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ShotPut Pro 6: Tips and Tricks

ShotPut Pro 6 has now been out for four months. We have been incredibly humbled by the positive response from our faithful customers as well as our new customers. With any major upgrade, there is a learning curve. We’ve put together some tips and tricks for offloading your media with ShotPut Pro – please be sure you are on the most up-to-date version; 6.2.

  • Let’s start with a new, direct line to us! We’ve included a feedback option under the Help Menu which allows users to connect directly with the developers of ShotPut Pro. Do you have a feature request? Great! Send it to us. Did you find a bug? It happens! Send it to us. Do you have a question you just CAN NOT figure out? No problem! Send it to us.
  • If you’re offloading CARDS we strongly recommend using ‘Source Integrity’ under Advanced Preferences. This option reads the card a second time for the checksum values. While this takes more time, it gives the added assurance that problems aren’t occurring on the incoming side such as overheating readers, bad cable connections, or a failing card. These are actually the most common reason an offload errors. If your source is say a digital recorder, these type errors are very unlikely and you can turn Source Integrity OFF (causing a single read of the source for both copies and checksum values).
  • If you’re interested in more speed but still want the safety of checksums, turn OFF the PDF report option and use text or CSV type logs. PDFs are more time consuming because we’re extracting metadata from the source files, including thumbs, and generating a PDF.
  • We did not offer the File Size Comparison option in the initial release of ShotPut Pro6 but soon found that many people were comfortable with it’s risk/reward proposition and asked us to add it back in the application. We did so with a twist–adding the option to still gather and report the XXHash checksums from the source files so you’d have these in your reports for downstream copy comparisons.
  • Most user configurations hit a bottleneck of either a card or disk maximum bandwidth or available bus throughput. Few users have super setups or fast RAIDs and SSDs everywhere. So a majority of offloads are down around the 100MB/s range (top speeds of most spinning media or cards).

Hopefully these tips and tricks have shed a little more light on the power of ShotPut Pro 6. If you are interested in upgraded your ShotPut Pro 5 license or purchasing a full version please visit our website here. #offloadconfidently

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Checksums Part 1: The 5 W’s

This a multi part blog. As more blogs are posted, links to those posts will be included in this blog.

 

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What is a checksum?

A checksum is a string of numbers and letters that uniquely identify a particular file regardless of the type, ie .mov, .ari, .dng, .png, .txt. Think of them like a fingerprint; no two fingers have the same fingerprint (nope, not even identical twins!) and no two random files have the same checksum; different files = different checksums. This allows people (obviously with the help of computer applications) to compare checksum values to ensure a 100% exact copy of a file is made when duplicating, or offloading files.

Why are checksums important in the media and entertainment industry?

Video files are made up of bytes. Many times when files, especially video files, are being moved around the bytes can be corrupted, inverted or lost completely. This can cause lags or glitches in video during playback. Simple applications like Finder or Explorer do not use checksums. Instead, they “look” at the files or folders being moved or copied and say, “ok, looks like 10 GBs. Yeah I’ve got room here for that amount” and then they dump the files. The problem occurs when only 9.8 GBs are moved and 0.2 GBs are lost OR the total 10 GBs are moved but bytes 3.2 and 3.3 are switched around so that 3.3 comes before 3.2…. I think you can see the problem here! Finder and Explorer have no safeguards put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen.

When and where are checksum appropriate to use?

Checksums can be used when transferring any file type. Many real estate, doctors and lawyers offices usesnape checksums when moving files from one place to another. You can understand why losing files or folders for these industries would be disastrous. In the media and entertainment world, losing files equals losing shots. Sometimes you can not replicate those shots or they would be too costly to replicate. Either way, the short answer to the question is ALWAYS. Any time files or folders are being moved, checksums should be used. Sorry (not sorry) for the Harry Potter reference, I couldn’t resist!

Who should use checksums?

