How To Get An External DVD Drive To Work With a Mac Laptop

How To Use A Superdrive on a Mac Laptop With An Internal DVD Drive

Apple Superdrive on Macbook Pro

If you’ve ever tried to plug in an Apple Superdrive (external DVD drive) into a Macbook Pro or other Mac laptop with an internal DVD drive, you may have struggled to get the laptop to recognise the external drive and therefore be able to use it at all.

This week I had to get around this exact scenario, as it appears the internal drive is failing on my 17″ Macbook Pro (sigh), but the solution is actually very simple. I’ve not tested this on OS X Yosemite, but I know it works on Mountain Lion and it should work on Mavericks and in most other OS X versions I believe. External DVD drive functional happiness is all thanks to this blog for the fix.

If you follow these steps you’re obviously doing this all at your own risk.

How To Make a Mac Laptop Recognise an External DVD Drive

How to make a superdrive work with macbook pro

Step 1. Navigate to this file (click image for larger view) and back it up by making a copy of it to your Desktop in case anything goes wrong. The file path is:

Mac HD/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/

You can get to the hidden Library folder by holding down ALT when clicking on the ‘Go’ menu in a Finder window.

Step 2. Open the file with Text Edit or any other text editor. I use Text Wrangler which is both excellent and free. On line 8, or between the <string></string> type in ‘mbasd=1′ so it looks like this…


Save the file.

Step 3. Restart and plug in your Superdrive and you should be good to go.

What is the file we just edited? Thanks to the Luz from the blog you can once again be illuminated…

Apparently, Apple engineers had the need to test the Superdrive with non-MacBook Air computers themselves, so the driver already has an option built-in to work on officially unsupported machines! All you need to do is enable that option, as follows:

The driver recognizes a boot parameter named “mbasd” (Mac Book Air Super Drive), which sets a flag in the driver which both overrides the check for the MBA and also tweaks something related to USB power management (the Superdrive probably needs more power than regular USB allows).

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Learning FCPX – Free Tutorials Round Up

Learning FCPX – Free Tutorials Round Up

If you are determined to learn FCPX (Final Cut Pro Ten) then you’ve come to the right place. In this gigantic round up of FCPX tutorials there are hours and hours of free training to sink your teeth into. If you’re coming from an FCP7 background read this.

To get us started Alex Golner (@alex4d) has helpfully put together an exhaustive playlist of Macbreak Studio’s free FCPX training from Steve Martin and Mark Spencer. FCPX 10.0 first came out in June 2011 and since then has seen fairly frequent development, with a few major changes along the way. Thankfully Alex has curated his playlist in such a way that these changes are accounted for.

The way Final Cut projects and footage is organised changed fundamentally in December 2013, so I’ve set the order of the videos on the play list so that the first video introduces basic editing and the second video shows the way Final Cut used to work. After those videos from 2011, I’ve listed four videos that show the new way that Final Cut works. The playlist is then chronological. You’ll see the old user interface and old way of organising footage and timelines.

This playlist is part of Alex’s Final Cut Pro Xmas Advent Calendar, so check in with Alex’s site to see what other goodies he’s recently shared! It also would be remiss not to mention that all year round Alex generously gives away a whole host of excellent free FCPX plugins, like this ‘feature film overlays’ plugin below.

Free FCPX Plugins - Feature Film Overlay

What’s New in FCPX 10.1.4

Before we dive into the rest of the best of the web when it comes to FCPX training it’s worth mentioning what the latest release of FCPX brings with it. As Apple never announces their releases those who care most deeply about the program weighed in on the release, which largely allows for MXF import and export. For UK based editors this is extra helpful for delivering the MXF OP1a format (with AS-11 metadata) required by UK broadcasters.

For others a surprise release of FCPX is a bit like say “I’ve got a present for you….” and then it turning out to be a pair of socks or something. They were a little disappointed once they had pulled off the wrapping. But to those Sam Mestman has some wise words

The biggest thing I learned from working with those guys [FCPX dev team] is that I didn’t even know what I didn’t know… and that things take time… and that the software was in good hands. The bottom line is this… if there’s something you really want to see implemented in FCPX, use the feedback form in the app and let Apple know. I know for a fact that they read those. If you think yesterday’s release was FCPX in its final form… you’re crazy. We’re going to have a special upcoming insider’s blog on how to give better feedback to Apple soon.

