Friday, 2 August 2013

Supercharge your Mac Pro!!

There's life in the old girl yet
If you were a little disappointed with the announcement of the new Mac Pro at the WWDC in June and you would still like to carry on working with your Mac Pro I have some great news for you.

My friends at Jigsaw24 in the UK have put together some amazing upgrade packages for existing Mac Pro towers which will ensure that you are getting the best possible performance from your system.

These packages can be installed in any recent Mac Pro and will dramatically improve the performance of 3D packages, Adobe Creative Suite, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro and Smoke 2013.

The packages are priced as follows:

Mac Pro Booster packages

Adobe and Maya Base option
240gb SSD with 2.5" to 3.5" sled
Nvidia Quadro 4000
£659 ex VAT 
RAM is optional dependent on system 

Smoke Booster
240GB SSD with 2.5" to 3.5" sled
Nvidia GTX680 for Mac
FusionIO IOFX 420GB Memory tier for GPU
£1399 ex VAT
RAM is optional dependant on system.

DaVinci Resolve V10 Ultimate
240GB SSD with 2.5" to 3.5" sled
FusionIO IOFX 420GB Memory tier for GPU
2 x Nvidia Geforce Titan
£4799 ex VAT or £5099 ex VAT with a Blackmagic Decklink 4k card
RAM is optional dependant on system.

They can also offer 32GB of Mac compatible RAM for £250 ex VAT (4 x 8GB Modules)

If you have a Mac Pro with a GT120 card they can offer configurations with the Nvidia Titan as the main GPU.

If you compare these prices with other suppliers you will see that these are incredibly good deals. The Smoke booster package is the same price as the IOFX on it's own!

If you want more information or would like a specific quote for your system just send a mail to:

Monday, 15 July 2013

Have you ever wondered what Smoke can do?

Smokes new Trimview

I have been a user and trainer on Autodesk Smoke for over 10 years now and it's amazing to see all the developments that have happened since it was ported to the Mac.
Smoke is an "all-in-one" system that can Edit, Conform, Grade and add complex Effects to media at resolutions up to 8K and in almost any format.
The latest version, Smoke 2013 Extension 1, has a number of useful enhancements to improve your workflow, such as the new trimview which is shown above, and it also has support for Blackmagic Video I/O hardware such as the Decklink and Ultrastudio.

Trial version

You can download a trial version from the Autodesk website but it can be a bit daunting at first so I'm very pleased to announce that I will be presenting a webinar at 12:30 BST (thats 11:30 GMT) on Tuesday July 16th.
I will be running through the basics of Smoke and also showing some of the new features in Extension 1. 
You can sign up for the webinar here
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Nvidia have released new drivers for OSX 10.8.4

Nvidia have released new graphics drivers for OSX 10.8.4 which includes a new driver preferences panel, performance improvements and bug fixes.

The update includes support for the following cards:

GeForce 600 series:
GTX 680 for Mac

GeForce 200 series:
GTX 285 for Mac

GeForce 100 series:
GT 120

GeForce 8 series:
8800 GT

Quadro series:
K5000 for Mac, 4000 for Mac

Quadro FX series:
FX 5600, FX 4800 for Mac

You can download the drivers here:

and the latest version of CUDA for the Mac is here:

It should also work with PC Nvidia cards, let me know your experiences in the comments.



Wednesday, 12 June 2013

No room for upgradable graphics in the new Mac Pro :-(

Apples New Mac Pro
At the WWDC in California Apple have shown a sneak peek of their new Mac Pro desktop computer.
To say it is a radical design is an understatement, it moves away from all of the typical properties of a workstation, particularly in terms of upgradability.
Apples decision is to fix the CPU and GPU options whilst providing six Thunderbolt 2 ports for expansion.
Thunderbolt 2 will allow for storage, monitors, Video I/O and coprocessors to be easily attached but unless there is a change from Thunderbolt 1 there will not be the option to add external GPUs.
Apple have chosen two of AMDs Firepro GPUs to power the graphics. Although these are very high performance chips I'm surprised that Apple didn't go with Nvidia, I'd have loved to see a pair of Titans in there. This means there is no support for CUDA, only OpenGL and OpenCL.
Some software has been rewritten to use the AMD chips instead of CUDA, Blackmagic Resolve 10 apparently screams on the new Mac Pro, but I'm curious to see what will happen with Adobes software which relies heavily on CUDA.
I'm also sad to see the end of the old Mac Pro tower, still one of the most beautiful workstations ever made in my opinion. At least this should bring down the second hand prices :-)
I would love to get my hands on a new Mac Pro and try it out, even if it does look like it escaped from the Death Star. :-)

Let me know if you've managed to get your hands on one,

All the best,


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Apple have released Mountain Lion 10.8.4

