Mac OS X  has many security features – the most important of which are default settings that protect Mac users. A recent addition is ‘Gatekeeper’ which has a function of preventing some applications from running on your Mac.

The default setting protects users: Only software downloaded from the Apple-curated Mac App Store can be opened.


If you want to install any of my recent plugins, that is a problem. I don’t yet sell software on the Mac App Store.

There are two ways around this: use an alternate method to open my installers, or change the Gatekeeper setting to allow my installers to open normally.

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Many people are waiting for Apple to fully commit to ‘fixing’ TV. Following on from disrupting the music industry with the iPod and iTunes Music Store and the mobile phone industry with the iPhone and iTunes App Store, when will Apple take on broadcast TV? Also, is their answer TV hardware or software?

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

One of the most repeated excerpts from the official Steve Jobs Biography, ‘Jobs’ by Walter Issacson, still prompts questions. On the eve of every Apple product announcement event, we wonder whether this time we will find out what Steve meant.

Apple TV hardware

Over six years ago Apple announced their TV ‘hobby’ product: The Apple TV. A small device connected to HD TVs designed to store, stream and play back TV shows and other 720p digital content via a network-connected Mac or PC. They made a point of not promoting it as a major platform at the level of the Mac or iPod. They described it as a product that would help Apple explore future media possibilities. Apple didn’t want analysts to presume that Apple TV would be a second market-disrupting product in the same way that the iPod and iTunes Store was.

Over the years since March 2007, Apple have slowly evolved their hobby.  In January 2008 a software update removed the need for a Mac or PC to purchase via the iTunes Store. Steve Jobs:

Apple TV was designed to be an accessory for iTunes and your computer. It was not what people wanted. We learned what people wanted was movies, movies, movies.

September 2010 saw the biggest change in the Apple TV: the ‘2nd generation’ version dropped the internal hard drive. It was also much smaller and much less expensive. The current 3rd generation Apple TV has a faster processor and more streaming services at full 1080p resolution.

Why does Apple TV remain simply a (very profitable) hobby for the iPhone, iPad and Mac maker? The complex TV and film market in the USA and worldwide.

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Recently Ben Consoli of Anticipate Media asked me to take part in the NeedCreative podcast.

My episode was published this week. My interview includes a brief history of my Final Cut Pro plugin creation adventures. Ben asked me to comment on what the launch of Logic Pro X means for users of Apple’s Pro Apps.

The episode also includes an interview with someone with much more Logic experience: Dot Bustelo – the author of books on music production using Logic Pro.

If you’d like to hear my interview, learn from Dot and hear up-to-date post production news,

subscribe to the podcast using iTunes

subscribe to the podcast using Stitcher Smart Radio

– or listen direct at


Once post production work has to be done by more than one person at a time, the speed of the network becomes an important consideration. This is because it is much more efficient if editors, motion graphics artists and colour graders can get access to the same video source files and most up-to-date edits. This is done with shared storage connected to computers by a fast network.

Also for many years people have connected multiple computers together to perform complex tasks. In post production more and more computing is being done using advanced GPUs. Multiple computers combined to perform complex tasks together are known as render farms. The faster the connections between the computers, the better.

Current Mac Pros can have PCIe network cards installed, and those cards can be used with Thunderbolt-equipped Macs using an expansion chassis. However other Macs don’t have fast network connections built in and can’t use PCIe cards.

According to FAQ-MAC a feature of Apple’s forthcoming Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks might allow many more Macs be used in simple render farms: IP over Thunderbolt.

They showed a dialog box (which they may have mocked up) that shows Mavericks asking whether a newly attached Thunderbolt cable should be used as a network connection:


Detected a new network interface:
   Thunderbolt Bridge
Check that it is configured correctly, and then click Apply to activate.

Internet Protocol over Thunderbolt means that you can connect Macs via Thunderbolt cables and use the Thunderbolt cable as a network connection. Thunderbolt 1 connections have a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 10 Gb/s – which is similar to the speed of 10 gigabit Ethernet, which is a popular post production networking standard.

