Monthly Archives: November 2009

Mac20Q Tip 13 – Using MPEG StreamClip

After getting on so well with MPEG Streamclip which is a free application that will convert video for you from one format to another or you can use it to make the file size smaller prior to upload, or you can use to download clips from places like YouTube. It is really a very capable application. I have only just managed to scratch the surface with it today.

But the secret is out and I have made a Screencast showing you some of the settings and the successes I had while learning what it can do for my work flow. Matthew of the StealthMac Podcast suggested that I use MPEG StreamClip with the movies produced by ScreenFlow before putting them into FinalCut Express. I found that a good idea. It means that there is less rendering to do once you have the clips on the time line.

I did try to convert a DVD to .h364 but that was not a success. the finished file was bigger and also the sound was way out of sync. Have a look at the video below to see what I have been doing today and you will see how you can make use of the free application too.

Posted in Mac20Q.

November scoots by

Google Image Result for http___www.netstate.com_states_symb_gamebirds_images_wild_turkey.jpgLike life really, November flew past and now we have December to look forward to. The Americans did their ritual sacrifice during the month and in December the Europeans will also do the sacrifice thing with a poor turkey. Seems that cooking a turkey in America involves putting the whole thing in a vat of hot oil, a la deep fried. Have to spend the following 2 months dieting to redress the balance, probably. Is it any wonder I am a vegetarian?

Apple news has been fairly slow seeing as they came out, early in the month to say that there would be nothing more in the line up for the holidays. The rumour mill can take a bit of a break now until CES in January and then MacWorld in February. Still no sign of a tablet computer from Apple and even rumours to say that the thing was likely to be delayed. Amazing how you can delay something that was only a rumour in the first place. We don’t do rumours here on Mac20Q anyway.

I have spent loads of time watching video from to learn how to do video with FinalCut Express. Pleased I got it despite that fact that it is more work to do things sometimes that it is with iMovie. Well I still have iMovie there to avail of but there is no point in having FinalCut Express and then not using it because I have iMovie. There will come the video projects that need FinalCut Express and I want to know what I am doing for that. So I will have to just devote the time that is needed to the learning curve. I expect that after a while I will be so au fait with FinalCut Express that it will seem to be as quick, anyway.

YouTube - wizardgold_s ChannelOne of the things that I struggled with, was the getting the video files to be a decent size for uploading to the web. I did manage to find some settings that still gave me the quality I wanted from the 1280 by 720 video but then this morning Matt Hillyer gave me information about MPEG StreamClip, an application that is so small, must be using the Quick Time conversion already on my iMac but gives the controls to do a better job. That is often the way with this video conversion utilities, I also have Videovangelist to try out. There is of course the tried, true and tested Visual hub application though. I did try MPEG StreamClip to convert a DVD but the result was even larger and the sound was offset. Took ages to do it and I had to delete the resulting file. I do like Matts’ work flow though for getting files from ScreenFlow to FinalCut Express and then from FinalCut Express to the web. One test I did today worked a treat. I ended up with a file about half the size and still good quality at the same resolution.

You can see the videos I produce on YouTube on the Wizardgold Channel.

Remember to subscribe to the Mac20Q Podcast on iTunes and even tell your friends about the podcast, or write a review of the podcast there, which will help promote the show. Thanks for those of you that have done that already.

You may leave a comment on the site here too. If you are on the home page of the site, click on the page for the single post and then scroll down to the form to fill in. Looking forward to hearing from you. Let me know if you would like to be featured on the show.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 73 Bob Degrande

Bob has been a supporter of Mac20Q for some time and was telling me that he has listened right from the start of the podcast. Thanks Bob, good to have you along for the ride. He was the winner of one of our software giveaway competitions too!

A good chat was had and covered all the good stuff about being a Mac user. Bob is in the process of making a podcast about Bridge the card game. He started doing it as an audio podcast then decided to start again but with video. Makes more sense if you can see the cards, for this he has been using BoinxTV. I also have BoinxTV but it didn’t work on my iMac and when I looked at it working on the MacBook I decided that it was more for making Live TV programs with multiple cameras. I think I am better off using FinalCut Express or iMovie.

