How to install an SSD drive in a MacBook Pro with a clean install of Mac OS X

Upgrading your edit suite – How to install an SSD & clean install of Mountain Lion

how to grade ssd on macbook pro

I’ve decided to upgrade my Macbook Pro with a brand new SSD drive, along with a fresh install and upgrade of Mac OS X 10.8.4 (previously I was still on Snow Leopard, but the latest wave of Apps are rarely supporting that far back.) My laptop has been a very faithful workhorse these past few years, but its time for a spring clean and a new lease of life with some affordable upgrades. Here is an in-depth how to guide on how I did it.

Questions I had before Upgrading My MBP

There were a few things I wanted to know before I upgraded such as 1. Which SSD should I buy? 2. Will FCP 7 install and run on Mountain Lion? 3. Will I be able to get the updates to FCP 7.0.3 from Apple? 4. How do I transfer over all of my data and applications when upgrading OSX with a brand new hard drive?

Some quick answers!

Which SSD drive should I buy?

1. I bought the M500 480GB drive from Crucial, who also recently released a 960GB drive.* A DoP friend Adam Roberts also recommended the SanDisk Extreme, but as my RAM had worked out so well and you can’t really beat their prices, I went with Crucial.

Best SSD for film editors MacBook Pro 2010

Buy on | Buy on

*Remember that you won’t actually get 480GB of space due to the difference between the way people sell GB’s and the way the computer reads them. 1024 bytes per kilobyte means that the 480GB will actually shake out to around 447GB.

Buy RAM, It’s Cheap – As a quick aside I recently also maxed out the RAM I could have in my 2010 Macbook Pro (8GB) if you have a 2011 MBP I believe you can go to 16GB. It’s either a clever marketing ploy, or a computer truth, that you need matching RAM sets (4GB/4GB or 8GB/8GB) and that’s how most RAM comes packaged. I bought mine from Crucial, who have a very spiffy System Scanner that will tell you exactly what you need. Here’s what I bought.

Will Final Cut Pro 7 run & update on Mountain Lion?

Final Cut Studio on Mountain LionHaving installed and updated FCS3, yes, Final Cut Pro will install and run on Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8.4) and you can indeed still get hold of the latest update to Final Cut Studio 3. In fact here is the direct download link, although the updates should appear in your Software Update.

If you want to install both Final Cut Studio 3 and FCP-X on your system, install FCS3 first and then when you install FCP-X it will move those apps to a folder in your Applications directory. One snag I did come across was not having QuickTime 7 Pro anymore. Originally when you installed FCS3 it automatically unlocked those features. I tried a few tricks to make it work, hopefully they will work for you too.

Click through for a step by step guide to installing your SSD and performing a clean install

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Twitter Tips for Avid Media Composer Editors

Tips and Tricks for Avid Media Composer Editors

If you’re an editor using Avid Media Composer, the chances are you’ve been editing for years and have a few tips you can share with all the newbies out there (like me!). Thanks to editors who tweet, you can learn from the best.

With some of these tweets its well worth clicking through to see the full conversational thread for even more tips and tricks.

Click through for 7 more great MC tips!

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Elysium Post Production

Grading and VFX on Elysium

Personally I really enjoyed District 9, even if I didn’t totally ‘get it’ as a film. (I mean I understood what it was all about, but I wasn’t sure if I totally connected with it.) But I’m incredibly excited to see director Neill Blomkamp’s next effort which looks, in a word, awesome.

Elysium Visual Effects

Elysium Visual Effects

FXGuide has a fantastically detailed write up on the production and its VFX workflow. The article covers the miniatures, CGI and design work involved in creating the film’s futuristic world both on planet earth and inside the titular Elysium. A brilliant read.

Elysium was shot on RED EPIC cameras by DOP Trent Opaloch using anamorphic lenses (resulting in a resolution of about 3.3K that was then mastered at 4K for release). Filming took place on location in Mexico City and in Vancouver. Interestingly, Muyzers says they used an ACES color pipeline for the production. “Neill could sit in the theater at Image Engine and be confident they would look the same in the theater with an audience. And the same at the DI house – it was a unified color workflow.”

UPDATE: Debra Kaufman has a good interview with VFX house Image Engine and it’s two VFX Supervisors (Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Chapman and overall Production Visual Effects Producer Shawn Walshabout their work on the film from pre-production to delivering final effects shots.

Post production on Elysium

Walsh points out how this methodology also helped keep Elysium within budget. “Complexity drives cost, and trying to come up with processes that enable a more efficient process or methodology can control costs,” he says. “Using the gray suit actors on set to stand in for droids was similar to what we did in District 9 and Battleship, and it enables us to know a bit more about what the result was going to be. We were able to get buy-in from key parts of the production with the assumption of how we were going to achieve that work, and that enabled us to budget that more aggressively.”