I assume IP over Thunderbolt is less efficient than a dedicated Fibre Channel PCI Express card, but at least Thunderbolt is available on a wide range of Macs.

With a little distributed rendering, my 27” iMac connected to a pair of Thunderbolt equipped Macs will get through QuickTime encodes much more quickly

Also if I need to share 4K proxies with others, Thunderbolt over IP is good news.

As I’m doing a huge favour to the organisers of Tuesday’s MacVideo Expo in London, they’re doing me a favour in return. If you email me with your name and company name, you can save the full £10 entry fee. There are three tickets left as of Monday morning.

MacVideo Expo 2010 logo

MacVideo Expo takes place at The Royal Society of Medicine, London W1 on Tuesday October 19. It is organised in the same way as a Final Cut Pro Supermeet: an exhibitor showcase, presentations and a giveaway of £10,000-worth of products to audience members. The £10 entry fee also includes a free buffet.

You don’t have to have a Mac to benefit from the event. The exhibition and show includes Panasonic’s AVCCAM range, Avid’s Media Composer 5, a 45-minute lighting demonstration from Dedo Weigert, Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci colour correction products and Autodesk’s Smoke. You’ll also be able to make connections with UK editors, camerapeople and post-production experts.

The favour I’m doing the organisers? I’m appearing on stage in a panel – The great DSLR vs Video Camera debate.

If you have an idea for a plugin for Final Cut, find me during a break. I’d love to hear about it. I’ll tell you about my next free plugin too.

In which I suggest that Apple could use their expertise in creating an App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch to create a store for post-production professionals.

Now is the time to start guessing about the new features Apple might introduce in the ProApps that will make up Final Cut Studio 3. Most people are guessing that new versions of Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Motion and DVD Studio Pro will be launched around the same time as the next version of Mac OS X. Snow Leopard is expected to be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developer conference in May, with availability in June.

Some people say that Apple have had more and more problems dealing with Final Cut’s aging codebase. Fixing faults that have been around for years has proved too costly, however much they get in the way of long-time users. For example it is possible that Apple wanted to add draggable markers in the timeline, but implementing them caused too many bugs and unpredictable effects elsewhere in the application. It was probably easier to add features such as multicam.

This means that it might be that the best Apple could do with Final Cut would be to rewrite the whole application to fit better with the technology of 2009. It would probably take a few programmer-years to rewrite it all with no new big features. Experienced users would upgrade if all those little niggles were fixed, but Apple Marketing would have a problem with the ‘All new Final Cut Pro 7: Now works like it should have done for the last few years. Part of the new Final Cut Studio 3. Upgrade for only $499.’

Faithful Studio users are starting to request new features for their favourite apps, but it is likely that the feature list was frozen a little before Studio 2 was announced.

So, what would I add to Final Cut Studio 3? A built-in store for Final Cut Pro, LiveType, Motion, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, Color, Soundtrack Pro, Aperture, Shake, Logic Pro, and MainStage.

Imagine having access to extra software and help from directly inside Apple ProApps. The Apple ProApps Store could also provide instant download access to plugins for Final Cut, Soundtrack, Motion, Compressor, Color, Aperture, Shake, Logic Pro and MainStage.

The economics of the App Store for the iPhone has changed the way people expect to be charged for their tools. Instead of buying large collections of royalty-free content, people could download just the parts they need. This would apply to clip video, livefonts, sound effects, music loops, and templates.

This would give people direct access to extra tools and help. This would also give tool makers access to a large community of users. As a Final Cut plugin creator, I would gladly give up 30% of my fees for Apple to handle distribution and billing for my software. They could even associate my plugins with specific serial numbers of Final Cut Pro and Motion. I could also provide free plugins, tutorials, footage and fonts to those who want them.

