Final Cut Pro

Over recent years I have been interested in creating films and particular editing the videos I have recorded of the dog, Rio and family holidays. The iMac is so easy to use for this type of work and I found Apple iMovie intuitive and allows the user to create really good looking videos. The templates for making home movie trailers are particularly easy to use and can look quite professional.

My favourites are the Grand Canyon helicopter ride…

and the San Francisco trailer…

But over recent months I’ve been wanting the do more of the editing myself and whilst iMovie is a good package, I really wanted to give Apple’s Final Cut Pro X a go. The problem though was the cost! FCP is a professional package used extensively in the film and video industry and therefore comes at a relatively high price of £199 and so kept me from downloading a copy.

And then a month ago I won an award at work and a prize of £250 Apple voucher. I duly downloaded the trial FCP X, a fully working version and soon got to grips with the new controls. My first effort was the Gran Canaria holiday video…

Having decided that the application was worthy of the price tag I then decided to buy it using my voucher only to discover that I can only spend it on hardware at an Apple store. Doh! Oh well at least I’ll be able to use it for the new iPhone when it comes out in the autumn.

So have I bought the package?

You guessed it, yep and I’m loving it.

Here’s the latest video I have created, updating a film I made last year with new footage.


My next plan is to try to persuade Tina to come with me to do some filming using a second video recorder so I can do some editing of multi-camera shots. Yeah right!

iMac – Day 20

OK so a regular update as to progress didn’t happen…I’ve been busy.

I am now slowly sussing my new iMac although still finding it a struggle to navigate around the screens; but I guess after many years of using a Windows based machine it would always be strange at first. I guess it doesn’t help when I am still having to use Windows XP at work and Vista is still run on my laptop. I am still finding it difficult to adapt to the smaller keyboard; I seem to be making lots of mistakes when typing and I do miss the delete key which is not available on the smaller Apple wireless version. There is probably a way of programming a delete key in or using shortcut keys but I haven’t found it yet. I also cannot get used to using the ‘cmd’ key rather than ‘ctrl’ key for  actions such as ‘cut and paste’. This is particularly annoying as ‘ctrl’ and ‘v’ does something completely different than paste and I end up having to undo the action.

I am also still struggling with the trackpad, still having to flip between the mouse and trackpad to get things done. A simple example is moving items from folders. With a mouse it seems easy to drag and drop but with a pad it is a bit more awkward. Also, it is difficult to ‘right click’ with the trackpad, but again with more practice I’m sure that will improve.

As for the applications, I am working my way through the ones that came installed with the Mac; I have now sorted through my photos using iPhoto and it is now very easy to locate and view the many thousands of pictures I have taken over the years. I also downloaded a free trial version of Aperture, which is a high end photo manipulation programme from Apple. It seems very feature heavy and has similar features to Photoshop but at £169 I don’t think I will be purchasing it once the 30 trial ends.

iBank is working well; it’s great that I can sync my iPhone and iPad with the application allowing me to record what I’ve spent without being at home. I did get stung for an upgrade a day after purchasing v3 but I’m pleased with the product so I won’t complain.

I have also been messing around with iMovie, another programme that comes pre-installed with the Mac. As I don’t own a video camera yet (that may be my next big purchase before our California trip) I have been creating slideshows with my photo albums. The software took me a while to work out but a bit of searching on YouTube and I found some good tutorials showing how to get started. I have created a couple of movies from my trips to Florida and New York but my first effort was using the photos from the cowboy painters I snapped the other day. See what you thing by clicking here. (I’ve not worked out how to make it a smaller download to insert in a webpage yet so it may take a while to load on its own page). I did also add some music to complement the slideshow but I am not sure whether I can include it due to copyright laws so have removed it from this version. I have been reading up about the best use of the ‘Ken Burns‘ technique of pan and scan of photos to bring them alive, and judging by the feedback from Tina when I showed her my New York recording I need a bit more practice (she said watching it made her feel sick with so much movement).

I am still scouring the web for useful Mac programmes to download but I am conscious that I don’t want to fill my lovely large new hard drive with loads of crap that I will never use. One application I have downloaded though is called Screenflow, a screen recording programme. I was impressed by the YouTube videos people has been making demonstrating how to use the various software programmes so I thought I’d take a look at how they did it. Using this programme you can record the steps in using an application, putting text on the screen, zooming in to particular sections of the screen and adding an audio commentary. You never know, once I become an iMac expert I may even publish my own ‘how to’.

