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What OS and Software For a Mobile Documentary Crew? 229

jag7720 writes "I am part of a new project that will be filming a documentary. The project HQ will be in the US but it will take us around the world and will last approx 18 months. I am the IT guy and will be responsible for most if not all aspects of hardware and software (not to include editing). We are probably going to use Google mail/calendar/docs and unlocked BlackBerrys for communications. Computers use will mainly be for communications and writing. I am a huge advocate of Linux and Open Source and I want to use it if possible. What would you recommend for an OS platform for a project like this and why? Linux? Mac? Win?"
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What OS and Software For a Mobile Documentary Crew?

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  • MacOS X or Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:04AM (#28012003)

    Windows and OS X are the two best OSs for guaranteeing that all of your hardware will be supported, and for allowing you to take a lot of powerful video editing capabilities around the world with you. You may be the IT guy, but you won't be the main person doing everything OS X would be a much safer bet for getting this job done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)


      All three platforms have problems with legacy peripherals, however, Linux has better support for many things.

      And with Win 7 coming out, I'm sure the "older hardware not being supported" is going to grow again.

      Of course, if you're buying all new hardware, then yeah, you're probably right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you're dealing with video equipment, Linux support is often poor.

        • by sdpuppy ( 898535 )
          But...the OP said "no video editing".

          We are probably going to use Google mail/calendar/docs and unlocked BlackBerrys for communications.

          In which case any platform should be sufficient and you don't even need the latest or the greatest, since there will not be any computing intensive stuff being done. Maybe some highly portable netbooks.

          For the Blackberries, be sure to bring backup in the form of some Pringles cans and lots of string. Then you can feed the crew and if the phones go down, you can stil

          • They're making a movie. Do you think they're going to shoot on celluloid and edit with splicers? Do you have any idea how much that costs compared to shooting in even HD and editing on a computer? Unless they're a mega-bucks company, they're going need to edit on computers.

            • by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:39AM (#28012539)

              Weird. I read the post several times through -- didn't see the "(not to include editing)" and now it's there. While I miss words and symbols due to a learning disability, I don't see how I missed that. I'm going to see if the cached original is different.

              Still, after 10 years of a Linux desktop, then switching to an iMac for the past few months, my experience is that on FOSS there's too much time spent working with tools than using tools to do the work.

              • my experience is that on FOSS there's too much time spent working with tools than using tools to do the work

                I have had similar experience in that there are always way more options and ways of doing or learning things that you can spend all your time figuring it out and get nothing done. Discipline in outlining what do you need to know to get the job done right is really a challenge, and I think that Apple thrives to give you the best options with the least amount of worry at what seems to be the cost of unnecessary alternatives. Apple is really great at simplifying the top down approach of "What can the software

        • If you are buying equipment at random and not considering whether or not is is compatible, I would completely agree, but with so many Linux HCL web sites out there, "lack of support" is unlikely to be a barrier. Linux tends to have best support for the highest quality equipment, and particularly great legacy equipment no longer supported by other systems. But if one is serious about picking good equipment and are not presently tied down with any vendor lock-in, then it is all a matter of personal preference
    • software (not to include editing)

      Insightful for failing to RTFS?

    • It's not even that.... Most of the editing software is only going to run on either Mac or Windows. Depending on what your guys are used to using, they will need a platform that can support the way that they are used to working.

      Given my choice, I'd prefer OSX. It's been absolutely seamless with every camera I've ever plugged into it. The OS comes with iDVD, which is hard to beat unless you do start getting into professional software. It also comes with Garage Band, which is good for all kinds of audio e

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:05AM (#28012017) Journal

    If it's just communications (read: email and maybe IM) and writing, then who cares? Honestly. You can buy portable toys that do those two things for $30 in Toys-R-Us these days.

    If you're the IT guy, go with what you're comfortable with. You're the one who's going to have to make it work whenever anything goes wrong.

  • by pbhj ( 607776 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:06AM (#28012043) Homepage Journal

    Commodore 64 with an on-hook phone coupling.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:06AM (#28012053)

    If you are the IT guy, you get whatever machines and software the team say they need and have experience on to complete the project.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      I have to agree. This is critical. Video editing is an art. Artists HATE changing their tools. It used to be with film cameras that if a pro quality camera got discontinued the second hand value skyrocketed, frequently to above the original new retail price. An artist has to get used to the behavior of a media to the point that you don't have to think about it before you can really really start to get work done. Your editors and pixel pushers will know only about the software suite they have trained to
    • I was going to say if he had to ask this question at Slashdot... he couldn't be much of an IT guy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 )

      That's good advice so long as they didn't come to him and say, "We don't know what to get, you're our IT guy, so you tell us." As an IT guy, it's worth taking your users' preferences into account, but it's not always the sole determining factor.

