Video: GenArts’s VFX demo reel

Video: GenArts’s VFX demo reel

GenArts plug-ins are widely regarded as some of the best effects software in the business. No wonder they’re used in everything from glossy dramas like CSI and 24, to international ad campaigns including Coca Cola, Max Factor and General Motors.

To find out more, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest media and entertainment news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

Video: GenArts Sapphire in action…

Video: GenArts Sapphire in action…

It’s all well and good talking about the  dissolve rays, flashbulbs and lens flare effects at your disposal in Sapphire, but to get a proper idea of what they can add to your production, you need to see them in action. So watch this video to find out more!

To find out more, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest media and entertainment news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.

How to transfer archive projects to FCP using CatDV

How to transfer archive projects to FCP using CatDV

Recently converted to Final Cut Pro X? Still have XML projects in FCP 7 that you need to transfer over to Apple’s latest version of the NLE? Well, help is at hand in the form of Square Box’s excellent translation tools in CatDV.

Not being able to transfer legacy projects into FCP X has been a particular bugbear for users, and they weren’t helped by media format experts Automatic Duck’s recent flocking to pastures new at Adobe. But Square Box said its CatDV software can help you and has now posted a full workflow explaining how to support archive projects on its website.

As with everything in life, there are a few restrictions on exactly what you can do. Square Box explained that, because of differences in how FCP 7 and FCP X describe clips and handle timelines, not all data can be transferred over to Final Cut Pro X:

1) “A basic ‘cuts only’ sequence is moved across. Although timing is preserved, titles, transitions and other special effects or filters, including detailed handling of certain multi-channel audio files, are not supported and may need to be reapplied.

2) Most regular clips that come from a single .mov or .mp4 movie file, as well as subclips, simple stills and audio clips, are copied across. Complex clips such as multiclips, sequences within sequences, P2 mxf files, or image sequences are not fully supported in most cases.

3) Clip name, media path, timecode, log notes, and markers are copied across, but other metadata (such as reel number, description, label, angle, marker category, and CatDV user-defined fields) is not supported in the .fcpxml file format at this time.”

The full workflow article explaining the FCP X translation tools in CatDV 9.0 is on the Square Box website, along with a free trial available to download.

For a full copy of CatDV 9.0, get in touch with us. Either call 03332 409 306 or email Those into social media – follow us on Twitter @JigsawVideo or head to our Jigsaw Video Facebook page for more news and offers.

How to start an iPad band: Leamore Primary School

How to start an iPad band: Leamore Primary School

As an Apple Regional Training Centre, Leamore Primary School in Walsall are always trying new ways to get the most from their technology. Recently, they decided on a project to create a band using their iPad deployment that would involve the whole of Year 5 and get them really engaged with digital music alongside traditional instruments. Here, deputy head teacher Michelle Hill explains what they were aiming to do, and how they went about it…

Why did you originally decide to start the iPad Band project?

The children of Leamore Primary School are well known for their musical ability. We were keen to utilise the children’s musical knowledge and ability, whilst also incorporating our innovative approach to technology.

What were your goals?

Our goal was simple. We wanted the whole of our Year 5 class (who had at that point been learning the violin the longest) to participate in an iPad band using a mixture of iPad, digital instruments and a small selection of traditional percussion instruments. Our learning outcome was that all children would be able to musically contribute to a soundtrack.

How long did it take to plan and rehearse?

We knew we were going to be working with a fantastic bunch
of children, so we allocated two full days to learn and rehearse a soundtrack. The children exceeded our expectations and within these two days they were able to learn three complete soundtracks as a class and rehearse them to perfection.

What hardware and apps did you use?

As well as 30 new iPad devices, we invested in an Allen and Heath ZED16FX 36 Channel USB Mixer, five Alesis IO docks and iRig adaptors for connecting the microphones, guitars and MIDI keyboards. We also used Apple TV to demonstrate how to play various notes on specific instruments in GarageBand on iPad. Apple TV was brilliant for individual and small groups of children to play back their specific parts of the soundtrack and contributed to tighter quality assurance of the band overall.

How did pupils find making music with iPad?