The Apple ProApps Store could also give access to freelancers who could provide personal tutorials, instant help and workflow consultancy. Sound designers, motion graphics professionals, typographers and programmers could make themselves available for commissioned work. Not many editors have created a professional environment for colour correction. Via the ProApps Store, freelance Apple Color graders could even colour correct a few representative frames from a series of shots in a difficult scene.

The Store could also provide a special search facilities that index external forums that might provide help when things go wrong or ideas when inspiration fails us.

Access to the store could be arranged through the Help system of each application. Version 1 could use a special version of the iTunes application. That would make the software engineering relatively simple given the huge effect this would have on the ProApps community.

If there was an Apple ProApps Store, what would you provide on it?

…after a while the conversation ran a little dry, so I asked them what they did for a living.

The first one said “I’m a problem solver.” I understood, but didn’t know what kind of problems they fixed. “I work with a group of people who wait for calls for help of various kinds. We’re ready to sort things out. Say, for example, your cat is stuck in a tree. We can get it down for you. If you’re locked out, we’ve got specialist equipment to get you into your home. We also rescue people from fires.” I was surprised by that last sentence. “So you’re a firefighter then?” “Sure, but we do a whole more than that!”

I turned to the second person. They described themselves as an ‘event manager.’ I’d heard of events, but I thought that that term applies to any effect that has a cause. Series of events are how humans experience time. ‘Event’ seemed to be a very general term. I got some clarification: “We do parties, product launches and press briefings. We organise conferences for thousands of people all over the world. If an organisation wants to start or maintain a community, they come to us.” I was surprised by the last two sentences. “So you’re a conference organiser then?” “Sure, but we do a whole more than that!”

I worked a while for a company that organised conferences. After a while I learned that it was part of the ‘event industry.’ It seems odd to me that this industry doesn’t describe itself in terms of what it spends most of its time doing: organising conferences. This seems to be the symptom of worrying that definition isn’t interesting enough for people outside the business. “If I say that I organise or work on conferences, they’d think it a bit sad and limiting. I’ll say that I’m in the ‘Events Industry’ – that’ll sound better. It implies variety, it’s less embarrassing.”

It isn’t a good sign when a group of people don’t define their work in terms of what they spend the most of their time doing. Maybe they think that conferences are a waste of time. Atendee recall for the content of most presentations is almost non-existent. Gimmicks and office politics rule the roost. Few dare measure if people’s actions change after a conference. They suspect that all the effect their conferences have is found when you get people from different parts of the world to have a drink together. The rest is window-dressing.

It’s odd, because most people ouside ‘events’ see conferences as exotic, worthwhile, informative, a sign that the organisation cares, a break from the norm and a way of marking special times in their lives (“Remember that time in 99 when we were in Florida the week that Star Wars Episode I came out? You did that alternative title sequence and opening bit… That was cool!” – a quote from an attendee at a tech conference).

With the costs of gathering large groups of people in a single place becoming prohibitive, event managers are going to have to come up with a new name for themselves. One that doesn’t require a list-like explanation most times they inform people. Maybe it’s time that someone redefined the conference in terms of what is supposed to do

If it’s not a word that has become tired from over-use, maybe community should be in there somewhere. What do you think?

Either Microsoft is terrible at creating videos, or they have a good sense of an ironically bad video. Check out this submission. I think they know what they’re doing:

Play Microsoft Songsmith demo video

Their newly announced product available from Microsoft Research automatically generates accompanying music to any words you sing into your computer. You can choose key and musical style. You can then go back and change the chord progression if needed. $40 gets you a downloaded application that might be fun.

Songsmith gives me another idea.

smFrontczak: Imagine an application that you tell a story to, it adds sound effects, ambience to your speech and even music to turn your story into a higher production-value podcast or radio play. This would happen using voice recognition to understand the story in conjunction with a large sound effects library. smFrontczak could also enhance radio plays, characters could speak selected stage directions, which could be edited out of the final version.

