Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Avid Behaving Badly #6: ISIS Login Client Doesn't Properly Log Out

If you're like me, well, first off... Why?  That's weird.  Stop it!


If your work set-up is like mine, you have to log on to an ISIS server before launching Avid in order to mount all of your media drives.  If you're a responsible editor who doesn't like to crash and lose all of his or her work, then at the end of the day you quit Avid, log off of ISIS, and shut down your computer.  Except, well, that's not really how the end of the day goes.  It's more like you quit Avid, log off of ISIS, select "Shut Down" from the apple menu, tell ISIS to force eject all mounted workspaces, and then your computer shuts down.

For me, this is not an isolated incident.  This happens every time.

In fact, ISIS failing to log off every drive happens pretty much every time I log out of ISIS, no matter which system in the office I'm using.

Let's take a minute to step back and examine the ISIS Client software.  It does two things, which are to securely log a user into an ISIS server, and then mount specified drives for that user.  When your client software fails to unmount drives, it is pretty much failing at both tasks.  Your logins are no longer "secure" because anyone else who uses the system after you will find a drive mounted that shouldn't be there.  You're not mounting the exactly specified drives, because there are still some leftover drives from the previous login.  Grrr.

In my experience, this is exactly the sort of issue that most editors simply don't notice.  It bothers the living shit out of the Assistant Editors who have to clean up the messes editors leave behind, but the editors literally won't be aware of it.

The problem works like this:  Assistant Editor A logs on to Editor station X to install a new font.  The AE has write access to a whole gang of media drives that the editor doesn't.  The font install being completed, the AE logs out and leaves, not noticing that the Master Sources drive didn't unmount.  The editor then logs himself in, decides he doesn't like the graphics suite that Network approved, and he deletes all of the graphics bins from Master Sources.  Or the editor renders all of his effects to the Master Sources drive - totally oblivious to the fact that he shouldn't be doing that.

The problem also works in reverse:  An editor needs a database rebuilt on a media drive that he doesn't have write access to, so he asks an AE to come fix the problem.  The AE logs out the editor and logs himself in, but doesn't notice that the media drive in question never unmounted (dismounted?) when the editor was logged out.  Lo and behold, the AE does not have write access to the drive now, even though all of his permissions are set correctly in the ISIS Admin tool.

While this is an incredibly easy issue to solve (manually unmount the affected drives every time you log off of ISIS), when it goes unnoticed, it is thoroughly frustrating.  God damn it, Avid, why is everything a big fucking ordeal with you?

Seriously though, I love ISIS.  It blows Unity out of the proverbial water.

Mac Error -111 (WhichZone failed (applied to free block))

These error messages sometimes appear when attempting to save a title in the Title Tool:
The first message, contains the useful information:  "Applied to free block" means that Avid has failed to allocate enough memory to save the title.  Which is dumb.  The title should already be fully stored in memory.

This second message is less helpful, though I guess it does let you know that your title didn't save.  So not a total failure.

in addition to your title not saving, the title tool window won't close after these messages appear and you can't deactivate it, preventing you from saving your bins (in my opinion, that's the real problem caused by this bug).  Fortunately for you, dear reader, I have a workaround for that.  Your title, however, is not going to save, and you're going to have to restart Avid in order to try again.  So yeah, the good news is that the title tool is pretty basic, so it shouldn't take you too long to recreate your title after relaunch.  Take a screenshot of your title beforehand if it's complicated; that way you have a visual reference of what you're trying to reproduce.

Okay, the workaround for the title tool window not closing:  You can click on the desktop to make the Finder active, then click back on Avid, and you should now be able to close the title window (if you tell Avid to save, you'll get the same errors, so you have to choose to discard your title.  The good news is that, once the title window closes, you can save your bins normally and exit Avid without force-quitting.

Relaunch Avid and you should be able to make and save your title successfully.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bus Thread Error #3: When Importing a Still Image

I don't know why I post all of the bus thread pictures; they all look exactly the same.  But whatever, here you go:

Pretty sweet.

This particular bus thread error was when attempting to import a still image for use as a graphic.  The file is a .PNG, and Avid hates it.  Importing the image into Photoshop and exporting a flat .PSD also failed.  so did a .TIFF.  And a .JPG.  And every other format we could think of.  Testing all of these formats was fucking awesome, because every fail results in this crash, and necessitates a relaunch of Avid.  Hooray for two minutes of sitting around with my thumb in my ass.

So what gives?  I can import other files, so it's not the act of importing.  I can import those files to the same drive I'm trying to import this particular file to, so it's not the drive.

Okay, what's going on with this graphic?  It's 720p, has transparency, is full-raster 16:9, and - oh.  What the fuck?  Why is the color space RGB instead of 601 or 701?  Goddamn graphics department doesn't know their color space has to be different for television.  Did I mention this is the network's graphics department?  Awesome.  Remind me to tell you about the time they gave us graphics that weren't title safe, and then rejected our color-corrected master tapes of said episode because - seriously - the graphics weren't title safe.  But I digress.

The color space still shouldn't fuck up Avid.  But lo - when I change it to 601 in photoshop and re-save the graphic, it imports just fine.  As it turns out, something about this particular version of Avid (, 720p stills with transparency, and RGB color space just makes the world end.  So stupid.

Anyway, an easy fix - though admittedly exasperating to test.