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Capturing Frames to JPEG in Final Cut Express

Also relates to Movies

This is a quick tip which took me a while to figure out. I wanted to grab some stills of some filming I did of surfers on the golden sunny swell the weekend before last on the North Cornish Coast. The solution is actually quite simple in Final Cut Express:

  1. Scrub through the clip to one of the frames that is to be captured
  2. From the menu choose File -> Export -> Using QuickTime Conversion…
  3. At the bottom of the dialog choose Still Image as the format
  4. Select Options to choose the format to save as

At this stage the file can be saved as JPG and the job is done. However I found with the action shots a little bit of tweaking was required to remove the digital lines across the image so I saved as Photoshop files with the best colour depth. Then opening the images in Photoshop the De-Interlace… option can be chosen under Filter -> Video menu to remove the lines.

I found the stills to be a bit of a mixed bag from my Sony HDR-SR10 with the light in the actual image being a major factor in the quality of the images. All the same a quick and easy way to capture some action stills until I finally decide on a DSLR.

Posted on Oct 10, 2008 at 06:22:43.

An unknown error occurred (4010) - iTunes Genius FIXED

Also relates to Music

Are you suffering the 4010 error in iTunes Genius when you try to activate the service?

I had set up a subsidiary repository for my most popular music on a separate laptop where I could store all audio at 128kbps and transfer it freely to my iPod Touch without interfering with the music stored at higher bit rates on my main media drive. This in theory would also allow me to easily manage the new Genius feature for these compressed files and have it working on the Touch.

Alas though, I could not get Genius to activate! The iTunes Store just threw back the 4010 error every time the tracks were submitted.

I validated my iTunes library XML file; I setup a new iTunes account; I deleted the Genius database file; I converted any MP3 files that had not been created with iTunes; I tried repeated submissions; and even tried submitting in the early hours of the morning (to get around any server bottlenecks) but still to no avail.

So as a last resort I closed iTunes down and deleted the iTunes library XML file. In fact I deleted all the files in the iTunes directory - library file, Genius file, Extras file and the artwork cache. Note my actual music library was stored on a separate partition. If this is in the iTunes directory do not delete this of course ;) So when iTunes was re-opened it was a blank slate again. In my Advanced preferences I ensured the path to my library still pointed to the directory housing all my music files to ensure I didn't end up with two copies of each file! Then I added just one album (the classic Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East) back to iTunes by dragging the folder and dropping it into iTunes (can also do File->Add Folder from iTunes menus). Now I tried once again to enable Genius and… it actually worked! Just to play it safe I added a few more albums at a time and updated Genius from the Store menu (in case it was a corrupt album causing the problem). But after 20 or so albums had been registered successfully with Genius I dropped the rest of the albums back in (200 in total) and once again submitted to Genius with no issues at all :)

So finally now I have Genius working with all the albums on my Touch. Well I say all but of course no collection is complete without a Beatles album or three which don't fit in with Apple's Genius currently!

Posted on Oct 07, 2008 at 17:17:25.

Getting something for TV License at last?

Also relates to iPod Touch

I am extremely reluctant when it comes to handing over cash for my TV license. In recent years we have seen the BBC squander our money on lower quality programmes, worthless channels that regurgitate very old and over watched series and most notoriously deliver proprietary software to the select many that choose to have Windows as their operating system! Yes with regards the latter I am talking about the iPlayer. The quality of streaming media on the BBC has always been dreadful - ever tried watching a sporting match while working!? So then along came the iPlayer - software allowing the download and viewing of BBC programmes by UK based IP addresses. But software that was built under the sole premise of working on Windows PCs!

Well finally the e-petition has paid dividends and the BBC has announced a partnership with Adobe to make a Flash-based video version of the iPlayer to make it compatible on the Mac and other platforms. I suppose it is a step in the right direction, although the fact this only covers streaming versions of the programmes is not ideal. It still means the BBC is providing services with the tax payers money to only a proportions of the UK. Yet another example of the corporations disregard for accessibility to all as has already been exemplified in the ongoing issues of digital coverage. Of course a Flash based version doesn't bode well for the current incarnation of the iPod Touch which will be one WiFi device which will not be able to take advantage of the free access to the iPlayer from the Cloud network. Perhaps this will change with the SDK prospects next spring?

Now I just wish the licensing authorities would stop sending us those threats that the enforcement officer is due to pay us a visit - despite being fully paid up licensees and having informed the license office of this several times! No wonder there is a license fee shortfall when the amount of time and resources are wasted chasing licenses that have been paid! ;)

Posted on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:27:54.

Quicksilver Tips 1. Screen Grab and Email

Also relates to OSX

A bit to much grumbling recently - especially when today is my smile a while day! So time to get back to some informative blogging. When I was blogging first time round, a popular topic of conversation was choosing Firefox extensions and my favourite Firefox extensions but I think this particular topic has been well and truly saturated now. So instead over the next few weeks I will discuss a number of productivity tools I use on a day by day basis to help me get things done.

Where better to start than one of the stalwarts of any developer's arsenal on the OS X platform - Quicksilver (the art of acting without doing). I have a pretty exhaustive set of Quicksilver plugins installed on my all conquering iMac 3 gigabyte machine. Some of these rarely see the light of day, others I use on a regular basis - without thinking twice. One of Quicksilver's greatest strengths is it's ability to adapt to any task I wish to accomplish. One thing I do regularly is send visual scamps to collaborators during the CSS build stage of a job. Thanks to the Apple Mail Module and Screen Capture Actions I can complete this in three simple steps.

  1. Fire up Quicksilver (I use Option + Space) and call up the Capture options (typing CAP is normally adequate but I have set Capture Window as the default for C to bring it up by default)
  2. I choose Capture Window and then click the little camera on the window I want to grab.
  3. Voila! The captured image appears in the first pane with focus on the second pane where I type E to bring up Email to…, hit TAB and start typing the name of the collaborator the scamp is going to. When their name appears hit ENTER and the the an e-mail will be prepared with the scamp in ready to go.

Of course, this can be extended further using the comma trick to add additional collaborators' addresses to the e-mail.

And since the captures are saved to the desktop could even capture a selection of screens and add them all to the same message using the comma trick. I guess I could take this one step further by introducing a trigger for step 1 but I actually find trigger overload weighs heavy on my short-term memory so avoid assigning too many short cut keys.

So that is my first little Quicksilver tip. More to follow…

Posted on Oct 04, 2007 at 19:04:09.

Reviewing OS X Package Receipts with lsbom

Also relates to OSX

In my previous post I slightly over-simplified the ease with which installed applications can be removed from OS X. Not all software comes packaged in a single application file and in these circumstances the Installer will be used to add the programme. This blind process is somewhat reminiscent of Windows installation which left me so paranoid of infection I was taking system snapshots prior to and post every install!

But the good news is there is a very simple command line tool (lsbom that provides access to the package receipt giving full details of what was installed where and your very nice clean system. Every Installer installation will place a Bill of Materials file (Archive.bom) in the package receipt for the installed software. The receipt itself placed in the Receipts folder on the drive. So just open up the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and enter the following command to see what files were installed where:

lsbom /Library/Receipts/{Application Name}.pkg/Contents/Archive.bom

If you are a Terminal novice you can hit tab as you enter any directory names to get a list of possible options (or auto-complete if only a single matching directory). This is useful for entering the application name if there are several alternatives or you are not entirely sure of spelling.

Posted on Sep 20, 2007 at 11:15:27.

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