There’s been a lot of ho-hum reviews on the Apple TV… too much of this, not enough of that… but these have all been focussed on the consumer space and the living room. What I’m here to tell you is why video pros should care about the Apple TV (and why we swear by it in my shop). Here are a few reasons we use Apple TV at my shop, RHED Pixel.
Client Review Sessions
We often need to have clients into the office to look at progress… sometimes these meetings happen in the edit suite, sometimes not. Our conference room is a great place for reviewing projects at many stages (and doesn’t feel like a microwave with a bag of popcorn it). All the editors need to do is quickly export the timeline using the built-in Apple TV presets and drop it in their iTunes library.
You can Share the iTunes library of up to 5 computers. As soon as the clip is in iTunes (which the editor should keep running in the background) it appears on the Apple TV. This means you can review HD clips without needing to was time compressing for Blu-ray or burning overpriced discs (currently around $18 a pop for one-time burn). The quality of the Apple TV is excellent, and its very easy to view clips.
Tons of Storage
The Apple TV can be synced with one computer. This is very easy to do with just a click and a short code you enter on the synced computer (making it secure). This content can be transfered to the device so it can be viewed even when the computers are off or the network is down. The basic unit clocks in at 40GB for $229, but the 160GB unit for $329 is the way to go. Apple states up to 200 hours of video for standard def content, but you can still easily hold 50+ hours in high-quality HD.
For the Road
We’ve started sending them out for tradeshows and events. You can easily load a video for playback for booths and exhibits. Tell me any other solution designed to work with Plasma screen or HDMI that costs this price. HD playback for less than $250 is just unheard of. Load up the client’s videos and send them on their way. From lobbies to tradeshows, these things are fantastic and an absolute steal.
The staff at my shop have found Apple TV to be great for both relaxing over lunch or a source for inspiration. With it, you can watch free podcasts as well as quickly look at movie trailers. We’ve also found ourselves taking advantage of rentals when someone wants to discuss an editing technique or approach. Plus its nice to have so many commercials and short films available via YouTube. The Apple TV puts the world of web video at your fingertips and on a giant screen.
The Bottom Line
Every media pro who comes to our shop stops and plays with Apple TV. Its intuitive, its fun, and its useful. Clients feel the same way, its super easy to load up what you need for an important meeting or review session. Add in the Elgato Turbo H.264 and you can compress video even faster.
We save a ton by being able to review HD content in the conference room. That’s not to say I’d master a show for broadcast this way, but it does a nice job of simulating the consumer experience. Audio engineers often do the road test of burning the music to a CD and popping it a car and driving around town. Same holds true with Apple TV, its a great “real-world” test for if a video works.
If you haven’t tried this thing yet, do it. Go to an Apple Store and try it out. If that’s not an option, Apple offers a virtual tour at their website that gives a great overview. The Apple TV should be in every post house, it saves time and money (and helps make review sessions fun again).