In terms of engagement and enjoyment, the iPad Band project will be something that the children remember for the rest of their lives! The project made an impact on a number of levels, from Daniel – who found a natural talent for drumming – to other children who realised that they could play other instruments besides the violin. Our original learning outcomes were smashed. The iPad is more about the music itself – the playing and the composing rather than the ability to play the instrument correctly. It’s a different way of looking at and approaching music. So children can use the iPad to play complicated soundtracks without needing to invest time in the technique of plucking strings, for example!

Do you have any tips for other teachers?

Just go for it! We spent a lot of time talking the project through and invested in a substantial amount of kit, but it is possible to set up
a basic iPad band without these aspects. Apple TV is fantastic for teaching and demonstrating music-making on the iPad, but it is also brilliant to use during a live performance.

What else are you planning to use iPad for in future?

The investment that we made into iPad music technology has meant that our original Year 5 iPad Band and all subsequent iPad Bands will have the opportunity to go ‘on tour’, so any live performances will not just be a one-off wonder. We’re also planning to work collaboratively with the Royal College of Music to offer the equivalent of a GCSE in iPad music-making from September. We have lots of other projects in the pipeline: from experimenting with one-to-one iPad in a classroom to investigating the possibility of paperless learning, the use of iPad with SEN children, and specific projects in all areas of the curriculum.

About Leamore…

Leamore Primary School, Walsall, is an official Apple Regional Training Centre which focuses on teaching with creative ICT (they won an NAACE Impact Award for it recently). They regularly run iPad training events for teachers, and you can see more of their projects in action at To find out more about how to become an Apple Regional Training Centre yourself, get in touch with us on the details at the bottom.

Have a go yourself! Our six step guide to starting your own iPad band

Fancy taking a leaf out of Michelle’s book? Starting an iPad band is easy, and a great way to engage learners and get them working together with music technology, even for those with no previous skills. Here’s how:

1. Get started

First of all, you need your iPad devices. The iPad band is a collaborative project, and you can scale it up to include a whole class of students (we’ve worked with class sizes of 25-30 before with great results). You’ll also need a mixer to control the audio output of all the devices with enough channels to support them – 32 is enough.

2. Fire up GarageBand

Apple’s GarageBand app (£2.99 from the App Store) really is the best app for music-making at this level, with a huge base of ready-made loops and virtual instruments including keyboards, guitars and drums.

3. Get pupils in time

Start students off by making sure pupils are in rhythm, especially those with lower musical ability. The Smart Guitar instrument in GarageBand lets the learner simply tap the chord symbol to strum a chord in time, like striking a triangle, but far more engaging.

4. Develop musical skills further

The great thing about GarageBand is that it allows each learner to learn at their own pace and develop their skills. Once pupils are comfortable with timing, you can start to look at chord sequences, structure and song writing, then develop roles for learners based on ability, and incorporate ideas from students too.

5. Add some real instruments

For anyone who’s had peripatetic music lessons, you could think about adding some physical instruments. Using adaptors like the Alesis IO dock, and iRig and iMic, you can connect guitars and microphones directly through the iPad’s headphone jack, and an additional Camera Connector kit lets you hook up a MIDI keyboard via USB.

6. Plan the pay-off

To complete the project, and see how well pupils have achieved the original learning outcomes, plan a one-off performance. This will also help the project create a bit of buzz around the school, governors and parents. You can even get more of the school involved by adding some backing singers, dance sections and percussion like djembes and glockenspiels to supplement the digital instruments.

Want to know more about starting a band with iPad? Get in touch on 03332 409 333 or email


Top 5 Mountain Lion features to get designers purring

Top 5 Mountain Lion features to get designers purring

Apple have unleashed their latest feline-themed operating system – OS X Mountain Lion – and it’s packed full of useful new stuff for designers. More like iOS than ever before, OS X 10.8 has improved its multitouch gesture control and iCloud integration, and also nicked most of the iPhone and iPad’s top organisational features like Reminders and iMessage.

