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Tag: ios

When you need to know the time

Recently I had a few projects where I was the one who was responsible keeping track of the time being spent on the tasks. At the end I had to know how many hours we spent with editing, mixing, etc. Who really knows me might just laughing right now as I’m very famously forget everything related to time. Birthdays, important dates, historical dates, pretty much everything. So I’m not the best person to keep track of things like this, but this time I had no choice.

There’s an app for that

As soon as my first panic attack went away, I remembered the marketing line from Apple: “there’s an app for that…” so I started to search the AppStore for possible solutions. I needed something that’s:

  • easy to use
  • doesn’t require complicated setup
  • reliable
  • can keep track of spent time on different task
  • can remind me to use it

I know that the last point might sound ridiculous to you, but it’s a fact, I needed something that reminds me to use it.

And I’ve found the aptly named Hours.

time

This is really a great app for me. It’s dead easy to use, requires very basic setup, and, most importantly you can set reminders inside the app!

I keep it very simple. For example I made two tasks: Edit and Mix. You can set the amount of time you spent with a task, or you can simply tap the clock icon and it’s immediately start to count time. Don’t forget to stop when you finish, but other than this, you don’t need to pay attention to the app.

Make a task list and always measure only what you really do. After the fact, you can create a complete report which can be as simple as a usual work clock, or you can create a detailed one with notes. Reports can be daily, weekly, monthly, whatever fit your needs.

If you’re a tweaky kind of person, you can set up time format, rounding rules and of course, reminders.

time prefs

I hope you find it as useful as me.

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Summary

I didn’t plan to write a summary post, but lately I think this would be the best to tell everything what’s going on. So here it is, a wide variety of things randomly happening around me. I had so many projects continuously going on that sometimes I lost in the flow. Fortunately there’s an app for this too. 😉

Versatile interface

I had been pondering for months about a really versatile and useful interface that I will be able to use in many different, but equally demanding situation. After long months of searching, testing, pondering and re-testing I decided to get the Sound Devices USB Pre2.

It wasn’t an easy decision, because when it comes to equipment I’m very picky, the candidate must be: sturdy, well engineered and built, versatile, very good sound quality both in and out, have to have multiple connection options, must work flawlessly with wide variety of computers, etc. So, you can expect a review in the next few weeks.

Weight issues

Many of you know that I have a little partner with me almost all the time, the Sony PCM D50. I’d been using the basic model of Joby’s Gorillapod, and as it turned out, unfortunately it cannot hold the recorder safely in place. It’s still a great little flexible tripod, but not adequate to use it with the Sony. I thought the bigger model (hybrid) would be fine, but a short test run proved otherwise.

So, the ultimate choice is the even bigger Gorillapod: SLR Zoom with the ball head.

Obviously it is much bigger in size, but this can hold the recorder firmly and safely at the place I want. I had to decide which is the more important factor, size or safety and I decided that safety is much more important (at least for me).

You can see the size difference here:

The good thing in the new, bigger Gorillapod is that you can use it as a proper tripod if you want to, but in a second, it can be the usual super-twisted holder you already know.

Pro Tools 10.3

The new update which corrects many bugs that disturbed all of us in post production. All I can say is so far so good. It works fine without any crash or hiccup. I’m still on Lion, plan to upgrade to Mountain Lion in the near future, but right now I have no time for that, and as the golden rule says: never ever upgrade during big projects… I postponed the upgrade. Even before updating Pro Tools I made a complete system backup for safety, and I suggest the same to you. Always backup before any serious upgrade.

I’ve heard good things about Mountain Lion and as the latest release from Avid actually supports the new operating system, maybe my upgrade is going to happen sooner than I first thought…

Macbook Pro as a power-horse

Yes, I admit I’m a geek. Sometimes I lost control over myself, so I upgraded my laptop. The old hdd has been retired, and a brand new Samsung 830 series SSD replaced it, the difference is quite amazing. But you may already know this, but might miss the fact that I upgraded to 16GB of ram. Well, Pro Tools just loves it. It really boosted the whole performance.

I use Freememory on my laptop, and with 8GB I sometimes ran into problems. Now, with 16GB in the machine, every ram hungry app can eat ample amount while the os still have enough to work with.

iPad stand

I’ve been looking for a good iPad stand for a long time. The required features were:
* shall be stable (obviously)
* made from durable materials
* able to place it on the top of audio consoles of all kind
* small enough that it doesn’t need much space when not used

And then I came across this:

Twelve South Compass iPad stand. Just the perfect solution for me. It holds the iPad safely, because of the legs it can stand on consoles and virtually everywhere. And, when not used it can be very small in its own little holder. As it is made from steel it’s very strong, fulfils all my need.

Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter

I waited for this, and after such a long wait Apple released it. Immediately bought one to test it with different external HDDs and with an RME Fireface UFX sound card.

With the HDDs I experienced no problem at all, actually it is pretty fast and you save yourself a complete Firewire port.

But, the real good news is that it works perfectly well with the RME sound card! Without a hiccup. Tried it during recording sessions, during mixing and editing and it’s been working fine from the first minute. Of course a Thunderbolt hub would be even better, but I’m happy with this little adapter now. Belkin promised to release a Thunderbolt hub in september this year. They haven’t released it yet, I hope we don’t have to wait too long now.

Omnifocus to keep me sane and at least partially organised

You may know the Omnigroup, they make spectacular software for the Mac and for iOS devices. Omnifocus is a GTD application which can be perfectly utilised in post production.

It’s useful if you have many small things to do, but also perfect if you have various recurring tasks for the day or for longer periods. I’ll write about it in the future, for now it’s enough to know that it’s a really remarkable application. A real life saver for me.

Future articles

First of all, thank you for the suggestions and lots of emails!

Of course the Shortcut for our pleasure will be continued shortly, and I plan to make some really interesting new things more tied to post production sound. I won’t make any promises, but I will really do my best to post interesting things, so stay tuned, lot’s of interesting things are on the way…

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iOS apps for us, sound obsessives

I would like to recommend a few very useful iOS apps which helps me tremendously in many situations be it live or post production work. I assume I’m not the only one who use clever little apps in his workflow. In case you know some other, suggestions are always appreciated.

AudioTools

This is one of my very favourite one. It is a very serious tool with lots of options and possibilities. It is made by StudioSixDigital. There is a base app, and if you need more you can buy things inside the app through in-app purchase. SPL meter, acoustical analysis tools, speaker tests, generator, audio calculator and many more.

Obviously on its own, none of the iOS devices is good for serious measurements, but they are definitely good for some troubleshooting, and with some clever gadgets, they can indeed become more serious tools in our arsenal.

StudioSixDigital realised that these gadgets needs some help to really be helpful, so they decided to invent and manufacture some complementary device such as the new iTestMic. With this little microphone, you can perform quite serious measurements. Obviously it won’t outperform the most sophisticated instruments, but it is capable of doing very precise things.

The company ported the famous Smaart tools to iOS, and I have to tell you it is wonderful. Fast, reliable and very useable.

Live Toolkit

As the name suggests, it is more intended toward live sound applications. Made by Rockbaby, a very well thought out app which not only useful for sound guys, but for “light” guys too as it can show you the fixture sets, dmx address dip switch positions.

On the sound side, it provides a good converter for distance (meter-feet-ms-hertz), eq (bandwith-q), and weight (kg-lbs). The more sophisticated part is the ability to determine your limiter settings through speaker and amp parameters.

It is not an app packed with features, but still offer some very useful things, it’s fast and stable.

Backline calc

It is made by Audiofile Engineering, and as their reputation is high for a reason, this app won’t disappoint you either. One of my favourites actually as it is so useful.


What it does as a calculator:

length:

  • note length
  • bar length
  • song length
  • beats to tempo
  • time to samples
  • compare tempos
  • change tempo
  • sum times
  • subtract times

pitch:

  • note name to
  • midi note to
  • frequency to
  • wavelength to

timecode:

  • frames to timecode
  • convert timecode
  • change timecode

electric:

  • compare power
  • compare voltage

acoustics:

  • distance to time
  • time to distance
  • SPL
  • panning

files:

  • file size

In every function there are easily adjustable sliders, but with a double-tap, concrete values can be entered as well. The whole gui is very minimalist and very easy on the eye. If one thing I would like to be changed is to blend some calculation together, as sometimes it is harder to find the right calculator from the long list. But keep in mind that it is a free app!

RadioKit

Also made by Rockbaby, a very valuable app which helps to identify the safe frequencies for your wireless packs. Knows many devices, country regulations, you can define user groups, make different sets and save them for later reference.

I cannot count how many times I need an app like this during the summer festival season. Tuning the wireless sets to safe zones is very fast and easy with this little app. From this point on, you can check and/or retune your wireless mics or in-ear monitors after a few taps on your iPhone. It’s also comes very handy in theatre situations where we use many wireless equipment.

MusicMath

Today’s last app is also a very useful one in my opinion. MusicMath is a timecode calculator, a tap tempo utility, a length to delay to modulation calculator and a note-frequency-cents-midi calculator all in one little app. Made by Laurent Colson.

