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FCP User Group Network SuperMeet and MacWorld SF 2005

January, 2005

FCP User Group Network SuperMeet and MacWorld SF 2005


By Loren S. Miller

Let's face it: FCP users are Mac users. MacWorld Expo is the framing venue for the annual San Francisco FCP User Group Network Supermeet, so a brief recap of the Expo show from an editor's perspective may be useful.

Although reduced to one giant hall, the show floor was busy and packed. Attendance was a moderate 32,000 according to show developer IDG. The ritual Steve Jobs keynote was carelessly overbooked but our ace special event photographer Mike Pliskin got a good one for us.

Steve Jobs demos the Sony HDR-FX1 by shooting Sony's CEO with it. This camera was everywhere in and around Apple's big tent on the show floor.

The main entries from Apple this year were consumer products: the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle. It's significant that both products appeal and can be deployed across platforms.

The Mac Mini will grab PC users because it's designed to plug into their existing peripherals. The Mini is a Powerbook folded in half and that's it. I could see many PC users switching out by simply plugging their VGA flats and cathode screens, keybards and USB controllers into the Mini. They'll want more than the default 256MB of RAM, of course. But at 499.00 for a G4 1.25Ghz or 699.00 for a 1.42 Ghz box, they'll have bucks to spare. That price barrier argument is essentially gone.

Some visitors complained about a need for a separate iPodWorld-- there were that many accessories. The only one I really needed I couldn't find-totally wireless earbuds! I hear somebody makes them.

The new iPod Shuffle is a standout in pure music player design and function, with surprisingly good amplification, and it doubles as a neat USB 2.0 fast storage device at a decent price: $99 for 512MB or $149.00 for 1GB. Techolust captured many of us. (Expect to see the world's first flash-memory striped RAID 5 array from Apple within half a year. The throughput should handle about a half minute or so of 10-bit uncompressed HD.)

Speaking of RAIDS, there were a few on display, and the buzzword this year is SATA!

The WiebeTech guy shows how to cram a 4-SATA array into a G5 footprint.

Incidentally, Drivesavers on the floor was offering data recovery from flash drives at a straight 200/per unit. You know the future has arrived when Drivesavers offers a fix for it. These are the folks who recovered Sean Connery's Powerbook, et al. I always visit to see the latest Mac disaster on display, usually a hopelessly fried, charred blobular mass, from which the team has rescued all the hard drive data.

There were plenty of laptop and desktop Mac applications, peripherals, some stunning furniture only film editors or surgeons could love, like this three-screen wonder from Anthro.

A whole Special Interest Pavillion for independent vendors was a forest of distinct kiosks; a great layout. Some, like TypeItForMe, a very cool and inexpensive macro utility going back to OS9, also offered excellent chocolate.

Special services were on display, like Beezwax for folks needing intensive Filemaker solutions-many filmmakers use Filemaker in all phases of production. Mark/Space specializes in Palm OS conduits to Mac apps like Address Book, iCal, and even iPhoto, which Palm doesn't offer for its PDA and Treo users.

The Expo was also the debut for some heavy duty pro tools. Final Touch HD for QuickTime, from, offered through Red Giant, a video software tools company. This is not a hair conditioner. This full featured colorist toolset is expensive (over 4K), designed for serious vision engineering of standard and high definition Quicktime Media in a Shake-like interface. it looks to be a knockout.

BOSFCPUG's Dan Berube shocking customers at the Canon booth.

AJA Video was on the floor and had HDV operating through hardware, as opposed to iMovie HD's and FCExpress HD's software codec-- introduced at the keynote. The Apple HDV software solution involves a new Intermediate Codec, which captures HDV material for editing. But it has to go through a second step- like a render- when you wish to export. It will probably appear in FCP later in the year.

AJA on the other hand had a Sony FX1 camera with component output strung to its YUV to SDI transcoder box, and from its SDI out straight to a Kona 2 card in the G5. For output from the card, another AJA box displayed excellent quality on Apple's Cinema Display. The secret to workable HDV at this point seems to be: get the heck out of HDV right after acquisition and don't look back! AJA appears to have nailed it.

CHIFCPUG's Gary Adcock could sell you an AJA Kona 2 system.

Related events included a round of offsite parties and of course, the annual FCP User Group Network SuperMeet co-developed by SF Cutters, LAFCPUG, CHIFCPUG and BOSFCPUG, with support from others a far away as Knoxville and Atlanta groups. Special kudos goes to Mike "Headcutter" Horton and LAFCUG for doing a lot of heavy lifting, arranging for Club Mezzanine as the venue, coordinating sponsors, including Panasonic for that gorgeous DLP projection system, which made everybody look good.

