Archive for June, 2011

Compressor 4

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Apple released Final Cut X, Motion and Compressor 4 on June 21st. All three are only available via the App Store. They cost $299.99, $49.99 and $49.99 respectively.

Compressor 4 is billed as “Powerful Encoding for Final Cut Pro.” The new compressor requires 2 to 4 gigs of RAM, 256MB VRAM, a 1280×768 monitor and 685MB disk space.

Looking at it initially, it appears that all of the apps that previously interacted with Compressor, such as the QMaster System Preference pane, Qadministrator, etc have been rolled into Compressor, living inside the .app bundle in the /Contents/EmbeddedApps directory. They are now accessible via the QMaster menu in the Compressor.app.

Apple has also changed how the Distributed Processing works. Instead of installing QMaster or Compressor on each machine that will be handling render jobs, Compressor gets installed on 1 machine, which then acts as the render controller. Communication to render nodes is now handled through ssh. This means the $49.99 purchase can be leveraged without acquiring a license for each render node. While rendering can be performed wirelessly, rendering over a wired interface is strongly recommended.

Compressor 4 now supports more codecs, frame rates and resolutions. A larger settings library provides quick access to most of these. While the H.264, MPEG-2 and ProRES are now assumed, the addition of HTTP is welcome, as are options for closed captioning, metadata (which can be read or written from the command line) and chapter markers.

And because it’s a shell based interface, QMaster can now control renders for Shake, Maya, After Effects, Lightwave and any other shell based render controllers. There are certainly some issues with the software that will be worked out over the next couple of months, but it looks well worth $49.99 to experiment with it.

318 is very involved with automated video workflows. If you have any questions about how the new changes to the Final Cut and other video products will impact your environment, please reach out to your Professional Services Manager or sales@318.com and we will be happy to discuss these with you in detail.

Serial Adaptors, screen and OS X

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Many of us use a Keyspan Serial adapter to manage devices with serial ports on them. Those who find you need to console into devices but hate the fact that you have to either use Zterm (which is no longer maintained) or boot a Windows Virtual Machine will find an application called goSerial pretty handy. GoSerial makes a Keyspan serial to usb adaptor, connected with a null modem cable, useful. You will be in CLI heaven in moments. goSerial can be downloaded here.

You can also use the screen command. The screen command will open a virtual terminal and provide the functionality of an old DEC VT100 terminal. Screen is one of the more useful tools when dealing with several servers concurrently, or several VT sessions as the case may be.

To open a screen session into an APC:

screen /dev/tty.KeySerial1 2400

To open a screen session into a Qlogic:

screen /dev/tty.KeySerial1 9600

To open a screen session into a Promise RAID:

screen /dev/tty.KeySerial1 115200

To see your active screens:

screen -ls

The output will show screens similar to the following:
6077.ttys001.krypted2 (Detached)

When you list the screens you’ll note that some can be detached. You can also start a screen detached. To do so, use the -d flag when invoking the screen (or -D if you don’t want to fork the process. To attach to a detached screen, use the -r option:

screen -r 6077.ttys001.krypted2

Or if you only have one active screen that has been detached, -R will automatically reconnect to it. It can be useful to have more friendly names when working with multiple screen sessions. To attach to an attached screen session, use -x:

screen -x 6077.ttys001.krypted2

To provide an easy-to-remember name, use the -s option. To initiate a screen called simply Qlogic, using the above Qlogic rate:

screen -s Qlogic /dev/tty.KeySerial1 9600

By creating a .screenrc file in your home directory you can also set many of the options for screen.

While the screen command is useful in connecting to external devices via the command line, that’s only a small part of what screen can do. Those using the Terminal application that comes with Mac OS X have been using an environment that acts like screen for some time. You invoke tabs and new terminal windows in order to leave, for example, a session tailing logs or editing a configuration file open, while using a separate session to read a man page or start a process. Screen takes all of this and packs it into one terminal screen for environments without such an interactive command line management tool. For example, if you ssh into a Linux host in a data center, you would have to initiate 2 sessions into hosts in order to have 2 concurrently running screens, whereas you would only need to invoke one ssh session (and you may be limited to one) and still have the flexibility you have with the Terminal screen, albeit in a single window perhaps.

For example, let’s say you ssh into a RHEL box and you want to invoke an emacs editor:

screen emacs prog.c

Now let’s say that you type a few lines of a new samba config file and you want to tail the samba logs to make sure you’re augmenting the correct options:

screen tail -f /var/log/samba/log.smbd

To then switch back to emacs:

screen -R

There’s lots more you can do with screen, but this should get ya’ started!