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Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?

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Eric Steinberg
Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 1, 2010 at 6:48:20 am

Hello,

I'm involved in a relatively low-budget project involving showing video, stills and live cameras on a big-screen at sporting events. We have a MAC and Final Cut Pro, and first considered running our pre-produced material directly from the timeline in FCP, but for different reasons we are trying to find a timeline based MAC software that's more stable and has immediate response time. I've found a few software packages, but not timeline based. One thing that seems attractive to me, is the ability to buffer upcoming video, so the response will be immediate when you start the clip. Any suggestions?

Regards,
Eric


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Walter Soyka
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 1, 2010 at 6:13:49 pm

[Eric Steinberg] "I've found a few software packages, but not timeline based. One thing that seems attractive to me, is the ability to buffer upcoming video, so the response will be immediate when you start the clip. Any suggestions? "

Playback Pro is quickly becoming the de-facto standard for video playback on the Mac. Playback Pro Plus is the two-channel version that allows dissolves between clips.

I think it'd be a good fit for your requirements, except that it's not timeline-based. It runs on a playlist model, and with linking, it's functionally very similar to a timeline model. Can you elaborate a little on what about the timeline model is important to you?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 1, 2010 at 7:07:51 pm

Thanks for your reply!

The timeline interface is only slightly important because that's what I'm used to from working in NLEs, and I think I would have a better feel for things using a timeline. But it is not a necessity, just a preference. So if Playback Pro is the way to go, I'm sure I can adapt. I'll download the demo and give it a shot.

Thanks again!



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Walter Soyka
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 1, 2010 at 7:17:11 pm

[Eric Steinberg] "The timeline interface is only slightly important because that's what I'm used to from working in NLEs, and I think I would have a better feel for things using a timeline. But it is not a necessity, just a preference."

I think you'll find the Program/Preview model very easy to use. It works like a video switcher; you pre-load clips into Preview, and then take them live to Program with a keystroke.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 10:14:04 am

BTW, do you know if Playback Pro buffers upcoming video clips so the playback will start immediately? This is an intermittant problem in FCP, sometimes the video starts playing immediately, and sometimes it won't start until several seconds after we hit the spacebar (play). Since we sometimes will be just running cameras through our physical switcher, we'll have to stop playback of video clips several times during the event. It is then crucial that once we're ready to start playback of video again, it starts when it's supposed to. I've seen other software that has the buffering feature. I sent this question directly to the Playback Pro technical dept, but I haven't received an answer yet.

Kind regards,
Eric



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Walter Soyka
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 3, 2010 at 1:08:35 am

[Eric Steinberg] "BTW, do you know if Playback Pro buffers upcoming video clips so the playback will start immediately?"

Yes. First you select a clip, which loads it into preview; next, you take the clip live to program. The take is instantaneous. The software scales with the available hardware, so a good graphics card and fast storage lead to better performance.

Playback Pro was designed by a live events tape operator, so it's built with live events requirements and sensibilities in mind.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:25:53 am

Thanks again, about to download the demo.

Eric



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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 3, 2010 at 11:44:42 am

Downloaded demo, and I like it! I am a little concerned however, that the company still hasn't responded to my 2 emails.. Is this the kind of support response I can expect? I have a bunch of questions, especially concerning hardware setup. If we buy it, we'll be running it from a MacBook Pro, OSX 10.6.3, 4 Gb RAM, 2.53 Ghz Intel Core Duo, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M. Do we have to get an external dual screen device like the Matrox DualHead2Go.. I don't seem to be able to run fullscreen mode with the hardware I have now...

Kind regards,
Eric



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Walter Soyka
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 3, 2010 at 12:40:10 pm

I'm surprised to hear that you haven't gotten a response to your emails. I've found them to be very responsive in the past, and I know others here have as well. I think they list a phone number on their website if need to get in touch.

You do not need a Matrox DualHead2Go. PBP will run the operator's monitor on your laptop screen, and will run full-screen video on your external video (MiniDP/DVI/VGA).

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Joel Hufford
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 5, 2010 at 4:57:00 am

I would also say that response from the developer has been fantastic. Anytime I've had a question Brian has been exceptional about getting back to me right away and I mean right away! (a huge benefit when you're on show site and running against a deadline)

That being said, I know that InfoComm and the WWDC is right around the corner and so I'm sure this is a busy week for them.



What exactly do you mean when you say you haven't been able to get it to run in fullscreen with your current setup?

I've been using the software for several years now, I would say that you should be able to get by with the current hardware solution you're using, so long as your content is not uncompressed HD or RED footage.

If you have a choice in the matter, encode all of your content using ProRes 422 as this is the least demanding on the system in terms of decoding.

Also, I would invest in an external HD that used a FireWire 800 connector for media storage.

If you are playing back a large amount of HD content, you'll want to step up to a MacPro tower with at least a quad core processor, RAID array and video card with at least 512MB of memory and dual output. For reference, our systems use the ATI x1900 XT card and have had no issues.

If you do end up purchasing a copy and plan on using it regularly (on either system) I would also recommend springing for the USB controller. While certainly not necessary, it's nice to have a physical controller in your hand so you don't have to worry about fumbling around with keyboard shortcuts in the middle of an event.



joel


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Troy Atkinson
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Aug 5, 2010 at 8:39:06 pm

I love Walter!


