Other FCPX Ecosystem Apps

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It’s been about four years since the debut of Final Cut Pro X. In that time, the application has had 14 updates which took it from what some would say is a beta level software not ready for prime-time, to a professional level editing application which is truly groundbreaking. Also in that time, new applications have entered the FCPX ecosystem to help users have as much speed outside the application as they do inside. I want to highlight three applications and a set of folder templates which I believe FCPX users should get their hands on as soon as possible.

ClipExporter 2.0

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ClipExporter is an application that allows users to send their clips to other post production software like Nuke and After Effects. Utilizing the FCPX xml protocol, users take the exported XML file and bring it into ClipExporter. From there, users can choose between the AE exporter, the Nuke exporter, or create trimmed video clips. Choosing either option gives the user the ability to deal with edited clips as opposed to sending an entire clip for further post processing. If you are trying to take your clips to After Effects, the application will generate a jsx file, which AE will read as a script, and load your clips once you run it. Certain items will carry over like resizing, spatial conform, and other modifications, but titles, generators, and such will not. If you are using the Nuke option, it will create a complete folder structure according to your requirements in Nuke. I personally have not used this application even though I have the first version of it. My workflows don’t usually require intense visual effect work so I haven’t had the chance to put it to the test. The newest version (version two) is streamlined much further and runs about $90.

FCPxporter

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FCPxporter is a new application from the folks of FDPtraining.com. It functions to assist FCPX editors in batch exporting projects. In the tutorial above, you’ll first want to tell the app how many projects you want to export. Next, enable your choice of notifications in your System preferences to have the app tell you when things are complete. Inside of FCPX, choose the timelines you want to export, and choose a sharing destination which you want to make default. Choose your export destination and hit Cancel twice. With FCPxporter open and your project number set, hit the Run button to get things in motion. While the application is running, it will tie up all of your computer’s resources so it is best advised that you let it finish the task before you do anything else. Overall, I think this is a nice application to have if you work on projects where you have to export a lot of timelines, like commercials or similar looking videos. I haven’t had a chance to test it myself, but if it is as straightforward as the tutorial indicates, I will definitely add it to my arsenal.

FCPX Folder Templates

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While this is not an application, these folder templates from FDPtraining.com are great for FCPX users who crave instant organization. They are designed to manage all of your project assets. The folders have preassigned finder tags so they are easy to find, or you can import the finder tags as keyword collections into FCPX. These folders will inspire you to be organized and give you another wow factor for deliverables to your clients. They are especially great because they have a template library that integrates well if you use PostHaste for project creation. In my experience of using this, I’ve found these folder templates to be integral in making me a bit faster when doing projects in FCPX. Take a look at the tutorial below and witness for yourself how awesome these are.

toMotion

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toMotion is a free and handy app for installing and backing up Motion Templates. If you download free templates from FCP.co or other websites, then you usually have to manually install the templates in your Movies folder on your desktop, and this can be a pain if you aren’t tech savvy. With this app, it takes the custom templates and gives you the option to install them into the appropriate folder so it will show up in FCPX. I’ve been using it myself for over a year to install custom Motion templates and it works like a charm. I’ve seen other applications that were designed to do this, but I found this one very straightforward and easy to use out of the gate. What surprises me is how few people know about it as it is free and very handy. I strongly recommend adding it to your arsenal if you want to minimize the time spent installing custom Motion templates.

These are some of the new applications and templates available for enhancing the FCPX ecosystem for die-hard users. Each of these applications serve a particular purpose for facilitating an efficient workflow across the board. Feel free to give them a test run to see if they can work for you.

Royalty Free Music

What’s In Store for the iPod?

The Apple iPod revolutionized the personal digital music world – suddenly, from clunky, impossible to use digital devices, we had sleek, slim little pieces that would store thousands of songs and fit in the palm of your hand with plenty of room to spare.  With several models available, and thousands of apps, songs, videos, and movies from which to choose, the iPod is an unqualified success.  On Wednesday, Steve Jobs is expected to announce some new developments, including some possible changes to the iPod.