Whilst on the subject of FinalCut Express, I have still been working away to learn how to use the application and I am pleased that I am getting into it due to using Lynda .com with the excellent tutorials they have there. I also found FinalCutKing web site and there is a whole load of video tutorials on the IzzyVideo web site. All good quality stuff. I checked out YouTube also but the quality of the tutorials is much more variable and at the lower end of the scale.

I though it was funny that all the news sites have been talking about Applecare not being available to smokers because the filth that had accumulated in the machine had made it un safe for the technicians, Well smokers are disgusting creatures and deserve it if it is true. Blackened lungs and blackened insides of the computer. So there you go passive smoking is bad for computers too.

Back to Bob – he is certainly a die hard Mac user, having experience with Macs from the very early days, he did veer away during the dark days when Jobs was pushed aside but was happy to come back to the fold when Intel processors appeared in the Mac computers. Thanks to Bob for coming on Mac 20 Questions. I had a great time chatting with him and if you would like to be featured on Mac 20 Questions then why not contact me and we can make a date and time to record an interview.

Leave a comment by hitting the blue button above and then scrolling down to get the the input form, or send me an email using the form below

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Posted in Mac20Q.

FinalCut Express and the magic mouse

Magic Mouse

Apple Magic MouseI have the Magic Mouse for a couple of weeks now and I have to say it is thumbs up all the way. I was listening to the Mac Geek Gab podcast this morning and Dave was going into huge detail about his experience with the mouse. One of thing he said was about the size of the mouse. It is not very high or thick, or tall and seems small, built for small hands. The comment was that Steve Jobs must have small hands. Well my hands are not that small but for me the mouse is a good size. I had suffered with some RSI pain for about a month prior to getting this mouse and now after using the Magic Mouse for a couple of weeks I now can shake hands with people when we meet without wincing. Definitely a big plus for me there.

Another problem that other people have reported is the tracking speed of the mouse, and perhaps needing to run a third party utility to get to work fast enough. Strangely I have not had that problem. I installed 10.6.2 before I started using the mouse, which could have been a factor with this, and the tracking has been good. I adjusted it to the speed I wanted in System Preferences and that was that. I am working with 2 screens on my iMac also and I can easily track the whole width no hassle whatsoever.

So if you have not had a chance to try one of these Magic Mouse rodents from Apple then I would say you should definitely jump in there and have a play at your local Apple Store.

FinalCut Express

I have been learning how to do things in FinalCut Express during the week and using to teach myself. It is taking some practice time to get my head around the roll, ripple, slip and slide tools but I am getting there. The training videos in Lynda are very good and makes the learning much quicker and in depth. Reading the PDF manual is painful in comparison. So far I have been working on one video with footage I took while at a friends’ horse riding school. I had some good shots in there and I managed to make a short movie with FinalCut Express without too much bother. I struggled with moving clips on the timeline and I still need to learn how to make the audio fade where I want it too. In this case I looked at the length of the audio required and opened up AmadeusPro to do the job for me, but it can be done in FinalCut Express.

Apple - Final Cut Express

In the Lynda training videos there are details on how to set up the preferences to work better. It seems the standard prefs are not the best for working with. If I had not got to work with I would never have found this out. There is always a gap it seems between the designers of software and the users, the lessons are from people that know the application inside out and that is a huge benefit. As part of my learning I have been watching the videos for Final Cut Pro also and there is a separate series that deals with LiveType, the application that deals with titling. I am quite impressed with that application.

I have noticed that there are some small differences between the Express application compared to the Pro but for the most part you can do all that you need in FinalCut Express. For instance one difference is the speed controls. I see that in Pro it is possible to have easing in and out of the speed of a clip or a selection of a clip, so that when ramping the speed you can do it with more finesse. There is no 3 way colour corrector in FinalCut Express, which I saw being used in tutorials on the FinalCut King site. So nothing major anyway and watching the tutorials for the Pro application are also helpful and not potentially confusing.