Michael incidentally reports this year was his first cable car ride ever.

Mezzanine was once again just right for the Supermeet.

Another view of the packed Supermeet event

We saw new hardware from Apple - the XSAN, presented by Apple's Senior Manager, Business & Market Development Pro Apps, Bill Hudson and XSAN Product manager Erick Zelenka, XSAN is Apples multi-seat fibre-channel (that's "real fast through a 2GB/second optical pipe") storage-sharing solution designed to allow simultaneous access to the same media for multiple users. It works seamlessly with the XServe and RAID products already offered and becomes Apple's answer to Avid's Unity solution for that company. It's an exciting development for high end, time-sensitive offline/online environments.

Apple's Bill Hudson redefines workgroup editing with XSAN

Jeff Sobel spoke briefly about the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, which is a not-for-profit multimedia recording studio on wheels. It has provided free hands-on Video and Music programs to hundreds of high schools, colleges, Boys and Girls Clubs, music festivals, concerts, conventions and community organizations. He showed a few clips of students' work.

Fans of the the Aussie band, Jet know the song and video "Cold Hard Bitch." What you may not know is that the video of that song was cut on FCP. AJA's Ted Schilowitz and Wade Harpootlian from Tomorrow's Brightest Minds (producers of this video) showed and talked about the making of this video.

The technical highlight of the evening for many of us came after the break: the software shootout by Phil Hodgetts of ProApps Hub fame, ( of two new multicam solutions for FCP. Many of us have been waiting for an FCP angle-switcher solution. Both LiveCut and MultiCam Lite are standalone export/reimport XML solutions: LiveCut, an open source project originated by Swiss performance artist Michael Egger, which offers 4 DV streams, and MultiCam Lite from UK-based Digital Heaven, ( (who've already given FCP users the world's first field-addressable DH_Dropout repair filter), a handsome $295.00 product for those in need of an elegant 3-stream switching interface for Photo-JPEG and DV25.

Phil Hodgetts maintains crucial objectivity in presenting LiveCut and MultiCam Lite.

In its favor, LiveCut offers 4 streams of switchable angles -- when it synchs correctly (it's currently at version 0.9.9-- still a beta)-- to MCL 1.0's 3 streams-which do play back in synch. So there's decent multicam choice for FCP, for budget-free bedroom editors who can tolerate obvious interface defects and function, and for pro's needing an elegant and client-presentable tool for live switching.

Singer Javelyn, Wes Plate, Kevin Monahan, and Loren Miller "dance."

Phil's MultiCam demo footage came from Jim Greer ( featuring singer Javelyn ( Javelyn appeared live, dancing on stage to her own music video. She was joined by a backup of several way-over-drinking-age editors who can't.

CinemaSports is the "Iron Chef of filmmaking," according to founder Jin Woo Joo. Teams have 9 hours to complete a movie with a list of ingredients. Screening begins on the tenth hour of that very night. Jin showed a less-than-family-friendly clip which was pretty funny- if dark-- and talked briefly about this San Francisco-based group. CS sounds like excellent hands-on DV training.

We also saw Chris Jenkins' "El Fandi, a modern day Matador," a documentary shot in Spain in mixed format HD.

Throughout the event, sponsors on the mezzanine of Club Mezzanine, as always the backbone of any user group meet, featured their wares. The fabulous Boris FX showed the latest Continuum Complete effects package, GenArts displayed its scintillating Sapphire plug-Ins. Automatic Duck, Flip4mac, Red Giant Software, Mac Enthusiasts, ProCon, BlackMagic Design, LaCie, G-Tech, Bogen Imaging and Contour were also there showing off their wonderful toys.

The huge Supermeet Raffle gave out clever Thinkstock packages, spanking new books from CMP, Focal and PeachPit Press, KeyGuides from Neotron Design, software from several vendors like Final Draft, Natress, Red Giant, Intelligent Assistance Auto Duck, Digital Film Tools, Flip4mac, CharisMac, Magnet Media, CustomFlix, Snader, ASG and Digital Heaven; and spectacular hardware from vendors like Bogen Imaging, Lowel Contour, Other World Computing, and Blackmagic Design, G-Tech, Focus Enhancements, AJA and LaCie.

Friendly club staff, cash bar and free catered finger food rounded out the occasion, and many user group chiefs were in attendance representing all parts of the US and other countries. Everyone left feeling the evening was well spent.

LAFCPUG/BOSFCPUG member, Editor and screenwriter Loren S. Miller was there and remembers most of it, except the cablecar ride.
Reach him anytime at and buy his KeyGuides at

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