shot in the subway in Osaka, October 2012
The prospect of another ProTools upgrade has made me stop & think, and while it is very easy to complain about the inevitable evolution & associated redundancy of technology, I figured I might just put in writing a vague plan I have been thinking about for my next Mac. The ‘next’ aspect of it might well be six months or a year away as I have no immediate need to upgrade, but when the time comes I’d like a highly evolved solution to already be underway.
So first up do I actually need ProTools 11?
Not immediately & no time soon, sorry Avid. There is nothing compelling from what I’ve seen, the only motivator may well be a time constraint they will likely insist on to upgrade PT10+CPT to PT11HD. As it stands I own a PT10 HD2 rig that has done (& still does) sterling work, plus two PT10+CPT rigs – one on a Mac mini and one on my old laptop. The PT HD2 rig paid for itself long ago – I bought it just before we started 30 Days of Night, which means it has completed 14 feature films over a five year period, and a few of those were big, demanding films. So it doesn’t owe me anything but that sure as hell doesn’t mean I am going to junk it – it still works well, is loaded with a great set of plugins and reliably handles large track counts (192 tracks x 2 hour films in one super session) So it effectively is going to be sandboxed – no need for further upgrades…
But what has made me consider options is the comparison of behaviour between the rigs, the Mac Mini Server I bought last year is faster & snappier to use than the Mac Pro my HD2 rig is running on, and while that isn’t really a surprise given a few generations of CPU evolution have occurred, it has made me think hard about the merits of ever buying another Mac Pro Tower. I no longer need the PCI card slots because I won’t ever be buying Avid card based hardware, eventually/maybe I’ll get a thunderbolt based i/o but theres no rush for it either.
But more importantly what I need in my creative future has developed & diversified a LOT since I bought that HD2 rig. So what I need from a centralised Mac power house has started to take vague shape in my head, and it looks a lot less like a Tower and a lot more like this modular approach:
Imagine dedicating RAM, CPU & drives between specific tasks, which for me:
MacMini 1: ProTools HD + SoundMiner
MacMini 2: Ableton LIVE and/or ProTools HD w VSTIs/sample libraries,
MacMini 3: Video playback/editing/Photoshop/LightRoom/After Effects
MacMini 4: Database/admin/online machine
The advantage of a MacMini over a laptop for such things is that when the time comes to upgrade CPUs you don’t have to rebuy the screen every time. One of the parts of my old HD2 rig that will be carried into the future is the 30″ screen I use with it, which is one of the best investments I made, conceptually & in terms of productivity. So hanging off the quad mac Minis would likely be a pair of 30″ LCD screens, with the video playback Mac Mini feeding either a projector or a large viewing TV…..
The only potential problems with all this is the integration and achieving seamless switching between Mac Minis, as I would just want the two screens and one keyboard as the user interface. Screen switching could be handled by the monitors themselves, my 30″ screen has half a dozen inputs… plus a bit of VNC and virtual screen sharing… And sharing one keyboard between multiple Macs just involves USB switching, which is fairly straight forward….
I’ll keep researching this concept, but I think this is my future upgrade path, four Mac Minis will likely cost a lot less than a single Mac Pro Tower with the same amount of RAM & CPU, and the motherhship could be built up in steps as/when necessary…. Maybe I’ll reach the second MacMini and realise that is actually all I will ever need for syncronous/simultaneous work…
What I like most about this approach: there are no BIG purchases! Buying that HD2 rig back in the day was a mighty leap of faith & while it paid off, I sincerely doubt there is ever a reason to repeat the exercise ever again. And perhaps that concept is what is really hurting Avids share holders? I did all my the sound editing on my first feature film on a native ProTools system and got a great result. A dozen or more years later I will have gone full circle, and sooner or later will be back to an entirely native system!
Thoughts? Experiences working across multiple Macs? Obviously every dub stage is locking multiple Macs together but their purpose (& budget) are a little different to mine…
> So is this (V0-96 acoustic synth) basically an uber eBow?
> Early Xmas present? How about a mouse pad of your cochlear?
> Worth a read: How to find fulfilling work
> A few OSX helper apps I’ve discovered recently:
1. Not sure about you but I seem to find myself diving into the depths of my dropbox for documents regularly, and same for my work drives to access any of multiple projects I am working on.. And I had a suddenly flashback to the old Mac OS7 Apple Menu – why can’t I have a menu that enables direct access to documents & folders that I regularly access? After wandering through search engines for ten minutes I found & installed XMenu – its a free app which does exactly that i.e. adds a custom menu which can point to any pre-existing folders (eg Applications, Documents etc) or a user defined/custom folder. So I am only using the custom folder option, and have put aliases in it to all my frequently used documents (My invoice database, HISSandaROAR Customer database, my schedule, current project folders etc)
Get XMEnu here
2. While looking for XMenu I came across QuickSilver – this appears to be a profoundly fast way of accessing data etc on your Mac, but I also get the impression it takes a little work to get used to & to learn how to best exploit its power… But I really like the concept, basically when you search for something on your mac it observes what you successfully found and then offers it up, the next time it detects the same pattern of searching…
3. I have been looking for a storyboard app so I can previz my Japan Artists Residency project and after asking for suggestions on twitter I have been using Celtx for the last week and really like it. it is both a screenwriting and storyboard app…. A fully functioning free version is available with paid options to add clip art etc, but I am working with stills so the free version is fine for ym purposes. So far the only downside is it doesnt seem to have any respect for aspect ratios, all the stills I am using for storyboarding are 16×9, but when I add them to Celtx they seem to be 2.35 although if I widen the viewing screen they also change aspect ratio!?! And slightly worse, if you preview the storyboard as a real time sequence, its displayed 4×3! Hmmmm… I’ve asked about this feature mis-implementation on their forum without any answer, will persevere for now…
Get Celtx here – thanks for suggesting it Graham and thanks also Rene for pointing out Keynote has a storyboard preset (& it does support fixed aspect ratios, so I may switch if Celtx don’t get it sorted. You’d think an app built for film making would be aware of maintaining aspect ratios!?!)
mute the sound before you watch this (what soundtrack would you suggest?)
> “Lentement, lentement, lentement…” – searching for perfect musical wood “…there should not be too much water. The tree’s heart should stay dry. That gives the best wood. Solid. Enormous resonance….” (thanks James!)
> “even a tower built with every possible luxury of modern design still moans like a rickety old boat when it’s pummeled by the elements”
> really need to remember something? here’s how
> Atoms for Peace/Thom Yorke Radio 1 mix download on soundcloud
couple of sneaky edits in there, but wow!
> Some good advice: “There’s hardly anyone going the extra mile, I’d say go that extra mile – it’s never crowded”
> “perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything”
> Surgeon prescribes Brian Eno to patients (thanks Stephen!)
> Interesting idea: allocating effort vs time
now THIS is an earworm!
another hundred listens and I’ll be sick of it & will never have to listen to it again! 99…. 98….
> Should you challenge a noisy neighbour? Best comment & approach imho? “When my noisy neighbours had partied until five a.m. I got up at 7:00 and played Bach organ toccatas as loud as I could stand it. I only had to do it three times before they caught on to cause and effect” (I personally would add banging on their door/ringing doorbell at 5am, 5.30am, 6am etc…) And failing all else there are always ear plugs… You ever had to deal with such things?
For the last few weeks I’ve been setting my GoPro Hero3 camera shooting timelapse on the deck of my apartment…partly because the clouds at times look amazing but also partly because in the next year or so this whole building is going to be demolished to make way for two more lanes of roading…. because more roads is the answer to everything #not!
Anyway this is what I ended up with – preferably watch it in HD here