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What Filmmakers Should Know About Upgrading to Mac OS X Lion

07.20.11 @ 11:43AM Tags : , , ,

Apple’s OS X Lion was released this morning, but just because it’s Apple’s latest and greatest OS does not mean filmmakers should upgrade (right away, at least). Here’s what filmmakers should know: Final Cut Pro 7 will work in OS X Lion, despite it being discontinued (though word is they’re making additional enterprise licenses available). Final Cut Pro X will work on Lion too, obviously. But what about other filmmaker-specific applications?

I haven’t been able to find an official release about Adobe’s CS5.5 Lion compatibility (much less previous versions), but here’s a comment:

We’ll have more information on Lion compatibility as it comes to market. You should be fine upgrading to CS5.5: if there are issues, generally we issue free patches to our current software. We have a good history of working with Apple and Microsoft to ensure customers can upgrade to the latest version of Mac or Windows — and that the latest versions of our software are compatible.

UPDATE: Thanks to Eben below, here’s a list of known issues with Lion for Adobe products.

The situation for screenwriters is also a bit murky. I received an email about my copy of Final Draft and OS X Lion, but, as John August points out, the newsletter was cryptically worded. It turns out that only Final Draft version 8.0.2 and later will work in Lion — not 8.01, 7, 6, or anything earlier. So make sure you head on over and download version 8.0.2 before upgrading. If you use Magic Screenwriter, you’d also better have the latest version: “All versions of Movie Magic Screenwriter prior to version 6 are not compatible with Mac OS 10.7 (Lion).” No word on Celtx, but if it doesn’t support Lion at launch, it should soon thereafter.

For the rest of your applications, try RoaringApps, an OS X Lion compatibility database/wiki. It’s a very handy site; in fact, if you look at the page for Final Draft, some enterprising users had already gotten an old version working with some permission changes.

Regardless of which apps you use, when the time does come to upgrade to OS X Lion, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, it’s a 4GB download, so make sure you’ve got the space. One app I use is the free OmniDiskSweeper, which arranges your folders by size, so you can focus on getting rid of the largest offenders instead of deleting hundreds of inconsequential files. What disk management apps do you find handy?

Second, make sure you’re not still using any legacy Rosetta apps, because Lion nixes them entirely. To make sure you’re not running any Rosetta apps now, MacWorld’s got the how-to:

Hold down the Option key, click on the Apple menu, and select System Profiler. In the window that appears, select the Applications entry, which appears under the Software heading. Click on the Kind column to sort your applications by kind (meaning Classic, Intel, PowerPC, and Universal). Seek out any that read Classic or PowerPC. These are the applications that will be incompatible with Lion.

In my case, the only PowerPC apps were, strangely enough, some Adobe Illustrator CS5 scripts.

Finally, back up your Mac using either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper (both of which I mention in the How to Build a Hackintosh guide). The difference between these programs and Apple’s own Time Machine is you can make a bootable backup copy of your current drive as-is, so if something goes wrong you can swap in the cloned drive without enduring a long “restore” process.

You can also start from scratch if you want to get started with a clean installation of Lion. It seems like more trouble than its worth to me — after all, one of the reasons many of us are on a Mac is to (theoretically, at least) not deal with OS issues — but if you’re a perfectionist, you can certainly try that approach.

Bottom line: with questionable pro application support, if your computer is working fine as-in and you’re a content creator, don’t jump to upgrade right away. Of course, part of the benefit to writing a post like this — where, as always, I certainly don’t have all the answers — is anyone can add a comment with updates and knowledge on the Lion situation. If you’ve upgraded to Lion and are (or are not) having problems, please share in the comments!


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 26 COMMENTS

  • Thanks for the post. I use Grand Perspective to help me keep my hard drive in order. I’m using a hackintosh with a 60GB ssd, so my space is pretty limited (on my main drive).

    I used your hackintosh page as a guide, any word on what upgrading looks like?

  • Thanks for the info. WhatSize is my handy, free HD management app of choice.

  • A more elegant solution to see how much space files/directories are consuming. Open up your terminal and type the following:

    du -sh *

    If you just want items that are GB in size, type:
    du -sh * | grep G

    If you just want items that are MB in size, type:
    du -sh * | grep M

    Lastly,You can get more information on the du command by typing the following:

    man du

    a little UNIX command line knowledge goes along ways.

  • NOTE: You will have to use the cd command to get to the directory / file you want to see the size of. So for example, if you have /Pictures/vacation folder along with many other folders in /Pictures, you would cd /Pictures and then du -sh vacation to get the size of the vacation folder. If you wanted the size of the entire Pictures folder, you will need to be at root level and then issue du -sh * Pictures

    The best way, like anything, is to try it and see what works best for you.


