If David is the literary genius on the English side of my friends, then Alex is definitely his French equivalent.
I actually got to read this essay the day after it was written two years ago around the same time I was foolish enough to attempt writing anovel1. It’s still as good as I remembered it to be. If you can read French, do yourself a favour and read this.
Oh yeah, about that. It was really bad. It also wasn’t novel-length. Only four people have seen the drafts for it, and really, that’s four people too many. ↩
Joanna Stern: "As far as software goes, everything I said in the original TouchWiz UX hands-on remains true — there are some helpful tweaks (notably the expanded QuickPanel), but with all the homescreens wallpapered with widgets, there’s some obvious lag."
Okay, I’m a little whiny bitch when it comes to scrolling, so I’m not going to hold back.
Samsung, what the fuck. The TouchWiz launcher on phones had custom scroll views that had different scrolling behaviour than stock Android and it felt close to perfect. Honeycomb is like the first version of Android to ship with a launcher whose scrolling isn’t downright offensive. So how on Earth did you manage to fuck this up?
At least Samsung won’t be fucking up the scrolling on their beautiful new Windows Phones.
"Unfortunately you will need a Facebook account to access Spotify from now on, unless you already have an account set up."
Sounds like a mistake to me.
What if Facebook goes mental and alienates all their users? Arguably, that is what they’re doing right now, but let’s say they really lose it. Is Spotify really confident that their service is so great that it can keep people on Facebook regardless of what happens there?
Imagine if some big Web service required you to have a MySpace or a Friendster account. How future-proof would that have been?
Over the past few hours, Facebook flipped the switch on a news feed redesign.
As usual, I expect to see the swarm of “XYZ joined PETITION TO GET OLD FACEBOOK BACK” messages in my feed and status updates whining and bitching about the change. Except this time there might be some actual justification for it.
If you haven’t gotten the redesign yet or you don’t have a Facebook account, the redesign really does two things: it kills the Most Recent sorting mode, so you can no longer browse posts in chronological order, and it crams a live activity stream in the right sidebar.
First, killing off Most Recent. You are now forced into what used to be called the Top Stories mode, which was annoyingly the default sorting mode for Facebook. It algorithmically determines from your activity patterns with your friends, your likes, and when your last visit was, what content would be most relevant for you and it presents it in that order. Sort of.
While I believe there can be some value in a curated, algorithmically sorted stream, I don’t know if it makes sense as the default view for Facebook. When I wake up in the morning, I want to scroll down the Facebook news feed to where I left off and read everything that has been posted since then. That makes sense, right? If I add someone on Facebook, it’s probably because I want to keep up with what they’re doing. Could it be possible that I would want to keep up with what some people are doing, with whom I don’t frequently interact, whose posts I frequently don’t “like” or comment on? Yes! The beauty of the Most Recent feed was that it didn’t discriminate against people I’m less engaged with and you always knew where you left off.
Unlike other Facebook redesigns in the past, it doesn’t seem like they just buried the feature, it’s really gone. There are a few ways to get around it. The first is to use lists. Lists’ streams appear to be ordered chronologically. If you just shove all your friends into a list you create (let’s say you call it Most Recent), you can view that list and voilà, everyone’s posts are in chronological order. The other seems to be to change the language to anything other than English (United States), as only English (United States) users seem to have the redesign so far. I wouldn’t expect this to last very long.
Then there’s this ridiculous live activity stream on the right sidebar.
It’s very similar to your notifications drawer for any activity happening on your posts or posts you’ve been involved in, except it’s like if those notifications were for any activity your friends had on anything public. This means it is flooded with “X liked Y’s post” and “X commented on Y’s post” when you have no idea who Y is. It is like the Most Recent view from before, but with lots of added noise1, and in a much tinier frame. Oh, and the sidebar feed is unlabelled, so expect users to wonder why the same post is listed once in the main column and right next to it in the sidebar. It’s so useless it might as well not be there.
Here’s the trend I see on Facebook since Google+ hit the scene: they’re adding power user features like subscriptions and lists and having multiple streams on the same page without really asking themselves if their average user is going to be confused by this.
