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The Unicorn And The Elephant Or Migrating To MacOS


Why on earth make a simple video about a unicorn and an elephant? First of all, why not? What else would one do with a unicorn and an elephant that roam across one’s computer screen? One tells their story, n’est ce pas, and preferably in their own habitat.

Then, of course, as with every story, there is the back story.

You may (or not) recall that my video editing desktop computer died just before Christmas. Which was a bit of a bummer for someone who edits videos. To cut a long story short, I decided to replace my eight-year-old Windows machine with the brand new Mac Mini M1, the one with Apple’s new, proprietary chip. I know, never buy brand new technology as soon as it comes on the market. But given its price-performance ratio and a couple of other considerations, my finance director left me no choice. An equivalent Windows machine would have cost 3 to 4 times as much. And as I had already decided to switch editing to Davinci Resolve and Blackmagic had already made Davinci Resolve compatible with the new M1 chip, the decision matrix happily converged to a unique solution. It all looked straight forward: new computer, new programmes, learn it and go. Oh, yes, and make sure that all the external disks can talk to both computers. Simples.

Ha!

The new Mac Mini flew in straight from China but, alas, not to the UK. It flew into Cologne, instead, where it naturally got caught in the Covid and Brexit border snarl-up. A week later than expected it arrived and, straight out of the box, decided not to work with my old monitor. The carefully chosen new one turned out not yet to be compatible with the M1 chip, either. Return to sender, aka as Amazon, it was since I didn’t feel like waiting for the firmware update. And so it continued, especially for someone who had never used an Apple computer before. After a few years on CP/M, I had been on Microsoft OS for 35 years. I still am there on my laptop that I use for everything that is not video editing. Complications ensued. You get the picture.

Here is a simple case in point:
Generally, to allow both Windows and Apple computers to read and write to the same external disk, you are advised to use the exFAT format because Apple only reads NTFS disks but doesn’t write to them. Specifically, though, and just to be difficult, Davinci Resolve, adapted for the M1 chip, does not like to write to exFAT disks because it considers them not stable enough for the way the programme works. As a consequence, you’d risk losing your working files, which is not a happy place to be. This meant reformatting the external working drive with APFS, which makes it inaccessible to Windows machines. Before you say: Paragon… Yes, I know, but Paragon for AFPS is currently not yet compatible with the M1 chip. They are working on it. So are Parallels. We have heard that before, haven’t we? That’s why it is dodgy to go for new technology immediately after its launch. I’ll spare you the tale of what differences in keyboard shortcuts and layout and other routines do to muscle memory acquired over decades. Let me put it this way: it was a definite obstacle to creating a suitable workflow.

Eventually, though, everything started to work. On my journey through familiar programmes, I discovered new features that were available here but not on my Windows laptop. Such as a unicorn and an elephant. What better idea than practice the newly installed tools and tell their story.

And so it happened that after much screaming and swearing at the innocent, brand new monitor I got the hang of Davinci Resolve. Which is just as well since the unicorn and the elephant are now making their movie and guess who had offered to edit it for them?