Colour Grading Elysium

Colour grading elysium

The Coloristos have a brilliant hour long audio interview with Andrea Chlebak on how she got started in the business, using Baselight and grading Elysium. It’s a fantastic interview because as colorists they know all the right questions to ask to get into the nitty gritty of working on a visual effects heavy hollywood film.

Below The Line News has a good but short article on Elysium’s colorist Andrea Chlebak and her work on bringing Elyisum to the silver screen with Baselight.

In the final grade, Chlebak used Baselight to create a nuanced color palette between Earth and Elysium. “A lot of the film’s aesthetic was rooted in photography and art direction, so I took cues from those approaches and explored a number of different directions,” Chlebak said. “Using ACES kept all aspects of the production rolling at the same time, allowing us all to really push the process and get a really terrific, seamless result.”

Studio Daily has a much more in depth interview with Andrea and the DI process.

We needed a lot of time because we needed to step away and come back with fresh eyes. Starting early on while they were still cutting, Neill could step away from that environment, where he was looking at dailies color, and come into the DI suite and be in a whole new world where he could take the opportunity to experiment with some looks and further articulate his vision. He called it an honest approach — he wanted the image to feel honest and not like it had been graded. That’s a tricky order. – See more at:

Elysium Making Of Featurettes

Thanks to Behind VFX you can check out all of the available behind the scenes featurettes/EPK’s available for Elysium, including the soundtrack, although you might want to hold off watching them too much if you want to enjoy the film for all its worth.

Click through for four more awesome Elysium featurettes

Posted in Baselight, Colour Grading, Compositing, Creativity, Interview, Visual Effects, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lightworks Tutorial Round Up

Lightworks Video Tutorial Round Up

Lightworks - Free Video Editor

Lightworks, the nearly free, almost open source Non-Linear Editor, makes professional level tools available to everyone and anyone at the click of a download link. If you want more background information, previous tutorials and demos of what it can do then check out the Lightworks category or check out this post about Tariq Anwar, who (exclusively?) most often cuts on Lightworks. You might have seen a few of his films, like, oh, American Beauty or The Kings Speech.

SharkBites Tutorials

The Lightworks team have been busily uploading these 27 free ‘shark byte’ video tutorials that walk you through installing Lightworks, getting started with the basics and generally understanding how it all works, as well as media management and more. Currently you can only install Lightworks on Windows and Linux, although Mac is ‘coming soon’. It’s £40/$60 a year for a Pro license which gives you access to more features and all the professional codecs you could wish for. A steal compared to any another other NLE!

Cutting A Dialogue Scene in Lightworks

In this 6 part tutorials series, Peter Bridgman, walks you through how to cut a simple dialogue scene in Lightworks using a script and footage that you can download to follow along with. This series is both a fantastic opportunity to learn how to cut a dialogue scene for any student editors looking for footage to mess around with and an excellent way to get to grips with editing inside Lightworks itself. Well done EditShare!

Click through for the other 5 parts plus 3 Lightworks on Linux tutorials

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How to plan production and post properly

How to properly plan your production and post

How to plan your production and post properly

When planning the technical ins and outs of your film production and post workflow its important to actually have a plan for the whole process before you being. If you just dive in and make it up as you go along you are sure to encounter, at best, a few technical hitches along the way, slowing you down and costing you time and money, or at worst outright catastrophic disaster.

How to plan your workflow

Planning your production and post

A while back Studio Daily posted a couple of really helpful articles from Nathan Adams of Cinematomic, an LA based ‘creative solutions’ company who have worked on films like The Social Network and TV shows like House of Cards.

If you’re using a new camera, switching to a new editing platform or changing your workflow, you’d better know everything about that element of your production. On a recent pilot for a reality show we had a combination of 28 cameras that we had to manage. Weeks before the production, the DIT and I used a stopwatch to time the media transfers so we knew exactly how many seconds it took to ingest media from each camera. Based on those calculations, we knew we needed 8 laptops ingesting material the whole time. We were also able to calculate the right amount of RAID storage to have on set (shuttling hard drives wasn’t an option), and we knew we needed two LTO-4 tape drives on set archiving the media every 30 minutes. In the end, he walked away from the location with the raw camera media written to two hard drives and LTO-4 tapes. The RAID went straight into editorial with footage logged, transferred, binned and circle takes already marked.

Check out Nathan’s Top 5 ways to avoid catastrophe in production and post and also 10 questions with Nathan from the edit forum to get some great advice for planning your workflow.

Free Film Production Template

Free film production template

So much of getting off on the right foot with your production and post is clarifying the brief at the very beginning. This sounds pretty simple but almost every unforeseen creative problem that crops up later had its start in a bad brief.

I had previously put together this free briefing document in a previous post, so feel free to download it and amend it for your own productions.

