How to Color Calibrate Your Mac’s Display

If you only use your Mac for browsing the Web, sending and receiving email, and working in a word processor, it’s probably not all that important for it to display accurate colors. However, if you work with photos or videos, or even if you like to watch movies in the best possible conditions, color calibrating your display is essential.

The calibration process tweaks a number of settings to get the colors and contrast on your Mac as accurate as possible. It does this by changing the intensity of the main colors — red, blue, and green — and setting the white point, or the neutral white color that you see when, say, you open a new document in a word processor.

It’s easy to color calibrate your Mac’s display, and you can do so quickly by eye, or you can use additional hardware to get your colors exactly right. Here’s how you can do it.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

The Next Track, Episode #185 – Use Plex to Manage Your Media Library

Plex is a great way to manage your media library. Doug and Kirk discuss how they use it. Note: we recorded this episode before the lockdown began, but held off publishing it because we had a number of interviews with musicians in lockdown.

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How to Shoot Video with an iPhone

Shooting video with an iPhone is easy, but you may not know all the many options available on your device. You can choose the resolution and frame rate of your videos, shoot slow motion or time-lapse videos, and you can zoom and use the different lenses on your iPhone, if your model has multiple cameras.

But you can also take stills while you’re shooting video, and with third-party video apps, you have tight control over focus and exposure, making the iPhone good enough to shoot a feature film. (And it’s been done.)

In this article, I’m going to explain the many options available on an iPhone for shooting video. (And note that most of what I describe also applies to the iPad.)

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Improve your Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime call experience

For many people who are working from home for the first time, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and other video-conferencing services have become essential communication tools. People use these for meetings, but also to keep in touch with friends and family. These apps are easy to use, but the way you experience them can be jarring if you’re not used to this sort of communication.

Improving the experience in video-conferencing is both about how you see and hear others, and how they see and hear you. The success of meetings and calls with these apps depends on everyone involved in a call or meeting ensuring that their audio and video is as good as possible.

In this article, I’m going to give you some tips to improve your experience on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and other video-conferencing apps.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Here’s Why Apple Will Fail at Original Video Content

Apple has launched a number of projects creating original video content – apparently, “TV” series for now – but there is already some sand in the works. As MacRumor reports, show runner Bryan Fuller, who was slated to run Apple’s Amazing Stories series, has left the project.

Fuller is said to have wanted to turn “Amazing Stories” into a Black Mirror-style show, while Apple is aiming for a more family friendly series.

This is why Apple will fail. “Family friendly” TV series don’t do very well today, at least not with critics. There are plenty of such series on TV, cable, and on Netflix and Amazon, but they aren’t the ones that get the mentions in the press about “the golden age of television.” It’s the series like The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and others, that get noticed, not because they are not family friendly, but because the broke barriers and went places that others didn’t dare. Of course, with something like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, these daring elements have been taken to excess, becoming parodies of themselves, but if Apple thinks they can do a Disney and have any presence in original series content, I can’t see that it will go very far.

It’s interesting how Apple has no problem selling and renting movies and TV series that are not family friendly, but draws the line at putting the company’s name on such content. What’s the difference? You’re selling the stuff either way. If you really don’t want sex and violence – as they prohibit in apps they sell – then stop selling it.

To be fair, I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, and I gave up on Game of Thrones early on, and tried, really tried, to stick with The Walking Dead for a while, but couldn’t go on. (I’m a fan of that sort of post-apocalyptic thing; like Stephen King’s The Stand.)

This said, there’s no reason why excellent TV can’t be family friendly. But in today’s television climate, it’s difficult. West Wing is one of the best series ever on TV (IMHO), and it was a network show. Friday Night Lights was a brilliant series, that ran on a network. And Downton Abbey was far from controversial. There are plenty of comedy series that are family friendly. But to push the envelope, there needs to be daring topics, ones that may have some swear words and some tits, and, well, some violence. Black Mirror, House of Cards, Westworld, Homeland, True Detective; all these current and recent series would not pass on US network TV.

