Word startup problem in Lion (solved)

I was in a coffee shop yesterday and tried to start up Word on my MacBook Pro running Lion. It hung for a loooong time and then put up a message that it couldn't access a computer on my home network. And then continued to hang.

I couldn't figure out why it was trying to do this until I realized it was because of a new feature in Lion called Resume. By default, if you quit an app, when you start it later it tries to restore the state to exactly where it was when you quit. I'd had a document on the network open when I quit Word the last time I used it, and it was trying to open that document on startup, to resume where it left off. But Word couldn't access the network and got stuck.

It is possible to turn off Resume globally, but it's probably a good feature once you get used to it, and I've learned long ago not to swim against the tide of new operating system features.

In my case, I solved the problem by starting Word in safe mode by holding the Shift key. Maybe in the future I'll be more deliberate about closing docs rather than just quitting an app. But the real solution is for Microsoft and all Mac developers to be aware of the Resume feature and be prepared to recover gracefully if something goes wrong.


Robert Knowles’ career from Kodachrome to HD

As a boy in Jamaica, Robert Knowles first fell in love with making pictures with a simple Brownie Hawkeye box camera. As the 1950s rolled into the '60s he graduated to the more sophisticated 35 mm single lens reflex camera of the time and carefully budgeted his pocket money for one roll of Kodachrome film every two or three weeks.

He would wait two weeks while the film was shipped to England for processing and then sort through the box of colour slides to find the four or five pictures that had turned out well. He attentively learned the value of composition, lighting, exposure, perspective, and interacting with his subjects because all the mistakes he made cost him precious time and money.

A degree in photography, apprenticing in a group studio in London, several years as a cruise ship photographer, and then corporate event photography in New York led Robert to the steps of digital film technology, which forced him to think in moving images.

He recalls, I thought, oh I’ll just do video. It was more difficult than I thought. My first movies were like Charlie Chaplin movies because I was thinking in terms of stills, five-second pieces as opposed to continuity. So I’m basically self-taught by attending seminars, watching people work on the web, seeing the flow of everything.

Robert is now a full-time event videographer heading Knowles Media, based in Pennsylvania and working predominantly in New York. He delights in a career that merges his interest in people with his love of capturing images.

Nathalie & Christian wedding highlights video from Knowles Media
Robert’s primary work is wedding videography and in tandem with the affordability of digital video, his photography training serves him well when there is only one chance to capture the most important moments in people’s lives. “Once you’re in play mode that’s it. There’s no rewind. It’s really anticipation and knowing what you can get away with. It’s sensing the crowd, sensing the essence of the day so you know how to react.”

Most often Robert works with one or two other camera operators to cover a live wedding event. They use Canon’s EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, and Sony’s HXR-NX5 camcorder shooting images in 1080p, stored directly to SDHC memory cards. Audio is fed into two channels from the onboard camera microphone in addition to a wireless remote microphone placed by the room speakers.

There is rarely opportunity to visit the location ahead of time and prepare for how things will go. Robert remarks, “It's really a seat-of-the-pants day. You know from experiencing a lot of weddings roughly when things will happen, and to be in position, but within those parameters there's so much creativity. The people are different, and everyone has a different story, which I think makes the whole day fantastic.

When it comes time to transform the footage into films, Robert operates as a one-man post-production department. He uses the PluralEyes plug-in to synchronize all his media, and Final Cut Pro to edit. He was already an evangelist about time saved with the plug-in, but a recent foreign language wedding proved the ultimate triumph.

“I was completely lost because the whole ceremony was in Greek. The bride is Italian, the groom is Greek, so she was a bit lost. Now we've got the reception. Four hours of tape - two hours from each camera totally synced up with the timeline in a foreign language, expertly, I mean to the frame! It just completely blew me away. I still can't get over it.

His unabashed testimony to videographer colleagues is, “People think I'm crazy because I get so excited about this stuff. I mean there are certain things in the industry which you just have to have, and for $150 PluralEyes should fly out the door.