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Bob King
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 2, 2010 at 10:01:08 pm

Take a look at QLab. Very versatile. Used in a lot of theatre and is VERY cue-list / timeline oriented. Also offers a rental license. Everything is based off OS X Core frameworks. Chris is a great developer and is very responsive.

http://www.figure53.com

Cheers!



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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 3, 2010 at 9:28:52 am

Thanks for your suggestion!

Looked at it, but doesn't seem to have a timeline layout like I'm used to from NLE's..? If you have a link to an image of how their timeline looks, I could look at that, but as I mentioned earlier.. the timeline is a preference, not a requirement and I'm sure I'll be able to adapt to a different interface. But I appreciate your input!

Kind regards,
Eric



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Jeff Markgraf
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 4, 2010 at 9:30:59 pm

Hi all.

Here's another vote for Playback Pro. I just used it on a show, based on Walter's recommendation.

Worked great.

Used my older MacBook Pro 17", with the media on an external Firewire 400 bus-powered drive. Motion graphics & video clips (including audio) that were saved as standard def uncompressed 8 bit quicktime movies. The projector was fed via DVI from the MacBook. (50 foot DVI run, no less!) Ttransitions were mostly set up as fades in & out. The transitions started with the keypress. Cuts were instant. Fades had a slight - but absolutely consistent - delay of about 1/2 sec. I just let the black segments in between the videos loop until the next transition was needed. So it was running continuously for 2 1/2 hours each show...no hiccups.

I'm an editor by trade, so I get your desire or a timeline interface. This program's playlist style made perfect sense and worked perfectly. Even the not-too-bright lighting board operator got it in a few minutes.

Buy the program. Then move on to your next problem.


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:00:45 pm

Thanks for everone's input!

I've solved the issues I had, and I'm liking the program very much! (I'll be using PlayBackPro Plus). I'm still unsure about a few things:

1. Is it possible to set a duration for a still? I've figured out that you can set a still to freeze, and also check "link" on it, so that all you need to do is hit Return/Take to jump to the next item in preview. But what if I want a still to stay on the screen for 10 seconds, and then the next item in preview takes automatically?

2. Similar question as the first one: Is it possible to have a video freeze on the last frame, and stay frozen on that frame for 10 seconds, and then automatically the next item takes?

3. Is it possible to freeze video only, but audio keeps playing? Or do we simply have to make our clips ahead of time with the video freeze?

4. Any possibility to do more advanced transitions than dissolves? Could I key an animated graphic overlay over a cut between 2 clips, or in any other way do something a little sexier transition than a dissolve?

I'm probably wishing for too much here, but since I don't know the program that well yet, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask...

Kind regards,
Eric



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Walter Soyka
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:08:53 pm

[Eric Steinberg] "1. Is it possible to set a duration for a still? I've figured out that you can set a still to freeze, and also check "link" on it, so that all you need to do is hit Return/Take to jump to the next item in preview. But what if I want a still to stay on the screen for 10 seconds, and then the next item in preview takes automatically?

2. Similar question as the first one: Is it possible to have a video freeze on the last frame, and stay frozen on that frame for 10 seconds, and then automatically the next item takes?

3. Is it possible to freeze video only, but audio keeps playing? Or do we simply have to make our clips ahead of time with the video freeze?

4. Any possibility to do more advanced transitions than dissolves? Could I key an animated graphic overlay over a cut between 2 clips, or in any other way do something a little sexier transition than a dissolve? "


Unfortunately, I think the answer to all of these questions is no. You can use the "Link" parameter to create delays between clips, but if I recall correctly, it's limited to 5 seconds and doesn't work with "Freeze."

You could solve all these issues in pre-production, though.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Eric Steinberg
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:07:41 pm

Yeah, that's what I figured, but just wanted to check to make sure.

Thanks again,
Eric



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Joel Hufford
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jun 8, 2010 at 6:07:50 am

What you're trying to accomplish in your first and second question can be done quasi on-the-fly using Quicktime Pro. (Only something to really consider when the producer changes their mind at the last second and you don't have time to make changes to your original content.)

Copy the frame of your original video you'd like to use as a still and paste the it into a new player. Then copy and paste as many times as necessary to get your desired run time. (or you can create a clip for 5 or 10 seconds and set that to loop for a continuous bumper. Link it to the next clip and all you have to do is hit TAKE to trigger the next clip.)

Making a clip with frozen video and continuous audio is a bit more involved, but it can be done in similar fashion, with the addition of an audio editing tool like Audacity.

Of course, Walter is right, the easiest solution assuming that you're creating your own content is to simply take care of this in pre production.

But, I'm glad that PlaybackPro Plus is working for you!

good luck,


joel


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Bill Lewis
Re: Timeline based software for MAC (not FCP)..?
on Jul 17, 2010 at 8:33:19 pm

There are some settings everyone using PlayBackPro should know. Be be sure to turn off spotlight on the drive of folder you are using for you playback content files. No screen saver/no power saver/ and more! Questions????????? I do have answers for PlayBackPro!

Just in case if anyone is looking for a PlayBackPro operator and complete system rentals I can help. Drop me an email anytime. billlewis@avtools.com 20+ years in the AVStaging world for video playback and capture!


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