Software and Tools for the Multimedia Journalist

I can answer but my biases proceed me since a) I’m on a Mac and b) we have partners who help us out. If I mention them I’ll acknowledge them below.

  • In General
    Adobe CS Something. We’re currently working with CS5, but CS6 is described as great. Mind you, this is a suite of tools that ranges from design and photography stalwart Photoshop to the video production capabilities of Premiere. In other words, Adobe is creating an all encompassing product line for our multimedia needs.
  • Video 
    Final Cut Pro. We’re on FCP X but have been frustrated by features we’ve lost since Final Cut 7 (long story). Fortunately, FCP X is adding these features with each new release.

    Something to look into: Adobe’s Premiere. When Apple reinvented Final Cut with its X series, many video producers were underwhelmed and fled to Adobe and have great things to say about it. If you get Adobe’s CS 5/6 you’ll have Premiere and can take it through its paces.

  • Audio 
    This comes in two flavors: when we create jingles, soundtracks and general audio design we use Propellerhead’s Reason and Ableton Live. We then mix these with Apple’s Logic Pro.

    Pro Tools
    is an obvious standard that’s used throughout the radio world but we’ve gone with Logic Pro because it fits easily within our overall workflow.
  • Screenshots and Screencasts:
    We go with two flavors here. For screenshots, Ambrosia Software’s SnapZPro. This let’s us take screenshots with dropshadows and other effects. It also lets us do basic screencasts.

    But if we’re doing longform, voiceover screencasts we opt for Telestream’s Screenflow which has a built in video editor and is specifically created for doing screencast tutorials. For example, it has callouts for where your cursor is, can zoom in, zoom out on screen details, etc. (Disclosure: Telestream is a FJP partner.)

  • Text Editors 
    These are underestimated until you actually code. We use Panic’s Coda but the more popular choice (for the Mac) is Macromates’ Textmate.
  • File Transfer
    Coda handles general file updates to our servers but we also use Panic’s Transmit for uploading/working within both our CDNs, Amazon and Highwinds (Disclosure: Highwinds is an FJP partner).

How to learn them all?
Start with each publisher’s site and then with general online searches. These will usually lead you back to communities on YouTube that provide tutorials.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for take out a subscription at Lynda’s a learning community that provides screencast tutorials on both multimedia production and code development.

Better, the monthly subscription is inexpensive and your can cancel as soon as you’ve finished what you want to learn. For example, sign up for a month, learn a piece of software and then cancel until you need to learn something new again.

Anyway, that’s the biggie picture. Hope it helps. — Michael


From Future Journalism Project Producers and Editors.