Stephanie & Evan's Greek wedding

Robert usually delivers a short trailer within the week following the wedding, and then a much longer feature within four to six weeks of the event. He most enjoys the weddings where he can interview the couple and their families ahead of time for additional material that gets woven into the live event footage.

Creating meaningful mementos for people is what keeps the work fresh for Robert. He shares, “A couple years ago a bride's father passed away after the wedding, but she has his voice on the tape, which is just so powerful. Really what we're doing is keeping people's memories alive. It's perfection.

Event videography requires a balance of polarized skills. Capturing live events calls on extroversion and self-assurance in interacting with crowds of people. Editing the footage is an introspective process of knitting a story together to create something eloquent and compelling. The extensive video library on the Knowles Media website reveals a sensitive touch operating those Sony NX5 cameras.

“The technology, as wonderful as it is - and I've seen the transformation of it - is still only a tool to help us create the shot. It went from film to digital, but it's still a camera with a lens. It's still about the image you're pointing the camera at when you look through the viewfinder. In the end it comes down to being passionate about what you do, and loving what you do, and that will show through.

Robert’s wedding trailers and other event videos can be viewed at Knowles Media or on his Vimeo channel.

Cathedral of St John's Church, The Divine, NYC from Knowles Media

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


The perseverance of Media Manager Alex Hemingway

Alex Hemingway was determined to work for Woodshed Films after seeing their 2002 feature, Jack Johnson: The September Sessions. The California production company has a documentary film catalog focused on surf, travel, and music. Alex began courting them first by emailing, and then by showing up at their events and offering to take on miscellaneous production tasks.

Something about his persistence must have worked, because he is now the Media Manager for a Woodshed Films feature-length documentary called The Railroad Revival Tour.

The upcoming release covers a traveling music concert that took three roots/pop/folk bands across the American Southwest by railway in the spring of 2011. A dedicated team using film cameras, DSLRs and GoPro cameras captured footage.

With over 85 hours of digital footage and 15 hours of film footage showcasing six performances between California and New Orleans, Woodshed called Alex in to organize the media in preparation for editing: a specialty he’s developed.

Alex’s challenge was to design an efficient system for synchronizing the large volume of data from varying sources. He began by organizing the footage into sequences. He divided the clips into acts from each show and then took all the camera footage and strung it out into a sequence. Then he brought in the reference mix audio from the venue in addition to any production audio.

For each show there were between five and nine simultaneous cameras rolling, each with their own stops and starts, and sometimes with conflicting timecode. This meant Alex had a sequence with up to nine video tracks and 15 audio tracks that would sometimes be extended to as many as 18 audio tracks.

Alex turned to PluralEyes to sync using the camera audio. For efficiency he created a pipeline in which PluralEyes would be syncing one act while he prepared the next act. He recounts, “I hit a rhythm where I’d be leap-frogging along with PluralEyes: The software would analyze and sync in the background while I was prepping the next sequence to PluralEyes and spot-checking the previously PluralEyesed sequence.”

“I like the recent upgrade because before you couldn’t have multiple projects open; but now you can have it working in the background, which is awesome.” Organizing all the media for this project took 20 days to complete. Without PluralEyes, Alex estimates it would have taken a team of people up to two months.

Alex graduated from the film program at University of Colorado, Boulder and moved back home to California in 2005. In considering where to base his career he recognized that Los Angeles held the most opportunities and an environment that suited him. “L.A. has a million little things going on and there are many ways to make or break it. But it starts with having the right attitude, making the right friends, and just crushing it when you get in there.”

He started out running errands and getting coffee, and soon discovered that he was happiest with the consistency found in post-production. His formula for success combines a knack for editing and media management, a strong work ethic, and the ability to handle anything that comes up. “Every job you learn something new. If you get complacent doing the same thing then how are you going to grow? I’ve seen this situation and that situation therefore I can handle a lot of the monsters that pop up, as they inevitably do.”

