Creative Mac


Essential No. 1: Final Cut Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential No. 2: Media 100 Remote Field Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential No. 3: Disk Warrior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential No. 4: Connectix Copy Agent

OPINION AUGUST 30 , 2000
Road Hog: Some Like It Soft

Essential software for your PowerBook

by Tim Wilson
Man About Town™
[email protected]

What put Road Hog on the map was our look at some essential hardware add-ons for the PowerBook G3, a brute on its own terms, but boosted to Beast status with a few choice accessories. There's some software that will make the road much smoother, too, as well as showing off in the way that true Road Hogs do.

Final Cut Pro
It's against the law to talk about essential software for your G3 PowerBook without talking about Final Cut Pro, Apple's industrial grade video editing software ($995, Apple). Apple thinks fondly enough of it that their titular photo of the Road Hog on their Web site has it running FCP, alongside the Canon GL-1 camera, sure enough another dandy little add-on for your PowerBook.

On a desktop G4, you can actually trick out FCP to run uncompressed, high-definition video with the Targa Cine card for about $30,000, with standard-def versions running considerably less. Other than this remarkable ability to run HD, I just don't find FCP all that compelling on the desktop, though. A lot of folks disagree with me on this point, which is fine by me. This is America, where it's your god-given birthright to be wrong.

No disputing, though, FCP rocks on a PowerBook. The combination of FCP and a PowerBook is entirely in its own class—there's nothing even vaguely like it on the Mac side, and there's not even anything on the peecee side that's even in the same genus or species. It's cool enough that I'm going to devote an entire Road Hog column to it, but you can buy it now and start having fun.

It doesn't matter if you don't have FireWire built into your flavah of PowerBook, although that certainly makes it easier. The fact is that FCP will work just fine with just about any FireWire CardBus card on the market, and they run right around $100, give or take. Note that you can't run a FireWire drive and digitize video through a FireWire add-in card at the same time.

(Another reason I didn't put any FireWire cards on my essential hardware list is that they don't supply enough juice to run most FireWire drives without an AC adapter, which kind of negates the usefulness of those drives for road hogging. Both of these caveats are distinct from the built-in FireWire of the current crop of PowerBooks, which can do all this just fine.)

The fact is that you can have a whole lot of fun editing and compositing with Final Cut Pro without digitizing, simply by using clip video from folks like ArtBeats and Mettle.

If you really want to unlock the potential of FCP, though, you have no choice: You must, must, must buy the DV Companion, the next generation online Help system developed by Philip Hodgetts and published by Intelligent Media. Buy it now. You can thank me later.

Media 100 RFE
This is kind of cheating because there's more to it than software, but the absolute sine qua non of Road Hog video editing on a PowerBook is the Media 100 Remote Field Editor. Oh my god, is this thing hot. And, in fact, I strongly prefer Media 100's software to FCP, but Even our DMN colleague Charlie White, who once wrote that Macs suck, was won over by the RFE. See? Everyone can be redeemed, but in some cases it takes a miracle. The Media 100 RFE is miraculous. This is why God told Steve to invent PowerBooks. Or the other way around. I forget which.

Disk Warrior
Do I need to tell you that you need software with a name like this? If you're a Road Hog, you've already sought out all the software with names like this and loaded it up. For the rest of you, the answer is yes, you need this software. It's from Alsoft and may be the single most important piece of software you ever buy.

You know that Road Hog worthy hard drive you've got, loaded with tens of thousands of files? The file directory is what keeps track of where they all are. If the directory goes, you can't use your files. Period. They might as well not even be there. Disk Warrior can rebuild your directory in case of emergencies, but, better still, can prevent directory damage. The more files you have, the more important Disk Warrior is to you.

One of the most common sources of directory damage? Norton Utilities. Friends don't let friends use Norton, man. Download Disk Warrior. You can thank me later.

Connectix Copy Agent
Directory damage is just one of the truly heinous things can happent to a computer that spends much of its life on the road. I won't jinx anything by elaborating, but you can use your imagination if you've been fortunate enough to avoid such hazards. Backing up your hard drive isn't glamorous, but unless you can afford to lose everything on it, you gotta do it.

The problem with the usual suspects in the backup software field is that they're just too annoying to actually use. They're getting better, but they're still a long way from the kind of ease of use that you've rightly come to expect from your Macintosh. The first one to get it right is Copy Agent from Connectix, folks who've consistently gotten it right when it comes to drop-dead simplicity and reliability with utilities like RAM Doubler and Speed Doubler. This one's that good, too.

You can use it to automate copies, which it not only speeds, but does intelligently: you can choose to copy all your files from one location to another, to replace new or changed files or to synchronize both the source and destination drives.

Best of all, the copies aren't in some arcane, proprietary format. They're just regular old Mac files. I can't believe that we had to wait this long for somebody to get something this important this right, but Connectix nailed it. They've made backing up easy enough that you might actually do it. Do. You can thank me later.

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