Alex Golner points to some handy, and free, AS-11 presets and a workflow white paper from 10dot1 in his post on the release. Alex also discusses the Pro Video Formats 2.o that was released at the same time. Click through for a giant FCPX round up

Posted in Editing, Editor's Tools, FCP-X, Free download, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Big DaVinci Resolve 11 Training Review

The Big DaVinci Resolve 11 Training Review

Davinci Resolve Training

If you want to learn how to use DaVinci Resolve 11 then you would be smart to invest in some online training. But when there are so many to choose from, which one should you choose to invest not only your hard earned money, but your precious time into?

Although there are a lot of places you could get (free and paid) training from, I’ve been in touch with all three of the major DaVinci Resolve training providers – Alexis Van Hurkman with Ripple Training, Warren Eagles with FXPHD and Patrick Inhofer with Mixing Light and they all kindly agreed to send me free copies of their training series to review.

Two quick points.

1. All three colorists who deliver these training courses are working professionals and highly qualified instructors. All three do an excellent job, so in a way you can’t really fail to benefit, whichever course you choose. But hopefully this review will provide a bit more nuanced an answer than that!

2. I didn’t have 46 hours to write this review and so I can’t say I’ve seen every single second of all of these tutorials, but I have spent numerous hours in each, working with the accompanying project files and footage and getting a strong feel for what each course has to offer.

I’ll get started by walking through what you get in each course and then I’ll make some overall comparisons and suggestions at the end. This review is HUGE click through to read it all!

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How To Edit A Documentary

How To Edit A Documentary – An Inside View

If you’ve ever wondered how to edit a documentary then editor Steve Audette is the man to show you how it’s done. Steve has edited documentaries for nearly 20 years and currently edit’s many of Frontline’s prime time docs. During the post production of Gunned Down, Steve tweeted numerous insights and images from the suite as he progressed through the edit, which are compiled below.

Steve also gives you a good look inside his edit suite in this previous post Inside A Professional Edit Suite. Steve has also shared an exceptional masterclass on editing documentaries for TV that people will actually want to watch, which you can find in this previous post too. It features one of my favourite Steve Audette quotes…

The mind cannot absorb, what the butt cannot endure!

In this 20 minute lecture Steve shares the essential skills a documentary editor needs to wield After Effects effectively to add some pizzaz to their projects. In the video below Steve demonstrates how he created the title design for another Frontline documentary, United States of Secrets.

You can also read a little bit about Steve’s documentary workflow in this 2002 article from Digital Video

As part of my work flow, I digitized entire interviews and used script integration to match them up to their transcripts (Very handy when you are trying to get a guy to stop talking. Just find the same word with a period at the end — double click, and drop it in audio only.) Once lined up, I never looked at the interview bins again — only the scripts.

If you want even more insight into how to edit a documentary then you should definitely look into whether an online editing course like Inside The Edit, might be the next step. It’s not cheap, but it’s an excellent education for learning the craft of documentary editing.

Lastly, these 4 minutes with Frontline producer/director Michael Kirk on how to produce a documentary are well worth a watch for a good sense of all the work that happens before the footage makes it into the edit suite. Click through to read Steve Audette’s tweet-by-tweet diary of a documentary edit!

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What To Get A Film Editor For Christmas

What To Get A Film Editor For Christmas

Wacom Tablet for Film Editors

If you’re wondering what to get your valued editing friend/colleague/partner/boss for Christmas this year then these suggestions might be just thing them for them. I know they are for me!

1. Intuos Small Pen and Tablet.

I’m a big fan of Wacom’s tablets in all shapes and sizes (check out this post Why I Love To Edit With A Wacom Tablet) as it’s the best way to stave away RSI, speed up your workflow and make every day more fun.

Small Case for Wacom TabletBut, having a medium size tablet may be great for my home edit suite, but when I’m out and about in client’s edit suites, on-set or some other random location, something a little more portable and small enough to tuck into my bag, is a far better option.

What’s also great about the Intuos Small Tablet is it’s price – at only $60/£60 compared to the Intuos Pro Small at $220/£180, it is a very affordable addition to your editing tool box.

