Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Reset your PRAM and Delete your Site Settings

After two years, it has occurred to me that I have been remiss in my duties.  Up until now I've failed to mention the most basic troubleshooting techniques for dealing with Avid:  Resetting your PRAM and Deleting your Site Settings.  Seriously, what's wrong with my brain?

Basically whenever you're getting weird errors, or multiple bus thread error crashes in a row, or "you can't write to drive X" message when pretty fucking clearly you have write permissions, the problem isn't you; it's Avid.  That's a shocker, I know, and wholly unexpected, but the fact of the matter is that Avid is the only program I've ever used that required regular resetting of your Mac's PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory).  Avid is also one of the rare pieces of software that corrupts it's own fucking settings.  Seriously, how is that even possible, Avid?  you generate the settings on launch, so can't you do a goddamn checksum to make sure the existing ones are fucking valid?

Anyway, these are the first steps anyone dealing with Avid should take when their machine starts acting all wonky:

First, reset your PRAM using the following steps:
1)  Shut down the computer.
2)  Unplug the fucker for a good 30 seconds to clear residual memory.
3)  Power back on.
4)  While the system is booting up, hold down Command+Option+P+R.  Keep holding these down through the next steps.
5)  The computer will chime and then restart.  Keep holding down the keys.
6)  Continue holding down the keys until the computer has chimed and restarted 3 times.

I should mention that for some reason I find that I always have to tell people (I mean Producers) that the "apple" key is called the fucking Command key - What gives?  There's no apple on it and the word "Command" is pretty clearly goddamn written right there!

Also, don't hold down the buttons for more than 5 chimes.  Eventually it will start resetting all kinds of weird shit inside the computer that will break the thing for reals, yo.

After resetting your PRAM, it's a good idea to trash your site settings:
1)  Navigate to MacHD / Applications / Avid Media Composer / Settings /
2)  Delete the following four files:
MCState
Site Settings.avs
Site Settings.xml
Site_Attributes
3)  Relaunch Avid!

I've noticed that in Avid 6.5 and 7.x the PRAM and Site Settings resets tend to fix 90% of the errors you get.  In earlier versions, well, see my previous posts.

I'll get back to my regularly scheduled ranting soon, I promise.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Exception: SYS_ERROR, OSErr: -5000

Dear ISIS:  I love you.  You're great.  None of the bullshit file count limits of Unity, I can fill your drives to 100% without issue, you have automatic redundancy built into your RAID storage, your control panel is .html based and runs in my browser, and you work over ethernet instead of requiring fiberoptic cable.  You're pretty fucking swell.

But there's this one thing you do sometimes that reminds me you're made by Avid.  See, it's like this:  When I create a user that has write access to a drive, and I log in as that user, I goddamn expect to be able to write to that fucking drive.

Instead, Avid gives me this:
What the fuck is that supposed to mean, Avid?  You're blaming the goddamn system OS for the fact that ISIS mounted my drive with incorrect permissions?  Why the christ would you do that?  Wait, wait - hang on while I get out my goddamn dictionary of What the Fuck OSErr: -5000 means.

Okay, yeah, this is a write error.  It means I can't write to the target drive.  Hey Avid, here's a tip:  When you can't write to the target drive, make an error window that says "Exception: I CAN'T WRITE TO THE TARGET DRIVE BECAUSE I'M A FUCKING TERRIBLE PROGRAM."  I could pay $1000 to a goddamn rabid squirrel and have an easier time figuring out why it's not doing what I want it to.  Seriously, get a goddamn clue, Avid.

Ahh, but the obtuse error message is the calling card of this piece of software.  To have Avid actually tell me something useful would be like buying Disney brand clothing made in the USA by people paid a living wage, or like riding a unicorn to work every day.  I really shouldn't be surprised that Avid doesn't tell me shit.

Back to the problem at hand, however:  This brief message just means you don't have write permissions to the drive that you're trying to write to.  Quit Avid, disconnect your drives, reconnect them, check them in the finder level to make sure you have write access, and relaunch Avid.  Easily solved once you know what on God's green Earth is going on.  And that term makes no sense:  Earth, the planet, is mostly blue, and earth, the substance, is fucking brown.  Stupid people who make up stupid idioms.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Avid Behaving Badly #11: AAF export files sometimes contain zero audio information for random clips

My work has upgraded to Avid 6.5.4.  While it's a vast improvement over 5.5 (you know, the one with the user experience akin to stabbing yourself repeatedly in the dick), it's got some seriously annoying bugs.  Mostly because they either don't throw error messages at all (like the one I'm talking about here), or because no matter what the error messages are, the solution is to reset the PRAM and delete the site settings and user folder within the project.  Fucking buggy ass application, man.

But I digress.  Avid has been doing some fucked up shit in this new version, and I'm here to tell you how to work around it.  Why me?  Because the entire fucking internet doesn't seem to know a goddamn about this AAF problem I've been having.  Fuck you, internet.  You don't know shit about Avid (well, okay, after I post this, you'll know a small amount of shit, I'll grant you that).

And now I'm digressing again!  Okay, on to business:

--

Randomly when creating AAF file exports (using the "embedded in AAF setting), Avid will change one or more clips to contain no data.  When we send the file to Mix, they report back that "the clip at timecode XX;XX;XX;XX on Track A2 has no audio but in the chase video, there should be some sound there."

Well, shit, Avid, there sure as fuck is sound there in the sequence that I exported!

No errors are reported during export.  Nothing is posted to the console.  The file size is even the exact same as if you export the same file again and don't get an error.

So how do you check for this?

You have to import your exported AAF back into Avid and then manually fucking check every clip to make sure there's sound there.  It goes faster if you turn on audio waveforms and just check clips that show as flatlines, but it's still a huge fucking waste of time.

To make matters worse, the bug is literally random.  Exporting the same sequence as an AAF twice will result in different clips losing audio data.  Sometimes it will result in no clips losing data, but fuck if I can tell you when that is without goddamn checking the entire thing again.

So remember, when you pay $1,000 for Avid, you're paying them to cost you $30-$100 in AE time every time you output an AAF.