The first video I sent out of FinalCut Express is now on my channel at YouTube, if you would like to have a look,

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac user JC Hutchins the author of 7th Son the podcast novel talks

hutch_clone_largeThis morning I finished editing the interview that I did with J.C. Hutchins. I really had a great chat with him about the craft of writing and about the podcasting part of what he has done. Didn’t get to talk much about the fact that he uses the Mac to do his work in Pages from iWork and with Garageband for making his podcasts of his novels. Maybe I will have to get him back to talk just about being a Mac user.

I really enjoyed talking to him and also enjoyed listening to it again when I edited the interview. If you want to listen you will be able to find the podcast at the Writers20Q web site. JC is a great guy and I teased him a bit about mental hospital experience, which he thought was very funny, he has an excellent  sense of humour which is always good in a person.


The story that he podcasted is called 7th Son: Descent and is all about human cloning. It is a Science fiction, thriller adventure story and I enjoyed listening to the series.

He now has a book out called Personal Effects: Dark Art and is a fully immersive experience which is augmented by physical items included with the book to allow you to actually take an active role in the adventure. I have started to listen to the prequel story connected to this novel Personal Effects – Sword of Blood and have been enjoying it so far.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20QTip 10 Setting up keyboard shortcuts

You know when you turn on the caps lock and type in a pile of text then have to either type in again or find a way to change it. How about if you were to turn off the Caps Lock Key, you know you hardly ever use it. Seems that it is more there to annoy than to be useful. Well in this video I show you how to turn off the Caps Lock.

See how you can set up active corners that will work with a modifier key so that it doesn’t just annoy you when you are trying to something in one of the active corners, like hit the Apple in the menu bar at top left.

I made this video with ScreenFlow to capture the screen and narrate, then I put it in Final Cut Express to set it up. It is really the first project I have set up in Final Cut so I was pleased that it went so well. I have been using to learn how to use Final Cut. It cost $25 to get Lynda for a month and I would say that with the quality of the screencasts it is well worth it. I have been doing the TrueType lessons as well as Final Cut.

I have been amazed by the capabilities of LiveType and being able to do some round trip editing between it and FinalCut Express. I have opened a Live Type section in FinalCut Express – gone in and changed it, saved it and returned to Final cut to see it updated ready for action.

Here is the Video and if you want to see in High Definition then go to the YouTube site to watch it in 1280 by 720

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 72 – Iconfessimageek


Today I am talking to a guy that nearly confessed to being a makeup guy, you know lipstick and blusher and all that, but did confess to being a geek. Unfortunately his wife is not a Mac person yet but he is working on her, I tell him to get out the thumbscrews. His son aged five though is a computer user with a laptop of his own.

David does have an iMac 20 inch model and is a recent switcher. He got drawn into the Mac world with iPods and moved into it with a white Macbook, he has moved on to a later model MacBook though. He is a firm believer in AppleCare. I have not had AppleCare on any of my Macs but he has got his moneys’ worth out of it.

We talk about Boxee and Plex, I don’t use those because I can’t get the best out of it because I live in Spain. I just wish I could use the BBC iPlayer, I may have to get something that will hide my IP address.

I talk about getting a satellite box from Elgato which will allow me to save things to watch later. He has a Sanyo Xacti video camcorder and loves using iMovie to make professional looking DVDs for the family.

He has his own podcast and is on episode 14 at the moment. He said the latest was going to be about Christmas presents for the Geek in your life.

David confesses to being an inbox zero type and also to having been outside the Milton Keynes Apple Store at 4am in the morning to get an iPhone. He uses Tweetie two and uses Brizzly which is a web based twitter client. There was a Twitter client in the latest MacHeist, Twitterific

Screen shot 2009-11-17 at 13.14.24

Hooray I finally got my hands on Final Cut Express, Only took 2 weeks to get here from Birmingham to Spain. There is a chance that it was in the post office here for a few days because I didn’t get the note to say it was in the post office to collect. Often the post person is completely useless putting the post in the wrong box. Some of the house owners don’t check their post for months because they don’t live here – they live in Holland or Germany. Then when they do check and find a letter or whatever that is not theirs, they just dump it rather than put in the right box

Grrrr !!

