What Filmmakers Should Know About Upgrading to Mac OS X Lion
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?
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!