Alex’s goal to keep stretching himself has recently pushed him into the creative editor’s seat. “Once you step into the editor position it’s kind of that new and scary feeling again. It’s a challenge and you can either think you can’t do it and be afraid of it, or you can just go after it and try your hardest.

There’s not an exact recipe for how to edit something. You just have to get in there and do it, start putting things together. As an assistant you’re responsible for making sure everything is organized for the editor. You can get a project clean and organized, but at a certain point you’re hands off, just waiting for the editor to tell you to do something. Now stepping into the editor role is quite fun.”

Trailer for ‘Come Hell or High Water’ by Woodshed Films
Beyond media management Alex has edited a 30-minute documentary, director’s reels for the Woodshed Films team, and he cuts the prize package and graphics reels for the Let’s Make a Deal game show. He has also completed short films about rock-climbing and surfing, which nicely merges his two passions – outdoor sports and filmmaking.

Woodshed Films aims to release The Railroad Revival Tour in the fall of 2011. Keep an eye on their website for that upcoming doc, and for more of Alex’s work.

‘Aratitiyope: Into the Venezuelan Amazon’ by Asa Firestone, edited by Alex Hemingway

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


MoMoVan: Scott Michaels of Atimi on the mad mobile market

In what kind of marketplace could you imagine someone describing just three months ago as "the good old days"? That's the crazy rate of change that the mobile app market is seeing, as Apple, RIM, Google, and other players vie for the attention of both consumers and developers.

Scott Michaels is a veteran of this space in his key role as VP of Client Services at Atimi Software Inc., one of the largest independent Apple development houses. While hardly a household name, the organizations and publications they have developed apps for certainly are: their recent Bloomberg Businessweek+ app made it to a #1 rating in Apple's app store, and was selected for promotion by Apple.

In his presentation to MoMoVan, Scott takes us inside this fast-paced world to give us his insights on where this is going, and his in-depth advice to local app developers and marketers on how they can fine tune their strategy.

This presentation video also serves to highlight some new features in our latest release of Presto for Final Cut Pro, including rounded corners on the slides, and a new style of two-up auto-tracking layout with the background fading out behind the slide. Thanks to both PluralEyes and Presto, once we had the media off the cameras and into FCP, and the slides exported from Scott's Keynote presentation, getting this presentation ready for final editing and rendering took only a matter of minutes.

Audio proved to be a bit of a challenge at this event due to some background noises, and a hardware glitch that lasts a few seconds early on. But hopefully you won't find that too distracting as Scott takes us into the rapidly beating heart of the mobile app marketplace.


A Symphonic Synchronization

Software developers are often more in-tune with the left, more technical side of their brains, while artists and performers are more inclined to utilize the right, more imaginative side of the brain. It’s rare to find someone who is able to so easily tap into both hemispheres, intertwining analytical thoughts with artistic expression – but we did.
San Diego native Patrick Walker and his wife Lea Ann are performing arts veterans, with surprisingly technical backgrounds. Both lend their vocal chords to the San Diego Master Chorale, while Lea Ann has been arranging music and orchestrating editorial pieces for a variety of live performances and area venues for 40-plus years. The couples’ passion for music and theatre eventually led to Patrick leaving his career as a software developer to pursue the arts full time with his wife. Combining their technical backgrounds (left brains) with their artistic talents (right brains), they formed WalkerVision Interarts.
In business now for over 20 years, WalkerVision is an audiovisual production company that specializes in multi-camera productions for San Diego’s thriving performing arts marketplace. WalkerVision maintains working relationships with the San Diego Master Chorale, the Lyric Opera San Diego, the San Diego Symphony and more; live switching as well as creating DVDs and Blu-rays of almost every act. With a strong background in film production, the Walkers rely on each other and their bulletproof workflow to produce flawless videos for each of their shoots.
What is it like working alongside family on projects?
My wife, Lea Ann, is a superb artist, with a great eye for shot composition and flow. It is great that we are able to enjoy the creativity and action of each project together.
I also work with my son Chris during the editing process. He manages cutting music videos and some of the shorter promo pieces using the Adobe Creative Suite platform, while I rely on Sony Vegas pro for the multi-cam editing on all our full-length performances.

