How To Get Started With Adobe Premiere Pro CC – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you How to Get Started With Adobe Premiere Pro CC – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know How To Do. Video editing is actually fun and with Premiere Pro CC it’s not as hard as it may look. Almost every new camera and mobile device can shoot video today. You might as well put that video to good use and edit it to be more compelling!

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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My First Session at HOW Design Live Rocked!

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There’s nothing like showing up to do a session at a conference and seeing 400+ empty chairs. Your first thought is “Oh my God, I hope people attend this thing!” Well I must say that not only did have close to 400 people in my session yesterday at HOW Design Live, but it was the right 400 people. Like most presenters I draw my energy from the crowd. The better the crowd responds the more it will help me to do a better presentation. I had an hour to show: “Create Cutting Edge Websites. No Code. No Kidding”. Of course this session was all about Adobe Muse CC.

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Judging by the number of mentions on Twitter, the crowd LOVED IT!

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Thanks again to all who attended and I’ll see you again today same time for “Adobe Creative Cloud Time Saving Tips and Tricks.” If you didn’t get a chance to attend my session here at HOW Design Live 2014 in Boston, you can check out my getting started video on Adobe Muse CC here:




The Westcott Illuminator Reflector 6-in-1 Kit

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Photographers use reflectors to add light and defusers to soften light all the time. I was in need of a new reflector kit that I could take on the road. There are lots of reflector kits out there that come with reversible covers. Usually you’ll get white, silver, gold and perhaps black. The one thing that intrigued me the most about the Westcott Illuminator Reflector 6-in-1 Kit is that unlike most kits, they actually include TWO collapsible diffusers. One is a full-stop of diffusion and the other one is a two-stop diffuser. They include a reversible cover that has silver, gold, sunlight and black.

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With this one kit you can either have two separate diffusers or one diffuser and one reflector or one diffuser and one black/flag. That pretty much gives you everything you could want in the field.

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The nice big 42″ size is also a bonus because it can either diffuse a large area or bounce a larger amount of light therefore make it softer.

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You can get the Westcott Illuminator Reflector 6-in-1 Kit 42″ size here.

If you want one with an arm and stand, check out this kit.

 


I’m Giving Away A Year of CrashPlan

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As many of you know I’ve been a fan of CrashPlan.com for a few years now. It’s a major part of my backup strategy and gives me an offsite backup in addition to my onsite Time Machine backups. Recently I had Code 42 (the company behind CrashPlan) speak at my local user’s group and I learned even more about how cool their services are. Thanks to the good folks at Code 42 I’m able to give away a full year of the CrashPlan Family Plan (up to 10 computers) to one of my lucky readers.

It’s easy to enter this contest. All you have to do is write a comment below about why you think backups and offsite backups are important to you. The deadline for comments is Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 9PM ET.

I’ll select a winner from the comments below at random and announce the winner one week from today (Monday, May 19th, 2014).


Yes, you can buy prints of my work

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I’ve been shooting seriously/professionally since late 2006. Throughout the years people have occasionally asked me if they could buy particular images that I have captured. I never really had an answer to that question because I was never really set up to make it happen. Although I’ve owned Epson photo printers in the past, I’ve always found that the maintenance and upkeep of the printer was not worth it. It seemed that every time I wanted to make a print it would take more time than it was worth to get the printer “going again”. This meant unclogging the heads or discovering that I had run out of a particular color right at that crucial moment. Because of this and simply not having the time to deal with it, I have avoided making my work available for sale. Well, that was until recently. The question came up again and during Photoshop World, I was inspired by the various works being displayed by many of my fellow instructors. That fueled my passion once again and I decided that it was time to figure out a way to do this. I settled on smugmug.com for now to be the back end for my print sales. As a pro member they allowed me to easily set up a gallery and make my prints available in the sizes that I wanted to sell them at as well as the prices I wanted to sell them for. The beauty of it is that they do the printing and shipping.

You can check out the gallery here.

