At Princess we have been using Forscene for years, using the java application on desktops for viewing, logging, sync pulling and so on. Now the iPad version has appeared in the App Store and I’m going to give it a whirl. Launch the app and my list of active projects pop up, select one and off we go.
They say first impressions count, and my first impressions are good. The interface is identical to the desktop version: my play and record, file and timeline windows all pop open and immediately I feel right at home. I can move the windows around, make them bigger and generally arrange until I am happy and ready to go.
So lets get into the file window and find some rushes. Navigation matches the desktop version – everything is a simple tap. In my upload folder, I can click to toggle from folder to list view. With the content listed I can tap to sort by name, type, created date and so on. A little niggle is that I found it difficult to use the scroll bar to move up and down the file window, perhaps it needs to be made a little wider to allow you to grab it with your finger. Once I have found the clip I want to look at I can simply drag it into the play window.
My project has quite a lot of media, so for ease of use I want to arrange into named sub folders. To make a new folder I just tap and hold in the file window and select “new folder” from the pop-up options. The keyboard pops up to allow naming. To move media I just drag clips or folders into their new home. To do this quickly, I opened a second file window and dragged media from window to window – so easy.
Being a curious type I opened up the same project on my desktop PC to see how quickly changes on the iPad rippled to the desktop. Move some media on the iPad and it’s as near to instant as to make no difference on the desktop and vice versa.
The overall interface passes muster, but with all my content held in the cloud I do have doubts over streaming and potential buffering issues. Forscene uses a real-time “traffic light” indicator in the player navigation bar to show if material is playing in full frame rate, half rate or yet to load. Tap the material in the play window and it plays straight away, I’m green all the way. Playback, scrubbing and moving through the clips are all great, although the timecode displays could do with being a tad bigger.
Looking at the logging data for this media and my real first moan: if I touch any part of the log the huge iPad keyboard opens up and fills half the screen. Is this something I can change? I can’t work out how. A little practice and I can scroll up and down the log without the keyboard leaping into life. Typing in words to search the log to find content all works fine but click on a timecode in the log to review that clip and boom, the keyboard is there again. It’s a bit frustrating. The size of the keyboard makes logging impossible unfortunately. The keyboard pops up, pushes the logging window up the screen and the play window is pretty much gone. Shame.
Remote editing and sync pulling is an important part of our workflow; most of our productions use Forscene to increase productivity, often trimming a week from the edit schedule. The iOS implementation is almost faultless. Marking in and out and building up sync pulls is simple, I think maybe even quicker on the tablet than on the desktop. My only niggle again is the size of the timecode and in and out marker text. It might be my old eyes and sausage fingers but I would like to see it a little bigger.
Forscene iPad review
So my conclusions: coming into this I was concerned that the iPad version was going to be a bit of a gimmick, a platform box ticker, but thankfully it’s much more. This is a real workflow tool. For our tech ops team keeping an eye on uploads no matter where they are in the facility is a real positive. Project preparation and organising media is really quick and easy.
Looking to production the app is great for viewing media wherever they are. Give them a 4G iPad and looking at yesterday’s rushes on location is a dream. A sync pull in the bar after a hard days shoot is quick and simple. I like it. A lot.
Want to see the Forscene iPad app in action? Book a demo at IBC:
Blackbird is best-of-breed
Jon Hanford - Group CTO, Deltatre