Offloading images and videoclips without the wait: the Lexar Professional Workflow Reader Solution

Lexar

With the proliferation of video frame sizes beyond 1920×1080 pixels, memory card readers have become a major bottleneck in the production process. The Lexar Professional Workflow Reader Solution is a high-speed reader system that lets you transfer images from up to four memory cards simultaneously. The solution consists of a four-bay reader hub and independently sold reader modules that can be used both as a module and a stand-alone reader.

Amarra 3, the high end audio player

Sonic Studio

Amarra is an audiophile music player for the Mac. I tested the full Amarra player, which allows you to play FLAC as well as DSD music files. Sonic Studio also released Amarra sQ, an equaliser specifically developed to enhance streaming music such as iTunes Radio or Spotify streams.

Alien Skin Exposure 6 offers more effects, better workflow

Alien Skin

You can enhance your photos by giving them an accurate look of film with or without grain. You can opt to composite using textures, add borders, and change bokeh, but rarely will you get all those features in one filter that you can use from within the major image catalogue apps such as Lightroom and Aperture as well as Photoshop. Alien Skin Exposure 6 has everything you need and works as a stand-alone application with batch processing functionality as well.

Operational benefits of UV LED technology

LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology was invented in 1927 and has been used since 1962. Initially, LEDs were only used as indicator lights and in lab equipment, but today they are available in the visible, ultra-violet and infrared spectra.

Your virtual design assistant: xScope 4

xscope 4

Designing layouts, measuring design elements, inspecting on-screen graphics and layouts, and sending screenshots of these elements across workgroups can be challenging. A couple of years ago, the IconFactory and Artis Software developed xScope for this purpose. The first versions of this app gave users a simple tool to work with rulers, guides and screens across all applications. It was better than competing products, which were limited by bad design and limited feature sets, but at least the first version of xScope had a limited feature set of its own. Version 3 was a big improvement and now there’s xScope 4 with no less than 80 improvements and new features.

Typinator 6 most powerful text expansion with regular expressions

Typinator 6

A couple of months ago, I was trying to fix my number one typo: double caps at the beginning of a word. I use Typinator and I realised that, despite its powerful features, I couldn’t do it. I also knew why I couldn’t: you need regular expressions to fix something as vague as double caps, because only with a regex search pattern can you capture all occurrences of all double capped letters you type. Regex, however, wasn’t on Typinator 5’s feature list. Well, it is on Typinator 6’s list. And I finally don’t have to go back and fix those silly typos anymore.

The wildest Picture-in-Picture effects with PiPinator 2

PiPinator

One of the most appealing video effects must be Picture-in-Picture (PiP). I have seen it used in feature films as well as in news reports. In Final Cut Pro X you can easily create a PiP effect using the built-in Resizing, Rotation and Skewing effects, but if you also want to animate the effect and give it a really nice PiP look, you’ll be busy for a couple of days tweaking and keyframing. And perhaps you’ll end up deciding to do it all inside Motion. In contrast, the Final Cut Pro X plug-in PiPinator 2 does it all with sliders, reducing your two-day nightmare to a gratifying process that needn’t take more than a quarter of an hour.

Fastest transcoder on the market: EditReady 1.0

EditReady

Divergent Media recently released its EditReady tool, a fast transcoding utility for video production pros. EditReady transcodes media from any QuickTime compatible format to one of the ProRes or DNxHD formats, as well as to H.264. It supports metadata and custom file naming. EditReady looks simple but is pretty powerful — but that’s not why you will want to have a copy.

LaunchBar 6, the best version ever

LaunchBar 6

One of the nice things you can do with OS X is use Spotlight as an app launcher, but after a while you come to realise Spotlight is only scratching the surface. LaunchBar, on the other hand, is much more than an app launcher. LaunchBar 6 is the newest iteration of an indispensable utility. Version 6 looks better, is simpler to configure and adds yet again a bunch of capabilities. LaunchBar is a must-have if you want to keep your hands on the keyboard as much as possible, avoid shoulder and wrist hurt, and work efficient and fast.

Photosweeper cleans out your photo libraries

PhotoSweeper

One of the advantages of digital photography is that you can shoot as many photos of the same subject as you like without worrying too much about composition or, in the case of action photography, of whether your subject was in focus all the time. This advantage is also a disadvantage: you risk stuffing your disk with useless images you’ll probably never going to use. How do you get rid of those duplicates and near-duplicates? Doing it manually is one possible cure, but it’s a lot better for your nerves if you do it with the help of an app. PhotoSweeper assists you when cleaning out your image database.

PrinTao 8 saves ink and paper with large format printing jobs

PrinTao 8

PrinTao 8 is a new printing solution from German developer LaserSoft Imaging, the creators of the SilverFast scanner software. It’s a solution for anyone who needs to print images without having to worry about the complicated settings that are a ‘feature’ of most manufacturers’ printer drivers. PrinTao 8 doesn’t just make your life easier, it also saves ink and paper. It’s a great addition to the toolbox of professional and serious amateur photographers, as well as graphic designers.

Look Converter and LUT Utility for 3D LUT colour grading in Final Cut Pro X

Look Converter

A 3D Look Up Table (LUT) strictly spoken is a colour management tool originally meant to bridge the differences between a digital workstation’s colour representation and movie film emulsions. Today, a 3D LUT is a full-scale colour grading component. The only problem is that not that many video editors support 3D LUTs while there aren’t that many 3D LUT management applications either. Look Converter therefore is a godsend for everyone who wants to create creative 3D LUTs, while LUT Utility is needed for using LUTs in Final Cut Pro X “natively”.

Simpler, more focused outlining with OmniOutliner Pro 4

OmniOutliner Pro 4

From writing a book to creating a shopping list, you can do it with OmniOutliner. The latest version of this venerable outliner can do much more. It has been completely redesigned, has templates to get you started, theming, a new Inspector, styles, real hyperlinks and much more to make outlining enthusiasts happy. And it prints nicely too.

What can you do with a GoPro HERO3+ with firmware 2 installed and a Ninja Blade?

The HERO3+ Black Edition has new firmware since March 2014. Firmware v2 added new controls to GoPro’s flagship camera for setting colour, ISO limit, sharpness and exposure. Meanwhile, Atomos’ Ninja Blade added vectorscope and histogram overlays so you can evaluate the exposure settings of your camera. Atomos’ Blade series also supports colour calibration to ensure accurate colour. Use the two together and you get an ultra-cheap ultra-nice movie recording package.

Snapheal Pro heals images well

Snapheal Pro

You can remove unwanted objects, skin blemishes and scratches using the Context-aware Spot Healing Brush tool in Photoshop CS6 and later. This brush allows you to quickly paint in the areas that need fixing. Its results are far from perfect from the first try, but with a bit of fine-tuning, you can make unwanted artefacts disappear in a couple of minutes. But what if you don’t have Photoshop? In that case, Snapheal Pro from Macphun is a nice alternative. In addition to making your models look skin-perfect, the app has the basic image adjusting tools. Snapheal Pro is a stand-alone app as well as a plug-in to Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture.

FxFactory plug-in Hawaiki Color enables colour grading inside Final Cut Pro X

Hawaiki Color

Final Cut Pro X has a colour grading module, but the interface is non-standard and the capabilities are pretty basic. One FxFactory plug-in that tries to fix this is Hawaiki Color. It’s a plug-in that uses the traditional but familiar interface elements for colour grading: colour wheels and sliders, combined with numeric configuration fields. It extends colour grading inside Final Cut Pro X beyond the basics and is great to work with.

Crumplepop Fisheye Fixer v2

Fisheye Fixer (fixed)

The GoPro HERO3+ has a new recording/viewing angle: SuperView. Until now, you could only fix SuperView by trying to correct the distortion in mocha Pro, using the lens correction module. The problem with that module is the time it takes to come to an acceptable result for this extreme angle. You’ll have to experiment until you find what works. Crumplepop thought it could do better and released version 2 of its Fisheye Fixer, a Final Cut Pro X plug-in specifically tailored for use with GoPro cameras and now including SuperView fixing. An extra bonus is the Fisheye Maker, with which you can convert ordinary footage to a fisheye look

OmniFocus 2

OmniFocus 2

The wait is over. Omni Group finally released OmniFocus 2, their next-generation GTD (Getting Things Done) app for Mac OS X. The wait was worth it. OmniFocus 2 is a gorgeously designed app, one in which form really follows function. Nothing about this app seems out of tune, design for the sake of design or features for the sake of stuffing an app to the point of it becoming one big soap bubble.

The cost of attention

The way the discussion about publishers’ business income declining and their attempts to reinstate the income stream they used to have from subscriptions and advertising combined has been going on, is beside the point. Publishers and consultants alike use a wrong *currency* when they talk about new sources of income and new methods to get people to pay for the effort of publishing. The new currency they should be considering is made up of two halves. They are “Attention” and “Attention span”. And they are increasingly scarce

The life of Free

It’s only a couple of years since everything that isn’t tangible and cannot be made without a complex manufacturing process is fair game. Writers, musicians, designers, artists, anyone who creates something that can be created digitally, is sacrificed on the altar of “Free”. Aggravated by the use of the word “content” to designate everything from textual to musical creations, our modern society is characterised by a fundamental disrespect for craftsmanship and creativity. “Content wants to be free” and “We have an algorithm for that” are rapidly becoming the catchphrases of our era. For various reasons we shouldn’t accept them.