Five Things to Add to Your Post Production Toolbox

One thing I love to do is tinker with things.  Because of this, I find myself adding things to my post production toolbox that many post professionals might not have heard of, or might not be thinking of, because they don’t appear, at first glance, to be post production specific.  I wanted to think about things that I use that others in the post industry might find useful but haven’t thought of as a post tool. Here are five things that you might find useful when working in post:

1)  File Transporter et al. (                      Free to approx. $200

Dropbox has become a tool that post professionals use daily.  Sharing files, sending links to directors, producers, other teams, assistants, you name it.  The problem is, I don’t like trusting my files, especially ones clients don’t want public, to be stored on other people’s drives or servers.  I like to control my own data.  That’s why I started digging into companies that create the Dropbox feel, but with my own drives.  There are a multitude of options available in a price range that goes from free to 100+ dollars for the devices.

The two that are working best for me right now are File Transporter, who was bought by Drobo a few months back and costs between $99 and $149 and BTSync, which is Bittorrent’s answer to Dropbox.  At the moment I feel File Transporter works just slightly better than BTSync. I prefer File Transporter’s almost identical approach to Dropbox.  BTSync gives you more power over how you share, and appears to give more privacy, as far as I can tell.  However, it is constantly being updated, which is a pain, and sharing is a bit more cumbersome.  But, who knows in a few months, it might be the best option.

For File Transporter, they actually give you a piece of hardware with your one time fee. The hardware allows you to plug your drive into one end of their device and your network into the other end, and voila, you have your own Dropbox.  BTSync doesn’t require hardware which is nice, but if you want to separate it out, you’ll need to build something with a Raspberry pi.

File Transporter:


2)  Boomerang for Gmail                  (          Free to $49.99/month

Your inbox is probably pulling you in multiple directions at once. Have you gone into your email to find a compilation of different correspondence: one for a project, one for your personal life, and a potential gig email?  Have you done this when you are swamped and have a tight deadline? You don’t want to answer the personal one just yet, you want to think about your answer, and the potential gig you’ll approach later in the day, but you don’t want to forget the email is there, especially if you are getting inundated by emails from your current gig. Well, this is where Boomerang comes in. It’s an application you add to your browser and it works with Gmail to make your emails disappear and re-enter your inbox as new when you want. So, if you are scheduling your life, you can tell the personal emails to come back at a particular time, say during a break or in the evening when you have more time for personal stuff.

The app price ranges from free to $49.99 a month. This depends on what your usage is going to be and if you are using it as a company.  Personal use is free, with up to ten emails boomeranged a month.  The next level up is $4.99 a month for unlimited.  At first I thought this was pricey, but as I started using it, I became a champion of it. This app is integral to my work now – I schedule out my days and emails pertaining to particular elements of the schedule. I boomerang my incoming emails and have them return at those particular scheduled times. It’s a great way to keep me focused on the tasks at hand while working.

3)  HandBrake                    (                    Free

I was questioning if I should put this one here. I don’t know a post house that doesn’t have a copy.  However, I teach a lot of classes and find that a lot of students just starting out don’t know about this tool. So, here it is. I think the website describes it best, “HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.”  When I cut documentaries, I would get lots of footage in really odd and random formats and codecs.  If the software I was cutting in couldn’t handle the conversion, this tool would!

4)  Audio HiJack                (                                  Free (Up to 10 min. record time) to $49.99 (Full Version)

I use Audio HiJack a lot, since I do a lot of recording of phone interviews for my podcast The Cutting Room.  Audio HiJack is a simple tool that gives you powerful results. You can record lossless audio from any application!  You can add inputs, add mixers, and it even has a “Bulletproof” record option which saves your ass if your application quits or your computer freezes/crashes. It’s a great tool at a reasonable price. 

5)  iDisplay                                        (        $9.99

I can’t take credit for finding this tool.  It was shown to me by Adam Epstein, who uses it on SNL for their digital shorts when he needs to be on set. In short, iDisplay turns your iPad into a second screen for your desktop or laptop. A lot of editors find themselves on set these days, whether it’s showing quick assemblies or ingesting footage and making adjustments (some sets have DITs for this). Pos- production lives are becoming more linked to the set. iDisplay will give you a second monitor out of your iPad and with a simple clip tool or stand, it becomes an amazing addition.

Of course there are a multitude of other tools out there that might not seem as though they fit in your post toolbox, but you’ve found useful. 

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