The iPhone 4 prototype debacle notwithstanding, Apple is usually very secretive about developments and products.  According to Reuters, Jobs will likely announce changes to the iPod because that is what he traditionally does in September.  So while he could be announcing that he is discontinuing the iPod and bringing back the 8-track, it is much more likely that he will share upgrades to the Touch and Nano.  Those are speculated to be:

  • ·A touchscreen for the Nano and a new square body shape
  • ·Dual cameras for the Touch, along with a new shape to more closely resemble the iPhone 4
  • ·The Touch may be able to handle FaceTime software developed for the iPhone 4
  • ·High resolution retina display
  • ·Faster A4 processor
  • ·It is also expected that the iPod Classic will keep kicking

CNET, though, believes that Jobs will touch only lightly on the iPod, focusing more on changes to iTunes and to the inception of Apple TV because of the growing obsolescence (which is arguable on both sides).  “Apple still sells three-fourths of all MP3 players sold, but multifunction gadgets like the iPhone are getting the most attention from Apple customers, not to mention the rest of the electronics industry, and bringing in more revenue than iPods these days.”

Will Jobs announce these changes – and will they make a difference to consumers?  Are iPods on their way out as iPhones take over?

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Yoko Says No to Apple, Inc.

The Beatles had a great year in 2009: not only was a Rock Band game released in their honor, but their digitally remastered catalog was released to eager fans. While Rock Band may not have rocked as much as the old Beatles themselves, both the catalog and the game did solid business. It was expected that after this foray into the digital world, we would start seeing the Beatles in places like, say, iTunes. No such luck. Apple Corps. is not letting Apple Inc. get hold of its music, and Yoko Ono says not to hold your breath.

As you might guess, Apple and Apple have experienced some confusion: Apple Corp. is the multimedia corporation started by the Beatles. Apple Inc. is is maker of the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac, and more. If you have trouble remembering, just think of Apple Core – the Beatles actually had a sense of humor and used the pun on the word “corps.” In any case, Apple Corp. owns the rights to the Beatles’ work and has maintained a tigh78t grip. Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, told Reuters, “Steve Jobs has his own idea and he’s a brilliant guy. There’s just an element that we’re not very happy about, as people. We are holding out. Don’t hold your breath…for anything.”  What exactly that element is was left unexplained.

Paul McCartney indicated to Entertainment Weekly back in 2009 that he would like to see the Beatles’ work on iTunes: “It’s a bit of a sticky issue. We want it to happen. The record company was taken over by new people quite recently, so there is a gridlock of sorts. I’d like to make it happen.”  Looks like that’s not happening just yet.

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Suspicious Activity in the App Store

“Yesterday my credit union contacted me saying there was suspicious activity on my debit card.  Sure enough over 10 transactions in the $40-$50 area all on iTunes equaling to $558.”  This is the report from one App store user after a bizarre jump in sales for a particular app author resulted in a host of fraudulent charges on legitimate accounts.  The iTunes bookstore has a top 50 list to help readers narrow down the selection and see what’s popular: of the top 50, 41 were by the same author, and they appeared to be of subpar quality.

CNET reports that some iTunes customers saw that they were being charged for purchases that had not, in fact, made.  This coincides with the inexplicable surge in popularity of what seem to be Vietnamese-written apps on the top paid US book apps list.  Most of the apps had no ratings or reviews, and the ones that did had negative comments, including those from customers whose accounts were hacked to buy the apps.

It is thought that the accounts were compromised and used to push these apps to the top of the list. Customers weren’t the only one getting a raw deal as a result of this black hat attempt to push rankings.  Patrick Thomson, QuickReader app developer, writes:

“It would appear that this publisher is hacking accounts and buying his own apps in order to drive up his rankings in the Books category.  This is having a negative impact on our apps, which are being pushed down in the rankings and losing visibility, plus it makes for a bad user experience.”

Legitimate developers were pushed off the top 50 list, losing a ton of exposure – and thus money.  Alexandru Brie, a Romanian developer, said his app, which had appeared on the top 50 list for over a year and a half had been bumped down.  He writes of the situation:

“I had hoped things would get back to normal thinking that, eventually, these weird apps would just go out of fashion.  There was a drop in sales, not only for me but for all the developers whose apps had been shifted by the 41 apps in question.”

