NAB 2006 Wrapup

I did my annual whirlwind trip to Las Vegas for 40 hours of NAB.

Great to see everyone and meet some new faces. This year though it seemed I missed more people than I saw. However I did get to spend some good time talking with Christoph Vonrhein of CHV. Christoph is scary smart and pushing FXScript way beyond what has been done before.


Not much to get really excited about this year. The whole show seemed to lack a certain energy it’s had in the past. If anything it seems like HD is fully here and now people are figuring out how to work with it.

Lots of people around the show seemed to be complaining about various aspects of Panasonic’s P2 cards. Everyone loves how the video looks, but was down on the workflow. Complaints I overheard included the constant swapping of cards, their still astronomical cost, the lack of third-party cards, 8gb maximum available size, the lack of workable hacks (FireStore excepted) contributed to a general malaise about the format.

Far more hostile were the descriptions of working with HDV. It’s great that the format has a relatively low buy-in cost, but people were spitting blood about working with the files. HDV users seemed angry, frustrated and annoyed. And a lot of them are jealous of the Panasonic image quality, HDV looks mushy by comparison. I heard several people who are using HDV cameras steering others away from HDV cameras.

What that basically tells me is that the prosumer HD space is still very much up for grabs. Maybe that’s why the only perceptable buzz at the show was from RED Digital Cinema.

Except for RED

A lot of people seem to think RED is a joke. I’d be feeling the same way except that I know two people working at the company, Ted Schilowitz and Graeme Nattress. They’re both brilliant and dead serious about this camera. I have total confidence in them, this camera is no joke. Despite the fact that it looks more like a weapon from Unreal Tournament than a camera, and with a $17,500 price tag, the RED camera will completely transform the digital filmmaking marketplace.

In the near-term, HDV may yet become the interim standard. It’s just so much cheaper than anything else. Dealing with HDV files is really a software problem, so maybe Apple will shake a better workflow out of Quicktime and FCP making HDV more fun to use.

Overall it was a great trip. Sometimes, working alone in my little dark office, I forget there are people using the stuff I make. I know how absurd that sounds, but it’s real. Meeting so many Joe’s Filters users and hearing stories about how my filters helped people was revitalizing. Thanks to everyone, there’s more stuff coming soon.

Shell scripts in AppleScript are illegible

I got my FXScript Compiler working on the new machine and pulling sources from Subversion without too much trouble. But I decided that my practice of embedding shell scripts in AppleScript kind of sucks. It’s just desperately ugly. Tools like sed are ugly enough on their own, slashing and escaping every other character just makes them completely impossible to dissect after a few months.

For example, I print the following in the header of each file’s source code before compiling:

[tab] // [tab] Version: r145
[tab] // [tab] build200604181617
[tab] // [tab] April 18, 2006

One echo statement looks like this ($d and $b are already set and $b is formatted):

echo -e "\t//\tVersion: $d\n$b\n\t//\t`date '+%B %d, %Y'`\n\n

Not exactly pretty, except in comparison to this:

echo -e "\\t//\\tVersion: $d\\n$b\\n\\t//\
\\t\`date '+%B %d, %Y'`\\n\\n"

Echo is using the -e argument because these are being piped through other commands.

The real killer is anything involving regular expressions. Say a matching pattern needs to match a string containng double-quotes inside a double-quoted sed pattern. Then this already slash-infested command:

sed -e "s/\([Ff]ilter[\t ]*"[^"]*\)"/.../"

becomes this:

do shell script "sed -e "s/\\([Ff]ilter[\\t ]*\

No part of me wants anything to do with keeping track of that many backslashes. It’s slightly better when using sed with the -E extended regex flag, but still.

In the ongoing pursuit of long term legibility, I’m putting my shell scripts functions into individual files inside the XCode project. More on how that works later.

[I know the main page template doesn’t work right when long strings break the column width, it’s on my long-term to do list]

Syndication overkill

Just tried and abandoned FeedWordPress. It’s an impressive plugin, but seemed like too much work only to cross-post news from the Joe’s Filters site here too. Mostly though, I didn’t like the way my language would have had to float inbetween sites. I may add a JavaScript feed display at some point, but for now I’ll just post a note here when something updates over there.

Joe’s Filters Documentation

I’ve finally posted the revised Joe’s Filters Documentation. Much of the content is the same, but the backend system has been completely reconstructed. It’s now running on WordPress, includes feedback, RSS and will soon offer a printed version as well (via a print stylesheet). This is finally the write-once publish everywhere solution I’ve been thinking about since I first posted the docs in 2003.

There are a few things left to do, mostly just integrating the news RSS feed with this site and moving the feeds to Feedburner. Now I can get back to the filters and document them as I work. (And start benchmarking in FCP 5.1 on my MBP, more on that later.)

Take a look and let me know what you think, here or there.

NAB Small World Moments

Talking to the cabbie during my taxi ride to the airport before leaving Las Vegas, it came up that Ben Maller is my brother. Of course the cab driver listens to Ben’s show.

The day I got back from NAB, my father-in-law called. He was being filmed for something related to USRF, his videographer knew of me, Joe’s Filters, and was even at NAB. And it gets better: The company the videographer was with, Beckman Coulter, was my one of my father’s first jobs out of college when it was Beckman Instruments.

NAB update coming

Getting back to NYC was merciless. I’ll post details tomorrow once I’ve had a real night’s rest. Unless I can’t sleep, then I’ll post later tonight…. Overall, a very exciting show. FCP users are the best.

FCPUG raffle licenses have been mailed out. If you won and didn’t receive one please contact me.

Joe’s Filters at NAB

Plug it in: Third-Party Filters for Final Cut Pro


This will be the first time we’ve all been together and should be quite a session. Topics will include plugins, workflows, FXScript (very briefly), ideas for future effects and where plugins are going in FCP.

I’ll be in Las Vegas from Tuesday morning through the FCPUG meeting Wednesday night.