Click through for more tips on organising your project from start to finish

Posted in Adobe Premiere Pro, AVID, DIT, Editing, Editor's Tools, Final Cut Pro, Free download, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Crafting Your Edit

Film Editors on the Art and Craft of Film Editing

Hearing from experienced, talented and ‘top of their game’ film editors is one of my favourite things about the treasure trove that is the internet. So here is a collection of inspiring gems for any film editor, whether you’ve been in the business for years or just starting out.

Editors in Conversation

In this video from the March LACPUG meeting Oscar nominated editors Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers discuss editing Silver Linings Playbook for director David O’Russell. It’s a great insight into collaborative editing, shaping long cuts and fixing things that don’t work.

Editor Alan Heim (Network, American History X), shares his insights on the craft in this highlights clip from his time as artist in residence at the Manhattan Edit Workshop. Great wisdom gained over a long career. In a couple places Alan mentions Ralph Rosenbloom, a fellow editor, whose great book “When The Shooting Stops…the Cutting Begins” is on my list of Books on Film Editing. Digital Production Buzz also has an audio interview with Alan which you can check out here.

Edit Fest Round Up – London, LA & New York

Edit Fest London

The American Cinema Editors society runs these amazing days called Edit Fest’s where established film and TV editors gather before an eager crowd of up-and-coming editors to share their wisdom, wit and experience of life inside the cutting room. I was lucky enough for attend the Edit Fest in London and wrote up 10 lessons from the day over on Premium Beat. I also gathered up some of the best tweets from the most recent Edit Fest LA and some taster videos from Edit Fest New York.

“I prefer working alone. Staying late to strip the film down to the spine, taking out things the director would never want to lose, just to see what you have. There’s a very small difference between a bad idea and a brilliant idea which you wouldn’t try with other people in the room.” - Tracy Granger A.C.E.

For even more on Edit Fest check out editor Judith Allen’s own recollections and quotes from Edit Fest London. Also editor Richard Leverton has written up a three part series of blog posts on Edit Fest London too, Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 and finally Televisual also wrote up a lengthy post here.

Hopefully all of these tasters will persuade you that attending one of these days is well worth the time, money and effort. I left feeling hugely inspired about what I do every single day.

Click through for several brilliant film editing video essays

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Colour Grading Tutorials, Tips & Tales

Colour grading tutorials, tips & tales for students of all stages

Color grading tutorials

It has been a while since I’ve been able to do post a round up of all the best colour grading resources that have come online lately, so this might end up as quite a long post. But that just means more great stuff in one place.

Colour Grading – Order of Operations

With colour grading, the order in which you perform corrections can have a dramatic impact on the final image. In this excellent tutorial colorist Juan Melara walks through the order of operations for colour correcting an image in DaVinci Resolve. Juan also includes some great tips from colorist Gray Marshall on understanding the different types on nodes and their functions in Resolve.

Colour Grading Order of Operations

Creating Triad Looks

Creating Looks with colour grading

In this post from editor and colorist Aaron Williams you can learn how to create looks based on three main colours, shifted into different areas of the image.

Aaron makes use of the Adobe Kuler web app (you can also get the free iphone app) to create three color swatches.

A further element to this would be ensuring your deepest blacks are black and your whites are white to maintain some realism.

Aaron has another good tip, over on Premium Beat, on balancing your absolute blacks and whites relative to the contents of the image, rather than 0 and 100 on your waveform monitor.

Colour Grading 4K RAW Cinema DNG Files

In these lively tutorials colorist and online trainer Denver Riddle demonstrates how to grade 4k CinemaDNG RAW files from the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera and newly shipping Pocket Camera. You can download and follow along with the same footage Denver is using by signing up for free on his Color Grading Central site.

Click through for the rest of the extensive colour grading round up

Posted in Adobe, Colour Grading, DaVinci Resolve, Free download, Interview, Podcast, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is this your next NLE? Adobe Premiere Pro Round Up

Adobe Premiere Pro Tutorial Round Up

Adobe Premiere Pro Tutorial Round Up

Adobe Premiere Pro is seemingly successfully angling its way into the must have next NLE for many editors and production companies. Given that Premiere Pro CC will seamlessly integrate with After Effects and Photoshop (the two Adobe products you’re most likely to already have entrenched in your post production arsenal) and that to many FCP7 editors it represents the FCP8 we never received, Premiere Pro could well be your next NLE of choice.

Oliver Peter’s offers a few thoughts on his blog on the FCPX vs Premiere Pro debate comparing and contrasting the two programs in some detail. It’s well worth a read if you’re still pondering or you could simply download the free trials of each and give them a whirl yourself.