Ah well I have it now just because I called to correos and asked if they had anything for me, or it would have probably sat there for a few more days or weeks. I still am happy to have saved 70 euro by buying off the Apple Store site in the UK rather than getting from the Apple Store Spain.

As soon as I had installed FinalCut Express I had to download a 180 mb  to update it to the latest. I will talk more about how it is going in a blog post and podcast.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 71 Paul McGovern – Educator Extraordinaire


Great guy from Enniskillin in Northern Ireland. He is Lecturer In Media Applications & Computer Science, Specialising in Video Game Development. I used to go there to Enniskillin, quite often either for shopping or to go to the Theatre. I did even once go kayaking on the river, with a bunch of kids. A good day out.

In the ramble I mention my new Magic Mouse which I am really pleased with, Google Wave and The Film Ink which got featured on Video20Q Podcast, the film got put on torrent this week and was downloaded thousands of times. I would like to see them getting paid for it though. Excellent looking movie. I have a DVD on its way to me now.

Paul McGovern is a new media teacher – lecturer in Northern Ireland and in impressing his students with being a total tech head. He tells me about apps like Blender, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere. He also does things on the audio side with Audacity and other apps you can find out about in the interview. He is fond also of ScreenSteps an Application which Allison of the Nosillacast often bangs on about.

Planbook is designed to replace your traditional paper planbook with a robust digital scheduler. Planbook is designed and written by a full-time teacher and includes all the features you need to save time, stay organized, keep others informed and help you finish your teaching day a little bit earlier.

ProfCast - ProfCast FeaturesProfCast is a versatile, powerful, yet very simple to use tool for recording lectures including PowerPoint and/or Keynote slides for creating enhanced podcasts. ProfCast provides a low cost solution for recording and distributing lectures, special events, and presentations as podcasts. ProfCast offers an integrated workflow that makes creating, recording, and publishing podcasts easy. It’s as simple as Launch, Load, and Lecture!

Paul tells me of a thing called Moodle, which is  a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a Free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites. I must check it out my wife is a teacher, maybe she could find it useful.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Tip 9 More Basics with ScreenFlow

Another video to show how to do things with ScreenFlow, the screen capture application. I have been using this application for over a year now and I was recently taking part with the Version 2 beta program. As I was recording this video there was another update to the application and telestream do their best to keep on top of it to make a great tool for making and editing video screencasts.

As I am making these screencasts I am learning more about the power that is in this application. There will be more Screencasts to come to show you what can be done.





Posted in Mac20Q.

Mac20Q Podcast 70 ScreenFlow Interview

Telestream ScreenFlow - Overview

In this podcast I am talking to two people from Telestream, the company that make ScreenFlow. ScreenFlow is a super product that I use often to make screencasts. Barbara deHart and Christine Porter tell me all about ScreenFlow and also mention other products from Telestream.

I was able to give them direct a feature I would like to see in the ScreenFlow, they are keen to improve ScreenFlow and you never know my suggestion about being able to specify the placement of a clip within the screen might make it into ScreenFlow. It pretty good that they have snapping lines that let you snap a clip to the centres and to the edges but sometimes you might want a clip be at an exact position and for that you need some boxes where you can enter some numbers in the same way you can enter a number to specify the zoom level for example.

I also use VideoCue from Telestream and other people have requested some of the features in that to be merged into ScreenFlow, I agree with that for sure.

I know there are other screen capture applications out there and I have paid for a couple of them but in the end I had to get ScreenFlow because of what it can do with the editing. It really is handy to be able to do all you need to do in the one application, from capturing the whole of the screen to uploading it to YouTube.

See the Screencast I made about using ScreenFlow. I show some of the basics like adding extra media and using transitions in between clips. I will be producing more screencasts as soon as my cold/flu symptoms abate a little.

Posted in Mac20Q.

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