What format are you filming in? What kind of cameras are you using?

We had sort of a shift in emphasis once HD became more affordable. We currently use three or four HDV camcorders – depending on the production. We have Sony A1U’s and Sony FX7’s. We archive everything on tape, but produce our products on disc.
Since you are filming these performances with HDV camcorders, is it hard switching the tapes and managing the workflow in general?

It varies per performance. We always coordinate with the show director ahead of time to see a rehearsal or earlier performance so that we can establish zones for not only the camera positioning, but important character entrances, special occurrences, intermissions, and any possible blocking to help us pinpoint when the right time to switch will be.
During a performance, are there any camera setups that you recommend?

It usually depends on the performance size, but it should definitely be at least a 3-camera shoot… One camera should be centered, and far away from the stage, for a wide-shot. This permits a view of the entire stage – you can catch all inferences, cross-stage dialogue, action… everything. The other 2 cameras should be closer to the stage, setup on the left and right flanks to catch the close-up shots. If you have 2 people filming a 3-camera live production, I recommend one person manning the camera in the back, and one person on either side of the stage for close-ups. After meeting with the show director ahead of time, you can get a sense of which side will have more of the action.
For larger performances, like the San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops, we like to do a 4-camera setup. Similar to the 3-camera setup, we have 1 camera centered in the far back and 2 cameras on the left and right sides of the stage, but for this type of shoot, we have them on jib arms, so that they are able to obtain an elevated shot over the orchestra. We also set up an additional camera, centered behind the ensemble, to film the conductor. For these types of performances, we have another person that helps us, so that the only unmanned camera is the one that’s constantly filming the conductor.
How do you figure out who gets what shot?
It’s always an as-needed decision. We are interchangeable when it comes to camera angles, however I must say, shooting up close – especially if there is a lot of drama, action and movement – is much more demanding because you really have to shift around. So depending on how we are feeling that day, we will select who will get the job done better.
Also – as I mentioned, we like to have an overview of the performance ahead of time. If one of us knows more about the production than the other, they will be the one to do the close-up shots.
What about sound, do you usually plug into the soundboard?
We do, however the problem I’ve found with soundboards is that the house typically hooks up to the stage mics only, and it’s crucial to also record audience reactions and applause. We typically will record the audience with a separate higher-end mic for ambience, and even take sound straight from our cameras at times.
What is the most difficult project you’ve worked on, and why?
For us, the difficulty is never based on technology factors – it’s always artistic. The hardest performances to cover are “legitimate stage productions” – a.k.a. non-musical drama. Directors and actors make use of all the available space and time in a scene, via cross-stage dialogue and action. We have to be very careful to catch all of the action.

