Foxvideo Productions

Media Production

March 2016

Apple(do)Care!


OS X El Capitan

This time last week I was in total panic and meltdown, I thought I’d killed my MacPro. It all started when I got a desktop update notification telling me there was an OS X update from 11.3 to 11.4 no big deal I thought so I allowed it to go ahead.

After downloading the update it started to install and at one point restarted my MacPro, it then came up with an error message in the lefthand corner of the screen I’ve never seen and, before I could read it all, it went into a re-boot loop constantly re-booting. I have 3 different boot drives, 11.3 used for normal day to day stuff, an 11.3 FCPX dedicated boot drive and 10.8.5 just for Final Cut Pro 7, booting to either of the other operating systems (using the Alt key) worked fine.

After a quick coffee I started to look around the Apple user forums, there didn’t seem to be any other reports which made me think it was unique to me leaving me to wonder how I could sort it, I didn’t have a Time Machine backup and cloning the FCPX 11.3 system would lose all my Apps and Data. I did boot to the FCPX 11.3 drive and save off all the data I didn't have backed up elsewhere from the failed install drive to a spare drive, then had another coffee to try and work out what to do.

After a few hours, a couple of posts with similar problems had appeared on the Apple user forums, one had a possible answer - delete a Library extension called SUIDGuardNG.kext. I booted to the FCP 7 10.8.5 drive, found the file on the faulty 11.3 boot drive and deleted it. A reboot to the faulty 11.3 install and I got past the error message and I sat looking at a black screen for the next 90 minutes or so after which the familiar OS X screen and progress bar appeared, another 15 minutes or so of computer activity and I had my normal desktop back with all my Apps and Data!

I went back to the Apple forum, by now more posts had appeared, all with the same problem so I posted a ‘thank you’ saying it had solved my failed install, the MacPro is still working fine 4 days on and a few posts reporting the problem and solution have appeared since.

An interesting thing then happened on Tuesday night around 20.30, I got a phone call from a young lady saying she was calling from Apple and could I send details of the initial problem, how I sorted it, my system specs and logs of the failed install to Apple!

My initial reaction was one of suspicion, we’ve all had calls from a foreign sounding ‘representative of Microsoft’ saying they’d detected a virus on a computer however, after a few checks and 2 emails later I was convinced it was a genuine call (I’m not going to detail how I verified it was genuine), so I sent full details and logs to Apple. It’s interesting that the Apple forum I read often has posts complaining about a specific problem aimed directly at Apple with a follow up post from a forum member saying that Apple don’t read the forum and to direct the problem via the normal Apple channels - obviously not true any longer.

(PS - Time Machine drive now in use!)

FCPX rocks - sort of....

Canal region, NicaraguaThe Peace and Hope Team

This time every year I get given a hard drive with around 3000 photos taken by Peace and Hope volunteers from their annual January trip to Nicaragua, the photos are used in presentations to volunteers and supporters at the Spring Conference and ‘Get Together’ at Cliff College in the Peak District. The Peace and Hope Trust (UK) works in and around the deprived area of Bluefields, Nicaragua and aims to ‘Build Brighter Futures’ for it’s residents by building much needed facilities such as schools and clinics and then supplying those with donated equipment shipped out in containers from the UK.

There are hundreds of ‘photo to slideshow’ programs available, the most widely used is probably Microsoft’s Powerpoint but I’ve usually used Final Cut Pro 7. I have used FotoMagico in the past for short presentations that need to be put together quickly but found changing picture durations and syncing photo cuts or transitions to the music beat can be frustrating and I don’t think I’ll be updating it next time round.

My normal way of working is to quickly look at the photos to see what I have to work with, then find a couple of audio tracks to suit the theme of the presentation, then match the photos to the audio. The problem with FCP7 was always the 4000 pixel size limit on photos causing the program to fail to render, it became time consuming finding the photos then converting them to pixel dimensions that FCP 7 would accept, there was always one photo that appeared to drop into the program, work in preview then fail to render causing all sorts of grief!

This year I decided to try FCPX which has no pixel limit on photos, my brief was a ‘3 part, 6 or 7 minute presentation with the photos telling the story rather than using a v/over - the ‘grim’ side of the area, the construction of a schoolroom and clinic and then finishing with a montage of happy, smiling faces. I’d given the Peace and Hope some Royalty Free music tracks to choose from and they came back with 2 vocal tracks and an instrumental.

Although I’ve played with FCPX I’ve produced very little with it still preferring to use FCP7, it’s hard to drop a software program you’ve been comfortable with for nearly 16 years! Looking back at the edit I’m pleased with it overall and the Peace and Hope Trust love it. I did make some errors putting it together, in FCP7 I’d drop the audio track in then edit pictures to it, so I dropped the first audio track into FCPX and it became the Primary storyline as there are no tracks as such in FCPX, I was to find out later I should have dropped a photo in the Primary storyline first then added the audio. I had to look up how to do several things - make a still from a video frame, how to ‘disconnect’ a clip and how to make a gap to fill later, I’m still not comfortable yet using FCPX but it was an interesting experience, the lifting of the 4000px limit was a huge bonus in time saving, the built in ‘Ken Burns’ effect was very useful and the overall speed and quality was impressive, I’ll certainly try to use FCPX more in the future - but I’m still retaining my 10.8.5 and FCP 7!

I’ll post the video here after it’s been played out at the conference next week.

Yes I canSunset

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