Facebook is the new AOL. Everyone is on it. Unlike most popular websites, the nerds are the ones who don’t have a Facebook account. Much like AOLers, you shouldn’t really expect the average Facebook user to be that bright2 or to deal very well with complexity. Facebook should be focusing on making the site simple for them instead of cramming power user features left and right when they’ll eventually phase them out in a redesign two years down the line anyway.
Most Recent also used to filter out posts that weren’t from your friends; Top Stories didn’t and often included posts from random people you never heard of that your friends were active on. ↩
Like the guy who admitted stealing from his employer in the comment thread to a news story from a big provincial TV station and forgot his real name was right next to his post. ↩
There’s been lots of music gaming news coming out of Pentavision and Konami recently that it reminded me I forgot to plug two of their iOS music games that have recently been made available to the North American App Store:
jukebeat is the Western version of jubeat plus. There’s a 4x4 grid of buttons and visual cues show up to get you to press them to the music. That’s a horrible description so you should watch a video and you’ll understand right away. jukebeat is free, comes with three free tracks; song packs can be purchased as DLC ($3.99) from within the game. There are leaderboards, though they don’t really mean anything as your score tends to be proportional to the amount of song packs you buy. I’m hoping someday Konami can do in-game e-amuse rival stuff like they do in the arcade, but they’ve got enough on their plate as is. It is a universal app, but really, you’d be stupid to play this on anything other than an iPad.
Tap Sonic (video) is a Korean music game from the folks who brought you the DJMAX series. The song selection is pretty diverse; you’ve got lots of KPop singles and you have lots of DJMAX transplants. (Ladymade Star! SUPER SONIC!) Here’s how Tap Sonic differs from other music games: it has an arcade-style payment structure. New tracks are free for a limited time, then get rotated out for newer tracks. You don’t pay to unlock a track forever, you pay per play. You get 300 music points when you launch the game the first time and can load up on more via in-app purchases. Gameplay is comparable to a hybrid of the Tap Tap series and DJMAX games. This is best played on an iPhone.
As someone who is planning on going to Japan next year bringing the bare minimum (more or less what I brought to I/O), the idea of going to Japan for 10 days without any baggage sounds awesome. (Then you could bring home one big carry-on filled with goodies from Akihabara!) That said, I’m not sure how light that Scottevest would be with all that in there. Still, love it.
Ten years ago, I was sitting in what was called “moral religious education” class at Three Rivers High School.
The school principal came on the intercom, clearly still in shock, as he said something brief to the extent of “terrorists are hijacking planes and running them into buildings”, completely omitting which buildings were attacked.
For a while, there was complete silence in the class as we were trying to understand what that meant or how that was even possible. The first thing we did was checked outside for any buildings with a plane sticking out of it. Then, we thought that if a plane really had hit a building in town, we would have heard some big noise prior to the intercom coming on. And why would terrorists be interested in attacking a city like Trois-Rivières?
None of this made any sense to us, so we just acted as if the principal was going insane. Class carried on, and we continued to pretend to listen as the teacher would go on about how drugs will ruin your life, and how anyone who dares to question the necessity of such a course (me) will end up being a junkie for the rest of their life.
It took about 15 minutes for the principal to get back on the intercom to clarify what he said.
I am not a New Yorker or an American. I didn’t know anyone at the time who was directly impacted by the events that took place that day. I was, however, the son of a firefighter.
When the beeper goes off, you never really know if that’s going to be the last time you’ll see your dad alive. Eventually, you worry less about it, because they always seem to make it back home without a scratch, but buried in the back of your head, you know there’s always a possibility that something might happen. That day, for a lot of firefighters’ kids and families, it was the last time the beeper went off.
While money can buy a fancy memorial site to fill in the void in downtown Manhattan, no sum of money can be used to buy back the lives that were lost and the memories that could have been. And that’s a tragedy.