Crucial MBP SSD Drive

If you’re still cutting on FCP7, and possibly still on Snow Leopard then be aware that Premiere Pro requires Lion or above to even download from the Creative Cloud. You should be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion for a few bucks from the Apple App Store over the top, or why not do a fresh install and treat yourself to a new internal SSD drive at the same time?

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 7.0.1

So what’s new in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 7.0.1? For a full run down check out the official update page or watch this 15 minute overview from will take you through most the new features in this latest point release. For whole bunch more videos on the features that were new to the original CC version check out this previous post.

Match Frame in Premiere Pro

Tips for Switchers:

In this post from Clay Asbury on he walks through ten features FCP editors will love in PPro including matching frames and manually setting sequence timecode. In another post Clay offers 10 great tips for FCP editors understanding how FCP7 things now work in Premiere. Things like settings scratch disks, using markers and activating sync lock. In this third post Clay looks at some of the smaller but just as useful additions including out of sync indicators for unlinked clips and waveform improvements.

Click through for tutorials on editing, grading and audio mixing inside Premiere Pro CC

Posted in Adobe, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Colour Grading, Editor's Tools, Final Cut Pro, Speedgrade, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Dailies to Finish in Assimilate Scratch 7

Post Production Workflows – Assimilate Scratch 7

Assimilate Scratch 7 is a high end 4K ‘Creative DI’ tool designed to cover every aspect of your post production workflow. Assimilate describes it as:

The first real-time, client-attended toolset in the industry to marry dailies, conform, editing, color grading, titling, 3D compositing and finishing into a single, consistent interface.

For all that finishing goodness you do have to pay a high price at $20,000 for a full license or you can rent it for a month for $2,100. If you want to see why that might just be worth it, check out these previous posts on technical artists using Scratch.

Studio Daily has a short but detailed interview with DIT and Colorist Mark Wilenkin on making the most of the ACES (Academy Color Encoding Specification) workflow in Assimilate Scratch.

[ACES] gives a far better-looking image from the get-go on raw material than the LUT-based color workflows we’ve been used to. ACES automatically adjusts the raw data of the files, based on the color temperature and ISO setting of the shot, to the target deliverable color space.

Anatomy of a 4K Feature

In this hour long webinar composed of a ten minute ‘re-broadcast’ of an event originally at RED Studios plus a discussion from director Jeremy Torrie and colorist and DI Artist Gary Jackemuck on what it takes to shoot and post a feature in 4K whilst also doing the finishing remotely. There is also a tutorial walk through of using Scratch with 4K material plus a good 15 minutes of Q&A to finish.

HD-DSLR Workflow

This 12 minute tutorial from Sherif Sadek demonstrates how you can use Scratch 7 to ingest HD-DSLR media, insert timecode and reel numbers into the files, transcode them for an offline edit and then re-conform that edit back to the original media. Sherif uses Scratch Lab in this tutorial which is aimed at DIT’s and edit assistants to use for comprehensive dailies creation. You can even rent a license at $50 a day.

Sony F5/55/65 – Shoot, Cut & Colour

In this second Scratch 7 webinar DP Tomas Tucker and Colorflow colorist Alex Maclean walk through how to use Scratch to manage each camera’s footage taking it through compositing, grading and finishing. It’s a really detailed webinar and if you’re thinking of using any of these camera’s its a great webinar chock full of deeply technical detail.

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Diary of an Avid Switcher Part 6 – MC7 New Features

Diary of an Avid Switcher Part 6 – Media Composer 7 New Features

Media Composer 7 New Features

It’s been a while since my last installment of my Diary of an Avid Switcher and a lot has happened in the mean time. First of all Avid has released Media Composer 7 with a whole host of new features for a $299 upgrade price (£265 in the UK – again more expensive than the US).

This post will cover all the new features plus a few things I had to grapple with in finally finishing my first ever film cut on the hallowed Avid (version 6.5).

New features in MC7

There are loads of new features in Media Composer 7 including background rendering, dynamic media folders and FrameFlex for working with high res media. For a 4 minute overview of the best new features in MC7 check out Alex Walker’s overview above.

New Features in MC 7

Editor Wim Van Den Broeck has tweeted 25 images, each highlighting a new feature in MC7 which editor Dylan Reeve has handily compiled on his site. Wim has also produced a series short videos explaining the 10 top changes in MC7. (Click the playlist button for the rest of the series.)

Steve Hullfish on Pro Video Coalition has highlighted a few of his favourite features including some of the new audio features with plenty of handy explanatory images too. In a second post Steve provides a detailed walk through the new ‘spanned markers’, covering the good the bad and the ugly. Its a helpfully balanced review that’s well worth a read.

Spanned Markers in MC7

Click through for more new features, Round tripping to Resolve, exporting quicktimes with multi-channel audio and even more funny gifs!

Posted in AVID, Colour Grading, DaVinci Resolve, Editing, Editor's Tools, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments