… for Random Weirdness

Tip #457: Low-Tech Perfomance Boost

Dust is the enemy, keep your gear clean.

Topic $TipTopic

My 2015 MacBook Pro was no longer smoothly handling anything; its performance was a fraction of what it was. It felt hot and the fans were racing.

I investigated and followed all the advice, eventually reinstalling everything and resetting the rest. That seemed to help a bit but it never completely solved the problem.

Then, I had a brainwave! I carefully opened up the back and practically choked on the dust and fluff! A couple of minutes of carefully hoovering [vacuuming] the debris has completely taken care of the problem.


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… for Apple Final Cut Pro X

Tip #392: How to Use a Second Display with FCP X

The Secondary Monitor display menu only appears when you have a second monitor connected.

Topic $TipTopic

This tip is from an Apple KnowledgeBase article. This is an excerpt.

Final Cut is programmed to support two computer monitors. But, the controls are hidden. When you connect a second computer display to your Mac, controls appear that allow you to move the viewer, browser, or timeline to the second display.

Make sure that the second display is connected to your Mac and turned on. When they are, the Secondary Display button and pop-up menu appear in the toolbar at the top of the Final Cut Pro window. (See screen shot)

To choose which area of the Final Cut Pro interface you want to move to the second display, do one of the following:

  • Click the Secondary Display pop-up menu and choose Timeline, Viewer, or Browser.
  • Choose Window > Show in Secondary Display > [item].

The area you chose moves to the second display, and the other areas of the Final Cut Pro window are adjusted on the primary display.

NOTE: Video scopes can be displayed on a second monitor along with the Viewer. Scopes can’t be displayed separately.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #430: Compressing 10-Bit HEVC Media

Windows will, generally, compress 10-bit HEVC faster than a Mac.

Comparing color spaces between Rec.709 and Rec. 2020. (Image courtesy of Intel.)

Topic $TipTopic

A reader asked this week why it took so long to compress 10-bit HEVC media. At first, I thought it was because Intel CPUs did not support hardware acceleration, but the answer is more complex than that.

7th generation Intel Xeon and Core processors support the BT. 2020 (also known as Rec. 2020) standard in 10-bit HDR and more. This screen shot compares the color spaces of Rec. 709 (HD) with Rec. 2020 (HDR). The BT.2020 represents a much larger range of colors than previously used in BT.709.

NOTE: Dynamic range is the ratio between the whitest whites and blackest blacks in an image. HDR video interprets better dynamic range than conventional Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) video, which uses a non-linear operation to encode and decode luminance values in video systems.

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265, is a video compression standard, a successor to the widely successful H.264/AVC standard. HEVC 10-bit hardware acceleration for both decoder and encoder with HEVC/H.265 Main 10 Profile is supported in 7th generation Intel processors; released in 2017 or later.

However, the tools to create 10-bit HEVC that Intel supplies only support Windows. So, assuming a Windows developer implements Intel’s HEVC SDK (Software Development Kit), they can access faster compression speeds using hardware acceleration.

Here’s an article from Intel that describes this in more detail.


… for Visual Effects

Tip #339: Inexpensive Green-screen Kits

Do-It-Yourself is possible, but this kit is better.

This illustrates the contents of the Linco lighting kit.

Topic $TipTopic While there are tons of articles on the web about creating Do-It-Yourself green screen kits, what you save in money, you more than waste in post-production trying to pull a clean key from a cheap background. Instead, consider a green-screen background kit.

Here are three to look at.

There are many others to choose from. With these three, though, for less than $150, you get everything you need to create and light a background.

While the Emart kit is the least expensive, what I like about the other two kits is that they include softlights for the talent, as well.

The key to a successful key is an absolutely smooth and flat-lit background. Then, use separate lights to light the talent. Any of these kits can help.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #147: 5 Tips for Handling & Storing Fiber Optic Cables

Proper maintenance of fiber optic cables

Topic $TipTopic

Recently, Camplex Fiber Optic Solutions shared these tips to make sure your fiber optic cables provide years of reliable performance.

Tip #1. Keep Cable Connectors Clean & Dry

Connectors can easily be contaminated by dust, oils from hands, film residue condensed from air vapors, and coatings left after water and solvents evaporate. Moisture can also corrode cable terminations, so store cables in dry areas. Before using fiber optic cables, clean the connectors on the cable and on the cables or ports the cable is connected to.

Tip #2 Leave Dust Caps On Until Ready to Connect

Dust caps keep contaminants and moisture away from the connector and protect it from damage. After removing a dust cap, inspect and clean the ferrule before connecting to another cable or device. Only use cleaning products intended for fiber optic connectors.