Apple have released Mountain Lion 10.8.4 including the following updates:

The OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.4 Update is recommended for all OS X Mountain Lion users and includes features and fixes that improve the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, including the following:
  • Compatibility improvements when connecting to certain enterprise Wi-Fi networks
  • Microsoft Exchange compatibility improvements in Calendar
  • A fix for an issue that prevented FaceTime calls to non-U.S. phone numbers
  • A fix for an issue that may prevent scheduled sleep after using Boot Camp
  • Improves VoiceOver compatibility with text in PDF documents
  • Includes Safari 6.0.5, which improves stability for some websites with chat features and games
  • A fix for an issue that may cause iMessages to display out of order in Messages
  • Resolves an issue in which Calendars Birthdays may appear incorrectly in certain time zones
  • A fix for an issue that may prevent the desktop background picture from being preserved after restart
  • A fix for an issue that may prevent documents from being saved to a server using SMB
  • Addresses an issue that may prevent certain files from opening after copied to a volume named “Home"
  • A fix for an issue that may prevent changes to files made over NFS from displaying
  • Resolves an issue saving files to an Xsan volume from certain applications
  • Improves Active Directory log-in performance, especially for cached accounts or when using a .local domain
  • Improves OpenDirectory data replication
  • Improves 802.1X compatibility with ActiveDirectory networks
  • Improves compatibility when using mobile accounts
New mention of new graphics drivers but apparently there are new AMD drivers and people running the beta reported support for the Nvidia Titan, the GTX780 and the GTX770 

Let me know if you install it on a system with a PC graphics card.



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Nvidia release new graphics drivers for OSX 10.8.3

Nvidia have released new drivers for Mac Pros running OSX 10.8.3

These drivers support the following cards as standard:

GeForce 600 series:
GTX 680 for Mac

GeForce 200 series:
GTX 285 for Mac

GeForce 100 series:
GT 120

GeForce 8 series:
8800 GT

Quadro series:
K5000 for Mac, 4000 for Mac

Quadro FX series:
FX 5600, FX 4800 for Mac

They should also support GTX 600 series PC cards but I have not had a chance to install them yet.
Apparently support for the Titan and the GTX 700 series cards should be coming in 10.8.4 which is currently in beta.

More information and download from Nvidias site here

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Jigsaw24 offering 25% off Resolve and Decklink 4K bundle

DaVinci Resolve 10
At NAB Blackmagic announced the latest version of their colour grading and editing software, DaVinci Resolve 10.
Although it won't be released for a couple of months if you buy version 9 now you can upgrade to 10 for free when it is released. These are some of the new features in Resolve 10 from the press release:

DaVinci Resolve 10 has been developed to simplify the integration of different software tools used in the film and television industry, allowing timelines to be moved into and out of DaVinci Resolve and other edit software such as Final Cut Pro, Avid and Premiere Pro.

As workflows have changed, more post production is now started on set during the shoot. Lighting and other aspects of the shoot are also often verified based on color correction checks and DaVinci Resolve 10 has new powerful tools to manage this process. The new Resolve Live feature allows color grading direct from the video input live with full creative power such as primaries, secondaries, power windows, custom curves and more. Grades can be stored and then relinked when the camera files are loaded.

DaVinci Resolve 10 includes enhanced editing features and allows online finishing of edits performed in other popular editing software. This means multiple users can submit scenes in large complex jobs from the applications they prefer to use, and DaVinci Resolve 10 can finish online from the original camera RAW files for dramatically better quality than would be available when finishing in a standard NLE software package. If any scene needs additional editing, it can be moved back to the NLE software letting editors use the tools they love.

New editing features include full multi track editing with 16 channels of audio per clip and unlimited video and audio tracks in the timeline. Audio can be synced or trimmed and dragged independently to the timeline. Other new editing features include extensive ripple, roll, slide and slip clip trimming support which display dynamically on the timeline and viewer. The viewer also allows split screen display to show in and out points of adjacent clips.

A good example of the online editing process is when an edit has been completed in Final Cut Pro X that includes mixed frame rates, mixed media types, multiple audio tracks and even color corrections. DaVinci Resolve 10 will support import of that project via XML and will online it including full translation of all these elements while rendering the master from the original RAW camera files. This means that Final Cut Pro X editors can use DaVinci Resolve 10 as the tool to online their work for cinema release and generate the Digital Cinema Package file directly from the camera RAW files.

Editing in DaVinci Resolve 10 also includes a powerful title tool with static, lower third, scroll and crawl titles with multiple fonts, size, drop shadow and XY positioning. Timelines in DaVinci Resolve 10 also include the support of compound clips with multiple elements including multiple video and audio tracks. Also, DaVinci Resolve 10 can be used for stereoscopic 3D projects with full support for left and right eye clips in the media pool and the edit timeline. Using timecode and reel name, DaVinci Resolve 10 will automatically associate the left and right eye of the stereoscopic clips.

