Premiere Pro’s Project Manager Can’t Handle Double-Nests

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So, I just came across another tiny bug in Premiere Pro that I couldn’t find anything about online, so I thought I’d outline it here in case someone else is searching for the same thing.

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 11.07.42 AM

One of the Offending Nests

I was archiving a project this morning in PPro CC2017.1 (the latest as of this writing), using the “Consolidate and Transcode” option. I thought everything had gone smoothly, until I noticed that two of my nested sequences hadn’t come across properly into the new project. They were represented in the timeline by green clips with diagonal stripes throughout, and behaved as if they simply weren’t there at all. (I.e., transparent video.)

But two other nests had come over just fine, so confusion ensued. I went directly to Google because I am lazy and this is 2017, but found nothing. After a while I gave up, went back to the original project and cracked open the two broken nests to find… more nests!

So, for whatever reason, Premiere Pro’s Project Manager fails to recognize and transcode nested sequences inside of nested sequences. The solution was to individually select all of the nested sequences in Project Manager and do the archive over again. Everything worked swimmingly the second time.

Hope this helps someone in the distant future. 2017 out.

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Encrypt Your Dropbox Files with VeraCrypt

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UPDATE 2017-09-21: What follows is my workable but convoluted system for securing sensitive files in Dropbox. As an alternative, you may instead consider a zero-knowledge, encrypted backup service like SpiderOak. Easier. -JMT

There comes a time in every man’s life when he realizes that it’s totally not smart to keep sensitive personal documents in plain text on Dropbox.

Screenshot 2016-07-23 14.09.31

VeraCrypt Mounting a Volume

For me, that time was last Monday. I spent this week searching for and experimenting with possible solutions, and I’ve now got a system in place that I’m pretty happy with, so I thought I’d share.
The problem, as I see it, is that the important stuff needs off-site backup — but the important stuff tends to be the same as the sensitive stuff, so it’s exactly the stuff that shouldn’t just be sitting on Dropbox. (Yes, I know Dropbox encrypts your data already. If that’s enough for you, more power to you.)

The system I’ve set up on my OS X Yosemite machine is this:

  1. Create a folder in ~/Documents called Encrypted. Collect all my important stuff there.
  2. Use VeraCrypt (free) to create an encrypted volume; we’ll call it EncryptedVolume.
  3. Use Carbon Copy Cloner ($40; worth it) to clone ~/Documents/Encrypted to EncryptedVolume.
  4. Place EncryptedVolume in ~/Dropbox.

Now you can just use your ~/Documents/Encrypted folder on an ongoing basis, and you don’t have to fool with opening encrypted volumes or anything else when you’re in a rush. Just use the folder as normal. And when you do have time, and/or you make important updates, use Carbon Copy Cloner to re-sync the folder to EncryptedVolume. CCC will only copy the updates, Dropbox will only upload the file difference, and nothing will be uploaded until the drive is encrypted and unmounted again. So everything is both efficient and secure during each step.

That’s the best compromise I could find between convenience and security. I chose VeraCrypt both because it’s open source and because it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. So if my computing situation changes and I’m ever in a pinch, I can open my encrypted documents on any computer* (I also chose to format EncryptedVolume as FAT for the same reason).

Of course, you can do this without CCC, as long as you don’t mind a little manual housekeeping. But CCC is already the bedrock of my backup solution, so it made sense to leverage it here, too.

*I had one hiccup on Linux — after Dropbox syncs EncryptedVolume to your Linux box, you need to give yourself write permission to the file, or the drive will be mounted read-only. You only need to do this once, the first time it downloads.

 

Video

Mortal Kombat and Enter the Dragon Are the Same Movie

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A silly video I made over the July 4th weekend is currently going viral. Check it out!

http://mashable.com/2015/07/06/mortal-kombat-enter-the-dragon-same-movie/

http://uproxx.com/movies/2015/07/enter-the-dragon-and-mortal-kombat-are-basically-the-same-movie-except-for-all-that-magic-stuff/

http://geektyrant.com/news/mortal-kombat-and-enter-the-dragon-are-essentially-the-same-movie

http://www.thewrap.com/mortal-kombat-enter-the-dragon-mashup-reveal-suspicious-number-of-similarities-video/st_refDomain=t.co&st_refQuery=/5Hbfwmy46a

Adobe Releases Creative Cloud 2015

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Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 Splash Screen

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015

This week Adobe released the 2015 versions of its Creative Cloud suite of apps. There are lots of new Premiere Pro features, including many intriguing features centered around mobile interactivity. But the big ones that look like I could incorporate into my workflow immediately are:

  • Lumetri Looks, for simpler, faster color grading
  • Morph Cut, which seamlessly blends two clips to hide a jump cut
  • Dynamic Link improvements, for better integration with After Effects and Audition

There are more cool features, like Character Animator, integration with Adobe Stock, Creative Cloud Libraries, and lots of other stuff. Check out the full list of changes here.

