I’ve been an editor on a Mac for almost 20 years now, and I’ve had my share of problems. Well, let’s say that I’ve had my share of system problems, to be more specific. I was one of those editors who made the daring switch over to Final Cut Pro when the first release of Final Cut Studio came around (don’t get me wrong, I was still cutting on a Media Composer on evenings and weekends, but my day job was cutting about 80-90% in FCP), and with that switch, came some interesting issues that I always seemed to be running into, and what I needed at the time was a good system and application maintenance package that would get me out of a jam whenever I needed it to. I ended up finding something along those lines called ONYX, which is a fantastic system maintenance application for the Mac that, to be honest, I can’t tell you how many times it got me out of a jam when FCP didn’t want to play nice. It was great because it was pretty simple to use, and it was free. The big issue with it, though, was the fact that it wasn’t specifically for any editing application, and at the time, Premiere wasn’t really in the picture, and just about everyone had Avid’s Support contracts, so we figured we would just let them deal with the issues, as we couldn’t be bothered. Well, now we’ve moved onto the days where we’re all our own one man/woman islands in the editing world, and the burden falls on us when we’re at the eleventh hour, and a client is sitting beside us, and the NLE’s not playing nice, and we’ve got to fix it. Well, that’s where Digital Rebellion’s Pro Maintenance Tools (PMT) comes into play!
Now, don’t confuse PMT with Pro Media Tools from Digital Rebellion, as they are not the same product. Hopefully we can get that up for a review in a few months. PMT is made up of seventeen, that’s right, seventeen applications to help get and keep your NLE’s running as smoothly as possible. Now, speaking of NLE’s, we’re talking about FCPX, Media Composer and Premiere Pro specifically, but the different applications cater to different NLE’s so keep that in mind.
After seeing that there was seventeen apps, my first thought was about having to constantly go looking for the different apps because, as much as I like having the clogging up my dock, I just don’t have the dock real estate for that. That’s why it’s great that Digital Rebellion has made a Digital Rebellion App Launcher that I can put on my dock and anytime I want to access one of the apps, I’m just a dock click aways!
So, the next big question is, what do you get? Let’s break it down.
This, for me, was a big one! Depending on the application you’re working on, especially Premiere, if your projects are getting bigger and bigger, so are your autosaves. You can use this utility to not only track down and remove older autosaves, but you can also use it to track down your autosaves, and open them, in case of some kind of catastrophic emergency! You can also set up an auto delete schedule to remove older autosaves as well.
I actually laughed out loud when I saw this utility, as I remember back to working pretty extensively with Apple’s Compressor, and always having problems getting it to load correctly. This tool trashes Compressor preferences, and resets the layout window, if you’re having issues inside of Compressor.
Corrupt Clip Finder
Fairly self explanatory. Point it in the direction of your Media folder (FCPX, MC or PPCC2017), and have it hunt down corrupt media for you to remove.
One of my three favorite tools inside of PMT. Not only do you get a list of all your application crashes, but you can also get a determination (in many cases) of what caused the crash. Crash Analyzer also gives you suggested proactive actions that you can take, to avoid the problem in the future. Did your NLE give you an error, and you have no idea what it means? No problem, head into the Error Lookup section, and you can enter the error in the Search window, to see if it’s been added to the database. There are a ton of Premiere, Media Composer, FCPX and even older applications like Soundtrack Pro and Compressor errors that you might be able to track down, and give yourself a work around, for whatever issue you’re running into.
This app is a little vague like Compressor Repair. I would really like Digital Rebellion to be more specific about what, exactly, these “repair” utilities are doing. Not that I’m afraid that something will happen to my system, but just so I can see if what it thinks it’s doing, is what it’s actually doing.
This has always been a big one for me, just because deleting apps, especially the ones that are so entrenched in your system like FCP and all it’s partner apps, well, sucks. This app makes it super quick and super simple. Not only can you remove FCP applications, but you can also get in and be very, very specific about what you want removed from your system, from the actual application to plug-ins to preferences. If you’re an FCP editor, this tool is for you, as I can’t count the number of times I was installing and reinstalling applications.
This utility covers a ton of applications including After Effects, Motion, all the old FCP Studio apps, and even QuickTime 7 and Pro. Just a simple way to get in and clear application caches, and many other common parameters that might need resetting
Again, same problem as CS Repair and Compressor Repair…….we need more details as to what is, exactly, being repaired!
Media Salvage is a utility designed to fix corrupted media, and bring it back from the dead. Pretty simple and straightforward
Path Manager was a utility that I was pretty excited about. It’s designed to manage all scratch disks and content in one place. This is super awesome, except for the fact that I could not get it to display any scratch disk information for my Premiere Pro projects. It seemed to want to work only for Motion 5 and QMaster, and no matter which directory I pointed it to (my main PP folder hierarchy), it wouldn’t show me any of the scratch disk path information.