See more of my photography here.


5 Hidden Gems in Adobe Illustrator CC

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you 5 or more hidden gems in Adobe Illustrator CC. See these little known features and tips and tricks that will speed up your Illustrator workflow.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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The 3rd Generation Drobo is Here

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Drobo recently introduced their third generation 4-bay enclosure and I thought I’d take a look. I’ve been using Drobo storage units since 2008 (see my first review here). As a matter of fact that first unit is still in use today. Now I have five of them in total between home and my studio. So far to date I haven’t had any hardware issues with my Drobo units. They have actually performed quite well. I did have a directory corruption problem early on that required me to reformat and restore from a backup, but that could have happened on any drive. Other than that one incident my five Drobo enclosures have worked just fine. I know that some, including my buddy Scott Kelby have not been so lucky. As a matter of fact Drobo has gone through some major changes (for the better) as a company as a result. With that said and since I’ve not had any real issues I continue to use their products.

What’s New?

The new third generation 4-bay enclosure gets back to the basics. It reminds me of my first Drobo, only it’s cheaper and faster with a more solid design. With this new model you can put anywhere from 1 to 4 drives in it of any capacity. Of course you’re going to want to put at least two drives in it to get the data protection features. It has one interface on the back: USB 3. Aside from the USB 3 connection it looks and feels just like any other Drobo, but there are a couple of other things under the hood. It has a Power Fail Protection feature that protects the data you were transferring in the middle of a power outage. It also now sports a new Time Machine feature that lets you create a backup-specific volume. This is handy when you don’t want Time Machine to eat up all the available space.

You can configure it up to 24 TB

 

Why Drobo?

I get this question all the time. Certainly there are less expensive RAID systems out there that are not proprietary. I went with Drobo for the following reasons:

Beyond RAID (their technology) means that I can mix the drive capacities. As the price of 4TB drives continue to drop, for example, I can replace my 2 and 3 TB drives without doing them all at once.

I can swap out a drive without having to stop the work or reformat. If I need to replace a bad drive or increase the total storage capacity, I can just eject a drive and replace it with another (potentially larger) one.

I don’t have to be an IT expert to manage it. It sits in my server closet and just runs 24/7. If anything goes wrong it sends me an email.

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My messy, but functional server closet with a Drobo 5D up top connected to a Mac mini server and the Drobo FS below backing up stuff

What if it fails?

I’ve heard the horror stories. As a matter of fact you’d be hard pressed to find ANY product that someone doesn’t have a horror story about. However, I don’t rely on or totally trust ANY single solution when it comes to my data. No matter who makes my storage units or how great their reputation is, I’m going to have my data backed up in multiple places including an offsite backup via crashplan.com. So if it failed tomorrow, I’d probably replace it with another one as nothing lasts forever and it will die someday. My favorite model is the Drobo 5D. This baby is fast and is connected via Thunderbolt to my Mac mini server. Again, I haven’t had a moment’s problem out of it since the day I turned it on. It’s been running 24/7 since day one.

Although my Drobo units haven’t failed, my hard drives have! Here’s what Drobo does when a drive fails:

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I got an email that the 5th drive was failing. I ordered a new one. It arrived in a couple of days. I ejected the bad one and put the new one in. I kept working the whole time. If you’re super paranoid you can set it to protect you against TWO drive failures. This will reduce your total available capacity, but two drives could die at the same time and your data would still be protected.

 

You can get the NEW 3rd Generation Drobo here for $349 or less. Drobo increased their warranty period from one year to two years.