It’s small, light and nimble and for an extra few bucks you can get the version with Touch capabilities if you like. You can also pick up a nifty little carry case (UK/US) for it too. Plenty to keep your favourite geek happy.

Buy on | Buy on

Top 5 Things To Get An Editor For Christmas

2. Free Software For Film Editors

DaVinci Resolve 11 Lite - Free

If there’s one thing people like to get (and give) it’s free stuff. And there is a plethora of great freebies out there to be had. It still surprises me how few editors have taken the time to download and play with DaVinci Resolve Lite. It is insanely great software that used to cost thousands and is now free for all takers.

If just looking at the interface makes you think it looks complicated, it really isn’t all that complicated (to do simple things) there’s just a lot of different tools to get the job done. So don’t be afraid, give it a whirl and you’ll be adding professional polish to your projects in no time! Check out the Resolve category on the blog for loads of great free tutorials to get you started.

The other free software that is well worth checking out is Lightworks for Mac (or PC, or Linux) which is a fully fledged professional NLE that you can download for free, or unlock the ‘pro’ features for an incredibly low annual price.

Next time you’re far from the home-comforts of your edit suite, but need to get something cut ‘right now’ then hit and download it in a jiffy. Once again you can check out the Lightworks category on the blog for a shed-load of great tutorials from the creators.

DaVinci Resolve Lite | Lightworks For Mac

Lightworks - Free editing software
Click through for the other top three recommended gifts!

Posted in After Effects, Books, Business, Colour Grading, Craft, DaVinci Resolve, Editing, Editor's Tools, FCP-X, Final Cut Pro, Free download, Lightworks, Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Become A Commercials Editor

How To Become A Commercials Editor – Interview with a Pro

James Rosen is a sought-after commercial’s editor working at boutique editing house Final Cut, in the heart of London. James and I sat down for a long conversation about how a commercial comes together and his own journey from starting as a runner at Final Cut through to being a senior editor today.

how to become a commercials editorThe full interview can be found in the second edition of Art of The Guillotine’s excellent, and free, The Assembly, which you can download free on Android, OSX and as a PDF here. I’ve previously posted about the first edition of The Assembly here.

So, read that first and then pop back here for several spill-over questions that couldn’t fit into The Assembly, but hopefully still make for interesting reading! Scattered throughout are several of James’ favourite commercials from his reel.

JE – How do you personally manage the internal thing of the dance of going from: “I’m making this the best I possibly can, and so taking ownership to it’s actually their film and their brand.” And often towards the end I sometimes feel like I don’t really care – it’s your film, I’ll do whatever you want. Yet at the beginning I care about this cut because I think it works. How do you navigate that transition?

JR – No it never gets easy. It’s really difficult part of the job. Because your job is to be creative and put something together in a creative way, and the only way you can do that is to really care about it and to feel like you’re doing the right thing and what feels right to you , and then suddenly you’re told to do something that doesn’t feel right to you. It’s really hard.

You always start off with what you feel it’s right, and then – the goal post analogy is what it’s really about.

At first your goal posts are put where ever you want to put them because you’re on your own. And from the footage and the project you know where they should be at that particular time. You’ve got free reign over everything, so you’ll naturally gravitate towards the footage that you feel works the best for whatever reason you feel is important.

What we do is focused on communication isn’t it – ideas and making sure a particular idea is communicated in the best way. We’re not necessarily thinking about it in the same way a director would for example, who might be much more focused on their own particular intentions, along with solving the hundreds of issues that come up during the production process. We see things away from all that noise.

But I think for us (editors) I think that alone time is about trying to make decisions on behalf of everyone else before they come in and work on it together – trying to communicate those ideas in the best way possible. So you try to get to the point where you feel you’ve got it. Testing it on people. I often grab people in the office. Anyone who hasn’t seen anything or doesn’t know anything about what I’m working on.

Then the director will come in – and then it’s about you and the director. So you work on what you both feel is the best. The best you can possibly do with what you’ve got. Then the director will start to move the goal posts based on what they want to achieve.

So lets take a very simple situation, where you’ve chosen one take you feel is the best one, the director feels like another take is the best one. Then the creative discussions begin, which is great fun.

