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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…

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Archive for September, 2006

It ain’t easy…let me tell you what…

I currently have 18 shots in the show that I need to composite. They were shot against a green screen, and are to be added to several castle shots that were shot in Mexico…Bishops Castle to be exact. For the rough cut I just used the Chroma Keyer in FCP, but after futzing with it for a bit I knew that I wouldn’t rely on it for the main comp. Here is the raw image:

As you can see, there is a bit of motion blur. This is due to the fact that the footage was shot 24P with the Varicam…23.98 footage. The motion blur looks very filmic, so it is what we were looking for. But the FCP keyer didn’t key thru that/ Here is a still from that attempt:

Close…but not quite. So I was looking thru the Creative Cow Tutorials seeing if I could find something when the perfect solution seemed to present itself: KEYLIGHT in After Effects. So I imported the clips and added keylight, eyedroppered the green and BOOM..this happens:

WOW! Perfect. That is exactly what I wanted. Sweet…and that is the basic setting. I haven’t even started to choke the edges or anything. So, I did this and was happy. I moved to the next clip…and…something odd happened. Or rather, I noticed it for the first time. When I brought the clip into After Effects it seemed to brighten…the luminance increased. So I called a buddy of mine who is a Motion Graphics artist and asked him what was up. He said that he found that Keylight really wasn’t good for DVCPRO HD footage. It added noise to the blacks…something that I didn’t notice because the first clip I did this with was pretty light. But the second clip…well…look:

There are a lot of dark areas. So now I use Keylight and I got this:

Look close. Look in their hats and on the blue jacket on the man on the right…the one facing away from camera…light blue jacket. There is a lot of noise. Take a look again at the first pictures. Notice that the Keylight image is lighter as well. I turn off Keylight and it goes away. Nuts. Now what? My buddy says that for DVCPRO HD he uses a plugin called DVMatte Pro by DV Garage for After Effects. But it is available for FCP as well, so I download the demo and play with it. It keyed VERY well…I will have to say. BUT…but but but. Dang it there had to be a “but.” It doesn’t see thru the motion blur like Keylight does. It chops it off.

Look at that compared to the original shot:

Look specifically at the gun of the soldier on the left. Comparing them you can see that DV Matte Pro doesn’t see thru the blur, but chops it off. I went thru their tutorial and futzed with settings and still couldn’t get it to go away. PLUS…plus…I have the added feature that there are TWO SHADES of green screen.

The nice normal green you see in the upper part of the picture, and this dark green screen in the lower part of the picture. Keylight, the wonderful tool that it is, can key both colors. DV Matte Pro does not. Well, I couldn’t get it to. If anyone knows how to do this, let me know.

Another friend of mine, a commercial editor who inspired me to make my popsicle stick RAID, happens to know Shake very well, and says that Keylight with it works very well. And since Shake is really cheap right now ($499) I ordered it. Heck, if it is good enough for KING KONG and LORD OF THE RINGS and STAR WARS…it should work for me.

Testing it tomorrow.

Anders Holck, the man who saved many of our editing lives by coming out with FCP Rescue has done it again…this time for the users of the HVX-200 camera and the P2 cards. He has written an application that will automate the process of copying the footage off of the cards and onto an external hard drive. This handy application is called the P2 Genie.

It will create a new folder (with the naming parameters you set) and then copy the entire CONTENTS folder and LASTCLIP.txt file to that folder, ensuring that absolutely everything is copied over.

Now you can have it set up so that you can manually start the downloading process, or set it up so that you stick in a card and it does the whole process on it’s own. Download and erase without pressing a button. I myself would opt for the manual pressing of a couple buttons so that you can verify that the footage is indeed there, but after 5 cards transferred successfully without a hitch, I could find myself trusting the automation.

AND…if you are extra cautious…it will dowload to TWO drives separately. This way you have a master and backup.

Unlike FCP Rescue, this application costs a little bit of money. $33 (25.00 Euros). Well deserved…and well worth it.

www.andersholck.com/p2genie

Internal 2TB SATA RAID, Grand Total – $1356.32

I finally set up my internal SATA RAID. It is a design dreamed up by Patrick Sheffield from the Apple FCP Forums. He built one for himself using 250GB drives, RAIDING them into two smaller RAIDS. He used popsicle sticks because…well…they were handy. There is a fridge full of popsicles at Pistolera Post and he (and I) eat them quite often. And they work quite well. Far cheaper than the G5 Jive by Sonnet. By about $96. I had to buy a box of fudgesicles for parts.