As soon as Mountain Lion came out, we upgraded our senior designer Paul Shillabeer’s Mac Pro with the new OS. After pottering about with it for a while, we asked him for the top five apps and features he’s found have actually improved his day-to-day work…

1. Improved synchronisation with iCloud

“With iCloud, if I jot notes on my iPhone, I instantly get them synced to my Mac – which is great for collecting ideas and thoughts while on the move. Of course it works the other way too, so you can use the fantastic Voice Dictation to take down notes on your Mac, then have them available on your iPhone. With iOS 6 coming out in the near future, you should also be able to drop photos and attachments into your notes.”

2. Better sharing in Safari

“There’s now a Share button in Safari – just like in iOS – which lets you instantly send anything interesting out via a range of platforms, meaning (excuse the plug…) we can tweet any interesting design stories when we come across them from the @Jigsaw24Design account. I’m looking forward to the next update which will see Safari syncing with iCloud. This will mean I can access the webpages I’ve left open on my iPhone when I get back to my Mac, which will be a great time saver, as I won’t have to send myself an email with a link to remind me to visit a page again.”

3. Top organisation with Reminders

“The Reminders app on my iPhone is absolutely invaluable to me keeping track of not just things I need to do when I’m in the office, but at home too. Porting that functionality to my Mac means I’m more organised with tasks than ever, and there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking those important tasks off the list! Or is that just me?”

4. Constant contact with iMessage

“iMessage being brought to Mountain Lion is great because it means you can keep up conversations without having to switch from your iPhone to your Mac. And group messaging is especially useful for getting feedback on visuals from key stakeholders in projects. Even if I leave my iPhone at home or the battery dies on me, I can still be in contact when I’m on my Mac (obviously, if I left my iPhone at home, a nervous breakdown and complete inability to hold a conversation would probably follow very quickly).”

5. Mirroring your Mac with AirPlay

“One feature that’s really interesting is the addition of AirPlay Mirroring, which lets you push your Mac screen to another HD screen using an Apple TV – something the department’s already been doing on the iPad. This will be useful for taking my MacBook into our meeting rooms and mirroring it on our Apple Cinema Displays so I can work on any minor design amends on the fly, rather than having people all crammed around my desk.”

To get your paws on OS X Mountain Lion, your Mac will need to be running OS X v10.6.8 or later, have 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space and will (generally) need to be a late-2008 or newer MacBook model, or a late-2007 or newer iMac. If you buy one of the newly released Macs running OS X Lion, you’ll also be eligible for a free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion.

For fully OS X Mountain Lion-qualified machines, take a look at our new batch of MacBook Pro with Retina DisplaysMacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. Get in touch to find out more on 03332 409 306 or For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.


ATTO ThunderLink and ThunderStream set to cause storm

ATTO ThunderLink and ThunderStream set to cause storm

Ahead of IBC 2012, there’s a bit of competition between manufacturers as to who can pull the most exciting Thunderbolt products out of the bag. ATTO might be in with a shout, as they’ve announced they’re close to launching the ThunderLink and ThunderStream additions to their Desklink family.

Perfect for use with laptops, the ATTO ThunderLink and ThunderStream devices let you connect to storage protocols including Fibre Channel, SAS/SATA and Ethernet via Thunderbolt while you’re on the go. Wondering what the difference is between the two? Basically the ThunderStream has a built-in RAID controller, allowing you to protect your investment in existing SAS RAIDs, while the ThunderLink doesn’t.

When Sammy first saw them announced back at NAB 2012, he said the new devices would be great for any video professionals looking to replace their old server hardware.

“This is the biggy people have been waiting for,” he said. “Being able to share out your superfast Thunderbolt storage over 10Gb Ethernet puts the Mac mini one step closer to being a viable Xserve replacement. Having connectivity between Thunderbolt and SAS also means you can plug in RAID storage systems like the Sonnet DX800, and also SAS tape libraries.”

Sammy went on to explain: “If your external SAS doesn’t have RAID, you should look at the ThunderStream, but if you’ve already got a RAID controller in your RAID, then it’s the ThunderLink. ATTO have been making RAID controllers for years, so know a thing or two about them. It’s great to see they’ve now taken that knowledge, and stuck it in a box with Thunderbolt ports!”