G-Drive 1TB Thunderbolt / USB 3 Portable Drive Review

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Last month while out of town on business I had an urgent need for more storage. One of my colleagues wanted to give me some new demo material and in total it was going to take up almost 1 terabyte of space. I had no where near that much available space on my laptop drive or either of the other two external drives I had with me. There was an Apple Store nearby so I headed over to buy a drive. I had no particular drive in mind although another colleague showed me his new LaCie 1TB Thunderbolt/USB3 drive. At least I had that one in the back of my mind as a starting point. I also had no idea which drives Apple would actually have in stock. I was going to be at the mercy of whatever was on the shelves as I needed the drive that day. I got to the store and found that they did in fact have the LaCie Rugged 1TB drive, but upon a quick glance at the specs I was stopped in my tracks to see that it had only a 5,400 rpm drive inside. What a waste! After all you’re paying extra for a Thunderbolt port and the drive would be pretty much crippled by the relatively slow spinning drive. I kept looking. For a moment I was tempted by a 2TB external drive (can’t even remember the manufacturer), but again saw that it was a 5,400 rpm drive. However, the 2TB capacity did sound nice since I knew that I was going to be getting almost 1TB of files to start with.
Then I saw the G-Drive 1TB Thunderbolt/USB3 Drive and since I knew the G-Drives were usually good performers I wasn’t surprised to see that it had a 7,200rpm mechanism inside. Now my debate was a fast drive but at only 1TB or a slow drive at 2TBs. Decisions, decisions. I ended up going with two of the 1TB G-Drives. The price worked out to be only $100 more than the 2TB drive and I was getting the same total capacity, but with much better performance.

About the performance

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I knew the drives would be fast, but I was actually a little blown away by how fast they actually were. They came with both USB 3 and Thunderbolt cables and since I have a Thunderbolt port on my MacBook Pro, I plugged it in via Thunderbolt. I was floored by how fast the data copied. I even handed one to my colleague Jason and said “here, choose a fairly large file on your computer and copy it to this drive.” As luck would have it he had a 4GB file that was handy and it copied in under a minute.
Having both a Thunderbolt Port and USB 3 port means that I have the option of connecting it to pretty much any modern computer and I’ll get good performance. Even if I have to connect it to an older computer I’ll get USB 2 speeds. I didn’t really expect to like this drive as much as I do. I was just running out to get a drive to fill an immediate need. However, it’s now my favorite portable drive.

You can get the G-Drive 1TB Thunderbolt / USB 3 Portable Drive here.

SAVE MONEY! If you don’t have a Thunderbolt port or simply don’t need the Thunderbolt connectivity then you can actually get the same drive in a USB 3 ONLY configuration for about half the price here. I’ve used the drive above connected via USB 3 and it was still plenty fast.


Photographers: iMac or Mac Pro?

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Rather than just do a review of the new Mac Pro and tell you how fast it is vs. any other Mac that Apple has made, I decided to approach this review from a different angle. There was a time when I bought Mac Pro towers because I wanted the fastest Mac available. However, I soon realized that as much as I didn’t want to admit it, the Mac Pro is “overkill” for what I do on a day-to-day basis. Sure, faster is always nicer than slower when it comes to waiting for a process to complete, but honestly I’m rarely waiting for a process to complete these days. Sure, I render video on a weekly basis and it would always be nicer to have those videos render faster, but is the faster render worth the money for a Mac Pro? The answer will of course depend on how much you find yourself waiting on your computer and not being able to do anything else while you’re waiting.

Let’s get some ground rules out of the way first

If you don’t like Macs or don’t want a Mac for whatever your reasons are, you can pretty much stop here and find something else to do with your time. I find it entertaining when people feel compelled to tell you/me how much they don’t want the thing you’re reviewing or writing about because they use something else. This is not a Mac vs. _______ post. If you’re happy with a Windows PC or Linux, or anything else, I’m happy for you. If you’re reading the rest of this post then I’ll assume that you’re a Mac user or thinking of becoming one.

The next thing I’d like to get out of the way is that if you’re looking for a Mac Pro review that tells you this new Mac Pro is better than the previous Mac Pro with all the benchmarks to back it up, then you’d probably be better served by other reviewers who have targeted the performance of the new model vs. the older model. I’m doing this review/comparison simply to answer the question, “as a photographer would I be better off spending my money on an iMac/MacBook Pro or a Mac Pro?” If you’re a videographer and you’re a Mac user then you probably already have the new Mac Pro because you demanded the fastest Mac you could get to render your videos.