      Besides, it sounds like he's talking about email, word processing, web browsing, etc. Anything can do that. For traveling, you're going to want something small, light, and with good battery life. Traveling around the world with a film crew, I wouldn't be surpris

  • I mean; I would've thought hardware would be much more of a factor than software. Netbooks etc; and like, really, whatever OS floats your boat the most.

  • For travel, battery life would seem to be an important factor. Windows (especially Vista/7) currently has a sizable lead over Linux in this regard, and that would certainly be my choice.

    Even when we finally see the year of Linux on the desktop, Linux on the laptop is still a long ways off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maino82 ( 851720 )
      My experience has actually been the opposite. With Linux, I swap to disk so infrequently that I have a noticibly longer amount of time which I can use my laptop (about 30 mins, which considering my battery only typically lasts about 2 1/2 hrs is significant to me). On Windows, even when I disable to page file, the OS still seems to access the disk quite a bit and it seems to drain the battery faster as a result.
    • by bcmm ( 768152 )
      No, Vista is not good at battery life. I'm not sure why you think that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by doonavin ( 973936 )
      "Windows (especially Vista/7) currently has a sizable lead over Linux in this regard"

      I will politely disagree with that.

      The nature of OS design is usually tradeoffs, therefore what one's strength is another's weakness and vice-versa... in short, use what works for you.

      That said; I'm running a 17" widescreen 2Ghz Core2 Duo laptop with dedicated video and I get much better battery life with Linux out of the box than Vista.

      Vista would get roughly 2 hrs (aero turned off and in battery savings mode).
  • Live USB Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:16AM (#28012193) Journal
    For communication and writing, consider Linux on a USB drive. If a computer breaks it can be replaced. Include proper backup tools and procedures, preferably including occasional backups to a server when a fast data link is available, so if a USB drive is lost or destroyed you can create a new one and ship it to the location.
  • Not FOSS for Film! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:18AM (#28012205)

    I used to work as a videographer, then left and started an IT business based entirely on FOSS and my own work. The entire purpose of this business was to create a revenue stream so I could start a film business. In other words, I know FOSS well, used Linux almost exclusively on my servers and desktop for years, and know film and video well.

    If you want to do ANYTHING with film or video editing, do NOT use Linux. While there are a number of great programs for editing audio on Linux and in the FOSS world, the video programs still lag behind. Many times there are issues with importing the video. (Trying to get video from my HD camcorder into any usable format on Ubuntu Intrepid was a nightmare!) There are some programs that show promise for video editing and DVD authoring, but even as late as Intrepid, many still had issues, wouldn't always burn to different DVD drives, had trouble importing more than one or two formats, or provided only a limited subset of editing abilities.

    I started looking at Linux for AV work around 2001 or so and was disappointed by what was available. As time went on and I was doing my IT work for my business, I figured that by the time I was ready to do film work, FOSS programs would be as well. Sadly, 8 or 9 years later, they simply are not. Some people will say, "But xxxxx does a great job!" Yeah, it does -- if you don't need professional editing capabilities. As of now I haven't seen a FOSS video editing program that can even do what Adobe's Premiere did in 2000 for $600.

    So a few months ago I bought an iMac and paid $250 for Final Cut Express. I'm stunned -- it's like I'm actually back in the world of film and video and have a program designed by film editors, not by programmers who want to tell film editors what they should need.

    I love FOSS. I love it enough to say, "There are some serious problems in the FOSS world," instead of pretending everything is the best it could be. My experience is that in the Windows world the driving force behind new software is a company that wants to make something people can use so they make a profit. In the Linux/FOSS world the driving force behind new software is developers that love what they do but often are touchy when receiving criticism of their "baby" and are used to the console and do not focus heavily on the GUI design, expecting people to learn what they already know to use their programs. I'm not a fanboy, but in 2-3 months on an iMac, my experience is that the driving force of app development on Apple is users or companies that want to give the users the tools they need to do a job.

    If you want to provide your people with tools that you, as a techie and Linuxer, like for philosophical reasons, go Linux -- but be aware that your creative people will spend more time adjusting and setting up and modifying their tools than they will doing their jobs. If you want to provide them with software that lets them do their jobs, instead of having to deal with settings and tech stuff, go with Mac.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I felt the same way using IRIX back in the day. I was supposed to be practicing Video Special-FX fu, but instead I was spending my time wading through documentation. Somebody give me a Mac! Then some guy would come along and create incredibly polished work with very the same machine I was trying to use.

