figure out the application quickly and easily. ...Read More »
Noise Industries FX Factory Pro, Volumetrix, and SugarFX By Kevin McAuliffe With all the plug-in packages I look at, there are updates that (seem to) happen on almost a regular basis, so I thought that for this article I would take a look at recent upgrades to Noise Industries' products and partner products including FX Factory Pro, SugarFX, Motype and Volumetrix, as well as throwing in a quick look at Idustrial Revolution's brand new plug-in known as ParticleMetrix. ...Read More »
PHOTOSHOP DOWN & DIRTY TRICKS By Ko Maruyama You probably know Scott Kelby from many publications, especially as the editor of Photoshop User magazine. In his latest book, PHOTOSHOP CS4 DOWN & DIRTY TRICKS, Scott and Corey Barker walk through several of the latest design tricks and trends Photoshop users recognize in so much of the print work available today. ...Read More »
MacSpeech Dictate 1.5.1 By Ko Maruyama I had previously used an earlier version of MacSpeech's software on my laptop with great success, and found many interesting features within software, including the ability to customize recognized libraries of words, and shortcuts in order to make the software run more smoothly on the existing hardware. On a Mac Pro, the new version runs more quickly than you can possibly imagine. ...Read More »
Canon 5D MkII DSLR By Robert Jensen In case you haven't heard the news - a few months ago Canon introduced its new 5D Mark II digital SLR camera and it hit the market like the proverbial 600 pound gorilla. Everyone, and I mean everyone, sat up and took notice when they heard the specs. It wasn't just the 21 megapixel sensor it was packing that had everyone drooling at the mouth to get their hands on the camera. ...Read More »
Essential Final Cut Pro: FxFactory Pro and CrumplePop By Heath McKnight For this Final Cut Pro (FCP) Plug-Ins and 3rd Party Software apps, I decided to focus only Noise Industries' FxFactory Pro (also available for Motion, Final Cut Express, and Adobe After Effects) and some of key plug-ins, including those from Noise Industries, SUGARfx, yanobox, and Boinx Software. I will also take a look at CrumplePop, which is a very cool "handwritten" text creator that helps editors create handwritten-style graphics on templates that look like paper, Post-It-style notes, masking tape, and more. ...Read More »
13-inch MacBook Pro By John Virata Over the years, I've had always had access to a Macintosh computer, starting way back with the PowerBook 140, to the dual 450 G4, to a 15-inch MacBook Pro with illuminated keyboard. I used the systems for testing the latest software from Adobe, Apple and others. I've never really became a Mac user, because I have been using Windows computers since 1994 and became used to that OS. But the new MacBooks piqued my interest in part because of their use of aluminum. ...Read More »
Elgato's Turbo.264 HD By Heath McKnight Elgato's Turbo.264 HD is a pretty cool and affordable hardware USB accelerator and software video encoder for the Mac. Easily create high-quality (and small in size) H.264/MPEG-4 movies from your existing videos, and from an AVCHD video camera. You can even use it from within Final Cut Pro 6.x and QuickTime Pro, plus iMovie for those of you working in Apple's consumer editing app! ...Read More »
Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition II 4TB external hard drive system By John Virata External hard disk drives have the advantage of storing large capacities of data in form factors small enough that you can carry them with you. With devices that capture large amounts of data, such as HD video cameras and high megapixel digital SLR cameras now the norm rather than the exception, all that data has to be stored somewhere. ...Read More »
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