Touching the info (i) button anywhere in any calculator brings up the application’s help.

Every little built-in utility has some nice treat for the user. The timecode part has a history function, the tap tempo utility has a rounding function which can be handy, the delay part provides all the information you need after you’ve set the desired tempo and the note part provides different temperaments and diapason. Touching a note will play the note, so you can also hear the different tones.

You can have even more…

Of course the above ones are only a few recommendations which have been working for me exceptionally well, but as you know, the app store is full of applications like these. Before purchasing anything, I suggest to search the internet for information, reviews, and recommendations to be sure the chosen app will serve you in the long run. It is important even though these apps are very cheap for what they offer.

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Air Display mini review

Recently I stumbled upon this iOS app called Air Display. I knew this app exists for a while, but never considered using it for anything during work. I knew it’s nice, it can turn your iPad into your mac’s second display, but still, never considered it as a viable solution up until now.

Few days ago as I was wandering on some online forums, I accidentally read about this little utility again, but now I thought I would give it a try. It’s cheap, very easy to set up, so what could I possibly loose? Well, that 10$, but maybe it’s very useful, and then the price is more than fair. As usual, I have searched for reviews and opinions, and finally decided to try it.

Install

This was a very pleasant experience. I bought the app through the appstore (Air Display iTunes), and while it was downloading, I downloaded the mac version of the host software from here. The whole download-install-setup procedure is ridiculously easy. Once you’ve downloaded the necessary software, there is only one thing left: make sure that your iPad uses the very same WiFi network as your desktop/laptop machine, that’s it. Launch the desktop app, and if you plan to use it regularly then consider to turn on the autostart function, so every time you switch on your machine, this utility will be launched. It “eats” very little memory in the background. Now, your only job is to launch the iPad app and wait a little (few seconds), and as I told you, without any further setup, in a few seconds, your iPad will act like a second touch screen enabled monitor near you mac or pc.

In use

It’s usable even in everyday computing, but for me the  main point was how useful can it be with Pro Tools? Well, in short: very useful! You can drop many floating windows or plugins onto this secondary iPad screen and if you use a decent WiFi network it is surprisingly fast. There is a very minimal lag in reaction time, but nothing really disturbing. I love having metering plugin on this secondary screen.

It’s easy to edit plugin parameters on it, or use it as a video screen, although you have to be aware of the fact that there is a slight latency, and it can vary, so watch out for it. It won’t be a problem in most of the cases, but nevertheless it’s worth mention that it’s not a “zero latency” frame-accurate monitor.

Still I have successfully used it for mixing while the video screen was on the iPad. The picture quality is very good, even better with the new iPad, but I have tested it with a first generation iPad, and to be honest, it has been close to flawless in operation all the time.

I even got used to the little time lag as it is really not disturbing after a short period of use. As I expected, the touch sensitivity is very good, if you’re an iPad user you won’t have any trouble with it.

Conclusion

For what it does, and for this price I definitely think that this little app is a no brainer, even more if you already have an iPad. The application is very stable, doesn’t stress your computer, so even if you’re into bigger Pro Tools sessions, you won’t encounter error messages because of the Air Display app. I really recommend you to check it out!

Pros:

  • cheap
  • virtually no set up required
  • it just works

Cons:

  • maybe the little latency
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Bacline Calc

A few weeks ago I just discovered a very handy iPhone app, which is a so called musical calculator. But wait, it’s not a simple dumbed iOS musical calculator. It’s actually very clever and does many things. It contains 23 easy-to-use calculators. For specific tasks you may, or may not find a more serious app, but with it’s versatility and ease of use, it’s a winner for me.

Calculators:

  • Length: Note Length, Bar Length, Song Length, Beats to Tempo, Time to Samples, Compare Tempos, Change Tempo, Sum Times, and Subtract Times.
  • Pitch: Note Name to…, MIDI Note to…, Frequency to…, and Wavelength to…
  • Timecode: Frames to Timecode, Convert Timecode, and Change Timecode.
  • Electric: Compare Power and Compare Voltage.
  • Acoustics: Distance to Time, Time to Distance, Sound Pressure Level (SPL), and Panning.
  • Files: File Size.

I’ve found myself using more and more. It’s completely stable, nothing can be more convenient than this as you can have it in your pocket, and the price, well the price is unbelievable. It’s FREE! When I have downloaded the app I didn’t realize that Audiofile Engineering made it. They are notoriously release great quality products in my opinion and this one is not an exception.

I really suggest you to go and get it while it’s still free! Backline Calc in the appstore. 

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