“A judge has handed down jail sentences and fines to censors and pornographers after finding that the mosaics they applied to adult videos were “so thin the colour and shape of their genitals could be recognised” and that as a result they were guilty of “spreading wickedness throughout society.””—Sankaku Complex’s coverage of censors convicted (link nsfw) due to genitalia being too identifiable in Japanese porn. So ridiculous.
Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I write really long (almost 3000 words) essays about subjects few people are that passionate about. If you don’t care for Apple’s video editing software, just skip this post. I won’t be offended. Otherwise, you might want to send this to Instapaper or get a sandwich or something.
The Early Years
iMovie came out when I was eight years old. It was bundled with the iMac DV, which was the name given to slot-loading iMacs with FireWire ports sold between 1999 and 2003. I only got to play with it a year later when iMovie became freely downloadable on the Apple website for PowerBook and Power Mac G4 owners.
iMovie was truly a joy to use. My dad had a digital camera that could take 40 second videos at a pathetic resolution1, so I used iMovie to piece together clips into longer videos, which I would then burn to VCD2 so we could watch it on the TV. It was easy enough for a nine-year-old to figure out without help from adults, which wasn’t the case with other suites (Premiere and Avid) at the time, and it was pretty mind-blowing to me as a kid that I could be “on television” when I thought that was something only TV studios could do.
In what I assume was an effort to reduce the editor’s complexity, iMovie had two views for your project: a clip view and the timeline view. The clip view let you see the sequence of clips in order and nothing else. I guess the idea was that you’d take clips straight from the camera, drag them into the order you wanted them to play, and drag transitions between them to make a quick movie. In practice, the clip view was too limited. You couldn’t do anything audio-related in that view, and I don’t think it was even possible to trim or split clips from that view. In retrospect, the only thing that view was useful for was to quickly put clips in a coherent order to convey your story; all real editing would happen in the traditional timeline view, otherwise you’d always end up with unedited camera footage accompanied by awkward transitions.
iMovie was a lot better for newcomers than lots of the other video editing software out there, but it still suffered one big flaw. If you just got back from a trip and wanted to put together a 5-10 minute video showing your vacation and share it with friends, it was near impossible to do in 20-30 minutes in any video editor.
First Cut, Take One
That’s where iMovie ’08 came in. iMovie ’08 was effectively pitched by Steve Jobs as being written to solve that problem. That’s not quite true.
According to this story at DVCreators.net, iMovie ’08 was never really meant to be iMovie at all; it was meant to be an application called First Cut that would let video editors quickly organize their content and put together a rough cut, which they could then pipe into Final Cut for further edits3. Presumably, Steve Jobs saw it and decided it should become iMovie. The rest is history.
In many ways, its launch was similar to Final Cut Pro X’s launch; it was lacking a handful of critical features such as audio editing4, and was such a big departure from how previous video editors worked that nobody quite knew how to use it and gave up. I believe that if most of the lacking critical features would have been present when iMovie ’08 launched, people would have been willing to relearn how to use iMovie. It’s harder to sell people on relearning how to use your app when it’s capable of much less than its predecessor.
Back to Steve Jobs’ pitch though. iMovie ’08 was a big leap for video editing. Once you forgot everything you knew about timeline-based editing, it was a blazing fast way of putting together videos. Much quicker than anything else out there. You just didn’t get as good an output as you would have liked.
First Cut, Take Two
Since iMovie ’08, there have been four other releases of iMovie:
iMovie for iOS (iPhone 4)
iMovie for iOS (iPhone 4 and iPad 2)
iMovie ’09 and ’11 gradually added back a bunch of features from iMovie HD that weren’t in iMovie ’08; as of today, anything that is still missing from iMovie is relatively minor5. It is now possible to make movies that are as good as something iMovie HD could have made in a fraction of the time.
Apple also released an iOS version of iMovie alongside the iPhone 4, and later updated it to support the iPad 2. They are fairly bare-bones; your choice of titles and transitions are fairly limited6, but if you don’t mind those restrictions, it is possible to shoot and edit pretty decent video entirely on your phone. The iPad version is easier to work with, and gives you access to features such as the Precision Editor to make cuts at precisely the right moment, which is something nearly impossible to do on the iPhone version.