      Years before that, the same thing happened with an Amiga 2000. I could barely use the thing. All I could do was stare at the pretty icons and hope to figure out what was going on, but here were people maki
      • Well, first of all, because the original article specifically said "not including video editing" - this whole discussion doesn't really address the original question.

        That said though, there's nothing wrong with extending the topic a bit ....

        It sounds to me like you're talking about creating a lot of special f/x and so forth, for video, vs. spending the majority of your time editing and cleaning up live footage.

        I can't imagine why you wouldn't just buy a Mac and Final Cut Pro (or even Express if it meets you

        • I can't imagine why you wouldn't just buy a Mac and Final Cut Pro (or even Express if it meets your needs) and be done with it, if you're editing a lot of live footage?

          If there's some urgency involved, and you're most comfortable with that setup, then by all means! Personally, I made a conscious decision to do business on an open platform where possible. This isn't out of ignorance or inexperience or inefficiency, but rather, it's my preference after using high-end Macs and Windows machines for years. I wa

  • by bhunachchicken ( 834243 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:18AM (#28012207) Homepage

    ... then why not Ubuntu? It's pretty clear it was built for that kind of trip, so should serve you well as you track down those Warty Warthogs, Feisty Fawns, Gutsy Gibbons, Hardy Heron, and Jaunty Jackalopes.

    Just watch out for those Breezy Badgers: they love their curries, so you don't wanna stand down wind from them... :)

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:21AM (#28012243)
    Go with a quality PC running Adobe Premiere [] or Sony Vegas Pro []. This will give you a lot more "bang for your buck" in a nice portable editing setup than a Mac running Final Cut Pro (particularly on a small documentary budget). Don't bother with Linux, it's video editing software is shit (sorry to be harsh, but it's true).
  • If you are using Panasonic HDV with P2 cards it doesn't transfer the data fast on OSX. It's (sadly) much, much faster on Windows. Speed is essential for Doc footage and P2, as there will be hours of it, and cards are very expensive. You WILL run into workflow problems with OSX unless you have stacks of cards and a full-time online editor. (You'll likely still run into some workflow probs with Windows too.)

    If you are using tapes (and you probably should), then OSX and Final Cut will be your best option. T
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:22AM (#28012271)

    ask the people what apps they plan on using, and build everything around there.

    these people are media people, they don't want to remember cryptic commands to do the simplest things

  • But how deep in the bush are you going to be?

    If you're going to be in harsh environments, get your hands on a hardened machine for communications. (Video editing...that's another story).

    You could get your hands on an OLPC XO and install Xubuntu on an SD card (there's a specific build of 8.10 called XOBuntu if you want it). It's not fast--but for basic communications the battery life is very long and it's quite rugged. That and anything that puts out 11-25v will charge the thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iocat ( 572367 )
      What he said, but also... have you tested the google calander in different tme zones simultaneously? In my experience, it blows chunks in the worst possible way. IF people are really going to be travelling around the world, an online system for mail with no local cache might be a really bad idea.
  • by LodCrappo ( 705968 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:30AM (#28012399) Homepage

    They'll be traveling, working hard, dealing with all the crazy problems that come up in a project like this. They don't need the extra hassle of dealing with unfamiliar software just because you think it's neat. Find out what they use now, and make sure they can continue to use it as needed throughout this project.

  • I actually make travel documentaries - when I was on the road, the most important thing for me was a computer that worked, not the OS.

    The OS really shouldn't matter, but I would advise using a Windows machine with the crew. The advantages of the Mac platform are in the editing phase, so the Final Cut Studio advantages aren't a big deal.

    The thing is, most of your equipment will work with Windows out of the box - we're talking things like field recorders and video capture. But the biggest aspect of Windows-

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      "you can get a new Windows-based PC quickly and easily"

      - And why would it be hard to get a Mac replacement? You know they deliver, don't you?

      "Final Cut Pro can't take advantage of multicore processing . . . . That makes editing -slow-."

      -What a load of BS. I use FCP all the time and it NEVER blinks. It never acts slow, and that is on a laptop.

      And the award for the most FUD filled post belongs to . . . . .!!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        > "- And why would it be hard to get a Mac replacement? You know they deliver, don't you?"