Honestly, if you are serious about data integrity – you should be using checksums. Not only that but make sure you have a report with all the checksum values to cover your own butt. Many studios and insurance companies are requiring offload applications like ShotPut Pro that use checksum algorithms. If there is not a report you can’t prove that checksums were used.

That’s all for this post! I hope it’s cleared up what checksums are and why they are important to use. We will be delving more deeply into the world of checksums in the near future. If you have a specific question you would like answered please post a comment here, tweet or Facebook us!

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ShotPut Pro 6 for Mac – the industry standard copy and verification program gets a makeover

Written by Matthew Allard ACS, Published on Newsshooter.com

ShotPut Pro has been the de-facto standard copy and verification program used by major movie studios for years. While the program has always been bulletproof, times have changed, and the user interface was starting to look a bit long in the tooth. After recieving customer feedback, Imagine Products set about to completely redesign the user interface in their latest version – ShotPut Pro 6.

The new user interface still includes the traditional preset mode, but they have now included a new destination mode. This makes for a much more intuitive drag and drop system. You can also give your files an offload identifier so ShotPut Pro will automatically create a destination folder for you on the drives you have selected.

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Destination Mode

What I like about ShotPut Pro 6 is that you can now also just drag and drop between drives or individual folders without it automatically creating new output folders. This is very quick and easy to do and you can avoid the confusion of copying the same material to multiple different folder names on the same drive.

Another nice feature is a new status bar shown when backing up and verifying your files. The bars are different colours depending on what the program is doing. Light blue for copying, dark blue for verifying, orange if you have cancelled the offload, and green for once it is completed. There’s also a time remaining indicator, so you know exactly how long the file is going to take to copy.

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One of the most useful features is that ShotPut Pro 6 can pause and resume the copy process if it is interrupted. Even if you eject hard drives or camera cards or shut the lid on your computer, as long as you don’t close ShotPut Pro you can go back and continue the copy process from exactly where it left off. One thing to bear in mind: this only works if you’re copying multiple files, if you are just copying one long file, it will not let you pause the copying process.

Also new is the ability to create PDF reports with a company logo, offload name, metadata and thumbnails for each video file. As with previous versions of ShotPut Pro you can also have the program text or email you a report once your offload is complete. This gives you peace of mind and you don’t have to sit around and wait and check if your files were offloaded and verified.

The only negative thing I found about ShotPut Pro is that if someone enables the PDF report option with thumbnails, that of course costs some time since the files are further interrogated to extract metadata and thumbnails. I also found out that in Advanced Preferences settings, the default is to read the source files a second pass when calculating checksums. The idea behind this process, while it too costs a bit more time, helps detect failing cards, over-heating cards or card readers giving off inconsistent data. These are potentially disastrous errors that if you’re serious about your data back up, are worth the cost of some time to catch.

ShotPut Pro certainly has a lot of features and the new improved user interface is nice to use. I love the email and text alerts notifying you when files have been copied and verified. The ability to pause and resume copying is also extremely handy. The customisable PDF reports are great if you’re working on a large set and allow you to provide accurate information about exactly what has been backed up to clients or editors. While it isn’t as fast or as simple to use as some competitors, it does offer a lot more features that may be better suited to users who require a more in-depth program.

ShotPut Pro 6 for Mac is available for download now, and if you are a Windows user, don’t worry, there will be a new version available for you in the next few weeks.

How to Purchase ShotPut Pro 6 for Mac

Stand alone new purchase $129 US

Upgrade ShotPut Pro 5 to ShotPut Pro 6 for $49 Us

To upgrade from the ShotPut Pro 5 application: Open the application menu and select “check for upgrades” you will be prompted from there to log into your account and purchase the upgrade.

To upgrade from the website: Log into your account and navigate the ShotPut Pro macintosh page. Select the upgrade, once purchased the download link and account wide serial number to activate your new software.

If you own more than one license of ShotPut Pro 5 you will need to upgrade each one of the licenses.