But if Apple draws the line at family friendly TV, they will miss out on the next big series; the next Game of Thrones, True Detective, or Breaking Bad. Let’s face it, Reese Witherspoon will not be part of cutting-edge series drama.

Will Apple Provide Upgrades to 4K iTunes Store Movies?

In today’s Apple event, the company will likely announce a new 4K Apple TV, as well as some 4K content on the iTunes Store. I wonder if Apple will provide upgrades to movies from HD to 4K, similar to how they upgraded from older 128 kbps audio files with DRM to the iTunes Plus format (256 kbps sans DRM). This would provide powerful motivation for people with existing movie collections to purchase the 4K Apple TV, after which they’d be more inclined to pay the price for higher quality movies.

This said, Apple did not do this when they moved from SD to HD movies, some years ago. So while history suggests that they may not offer these upgrades, it would make sense from a marketing point of view. More later today.

Update: Apple is offering free upgrades to 4K versions of purchased movies.

How to Merge or Combine .mv4 Video Files

A reader wrote in asking if I knew how to merge video files. He, like me, has ripped the BBC Shakespeare video box set. These films, of all of Shakespeare’s plays, were made in the late 1970s and early 1980s. While they are not uniformly interesting, many of them are very good. (, Amazon UK)

Some of the plays span multiple discs; this is the case for Othello, Richard III, and a couple of other plays. I’d never bothered to try to figure out how to splice them together, but it does make my video library a bit inconsistent.

Thanks to this article by Bruno Define, I was able to join videos very quickly. This involves a few simple commands in Terminal, using the built-in video tool ffmpeg.

(If you don’t have ffmpeg installed, this article explains how to install it.)

You need to run a command for each of the video files to have ffmpeg convert the files from .m4v to .ts (MPEG transport stream). You then use ffmpeg to concatenate the files.

So, for my Richard III, in two parts, I run the following commands:

ffmpeg -i "Richard III part 1.m4v" -c copy -bsf:v h264_mp4toannexb "part1.ts"
ffmpeg -i "Richard III part 2.m4v" -c copy -bsf:v h264_mp4toannexb "part2.ts"

An easy way to run these commands is to type the first part – ffmpeg -i – drag a file to the Terminal window from the Finder, then copy and paste the second part of each command above.

You run each command separately; Terminal spits out some output, and it will convert each file in less than a minute. Note that these commands, as written, save the output files to the root level of your home folder.

You now have two files, part1.ts and part2.ts. To join them, run this command:

ffmpeg -i concat:"part1.ts|part2.ts" -c copy -bsf:a aac_adtstoasc "Richard III.m4v"

Again, this is fairly quick; ffmpeg essentially reads the files, and rewrites a joined file. There is no transcoding at all; no loss of quality.

Check the resulting file. When you’re sure it’s okay, delete the .ts files you created in the first steps.

iFlicks 2.4 review: A valuable tool for adding valuable metadata to digital video files

If you’ve read my articles on ripping DVDs with Handbrake, or ripping DVDs and Blu-Rays with MakeMKV and Handbrake, then you’ll probably want to add the files you’ve created to your iTunes library. When you do this, you’ll need to enter a lot of metadata so you can identify the files. Depending on how much metadata you want with your movies and TV series, this can take quite some time.

iFlicks 2 is designed to make this step painless and efficient. It looks up your video files in several online databases, and adds metadata and artwork to them. It can also then put the files into iTunes. And if you have videos in a format that iTunes doesn’t handle, iFlicks can covert your files to an Apple-compatible format.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

How to Rip Blu-Ray Discs on a Mac

My friend and podcast co-host Rob Griffiths has published a great how-to guide to ripping Blu-Ray discs on a Mac. It’s a bit of a complex process, because you need to use a few different pieces of software. But if you – like Rob and I – like to have all our videos in digital form, you’ll want to check out this workflow. It’s efficient, and results in excellent quality videos.

For his example, he uses the recently released Blu-Ray of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Hamlet, which he got to see live when he visited me earlier this year. You might like this film, if you like Shakespeare.