This is the latest in a series of Apple flubs to make the news, and the inability to get these apps out of the store doesn’t reflect well on the tech giant.  It’s not great for app store customers either.  Make sure that you use a credit card instead of a debit card to get full fraud protection immediately or make sure your bank will contact you with suspicious activity on your debit card.

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Spotify Gets Even Better

Americans have been waiting for a US Spotify launch for months, and it always seems to be a few months in the future.  Recently, Spotify announced some changes to its platform that will make the rest of us a little more jealous until they can make it to the States.  Spotify is poised to take on the giant iTunes, and they’ve added a few networking capabilities that will offer users more freedom and versatility than the Apple platform.

Spotify has been touted as the best defense against music piracy, and in fact, because of the freedom and usability of Spotify and other such music sites, the UK saw the first increase in music sales in six years.  The message is give the people what they want in a reasonable and user-friendly way, and you’ll decrease piracy.  Most people would rather go the legal route if it was just as easy as downloading and sharing content illegally.

The new changes to Spotify’s platform involve making it more social, allowing users to network, share, and trade music in a more streamlined way. The new “Spotify Music Profile” is a customizable profile that allows for easier sharing with friends. Users will be able to connect to Facebook and add Spotify users to their friends list and access their iTunes library without opening another application.  The changes are set to take effect starting from 9:00am GMT today for both the Free and Premium platforms.  Spotify founder and CEO, Daniel Ek, says:

“Today Spotify has moved a step closer to making music more connected, and realizing our dream of becoming THE music platform.  We want to empower users to share and discover music in a way that hasn’t been possible up until now.  It’s never been easier to enjoy music together.”

Spotify’s business model has been criticized as being unsustainable: it has long been said in the US that free doesn’t work.  Mr. Ek and other believers think that this is the only model that will work to stem the tide of piracy and allow people to access music in a way that they actually want.  They don’t want to buy CDs. They do want to share music with friends and have a social network around their tunes.  They don’t want to buy an entire album, they want to pick and choose their songs.  Spotify allows this, and hopefully, they’ll be able to make it pay.

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Recorded Music Sales Fall: Is Anyone Surprised by This?

The New York Times reported yesterday that global music sales decreased by 10 percent in 2009.  According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, in fact, sales have fallen 30 percent from 2004 to 2009.  The problem – besides continuing to make the all but obsolete compact disc – is, you guessed it, pirates.  John Kennedy, IFPI chief exec, says, “We’re all fed up with talking about piracy.  It’s boring to talk about piracy, but it is the problem and we can’t avoid it.”  So we’re going to bore with some pirate talk.

A few facts for you:  compact disc sales fell by 16 percent globally.  This translates into a few billion in lost revenue for the music industry.  In 2008, the industry generated revenue of $17.5 billion.  Last year, $15.8 billion.  The problem is that revenue from digital sales weren’t big enough to close that gap and make up the loss, even though internet, phone, and other digital sales rose by 12 percent to $4.2 billion.  These sales are 27 percent of the total industry revenue.  Revenue from iTunes and other downloading services is down, while the popularity of free, ad-paid streaming sites like Spotify is up.

When you’re talking about all these billions, it’s hard to feel sorry for the music industry.  But you do feel for the artists.  According to Kennedy, labels haven’t been willing to take the risk and invest in new talent and local artists.  A few more facts to digest:  domestic artist album releases declined by 60 percent; Spain’s music sales have been terrible and there was not a single native artist in the top 50 sellers of the year; and the biggie, according to the IFPI, 95 percent of music downloads are illegal.

Some countries have taken action to stem the tide of piracy.  France, Taiwan, and South Korea all passed laws that will result in internet connection loss for repeat offenders.  The UK’s Digital Economy Bill has provisions for that consequence as well.  Other countries, though, are slow to act.  Spain, for instance, says Mr. Kennedy, has a “a culture of state-tolerated apathy towards illegal file-sharing.”

