Category Archives: Workflow

Force Adobe OCR if page contains “renderable text” on Mac

This is a appears to be a difficult problem because there appears to be no straightforward way to remove renderable text. If you try to open the PDF in Preview and print as PDF or even as PostScript, the renderable text still remains.

The solution lies in exporting the PDF to an image format, e.g., TIFF. TIFF is better than JPEG because you don’t get rendering artifacts. Also it supports multi-page documents. PNG does not give artifacts, but also does not allow for multi-page documents.

When exporting to TIFF make sure you select a high DPI, e.g., 600, to preserve quality. The default is only 150 which is too low.

Then open the such created TIFF once more in Preview and re-export as PDF.

The such created PDF should pose no more problems for OCR in Acrobat.

PDF OCR Batch-processing with ScanSnap

The ScanSnap S1500M (but also the S1500 as well as the earlier models S510 and S510M) comes with ABBYY FineReader for OCR support. This is great for creating searchable PDFs. Especially handy on a Mac with Spotlight. The problem is that in the default setup, each scan is OCRed right after the scan and depending on the age your machine (my G5 is getting a little long in the tooth) in can take quite a while. When you’re in the process of scanning many hundred’s of pages of paper documents, you don’t want to have to wait for the computer to do it’s OCR recognition, you’d rather feed it all the documents and let it do OCR while you’re doing something else. Continue reading

Capturing and Organizing Footage

As I am working on my first video project with Final Cut Express (FCE), I will try capture the essential steps for future reference. The steps are taken directly from the user manual, but with its 1152 pages it is a bit unwieldy and not a good quick reference guide.

First a few preparations:

  1. Connect external hard disk, preferably Firewire, and set it as Capture Scratch via the Prefrences Menu. This Drive needs to be connected and turned on before you start up FCE.
  2. Select the “Limit Capture Now To” checkbox. Enter a number of minutes for the maximum duration of your tape. To be safe, you can add an extra minute or two.
  3. Define an Easy Setup. In my case, this is “DV-NTSC anamorphic”, which implies that I recorded in 16:9 widescreen using the 16 bit audio setting

The next steps are to be performed for each new project with new footage:

  1. Create a new project via the File menu.
  2. Create a new Bin in the Browser, right click, and select “Capture Bin”. Since I am importing reels, I call the bin “Reels”. This is for my raw footage that I will later divide into subclips and then organize them into other bins for future editing.
  3. Connect you Camcorder (preferentially on grid power, rather than battery), set it to playback mode, and turn it on.
  4. Press Command-8 to open the Capture window. Insert a tape, and set the Reel Number when prompted by FCE.
  5. Use the transport controls to rewind. Press “Now” on the bottom right to start the tape and the capture process.
  6. When complete, close the capture window on the top left by pressing the close button.

The next step involves the Start/Stop Detection (p. 192) which is not done automatically as in iMovie, followed by organizing your clips:

  1. Double click the Clip in the Browser to open it in the Viewer.
  2. Choose Mark -> DV Start/Stop Detect.
  3. Switch the Browser to list view and locate the clip you were working on in the Viewer. Click the disclosure triangle to view the clip’s markers.
  4. Double click individual markers to review the corresponding subclips in the Viewer. Then click and rename them. I like to add a number in the beginning so that I don’t loose the chronological order of my clips (Unfortunately, FCE allows you to sort only alphabetically, or by clip length, but not by time code).
  5. Create bins for the various scenes/shots
  6. Drag in the Browser to select the desired markers.
  7. To make subclips, you can either choose Modify -> Make Subclip, and then drag them into the appropriate bin, or even easier, Option drag then markers to make subclips without removing the original markers (If you just drag, you still create subclips, but the markers disappear).

To simplify organization and renaming of the subclips, I like to change the standard window layout. I close the sequence window, enlarge the viewer to fill almost the entire screen, leaving enough room on the right for a browser window in list view to view all my subclips and on the bottom for another browser window showing all my bins. To save this as a custom window layout, press and hold the Option key, then click Window -> Arrange -> Set Custom Layout. Note that you can easily switch between bin and list view by right clicking on the browser background. There is also an option to increase the font size.