George: The cathedral's got a mosiac...
Connor: Hurry, it's almost noon!
The children leg it across the bustling
market square and burst into
the murky cathedral.
Mark: The sun! The sun!
The cathedral clock begins to strike noon
(continues over the following)
George: The beam's pointing right at...
...the Blue Knight's shield!

If actors (or a talented individual using different voices) read this script out, the smFrontczak could interpret the script by fading out the busy market square to the left, fade in the cathedral from the left and change the ambience applied to the voices to make them sound as if they are in an echoing hall. Then church bell strikes could commence and continue (with reduced volume) during the scene.

When films are in preproduction, teams are brought in for previsualisation. Storyboarding and animation software (sometimes in 3D) are used to plan scenes to guide many departments. Perhaps the smFrontczak could be used to support the sale of a script in the first place – a tool to turn actor’s readings into dynamic radio plays…

This is the next step on the way to the day when someone will invent a real Holophoner.

The Holophoner is an imaginary device from Futurama, the animated series set 991 years in the future from some of the people that make the Simpsons. It is a musical instrument that uses holographic technology to create 3D operas to accompany the music.

I hope it’ll be a few decades until a real Holphoner appears. In a way, the technology and media industry are paving the way for the day when an individual will be able to compose and perform a complete sensory experience and share it with an audience.

What will audiences need imagination for then…?

Although I’ve been using the personal pronoun a little more often recently, this post will be the most self-regarding for a while.

Earlier today, Google Analytics told WordPress that I had had over 100,000 ‘hits’ – that’s somewhere between 100,000 people visiting one of my pages once to 1,000 people visiting 10 of my pages 10 times.

As humans can’t help assigning meaning to numbers – 100,000 seems more special than 98,425. Your birthday and New Year’s Day are more important than most days of the year, yet today is the first anniversary of 8th January, 2008. Happy birthday if it’s your birthday today.

When I started posting in May 2007, I said that the number of visits doesn’t matter, as long as the right people visit. I had an early success by Norman Hollyn linking his blog to mine. The very definition of the right person.

My next success came when the BBC linked to my site when covering possible revised designs for London’s tube map. Since that link, Google think my pages have some sort of authority and include links to me on the first page of search results on some subjects.

Next I’d like to thank Jean Prytyskacz who kindly got me one of the links of the day on the Internet Movie database, which resulted in over 6,000 hits on one day, which is a great deal for my blog.

It turns out that if you have a reasonable number of posts on a variety of subjects, you’ll still get hits in months with only a single post. In fact posting once a day (as I’ve mostly done since October) might mean that any casual visitor might find the weight of stuff here not worth wading through.

The next unsung heroes are Joe Maller and Andy Mees, two sources of my understanding of how to create plugins for Final Cut Pro. 12 years ago, a link to my site appeared on many pages. Why? Because I gave three free fonts away – and other people knew that pages of links to free stuff were valuable to internet users. So I decided to have a go at making some free stuff that was much more valuable to a smaller group of people – Final Cut users.

Since then I’ve had a few thousand views of my Final Cut page. About 200 people read me via RSS syndication, I think a similar number have this blog bookmarked.

So thank you all, the good news is that mathematics and meaning will tell you that the next post of such self-regarding nonsense will be in 150,000 hits time. Don’t worry, a new blog post will be along in a few minutes time.

Lastly, thank you most of all to my most faithful copy editor, Iris.

As Vimeo kindly gave me ‘Plus’ membership, you can now watch these videos in HD right here (if you click the full-screen control), until I run out of HD plays. After that, you’ll still be watch them in HD at

This is a little long, in widescreen so that the limited bandwidth is used to encode more pixels. Resisted using time lapse this time.

Below Waterloo bridge, you can buy second-hand books. Music by Aphex Twin.

SD – I was playing around will stock footage back in 2001 while working on a job for Sun and I had to have a go at making one of these.

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