Aug 21, 2010

Final Cut Pro: How to Fix Media Offline Errors

I was at a fellow filmmakers home today and we had shot several days
worth of footage.

She did the sometimes risky venture of shooting a role of tape,
downloading it to a hard drive, then erasing the tape and shooting
new footage over the top of the old footage. That works great if you
live in a world where problems do not occur, but it is a risk. If
anything happens to your hard drive or it just fails to start up,
decides to get moody, etc., you have no back up tape to rely on.
Now, if you are backing up to two drives on your computer, this a
much better safety precaution.

Well, as luck would have it, we shot a day's worth of footage, got
back to her apartment and her external hard drive (Western Digital)
would not boot up. So the footage she had shot for the past few days
was nowhere to be found, and Final Cut Pro gave the dreaded "red
screen" signs of not being able to show you your footage, even if
you've been editing on it for days, weeks, month. It can't find your
picture, so it has nothing to edit until you find your picture for
yourself and point FCP back to the correct files.

When your Final Cut Pro cannot find your drive, I know of a few
options, and I'm sure there are more to be found on the web by the
real techies, but I'm going to give the solutions that have thus far
worked for me, and that worked for us today.

1. Try rebooting the drive. Unplug the power cable from the
outlet. Wait ten seconds. Plug it back in. Wait about a minute to
see if your computer finds the hard drive and it pops up on in your
Finder window.

2. Try unplugging the firewire cable (if that is what you are using
to connect to the computer) and replugging it in, after about 10
seconds. Again, wait about a minute for your computer to acknowledge
the change.

3. (And this is what worked for us today) Find a different means of
connecting the drive to your computer, which gives your computer a
different way of recognizing the drive. For example, use the USB
connector. We had tried repeatedly to reboot the drive with power
cable changes and unplugging the firewire, but to no avail. When we
used a USB 2.0 cable to connect to the Mac, it recognized it

SUMMARY: Computers are moody. Editors are even moodier. :) When
one connection doesn't work, try another. Your film is not lost.
(Yet -- it's entirely possible that your hard drive had completely
died. Always back up your film projects on multiple drives.) Be
persistent. When all else fails, call Apple or a reputable computer
shop and ask if they can retrieve data from hard drives that are

Always back up to at least two drives. The many hours of footage you
shoot are worth shelling out an extra couple hundred bucks on back up
hard drives.

Jan 27, 2010

How To Make Money With Your Video Camera

These are tough times, as we all know, and it can seem daunting to go out and find work using your skills as a videographer. I'm always reading the business trades and grabbing little tidbits here and there and realizing that the marketing mindset is a completely different way of thinking from the artistic mindset.

Many of us get into video because we love movies, or we may be inspired by other visual arts, like comic books, photography, painting, even advertising. There is a lot of great work being done out there and if you're naturally right-brained (I guess that's what they call us), you tend to be stimulated by the visuals. Color, light, compositions. These are the things that might draw us to the world of filmmaking.

But then the other half of your brain suddenly wonders how to crack into the business world and make some cash with the passion that is so close to us. And it can be done. I honestly don't believe it's more difficult than any other business. However, you have to put on your business hat for a few moments, stop looking at and other websites that offer production jobs, and get innovative. It can be just as fun (or nearly as fun) as actually shooting.

A friend introduced me to Michael Rosemblum's new video about how to find customers in this difficult economy. I found it inspired, and it echoed the same attitude you often see in the most successful business minds of our time. He gives simple, clear advice on how to go out and find work for yourself. It's practical, it's positive, and he confesses it's always worked for him. I personally haven't gone this route yet, but I've heard stories from many friends who have found great results from similar efforts.