About ShotPut Pro: ShotPut Pro is an offloading application optimized for the media and entertainment industry. ShotPut Pro quickly and securely offloads any file, folder or media using drag and drop functionality and checksum technology. Offload from multiple locations, to multiple locations automatically with watch folders. ShotPut Pro will send email or text notifications when the offload is complete and generate exportable offload logs and reports. For more information visit the Offload Home Page at www.imagineproducts.com 

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Announcement: ShotPut Pro 6 for Macintosh

The wait is over! ShotPut Pro 6 is better than ever.

SPP6M Main multi progress

You asked, we listened.

ShotPut Pro 6 is the most feature rich software application we have ever created.

No other offloading application has the functionality ShotPut Pro has, which is why it is the industry’s de facto standard and why so many major movie studios and insurance companies require it in their workflows. We listened carefully to our customers’ needs and wants and channeled all of that feedback
into creating ShotPut Pro 6.

ShotPut Pro now has two ways to offload.

destination-media
Destination Mode
The traditional preset mode
(above) and the new destination mode (to the right). Expand volumes in the source window (left window) and drag them to the destination window (right window). Files and folders waiting to be offloaded will be bold.

Report-01PDF Reporting

Customize reports with a company logo, offload name, metadata and thumbnails for each video file. TXT and CSV reports available. Export past reports quickly. Need it in a different format than the original? No problem!

 

 

Pause and Resume Offloadsresume

Easily pause the copy process and resume where you left off. Eject hard drives or camera cards for hours, plug them back in and resume! Close your laptop lid, just don’t close ShotPut Pro and you are good to go!

Offloads can be canceled as well and the new progress window can be cleared off all competed offloads with one click.

Detailed Naming Conventionsnaming-01

Name offloads consistently, nest files into folders and preview naming choices before offloading. Export and share naming presets with other ShotPut Pro users.

checksum-menuChecksum Security

Verify any file with checksum technology and save the verification number with the offload report.

 

Watch the ShotPut Pro 6 Macintosh Introduction Video

 

ShotPut Pro 6 for Mac is available for immediate download from our website for $129.

Click on this link to start offloading confidently

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Checksum Verification While Offloading

Watch an excerpt from the Moviola.com webinar: Data Wrangling in the Digital Age

Offloading camera cards properly can be one of the most important parts of the filmmaking process. Checksum verification helps ensure that those cards are copied 100% accurately. Learn more about why using finder is not secure, checksum values, different types of checksums and a few more helpful tips and tricks about the offloading process.

Verification

What do I mean by verify? Simply put, it’s determining that copied files exactly match originals.

Many people think checking total file sizes using Finder or Explorer assures they match. But the truth is unless there’s a catastrophic copy failure, Finder will report the allotted space for the copy not the actual file information. And, if you’re comparing contents of a folder or mounted volume, the file count and used space may be different due to hidden files.

And copying with just ‘Drag & Drop’ rarely gives any indication of copy failures and no assurances of byte sequences within the files. You can only know that by calculating the checksum values of the source and comparing it to the checksum of the copied file. While you could do that with Terminal commands or other labor-intensive means, from a practical standpoint you need a copy application that automates this function for you.

There are many different checksum types with various targeted uses. In the video industry however, the majority of workflows now rely on MD5 or the newer XXHash. Both are relatively quickly calculated and yield a high degree of certainty that two files exactly match. In other words, there’s a very low possibility with either of matching checksum values unless the files are in fact identical.

MD5 checksums typically are more CPU intensive than the XXHash, which relies more on system RAM for it’s processing. For this reason, computers with faster RAM hardware will see faster turn around on checksums with XXHash than using the MD5 type.

From a quality control point of view, sampling clips at beginning, middle and end helps give some assurance that the video files are not corrupt. But it’s also a good idea to spot check for things like unwanted items in view, etc.

Of course playing clips requires a player that supports the specific format. While each camera manufacturer generally offers a proprietary application for specific file types, there are a couple products like our HD-VU2™ software that’s designed to sample footage without transcoding or altering files.