        Delivery isn't "quickly" when you're filming a documentary - less so when filming, say, in many of the one-horse towns across the globe. If you're in Auckland or Wellington, New Zealand, you're okay, but if you're in anyplace smaller than, say, Palmerston North, you might be out of luck. (Basically, Dick Smiths does carry the Mac line, but not at all stores, but not at all locations.) I can't imagine trying to fin

  • Mainly? Meaning they actually *will* want to do preview at occasions?
    That's a no brainer: Mac OS X.
    If they only want to communitacte and use the web, that's a no-brainer aswell: Get some cheap-ass netbooks that are cheap, small, light and don't break that easy.
    If you're going into warzones, deserts or rainforests that's also - guess what? - a no-brainer: Get Panasonic Toughbooks. And some solar panels.

    Another thing: If you're going on a 18 month tour as the prime IT guy and you have to ask this question I'd actually presume you're maybe the wrong guy for this sort of thing, no?

    • Mainly? Meaning they actually *will* want to do preview at occasions?
      That's a no brainer: Mac OS X.
      If they only want to communitacte and use the web, that's a no-brainer aswell: Get some cheap-ass netbooks that are cheap, small, light and don't break that easy.
      If you're going into warzones, deserts or rainforests that's also - guess what? - a no-brainer: Get Panasonic Toughbooks. And some solar panels.

      Another thing: If you're going on a 18 month tour as the prime IT guy and you have to ask this question I'd actually presume you're maybe the wrong guy for this sort of thing, no?

      There are many issues here, but the conclusions is mostly the same, I'd warrant. On the road, support is difficult-to-nonexistent. If the documentary is going to be shot in remote locations, then the OP is not only the IT guy, but the network guy, the power supply guy, the spare parts guy, the software update guy, etc. If the documentary is going to be shot in not so remote areas, then much of the support can be purchased in larger cities, so less extreme planning is required.

      Either way, the OP should be

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:38AM (#28012525) Journal

    Here's a general comment: Applications should drive the OS decision, not the other way around. Find the software you want to use--play with it, work with it, and then if you have a choice, look into the OS.

    Decades ago, someone mentioned that an OS is kinda like underwear. It should be there, it should provide support, but only the fashion-obsessed really spend much time thinking about it.

  • by SSpade ( 549608 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @11:43AM (#28012601) Homepage

    Your job is not to be an advocate, it's to support your users to the best of your ability. That means steering them towards stuff you know how to support, but doesn't mean pushing them towards your favorite hobby OS when that's not a good match for them.

    The most important thing is to support what your users need to do. For creative users, including writers, that means the tool they're familiar with. If they're used to Windows and Windows tools, give them Windows. If they're used to OS X, give 'em a Mac. Either way, give them a usable screen and a good keyboard - writers will likely kill you if their main writing machine has a plasticky 93% size keyboard.

    The second most important thing is to make sure that the systems are available and the data is safe. Which makes Windows a PITA to support if you're not familiar with Windows administration (which is what it sounds like).

    If it were me, I'd use Macbook Pros running OS X, with VMWare Fusion with unity mode turned on allowing me to run Windows (or Linux, come to that) applications, as though they were native apps. (Don't skimp on RAM). That way the machines can be shared by users who prefer different apps to do what they do, and you can take advantage of either the OS X level stuff or the underlying unix to do backups.

    And a couple of cheap netbooks for emergencies, email, throwing in the back of a truck, that sort of thing. Then a bunch of robust, cheap media for ad-hoc backups (USB sticks, CD-Rs).

    But I'm not your users. Ask them what apps they need, then work out how best to support them.

    • by RedBear ( 207369 )

      If it were me, I'd use Macbook Pros running OS X, with VMWare Fusion with unity mode turned on allowing me to run Windows (or Linux, come to that) applications, as though they were native apps. (Don't skimp on RAM). That way the machines can be shared by users who prefer different apps to do what they do, and you can take advantage of either the OS X level stuff or the underlying unix to do backups.

