If you’re at all like me, you like to know what applications other Mac users have on their Macs. First, we’re always trying out new applications to see how we can make the most personal of personal computers even more personal.
Second, Mac users are willing to share (evangelize) with others our knowledge of applications, how-to’s, and tips and tricks.
Three, not every Mac user is at the same level. There’s the average user who gets by just fine with AppleWorks, Safari, Mail, and Photoshop Elements. And iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, and perhaps GarageBand.
In all fairness, that would keep most users pretty busy computing away without worry of viruses, worms, Trojan horses, malware, BSOD (blue screen od death so common to Windows users).
There’s also the high end user—the Mac user with the latest and greatest of everything. Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Final Cut Express or Logic Express, and some of the great utility applications such as PhotoToMovie and JAlbum.
Of course, no list of users would be complete without the low end Mac user. Let me define “low end.” These are the folks who get the most from their Macs for the least amount of money. That’s not cheap. It’s frugal, economical.
They may have a PowerMac, but probably not a new one. They may use applications in every category—graphics, audio, video, etc. But probably not the Professional applications from Adobe, Macromedia, Apple. These are the folks who get the most mileage from their Macs. Honor them. They’re a breed apart.
So this week I’m giving you a special theme—What’s On Tera’s Mac. Generally speaking, what’s on my Mac (all of them) covers all the bases. Professional level, high end user, low end users, and the average Mac user, so I can speak from qualified experience. Your mileage may vary.
Today it’s the Professional Level. Tomorrow, something different.
Since no two Mac users usually have exactly the same applications, useage requirements and needs, here’s what’s on mine (well, one of my Macs).
I have the luxury this year of upgrading to the new 23” Apple Cinema Display HD, and a dual 2.5 ghz PowerMac G5 with 3 gigs RAM. That’s the Mac.
What’s on it? Well, as you’d suspect, it’s loaded. Loaded. Pro apps, everything Apple, the best of Mac utilities, 13 gigs of iTunes music, 13 gigs if iPhoto digital photos, Mac files I’ve had for 10 to 12 years. And all critical files are backed up on multiple hard drives, to other machines, to my iPod, and to DVDs.
Today the discussion is Professional level applications so those go first today (I’ll do others—low end, high end, average user applications later).
Click Here for Page 2 and the list of applications and uses.
Continued from Page 1…
Professional Level Mac Applications
Not everyone will agree with my definition of “Pro Level” but this is a good starting point.
We’ve been into video and audio production for a number of years and moving off expensive, dedicated Sony broadcast equipment to the Macintosh was a delight, a nightmare (the early days), a challenge, and ultimately very fruitful.
FinalCut Pro is the video application of choice for editing good quality digital video and audio on the Mac. Can the Mac edit full broadcast quality video? Yes. However, the difference between Sony DVCam and other high end formats is nominal these days, yet FinalCut Pro (FCP) handles every editing requirement with ease.
We use a couple of sony DVCams to shoot, store on DVCam tape, and bring to the Mac via Firewire. Often, we use iMovie to import the video because it automatically breaks the video into scenes, places the video on a shelf as clips, and the video clips can be imported into FCP.
Apple’s professional applications are worthy of consideration, even for hardened broadcast and film producers. Why? It’s all digital and FCP handles nearly every task with ease. Even feature length movies are being edited on FCP. That should say something.
FinalCut Pro comes with a bundle of other applications that work hand in hand with FCP. For example, LiveType. Have you noticed all the TV commercials with fonts that move back and forth on the screen? FCP and LiveType (included) can make that happen for a Mac user.
Audio? There’s two approaches. One is SoundTrack (think of it as GarageBand on steroids); a multi-track, loops-based audio editor that also synchronizes with QuickTime video. SoundTrack makes production of additional audio onto a video amazingly simple. It’s included in FCP.
For higher end audio (mostly radio commercials, some audio voice overs for TV) we use Logic. There’s an entry level version called Logic Express for $299. The full version is probably used to score audio on more top music albums and movies than any other audio application.
Logic is GarageBand compatible, which means it can read GarageBand files (it’s all digital, so there’s little difference in sound quality). However, Logic can do much more—the Audio Unit plug in’s alone are worth the price. Audio can be sweetened, modified, mutated, and transformed in ways you never thought possible.
Since we don’t create much music ourselves (some keyboard work via GarageBand, Digital Performer, and Logic) we’ve come to appreciate Apple’s ability to blend the two universe types together in single packages—you can make original music with GarageBand, Logic Express, Logic, Digital Performer and a half dozen other great applications using your guitar, a keyboard and talent, or…
Well, we have less of the latter so we use loops and Network Music to produce audio tracks.
FinalCut Pro comes with a bunch of other utilities to make life easier for audio and video production. For example, Compressor helps to scqueeze those huge files into sizes manageable for the media target.
The learning curve on all those applications is gentle (which means you can get productive quickly) but becomes complex (as you try to duplicate Star Wars level effects).
For digital media we use both iDVD (will discuss in depth later) and DVD Studio Pro. There may not be a better application for creating custom DVDs on Mac or Windows. If you haven’t produced your own custom DVD using iDVD (included in Mac OS X on machines equipped with a SuperDrive), then you probably won’t appreciate DVD Studio Pro.
There are a couple of areas where we haven’t ventured yet. Yes, we’ve added Boris FX and Graffitti to FCP. We’re using Digital Performer less, and Logic more. No, we haven’t upgraded to Adobe’s After Effects (yet), and haven’t added Apple’s new Motion (digital video effects) to the group (yet).
And I’m ready to move away from iPhoto for storage of digital images but haven’t made a decision on the appropriate application.
And we haven’t ventured into uncompressed video (expensive relative to DVCam). Still, using Apple’s professional level media applications has reduced overall production costs, development time, and increased uptime significantly. We’re also able to move use of the applications to other producers in our group since the learning curve is gentle.
Those are the basics for us at the Professional Level. What do you use? What’s on your Mac? Have you ventured beyond iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand? Are you making your own original music on your Mac? To share your comments with others, simply click the Comments link below.
Coming up? Low end, High end, and average user applications on What’s On Tera’s Mac?