Archive for June, 2012

Methyl Orange Stain Removal

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

A friend’s son dropped some methyl orange solution on a light-grey carpet.  Naive attempts by the parent to remove it using “Vanish” (a domestic carpet cleaning product) merely resulted in it changing colour from orange to yellow.  I am no chemist, but here I search for a stain-removal method.

Web-search seems to indicate that:

  • Methyl Orange is a traditional form of dye.
  • Also it is a ph indicator, a water solution of it is orange in its own weakly acidic state, becoming yellower with increasing alkali.  I guess “Vanish” is alkaline then…
  • It is also toxic and could potentially be carcinogenic, e.g. if the powder is inhaled.
  • It breaks down in daylight?
    • In that case maybe all my friend needs to do is hang it ouside in the sunshine?
    • Or does this only happen in the context of specially-treated fibres?
  • ???


Avid’s PhraseFind

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The key tip:

  • Do not hit “RETURN” on the keyboard after bringing up the SEARCH box. That searches just  text. You need to click on the PhraseFind button.


Avid (MC etc): Prevent Use of System Drive

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012
  • (structured & paraphrased)
    • Main Trick:
      • Set your Media Creation settings to filter out the system drive
      • then open your Site Settings box (under the Special menu)
      • drag the Media Creation setting from your Project window to the Site Setting box.
      • All new projects should now respect your Media Creation settings (although old ones won’t – this will only affect all new projects you create).
    • Safety Net:
      • … create the folder AvidMediaFiles on your [C:] drive and then create a text file called MXF (take the txt extention off of it) inside the AvidMediaFiles folder.  Then if you try to digitize or import to that drive you get an error, because it wants to creat an MXF folder but can’t.  …useful in helping editors remember where to digitize, and to always check their settings.
    • Under the drive Filtering and Indexing tab make sure all 3 boxes are ticked.
    • This will prevent media being imported, captured or rendered to any drives that can’t handle the selected resolution (Filter Network Drives Based on Resolution). And filter out the System & Launch drives (these are the drives where Avid and your OS are installed – usually the same).
    • Under Media Creation you can also specify which drives different types of media are stored on. So for example, you might have a Unity Partition that is just for Renders etc.
    • How to separate media by project
      • The [1] folder under [MXF] can be called anything, e.g. a Project name, and reserved for media associated only with that project.  Once renamed, if Avid needs to import anything else, it will create a fresh [1]-folder.


Friday, June 22nd, 2012

iPhone App: ShotLister

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Stonehenge Turns a Movie into an iPhone/iPad App (eg for Sale)

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

  • Stonehenge Turns Your Indie Film into an iPhone/iPad App
  • …package your film along with a number of extras in a manner similar to a DVD release. This allows you to sell your film in the App store — thereby circumnavigating your way onto an Apple device without having to go through the iTunes movie store.

H264 Profiles: Baseline, Main, High : In Sony Vegas and Sorenson Squeeze

Thursday, June 21st, 2012


  • For H264-based encoders, their configuration dialog typically offers a choice of Profiles, being Baseline, Main or High.  The default varies over varieties of encoder.  What do these mean exactly, and what guidance is there for choosing between them?
  • How do they influence things (encoding speed, quality, file-size) in practice?
  • What are their specific effects in Sony Vegas (my traditional workhorse) and Sorenson Squeeze (that I am currently experimenting with)?
    • Both of these applications offer (among their choices) CUDA-acceleration for H264 encoding.

The answer(s):

  • Profile controls the degree of sophistication in encoding and decoding.
  • It’s best to choose “High”
    • Baseline is the “cheap & nasty” variety, e.g. making no use of B-Frames.
    • Main is intermediate between Baseline and High.
    • High offers best compression, and is the typical profile for broadcast (BluRay and TV).

Experimentally, I found:

  • Within each encoding tool, viewed on its own:
    • Insignificant differences in encoding time and (perhaps to be expected) only marginal differences in file size.
      • Note: In my experiment I used MainConcept to compress HD 1920×1080 25p footage of a mid-shot of a lecturer in a static scene (himself moving undramatically in the context of static lighting and seen against a static and fairly neutral background).  Settings were for bitrates of 12Mbps average, 24Mbps maximum
  • Comparing the different tools:
    • Squeeze 8.5 took about twice as long as Sony Vegas 11 to encode to the same-specified (as far as I can deterimine) target.
  • I was unable to discern any difference in quality.  A quality measuring method would be useful here!