      This is exactly what I'm doing for my users and so far it is working out pretty well. The newest MacBook Pros support up to 8GB of RAM and Windows XP or Vista runs great in a VMWare Fusion virtual machine. The nice thing about this kind of setup is that it's so easy to just ship out a new Mac with the standard drive image including the Windows virtual machine and all the necessary production software, so the only thing you need to worry about backing up is user data. If a machine is stolen or goes bad, just

  • As pro Linux/BSD that I am, operating system should only be a small fraction of the choice. In reality, the quality of you hardware will be the most important aspect. You will need hardware that can stand up to the punishment of being on the road and banged around. You definitely can use Linux if you want, there are some good tools out there but to each person their own. Prior to beginning production, try sound/video editing and tools from various platforms and see what works best for you. If you want
    • If you're doing 3D Animation, there are a couple good tools for Linux like Maya. But if you are talking about video editing, you're only choices are PC and OSX. No one has a quality video editing program for Linux. And if you need to do compositing, it's still cheaper to buy a MacBook Pro and Shake for OSX than Shake for Linux. (In fact a MacBook Pro and Shake for OSX will cost you the same as just Shake for Linux). A 24" iMac and Shake will cost you a lot less than Shake for Linux.

      Personally I would g

  • if you try to impose your revolutionary concept of what platform the crew should be using. even if it is technically superior. you want to choose the platform they are comfortable and familiar with. beginning and ending of criteria. no, really

    let some other guy be the iron fist of the future who imposes the IT juggernaut of tomorrow on an unwitting guinea pig of a film crew. i don't think you are in the position to be that person, unless your employment has some sort of nepotistic infallible guarantee of em

  • If you will always be in the same location as all the systems you're outfitting, go with what you can provide adequate support for (Linux/Open Source, I presume).

    If these systems are going to be scattered around the globe, go for Windows. Say what you will about Windows, but you'll find on-site support in damn near every country you travel to.

    Macs might be a good option if they'll be deployed to major metropolitan cities only (NY, LA, London, etc.).

  • Once you got platforms that will stand being dropped, dunked, run-over and generally abused, THEN find out what software the crew need, THEN choose an O/S which will support their peripherals and software.

    You're not on a mission to convert a sound engineer - or anyone else (hint: they don't care, they just want to get stuff done) to your particular favourite O/S, you're there to make sure all the important stuff gets recorded, stored, backed up and sent to base. If you can do all that and do it on a Linux

  • Lets are going to not be physically present to work either hardware or software problems and your people are. And you say you need to give them trivial capabilities that any OS can support and no special aps.

    That tells me you ask them what they are used to and find the hardware with the best worldwide support and go with that. The browser will give you access to the apps they will be using. Who cares what browser. Or what OS.

    Of course this presupposes that your guess that they will only be using t

  • When you say "not to include editing," does that mean you are not choosing the editing software package but are choosing the machine which runs it? If so, what camera/format are you using? For example, if you are using an HMC150, it will affect your editing choices if you want to work without transcoding [] - something you might need to point out to your staff.

    If these are just glorifed email/webterms, sure, you can pick anything and Linux might be ideal if they are getting thrown on very untrusted public
    • by nxtw ( 866177 )

      (1)yeah, even review. VLC has some HD problems, which are ffmpeg related as I understand [], and may show up on other Linux/OSS players. My i7/GTX280/6GB RAM was choking on a Hitachi made 1080p H.264 demo yesterday using VLC (on Windows). OTOH, AVCHD 21MB seems to be fine straight out of the camera, FWIW.

      Did you try a DirectShow player that uses ffmpeg, such as Media Player Classic Homecinema []?

      At one point I got better results with 1080p H.264 using MPC-HC in Windows in VMware Fusion than I did usi

  • i'm a linux fan as well, but it seems to me you need to be more focused on the hardware than the OS.

    power requirements
    spare parts/harware failure ,,, ,,

    in this day and age you can find just about what ever software you need for any OS.
    supporting the hardware will be what makes or breaks you.

  • This is not as simple as it sounds.

    IIRC the Blackberry service depends on a particular APN being available to it. When you pop a prepaid SIM in from your destination country it typically won't come with that APN provisioned. This means phones calls, hassles, problems, and likely inability to work.

    There's two "easy" solutions to this:

    1 - Get unlimited "worldwide" Blackberry service from ATT/Verizon for $65/mo and have a separate phone with a local prepaid SIM in it for voice calls that is shared amongst the

    • Also, if the local phone network doesn't support GPRS, you will have to change the internet settings from dialing *99# to dialing whatever the phone number for the local internet access point is.

  • Be Prepared (Score:3, Informative)

    by not_hylas( ) ( 703994 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:23PM (#28013161) Homepage Journal

    SSpade (above) is correct. []

    You have to be prepared for anything and that usually means the Production Coordinator's computer being hijacked by the DP (Director of Photography) and the Director for an informal "slice and dice" to see how something fades / cuts into another (QuickTime Pro) saving 45 minutes of stuff such as this.