  • I use DaisyDisk ( for seeing where my biggest files are.

    I’m running Lion on my personal laptop and really like it, although I haven’t done any “work” on it yet. Just web browsing, email and playing around with random apps to see how they’ve changed. Not planning on upgrading my work computer for a while, although it’s still running 10.5 anyways, just because it’s working as is and I never saw a need to switch things up too much.

  • One thing I will post that I thought was weird. While I haven’t done any work in FCP7 yet, I did open it up just to make sure it still launched and it asked me to re-submit registration info to Apple. Didn’t ask for a serial number, just a name and address.

  • Disk Inventory X is similar to OmniSweeper.

  • Aleksei Golovy on 07.23.11 @ 12:41AM

    ” No word on Celtx, but if it doesn’t support Lion at launch, it should soon thereafter.”
    Celtx works fine on Lion OSX since I’ve checked most common things on that soft.

  • Celtx is functioning just fine on Lion!

  • is magic bullet looks working on final cut pro 7 in lion?? can someone please tell me before i upgrade

    • No Magic Bullet Looks is not working on Final Cut Pro 7 in Lion. MBL which I use for grading my wedding videos is now unusable so will have to get rid of Lion.

      • Works fine for me. As does Colorista. It is a little buggy in the sense that it takes longer to load than it did on SL, but I am rendering a project I just graded as I type…

        • patterntangle on 07.25.11 @ 10:28AM

          I thought that and now I discover changes I make to a grade appear to work – for instance adding an exposure filter but when I go back to it – the filter is gone – it seems to be there because my timeline is still rendered but if I diable the shot on the timeline and bring it back thus needing to re-render – my filter I added is gone – looks effect is still there with original filters I used.
          basically unusable.

          • Same thing with me. Just to get Magic Bullets to work, i have to click around the timeline and then MB pops up. Can’t copy paste attributes (even though the render bar shows it’s there), and if you adjust any filters after rendering, it’s a no go.

          • That kind of stuff happened to me pretty often on MBL 1 with Snow Leopard on FCP7 and CS5.5. MBL was just buggy and had problems refreshing the image.

            I upgraded to MBL 2.0 earlier and the best part is definitely the decrease in these kinds of snags.

        • Wait. is magic bullet looks working ok in final cut pro for you ???

          • “ok” is a stretch. Looks “works”, but as I stated before, it’s buggy. I haven’t experienced any problems that I would declare a “no go” or “unusable”. To me Final Cut Pro 7 seems generally slower under Lion. What was a 2 min render in SL is now taking 7 min in Lion. I haven’t ventured outside of my Magic Bullet filters, but as stated above, those are a little buggy and über slow to load. I’m on a maxed-out i7 2010 MBP, so what I’m experiencing may be different for someone on an older/newer machine.

          • I am on an iMac running FCP version 7.0.3 and Magic Bullets Looks v 1.4.3

            Here is what I have noticed with Magic Bullets:
            When I put a looks filter on a clip, then double click the clip and go into the filter tab in the viewer window, and I click the Magic Bullet Looks filter’s edit button, nothing happens, but then if I directly back to the timeline and click on the part of the timeline that shows the increments, then it will actually go into the MBLooks editor.

            Secondly, I have discovered that if I apply a looks filter to one clip, and then edit that filter and then try to copy paste it, or even paste attributes>filters to another clip- it will apply the filter, but the filter doesn’t have any of the edits on it- its like just copy pasting a blank filter!!! So, what I have been doing is if I know am going to apply the same filter settings to multiple clips, then when I am in the MB Looks editor, i save the clip as a custom setting. And then I have to manually apply that custom setting to each clip. It is a work flow issue, but workable until this issue can be resolved.

            anyone else with this problem?

    • I’ve got the same exact Magic Bullet (1.3.4) problem as PatternTangle. Magic Bullet looks apply to the timeline and show fine in the canvas (both before and after rendering), but if sending to compressor or exporting to quicktime components any trace of MB disappears. Is there a fix for this because I have a client dying to use MB but I am presently unable to do so without a system restore of Snow Leopard [something I'm not really willing to do].

  • I like Disk Inventory X as well.

    It also shows a visual make up of the contents of your hard drive. It’s surprising sometimes when you see a big block, click on it, and say “Wow I still had that on my hard drive? Delete!”

  • hi! same problem with magic bullet looks on FCP7. i can’t copy paste attributes. is there any solution on this issue?

  • I’ve upgraded to Lion and used PR for wedding editing and did not have any problems.