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I am having a ‘the future has arrived’ moment as we sit here: I am in an apartment in Brisbane, writing a blog stored live on servers in the US somewhere, while (on another window on the mighty MacBook Air) a free software (TeamViewer) has allowed me to remotely control my MacBook Pro, sitting on a desktop in Canberra… this is kind of scary, actually. And by controlling that machine remotely, I am using that computer to upload sound recordings from Day one of the ST for GST programs, via another free software, WeTransfer.

The back story. Our ST for GST editor, Theron, lives and works in Istanbul. Last week I sent him two USB3 drives, with the Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) program’s “Library” bundles, which contained all the footage from the four days of shooting; let me take a step back. The four cameras we used for the shoot record in AVCHD; to be used by FCPX, these highly and cleverly compressed files were recorded onto SD cards, tiny insubstantial things the size of postage stamps (when was the last time you saw one of these, anyway?; for reference:

Aist_post_stampThe bordered-in-green image of the nurse is reproduced here about the size of an SD card (not the whole stamp) so they are pretty small things. Mine hold 16 or 32GB of any kind of information. When you “Import” these AVCHD files into FCPX, they are “transcoded” (this means that they expand in size by a factor of 10 to 20 times, depending on the complexity of any recorded movement, and what file size and frame rate you select on the camera) and “optimised” (this means converted into an ‘intermediate’ codec that FCPX can use).

And in the same process of ‘ingestion’ I copied the audio files from the Sony PCM-10 we used to record the ‘second system’ sound. But while FCPX copied the optimised footage into the hidden “High Quality” footage folder inside the Library bundle, it did not copy the Sony .WAV files—it left them in the original folders I had copied them into. I can only surmise that FCPX did not copy these files across into the Library because they were already optimised for FCPX (16 bit, 48KHz).

So, I received an email from our Istanbul-dwelling editor today, saying that all the logged footage was found in the Library bundles, all in the expected places, but all the sound files are ‘off-line’, meaning that FCPX only has a reference to them. In the process of copying the bundles to the hard drives, the sound files went AWOL. Well, they stayed where they were, and the other files made the journey.

What to do? The road distance between Canberra (where the sound files are hiding) and Brisbane is (according to google) 1,200.7 Km—and we flew here. it’s a very long drive (especially without a car). Did I need to head to the airport? I thought so. Or, could I ask Mountain Hammer to do yet another favour for me (go around to my house, Mission Impossible-style, find a way in via the hidden key, turn on the MBP and navigate through the many files on the 12TB of mirrored RAIDs I have set up for editing) and having located the files, copy them to me? Or was there a better way?

Google to the rescue once more. What about some remote control/remote access software? A quick search revealed a number of contenders for this role, but MH’s true-geek friend said there was only one: TeamViewer, and (amazingly) is was not only the best, it was free. Sounded too good to be true to me, but off investigating I went. In the meantime, I started reading the TeamView User manual, and offered to send the link to the manual; I got this note from MH, via email, in reply:

tech_support_flow_chart1

…along with this note: “Hahahahahha I don’t do manuals.” OK; understand, I trust this guy.

MH (with support crew), hit the road around lunchtime, got access to the inner sanctum, and called me. Over the phone we did the password thing (to access the MacBook Pro); he downloaded and installed TeamViewer; sent me the PW his copy generated; I entered this on my TeamViewer interface window; and I took control of my laptop in Canberra. At that point, MH’s role was reduced to that of spectator, and he headed back off to work.

It took but a moment to locate the sound files; MH had set up a shortcut to the Safari app (because my big laptop drives its own screen plus a big one I work on) and put that on the desktop I can see here in Brissie (there is a way to switch windows, but he doesn’t do manuals, so this was the workaround). I opened Safari, and opened WeTransfer, loaded it up to the max (just under 2GB of files) and pressed “Transfer”. In the time it’s taken to write this up, this is what has happened in the background:

TeamViewer in action

About 10% of the 2 gigs are already in the cloud somewhere, to be joined by the rest, and when Theron wakes up tomorrow (his time; actually yesterday) the files will be there. Of course (this is an aside), because TransACT will not enable any residential service’s upload speed more than 1Mb/sec, this will take about nine hours to finish uploading. Faster than flying home, though, and a lot less expensive. And now that software is installed, I can connect my two computers when I head off, and leave the big one in sleep mode—TeamViewer can even wake it up.

The Future Has Arrived — It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed, indeed.