Head to our site for more information and to order your ATTO ThunderLink or ThunderStream expansion chassis now. You can also call us on 03332 409 306, email or keep up with all the latest news, reviews and industry gossip by following @Jigsaw24Video or ‘Like’-ing our Facebook page.

Edit any PDF in Quark with PDF2DTP

Edit any PDF in Quark with PDF2DTP

It’s one of those design nightmares – a client comes to you with a PDF and wants it amending, but you don’t have any of the original source files! Short of manually converting the PDF one page at a time or recreating the entire document (all the while mentally editing an image of your client’s head into a vicious animal attack), what can you do?

Markzware, creator of tons of plug-ins for Quark, think they have the answer with PDF2DTP. This new plug-in, or ‘XTension’, lets you easily import an entire multipage PDF into QuarkXPress 9, converting the whole thing into an editable Quark file. Then you can simply make your edits with familiar tools and export it back out to hand to your client as a new PDF.

How well does it work?

Have a look at the PDF2DTP XTension for QuarkXPress 9 in action and get the full word from Markzware in the video at the bottom. It’s already getting rave reviews from designers for its conversion speed and accuracy – Paul Ramos, a publishing professional at Difusao Cultural enthused, “PDF2DTP is fantastic! I tried it on a PDF for a book that had 524 pages, and it took less than five minutes to make the total conversion. It even isolated the images in separate files.”

Our resident Quark expert Priya Saggar reckons PDF2DTP will be a very welcome addition to designers’ toolbelts. “This is going to take a lot of tedious work out of converting PDFs to make minor edits, or quickly recovering a document when all you’ve got left is the PDF,” she said. “It does usually retail for £179 but, for a limited time, you can get it free with every QuarkXPress 9 purchase or upgrade. PDF2DTP comes as an electronic download for either Mac or Windows – all you need to do is register your Quark and fill in the online redemption form.”

You can also get more info by calling our team on 03332 409 306 and emailing For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Which Sony camcorder is right for you?

Which Sony camcorder is right for you?

A new camcorder, whether it’s an entry-level handheld or a full broadcast behemoth, is a big investment. Thankfully, Sony have removed some of the guesswork with a handy chart comparing their full camera lineup, including all XDCAM, NXCAM, AVCHD and HDV models.

Sony FS700EK

The Sony guide, downloadable as Sony camcorder comparison chart, gives an ‘at-a-glance’ insight into all the specs you need to know, such as what sensor a particular camera uses, the lens it comes with, compression rates, zoom range, supported recording formats and more. Sony also include a list of compatible accessories.

Still got a burning question? Get in touch with the broadcast team on the details below…

To find out more about your Sony options our call 03332 409 306 or email For the latest broadcast news and reviews, follow @Jigsaw24Video or Like’ our Facebook page.

Adobe Creative Week 2012: Our design team’s thoughts

Adobe Creative Week 2012: Our design team’s thoughts

Our design team spend most of their waking hours toiling over Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Dreamweaver, so we thought it would be a good idea for us to check in with some of Adobe Creative Week 2012’s online seminars and see what other creatives were up to.

With the UK economy still idling in recession, big themes up for discussion were how creativity could help push growth, the decline of print, constrained budgets and changing skill sets. Adobe also showcased their new Touch apps for Apple’s iPad, Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6. Here’s Liana, Ed and Paul’s thoughts on the week’s hotly contested debates…

Day 1: Creative Industry Overview

The overarching question to kick off Creative Week was ‘Can creativity help drive the UK out of recession?’, and the results showed the viewers had a pretty sunny outlook, 88% of them voting ‘Yes’. One of the themes touched on was creativity in education, and whether we were failing the younger generation by not giving art and creative subjects enough credibility.

Designer Liana Jackson wasn’t so sure it was such a big hindrance: “While gaining basic skills in maths and science is necessary, I’ve never felt like I wasn’t able to pursue a career in design because art wasn’t ‘credible’. I suppose it can be seen more as a hobby than an actual job, and I think more people are trying to get into creative roles now, and earning money doing jobs for people because they ‘kind of know’ what they’re doing. This can lead to a lot of pants design out there and a lot of qualified designers out of a job.”