Thanks for ready! #OffloadConfidently

 

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Manual Application Activation – for Firewall or Internet Problems

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Sometimes customers run into firewall or internet issues when trying to activate applications. Have no fear! There is a simple manual activation process that I am going to walk you through step by step, right now.

  • In the activation window select Manually Activate (for users with Firewall/Internet problems)
  • The manual activation window will then pop up with three spots for different information; serial number, ID number and personal activation number.

*SIDE NOTE: The ID Number is for that particular computer, this is a great way to keep track of your serial numbers. Create an excel spreadsheet and with the serial number, ID number and application for reference in the future. This is especially important for those that own multiple licenses of the same application.

  • Anyway, back to manual activation! From your phone or a computer that has internet access log into your account on our website. On the My Product page select Manually Activate button for the application you would like to activate.MA-01
  •  On the next page you will see your serial number (product code) at the top and then a place for your ID number (pictured above). In the Manual Activation window in the app, put your serial number in the top spot where it says …. serial number!
  • On the webpage put the ID number in from the application, then select the Activate Now button.
  • The next page will provide you with a personal activation number, put this number in the manual activation window in the personal activation number spot.
  • Select Activate and you are all set!Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 11.09.39 AM

We hope you’ve enjoyed another fascinating (riveting even) and incredibly informative blog from Imagine Products!

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Staying Organized While Offloading

Watch an excerpt from the Moviola.com webinar: Data Wrangling in the Digital Age  

Offloading camera cards quickly and securely is possibly the most crucial part of the filmmaking process. Staying organized can make or break the offloading process. Don’t be the person who accidentally formats the wrong card and loses a days worth of media! Read on for more helpful organizational tips while offloading.

Tip 1

First, consider using low adhesive color-coded tape to help sort camera cards.

Have a SIMPLE procedure such as: Wrap cards with green tape if they’re empty and camera ready. Wrap with red if there’s a problem or “don’t use”.

Unwrapped cards would mean they’ve come out of the camera and need to be copied. Also flip the Lock switch on the card if it has one to indicate it contains data. In this scenario, never reformat an un-wrapped card without double-checking its contents and whether you have processed it.

Keep notes of where things were saved, what was done, anything unusual that’s happened, etc. It’s important to know where cards were offloaded. Track card serial numbers with content information. (Then if you discover a bad card you’ll know which clips double check.) An offload application that outputs copy reports is very useful for tracking purposes.

Tip 2

Have IN and OUT areas for cards to be copied and finished cards. Make sure everyone knows which is which—even label the areas. You could be plastic containers, anti-static bags, wherever—just be sure it’s clear.

Also give verbal confirmation: When you receive a card, confirm with the person it’s ready to be copied. When you give one, be specific and professional. Say “Okay to FORMAT”. Don’t say something ambiguous like “This is okay.” Etc.

When you receive a card, switch the copy protection to READ ONLY. Not only is this another visual signal that the card is ready to be copied, but on a practical note it prevents accidental erasure or additional files being added to the card.

If you’re using a Macintosh computer, locking the card also prevents Spotlight from adding it’s hidden index file to the card should you browse the contents in Finder. This may not sound like a big deal, but if the card is completely full this tiny little file can clip the end a big video file or even corrupted it. For this reason, it’s not a bad idea to disable Spotlight while offloading cards.

If you would like to learn more about data wrangling check out, Data Wrangling in the Digital Age Webinar on moviola.com http://tinyurl.com/z9w2598

You can also watch another excerpt from this webinar: Possible Offloading Bottlenecks and How to Eliminate Them 

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Possible Offloading Bottlenecks and How to Eliminate Them

Watch an excerpt from the Moviola.com webinar: Data Wrangling in the Digital Age  

Offloading camera cards quickly and securely is possibly the most crucial part of the filmmaking process. Recognizing and eliminating issues that may slow down this process can save valuable time, money and resources. In this blog we explore the bottlenecks of offloading and give several suggestions to offload as quick as possible.

