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ATPM 7.01
January 2001


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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

Did You Get What You Wanted?

I normally write this column about ten to twelve days before you get to see it hot off the ePress. This month, that would have put me writing before Christmas, and you reading after it. Clearly, that solution is unacceptable. I contemplated writing about what I wanted, and seeing if I got it; however, reporting after the fact is preferable, at least in this case. So, I spoke to the deadline elf—he’s the one that makes sure that Santa gets all the toys made and onto the sled on time. He gave me the high sign, which is a scary sight in and of itself, but it did achieve the desired effect.

A word about Christmas: the last few years, I haven’t really wanted anything. I have a lovely wife and two beautiful children that keep me busy. I’m more into the whole “Celebrating Christ’s Birth” thing and the whole “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men” thing. I get gifts from my family, and am pleasantly surprised when I get something that I actually like. No ties here.

When I talked about getting what I wanted, I was alluding to the metaphorical. Most of the things I want can’t be given as gifts. I want faster PowerPC chips. I want Apple’s stock price higher. I want OS X announced at Macworld. I want to go to Macworld. Again, the fine folks at Rocket Science Central decided that their lead Mac Tech would be better served by staying home. Are they trying to tell me something?

I also want the next generation DV camera from Canon. The XL1 is still the top of the line, but I guess I’m holding out for the XL2. At a ShowBiz Expo around seven or eight years ago, a producer friend and I were joking about one day being able to shoot a film, remove the hard drive from the camera, take it to a PC (or Mac, I threw in) and proceed to edit. With the advent of FireWire and the VST external hard drive, we’re getting close. I hear of a company that’s developing the technology to replace the need for a computer hookup between the two. Ok, these last few things actually exist, however, I didn’t get them.

I want a digital video-to-film transfer to cost less than sixty thousand dollars. I want the XtremMac. 1.2 GHz…I had to replace my keyboard from the drool. I want a manual for iMovie, but The Missing Manual fits the bill quite nicely. Look for the second edition to cover iMovie 2. Conversely, I’d like an understandable manual for Final Cut Pro. If I spend a grand on a piece of software, how much goes to the technical writer? Should I have to go to my nearest online store and buy seven or eight books to understand a piece of software I just bought? Come to think of it, I want a Final Cut Pro that will take advantage of the multiple processors on the latest G4. Supposedly, I’m getting this one at Macworld, but I’m not holding my breath.

I want a working space station. I want a monolith discovered on the moon. Ok, I’m trying to stay with the 2001 theme here, so go with it. Working at Jet Propulsion Lab gives me an interesting perspective on this type of stuff; as I write this, we have a satellite passing close to Saturn. I don’t have an actual count on how many PowerPoint documents were made on how many Macs to make this happen, but another thing I want is at least 50% penetration of Macs in the lab. With the timely release of OS X, by next year I may get that.

Of course, that has nothing to do with the Mac in Hollywood. I could use a G4 PowerBook. If I believe the rumor sites, I should have one by next week. I still salivate at the ability to download digital video on location and watch the dailies as they’re shot. If I need to do a retake for any reason, I can get it right away. Saving money is a good thing for an independent producer.

Which reminds me, I want my production company financed. Ok, that’s something that can be given, but not usually as a Christmas present. Unless one of you out there has a spare ten million dollars. OK, with the advent of digital video, you can shoot an entire film for roughly 5K, and for an additional 10K you can purchase a top-of-the-line digital video editing suite.

I want flame wars to stop on the digital video list I’m on. Part of the whole “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men” thing I mentioned earlier. I want an Apple store to open in my area, although I have a local company that does quite well for me.

I want game software to come out on both platforms simultaneously. While doing some research the other day, I found out that The Sims had just been released for the Mac—about six months overdue, in my opinion. We finally have versions of Tomb Raider and Rainbow Six, but it took a year to get them.

I want the next generation of FireWire. And I want Apple to implement USB 2.0. This should allow for downloads of video at two and three times the speed. Of course, I’m always stuck with the constant of 3.6 MB of storage for a second of DV. That works out to about a little over 18 GB of storage for a 90 minute film. Fortunately, companies like VST, and even IBM, have gone the extra digital mile and provided hard drives of 75 GB and higher: more than enough to capture and edit a two hour film. So, these things that I want, I can actually get.

Since I didn’t get this stuff this year, maybe I’ll get it the next, although usually the things I don’t get for Christmas I get on my birthday. That’s on Thursday.

72 and sunny in Redondo.

e You next time.

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