The Moving Picture: The Four Products You'll Meet in Heaven
Posted Sep 28, 2007

We all have high-profile products we use every day that help us keep the revenues flowing. Maybe it’s Final Cut Pro or Premiere Pro, Adobe Photoshop or Ulead PhotoImpact, or Microsoft Word, or . . . well, Microsoft Word. Beyond these, however, are other, less-heralded products that one day you learn you simply can’t live without.

Probably the best example is the 30" HP LP3065 LCD monitor, which is so freakishly large that I had to ask the FedEx guy to help me unload and deposit it on my standing desk. In an office full of computers, cameras, and affiliated gear, it’s always the first thing newcomers notice.

I think video editors fall into two camps: those that use and swear by NTSC monitors, and those that are just as content a single-monitor solution. I’m definitely in the latter camp, sometimes using dual-monitor setups with 19" or smaller monitors, but happily segueing over to a single-monitor setup when some 23" Apple Cinema displays arrived.

My largest Windows monitor was 19" until the HP appeared, and it changed the paradigm. Even when editing HDV, the 2560x1600 resolution provides more than sufficient space for both the trim and preview window. As it often happens, I didn’t realize how essential the monitor had become until I had to live without it. To make a long story short, a press (beta) version of a recently released video editor suddenly expired in the middle of a time-critical job.

One second I was happily editing away, the next second the program crashed, and when I tried to re-run the program, I got a message that the license had expired. No warning, no option to enter a serial; I was just dead in the water. The project was about 15 minutes from being done, and I debated transferring the HP to my back up editing station, but ultimately decided against it.

Instead, since I was producing a screencam job, the source videos were relatively small, and it took only seconds to transfer all project files over my LAN and continue editing. Suddenly, I was back on my 19" 4:3 display, and though the project was a relatively modest 800x600 resolution, all of a sudden, nothing fit. The interface felt cramped, there was no real way to display both source files and effects, the preview window looked squeezed, and all of a sudden, the clean text from the Camtasia screen capture looked distorted.

The effect was visceral. My frustration level was already on high alert, due to the unexpected program expiration, and the cramped monitor raised it significantly more. I felt physically claustrophobic, and I could feel my blood pressure creeping up. Deep calming breaths definitely helped, but finishing the project an hour later, then reloading the software and getting back to my 30" monitor was the real cure. Trust me. Bigger is definitely better when it comes to monitors, and if you want both increase efficiency and decrease frustration levels, you need to upgrade to a truly big screen.

Next up is my MacBook Pro notebook. It’s the 17" model, 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo processor that could run Windows, but with Word and Premiere Pro available on the Mac, I have everything I need. The unit is powerful enough for relatively serious video editing, and has about 150GB of hard disk capacity, certainly sufficient for shorter projects.

What I really love about the MacBook Pro is how quickly I can get up and running while sitting at a play rehearsal or cheerleading practice. On multiple Windows computers, I never got the computer to wake up after going into sleep mode, forcing the seemingly interminable reboot cycle, and often lost data. On the MacBook Pro, it works like a charm every time, allowing me to maximize the efficiency of my increasingly soccer mom existence.

Next up is my ATEN KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) DVI KVMP CS-1764 switch, which lets me connect multiple computers to one keyboard, mouse, monitor, and set of speakers. If you’ve been in business for a while, you almost certainly have multiple computers, perhaps one for email, one for bookkeeping and one or two for editing and rendering. But desk space never seems to increase.

I’ve got four workstations connected to my ATEN switch, two test computers, and two rendering stations, and I use all four almost every day. These are on the left-hand side of my desk with the Mac I write on in the middle of the table, and my main editing station on the right. Without the switch, I’d need a desk the size of the stage at the Rex Theater, where I happen to be right now, watching my youngest rehearse for a play as I complete this column on the MacBook Pro. One caveat is that my ATEN unit doesn’t support dual monitor displays, so if dual display is essential to you, check the ATEN-USA website for a dual monitor-capable unit.

The last product is the XLNT Idea NexisAP autoloading DVD/CD printer. Seems like I produce about one new disc a month, with some clients returning for repetitive orders every quarter or so. Without an auto printer, running 5-10 disc projects felt like an incredible hassle, a real intrusion in my busy day. With the auto printer, it takes about 2-3 minutes to get started, and then I can run projects of up to 50 units with any intervention at all.

Of course, the nicest thing about all these products is that you don’t actually need to be in heaven to get them. You may feel like you’re in heaven after they show up in your office, though.

Jan Ozer( is a contributing editor to EventDV and Streaming Media.