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To help people work out which Macs work best with Final Cut Pro X, it is useful to refer to a standard speed test.

All but one of the MacBook Pros with Retina configurations do not have dedicated GPUs. New Mac software is depending more and more on GPU power. Editors want to know if the integrated Intel Iris and Iris Pro Graphics GPUs are powerful enough to run professional software well.

Early testing shows that Iris Pro graphics are better than many expected. Take a look at a new post at Bare Feats:

In the past we sneered at the integrated GPUs and their puny performance. Not any more. The Intel Iris and Iris Pro are every bit the match or master of discrete NVIDIA Mobile GPUs — at least when it comes to OpenCL acceleration.

Although it is great news that integrated GPUs are getting better, many are worried that the MacBook Pros should be avoided until Iris Pro has improved a little more.

A speed test proposed by FCP.co was to time the render of Final Cut Pro X’s built-in ‘Far Far Away’ title on a 23.975 1080p timeline. This test puts enough pressure on main memory and GPU memory to separate older generation Macs from more recent computers.

Over at the the FCP.co forum, qbe asked me to do the ‘Far Far Away’ test on my new late 2013 MacBook Pro 15″ using only the built-in Iris Pro Graphics and also on only the Discrete GeForce GT 750M GPU which I included in my BTO Mac.

It turns out that the test wasn’t tough enough to show a difference between the two GPUs:

MacBook Pro late-2013 Discrete GeForce GT 750M 2GB 18.8 seconds
MacBook Pro late-2013 Intel Iris Pro Graphics 1GB 19.2 seconds

I’ve come up with a test that shows the differences between these GPUs and other Macs…

The BruceX benchmark

BruceX is a small Final Cut Pro X XML file that you import into Final Cut Pro. It creates a very short timeline at the highest possible standard resolution that Final Cut can handle: 5120 by 2700 (at 23.975 fps). It uses standard Final Cut generators, titles and transitions. As it uses many layers of complex content, it requires lots of GPU RAM.

The benchmark is based on timing how long a Mac configuration takes to export the project to disk.

To use this import the XML file at

http://Alex4D.com/BruceX_Test.zip

…and time the export of a 5K master file from the timeline.

1. Have both QuickTime player and Final Cut Pro X open at the same time.

3. In Final Cut Pro X, go to ‘Final Cut Pro:Preferences…’ – in the Playback tab make sure ‘Background Render’ is off.

3. Use the ‘File:Import:XML…’ command to import ‘BruceX Test – 5K.fcpxml’ to create a very short but complex 5K project.

4. Click the new ‘BruceX Test – 5K ‘ timeline (this makes the Share command selectable)

5. Export the QuickTime movie by choosing “File:Share:Master File…’

6. In the dialogue box that appears, click the ‘Settings’ Tab

7. In the ‘Video Codec’ section choose a flavour of ‘ProRes’ (this instruction used to require H.264 but this selection caused exports to fail in OS X 10.9 – the version of OS X require by Final Cut Pro X 10.1 and the late 2013 Mac Pro)

8. In the ‘Open With’ section, choose ‘QuickTime Player’

9. Click the ‘Next’ button in the bottom-right of the dialogue box

10. In the Save sheet, choose a name and location for the export – export to your fastest drive connected using your fastest connection.

11. Get your stopwatch ready and time from when you click ‘Save’ until you see the movie open up in QuickTime Player (some testers report that the movie plays as black in some setups – this is likely to be the player having problems with 5K H.264, the movie is probably fine and will work in other players such as VLC)

12. If possible do the export at least three times. Your configuration’s BruceX Score is the average export time in seconds.

BruceX Final Cut Pro X benchmark

These results include those posted at the FCP.co Forum and from BareFeats.com.

The results show that BruceX tests processor power, but also shows that Iris Pro Graphics has some way to go to match a discrete graphics GPU in the new MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina

MacBook Pro late-2013 2.6 Ghz Quad Core i7
16GB 1600 MHz
1 TB SSD
Discrete GeForce GT 750M 2GB GPU
OS X 10.9.0
88 seconds

MacBook Pro late-2013 2.6 Ghz Quad Core i7
16GB 1600 MHz
1 TB SSD
Iris Pro Graphics 1GB GPU
OS X 10.9.0
163 seconds

( To choose which GPU to use for the test on my MacBook Pro, I used gfxCardStatus by Cody Krieger – a Shareware app downloaded from gfx.io )

If you post results in the comments below, I’ll update the graph.

