Archive for Utilities

64 bit issues running osascript from terminal

If you use osascript to run applescript from the command line, you may have run into errors looking something like:

Error loading /Library/ScriptingAdditions/Adobe Unit Types.osax/Contents/MacOS/Adobe Unit Types: ... no matching architecture in universal wrapper

This is due to osascript running in 64 bit mode and being unable to load a 32 bit addition. A quick fix is to force osascript to use i386 architecture, like so:

arch -i386 osascript path/to/applescript

In addition, you can now eliminate the error referenced above by downloading the latest 64 bit Adobe Unit Types.osax from the Adobe site.

Here’s hoping the 64 bit transition goes smoothly for all involved. I’m thinking the performance payoffs will make these little workflow snags worth the effort.

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Creating Workflow Tools for the Flash IDE Session at Adobe Max

Adobe just posted tons of great sessions from Adobe Max. I found this session dealing with workflow, JSFL, Flash IDE panels, etc. particularly interesting.

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Help me beta test a Sequencing Utility for Final Cut Pro

Have you ever had a bunch of Quicktime movies or Image files that you needed to lay out in Final Cut Pro? Maybe you’re making an element tape for delivery to a client, or prepping a bunch of lower thirds and titles for your program.

I find myself doing this kind of thing all of the time, and they all follow a certain set of rules. Something like, each element should be at 5 second intervals with a minimum of 5 seconds between each element, rinse and repeat. If you’re like me, you grab all of your elements throw them in a timeline and do the Carpal tunnel inducing dance of the up/down arrows. There has to be an easier way right?

Well, with Final Cut XML, there really is an easier way. Element Drop is a super simple drag and drop application that lays out a Final Cut timeline of Quicktime movies or Images. Drag and drop a bunch of elements on the application and Final Cut Pro is launched and each element is layed out in a timeline based on user preferences. Chapter Markers can be included for super easy approval DVD’s (Tutorial to come).

Element Drop Drag and Drop Interface
Element Drop Preferences
Final Cut Timeline

There are a lot features like Auto-filled Slates, Automated Log Generation and Timeline Database Integration that I can see adding, and I’d love to hear feedback on features as well as bugs. Element Drop only works in OS X 10.4 (Tiger) and above and should work with Final Cut 4.5 and above. The application uses Spotlight metadata to identify files, so in this version you will need to drop elements from indexed volumes, I’m considering using file extensions to identify files as a fail safe in future versions.

UPDATE 01.15.2007

Thanks for all the initial feedback it’s been very helpful. There turned out to be a couple of show stopper bugs related to sorting, drop frame calculations and file discovery that I am currently working out. I’ve updated the expired beta, but at this point it is more of a tech demo of the direction I’d like to see the utility follow than a useful tool. Feel free to download it and report bugs and features. I’m also working on a detailed bug list so you can see limitations.

UPDATE 01.22.2007

beta 3 Fixed file sorting problem, this makes the beta usable again. Still working on drop frame calculations and more robust file discovery.

UPDATE 02.06.2007

beta 4 Modernized interface with focus ring feedback. Need to fix: drop frame calculations and file discovery by extensions.

.zip archive of Element Drop

Please send beta feedback and bugs to dale(at)creative-workflow-hacks(dot)com.

The third beta of Element Drop will expire in 30 days

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A small command-line utility to convert paths and pathurls for OSX

One of the notable short comings of the workflow I outlined for converting Final Cut Pro elements into After Effects projects via scripting was the limited path support. That was mainly due to the fact that Final Cut Pro uses a fully qualified path url of the form file://path/to/file and After Effects has an Absolute URI that uses the tilde as a shortcut for the current user’s home directory. So, file://Volumes/MyHD/Users/Dale/Stuff becomes ~/Stuff. Trying to munge all of the contingencies in Javascript is not a pleasant task, and Cocoa has a nice set of methods for dealing with just this situation, including stringByAbbreviatingWithTildeInPath and stringByExpandingTildeInPath.

What I’ve done is written a small Cocoa foundation tool that works on the command line to move between the formats of interest. The tool takes the following switches.

pathconvert -u pathurl
Takes a pathurl of the form file://localhost/Volumes/Storage/Users/Dale/test used by Final Cut XML and converts it to an AbsoluteURI that After Effects will be happy with, including using stringByAbbreviatingWithTildeInPath to resolve directories in the User Home folder, such that the pathurl above becomes ~/test.
pathconvert -f fullpath
Takes a fullpath of the form /Volumes/MyHD/Users/Dale/Test and returns a short cut tilde path when appropriate. The string above would become ~/Test.
pathconvert -t abbreviatedPath
Takes a short cut path of the form ~/Test and returns a full path when appropriate. The string above would become /Volumes/MyHD/Users/Dale/Test.

This utility, combined with system.callSystem() in After Effects 7 will make our work with Final Cut Pro XML a lot more friendly in a scripting environment. Next up is an updated tutorial on working with Final Cut XML and After Effects scripting and more detailed instructions on how to install and use this utility. I wanted to post this now to get feedback from power users and developers on potential problems and gotchas. I’m not much of a c hacker, so I’m enclosing both the XCode project files and a compiled binary. Please send any improvements or ideas to me and I’ll share them here. As always, feedback and improvements to dale(at)creative-workflow-hacks(dot)com.

Compiled Binary and XCode Project files available here

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MPEG Streamclip, a great little free utility for batch format conversions

As I alluded to here, I’m in the middle of a really big HDCam SR job right now. Lots and Lots of data. Part of the job involves batch format conversions. The kind of stuff I usually do with Cleaner, Compressor, or even Batch Export in FCP. For a number of reasons, each of these stepped up to the plate and wiffed. Limitations in cropping, some quality issues, some conversion time issues, etc.. I don’t want to be too critical or specific about my problems with each program because each of these products is great in its own way with individual strengths and weaknesses and our issues were pretty job specific.

What I do want to do however is rave about a great little freeware app from Squared 5 called MPEG Streamclip. When we started to have issues with our usual suite of software we looked around for some alternatives and ended up here. I must admit I was skeptical that it’d really be able to help us on a job of this scope. I’d played with earlier versions of this software when I was doing some HDV conversion and thought it was a pretty cool little utility, but the latest version is really fast, has really stunning quality options, does batch processing, is available in Mac and Windows versions and is free. Really nice work and it looks like the developer is adding features and tweaking the interface at a nice clip.

I’ve crashed a couple of times during heavy batches and it’s a little bit of a concern putting complete faith in a product where the support path is unclear, but download the app and see if it meets your needs. Looks like it’s going to really help in a pinch.

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