Many digital content creators can disassemble
and reassemble a Panasonic AJ-SDX900 camera in the dark. But
an equal number couldn't explain the difference between deleting
a preferences file and repairing permissions using Apple's Disk
Utility. We all need to treat our operating system with the attention
and respect it requires as essential tool in our digital creation
arsenal. In many respects, the Mac OS is the most important tool
That's the premise behind "Inside
Mac OS X: Panther," a DVD-based training tool produced by
Magnet Media. The company's previous instructional offerings
were almost exclusively related to digital media creation tools.
The release of this DVD focusing entirely on how Panther works
is testimony to its crucial role in creating digital content.
The lengthy Director based video presentation
explores in five chapters the intricacies of Apple's latest incarnation
of MacOS X, coded named Panther (10.3.x). It covers System Set-Up,
Applications, Internet and Networking, and Troubleshooting in
a fast-paced, informative video presentation heavy on video screen
shots and narration. At $49.95, it is cheap insurance to maintain
an effective content creation workflow.
Workflow and System Set Up. This section reviews how Panther has changed
Finder file management by implementing a new multi paned Finder
window to access, move, copy and organize files located locally
on your volume, or remotely on a network. Narrator David Marcus
provides shortcuts for copying files, searching for files in
specific volumes, saving/opening documents, and using Finder
menu items. He also explains in detail how Expose, Panther's
new "wow" feature, significantly streamlines workflow
when working with multiple open document and application windows.
In my view, Expose is worth the full
price of admission in Panther, although its stock F-key presets
conflict with existing F-key commands in FCP. Marcus explains
how to properly configure Expose to make it compatible with FCP.
If you're not familiar with Expose, you'll soon appreciate how
it eases navigation among multiple open documents in Photoshop,
After Effects, and Final Cut Pro.
The training series also examines the
role system preferences play in customizing system wide workflow.
Information on setting computer, display, and hard drive sleep
and spin down preferences are included. Marcus explains how these
preferences should be set when working in a production environment.
The DVD provides some Final Cut Pro suggestions
as well. For example, Marcus details the steps to customize menu
commands in FCP using the keyboard preference panel. Customized
keyboard commands can be added or changed for any menu command
in FCP or any of your video applications.
Panther Applications. This section explains in detail the improved
functionality for Address Book, iCal, and Sherlock, which are
bundled with Panther. It's easy to ignore these applications,
but you'll be surprised how they can assist in the business side
of content creation.
Marcus's discussion of the Address Book
discloses new capabilities I didn't know it possessed. For example,
change some personal information in Address Book, such as your
email address or telephone number, and the app automatically
e-mails the changes to a predefined group of recipients, such
as your video-editing clients. iCal, Apple's calendaring application,
directs email notifying you of the event you've scheduled, and
automatically opens the pertinent file, or project. Nice.
Sherlock has been reincarnated as an
Internet search engine with access to specific "channels"
or categories of information everything from local movies
and restaurants to a thesaurus and language translation. Importantly,
it will also directly access the entire Apple Knowledge Base
for articles in troubleshooting system and application issues,
including all the professional apps. Type a few words in search
tab identifying an issue such as dropped frames in FCP, and a
prioritized list of applicable articles is displayed.
There is an extensive section on Apple's
iLife applications, but they do not include a discussion of iDVD4.
The section on iMovie is a video presentation with no narration
a departure from other presentation technique. It is effective,
however. A short discussion of Apple broadband video conferencing
hardware/software, iChat, is included. A discussion of how the
Font Book application operates is included.
Internet and Networking. Basic Internet configuration, by either Ethernet
or modem, is discussed in this section. Marcus also provides
an overview of Safari, Apple's web browser, Safari, and an excellent
discussion of the application's web security features.
The overview of Apple's Mail application is excellent. It explains
how to configure Mail to automatically direct messages to customized
mailboxes filtered by subject matter or sender. In this way,
you can organize your received messages by topic, sender, or
any other criteria you establish. For example, I configured an
e-mail folder that received every e-mail message from product
developer for a product review I was writing. This is a real
time saver. In addition, the highly configurable "junk mail"
filter is explained well.
Although the "Panther in the Office"
section is interesting, its suggestions aren't advised for dedicated
video editing workstation. In my view, workstations should be
single user and configured, and "clean" systems in
every respect. However, some suggestions are applicable to your
non-workstation Mac, if you have any. Users should review the
sections on adding a second administrator account to deal with
issues that arise when passwords are lost or forgotten.
Optimization and Troubleshooting. This chapter contains most useful information
on the purpose and intended use of the Disk Utility, located
in the Utilities folder of Panther.
Conclusions. I'm a strong believer in video based learning aids, particularly those, such as this one, that provide random, interactive access to the tips, suggestions, and troubleshooting. This DVD is well organized by chapter and section, and the video and narration is nicely paced and informative. More than that, the price is right, especially at the lafcpug Store
I urge every Panther user to learn how
the Mac operating system works by buying some instructional aid
and reading or watching it completely. At $49.95, this
DVD is an exhaustive seven-hour bargain of content rich material.
Spend a few hours with it, and you'll have less of computer related
down time, and spend a lot more trouble free time editing video.
Copyright ©2004 David
$49.00 (lafcpug price $24.65)
Purchase in the lafcpug Store
A. Saraceno is a motion graphics
artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV
Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national
legal technology magazines. David also moderates several forums