We know that PluralEyes is a part of your workflow; can you tell us a little about that?
PluralEyes is used on every one of our multi-cam shoots that we bring to post. Many of the groups we work with ask for DVD and Blu-ray copies of their productions, so this is where PluralEyes is a lifesaver. We actually just finished the Lyric Opera Production of “Fiddler on the Roof” archival DVDs for their company and actors, as well as Blu-ray. At the same time, we did the same for a chamber music concert at the Department of Music at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
Can you tell us more about the project at UCSD?
Sure - the University – about a year and a half ago – completed a brand new music building containing the state-of-the-art Conrad Prebys concert hall. It’s acoustically excellent, seating about 600. Though it’s not a huge hall it has beautiful acoustics for small ensembles and has a blissfully quiet audio floor.
Sam Ersan – an area music aficionado - established a fund that sponsors a spectacular music series, the Sam Ersan Chamber Music Series, combining the talents of UCSD’s music staff with some of the San Diego Symphony’s most celebrated musicians. I brought 3 of my HD cameras and recorded the entire performance. I brought the tapes back and uploaded to the Vegas Pro workstations. In addition, we used dual-system sound, capturing the high quality audio separately. When I laid out the tracks in Vegas Pro, I used PluralEyes to synchronize the 4 audio sources and my HD camera video. If it weren’t for PluralEyes, I would have been working for hours just to sync up the sources.
Are there any other timesaving products or apps you use on projects – including on the “Fiddler on the Roof” production you just described?
Well, “timesaving” per se is usually not so important for us as “bulletproofing,” since we usually give ourselves enough time to edit in post-production. To make sure our projects run as smoothly as possible, we use a wide and unmanned camera, backup audio recording equipment, and secondary cables to make sure we can adjust when something fails on-location.
What do you see for the future of your company? Any distant plans?
As mentioned earlier, we are doing more HD shooting and editing now. We are also considering 3D project – that is, if it proves to be accepted by the consumer and of course, if we have clients asking for it.
In the near future…. over the next ten weeks we are gearing up to support this year’s San Diego Symphony’s Summer Pops program, Comic-Con, and a world premiere performance of a work conducted by Tan Dun, an Academy Award winning composer.
WalkerVision Interarts is located in San Diego, CA. To contact them, please call 619-226-8228.


Lyle Kane of Reel Lives: filmmaking education for marginalized youth

Putting cameras in the hands of citizens can be a powerful, even revolutionary, act. When young refugee and war-affected filmmakers in New York begin learning to tell their own stories by making documentary films with digital SLR cameras, they get a taste of the impact that media can have.

But how can they learn the skills and craft of the art? One person who it tackling this challenge is Lyle Kane, the Executive Director of a non-profit organization called Reel Lives, a twenty-four-week, intensive filmmaking workshop based in NY for marginalized and at-risk youth.

Reel Lives is about much more than the technicalities of filmmaking. It provides a catharsis for the young men and women who learn to use art as a medium for telling their stories and grappling with their histories. Graduates leave the program with a sense of empowerment, and with the confidence and skills to go into their communities and enact real change. The Reel Lives intensive education combines media production, media literacy, and human rights.

Teaser: NO PARKING IN BHUTAN from Reel Lives on Vimeo.

Lyle began the first program in June 2010 with a single Canon 7D EOS Digital SLR Camera, a Zoom H4n audio recorder, and six boys referred from the International Rescue Committee in NY. Their inaugural workshop was in a pizza shop on 42nd St.

Soon after that Lyle acquired a grant to buy computers, and then a permanent location at The Paley Center for Media in New York. Having just completed their first year, they have acquired tripods, an impressive set of lenses, and more camera bodies.

The program now uses five camera kits and five computers, and employs two and a half staff members. Post-production is done using Final Cut Pro (FCP), the PluralEyes plug-in for synchronization, and Adobe After Effects.

The majority of Reel Lives students have no prior media experience and they're immersed from day one in an integrated menu of film theory, study of the documentary genre, getting hands on the equipment, and beginning to craft narrative around their chosen themes. Watching documentaries and learning to use equipment simultaneously pushes the students to develop a quick knowledge base and keeps them engaged in their own process.

Their media vocabulary also develops quickly. Lyle enjoys how comments change rapidly from 'loving a film', to naming specific camera angles, rhythm, and editing styles.

The students learn that lenses are as important as the camera body, and that recoding audio separately from the camera forces attention to sound quality, which can make or break a production. They also study how to make interviews and social issues visually compelling.

Footage from the Canon 7Ds gets converted to Apple ProRes 422 (LT) using MPEG Streamclip. Lyle uses the analogy that the footage directly from the camera is like a rock: it can be dropped into Final Cut, but it's very hard to shape and manipulate. Transcoding to ProRes turns the rock into metal, which is more malleable.