    As a former Motion Picture Tech (KeyGrip, DollyGrip) for over 25 years, I'm telling you, you better be prepared - anticipate their next need (hot spares) and make it look easy.

  • "Computers use will mainly be for communications and writing."

    Then they can use whatever OS he wants to install. If the field people aren't capable of clicking on the "EMAIL" and "WORD PROCESSING" icons and using whatever program pops up to do their email and writing tasks, they shouldn't be in the field. The IT guy says absolutely nothing about editing in the field. Other than to say that the editing is not part of the equation. If there are other issues like transferring data from recording devices

  • Dont Advocate! (Score:3, Informative)

    by drolli ( 522659 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:31PM (#28013287) Journal

    Honestly. I also love Open Source/linux. The biggest service i could do to convince people that this is good was to not advocate - actually i am quite good in scaring people off linux whom i thin kwould not get happy with it- but just make it work at exactly the places where it world best (yes, even my boss, and hard-core windows lover saw a certain advantage after our servers running w/o trouble on cheap HW for several years, whil;e the Novell/NT solution we used before was a pain in the ass).

    I guess the task you describe is your job. Your job is not to advocate, but your job is to provide the team with computers. From what you say it is the best to settle on some hw which you can buy (to replace lost/broken ones) around the world - with OS preinstalled to keep you from doing importanty work. So yes, that would be windows. In a bigger city it takes you 15 minutes to get a new, working, installed machine.(DONT come with "yes, i can install Debian in 15 Minutes". ME too, but i wont get the wifi running in 15 minutes if the manufacturer decided the old chipset to be to expensive by 5 cents).

    i suggest to carry one wireless AP with you, and maybe a small linux server (laptop), if internal communication involves sharing documents, depending on the requirements. i also suggest you think about backups.

  • The article's is too vague about the terms of reference.

    I wouldn't make recommendations simply because I don't know enough from the submitter's description to understand what their requirements are. At the very least:

    Which countries?
    Where in these countries - rural or urban?
    How long is the deployment?
    How big is the team?
    Are you relying exclusively on Blackberries/GSM or will you be using backup satphone/data?
    GSM data can be strange, depending on the country and provider.

    IOW, there is not enough information

  • Let me get this straight - you'll be traveling all over the world, exposed to who knows what networking and virus-prone environments, and don't already know that the Mac is your best starting point?

    A Macbook Pro for anyone doing real work (viewing dailies, making storyboard or layout suggestions, doing any ancillary work actually associated with the film); smaller Macbooks for carrying around the set to do story work, check e-mail, etc., and a few minis should give you everything you need in the field. AN

  • OpenGoo..... []

    Works FANTASTIC. can be worked from afar easily with a netbook and an iPhone.

    I'd give crews phones for comms, and netbooks that can be tethered to the phones so they dont hate you by being forced to type and read things on a useless phone screen.

    Plus your people can use a local wifi location to use the netbooks for check-in/faster access.

    P.S. Also look at [] for your screenwriting and other production needs. It also works offline so they can collaborate on

  • Why not all 3? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EvilToiletPaper ( 1226390 ) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:01PM (#28013751)
    For just 'communications and writing', I would say get a bunch of small netbooks and some extras in case a few go down. You can get quite a bunch of inexpensive netbooks for the cost of just a couple of expensive macbooks

    In the field you have to be prepared to handle pretty weird stuff, choose an OS that presents the least obstructions. Use a popular distribution of Linux, you don't want to be in the middle of the Congo and make a satphone call to Microsoft or Apple support :).

    Get one or two laptops running MS and OS X in case someone absolutely needs software that only runs on these or if you get a hold of some hardware that only works on one of those
  • I've done this before. 16 months in se asia. The most important thing is protecting your footage. Using Mac laptops has made the process easy. Apple's ethos is everything Just Works, and nowhere is that more important than on a independent project, where getting a virus, or having windows go on the fritz can bring production to a stand still. There is a reason the industry standardized on the company that can provide an integrated solution from hardware, to OS, to editing suite. We shot almost 150 hours o
  • OS seems somewhat immaterial. From what you're saying a bunch of netbooks would not be bad. I've used MediaWiki for script collaboration with some custom tags and it's really not bad. Use google apps on top of that and you've got pretty much everything you should need.

  • You need to use BeOS. It's really the greatest Operating System evah!

    Of course, you are asking for professional video advice on Slashdot, so don't complain if you get terrible advice.

    1. Ask the crew what tools they will need!
    2. Choose a platform that will do everything they need it to do (and more if possible!)


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