 

Introduction

When I saw the rumors that Apple was going to release a radically different design for the Mac Pro, to be quite honest I was only mildly interested. As I stated above, I realized with my last Mac Pro that I wasn’t really a Mac Pro customer. Sure I appreciate the faster performance, but I found myself only using my Mac Pro when I knew a process was going to take a long time to complete. Otherwise I was quite happy just using my MacBook Pro simply because I could use it in any room at any time. I could take it with me on the road. However, I said to myself perhaps if the performance (for what I do) is significantly better and the price point for an entry model was $2,500 or less, I’d consider getting one. Well we know the latter didn’t happen, so now it was time to test the performance. I got the opportunity to test a Mac Pro standard configuration in my studio for a few weeks. I loaded the latest version of my Adobe Creative Cloud applications on it as well as a few utilities that I use such as ScreenFlow. Next, I began running side-by-side tests of the things that I do daily that take more than a few seconds. My assumption was that the Mac Pro would certainly be at least twice as fast at everything I threw at it than my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina Display Mac. Actually I was wrong!

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When will a Mac Pro significantly outperform any other Mac?

As I said above, I was wrong in my assumption that the Mac Pro would be at least twice as fast at everything. Actually it is faster at everything! Just not by a margin of two. On every test I threw at it the Mac Pro outperformed my now two-year-old MacBook Pro, but in some cases it was only slightly faster. This is when I realized that in order to see significant speed improvements the software you’re testing not only needs to be optimized for the faster processors, but also it would need to take advantage of the multiple cores. Even then, the MacBook Pro is no slouch. It’s got multiple cores too. Where I saw the biggest differences was in (no surprise) video rendering and processes that take longer than a minute or so anyway.

 

What I do as a photographer

As a photographer I spend most of my time in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Adobe Photoshop CC. Photoshop CC definitely takes advantage of multiple cores and now has Open CL support. So filters will run faster on the new Mac Pro. All of these applications are 64bit native and that means that they’ll take advantage of additional RAM.

My first test was one of the things I do after every shoot. I convert my RAW files into .DNG (Digital Negative) format. This is one of the few times that I see a progress bar in Lightroom because it does take time to do it. I converted 435 16MP Nikon .NEF RAW files into DNG format.

First on the MacBook Pro it took 14 minutes 35 seconds

On the Mac Pro the same conversion took 12 minutes 12 seconds.

Yes it was faster! However, it was only about 2 minutes faster. I must say that I was a little disappointed. However, I moved on to the next test.

The next test was using the Web module in Lightroom to export a web gallery using the Client Response Gallery Template from The Turning Gate.

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On the MacBook Pro this export took 7 minutes 41 seconds

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On the NEW Mac Pro it took 4 minutes 9 seconds.

Ahhhh, much better. Almost half the time.

The next test was a simple HDR (High Dynamic Range) conversion in Photoshop CC using three RAW files. This is a two-part process. The first part is simply combining the three (or more) images together and aligning them. Then the second part of the process is applying whatever settings you want to control how your HDR looks.

The first part on the MacBook Pro took 12.70 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 9.10 seconds

The second part on the MacBook Pro took 13.00 seconds and on the Mac Pro it took 11.13 seconds.

The next test was stitching a Panorama together using Photoshop CC and 10 RAW files

On the MacBook Pro this process took 1 minute 12 seconds

On the Mac Pro this process took 51 seconds.

I could have gone on running other tests and other filters, but these are the things I do on a regular basis. If it was faster at something that I rarely do, then I really don’t care as much. As you can see from the results above, the Mac Pro wins on every test as you would expect it to, but the results (even if it was twice as fast in every case) may not justify the difference in cost. We’ll get to that at the end.

