I never shared what apps I am using to put your designs together. Obviously there are more apps involved then just the obvious candidates like Photoshop, Motion, Final Cut. Many other small neat and nifty apps help to make things come together.

Let’s start with the apps we use to make things beautiful.

  • Sip: I’d like to mention Sip first, because this app is so useful. Some graphic tools, like Sketch, come with their own color board and don’t integrate very well with the OS X Color Palette. This is sad because the Color Palette on OS X is really good. There is a section called Color Palettes on it where a user can store color grouped by a name. One client, one palette. Makes sense doesn’t it? Sip goes farther. It also sports a universally reachable color pipette. The picked up color can be saved in many various formats such as NSColor. It has a history, allows to display a globally available Color Palette, and much more. Get it. This app is indispensible.
  • Color Palettes: Speaking of Color Palettes. Get some more third-party OS X Color Palettes such as the Developer Picker by Panic or the Skala Color by Bjango.
  • Super Vectorizer: Any vectorizer is welcome in a designer’s toolbox. I happen to use Super Vectorizer.
  • ImageOptim: ImageOptim is a graphical frontend for things like PNGOUT, JpegOptim, and several other command line tools that squeeze the last bit of information out of a graphic image so that there’s last data to be transferred once a website is online. ImageOptim can even process folders of images. This is not particularly useful during a design process, because you want to retain as much information as possible during this phase. But for delivery you want to optimize the files as much as possible, and I found that ImageOptim gives me the best squeeze with minimum time investment on my side.
  • FFmpeg: I know what you’re thinking. I can feel my neckbeard growing already too, but FFmpeg is just indispensible. It is hands-down one of the most useful tools for a video editor and motion designer. Sometimes you get a video in a format that you just can’t use directly in your environment. FFmpeg can convert it to a format usable in every environment. The command line has three very useful options. There’s -codec, -acodec, -vcodec. All three allow for the option to be copy. copy (e.g. ffmpeg -i movie.mkv -codec copy movie.mp4) copies streams to the output format without converting them. This is so useful to move videos. Sometimes the video or audio codec is not available in the resulting format, then I can fallback to copy only the audio or video codec over. By specifying a .mp4 as output filename, FFmpeg knows that it’s supposed to convert to MPEG4. Lastly the -qscale 0[^qscale] option converts a video by not scaling the video format, i.e. FFmpeg looks at the original format and options and tries to figure out the right codec settings for the output format. This results in an encode that resembles the input file closely. ffmpeg -i movie.mkv -qscale 0 movie.mp4.
  • Cloud: I use Cloud to quickly share files that I’m working on. Small pieces of video, short animations, graphics, etc. Something that I have in front of me and where I can’t make up my mind. Does the client want their colors everywhere or can I use some sort of complement in this particular case?
  • ColorSchemer Studio: ColorSchemer is rather old, but this app is really nice. It helps to find a nice color palette.
  • Font Book: This app ships with OS X. There are a couple of other font apps, but Font Book is the only one that integrates with OS X well. Fonts is a neat-looking runnter-up, but Fonts doesn’t allow to deactivate/active/manage fonts. Font Book does. Beware though, the app slows way when given a large amount of fonts (1000+).
  • Invisor/MediaInfo: MediaInfo is a command line utility and GUI app to identify video and audio streams in a file. Very useful to reverse engineer file encodings and also to identify why certain video files won’t play.
  • MPEG Streamclip: This app has seen better days and may have been surpassed by competitors like FFmpeg on the command line for me, but I wouldn’t want to miss MPEG Streamclip in my tool belt. This app does reencode videos, as well as export to various formats including audio-only, QuickTime-based formats as well as MPEG4 and others.
  • VLC: The most versatile video player one can have. VLC does reencodings, it has an extensive display of video stream encodings, much like MediaInfo, and it also plays almost everything you throw at it. Need I say more?
  • xScope: This app is so useful for stealing reverse engineering other designs. Not only that, it also allows to build things from scratch, measure distances, and much much more. xScope should be on your hard drive in this business.

These are some of the nice not-everyday-apps that are on my computer that help me do my stuff. Some of them make me very happy because I remember having “that one thing that does that thing” when I don’t know what to do in a production.

photo credit: Justin Dolske via photopin cc