With the rising use of mobile devices in the classroom (Adobe showed an interesting case study from Ravensbourne College), students are getting far more collaborative and diverse design skills. Whether this new crop of creativity can provide the stimulus the UK needs for economic growth remains to be seen.

Adobe Touch apps and Creative Cloud

Throughout Creative Week, Adobe evangelists were showcasing their latest products with in-depth video tutorials, which are all handily uploaded to the Adobe Creative Week site to watch back at your leisure. Of particular interest to our iPad expert Ed Reisner were the new Adobe Touch apps and Creative Cloud, as presented by Rufus Deuchler (Senior Worldwide Design Evangelist at Adobe Systems – @rufusd on Twitter).

“While Apple have been pushing their cloud services for a while, it’s great that you can now ‘work in the cloud’ with Adobe,” he said. “Creative Cloud also lets you download and manage desktop apps like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign or the Touch tablet apps such as Kuler and Proto, a bit like Apple’s App Store. Interestingly, you can also download an app for a specific time period. This would be useful if you’ve taken on a contractor for a month or two, and only need a Photoshop licence for that time.”

Ed also thought Adobe’s six Touch apps – Photoshop, Kuler, Proto, Collage, Ideas and Debut – would be really useful for designers on the move: “Each of the Touch apps is designed specifically for multitouch use, and as they integrate with Creative Cloud, will let you work on initial concepts and save them while you’re out of the office.

“Photoshop Touch gives you control of some basic Photoshop commands, but also lets you add comments so you can collaboratively review ideas with colleagues and clients. The Ideas app is great for sketching out concepts, letting you draw intuitively with touch gestures as vector paths, ready to scale up in Illustrator when you’re back at your desktop computer. Of all Adobe’s Touch apps, the most interesting is probably Proto, which integrates with Dreamweaver to let you create basic websites on the fly. You can be with a client and sketch out ideas on your iPad as you’re talking, using multitouch gestures to put in headers, tabs and more.”

Day 2: Design and Publishing

The decline of print media is no big news, so it was heartening to see that 69% of people surveyed on Day 2 thought that print could survive the digital revolution. Jeremy Leslie from the magCulture blog said that having both print and digital “gives us the option to pick and choose the right solution for the project in hand”, while Future Publishing’s digital Editor-in-Chief Mike Goldsmith enthused that “digital technology gives you permission to fail”, as it’s so much easier to rectify mistakes and make amends.

“Digital media can reach people far quicker than print, and with platforms like Twitter, it’s changed how we read and consume content,” said Liana. “But they reminded viewers that the challenge is still engaging that person to want to follow a link and read on.

“Design, like fashion, is also cyclical, and Adobe brought up the good example of InDesign’s first introduction, and people moving over from Quark. Everyone learned to use new tools like drop shadow, but then it became so ubiquitous that it fell out of favour, only to come back when it started being seen as different and original again,” she added.

Tutorials for Day 2 focused on Adobe’s big three apps for design and publishing – Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator – as well as newcomer Muse, which lets you do WYSIWYG web design without lines and lines of code. Check out the videos on the Adobe Creative Week site.

We’ve been using Creative Suite 6 for a while now, and our videographer Tom has also put together his own handy tutorials for Photoshop’s Content-Aware and text extrusion tools, and Image Trace in Illustrator, which you can see over at our YouTube channel.

Day 3: Film and video

‘Do smaller budgets make for more original ideas?’ Last year, the BBC spent 13% less on TV, and ITV spent 21% less (2011 compared to 2010), yet revenue went up for both. Pressure and expectation from above to do more with fewer resources and less technology can force creatives to think differently, seemed to be the reasoning.

One new avenue which has helped is social media platforms like YouTube and Twitter which, former BBC social media expert Marc Goodchild reckons, “brings producers closer to their audience”.

Liana agreed that social media is now a key part of creativity: “As Marc said, YouTube allows you to test your work and fine tune it before the final cut, decreasing risk and making it as good as it can be. It’s also great for talent scouts and HR managers looking to hire people. Pilots used to be secretive and for a specialised audience, but now they’re expected to be seen by lots of people, thus giving more constructive feedback.