You might suggest why you feel it’s the best one. I mean the ‘best’ is starting to get subjective/objective nightmare. So you have to try and stick to what’s the best for the idea. Balance that against your own personal preferences.

The director will also explain why. You know it’s the director’s project and at the end of the day you do have to be loyal to that. After all, you are serving their needs, serving the needs of the project, the people making the project. So you have to kind of be fairly subservient to all that stuff – try and understand what is needed or wanted and do the best with that. But at the same time you can’t be an effective tool in that process, unless you have an opinion. Click through to read the rest of the interview

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Behind The Scenes on Interstellar

Behind The Scenes on Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is probably my most anticipated film of 2014, and one that I will enjoy seeing in 70mm film print at the IMAX in London.

Please note some of these links contain spoilers so watch the film first if you want to avoid being spoiled.

In these interviews and articles you can take a much deeper look into Nolan’s filmmaking process. In this ‘long-read’ from the Guardian (which you can listen to below if you wish!) you get insights from several different voices of the crew, at various stages of productions. And I know some colorists were riled by Nolan’s reported conversation with colorist Walter Volpatto.

“You know, when you left yesterday, I felt like I had maybe been a little rude to Walter,” Nolan told me the next day. “I haven’t worked with him before. He doesn’t know my sense of humour yet. He was trying to please me and I was like, yeah, you’re lying to me. That is my sense of humour. But I went in this morning to finish up, and he said to me, ‘Oh, I looked at the projector, and it was brighter.’ When he analysed it in terms of light output – because he is a very sharp man, Walter – it was exactly one point.”

In this Indiewire blog post you can read a short interview with Nolan’s long-time collaborator, production designer Nathan Crowley.

An even bigger challenge was the primary ‘bot, TARS, puppeteered and voiced by Bill Irwin. Partially inspired by the iconic monolith from “2001,” and with a more snarky personality than supercomputer HAL 9000’s, TARS started out simply as a block of metal. Why not start all over from the beginning?

“[Nolan] thought about the scissor effect. In between that, I was a fan of minimalism and [the late architect] Mies van der Rohe. We started with a monolith and divided it into four. Then we came up with mathematical divisions of four for something more sophisticated with the block breaking down into three pins and four legs. It was continuously matching divisions of itself.”

Click through for even more videos and interviews

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How To Be A DIT – Part 11

How To Be A DIT – Part 11 – The Basics

This is the 11th instalment of How To Be A DIT, but really a lot of the knowledge and resources in these posts is also extremely valuable for editors, camera operators or the plain technologically curious. In this 11th instalment I’ve rounded up some great resources for understanding the basics of working proficiently with digital video files.

To check out all other posts tagged with DIT (45 posts), check out the DIT category on the right. Here too is a link to all the other parts of this series if you want to have a rummage in the past.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

What A DIT Does

Digital Workflows

If you’ve ever wondered what it actually is that a DIT does on set these interviews with professional Digital Image Technicians should give you a good feel for their day to day life.

In this extensive workflow breakdown, extreme sports photographer Lucas Gilman, shares some of his preferred workflow processes and equipment choices, most of which are good standard practices.

“Each member of the drive pair is then geographically separated at the end of every day. I’ll usually give one to my assistant. If we go to dinner, I get robbed, all my stuff’s gone, at least my assistant has the extra set. They’re basically never in the same place at the same time. Meanwhile, I also have the original master on the CF or SD cards as a third backup.”

DIT on set 3d

In this short interview with DIT Duck Grossberg shares a few details of how he managed the on-set 3D workflow for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Q: How did you determine your digital tools for your on­set work?

A: I met with DP Michael Seresin to discuss the myriad issues associated with the complexity of a 3D film, such as shooting with the Arri Alexa M; using 3ality rigs; managing a ton of data, and the workflow needed for working with hundreds of thousands of native files. We both agreed on a straightforward approach to dealing with so much equipment and data.

My primary role was to do the live color grade on-set. I was also responsible for loading the cameras and doing a QC to ensure that all systems would work.

Review of Scratch Play

In this review of Scratch Play – the same tool Duck Grossberg is using on set, DIT Von Thomas shares his own on-set workflow as well as a few thoughts on that latest version of Scratch Play. Scratch Play is free to download here, or for $5 you can get it ad-free.

