My Windows Machine Setup - Software

I’m a Windows user from way back, so my HP laptop is my main machine. Wherever possible, I like to use software and hardware which is cross platform. I also like software that can be used for other things outside of my script notes (multipurpose).

I’m posting about the software separately because, one post would be too long for both software and hardware. Also, I’m very visual and I feel I need to take some pictures to better explain the hardware setup. That will take some time and I may not post the hardware section until next week (even I have to work).  ;-)

Note: You can use your favorite RSS reader (I use Feedly) to subscribe to this blog, so you’ll know when the next post is up.

BTW, it is not necessary or recommended for you to use or purchase  all or any of the items I use. This is just a guide and you should choose what works best for you and your workflow. :-)

Here is what I use:

The Operating System

I have gone all in on Windows 8.1 Pro but I only work in desktop mode. If you have questions about Windows post a comment and I’ll give you my best answer.

Script Notes Software

Edit: It is actually Word 2003 not 2007 that I have been using.

Microsoft Word 2007 2003 and 2013. I prefer Word 2007 2003 because I find it cleaner and I have it customized to my liking… plus I’m not a fan of the Ribbon in later Microsoft products. I have a $99/yr subscription to Office 360 which allows me to use the suite on up to 5 computers (Windows and/or Mac). I’m also playing with the Office products online. I would not use the online version for my notes because I don’t always have internet access or a even good connection when I do have access. 

I have created all of my own templates which are flexible enough to be changed based on the project. I use the AutoText feature in Word 2007 2003 heavily (Word 2013 has AutoText and Building Blocks). AutoText is basically an auto-complete macro. Type a few letters, hit F3 and an entire form appears. I create new AutoText entries on the fly for each job to save typing the same information over and over.

If you choose to use MS Word for your Script Notes, I highly recommend reading the appropriate Dummies book I live by them. the better you know your software the faster and simpler your workflow will be. ;-)

Video Still Capture

For video still capture, I use Debut Video Capture from NCH Software. It costs $40 and has Windows and Mac versions. I find that the Windows version works better for me than the Mac version (i’m sure it’s due to user error on my part). You can try it free for 30 days with no limitations. It works well with the Blackmagic Mini-Recorder. On my Window machine I have it set so that when I press the tilde & backwards apostrophe key key (~ & `) a still shot is taken. It is a global command, so I don’t have to keep the Debut Video window active (it could be minimized and still work). I keep a folder on the desktop that the stills go into. I select the stills I want and drag and drop them into my Microsoft Word Script Notes form. Since I use a touchscreen I can also use a finger to kind of fling the images from the folder into my notes. It doesn’t always work the way I plan but it’s really fun and fast when it does work. :-)

Debut also has a great feature that allows me to flip the image vertically and or horizontally. This most helpful with Steadicam and various Motion Control Rigs. I can’t work with my laptop upside down, it’s nice to be able to flip the image.

I prefer Debut over the native Blackmagic Media Express Software because the window size for Debut is adjustable. Media Express uses a large window which takes up too much real estate.

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Miscellaneous Software

  • Paint Shop Pro 5 - This is a very old piece of software that I just transfer from machine to machine. It’s just a simple image editor. I used it for flipping images before I found the Debut software that does it in real time. I still use it for cropping images when necessary. I’ve been using it for this post to clip, re-size and blur images. No need to look for this software, its EOL (end of life) was many years ago but it still works for me. Just use whatever you’ve got. 
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  • PDF Shink - At the end of the day I save the script notes I’ve taken in MS Word as PDFs. Usually, I put them on a thumb drive and take them to production so that they can transfer them to any computers they wish and email the notes to whoever needs them. Sometimes, I may have to email the notes myself. Gmail limits the size of attachments (as does my ISP for ScriptySpice.com), so if my PDF script notes file is too large to email (they are very image heavy), I can use PDF shrink to compress them. Windows and Mac versions available.
  • Foxit Reader - Free PDF reader and creator. Word 2013 makes PDFs natively but my preferred MS Word 2007 does not. Foxit integrates with Word 2007 and adds PDF printer functionality. Foxit uses tabs, so it’s easy to switch between multiple PDF files.
  • DocuSign Ink - I’m trying to print less. After 20 years of hauling around a printer and printing my notes by the end of every shoot day, I retired the printer when I switched from Analog to HD. In that spirit, I recently began using DocuSign. When I receive an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) that needs to be filled out and signed I use both Foxit and DocuSign. Foxit’s typewriter function allows me to type information onto forms (whether they are designed for input or not). I then affix the digital signature I have on file with DocuSign as a virtual signature onto the PDF. I email the signed NDA back to production. I use the free version. Windows, Android iOS and Web versions available.
  • TCode - Thanks for Barbara Babchick for letting me know about this piece of software. T-Code is a resizeable timecode window that runs on your desktop. With a hot-key combination you can insert the current timecode into your script notes. The software is synced by the sound department with a timecode generator (you would actually have to borrow it for the day with the appropriate cable going into your laptop to keep sync all day). I actually used an app called LTC Jump on my 4th Gen iPod Touch to connect with TCode along with a 3.5 mm audio auxiliary cable (I have not found and Android compatible app… yet) . I would manually sync the app and connect the cable between my iPod and my laptop’s microphone jack. The timecode would drift a bit but as long as I would manually re-sync every few hours, I could stay within a few seconds of the actual timecode. I don’t use this much anymore because I work mostly with Red and Alexa cameras and just use the clip info. Windows and Mac versions available but this software is more Mac friendly. Also, it doesn’t look as though the software has been updated for a few years. There is an iOS app called Movie*Slate that more people have been migrating to. I have the app but don’t have the cables to use with it. I haven’t been in a hurry to get up to speed because I don’t need to use timecode as much as I stated above. I will post an update when I have a better understanding of how to use the app.
  • QuickTime Pro, Windows Media Player, VLC… - I have many programs for viewing video, animatics, previzes (sp?) or whatever. I probably use QuickTime the most because it’s cross platform and that’s important since I’m on a PC and nearly everyone else is on a Mac.
  • Dropbox - I have notes for nearly every job I’ve worked since 1993 stored by year in Dropbox. Is it necessary… sometimes but mostly no. It is fun to look back and see how far my notes have come and how some things are pretty much the same. 

If I’ve forgotten anything, which is very likely, I’ll post an update.