Color correction features have been upgraded in DaVinci Resolve 10, including support for industry standard OpenFX plug ins with an unlimited number of plug ins per clip. There are now unlimited power windows per corrector node and the new Gradient PowerWindow™ lets colorists quickly add a gradient across the image. Other new color correction features include copy and paste of tracking data, motion effects including spatial and temporal noise reduction and motion blur effects.

For project delivery, DaVinci Resolve 10 includes full audio track visibility in the deliver window timeline as well as EasyDCP integration so users can render directly from their project timeline into a Digital Cinema Package for release to theaters. Because DaVinci Resolve 10 allows rendering from the camera RAW file directly to the Digital Cinema Package files in the highest quality 32 bit float, there is simply no better quality possible for a cinema release master. Customers simply need to purchase a license from EasyDCP to enable this feature.

DaVinci Resolve 10 also supports additional media types and continues to be the industry leader in file based workflows because it operates with virtually all video file types available. New formats include JPEG 2000 decoding and encoding, AVI clip decoding, playback and more.

Jigsaw24, one of Blackmagic's retailers in the UK, is offering a bundle of DaVinci Resolve and the Decklink 4K I/O card at a 25% discount.

The Decklink 4K is the top of the range I/O card from Blackmagic and as the name suggests it is capable of working with up to 4K resolution video in real time.

Decklink 4K

DeckLink 4K Extreme features a high performance design for working in the highest film quality! Get 4 times the resolution of 1080 HD with full Ultra HD 4K capture and playback using 6G-SDI and HDMI 4K support. DeckLink 4K Extreme includes single and dual channel SDI connections for both regular 2D and 3D stereoscopic workflows as well as full resolution color RGB 4:4:4 capture and playback. Includes dual link 6G-SDI, HDMI 3D/4K and analog component, composite, S-video connections. Work in SD, HD and Ultra HD 4K. Also includes AES and analog balanced audio, 16 channel SDI audio, genlock, deck control, broadcast quality up, down and cross conversion, plus built in SD/HD internal keyer.

Obviously the Decklink card will work with Resolve for real time I/O but it is also supported by Adobe, Avid and soon Autodesk software will be able to use it for real time output.

If you want to future proof your system the Decklink 4K is the card to get.

Go here for the deal from Jigsaw24

Thursday, 4 April 2013

EVGA announce GTX680 Mac edition

EVGA have announced a new graphics card for the Mac Pro, the GTX680 Mac edition.

The specifications are the same as the 2GB PC version although it does show PCI express 2.0 not 3.0.

I assume that is a limitation of the Mac Pro, not the card.

Core Specs

1536 CUDA Cores
Base Clock: 1006 MHz
Boost Clock: 1058 MHz
Bus: PCI-E 2.0
Texture Fill Rate: 128.8 GT/s

Memory Specs

Memory Detail: 2048 MB GDDR5
Memory Bit Width: 256 Bit
Memory Clock: 6008 MHz
Memory Speed: 0.33 ns
Memory Bandwidth: 192.26 GB/s

Key Features

Supports four concurrent displays; two dual-link DVI connectors, HDMI and DisplayPort 1.1
NVIDIA CUDA Technology
PCI Express 2.0 Support
OpenGL 3.2 Support
OpenCL Support

The card is compatible with Mac Pro 3.1 (Early 2008) or later running OSX 10.8.3

Newegg are taking preorders for the card with shipping from April 8th, price is $599.99 compared to $479.99 for the PC version, so you can still save some money by going with the PC card.

It will be interesting to see if the Mac version gives anything more than the boot screen, there is no information about the type of BIOS on the card but I assume it must support EFI to be called a "Mac edition" There is also no mention of BIOS switching as there is on the Sapphire 7950

If you get your hands on one please let me know in the comments,



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Nvidia release new CUDA driver for OSX 10.8.3

Nvidia have released CUDA driver 5.0.45 for OSX 10.8.3

You can download it here

There is very little information except it supports OSX 10.8.3

Let me know your experiences in the comments.



Friday, 15 March 2013

Apple release 10.8.3 update for Mountain Lion

Apple have finally released the 10.8.3 update for Mountain Lion after three and a half months of beta testing.
You can read the official release notes here.

However I know that what most of you reading this want to know is: Does it support PC graphics cards?

Well, the good news is it should support Nvidia GTX 500 and GTX 600 series cards as well as the new K series Quadros and it should also support AMD's radeon 7000 series cards.