Although many Final Cut Pro X users were disappointed that Apple didn’t announce a new version on October 22, the day’s launches provided some interesting news.

The first of which is that most of the effects, titles, generators and transitions in iMovie 2013 were created using Motion 5, the animation software used to make plugins for Final Cut Pro X.

It is possible to open the titles, effects, generators and transitions built into iMovie using Motion 5.

Also, using an undocumented method unsupported by Apple, you can install Final Cut Pro X plugins into iMovie 2013.

More later today!

For many years computer users outside the US have complained about the disparity in hardware and software pricing for international purchases.

In recent years price differences have been less egregious, but for some vendors, it is still much cheaper buy software if you live in the US.

US UK UK price difference Australia Australia
price difference
Creative Cloud US$/year
New $599.40 $736.93 22.94% $576.59 -3.81%
Upgrade $359.88 $429.77 19.42% $345.91 -3.88%
Student $239.88 $249.63 4.06% $172.90 -27.92%
Teams $839.88 $1,028.68 22.48% $807.27 -3.88%
Premiere Pro CC only $239.88 $276.35 15.20% $230.57 -3.88%
Final Cut Pro X $299.99 $314.37 4.79% $288.34 -3.88%
FCPX + 3 year subscription $699.98 $792.26 13.18% $701.63 0.24%

If you search the internet for statements from Adobe justifying these price differences, you get this sort of thing (from an Adobe.com forum):

Local market conditions significantly influence our pricing – these include the costs of doing business in different regions and customer research that assesses the value of the product in the local market…

…the cost of doing business in the rest of the world is higher than in North America. That higher cost is reflected in some of our pricing and would remain no matter how customers chose to purchase. For example, customers will still read about our products through local press to whom we reach out; they will meet local Adobe sales people who conduct seminars, participate in user groups, and visit large customers; and they will rely on support resources that Adobe makes available in these markets. All of these efforts impact the business costs of securing the sale, whether that sale is delivered online or in a box.

 

Adobe pricing advice

I’ve made over 50 free plug-ins for Final Cut Pro X. If I produce commercial plugins, I’ll need to decide how much to charge for them. Given that Adobe have much a higher market research budget than I do, perhaps I should use that research to calculate any international price differentials. They believe that the UK market will bear a 15-20% increase over the US, who am I to contradict them?

Final Cut Pro 7 comes with an html-based help system. Many people like to have a single document as a manual. Such a thing is not yet available for Final Cut Pro 7. As Apple own the copyright in the manual, those that have created a single document version cannot legally distribute it. However, if you own Final Cut Pro 7, you can use these instructions to make your own manual:
diy_fcp7_manual

You will first make all the content visible using TextWrangler from Bare Bones Software, and then combine the whole help system into a single document using Pages, Apple’s word processing application – which is part of iWork.

The trial version of Pages was probably installed with OS X on your machine. However after trying it for 30 days (after you first start iWorks), the trial version cannot save or print documents, so if your trial period is up, additional instructions follow.

The only parts of the manual that don’t transfer well are a few tables. The links no longer work, but you can copy the linked text and find it pretty quickly.

Make all content visible

When you first go to a section with disclosure arrows, they default to being closed:

fcp7_manual-b4

This means you have to click each blue arrow, or the words next to each arrow, to see what is hidden:

fcp7_manual-during

To have a version of your documentation that defaults to all the information being visible, you need to change the source HTML of the files. You need to rename all instances of “TaskContentBox” to “TaskContentBox-open” in all the .html files in the help system.