I’ve used the iPhone version of iMovie on two occasions to put together relatively simple videos. I added background music to a video I took of construction work on a bridge in town last year and that was really simple. I also pieced together a one-minute video of a trip to Quebec City about a month ago.
The ultimate workflow for iMovie on the iPhone is to edit as you capture stuff throughout the day and putting the finishing touches on it on the trip back home. While the process of editing isn’t as efficient as it would be on the desktop version of iMovie, you don’t notice it as much when you’re editing in small sessions throughout the day than if you got home, dumped a ton of media into an event, and edited something in one sitting.
The convenience of being able to edit anytime, anywhere outweighs the relative lack of efficiency for me, at least as far as iMovie on the iPhone is concerned. I’ve only played with the iPad version in the Apple Store for a couple minutes to get a feel for the UI, so I can’t say much about it. That said, it does feel slightly mind-blowing to be editing HD video on my phone when ten years ago, I was editing lower-resolution video on a huge desktop tower, had to wait for modal rendering dialogs to complete all he time, and ultimately ended up with an inferior end result.
I don’t have much experience with Final Cut. Despite being in my high school’s AV club for two years, we mostly did live editing with a frequently overheating video mixer. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone in Final Cut Pro even though we had a copy on our Power Mac G5.7 Occasionally, I’d go to an Apple Store and play around with it, but it was pretty hard to figure out.
Recently, I had the opportunity of using Final Cut Pro X on a Mac Pro at an Apple Store8, and I can say that it is a lot easier to use than any previous version. Many people have speculated that Apple chose to go with a simpler, iMovie-like interface to attract people who aren’t professional video editors. People like photographers, who are entering the world of video via their fancy-pants SLRs that kick ass at recording video9. People who need more than what iMovie is willing to offer.
I have a different theory. Yes, the simpler, easier-to-use interface is going to attract people who have never used Final Cut Pro before. But I think that wasn’t the primary reason to go with that interface; I think Apple chose to go with the simpler interface because they were getting embarrassed that iMovie was becoming a more productive video editing environment than their pro video editor.
It all started with iMovie ’08. “First Cut” was built because FCP wasn’t effective at skimming ingested content and putting together a rough cut. But because it was marketed as iMovie and not its original purpose, most people kept using FCP the way they always were, putting together rough cuts in more time than it should have taken them. iMovie ’09 added the Precision Editor, which made precise cuts between two clips much simpler, as well as automatic image stabilization on ingestion. iMovie ’11 added people and shot detection for clips, so you can quickly find clips even without tagging them manually.
These features popping up in iMovie weren’t dumbed-down implementations of pro functionality. They were incredibly powerful and easy-to-use, productivity-boosting features. After a while, enough of them accumulated that it made the pro video editing suite look bad. When it’s easier to make a precise cut between two clips on an iPad with a limited version of iMovie than it is to make the same cut in Final Cut Pro 7, you know you have a problem on your hands.
People calling FCPX “iMovie Pro” are partially correct. iMovie was a proving ground for many of the big UI changes that have been forced upon pro video editors in Final Cut Pro X. If you sit back and watch all of the iMovie announcements since ’08 back to back10 and then watch the event where Final Cut Pro X was announced, a lot of the features will look very familiar. Hell, you can even make a default iMovie ’11 install look almost indistinguishable from Final Cut Pro X with two clicks.11
I really like FCPX. Yeah, there are features that are critical to a pro workflow that are missing. I think it’s inexcusable that some of them were absent at launch and that a roadmap of when those features are planning to make a comeback isn’t being given to pro video editors who want to get on board. It also felt a little odd to me that people couldn’t buy FCP7 licenses anymore; if you needed a new editing station for a project that started in FCP7, you were screwed. (Apple has since brought back Final Cut Studio, but it can only be ordered by the phone while supplies last.) Regardless, FCPX is such a great video editing suite that it makes me want to shoot a documentary or something so I can use it. I couldn’t say the same about the previous versions of Final Cut.
