This Is Why Apple Rebooted FCP

I don’t know how this works in FCP X, because you don’t change to a new NLE in the middle of a huge project, but the Boris FX 3D Text plugin Apple licensed to do titles with fine-tuned controls and effects, such as drop shadows, drives me totally bonkers. It’s a tyrant that doesn’t play well with others and forces me into hacky workarounds to perform what should be relatively simple tasks.

Example: I want to cross-dissolve between two screens worth of credits[1], so I should be able to just drop in a cross-dissolve transition from FCP’s extensive library of effects. But because I have credits for two different characters on the screen, I used two different instances of the Boris plugin, and when I drop in the dissolve, only one of them dissolves. The other vanishes immediately when the transition starts, while its counterpart on the next screen remains absent until the transition has finished.

Positing that this might be due to a bug in the alpha channel implementation, I tried cropping each slide to exclude the expanse of empty space surrounding each title, but to no avail. Instead, I just now finished keyframing every clip individually to change the opacity from 0 to 100 (or vice-versa) over the course of 24 frames, which took far longer.

Also, I’m pretty sure the render time increases over using FCP’s software-optimized transitions. So I’m writing this during the 25-minute wait it takes to render out 2 minutes worth of still images with text over them.

  1. That’s right, in this movie I have static, screen-based credits instead of scrolling ones  ↩

The Story About the Story

Yesterday Apple announced the upcoming version of its desktop operating system, Mountain Lion, or for people who don’t like kitschy names that are easy to lose track of, OS X 10.8.

You can read about its new features at… well, pretty much everywhere. Despite that, to me the announcement of Mountain Lion, apart from its earliness, is not that huge a story. The story about the story is actually bigger than the story.

Yes, I used my title in my post. You’re free to leave if you don’t like how I run things around here.

You can read over at Daring Fireball how John Gruber and an undisclosed number of other Apple/Tech journalists were invited to individual presentations by Phil Schiller showing off the features of the new OS. This is pretty strange because I can’t ever remember Apple introducing a new product in this manner. They either do a quiet website update with a press release or throw a big event in Cupertino and invite everyone in advance.

But from Gruber’s description, they essentially replicated the format and tone of one of their big events, just for one person at a time. No one knows how many of these mini-keynotes they did, although I suppose you could walk around on the web and count the number of tech writers telling the same story. So far I’ve only seen it from Gruber and Andy Ihnatko. UPDATE: It turns out Andy Ihnatko was not included. He’s apparently just really quick on the draw, because he had that article up like lightning.

Anyway, check out this quote from Gruber’s story:

But this, I say, waving around at the room, this feels a little odd. I’m getting the presentation from an Apple announcement event without the event. I’ve already been told that I’ll be going home with an early developer preview release of Mountain Lion. I’ve never been at a meeting like this, and I’ve never heard of Apple seeding writers with an as-yet-unannounced major update to an operating system. Apple is not exactly known for sharing details of as-yet-unannounced products, even if only just one week in advance. Why not hold an event to announce Mountain Lion–or make the announcement on before talking to us?

That’s when Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.

“Now” presumably being delicate shorthand for “now that Steve’s gone”.

Interesting things afoot at the company I love.