So just over three weeks into using my iMac and I’m not regretting switching from Microsoft. I just wish my company would switch too then I really would become truly Apple-centric.

iMac – Day 5

Well so much for a keeping a diary of how I am getting on with my new toy, I’ve been that busy this week I’ve not really had much of a chance to play, let alone write up my blog.

Firstly I had to get to grips with the layout in two ways; the extremely large screen (27″ is a big beast and is more like a TV) means that there is lots of room to put the various windows which can get very confusing especially when there are lots of applications open.

This can be overcome using a keyboard shortcut which when pressed shrinks all the screens down to smaller sizes. This way you can shut down those that you don’t need or want.

The second is the fact that the applications sit inside a window, with the tool bars at the top of the screen, often away from the application you are working on. This was confusing at first; I spent many a minute trying to find the functions of the programme only to realise they are at the top of the screen. Having worked with the larger screen for a few days now I am getting used to it, but I am glad I bought the Apple Track Pad as it makes navigating around the screen a delight. I also have the Apple mouse which is kept beside the pad, and it is quite easy to switch between the two depending on what actions you want to do.

Another thing I am starting to get to grips with is the hundreds of shortcuts that are available to quicken up productivity. I actually googled and found a site that listed over six pages of them, and although I haven’t tried them all yet, I have found some useful ones.

As for problems, I’ve had a couple of issues to sort out. At first I could not find a way for the iMac to see my HPMediaVault without having my old computer switched on (which sort of defeats the object of buying a new machine). This server is where I keep all my files and enables me to access them on my laptop as well as the PC so I wanted to ensure I had access. Eventually I found a way by adding a shortcut on to the desktop and since then it has always been available.

I also had to find a new personal finance program as you can no longer get Quicken for the Mac in the UK and didn’t want to chance buying a USA version in case the currency was in dollars only. After some research I found a application called iBank, and today I have spent the day adding the entries from my existing Quicken program as there wasn’t any way to export the data in. iBank also do a iPhone version which means I can sync my finances up with that too. It seems very customisable and by the end of the day I found it easy to use.

The Snow Leopard operating system also comes with a backup solution called ‘Time Machine’ which does regular copies of all the data on you hard drive. The only problem was that it wouldn’t copy to my HP server, so I purchased a 1TB USB drive and set up the application very easily.

So after five days I must say I am extremely impressed with my new machine; it is extremely fast and very intuitive. I just need more time in the day to play though!

A new beginning…

Tomorrow will see me finally switch my computing allegiance from Microsoft to Apple when my new iMac arrives, assuming UPS do their stuff. As I have stated before, since switching to an iPhone just over a year ago, then buying an iPad earlier this year I have decided to go the whole hog and switch my main PC to the same platform.

And I am certain the transition isn’t going to be as smooth as the Apple website portrays, so I have decided to keep a diary of events to record the successes and frustrations of the switchover.

So first task tomorrow will be unpacking & setting up so hopefully I’ll be posting from my new pc if all goes well.

Graham 1 – Tina 1

Historically I have always been allowed to buy anything I wanted gadget-wise; Tina being a very understanding wife over the years and has accepted my need to stay in touch with the latest technology. But there is normally a ‘tit for tat’ spend by Tina to offset my spending habits and this weekend was no exception.

So why the spend this weekend?

It started a couple of months go when my home computer began playing up to a point where wouldn’t boot without a struggle. It also has this annoying habit of freezing at the most inopportune moments (usually when I am in the middle of something important) so I started dropping hints that it will need replacing soon. And since getting my iPhone and later iPad, I am now in complete awe of all things Apple, so it was only natural that I moved from a windows-based computer to a Mac. And having tried an iMac in PC World I fell in love with it and went home an ordered one direct from Apple. But of course they are a bit pricey so I knew there would have to be some ‘balancing’ done; and probably in the shape of ladies jewellery.

So this weekend, on the way down to London to visit friends, we stopped off at the Milton Keynes Shopping Centre where there just happens to be a Pandora shop. This particular type of jewellery has become popular over recent years and so Tina saw her window of opportunity and decided that it would be a good trade off…expensive computer v expensive bracelet. She chose the charms without consideration of cost, with me poised with my credit card to pick up the bill and to fair I got off quite lightly.

We both seem happy with the result; maybe we are a bit extravagant but after recent incidents of close friends and acquaintances suffering ill health it makes you consider that you may not be around next year to spend.

So what the hell!