Where is Final Cut Pro headed in the future? I think it’s going to be available on iOS within the next year.
There have been rumours of a Retina Display “iPad Pro” targeting professional photographers and filmmakers for about a year now. I think it would be silly to have such a device without having any of Apple’s pro apps on it.
Final Cut Pro X abstracts away the idea of media as files. What you piece together on the timeline are clips, and the same clip can be available in several formats: the original (typically in a harder-to-edit format like H.264 or AVCHD) and optimized/proxy media (in an editing format like Apple ProRes). You never have to think about switching the file associations manually like you did with old versions of Final Cut; now, you only need to flip a radio button setting and everything is handled for you.
Since Final Cut is already capable of managing original media, optimized media, and proxy media, why couldn’t it manage a type of proxy media that would perform adequately on the iPad12? Then you could sync your Final Cut project and its media over to your iPad and do your edits on the plane or wherever. Since your media would already be on both your devices, syncing changes back and forth would only require you to sync a delta of changes you made to the timeline or settings you’ve changed on specific clips.
iMovie on the Mac and iMovie on the iPad do look very similar. While it wouldn’t be fair to say they just transposed the Mac interface onto iOS UI elements, it is very easy to move from one to the other because stuff is more or less in the same place. Since Final Cut’s UI is very similar to that of iMovie’s, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think that it could get the same treatment on iOS.
It is possible to get a taste of what this would be like today. Using the Camera Connection Kit on the iPad 2, you can import videos from a DSLR and edit them in iMovie, provided they’re in an H.264 profile the iPad can play back. If you use iMovie for iOS as “First Cut” was intended to be used and put together a rough edit, you can import that project into Final Cut Pro X13 and get more serious.
There will be critics who’ll say Final Cut can’t be as productive with a touch-based UI as it is with a mouse and keyboard. There are some definitely good points to be made. Scrubbing through media and grabbing a range in a clip is a lot easier with a mouse than it is with touching a screen, simply because your finger is much bigger than a mouse cursor is.14 If you’ve mastered the keyboard shortcuts for Final Cut over the years, the thought of digging through a hierarchy of navigation controllers to do something that can be done in one keystroke on the Mac might make you shiver. All of that is perfectly valid.
That said, Apple is headed in a direction where iPads are slowly going to replace computers for a lot of people. Their first step is to decouple iOS devices from computers with iOS 5. The next step should be to expand the use cases for which the iPad can be an adequate computer replacement. Why not try professional video editing? It’s not like anyone but Apple is crazy enough to try that, and iPads are everywhere in the film/television industry; the only aspect they aren’t really useful for today is post-production. Why not change that?
My guess is somewhere around 480x360? That sounds generous. ↩
This is at a time where DVD players were only starting to be priced reasonably and DVD burners weren’t. ↩
iMovie ’08 to ’11 have export to Final Cut Pro XML; while FCPX doesn’t support XML import/export, it does let you load in iMovie projects just fine, meaning that you can still use it for its original use case if you want to. ↩
iMovie ’08 had absolutely nothing in terms of audio editing. All audio decisions were made by iMovie, and if you wanted to deviate from that, tough luck. ↩
Yes, I know the “Lightning” effect isn’t in the new iMovie, but it was a shitty overused effect, so I doubt it’s ever coming back. ↩
iMovie for iOS has three titles per theme (there are eight themes), a cross-dissolve transition, and a theme-specific transition for each theme. I do not believe it is possible to mix and match titles and transitions from different themes. ↩
The sysadmin that was responsible for Macs being all over the place eventually left; a year after I graduated, every Mac was replaced with a cheaper PC, to cut costs so they could invest more in their football stadium. The AV club eventually wound up with an underpowered PC running Premiere. ↩
I have since heard that Final Cut Pro runs better on a 27-inch iMac than it does on a Mac Pro, which sounds wrong to me, but okay, I guess I’ll try that out next time I’m at the Apple Store. ↩