Next it was time to look at what I do as a Photographer when it comes to video

I use video in a couple of different ways. The first as a photographer is to tell my story. This means capturing video with my DLSR, GoPro, iPhone, etc. I use Adobe Premiere Pro CC to assemble those videos and then output them to share (usually on YouTube). The next way that I use video and probably the way that I use video the most often is to record my Creative Cloud TV video podcasts. These screen recordings are done with ScreenFlow and since the editing I do is pretty simple I can edit these right in ScreenFlow. Of course I need to export those videos out and this can take a while depending on the length of the video. I had no doubts that this is where the Mac Pro would really shine. After all these are the kind of processor and resource intensive tasks that the Mac Pro was built for. I was not disappointed.

The first test I ran was an export of an hour-long edited video out of ScreenFlow.

On the MacBook Pro this export took 60 minutes

On the Mac Pro this export took 33 minutes.

It gets better in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and the Adobe Media Encoder CC. I needed to convert this video into a different format using the Adobe Media Encoder CC.

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On the MacBook Pro this conversion/export took 34 minutes 36 seconds

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On the Mac Pro this conversion/export took only 12 minutes 36 seconds

 

The Bottom Line

The NEW Mac Pro is the fastest Mac that Apple has ever created. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Is the speed difference worth the difference in price?” For me the answer is no. Sure if I spent my days rendering video all day every day, I’d already have the Mac Pro. There would be no question. However, as a photographer I can’t justify the difference in price. Hey! Wait a minute, you said in the title of this post “iMac or Mac Pro?”, yet all you’ve talked about is the MacBook Pro vs. the Mac Pro. This is true. I didn’t have a new iMac to compare it with. However, if you’re looking for a “desktop” Mac as a photographer, I’d seriously consider the current iMac. The current iMac will be as fast or faster than my 2012 MacBook Pro in every case. So here are some prices and specs to look at:

The Mac Pro model and configuration that I tested above is here. (Now keep in mind that if I was going to buy one I’d start with this configuration and I’d go with a bigger internal drive and more RAM)

The base configuration 4th gen 21.5″ iMac is here. However, this model is not a fair comparison. It’s probably a little slower than my MacBook Pro as it has a slower processor, less RAM, and no Flash Drive.

This would be the configuration that I would recommend and would be more of a fair comparison: 27″ iMac here.

If you’re interested in a similar configuration (using the current model) to my MacBook Pro 15″ Retina, it would be this one.

Why an iMac? Although I don’t use one, an iMac makes sense because you’re getting a fast Mac with a nice big 27″ display all in one.

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Why a MacBook Pro? For me the MacBook Pro makes the most sense because when I’m at my desk I have connected to a nice 24″ HD Wacom Cintiq display/tablet. When i get ready to go I disconnect it and go. I have a computer with a nice 15″ Retina display when I’m on the road. If I didn’t travel for a living then I’d probably have an iMac. Since I travel a lot, a MacBook Pro makes more sense.

If you want the fastest Mac and you don’t mind spending $3,000-$4,000 (or more) on it, then definitely go with a Mac Pro. Everything you do will likely be faster than the Mac you’re currently using. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to buy a display, keyboard and mouse/tablet to go with it. At the end of the day I realize that computers have become “fast enough” and that I don’t spend a lot of time waiting these days. Even when a process such as a video render/export is going to take a few minutes I can toss it to the background and work on other things in the foreground. My last Mac Pro once configured set me back over $5,000 and while it was a beast, I found that I wasn’t really using it as much as I had hoped I would, so I sold it. The new Mac Pro is faster, but is it $4,000 faster? For me it’s not.





5 Hidden Gems in Adobe Lightroom 5

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In this episode of Adobe Creative Cloud TV, I’ll show you 5 or more hidden gems in Adobe Lightroom 5. See these little known features and tips and tricks that will speed up your Lightroom workflow.

Are you missing out on my Bonus Content?

See more of my Adobe Creative Cloud Videos on my Adobe Creative Cloud TV and get the App below. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version on the Amazon App Store:

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