Creative Cloud 2015

OS X El Capitan Promises Adobe Performance Boost

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OS X 10.11, "El Capitan"

OS X 10.11, “El Capitan”

Apple announced the next iteration of OS X yesterday – El Capitan. Along with a few minor features that look promising (split view, tab muting in Safari), Apple is touting improvements in graphics rendering that could lead to performance boosts in Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Premiere Pro.

Adobe claims their own tests showed an 8x improvement in After Effects rendering.

The update will be released this fall, but early adopters can volunteer as beta testers at apple.com.

Official El Capitan Page at Apple.com (Scroll to the bottom for Beta program signup.)

Apple OS X El Capitan to Improve the Performance of Adobe CC Apps

Stay Focused with These OS X Productivity Apps

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Screenshot

Hellscape.

Your computer desktop is a hellscape of distraction. And so is mine. But mine is slightly less so, because of a number of strategies and utilities that I employ to keep it as clean as possible.

The basic idea here is to stop keeping so many browser tabs open – email, Facebook, calendar, your to-do list, articles to read, videos to watch – it never ends. And the result is that every time you glance at your browser’s title bar, you’re bombarded with the distraction of all these open circuits and loose ends. It is absolutely counter-productive to a focused workflow, whatever you’re working on. Below are some strategies and utilities that I use to tame the Beast.

First, the Big 4 \m/

Screenshot

Better.

MailTab Pro for Gmail

Do you keep your email open in a browser tab at all times? Of course you do – what do I think you are, some kind of Luddite? Well, stop it. It’s distracting. MailTab Pro for Gmail is a menu bar app that alerts you when email arrives and gives you quick, browser-less access to read and compose. It looks and behaves exactly like gmail in your browser, but tucked neatly into your menu bar. $1.99 for the pro version; there is also a free version available.

Similar competing apps exist, as do menu bar apps for Yahoo Mail and other services, but I can’t vouch for those.

MenuTab Pro for Google Calendar

Think you see a pattern? You’re right. Get all of those pinned tabs out of the way and up into the menu bar, where you can access them when you need them without the psychological overhead of a browser.

MenuTab Pro for Google Calendar is a simple app that keeps your Google calendar in your menu bar, out of sight and out of mind – until you need it. $1.99.

Wunderlist

App Store Wunderlist Screenshot

Wunderbar.

This one’s sort of a twofer. I’m assuming you already use a to-do list like Wunderlist or Toodledo. If you don’t, proceed immediately to wunderlist.com and sign up for an account. There is nothing quite so liberating as a to-do list that follows you everywhere you go, from desktop to laptop to phone to tablet. Well, that or maybe representative government. But you already have that. Sort of.

Anyhoo, once you have your to-do list set up, you will want 24/7 access to it, and you will begin keeping a tab open in your browser for it. Have you learned nothing from me, padawan? Ditch the tab, and install the free menu bar app. (Or, if you prefer, Toodledo.)

MenuTab for Facebook

And finally, if you’re like me, you enjoy Neil Diamond and are jealous of your wife’s relationship with your cat. Also, you have infrequent interactions on Facebook, but are compelled to constantly check to see if you have any alerts, despite all good sense. MenuTab for Facebook will fix that nonsense. Just stick it up in your menu bar and it will tell you when it’s time to check; in the meantime, those pictures of your cousin’s dinner won’t miss you one bit. Free, or $1.99 for extra features.

Next, Clean up Those Loose Ends

Evernote

Hopefully by now you have installed and are faithfully using your to-do list. That’s great, but what about when you need to make a note longer than a few words? Stop opening TextEdit, and start using Evernote.

Evernote allows you to create notes, sort them into notebooks, and sync them across multiple devices. It’s like Apple Notes, but with greater portability. You can use Evernote natively to sync your thoughts across OS X, Windows, iOS and Android, and there are several options for using it with Linux.

YouTube ‘Watch Later’

YouTube's Watch Later PlaylistIf you’re a YouTube power user (does that sound as ridiculous as I think it does?) you already know about the Watch Later playlist. But if you’re a casual user, you may not be aware. The Watch Later playlist is created in your account by default. Whenever you come across a video that you want to watch – but not right now – hover over the thumbnail and you’ll see a little clock icon in the lower right corner. Click that to add the video to your Watch Later list. When you have a few minutes for a break, check out the playlist (in the upper left of your screen) and see what you’ve queued up for yourself.

It’s a thousand times better than keeping twenty YouTube tabs open for stuff you’re totally going to watch, like, whenever you get a sec. For realz, yo.

Ok, so by now you ought to have your email, calendar, to-do list and Facebook apps running out of sight in your menu bar, and you’re tracking your projects with your to-do list and keeping notes with Evernote and sticking all those cat videos into your Watch Later list. If we’ve done this right, you might be able to – gasp – close your browser! And not even with tabs open so they all come back when you relaunch, but actually close it all so it opens cleanly the next time you actually need it. And as long as you don’t need it, it can stay closed, and your desktop is now free of distraction! Huzzah!