I find that the major part of my work is reviewing and applying a color-correction or LUT to the clips. That is the creative part, and the one I love the most. A program (Scratch Play) that will handle just about any file type I throw at it (yes, raw too), and play it back, plus throw a look on, or a pre-established LUT or CDL, is a tool I will use over and over.

Although not strictly about DIT work I thought this article on the secure encryption and security precautions required for the post-production work on Edward Snowdon documentary Citizen Four proved for a fascinating read.

After I came back from meeting Snowden in Hong Kong, I went back to Berlin and I just put my cell phone away. I figured it just wasn’t a good thing for me to have for a number of reasons. It’s a microphone and it’s also a tracking device and I just thought…I’m just not going to broadcast it. So I stopped using a cell phone while I was editing, but now I’m in here doing distribution and I need to talk to people so I’ve got a cell phone again.

Click through for a huge amount of essential DIT knowledge and tools

Posted in 3D, Adobe Premiere Pro, Arri Alexa, Colour Grading, Craft, DIT, Editor's Tools, FCP-X, Free download, Interview, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free Training for DaVinci Resolve 11.1

45 Minutes of Free DaVinci Resolve 11 Training

Patrick Inhofer and the boys from Mixing have recently released a huge new training series of 131 individual lessons lasting over 14 hours! You can read all about it on the Mixing Light Davinci Resolve 11 Deep Insights page. If you’ve never heard of Mixing, it is a subscription membership site for colorist’s of all skill levels and I’ve previously reviewed it here.

With the launch of the Deep Insights training they are giving away 45 minutes of free training from the tutorial series which you can enjoy below. If you want to download Resolve 11.1.1 (out this week) then you can grab it from

With so much paid for training available online how do you know which one you should invest in with not only your money, but your precious time?

I’ve been in touch with Mixing Light, Ripple Training and FXPHD to get hold of review copies of all of their DaVinci Resolve tutorial packages, which they have all generously supplied and once I get through them all, I’ll be posting an extensive review on the blog, so stay tuned for that or sign up for my free weekly newsletter to not miss it.

Free DaVinci Resolve 11.1 Training

Even though the tutorial series has been months in the making, Patrick has created a smaller series of tutorials for the details of  important updates in the recent release of DaVinci Resolve 11.1. Click through for many more freebies!

Posted in Colour Grading, DaVinci Resolve, Free download, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Best After Effects Training on For Editors

The Best After Effects Training for Film Editors

As an editor the one program that I’ve historically lost work by not knowing is After Effects. Back in my FCP7 days I didn’t even own After Effects so it wasn’t that big a deal to me – plus I was know for my focused editing abilities. But now with the move for a lot of editors (myself included) to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of applications and Premiere Pro CC specifically, the need to know how to get stuff done in After Effects feels all the more pressing.

There is a lot of free training for After Effects available online (and I’ll pull a post together of some of the best at some point soon!) but I wanted to point to some paid training first because if you want learn something properly, you need to be a bit more thorough, and committed, than ransacking Youtube.

For more training from check out this previous post covering a whole host of other topics from narrative scene editing and documentary editing to colour grading and more.

There are 137 results when you search for After Effects on, and even with the handy 10 day free trial, you won’t get through that much of it. Here is a quick run down of where you might want to start…

Learning After Effects as a Film Editor

Probably the best jumping off point for a complete beginner would be After Effects CC Essentials by Ian Robinson, this course is 11 hours long and covers everything from understanding the UI to creating animation, rotoscoping, tracking and even simple 3D work. If you have the time this would be excellent foundation for the next few courses.

Tracking and Stabilising Footage in After Effects – If David Fincher is happy to stabilise, polish and conform Gone Girl inside After Effects then it’s plenty good enough for me too. In this shorter After Effects Guru tutorial series from Richard Harrington you can learn how to track camera movement and then make use of it to add something else to the scene, or to smooth out the motion. Even though you can use Warp Stabiliser inside Premiere Pro using it in After Effects will give you a greater degree of control and precision. Click through for more After Effects Training

Posted in Adobe, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Compositing, Editing, Editor's Tools, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment