Essential Apps Every Film Editor Should Own
Every now and then it’s helpful to reconsider your workflow and see if there’s a better way of doing things. In writing this post I was seeking to share some apps that I make use of on a regular basis and a little of the workflow in how I do. In the process I’ve even come to discover that apps I was using by default may no longer be needed, as some of the same functionality is now found in Edit Ready. That said, I’ll still continue to use specific apps for specific parts of the workflow as they tend to do that one thing, very, very well.
I hope you’ll find that some of these apps could save you a lot of time, energy and effort when put to work in your edit suite. With many of these apps, there are many other ways – often free ways – of achieving the same results. But, as so often in life, you get what you pay for and so for professional results, you often need to use a professional tool.
Edit Ready 1.2
Edit Ready, from Divergent Media, is an extremely fast and effective transcoding tool that gets your footage ‘edit ready’ within a few clicks. Edit Ready is Clip Wrap (that amusing moustachioed friend), all grown up and loaded with more features. Previously one of the great benefits of Clip Wrap was that you could rewrap your footage, changing the container format without transcoding the contents in a jiffy – a much faster process than transforming your footage from one codec into another.
One of the things that makes Edit Ready so fast is that it’s been rebuilt from the ground up (Clip Wrap was originally released nearly seven years ago) to take advantage of GPU processing and to handle more modern codecs like AVCHD, Pro Res, DNxHD and ubiquitous container formats such as MXF, M2T (HDV), MTS (AVCHD).
You can even add 3DL and Cube LUTS to your footage, the extra work of which does of course slow the transcoding process a bit, to create one-light dailies or deliverables. You can find more details about this and all the other features in their online manual.
If you want to give Edit Ready a try for yourself, you can download a trial version which is limited to the first minute of any clip. Edit Ready costs $49.99, if you’re a Clip Wrap user you should enquire about the cheaper cross-grade price of $29.95.
Having only recently upgraded from Clip Wrap, I’m only just getting to grips with all the new workflow possibilities that Edit Ready provides (some of which could be to condense a few of the following tools into this one app – such as renaming and timecode injection, although the other apps still potentially do this better, I believe). One handy feature that I was going to request, until I found it was already there, is the ability to save presets in Edit Ready which is in fact, tucked away under the Batch Menu. Very handy.
Another interesting possibility is the FCPX metadata editing abilities Edit Ready presents, which allow you to set metadata flags for such things as Alpha handling, anamorphic and colour space overrides, deinterlace type and Final Cut Pro X Media Id. Although I’ve not had time to experiment with these options.
Getting Started with Edit Ready
One of the workflows in which I used to use Clip Wrap, and for which I now use Edit Ready, is when working with C100 footage to re-wrap its spanned clips into seamlessly connected single clips, whilst stepping out of the clunky MTS file format. You should be able to import spanned clips into your NLE seamlessly as well, for example through the Media Browser tab in Premiere Pro rather than a straight ‘import’, but sometimes this seems to create duplicate clips inside of Premiere and doesn’t always work as it should.
Rewrapping the clips in Edit Ready very quickly creates .mov files with the same AVCHD internal codec the C100 shoots in. I then throw these through Renamer to get rid of all those dastardly 00001.mts file names, and to create meaningful, and more importantly, unique file names.
Renamer is an exceptionally fast and functional batch renaming app for Mac, which, once you delve into it’s deeper workings, can perform a lot of neat tricks using regular expressions – check out the second tutorial below for more on this. Obviously you can batch rename files in many different ways, including for free with OSX’s built in Automator, or even as you transcode with Edit Ready, but these processes don’t have the simplicity nor functionality of using a dedicated app like Renamer.
Although it may not feel cheap at £14/$20, Renamer is the same price as competitor products and it is very fast and effective. One of the best things about it, other than how incredibly easy it is to use, is that you can preview the name change before you actually perform it, and save presets of common workflows for quick re-use later on. If you make a mistake you can simply press ‘undo’, as long as you’ve not closed the app.
I use Renamer in the second part of my C100 workflow, renaming all my re-wrapped files into something unique, and meaningful. Why does this matter? Well if you have two 0001.mts files and you move the project and later on want to re-link to those files, you and your NLE won’t know which 0001.mts file to relink to and your timeline will turn to garbled mush. With unique file names, reel names and timecode, this isn’t a problem. Also a file that’s named more meaningfully – to a human – is of much greater use. For example, including which camera it was, the shoot day etc. This makes identifying it in the finder, or your NLE, much easier and faster..
Save your preset and email it to yourself (or store it in dropbox) for future use and or sharing with other editors/DITs working on your project.
QT Change from Video Tool Shed, is a unique but very useful little app that allows you to inject timecode, reel names and other metadata into your files. This is again very useful when working with footage from DSLRs and other cameras/sources that don’t contain proper timecode or reel names – vital information for decent media management. If you don’t know why this is important check out this previous post – Tapeless Workflow Doing All The Right Things.
Although it looks complicated above, only items that are highlighted in green (once you’ve clicked on them) will be altered when you press Do It! Just to scare you into double checking your settings a ‘are you sure?’ dialogue box will appear. It is worth noting that QT Change doesn’t have the ‘undo’ feature that Renamer does, and any changes you make will be destructive. There is also a note on the QT Change page for FCPX editors which is that FCPX will only read the timecode if there is a reel name present, so that can’t be left blank.
QT Change is compatible with Mac and Windows and is yours for the princely sum of $24.95. Video Tool Shed have great customer support and a host of other apps on their site.
As an honorable mention – and for those of you who spotted it in the opening image – Quick Time 7 is still a very useful app, and one that many editors I know still use to quickly share smaller res H.264 files from out of habit. You can also replace edit your audio/video files easily in it too. You can download QT7 from Apple here.
MPEG Stream Clip
I don’t know any film editor who doesn’t already have (probably) the web’s best free film and video tool – MPEG Stream Clip. Given that it’s free, MPEG Stream Clip is incredibly valuable and will handle some files that many other apps won’t. It’s not perfect, but it is very handy in a tight spot. If something won’t play in Mpeg Stream Clip, it almost certainly will in VLC, probably the second best free app for film editors.
Mpeg Stream Clip is the Swiss Army knife for film editors and will allow you to transcode all sorts of exotic files into other more editable files, and in batches too. Perfect for when clients supply you with a folder full of junk that needs rescuing. Supported input formats include: MPEG, VOB, PS, M2P, MOD, VRO, DAT, MOV, DV, AVI, MP4, TS, M2T, MMV, REC, VID, AUD, AVR, VDR, PVR, TP0, TOD, M2V, M1V, MPV, AIFF, M1A, MP2, MPA, AC3…
If you need to get a non-tech savvy producer, client, assistant, Grandma to do something for you in Mpeg Stream Clip send them to this very easy to follow simple transcoding tutorial.
Last but not least, Flashgot is my free download manager of choice for grabbing files from hard to reach places. It installs as a plugin for Firefox and as such is also very handy when you’re working on a corporate system where installations tend to be locked down by the ever-militant IT department. I’ve usually found that I can download Firefox and run it from the desktop and install the Flashgot Firefox plugin without any need to contact IT and explain why I need their admin password.
Once installed and you’re on a web page with some media you need to grab, such as a video file on a client website you need to use as temp, start playing the file and Flashgot will recognise it’s active and start flashing at the righthand edge of the URL bar in Firefox, click it and you’ll be able to download it in a jiffy.
What are your essential apps?
These few applications are essential parts of my day-to-day editing toolbox, but I’m sure there are other great tools out there. Hit the comments and share your wisdom!