Honorable Mention

TotalFinder

I’m not sure TotalFinder is a productivity app per se, but it goes a long way to cleaning up your desktop, and I sure couldn’t live without it, so here it goes.

TotalFinder is the Finder replacement that ought to come stock with OS X. It maintains a single window with tabs for multiple directories, and keeps that window hidden when you don’t need it. A hotkey brings it up when you need it, and hides it when you don’t.

It also has a whole host of other options, so you can have granular control over your Finder experience, if you’re into that kind of thing. $18 and worth every penny.

GnuCash: Show Outstanding Invoices

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GnuCash Accounts Tab

GnuCash Accounts Tab

UPDATED BELOW 2015-04-06

I recently switched to GnuCash for invoicing. While it’s quite powerful, it does have a bit of a learning curve. And while I’ve mostly been able to figure out what I need to know with the googles, one feature has eluded me: how to get GnuCash to show me a list of outstanding invoices.

It seems like a pretty obvious feature, but my searches for it always ended on a message board with someone telling me that it simply can’t be done. And while that may technically be true, I stumbled on a trick last night that is definitely close enough for funk.

And here’s the trick: it’s a two-step process. The menu item you need is only available from a certain tab. So:

GnuCash Customers Tab

GnuCash Customers Tab

Start on your Accounts tab. Click Business->Customers->Customer Overview. This will open the Customers tab. Now, with the Customers tab selected, click  Reports->Customer Listing.

This will open the Customer Listing tab, which shows you all of your clients and what they owe. It’s easy enough to ignore the clients with $0.00 next to their names, and that leaves you with a list of clients who have at least one outstanding invoice. Mind you, it still doesn’t show a breakdown of specific invoices – but you can click on the hyperlinked outstanding amount to see a breakdown of invoices for each client.

GnuCash Customer Listing Tab

GnuCash Customer Listing Tab

It’s not ideal – I would really like a one-click solution that simply shows me every currently unpaid invoice – but it’s whole lot better than “it can’t be done.”

2015-04-06 – UPDATE

Reader Rich T. emailed me to suggest a further improvement to this method:

You stumbled on the same thing I did.  It might help to:  1. On the options dialog there is a checkbox to ignore zero balances.  2. "Save -> save report config as" will let you give it a name and recall it as needed.

Edit report options dialogue

Edit report options

So, picking up from where we left off above with the Customer Listing tab active, there is a button in the toolbar called Edit report options. Click this, deselect “Show zero balance items” toward the bottom of the dialogue, and give it a “Report name” up top. Click Ok, then go to File->Save Report As… and give your new report a name.

Now, you can simply click Reports->Preconfigured reports and choose your customized report. Even better, it will only show clients with outstanding balances. So much simpler!

Thanks, Rich T., for the suggestion!

Free AVCHD to Mov FTW

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Adobe Premiere Pro Audio Waveform

Where’s Poochie?

I recently experienced a shock when I discovered one of the clips in my Premiere Pro project was missing ~90% of its audio. This was a clip I had shot myself, so I knew the audio had been recorded properly. But for some reason, a few minutes into the clip, it just disappeared. This is a camera, SDHC card, and transcoding workflow I have used 100’s of times; I have never had a problem like this.

Panicked googling led nowhere, largely because the search results were dominated by an old bug in Premiere CS6 that refused to import audio from any AVCHD footage ever. (I used to use Apple Compressor to import my AVCHD footage before moving it over to Premiere Pro for exactly this reason.)

I tried opening the card in MPEG Streamclip, but for all its Swiss Army-like beauty, MPEG Streamclip won’t read AVCHD files. Then on a whim I tried VLC, and sure enough, VLC could read it. And the audio was all there. But VLC is just a player, not a transcoder…

Still, I was much relieved knowing the audio was there; now it was just a matter of getting to it. I long ago ditched Final Cut Studio, so Compressor is no longer on my machine. And with MPEG Streamclip dead in the water, I had to begin looking for alternatives.

Free AVCHD to Mov

Free AVCHD to Mov

And that’s when I came across Free AVCHD to Mov on the App Store. I hate installing junk I don’t trust – especially ad-supported junk – but I needed a solution. So I gave it a shot, and it performed beautifully. With a simple interface that I probably could have figured out if I didn’t happen to be a professional editor, it grabbed the clip and transcoded it to ProRes 422LT with perfect audio.

I still don’t know what caused Adobe Media Encoder to choke on that file – all the other files from the same card shot on the same day were fine. (I have a theory about it being a bug triggered by the fact that the SD card was previously nearly 100% full, before being erased for this project – but I haven’t found anyone else to corroborate it.)

In any case, consider this my love letter to Free AVCHD to Mov. Thanks, bro!