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of video I have watched in the past year was shot on a Canon 5D. ↩
If you change the project view from being multi-row to single-row (which you can do by clicking the button on the right of the project view’s navbar) and flip the project view and event browser (there’s a flip button in the main toolbar), you get a strikingly familiar-looking window. ↩
Judging by the mediocre performance of iMovie on iOS with regard to scrubbing on the timeline, I’m pretty sure all the editing is being done in H.264. I don’t know enough about codec to tell you what codec would do well enough on quality, edit-friendliness, and file size to allow a decent version of iPad Final Cut to exist. ↩
Well… not directly. An iMovie for iOS project needs to go through iMovie ’11 first so it gets promoted to the “full” iMovie file format. FCPX will gladly open that project once it’s been opened in iMovie ’11 though. ↩
As a recent convert to the Magic Trackpad, I will say that precision goes way down with a trackpad. I’ve been a trackball user for years and I haven’t used a regular mouse that has felt as precise as my previous trackball was. (I didn’t switch for precision; I switched for the bouncy scrolling and the Mission Control gesture in Lion.) ↩
Rogers’ Pay As You Go top up number has roughly 1 minute and 30 seconds of talking before you can enter in your voucher number. Most of it consists of “please wait while I look up that account”.
The automated computer lady on the other end tells you your account balance about halfway in, and then tells you twice that she’s still looking up your account, despite having just told you what your account balance is. I’m not sure how that makes any sense.
If you go to the Rogers Web site, you type in your phone number, your PIN, and your voucher number: boom. It happens instantly. No messing around for 90 seconds while the page loads.
You know your language learning is coming along great when you’re listening to a Japanese podcast and all you understand is that at some point, you know they’re talking about G cups and milk… and that’s about it.
In related news: Seikon no Qwaser II.
Just kidding, not going there. I try to keep the blog reasonably work-safe.
I am completely baffled by Samsung’s Android device product line.
The original Galaxy Tab 10.1 was shown prior to the iPad 2 announcement. When the iPad 2 was announced, they felt they had to change the product to compete, so the original Galaxy Tab 10.1 was renamed to the Galaxy Tab 10.1v, and then the redesigned 10.1 was announced and released as the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
At the same event where the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was announced, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 was announced. Did it ever come out? I can’t find any definitive answer.
At IFA this week, Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab 7.7 as a follow up to the original, pre-Honeycomb 7-inch Galaxy Tab. Does this replace the 8.9 too? Will it ever re-emerge now that Samsung’s acting like it doesn’t exist?
Samsung also announced a half-phone half-tablet thing: the Galaxy Note. Kudos to Samsung for finding a gimmick to differentiate their comically big (5.3-inch) phone with. I dunno if it’ll fly, but it’s a better idea than just cramming a huge display on a phone for no good reason? Also, 285ppi. That I can get behind.
At last year’s IFA, Samsung announced the Galaxy Player line, which was meant to be a line of Android equivalents to the iPod touch. As far as I can tell only one of them, the Galaxy Player 50 (which has a 3.2-inch screen)1, was released (in France). Where are the two others?
Two other models were announced: the Galaxy S WiFi 4.0 and the Galaxy S WiFi 5.0 which have 4-inch and 5-inch displays respectively. Where does the 50 in the Galaxy Player 50 come from? ↩
If anyone outside of Japan is interested in buying books/DVDs/music from Japan and isn’t satisfied with Amazon.co.jp’s outrageous international shipping prices1, check out bk1.jp.
I bought two manga volumes (Helvetica Standard and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou Vol. 1) and the ZONE tribute album and saved roughly $16 on shipping. I ordered Saturday night and stuff got here this morning. You have a wide selection of shipping options with smaller orders; since mine was a parcel, I was given the choice of EMS (which I chose) and FedEx. Everything was really well packed.
I’ve had a wonderful first experience with them and I look forward to ordering more stuff soon!
Amazon forces you to use FedEx, which is quicker, but more expensive, for international orders, and shipping costs start at 3000 yen, which is insane if you’re ordering a ~700 yen tankobon. ↩