I have remaining uncertainties about specifying the number of reference-frames, both in general and in terms of how to do this in the various encoding applications.


Computer Kit-Change Time?

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

I currently use Mac equipment, but most of what I do is Windows-based.  Although Macs can run Windows under Boot Camp, but there are some shortcomings in practice, the main ones being poor Boot Camp support for FireWire and ExpressCard:

  • On a Mac Pro bought in 2008:
    • FW800 port works OK with an external FW800 hard disk unit, but is unable to drive specialist audio/video equipment.
  • On a MacBook bought at the beginning of 2010:
    • The FW port is unusable, even for an external hard disk unit.  If I try to use it, it works initially then (e.g. after a GB or two) the FW driver crashes and remains offline.
    • The ExpressCard port does not function.
      • Interestingly, placing a Sony SxS video-recording card in the ExpressCard slot causes the operating system (Windows) to search for a matching driver.  However the card never appears in Windows Explorer. Frustratingly “almost there but not quite”…

So Boot Camp is really limitated as regards Windows-based video editing!

As an alternative to Boot Camp, I tried running windows as a virtual machine under the Mac OS application Parallels.  Rendering is surprisingly efficient under this regime, almost 100% of Boot Camp speed, but I found that:

  • FireWire is not supported (at least not in the version I tried)
  • Crashes were not too frequent, but they were more frequent, than under Boot Camp.

So maybe I should try it the other way round!  It is possible to run Mac OS on a Windows PC via an “umbrella scheme” called Hackintosh, whereby various softwares (not called Hackintosh) make the PC look sufficiently like a Mac to allow Mac OS to be installed and booted.

So what kind of PC?

  • Ideally I’d like a “luggable”, say with 24 inch screen and 8 cores.
  • But it can be a fraught business choosing equipment that is compatible with the major NLEs etc.
  • So I took a look at a renowned expert-seller of such equipment, namely DVC.  They offer the HP EliteBook 17″ HP8760W with Quadro 3000 graphic card (suitable for Avid & Adobe Premiere Pro):

Examining the potential of that laptop:

  • CPU:  It is an i7 with 4 cores, 2.3GHz with turbo up to 3.4 GHz
  • GPU: The Quadro 3000, which has 240 pipelines, 2GB memory, and consumes 75W.
  • It can run Hackintosh > Mac OS
    •  Hackintosh: How-To:
    • Google: [HP 8760w hackintosh]
        • Hp Elitebook 8740w with Mac OSX Lion 10.7.1 installed
        • Very smooth performance, no display glitches
        • With Lion, unlike Snow Leopard, the USB ports work.
        • Also the FireWire, Webcam, BlueTooth work.
          • {Though from experience I’d want to test that FireWire}
        • However  the following do not work: Track-pad, Fingerprint-reader, Card reader, WiFi.
          • WiFi is partially fixable by using a USB adaptor, but its bandwidth would then be constrained (?)

So that laptop is a definite contender…

Googling further on that model, it becomes apparent that it is available in a variety of customizations:

If I do go for that model, I shall most likely purchase it from DVC, even if I can find it cheaper elsewhere.  I’d rather not take the risk of some subtle error and want to help keep them in business for the future!

Lighting Arrangment Tutorials

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Cineform Codec Settings

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

What are they exactly?

Some tips gained from forums:

  • If the CFHD AVI is brighter gamma-wise and less saturated than expected, then try un-checking the Use Video Systems RGB (Default On) checkboxes for Encode and Decode.
  • Conversely, if the image shadows are darker than expected, check the Use Video Systems RGB checkboxes for both Encode and Decode.
  • Use 709 for everything bigger than SD.


Cineform “Automatic” Options

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The Cineform codec, like several other codecs, has options whose meaning has never been that clear to me.