Here’s a screenshot:
FCE Window Layout for Organizing Clips

2008-07-18 UPDATE
I described above that there is no way to sort chronologically. Actually, there is, but it requires a rigorous Log and Capture Approach rather than the quick and dirty Capture Now method described above. Doing so, you will also have Media In and Media Out columns. Together with the reel number you can then sort chronologically.

The website referenced above — Ken Stone’s Final Cut Pro — is a phenomenal resource for anything Final Cut Pro in particular, and Final Cut Studio including Live Type, in general. Several items discussed here are also applicable to Final Cut Express. It’s just a shame to read about specific features that you cannot use because they would cost you an extra 1000 dollars.

Print Address Labels & Return Address Labels with OS X Address Book

If you want to print address labels for mass mailings, you cannot do that with Apple’s Pages, because Pages puts only one address per page in its mail merge function. This is fine, if you want to write a lot of identical letters to different people and also want to add custom printed envelopes. But If you don’t want to feed each envelope individually into your printer, you need address labels. Continue reading

Widescreen Workflow Topics with LiveType and Final Cut Express

This is just a quick link to two knowledge base articles on Apples website regarding:

Final Cut Express: DV widescreen 16:9 workflow for iDVD


LiveType: How to create anamorphic titles for 16:9 DV

Xcode — Rename Project and Application, Change Copyright and Version Number

After reading the first 6 chapters in Aarons book, I couldn’t wait any longer and had to start writing my own program. I will share a first taste of it here soon. One key problem I soon faced was how to manage multiple versions, i.e., how to save old versions of my program when making major changes. Xcode has no rename functionality, and since an Xcode project comprises many files, the answer is not straightforward. A related problem is that I first started to call my Cocoa Application project by appending the version number. The problem with that is that the Cocoa application by default has the same name and that was awkward. For instance, my current project, a fractal generator, is called “FracGen 0p3”, but I wanted the application to be called only “FracGen” and have the version number appear when selecting the “About” menu item. Continue reading

Better Sound with SnapzProX

When recording a screen movie, e.g., a software tutorial, with SnapzProX, you can choose to record a voice-over with either the built-in or an external microphone. The problem is that the sound quality is not very satisfying given that it is a straight recording. It would be better if you could filter that audio recording in real-time. The solution comes through Soundflower and Audio Hijack Pro. Continue reading

Home Recording Without Background Noise

I recently started getting into home-recording, primarily to do voice-overs on videos or to record screen tutorials for my parents. Of course I don’t have a quiet sound studio at my disposal, so my study has to do. When I turn off the radiator and close the door, it is actually pretty quiet except for the fan on my iMac. That plus background recording noise won’t go away and is quite distracting on plain voice recordings. Some searching online pointed me in the direction of using a noise gate filter: Continue reading

Compressing Double Layer DVDs

The wedding movie mentioned in the previous post is actually over three hours long and does not fit onto a single layer DVD. While I did buy a package of double layer (DL) DVDs I was rather shocked about their price. At nearly $2.2 they are more than 5 times as expensive as single layer DVDs. In this article, I found a useful hint of how to use Toast to compress double layer DVDs. Here’s how to do it: Continue reading

Authoring in iMovie HD (iLife ’06)

Authoring my first movie in iMovie took quite some time for three reasons, first because I didn’t know the program, second, because I didn’t have a fine tuned workflow, and last not least, because it was footage from my wedding, so of course I wanted it perfect, so I went back many times to redo it. My next movie was from my father in law’s 50th birthday party, and things went a lot smoother and I figured out a few more tricks because I made a more elaborate soundtrack with GarageBand. The wedding movie did not require that because all the sound was kept pretty much as filmed.

Here now are the steps that I found work best for me: Continue reading