Broadcast upTimer …

This is the updated version of a neat utility that I built about 5 years ago. Radio Stations sometime use what are referred to as upTimers to track live programs and air time. Hardware versions are available from main stream broadcast gear suppliers and can be quite expensive. In fact many of these devices can be remotely controlled using a console link. I thought a software version would be cool, so there you have it.

New options include the capability to set the timer Ceiling (60 or 90 minutes), HUD window interface, and date display. I decided to use a HUD window instead of a basic textured window. Clicking away from the running timer window does not affect clear visibility. The physical size of the window is now 840 x 365 pixels. This makes it easy to see from a distance.

I need to add the Sparkle Framework for automatic updating support before I release it …



I replaced the current date with a Running Time display. Sparkle has been added as well …

You can download upTimer 2.0 here.

Return to Vinyl …

Introducing my “new” stereo …

… Well, not really. It’s a long story.

Back in the late 1960’s though the 1980’s nothing (besides family, school, and work) was more important to me than music. Growing up my Dad blessed us with one of those retro console stereo cabinets that included a recessed turntable and AM/FM Tuner. I forget the brand. However I remember every aspect of it: the Tone Arm, the Tuner, and the mesh panels that covered the front firing stereo speakers. The piece no longer exists. The memories of using it will be with me forever.

In 1977 I purchased my first personal stereo system that consisted of a Pioneer Integrated Amp, a belt drive (fully manual) Sansui turntable with a Shure cartridge, and a pair of Ego speakers. It was through this system that I enjoyed early music by classic Rock Bands of that era that for the most part became legends. Queen, Led Zeppelin, Journey, Bad Company, Boston … there was just something about placing that Shure stylus on a spinning LP.

Fast forward to sometime around 1983. I was 23 and working as a Clerk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. An afternoon stroll up Broadway to J&R Music World would turn out to be a life changing event. On that day I was exposed to Compact Discs for the very first time. The immediate access to tracks, the connivence, and the allure of digital audio playback swayed me, and marked the beginning of the end of my passion for vinyl LP’s.

Throughout the 1990’s I managed to accumulate quite a collection of compact discs. Indeed I repurchased every album that was important to me in the CD format that I originally owned on vinyl. But something happened. For reasons that I have yet to figure out, at this stage of my life I have totally lost interest in listening to music. Occasionally, and I mean that sincerely – I’ll listen to Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle collaborations recorded in the 1960’s … on CD. That’s it. A week ago I decided to do something crazy. As a result, I think I may have figured out why I lost interest in listening to music.

I’m not sure why … but I decided to fire up a few of my old LP’s on my “old” Sony linear tracking turntable that my brother Mike had stored in a Brooklyn storage facility. In order to play LP’s through my modern gear I needed to purchase a phono preamp to bring the turntable up to line-level. I bought a $50 ART preamp from B&H, wired everything up to my Mackie console, and decided to spin the first Boston album originally released in 1976. I must admit I really wanted to play my favorite album of all time: Queen II (1974). My thinking was if I was disappointed, Queen II would not be responsible for my dismay.

My goodness. I’m still coming to terms with what I experienced when I fired up that Boston album. I *cannot believe* how much better vinyl sounds compared to CD! I’m amazed how I simply forgot about the vinyl experience. The warmth, the nuances, and yes – the clicks and pops … there’s just something about it. It sounds nothing like CD. I’m totally immersed in this. I proceeded to dig out all my favorites on vinyl and I’ve been listening non-stop. My listening experience of choice is through headphones. It’s been really cool.

As I noted I am using my old Sony linear tracking turntable. It’s fully automatic, with a tracking arm and cartridge that moves in a straight line horizontally from the right side of the turntable platter to the center spindle. After cleaning it up and fixing a few mechanical problems, it functions well – with one exception: no manual control of the tonearm. A few day’s of research and a bit of eBay browsing solved this problem.

This week I’m expecting two pieces of gear that I remember well: the Marantz 2216 Stereo Receiver and the Technics SL-Q2 Direct Drive turntable. Both pieces are circa 1977, and are in mint condition. I purchased them for almost nothing compared to their original cost. Some 33 years later – I will be able to enjoy two pieces that I could have never afforded back in the day. Best of all, I get to relive what has left me for so many years. That would be sitting back and enjoying my favorites on vinyl through vintage gear. This whole experience made me think of a line sung by Freddie Mercury many years ago (1973?) on a very obscure and rare track: “… I think I’m going back … to the things I loved so well … in my youth.”