  • (from 2008)
    • “Automatic”, doesn’t analyze or alter your footage, it just tell the compressors to be interlaced or progressive based on other options selected.
    • Auto givess:
      • 1080i sources will be interlaced
      • 1080i + pulldown removal will be progressive
      • 1080i + deinterlace will be progressive

Great to know!  I always wondered about that.  Having been in doubt, I typically “play safe” by manually specifying instead.

Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 & Cineform: Issue & Fix (Preferences)

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I installed Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 onto a [MacPro > BootCamp > Windows 7] machine.  I imported (by drag) one of my standard intermediate files, an AVI containing Cineform video and WAV audio for an HD 1920×1080 (square pixels) frame, progressive.  The image displayed in Squeeze looked squashed, reminiscent of an HDV 1440×1080 stretched-pixel image displayed using square pixels.  But as stated, the source pixels here were square.

The solution was to go in Squeeze’s Preferences and specify that the file-reader it should use for .avi files should be QuickTime, not DirectX etc.  Sounds like Squeeze has a long-standing affinity for QuickTime, which for me is reminiscent of my experiences with Boris RED etc.  Quelle nuisance!


Sorenson Squeeze CUDA Requirements

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
    • MainConcept H.264/AVC CUDA System Requirements
    • In order to take advantage of GPU acceleration of MainConcept H.264/AVC, the following is required:
      • Squeeze 7 or later.
      • NVIDIA video card with CUDA support (any GeForce 8, 9, 100, 200-series GPUs, Fermi, Tesla and Quadro with a minimum of 512 MB.
      • CUDA architecture 1.1 (any card except of 8800 GTS, 8800 Ultra, 8800 GTX and some Teslas and Quadros). CUDA architecture 1.0 to 1.3 implies a Tesla video card. CUDA architecture of 2.0 implies a Fermi video card.
        • I note that the exceptions do not appear to include my MacPro’s card, which is an 8800 GT (without an “S”, “Ultra” or “X” on the end)
      • Windows, XP, Vista, Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit).
        • Minimum NVIDIA Driver version v196.21 (no Fermi support)
        • Minimum NVIDIA Driver version v196.47 (Fermi support)
      • OS X 10.5.7 or later.
        • Minimum NVIDIA CUDA Driver version 3.1.14
        • Minimum NVIDIA GPU Driver version (19.5.9f02)

GPU CUDA Driver Update for Mac BootCamp Windows 7

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I have various CUDA-enabled applications and my Mac BootCamp Windows 7 (64-bit) machines have CUDA-capable GPUs (Graphics Cards) but the drivers under Boot Camp make the CUDA features inacessible.

Ordinarily, for a standard windows desktop, it would simply be a case of going to NVIDIA’s site  and letting it automatically scan your system for the latest compatible driver.  However for the “shrink-wrapped” / “walled garden” world of Macs and MacBooks, the NVIDIA search result just says “contact the manufacturer”.  In other words only the driver supplied with Boot Camp is officially supported.

So in that case, what is not officially supported but does work?  Time for a web-search:

Google: [macbook pro geforce 9600m gt driver]

Obviously I will want to back everything up first…

…but it does sound worth a try.

Avid: Non-Standard Frame Sizes: Unavailable but Workaround-able-ish

Monday, June 18th, 2012

I have a wish to make a product with a non-standard frame size 1024×400.   I have found Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere capable of that but could not find any way in Avid to make a project of that size.

Indeed, Avid only offers standard broadcast frame sizes


Sony VAIO 3D: Suitability as a Luggable Video Editing Machine?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

The Sony VAIO 3D, an all-in-one (motherboard is in the screen enclosure) computer, very broadly similar in concept to an iMac, and not to be confused with laptop VAIOs.

Pros (the attraction of it to me):

  • My Dad has one, for his 3D video editing.
  • I’m looking for a luggable system for my multi-locational video editing.
  • Though currently I only edit 2D material, I’m interested in connecting to 3D, including to help my Dad.