“The panellists also discussed how Twitter is now a valid source of openly eavesdropping – people aren’t afraid to give their opinion because they aren’t talking to your face. There are also enough people to get a rounded, calculated result, from a different range of expertise and backgrounds.”

Day 4: Web and mobile

Cross-disciplinary skills are all well and good, but the fourth day of Creative Week asked – ‘Should you be a Jack of all trades instead of a master of one?’. A very talented 64% said designers should be skilled in newer processes like app design in addition to traditional skills.

With the ways people consume media changing, and clients wanting to be at the forefront of that change, keeping up to date with technology has never been so important. Just as a coder needs a basic grasp of design, designers should have an understanding of coding, they said.

Adobe demoed a great new resource – The Expressive Web – showcasing CSS3, HTML5 and content aware pages. As Ed mentioned above, there’s also the new Touch app Proto. Proto lets you create a website wireframe directly on your tablet device, preview in on the tablet and then export it out to the Creative Cloud where you can then start fleshing the website out in Dreamweaver.

Day 5: Photography and Imaging

The last day’s topic was bound to cause a bit of controversy – ‘Is digital imaging all tech and no talent?’. Any designer worth their salt knows that software is a brilliant addition to photography, but it can’t make a great photo on its own, and an overwhelming 70% agreed that ‘No’, you need talent too.

It was said that Photoshop gives you the opportunity to experiment using techniques and ideas without massive costs – for example award-winning photographer Timothy Allen (BBC’s Human Planet) argued that it was much more cost-effective to use the Tilt-shift feature in Photoshop than it was to buy new lenses to shoot with to achieve the same effect.

Senior designer Paul Shillabeer thought the rise of ‘iPhoneography’ and photo-sharing sites was having a very real effect on the industry. “More amateurs and professionals are using apps and iPhones to create imagery,” he said. “This movement is getting bigger and is very accessible to all levels of photographer from pros to casual snappers. Erin Moroney [of the UK Young Photographers’ Alliance] also noted that photo stock libraries are finding it hard to compete and cannot command the high price tags they used to because people are sourcing images from so many other sources – a very similar image to what a client’s looking for could easily be found on Flickr.”

– A good taster of the current state of the design and media industries, Adobe’s Creative Week 2012 managed to wrap up all the big questions about the changing face of digital creativity. If you missed any of the debates and tutorials, you can catch up on demand here.

You can find out more about Adobe Creative Suite 6 and our full range of design tools at our site, or by calling our team on 03332 409 306 or emailing For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

HP Z820 gets super fast RED edition

HP Z820 gets super fast RED edition

Any video companies working with RED cameras have been given a reason to let out a big ‘whoop’ – HP have teamed up with RED to bring out a custom, turbo-powered version of their powerful Z820 workstation.

Depending on how much you want to spend (read: lots), the RED Z820 is able to take up to half a terabyte of RAM as well as 16 CPU cores, up to 2.93GHz processor and is RAID-expandable. With its speedy 10,000rpm SAS boot drive and SSD upgrade options, it will also launch apps even faster. And just in case you forget which of your towers is the RED edition, they’ve updated the LED light on the front to a fetching crimson colour.

Video consultant James Graham reckons the souped-up version of the HP Z820 workstation will be great for DITs using the RED file format. “RED has always been a notoriously complex file format to work with,” he said, “and because you’re editing hours and hours’ worth of footage, you need a workstation that’s up to the job. With up to 16 CPU cores and the liquid cooling technology, the RED edition Z820 will be more than able to stand up to those intensive workflows.”

The full specs include: “HP Z820 (16) 3.21GHz Cores, Liquid Cooled, 32GB 1600MHz Quad Channel Memory, Nvidia Quadro 5000 GPU, RED ROCKET, (1) Internal BluRay/REDMAG Reader, 300GB, 2.5″ 10K SAS 6Gb Boot Drive.”

Want to find out more about the powerful HP Z820 workstation? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For the latest news, follow@Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.