Some say the solution is to offer consumers music in the way they want it, not in the way the music industry wants to give it to them.  People are clearly moving away from CDs and are gravitating towards free ad-based or even subscription based streaming sites.  Why not give them what they want and find a way to profit from that?

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iTunes and Dazzboard

Back in December, Apple acquired Lala, an online site that allowed users to listen to a song once for free.  If you liked any of their huge selection, you could buy it from a partner store for 89 cents; a lifetime license allowed you to listen to a song as many times as you’d like on the web for 10 cents.  So, what’s happened to old Lala?  Did it change iTunes at all?

One change iTunes users may have noticed is that you can now listen to your 30 second previews on the web without having to download the software. You do have to have QuickTime, but you don’t have to have iTunes itself.  The idea is to make it more browser-based and less application base, increasing the convenience for users.  If, after the preview, you want to buy, you have to have the software. Hopefully that might change in the future as well.  And, even more exciting is the prospect that music will be less expensive than iTunes current prices.

This is good, especially as Dazzboard is taking a completely web-based approach.  PC Worlds’ Michael Muchmore writes about Android’s 2.0, “[I]t’s really overstaging the case to say that Dazzboard 2.0…is the iTunes for the Nexus One and other Android app phones.  But it’s a start.”  You will be able to manage apps, videos, and photos, sync content from social networks, and share media to sites like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.  And why not get your iTunes library over to your Android device?  That’s fine too.

Dazzboard is stirring up interest because you can back up all sorts of content and apps to PCs (no MAC support at this time, but it’s coming, according to the Dazzboard site), and share videos and pictures on social networking sites.

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Gang uses stolen credit cards to buy their own music on iTunes

How’s this for pathetic? The BBC is reporting that nine people, including a few DJs, have been arrested and held in suspicion of credit card fraud and money laundering after they allegedly used 1,500 stolen cards to purchase their own albums on iTunes and Amazon.

Not only that, they also made hundreds of thousand of British pounds doing it! For anyone who’s checked the exchange rate recently, you’ll know that equals a whole hell of a lot in U.S. dollars. The crafty thieves first posted their music on Amazon and iTunes, and then spent almost £500,000 worth of their own music on credit cards that didn’t belong to them. This netted them about £200,000 in royalties.

Investigators say this is part of an ongoing investigation into international fraud conspiracy against the online music retailers.

iTunes and Amazon have been down this road before. People have been using the sites to test out the legitimacy of stolen credit cards for years. Thieves will steal your card info, use it to buy music on iTunes. Once that transaction is successful they then go on a credit-ruining shopping spree.

Poor Apple has probably seen more than its fair share of creative fraud attempts. Like this guy who set up shop as an iPod repairman, then defrauded Apple into sending him up to 9,000 replacement iPod shuffles players.

But every story has another side, and Apple has been on the receiving end of fraud charges in the not-to-distant past. An Illinois couple is suing the tech giant for misrepresentation when they were charged $1.29 per download when their gift cards promised the songs could be purchased for $.99. Seems like an innocent mistake, until you take into account this same thing may have happened to millions of people. The couple is also seeking refunds for all other users who had the same experience. If a judge rules the suit as class-action, the damages could reach up to $5 million — probably chump-change to Apple.

Always a good thing to be reminded to check your credit card statements, even after buying an intangible MP3.

–Michelle Lanz

Some General iTunes mp3 conversion instructions to prevent file corruption

Here are some general iTunes .mp3 conversion instructions to prevent file corruption.

Make sure that you are exporting your mix as an audio .aif file
at 44.1 and 16bit  (CD standard)

(Higher resolutions also work 24 bit 48khz for example and on up!)

after you obtain this file , open it in itunes and set the itunes
Preferences-Advanced-Importing (selection button )
to mp3 192 -stereo  (or higher to 320 stereo)
then press ok.

Preferences-Advanced-General show where the export file will be placed
and can be changed to a preferred location

Now, put the aif file in a new playlist (drag and drop)
and select/highlight the file in the playlist you wish to convert

and go to the Pull Down Menu ADVANCED and choose Convert to MP3

Your file will be in a user file folder from itunes.  I hope you find this tutorial helpful.

-Rick Keller, AudioMicro Music Supervisor