Plug-in Manager is probably my second favorite plug-in inside of the PMT’s set of utilities. Probably my biggest frustration as an editor, compositor, and color grading guy is that I can’t tell you how many problems I have with OpenFX plug-ins inside of Resolve. I always find it crashing, or hanging up on specific plug-ins/effects. I then, in turn, find myself constantly going into the actual Open FX effects folder to remove the specific effects (and yes, I know exactly which ones are the culprits), to get Resolve to act properly again. What I would much rather have is the ability to just simply Enable/Disable the effects, as opposed to having to move or delete them. Also, having a way to just simply turn the effects on or off is a great way to quickly troubleshoot effects, without having to do a lot of searching and legwork. This is exactly where Plug-in Manager comes into play. The interface is super simple to use, with the ability to sort by NLE’s, and even search for effects, the ability to simply open this window and enable or disable effects is super smart, super simple, and a utility I find myself using on a daily basis!
A simple app to manager, trash, lock, backup and restore your NLE’s preferences and settings.
This is an interesting one, as I don’t have an FCP, FCPX, Motion or Premiere project to test it with, and since I now edit, once again, primarily in Media Composer, correct “projects” is not really an issue for us, as we work with “bins” not necessarily projects. But, I’ve read a lot from editors, mostly in Premiere of project issues due to large projects becoming corrupt, and this utility is designed to fix that.
An alternative utility to Media Salvage, giving you the ability to repair the header structure of QuickTime Movies. To be honest, I’ve never really run into this problem, header structure corruption, so I did a bit of research as to why this would happen, and I tracked down this article that gave me a bit of insight into what causes the header structure of QuickTime files to become corrupt:
- Presence of bad sectors where your QuickTime movies are stored
- Malware infection on storage media where your movies are placed
- Compressing your QuickTime movies files using inefficient techniques
- Interruptions while transferring QT movies from one storage media to other
- Using unreliable multimedia player to play your QT movies
- Renaming your QT movie file extension to an inappropriate file type
I can easily see myself, in a rush, renaming my QT file with the wrong extension, and screwing it up, so this handy utility should be all I need to fix that header structure, and get the file back up and running quickly and easily.
Another utility that needs more explaining……Performs common troubleshooting tasks with one button or shortcut press. And those tasks would be……
The last of my three “favorite” utilities in PMT’s is the System Toolkit. Not only designed to give you the ability to adjust specific parameters, like FCP registration data, forcing the OS to automatically hide the dock and Menu bars when MC or Premiere is running, you can also verify, repair and hard drives and files from the System Toolkit, and even get in an enable or disable QT codecs. Lastly, you can adjust and tweak many Appearance parameters like UI responsiveness as well as a ton of other miscellaneous parameters. One of my favorite parameters to set in the System Toolkit, is something that I constantly adjust manually, and that is the format of screenshot CMD+SHFT+3 does. I’m always going to Google to find the actual command to change it, and then to the console to actually do this, but you can do it all from the Misc parameters of the System Toolkit.
Much like Project Repair, this utility will repair corrupt FCP7 and FCPX XML files.
Now, with all of that being said, who the heck is going to either a) have the time to run all these with any consistency or regularity or b) even remember to run any of these period. Well, that’s where my “honourable mention” for favorite tool inside of the Pro Maintenance Tools comes into play, and that is the Task Scheduler. As simple as it sounds, the Task Scheduler will do just that. It will set up any or all of your tools to run at specific days or times, on a regular basis, to keep your NLE running in tip top shape.
My biggest problem with PMT is that many of the tasks are very…..non-specific as to exactly what they are doing. It would be nice to have a PDF that describes, in detail, exactly what each task is doing, so I can at least troubleshoot if the end result of running one of these tasks, doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Also, support is only for NLE’s and it would be nice to see After Effects (especially for Autosave clean-ups) and Apple’s Motion added into the support fold as well, but in the end this is a very minor thing, and didn’t impact my opinion on the product in any way. And another annoyance I ran across was that I was trying to launch one of the utilities from the App Launcher, Preference Manager, and it told me that it needed an update. No worries, I could update right from where I was. Very cool, except for the problem now is that I have two “versions” of Preference Manager in the App Launcher, and I can’t seem to get rid of one of them.
Pro Maintenance Tools from Digital Rebellion is a fantastic toolbox for editors working on the Mac with some maintenance features that I’ve already started to add into my weekly tasks. Crash Analyzer, Plug-in Manager and the System Toolkit are the shining stars of this package, and make the price of $129 US well worth it, and is something that all Mac editors should seriously consider investing in.
For more information, and to download a free trial of Pro Maintenance Tools, you can check them out at https://www.digitalrebellion.com/promaintenance/ .