The students then name all their footage and sound, import it into FCP, assemble each interview from the 12-minute segments that the cameras allow, and then use PluralEyes to sync it up so they can begin editing.

Lyle recounts, "I was a little spoiled because other filmmakers had been telling me about PluralEyes, that it's a great piece of software, that it will make life 1,000 times easier. I reached out to Singular Software and was given three licenses right off the bat. So I didn't really know life before PluralEyes. I was told it was the thing to get".

Lyle says, "Especially for kids coming in that haven't done this kind of stuff before, it's literally hours and hours of work that is saved for them".

Having the synchronization step handled allows the students to concentrate on turning their footage into a story. "That's the magic moment with these kids. When they're shooting they're really distracted with the whole technical end of it. But when they're sitting down and looking at the footage, they start to find the bits that are important and put it together to form the narrative. That is where the catharsis happens of these people grappling with their own stories. The plug-in allows that to be a more seamless process."

Along with film education, Reel Lives students also develop pitching skills – one of a filmmaker's most valuable abilities. Six weeks in they each deliver a teaser, which they use to practice pitching as if they were seeking funding for a full documentary. They watch pitches from events at the Paley Centre, and participate in workshops to develop strong skills.

Teaser: FAHISHA from Reel Lives on Vimeo.

Heading into the program's second year of success, Lyle has his eye on expanding the Reel Lives offerings. Plans include submitting the films to international film festivals so the students will have opportunities to travel with their stories; further collaboration with local organizations to focus on topics including HIV and AIDS affected youth, immigration and conflict; developing curriculum so the films can be used in local and international schools for education and outreach; and acquiring college credit for Reel Lives graduates.

Reel Lives also connects the alumni with opportunities for paying work. Graduates have taken on public service announcements and videography projects on topics ranging from the NY State Dream Act to safety videos for a recycling company.

With a long-term vision for the program, Lyle comments, "Eventually we'd love to go international, really do programming that works for sustainability. Go in and do a project with a group of kids, but also a training of trainers, partner with a local NGO, leave behind equipment and a group of skilled people who can then work that program in perpetuity."

Teaser: My Parents Never Dance from Reel Lives on Vimeo.

Lyle believes that development of a media sector in marginalized communities is essential. He points to the photojournalist Mohamed Amin whose short film about the 1984 Ethiopia famine motivated a government's response and changed millions of lives.

Most of the students enroll in Reel Lives with visions of Hollywood in mind, but those quickly change when they learn the power of documentary films. "I'm a believer, I think doc filmmakers are really the new journalists. I think our students see that pretty quickly."

To watch the film teasers, learn more about Reel Lives, or get involved in supporting the program, visit the Reel Lives website or Facebook page.

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC 'home'.


Stack Exchange opens Q&A site for video

Bruce Sharpe

If you are a software developer, you know that the best place to get answers to programming questions is Stack Overflow. Joel Spolsky and co. have hit on just the right formula for getting the best answers (and questions) to float to the top.

Stack Overflow spawned Stack Exchange which is a family of Q&A sites based on the same model. I have long wished that one of those sites could be about video production. But it turns out that getting a site approved and off the ground is not trivial (and is a little mysterious for those of us on the outside). A proposal for such a site has been inching forward for many months, but I'd given up hope of seeing it in my lifetime.

But today I got some good news. There is now a Stack Exchange site where video production people can go to get answers to their questions. It's called Audio-Video Production and, yes, it's about audio too. That's fine, especially because that was the mechanism that was used to get it into flight: the video site proposal was merged with an existing audio site. Yay!

I now encourage everyone who has a question or an answer to participate in the site. It's in beta and it needs to prove itself to become a permanent fixture. I predict that once people start using it, it will become an indispensable tool for video production people at all levels.