Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Useful software for videographers and photographers - Part 3

The two previous posts on software has concentrated on PC software since that is what I use most of the time, but a revisit to my Mac Pro reminded me of a couple of good solutions on iOS and also why one bundled app on Windows 7 is so much better than its equivalent on the Mac.

First a piece of software that works on both platforms. It's called Better File Rename and made by, is now in version 5 and costs $19.95. It is accessible by right-clicking in a Windows Explorer window which opens a new window offering a huge choice of sorting and renaming options. It is a simple way of renaming a large batch of files and I use it to name the hundreds of images I shoot during a time lapse so that when I open the image sequence in After Effects I see a name for the sequence not just letters and numbers.

Better File Rename
Two bits of advice about using BFR may help you out. First, if you have more than a hundred files, at first just choose one to rename, make the name change and perform rename. Then open all the files and perform the name change without changing parameters again. Because BFR updates the preview to all the files it can take a long time with a large batch. Second, don't try to rename more than 50 files on a network drive, it will fail. Move all the files to a local or USB drive, perform the rename and then move them to the network drive.

One of the ways I found to improve file handling on a Mac was to stop using Finder, which for someone moving around lots of files is clunky and frustrating. I spent a while looking for an alternative and came across Path Finder by Cocoatech. This can completely replace the OS Finder or can work alongside it and is a very powerful piece of software. Simply having two browser panels is a big improvement on Apple's own software, but it offers built in video and stills preview, excellent sorting and a much better control over application launch. I couldn't use my Mac without it and have not found anything quite as good for Windows yet. At $39.95 it is not cheap but you can have a 30 days trial and I think you will shell out after that.

Path Finder by Cocoatech

I upgraded all of my PCs to Windows 7 as soon as it was released and soon discovered the Snipping tool which I have permanently pinned to my taskbar. All it does is grab a still image of a window or a rectangular area of my desktop. I can then save the grab as a file or copy and paste it into any document. It is so easy to use and I am in control of where the files go - much quicker than Skitch. If you haven't used it and you have a Windows 7 PC, just try it. You'll find it in the Accessories folder in your Start Programmes.

Snipping tool

In Part 1 of this software blog series I wrote about Disk Aware and it's ability to find large hidden files using up valuable disk space. CC Cleaner by Piriform discovers all the little files that also use up a large amount of space. The software has been around for many years and I am always astonished by how much rubbish (CC used to be called Crap Cleaner) hangs around my PC. I just ran CC Cleaner on my laptop and this was the result:

CC Cleaner by Piriform

13,127MB of stuff I can happily delete. Notice that the analysis only took 103 seconds to run and I have deselected history and cookies as items I want to delete. At this point I haven't run cleaner so I can look through what it suggests deleting and modify the selection. I can also get it to look at the registry and delete orphan files from there. I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you are confident at fixing problems because the registry is a scary place, but I do use it and so far CC Cleaner has caused no problems.

I hope this series has unearthed a few hidden gems in the software world. Many of the tools are free and all bar one are under $100 dollars. There are some great people making this software and I would like to thank them here for their work. I would also like to ask everyone to use the software properly, not to distribute it and to pay the small amount asked to use it when appropriate. 

Please suggest any software in the comments as I know there must be loads of useful ones I have yet to discover.


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