Final Cut Pro Offline Edit with ProRes Proxy…

It has been documented that the newly released feature film “Eat Pray Love” staring Julia Roberts was edited entirely on a Final Cut Pro workstation.

I found this most interesting:

“The editors found an efficient solution in ProRes 422 (Proxy), a new version of the Apple ProRes codec introduced with Final Cut Pro 7. As soon as dailies arrived from EFILM, Assistant Editor Doc Crotzer would transcode the files from ProRes 422 (HQ) to ProRes 422 (Proxy), organize the footage into bins, and prepare the material for editing.”

Review this chart, and notice the variations in data rates of the ProRes family of codecs:

Obviously lower data rates = smaller file sizes. The bottom line is working with ProRes Proxy files (Offline copies of original ProRes 422/HQ files) creates a much more efficient workflow that is less taxing on any system.

I’ve adopted a slick method using my iMac for rough cutting ingested AVCHD footage that has been transcoded to ProRes Proxy via Final Cut Pro’s Log and Transfer. Depending on the complexity of the finished project sequence, I can finish and output on the iMac, or – move the project and it’s assets over to my MacPro for finishing. The key is prior to outputting, the edited Proxy clips can be re-captured and replaced with higher quality ProRes versions.

The Workflow:

  • Set up the FCP Project and Sequence. My sequences are typically 1080p/24.
  • Add a new Bin in the FCP Browser and designate it as the Logging Bin.
  • Mount media and run Log and Transfer. From the Import Preferences Action Popup menu, set ProRes Proxy as the ingest transcode format.
  • Log and Transfer clips into the project. Before closing Log and Transfer, reset the ingest transcode format to ProRes 422.
  • Close Log and Transfer and edit clips into sequence.


Reconnect Media

  • Select the project sequence in the Browser. From the FCP menu, run Media Manager: File/Media Manager. Create an Offline Sequence and set to ProRes 422.

  • Name and save the new Sequence. A new tab will appear in the FCP Browser that includes the duplicate sequence and it’s offline clips.
  • Select the new sequence. From the FCP Menu: File/Batch Capture.
  • Choose All Offline Items in Selection from the displayed Re-Import popup menu. Log and Transfer will run and recapture the sequence clips as ProRes 422 versions.
  • Finish and output.

If you edit on an iMac, a Mac Portable with an external FW800 hard drive, or if you are looking for a more efficient large-scale project workflow – try this method. It works well for me …


aspectRatio: New design

I’ve consolidated the design and functionality of the aspectRatio version 1 series UI.

The main (and only) program window now consists of two individual views: Fixed and Custom Calculations. The user can select a view with the Segmented Control, located at the bottom right of the application window. Additional fixed calculation actions that were previously accessible on various “sheets” are now located in a new lower drawer.

I rewired all the application objects and edited a good amount of code. I need to test the application before I release it. I think it turned out pretty well …

Update: aspectRatio ver.1.10 has been released.


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Confused by the term Pulldown, or Telecine?

Here are the facts:

24p = 23.98 fps (Progressive)

29.97 fps = 59.94 interlaced fields per second, aka 60i

• Interlaced video displays 60 half frames per second

• Progressive video takes entire video frames on the go

• Progressive video requires 2x the bandwidth of interlaced video

Pulldown (Telecine)

This is the conversion process: 24p (film or video) — 29.97 (video).

• 2:3, or 3:2 (aka 2:3:2:3): 60 fields / 24 = 2.5. So each frame of 24p material needs to last for 2.5 frames of video

• 2:3:3:2 is referred to as Advanced Pulldown

Excerpt form Videomaker Magazine:

Here’s how it works: we are transferring 24p to 60i, which means we are converting 24 frames per second into 60 fields per second. The first frame of film is transferred to the first two fields of video and the next frame of film is transferred to the next three fields – 2:3. This results in some frames of film spanning two different frames of video or, to put it another way, some frames of video that are composed of fields from two different frames of film.


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aspectRatio: Divisible by 16 …

Here is a glimpse of what I have planned for the next release for aspectRatio:

At this point I’ve implemented a suggested dimensions method that displays values evenly divisible by 16. The results are triggered by the Target Width and returned Output Height calculation.

Select MPEG formats are based on 16×16 macro-blocks. Evenly divisible (by 16) output dimensions will maximize the efficiency of the encoder and yield optimum results. For example: a purist would prefer a small 16:9 distribution video to be 480×272 instead of the common 480×270

Also included in this release: a user defined output font color preference setting [orange/red], and a Menu option that re-opens the main UI window if the user inadvertently closes it while the application is still running.

A release date has yet to be determined …


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