  • One of the main negative arguments is that the graphic card can’t be upgraded. And graphic cards are now “evolving” rapidly.  On the other hand its the kind of product where youalmost  leave it shrink-wrapped, hopefully very eBay-able when the time comes.
  • It only has four cores.
    • From practical experience, I need 8 cores to complete certain kinds of (recurring) job in a reasonable time like overnight, so as not to hold-up projects another working-day.
  • It sounds like the GPU is not as powerful as I would like, e.g. for encoding video.


Mac Pro: Even-Better GPU (But is too “Bleeding-Edge”?)

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I just saw a post on talking about the new Nvidia GTX 680 graphic card.  Much-desirable as it is in terms of graphics computing power, overall it seems too bleeding-edge for me, in terms of compatibility with my current hardware and some of my applications.


Mac Pro: Better GPU (With Decent CUDA)

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I’m considering getting a decent CUDA  card for my existing Mac-based system.  Currently its GPU is a GeForce 8800 GT, having 112 CUDA cores and 512 MB RAM.  In contrast, for example, the Quadro 4000 has 256 cores, 2GB RAM, memory bandwidth just under 90GB/s.  Clock speeds are harder to compare in a meaningful way, there is processor clock speed and cores clock speeds, and of course we are dealing here with multicore.

From my research, it seems that:

  • The NVIDIA Quadro 4000 is compatible with a Mac (tower) both under Mac OS and Boot Camp Windows 7 64-bit (as well as some other versions I don’t care about).
  • It is possible to install more than one such card, doubling the number of cores, and benefitting dual-monitor-related performance if the two monitors are each connected to separate cards.


Adobe Creative Cloud: More Thoughts

Saturday, June 9th, 2012


    • {The following is a variety of viewpoints from various people.  I don’t necessarily agree with any of them but do regard them as useful thought-provokers. }
    • You “rent” the software, rather then first buying it, then continually paying for upgrades to new versions.
    • I’m gonig {going} with the non-cloud version of CS6 also. I don’t like the idea of an expiring software package, in the event that I don’t want to spend another $600 next year.
    • Alternatively, maybe Google and Microsoft will see this as an opportunity to offer some competition, because what I dislike even more than expiring software is having to keep up with files across ten different web sites. Someone needs to invent a “cloud drive” standard and then everyone needs to build their apps to function with any “cloud drive”.  Google is getting close with their new Google Drive and a selection of third party web apps that can use it for storage.
      • About the Google thing, remember that anything you put on the Google drive is owned by GOOGLE, and they can use it for anything at all that they see fit. Trusting Google with your work is insane.
        • Google says in its disclosure. “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”
        • Urban lagend {legend}, fear mongering. Google (and YouTube and Widows SkyDrive and Amazon Cloud) assumes a LICENSE to your work for the legal protection of being able to move and disperse it throughout their servers. And in the case of YouTube to change the format.
    • My own inclination would be to stick with the suite license. I have no faith that Adobe won’t just screw everything up.  … Another consideration. Some editors want their edit systems isolated from the internet. Cloud service won’t be so good if that’s what you want.
      • You don’t need to stay connected all the time. But if you’re not going to be connected maybe you don’t need the cloud service.
    • The one nice thing about Adobe’s Creative Cloud is that you can install both the Mac and Windows version for the same membership price. I have a Windows 7 desktop but a Mac OS X Lion laptop so this would benefit me. Of course, Adobe could have just been nice and allowed my desktop license to work on both platforms like other companies do but that’s another story
    • The turnoff for me … is the FORCED yearly upgrade. It says you can keep the version you lease for one year, then you must upgrade. Patches are installed by you (just like now), but your software license (appears) to expire a year after you initially get it.
    • …the cloud concept is not beneficial unless you like being beta test guinea pig.
    • …remember when all software was owned lock-stock and barrel by the hardware companies. (You couldn’t buy a computer, you had to lease it from the manufacturer). You paid an annual maintenance fee and the owner (DEC, IBM, etc) maintained the hardware and software.  In that scope, things haven’t changed much. We still pay an annual or biannual “fee” in the form of software upgrades. Personally I prefer the old “Rent the Software” model because if it didn’t work, you didn’t pay, and bugs got fixed really fast.