Tip #3 Take it Easy

Fiber cables are extremely durable consisting of cladding, coatings, and jackets that protect the delicate glass strands and provide strength. Still, if mishandled, the glass strands can fracture which affects signal transmission.

Tip #4 Test for Failure Points

Exceeding the bend radius or crush resistance ratings of the cable can affect performance, so use a visual fault locator (VFL) to find any failure points or a power meter to determine if there is signal loss.

Tip #5 Avoid Tangled Cables

Coil fiber optic cables and secure connectors with hook and loop type fasteners. Since compressed cables could cause signal loss, avoid using plastic zip ties. When zip ties are the only solution, cinch the zip ties loosely.


… for Codecs & Media

Tip #150: USB Bandwidth

Different versions of USB provide different amounts of bandwidth

Topic $TipTopic The speed of USB has increased significantly since its initial release. For example, USB 1.0 was released January 15, 1996, with a maximum speed of 1.5 MB/second. Compare that to USB 4.0 which was released August 29, 2019, with a maximum speed of 5 GB/second! USB4 is based on the Thunderbolt 3 protocol.

However, recently, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) renamed virtually all USB versions and made things REALLY confused. Here are the new names and speeds of the different versions of USB.

Old Name Released New Name Speed
USB 2.0 April, 2000 USB 2.0 Up to 60 MB/sec
USB 3.0 Nov. 2008 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Up to 625 MB/sec
USB 3.1 July, 2013 USB 3.1 Gen 2 Up to 1.25 GB/sec
USB 3.2 August, 2017 USB 3.1 Gen 2×2 Up to 2.5 GB/sec
USB4 August, 2019 USB 4 Up to 5 GB/sec

NOTE: Keep in mind that all versions of USB, except for USB4, are optimized for small file transfers and generally don’t provide all the bandwidth that the spec calls for. I don’t recommend any version of USB earlier than USB 3.2 for video editing.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #148: Which USB Version Does Your Mac Support?

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

When in doubt, look it up.

Use System Preferences > Hardware > USB to determine your USB version.

Topic $TipTopic

Yes, the USB plugs on the back of your computer all look the same. However, here’s an easy way to find out what version of USB your computer supports.

Go to the Apple logo in the top left corner of your computer.

  • Choose About This Mac
  • At the bottom of this window, click System Report
  • In the display that follows, click Hardware > USB

This panel displays more than you will ever want to know about your USB ports and connected peripherals, including the version of USB your system supports.

Cool.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #149: The Five Types of USB Connectors

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Sigh… It’s no longer “one plug fits all.”

Five types of USB connectors.
Five types of USB connectors.

Topic $TipTopic

Not only are their different versions of USB, there are also different versions of USB connectors. Ever wonder how many different USB connectors there are and what they are called?

Well, here’s the answer:

  • Type A
  • Type B
  • Type C
  • Micro USB
  • Mini USB

Most computers use Type A or C, depending upon their age.

Most large peripherals use Type B, while smaller devices use either the micro or mini connectors.

Now you know.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #132: Use QNAP Servers for FCP X

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

QNAP supports editing using Final Cut.

Tip Screen Shot

Topic $TipTopic

J.J. Sereday writes:

I’ve been using the QNAP TVS-871T for 3-4 years now and have been able to keep/edit with my FCP X project files on the server using their NFS (for FCP X) connection. Plus you can take advantage of the Thunderbolt speeds using it as a Thunderbolt EtherNet connection. I tend to get 600-800 Mbps read/write with the 8-bay in RAID 5.

It’s been pretty amazing.

NOTE: QNAP also supports SMB3, which FCP X 10.3 and later also support. Visit the QNAP support pages to learn more.


… for Random Weirdness

Tip #138: More RAM Isn’t Always Better

Larry Jordan – https://LarryJordan.com

Adding RAM has… implications.

Tip Screen Shot

Topic $TipTopic

More RAM, as we all know, boosts performance for most media tasks simply because our files are so big.

However, there’s a downside to adding RAM. RAM, whether it is used or not, always consumes power when your computer is on. The more RAM you have, the more power it requires.

For desktop systems, this isn’t bad because they are always plugged into a wall outlet. But for laptops, adding RAM pulls more power from the battery, decreasing battery life.

If you tend to edit with a plugged in laptop, again, no big deal. But, if you tend to edit on battery in remote locations, you’ll need to balance more RAM with battery life.

Just something to think about.