    — Create a copy of the documentation built into FCP7: Control-click the Final Cut Pro application, choose ‘Show Package Contents’ from the shortcut menu
    — In the new window that shows the content of FCP, navigate to “Contents:Resources:English.lproj”
    — Create a copy of the “finalcutpro_help” folder by dragging it elsewhere on your Mac, outside the Final Cut Pro window
    — Start “TextWrangler” and choose “Find…” from the “Search” menu
    — Switch back to the Finder while Text Wrangler is still open and navigate to where you created the copy of the FCP help system, navigate inside to “en/finalcutpro” and drag the “usermanual” icon to the “Multi-File Search” area of the TextWrangler Find dialogue box.
    — Search for “TaskContentBox” (including the quote marks)
    — Replace With “TaskContentBox-open” (again including the quote marks)
    — Click “Replace All”

doc_find_n_replace2

    — Make sure the confirmation dialogue looks like this:
    doc_confirm
    i.e. Don’t Confirm Saves
    — After a short while 698 of your help files will have been modified.
    — Quit out of TextWrangler
    — Go to the top level of the “finalcutpro_help” folder and drag the “index.html” icon to your browser application.

You now have a help system will default to all the information being visible, and it displays more quickly in a browser than Apple Help Viewer.

Combine into a single document

    — Start Pages with a ‘File:New’ blank word processing document.
    — Go to the ‘Insert’ menu and use the ‘Choose…’ command
    — Navigate to where you put your copy of the ‘finalcutpro_help’ manual
    — Navigate to “finalcutpro_help:en:finalcutpro:usermanual” to see a list of all the html files in the documentation system
    — Make sure it is sorted by name
    — Click ‘chapter_preface_section_0.html’
    — Shift-click ‘chapter_preface_section_3.html’ to select the four preface files.
    — Click the ‘Insert’ button
    — Again ‘Insert:Choose…’
    — Select from ‘chapter_1_section_0.html’ to ‘chapter_glossary_section_0.html’
    — Click the ‘Insert’ button
    — You might also want to use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.

If you have a trial version of Pages (a free download from Apple) but you have used it for more than 30 days, you won’t be able to save or print. However, you can copy text and pictures from documents in Pages and paste them into TextEdit documents.

My trial version of Pages ’08 couldn’t deal with copying 50MB to the system clipboard and crashed, so I’ve modified the instructions by copying from Pages into a single TextEdit document in three stages:

    — Insert ‘chapter_1_section_0.html’ to ‘chapter_glossary_section_0.html’ followed by ‘chapter_1_section_0.html’ to chapter_40_section_15.html’ only.
    — Use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ command to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.
    — Use ‘Edit:Select All’ and ‘Edit:Copy’ to copy all the text and pictures.
    — Create a new document in TextEdit.
    — ‘Edit:Paste’ into the new document.
    — Save the new document as ‘Final Cut Pro 7 manual’
    — To simplify the clipboard, select a single word in the TextEdit document and ‘Edit:Copy’ it.
    — Switch back to Pages, close the current document
    — Start a ‘File:New’ blank word processing document
    — ‘Insert:Choose…’ ‘chapter_41_section_0.html’ to chapter_69_section_14.html’
    — Use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ command to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.
    — ‘Edit:Select All’ ‘Edit:Copy’
    — Switch to the ‘Final Cut Pro 7 manual’ document in TextEdit.
    — ‘Edit:Paste’ ‘File:Save’
    — To simplify the clipboard, select a single word in the’Final Cut Pro 7 manual’ document and ‘Edit:Copy’ it.
    — Switch back to Pages, close the current document
    — Start a ‘File:New’ blank word processing document
    — ‘Insert:Choose…’ ‘chapter_70_section_0.html’ to chapter_glossary_section_0.html’
    — Use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ command to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.
    — ‘Edit:Select All’ ‘Edit:Copy’
    — Switch to the ‘Final Cut Pro 7 manual’ document in TextEdit.
    — ‘Edit:Paste’ ‘File:Save’

This document should act as a stop-gap until Apple add an official one to the help system. If you want to feedback to Apple that you’d like the documentation system changed, visit this page on the Apple site.

If you’d like to make similar single-document manuals for other applications in Final Cut Studio, their locations are listed in this post.