The bad news is that I'm travelling at the moment so I won't have a chance to install it on my Mac Pro with a GTX 660ti for a couple of weeks :-(

I would ask any of you who have a PC card and do the upgrade to let me know in the comments so at least others can see what cards are working.

Thanks very much and I look forward to reading your comments.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Nvidia release GTX Titan Graphics card

Nvidia GTX Titan
Nvidia have announced the launch of a new high end graphics card for gamers, The GTX Titan.

I features a single Kepler class GPU with 6GB of DDR5 RAM and 2,688 CUDA cores (!!!)

Pricing is expected to be around 800 pounds so it's not cheap but it only draws 250W of power so it could possibly be used in a Mac Pro (maybe in the the new Mac Pro? Hmmmmm)

Using the power of the CUDA cores with software that can take advantage of them should give excellent performance. Adobe CS6 uses CUDA for it's Mercury playback engine so this would be an great card for use in an Adobe system and Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve would also make good use of the power of this card.

If one card is not powerful enough for you the GTX Titan can even be installed in 2 or 3 way SLI, multiplying the performance even further.

This truly is a groundbreaking card and for the moment holds the crown of the worlds most powerful GPU.

Although the price may seem high for a consumer grade card it is a lot cheaper than most workstation class cards with performance that would run rings around most of them.

I don't have the money to get one and test it but there are various sites benchmarking it in PC's.

More info from Nvidia here

Friday, 22 February 2013

How to change the primary display in OSX

System preferences - Display - Arrangement
I only recently found out about this and it's driven me crazy in the past so I thought I would share it.
I know a lot of you will be saying "Well, Duh!" but if you don't know, you don't know :-)
Hopefully this will help someone else.

If you connect a second or third monitor to your Mac occasionally the "Primary" monitor (ie the one with the toolbar and the dock) isn't on the display that you wanted. I have usually fixed this in the past by plugging and unplugging monitors until I got what I wanted :-)

However, the right way to do it is this:

Go to System Preferences,
Open "Displays"
Select the "Arrangement" tab (this won't be there unless you have at least two monitors connected)
If you look at the image above you can see the arrangement menu.
You can drag the blue boxes to match the physical position of your monitors, but you can also drag the white line that you see at the top of the box to the monitor that you would like to be the "primary" monitor.

Simple isn't it?

I've been using Macs for years and I never knew. Doh!! :-)

Monday, 4 February 2013

PowerPoint book published for Kindle

I have finally got around to publishing "The PowerPoint Declaration" which I co-wrote with David McFetridge last year.

It is available as a downloadable book for Kindle on the Amazon store here

It's not a book about about how to use PowerPoint but about how you can make better use of any presentation software to deliver your message in an interesting and effective way.

It's written in an easy to read and entertaining style and is set out as a series of articles so you can dip in and out of it as you wish.

If you ever have to give presentations you should take a look, there are some very useful tips to make your life easier and your presentations more effective.

I'd love to know what you think, let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Blackmagic release DaVinci Resolve 9.1

Blackmagic have released a new version of DaVinci Resolve, version 9.1

These are the new features in 9.1

• Mac OS X Retina support for MacBook Pro
• Support for FCPX Audition in XML
• Improved mixed frame rate XML support
• Includes CinemaDNG Input Device Transform (IDT) for grading Raw images
• Playback and render support for DNxHD 100
• Playback support for XAVC and AVC-Intra100 MXF
• Playback support for Sony Raw F55/F5 files
• Faster rendering of Sony CineAlta SStP files
• NTSC DV playback now supports 4x3 and 16x9 aspect ratios
• Generation of new AAF for MXF audio renders
• Support for timeline audio when PowerMastering
• Chase audio offset can now be specified in either frames or seconds
• Option to automatically render the same number of audio channels as
source audio
• ASC CDL metadata extraction from ARRIRAW headers
• Matte clips can now be assigned to multiple clips in the Media Pool
• DeckLink 4K Extreme support
• Added support for the Red Mysterium-X Monochrome sensor (software
decode only)
• Red Rocket can now be disabled from Preferences
• General performance and stability improvements

Resolve 9.1 is a free upgrade.

I have seen some people on the forums have issues with the Lite version with missing Avid DNX codecs so if you use this type of media maybe hold off on upgrading for a while.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Smoke 2013 for Mac with 20% off

Just a quick post for anyone who is interested in advanced editing on the Mac.

Autodesk have an offer running until January 25th that gives you 20% off the cost of a Smoke 2013 license.

Smoke is not cheap, but it is one of the most sophisticated editing and compositing packages available for the Mac platform.

Check out the Autodesk website for more info on Smoke or check Brian Mulligans excellent blog with 101 questions answered about Smoke 2013 here