Many Film/TV Editors, when out in the field have experienced this: A client on the fly asks you to use their machine (laptop or desktop) to quickly change the opening cut of a piece using their Final Cut Express and quickly re-export and post a Windows Media File (wmv) on the web. OR, you are brought into an edit in which the company’s Macs aren’t up to date with all the proper codecs and tools to do what the job asks for.
One such event occurred for me when I was on a gig. My boss asked me to rip footage from a promo DVD, add some graphics and alter the cut and re-export. Then burn to a new DVD to play in a loop during a Live Event. I felt as if I had my pants down, but luckily the venue had wireless internet. This, however is not always the case so it helps to be prepared. Not just because of a lack of HIGH SPEED internet, but the time necessary to download when you could have it all on a trusty USB flash drive. It’s very common that on-site everybody ends up sharing a WiFi network and in these situations your web speeds can severely suffer.
USB Flash Drives are sturdy, durable, and rarely corrupt the data that you place on it. And, data sizes go up to 128gb currently (possibly more) and will continue to rise in the future. Obviously one thing to keep in mind is the higher the file size, the longer the transfer will take as opposed to a Thunderbolt or Firewire External Hard Drive. But, as a backup they rock!
Things to dedicate to your Field Editor’s Toolbox:
1. Program Backups
2. Quicktime Codecs & Final Cut Plugins
3. Project File Backups (Final Cut Pro, AfterEffects, Photoshop, etc.)
4. Stock Video, Images & SFX Libraries
…can all fit based on your needs, drive size, and organization.
PROGRAMS: Here is what programs I currently keep in my flash drive (as a .dmg) and I believe you should too. You could be a lifesaver on a project no matter what your role is.
1. Quicktime 7 Pro – $29.99
2. Perian – “the swiss-army knife of Quicktime Components” – FREE
Perian enables QuickTime application support for additional media:
* File formats: AVI, DIVX, FLV, MKV, GVI, VP6, and VFW
* Video types: MS-MPEG4 v1 & v2, DivX, 3ivx, H.264, Sorenson H.263, FLV/Sorenson Spark, FSV1, VP6, H263i, VP3, HuffYUV, FFVHuff, MPEG1 & MPEG2 Video, Fraps, Snow, NuppelVideo, Techsmith Screen Capture, DosBox Capture
* Audio types: Windows Media Audio v1 & v2, Flash ADPCM, Xiph Vorbis (in Matroska), and MPEG Layer I & II Audio, True Audio, DTS Coherent Acoustics, Nellymoser ASAO
* AVI support for: AAC, AC3 Audio, H.264, MPEG4, and VBR MP3
3. MPEG Streamclip – FREE
Outside of Perian, easily one of the most valuable tools a Media “head” can have. It’s an extremely fast and versatile video player, clip editor, capture tool, and file converter. It has a PC brother too. It will allow you to rip footage from a non-copyright protected DVD as well.
4. HandBrake – FREE
HandBrake is a tool similar to MPEG Streamclip. What sets it apart is it allows you to rip DVD content across the board for digital archiving. It also has some really easy to use pre-sets to take Video Files and export them for mobile devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, PSP, Blackberry, etc.).
Popular blog Lifehacker released some of their own HandBrake presets that are better optimized for current devices.
“To import our presets, choose go to Presets -> Import in the Handbrake menu and select the preset files you just downloaded and unzipped. That’s all you have to do. They should appear in the Handbrake presets panel, available for use.” via Lifehacker blogpost.
5. Flip4Mac Studio – Costs $49
…But is cashflow well spent. As much as we creatives work alot on Macs, a majority of your clients own a PC and a majority of them DON’T have Quicktime Player (especially an up to date version) installed. This basically allows you to export and play WMVs.
6. DivX for Mac – FREE
This is just a good DivX and .AVI codec to have. Not essential for editing, but for playback.
Apple.com has a great list of others you may want or need and they are all here. Alot of these are open source as well. Make sure to search “Video” at the MacApp Store.
CAMERA SPECIFIC CLIP BROWSERS, FILE CONVERTERS/IMPORTERS:
Per each shoot, each camera you will encounter may have a proprietary software associated with it. Be it RED One, Sony XDCam Series, Arri Alexa, various HDSLRs and many more. Make sure to know ahead of time what camera you will be working with and update or download any relevant software. Some video gear companies have gotten wise and there are some amazing solutions that convert any signal directly to Apple ProRes 422 or record it natively. These include: AJA KiPro & KiPro Mini, Sound Devices Pix 220 & 240, or Atomos Ninja & Samurai.
1. FilmImpact.net Transitions Bundle – FREE
One last thing I keep in my mind is the FREE online file conversion tool (no need for software) website called Zamzar.
Types of Conversions:
* Document formats
* Image formats
* Music formats
* Video formats
* E-Book formats
* Compressed formats
* CAD formats
Good Luck. Hope you heed my advice!