Adobe Creative Cloud – Expectations & Reality

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

What is it?  Not the “ubiquitous computing” I first imagined.  Marginally handy in some ways, possibly more risky in others, e.g. if forget to exit on one machine (e.g. at work) then will it be accessible on another machine (e.g. at home or remote location)?  An in any case, how sustainable will it be?  My recent experience with Adobe CS Review makes me slightly wary…

What I expected was something more like the Kindle model, where I could install apps on as many devices as I wished, albeit with reduced functionality on weaker devices, and to have only one project open at a time, identically visible (apart from synch-delay) on all of those devices (maybe auto-branching where synch failed, with expectation of future manual pruning/re-synching).

Then there’s rendering – I’d expect that not to be counted as “usage”, instead usage should be actual user-interaction.  The technical model could be a thin client for user interface, sending commands to processing engines (wherever, even on another machine, e.g. to run a muti-core / CUDA desktop from ipad or iphone) and at the same time “approval requests” to Adobe Central, but with some degree of “benefit of the doubt” time-window so as not to delay responsiveness of the application.  They could then even respond to attempted beyond-licence actions with piecemeal license-extension options, e.g. “Provided you pay in next working day or two  for temporary additional subscription” option (defaulters get credit score reduced).  Why let inflexibility get in the way of capitalism?

Unfortunately, in the words of REM, “that was just a dream”.  Instead activation is restricted virtually to the same degree as the non-cloud variety, that is to two computers (main & backup or work & home etc).  The only extra freedom is that the two computers need not be the same operating system – e.g. can be mac and windows – a nuisance restriction of the traditional non-cloud model.  And rendering counts as usage.

It is possible to deactivate one of these computers and reactivate on another but if this happens “too frequently” then a call to Adobe’s support office is required.  It’s slightly more complicated in practice but that’s the essence of it.

Might give it a try though.  Like I said, it could be marginally handy, and marginal is better than nothing.


Avid Symphony vs Media Composer (6)

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Having already Media Composer 6 (MC 6) and separately purchased Boris, I can see no point in upgrading to Symphony.  The only difference as far as I can tell is that unlike MC, it comes with BCC and it handles a Control Surface, which I do not have.  And I intend to dabble more in Da Vinci (Resolve).


Adobe CS Review …No more it seems

Monday, June 4th, 2012

As a relatively new Adobe user, I was vaguely aware of an attractive-sounding Adobe Premiere collaboration feature, I think it was originally called Clip Notes ( confirms this), where one could send out reviews to people, who accessed it via Acrobat or as a pdf or something.  Having Adobe Production Premium CS5.5 I explored under Premiere’s File menu, discovering Create New Review.  I wish I had not, for it wasted several hours of scarce production time…  It seems that this feature has been discontinued, as announced at and complained about at  The only reason I discovered this, following three hours of rendering by the Create New Review command and further one hour waiting for the Share Review website to complete (black screen with rotating wait-animation) was googling for login problems.

How come there wasn’t a simple website message to say “Discontinued”?  Furthermore, why not an Application Update to remove this feature from the File menu or change the menu action to state that this feature was discontinued?   Just as well I had not based a commercial workflow on this feature.  I feel somewhat Apple’d….

My alternative, until I find anything better, will be good-old-fashioned highly compressed renders with burnt-in timecode, shared bia DropBox.   I am also aware of Sorenson 360, it looks like it has a great set of features, but its cost is prohibitive for my current purposes.

One item I did manage to salvage from my “wasted time” was the render – that had taken 2.5 hours – that had been generated as part of the CS Review process.  It appeared in the folder [C:\Users\David\AppData\Local\Temp] with the pseudo-random probably-unique filename of [8D4E4C20-0C00-0F8A-A501-B6B7CA2E4883.f4v]. The [f4v] extension indicates it is an Adobe Flash container, most likely containing h264-encoded media.  I moved it to my own [Renders] folder for the given project and it played fine in VLC Media Player, which confirmed h264 was the codec and indicated it had resolution 960×540 i.e. half-size in terms of length, quarter-size in terms of area, bitrate was around 1Mbps.

Google Earth: Image Rights / Re-Use

Friday, June 1st, 2012