Visit my Final Cut home for more plugins and tips
finalcuthomethumbnail

This is an improved version of Apple’s built in Cube Spin transition.
Cube Spin Alex4D transition sample frames

This video shows the improved options:

The first part of the controls provide extra options:
Cube Spin - Spin controls

The second part gives you control of how the spin effect is applied. You can display a graph showing how the spin value ranges from 1 to 0 – with 1 at the start of the transition, 0 at the end. Bezier control points define the shape of the curve between 1 an 0:
Cube Spin - Curve controls

This graph shows how Final Cut’s built in ‘Cube Spin’ transitions from 1 to 0 – a uniform slope:
Uniform graph

The default graph for the ‘Cube Spin – Alex4D’ transition starts and finishes gradually:
Graph starting and finishing smoothly

The bezier control points can be modified so the transition starts slowly and finishes quickly:
A graph that starts slowly and finishes quickly

Or so that the cube spins quickly initially (the graph starts very steeply), then slows down as the transition finishes:
Fast start, slow finish graph

This is the graph of the transition shown in the video where the cube spins forwards, backwards and forwards again:
Spin forwards, backwards and forwards graph

You can also set different border thicknesses and colours for the outgoing and incoming clips:
The first part of the border controls

Download Cube Spin - Alex4D transition
To use this plugin, download the ZIP document, copy the ‘Cube Spin – Alex4D.fcfcc’ file to

Your Startup HD/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Plugins

(Your Startup HD/Users/your name/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Express Support/Plugins for Final Cut Express users)

‘Cube Spin – Alex4D’ will appear in the ’3D Simulation’ video transition category.

Visit my Final Cut home for more plugins and tips
finalcuthomethumbnail

twitterunsigned

Twitter’s home page might put you off… Their definition isn’t really up to date. Also, users have come to ignore the ‘What are you doing?’ question. What if you want to see what using Twitter is like without signing up?

You don’t have to. You can follow individual people’s thoughts, status updates, links and reports on Twitter for a while. These messages are called ‘tweets.’

If you see someone use an @ before a username ( such as @audio ), that’s shorthand for a Twitter user name. You can see their profile page by adding the username to the twitter.com web address ( http://twitter.com/audio ).
audio-twitter

As well as plain text tweets, you’ll probably see link recommendations. As each tweet can only have 140 characters, most people use a link-shortening service. This means you won’t get a clue from the text in the link to know where it goes. For example @guykawasaki uses his feed to post interesting links. Here is a recent tweet:

Growing replacement teeth with wisdom teeth stem cells! http://adjix.com/if9t See also http://dentistry.alltop.com/

adjix.com is a link shortening service, http://adjix.com/if9t takes you to http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008593860_teeth06.html?syndication=rss – As Guy is promoting his Alltop network, he also links to that too. You’ll also see short links from is.gd and tr.im amongst others. You usually only have the Twitterers word that this is an interesting place to go.

You might see messages to other people – they begin with their user name ( such as @alex4d ) – they might be difficult to understand out of context, but you might be able to understand the Twitter conversation using tweetree ( http://tweetree.com/audio ) instead – it is a site that looks at what Twitter people are doing and re-arranges the tweets the make things clearer.
audio-tweetree

It also expands the short URLs so you have a better idea of what people are linking to.

As well as having a look at the kind of things I Tweet about, check out editors Scott Simmons, Norman Hollyn, director “Michael Bay”, Stephen Fry and tech journalists Robert Scoble and Jemima Kiss.

As different people use Twitter for different things, visit the profile pages of a variety of people. Each person’s profile page has a grid of little icons representing who they are ‘following’ – the people whose tweets they receive:
following

Click one of the icons to see another profile page.

Also, you might get an idea of what they’ll be tweeting in future by looking at the page they link to in their profile information at the top right of the window. Temporarily bookmark those you like the look of.

Once you have found enough interesting content, consider signing up. Instead of seeing everyone’s tweets, you’ll only see those from the people you follow. To follow someone, go to their profile page and click the ‘Follow’ button.

Once you have followed a few people, twitter.com will look something like what I see:
twittersigned

On the other hand, have a quick look at the post before this one…

Follow

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