Card Capability.

First, know the media type you’re working with and its expected performance.

You can expect a faster read than write of digital media. For example, a SanDisk CFast memory card writes at about 240MB/s but can read back more than double that speed at 515MB/s. Once you anticipate the media’s top performance, you can size the other components of your system.

Reader Speeds and Transfer Rates.

How are you going to connect the reader? For example, a FireWire800 can transfer about 100 MB/s while USB-3 can zip along at more than six times that at 625 MB/s. However, be aware that most portable computers have only one USB bus so each device plugged into a USB port splits the bandwidth.

Also realize that multiple slot readers are only as fast as the cable that connects them to your computer. So queuing up two SxS Pro cards that can offload at 150 MB/s in a reader means you need a computer connection and output hard disks that can handle over 300 MB/s to match the card’s speed.

Output Hard Disk Speeds and how they’re connected these days are the most common bottleneck. With a typical 7,200 RPM external disk you can expect about 100-120 MB/s write speeds, while an SSD drive can accept well over 400MB/s.

In general, computer resources such as CPU speed and RAM are generally not the limiting factors. What’s more important are the connections to the computer and the operating system’s memory management. Always use the latest operating system if possible—after all, there’s a reason Apple and Microsoft keep updating those!

If you would like to learn more about data wrangling check out the FREE webinar, Data Wrangling in the Digital Age on moviola.com. http://tinyurl.com/z9w2598

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CineGear 2016 Wrap Up

CineGear 2016 was our first time attending the LA show – and what a treat it was! The weather was nice and hot but the people were completely cool and friendly. You can expect to see us again at CineGear in the future! Check out our impressions of the show and see what we showed – LOTS of new things coming from Imagine Products this summer!CineGear Collage

Let’s start with the picture collage above, this is a great representation what we saw and what we showed at CineGear. Top left corner; ProxyMill 5 is due out this summer and we showed it off at the Tech Awards banquet – that’s right, we think it’s award worthy! Left middle; Dan the demo man talking about ShotPut Pro Windows on the Surface tablet, imagine how much lighter travel can be with ShotPut Pro on a tablet… and now it’s possible! Bottom left corner; we always find a fun place to toast the end of the show and there was plenty to toast at CineGear 2016. Top middle; showing off our new pop up banners! Bottom middle; there were all kinds of neat toys running around the show. We ran into this guy a number of times, can’t wait to see all the footage of the show he got! Right; it was very cool to be on the Paramount lot. It was neat to get a behind the scenes look at all the different aspects of filming on a studio lot.

So what did we show? And who did we see?

SPP5 new LARGE MW-01

ShotPut Pro This offloading application for Windows and Mac users offers security, reliability and continuity when offloading your assets. Offload from multiple locations,to multiple locations with naming conventions as well as checksums. Don’t trust your valuable content to finder or explorer! Learn more here.

HD-VU2 new SMALL transHD-VU2 The perfect companion to ShotPut Pro! HD-VU2 is a native file viewer that instantly plays over 20 camera formats without transcoding. Add LUTs and sync external audio files for a complete quality check. Watch folders enable HD-VU2 to ‘talk’ to ShotPut Pro and pull in clips for viewing. Learn more here.


PM new SMALL trans-01ProxyMill
Transcode clips to shareable or editable files in just one step with ProxyMill. Burn in time code or a watermark as well as color correction for shareable files. Easily up-res to ProRes for editing as well as merge or stitch clips together. You can also make audio-only files for transcripts. Learn more here.

 

PRP new SMALL trans-01PreRoll Post Our LTFS archiving application can work with any LTO drive and Sony’s Optical Disc Archive. Archive your completed projects or dailies with PreRoll Post easily to multiple locations at the same time. Checksums deliver peace of mind that archives are 100% accurate and secure. Learn more here.

