The Setup

Interview

What do people use to get stuff done?

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Nate Bolt

Nate Bolt

Researcher, designer (Beep Show, Ethnio)

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Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Nate Bolt and I like to research and design things. I run Bolt | Peters, wrote Remote Research, and created Beep Show and Ethnio.

What hardware do you use?

My main machine is a 15" quad-core i7 MBP with two internal hard drives - one SSD and one HD via an OptiBay kit. I got the non-glossy screen to be able to work outside in the sun, which sort of almost works. I use a 27" LED Cinema display at the office and a Mac Mini at home with dual video outputs. One output goes to a small monitor on my coffee table with a 20ft DVI extension and the other goes to a 42" TV for watching movies and Game of Thrones. I have the darndest soft wood trackpad and keyboard tray and both generation iPads at home. I'm an addict. It's embarrassing.

I mostly shoot with a Canon 5D2, and almost always have my 1.9lb Slik Tripod and Time Lapse Controller with me. My newest device is a Tiffen Merlin Steadicam with articulating arm and vest. It's counter-balanced around a gyro and generally is astonishing to shoot with. I'm still learning the art of using it, but it's a crazy apparatus. It makes me feel like no matter what I'm doing, I'm shooting a rap video. It's a good feeling. I'm taking it to Texas and then Iceland in four weeks. We'll see what happens.

And what software?

Other than the basic soul-crushing apps like Mail, Gdocs, Adium, and Tweetdeck, I use After Effects CS5 for most of the my time lapse photography work. I almost always have Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3 open, and I use iMovie instead of Final Cut for video editing these days. I find doing the heavy lifting and compositing in After Effects and then just editing in iMovie to be more of a joy than dealing with Final Cut slowness. For web and still work, I design straight in Photoshop. There, I said it. I've been using it since I was 9 years old (thanks mom and dad!), and I just blaze in there. I think I have an entire app in one PSD that has about 1,000 layers. People mostly mock me for this.

The Rdio desktop app is also a mainstay these days. Chrome is my default browser. The impeccably German stitching software, AutoPano Pro, is the most magical app I use. Instagram is probably the app I use the most on my iPhone 4, other than the Skype app, because it's easier to find Wifi than AT&T service in San Francisco.

For local backups, I have a 4TB Drobo and a 2TB external HD. I use Mozy and Dropbox for off-site. I also keep an old hard drive in a safe, but that's hardware, innit?

What would be your dream setup?

The perfect pool-side laptop and never having to email again. Being somewhat obsessed with rooftop pools, I would rather compute outdoors, and I feel like a slave to email. I dream of a better way to do both of those things. That and instant rendering in After Effects.