 

Roger Mabon stopped by the booth and talked to us about the archiving solution = PreRoll Post + LTO7 mTape. Watch it here!

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CineGear 2016 was a great show! It’s always nice to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and see all the new cameras, lights, gadgets and toys.

See you at CineGear 2017!

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ShotPut Pro Increasing Speed

SPP5 new LARGE MW-01When offloading, speed and accuracy is paramount. If you are already using ShotPut Pro (with checksums) then you’ve got the accuracy portion completely covered. *If you aren’t using checksums, shame on you! What’s the point of offloading without checksums? You have no way of knowing if your camera cards (or original source) has been copied correctly or completely! Watch for our upcoming blog on checksums to learn more.

OK, back to assuming you use checksums with ShotPut Pro to offload your media. The next most important part would be speed. We are always “running out of time” or “looking to save time” or worse “totally out of time, I need it now!” Here are some helpful tips on how to be sure ShotPut Pro is running at top speed. With proper setup ShotPut shouldn’t take more than 20% longer than a drag and drop in Finder. The increase is related to the checksums which I think we already covered was crucial and we’re assuming you are all using them, right… RIGHT?!?

  1. Always be sure you are using the latest version. Under the application menu select ‘Check for Updates’ to see if you are using the most up to date version. We often make changes and many of those are to keep up with OS changes.
  2. Purge the Log History frequently. When you’re copying a large number of files the backend SQLite database file can get bulky and slow things down. *Are you receiving the error “ShotPutPro5.sqlite” couldn’t be opened – refer to this blog post for simple to follow instructions.
  3. Double check that your buffering size is appropriate for your equipment, you can find this under the application menu > Preferences > Advanced. DO NOT set the buffering higher than medium unless you are using SSD drives or have very fast connections to everything (like eSATA, SAS, TB, etc.). Setting the buffer too high for your equipment can cause extremely slow copy times because the software can overwhelm the ports on your computer.
  4. Be sure you are using the most up to date OS, particularly on Macintosh computers. Older OS versions are slower and some are even buggy causing even more slowness.
  5. USB connections: Remember that USB ports often share the same bus and having multiple devices plugged in splits
  6. FireWire Daisy Chains: Same as USB, each daisy chained item splits the bandwidth and quickly deteriorates your throughput.
  7. Card Readers: If you’re copying CF cards, please know the readers can overheat. Have more than one available to rotate between copies to allow for cooling time.
  8. Multiple Slot Readers: While there are several multi-slot card readers on the market, these are for convenience more that speed. Most reader and card drives do not handle reading two cards at once efficiently. It can really slow down the process.
  9. Multiple Copies: Yes, ShotPut can make more than one copy from the same source at a time and it does so efficiently. However, if you’re trying to copy more than one volume at a time to the same spinning media output drives they can ‘compete’ with each other to control the drive.
  10. DO NOT browse files with Finder while ShotPut is copying. Doing so adds more read/writes to the disks and adds Spotlight overhead.
  11. Speaking of which, turn off Spotlight if possible (with an app like Spotless).
  12. Internal Drives: if possible do not copy to an internal disk. There typically run slower at 5400 RPM and are being accessed for the copy processes too so copying to it will slow you down.
  13. ALWAYS set system power preferences to never sleep while copying. Also use a UPS for both the computer, card readers if any, and external drives.
  14. Hidden Files: Don’t copy hidden files unless absolutely necessary. There are never needed for card media and will only slow you down, and may cause errors if you browse the card while copying.

Offload Confidently!

About ShotPut Pro: ShotPut Pro is an offloading application optimized for the media and entertainment industry. ShotPut Pro quickly and securely offloads any file, folder or media using drag and drop functionality and checksum technology. Offload from multiple locations, to multiple locations automatically with watch folders. ShotPut Pro will send email or text notifications when the offload is complete and generate exportable offload logs and reports. For more information visit the Offload Home Page on www.imagineproducts.com