OK…so to begin with my G5 looked like this:

I added the Sonnet 4+4 card:

A bunch of power and SATA cables from OWC for $35:

(Some came with the Sonnet). I got four Hitachi Deskstar 500GB drives for under $300 each:

Used these cute guys (and rubber bands):

to attach three of the drives together like this:

I unplugged the power from the optical drive inside my G5 and used 3 Y-splitters to split it out to all the new drives, attached the SATA cables to the SATA card and woven them about in the machine (with the aid of Patrick Sheffield) to get this:

I used the Disk Utility to raid the drives together…RAID-0. I ran the AJA System Test and got initial Write of 244MB/s and a Read of 248MB/s. I cut a timeline with 2 min of uncompressed 10-bit HD bars and tone, exported as a self contained QT file, reimported and made a 16 min sequence and played back. Not one dropped frame. I copied a portion of my current project and pasted it into a 10-bit uncompressed HD timeline, resized and rendered and played it back. Not one dropped frame.<

BUT…I did notice something I hadn’t seen in a while. When I pressed play, the footage got a little brighter and the quality lessened. You’d see this if your machine isn’t powerful enough to play back footage in realtime. Hmmmm. I need that external monitor. I can’t get Digital Cinema Preview to work without dropping frames (well, it did it once).

Still working on getting the ecinema display to work. It won’t give me more than SD resolution on my system. It was tested (the Decklink HD and the ecinema box) on another G5 with a real ecinema LCD and it worked fine. I have an Apple 23″ HD display for the monitor, and it isn’t working. Thinking it might be the monitor. It works fine to monitor footage coming off a Varicam, but might have an issue playing back from a G5 and that HD card. I might get another card to test this with. We’ll see.

ANYWAY…I am happy with my Internal popsicle stick SATA RAID. More information as it fills up.

We are settling on getting a SATA Raid for this first show. As much as we’d love to get the Huge Systems (Ciprico Systems) Media Vault 4205 4GB Fibrechannel RAID…it is just too expensive for us at this time. I spent all my budget on building my system from scratch. The next show I will invest in the drive array and possibly a new computer, if the Intel comes out by then.

The SATA Raid I wanted won’t be available until mid-June…the Sonnet 500P. This is due to the amount of back orders they need to fill first. I was about to look at the Weibetech when I saw the G5 Jam…internal drive array on the G5. But three drives…four if you use the built in secondary slot. But I can’t, as that is occupied by a media drive with footage and renders for my current project. That reminded me of my buddy Pat Sheffield. He built an internal SATA RAID with 4 drives…six internal drives total…but only the 4 he added were striped. He calls this his “Popsicle Raid.”

Why? Well, because instead of the G5 jam metal cage spacer…he used popsicle sticks and rubber bands. Very low tech, but it works. At first he tried to have all four on the lower level by the RAM and in front of the FAN, but that didn’t allow for enough airflow. So he put one on the shelf below the Optical drive. It really is a good setup.

So I ordered four 500Gb Hitachi SATA drives ($265 each, $1071 total), the Sonnet 4×4 eSata card ($199) and a handful of power and SATA cables ($34)..for a SATA RAID for under $1300. When this all arrives and I assemble it, I will take pics. And I will run speed tests.

I am doing this because while I might not be doing the color correction this time around, we still need to uprez the show and play it back to ensure that it looks good and plays back fine. Then we will transfer the render or Final Cut Pro Movie output to a couple G-Raids to take to the post facility for color correction.

I am really hoping that I get no dropped frames. We’ll see. I’ll post results.

OK…a really sweet HD monitoring solution has come knocking. The DP that I work with normally monitors his Varicam shoots with an Apple 23″ Cinema Display connected to an ecinema EDP-100. This gives him a pixel-for-pixel image of what the camera is shooting. And from what I hear, it is a darn good image, and WELL suited for color correction. But, the thing is, I cannot use them with my Dell…it must be used with the Apple 23″ HD display. So, that means that either I also buy his display for another $1000 (he is offering the ecinema box for $3500), or I swap one of my Dells for the Apple.

Hmmm…this would mean that my monitor setup is no longer symmetrical…BUT, I get a kick ass HD monitor for $3500. My other solution was the PVM-14L5 by Sony, but that is an SD monitor that can monitor HD with an appropriate HD SDI card. Yes, I know if you get the Kona LH you can just go right into the monitor, but the HD SDI gets you a better signal.

Right now I am leaning towards losing my symmetry and going with the kick ass HD monitor setup.

AND…G-Technology just came out with THEIR 4Gb fibrechannel solution, the G-Speed. I am a big fan of G-Technology and specifically the G-Raid. So when this comes out, I will be looking hard at it. I hope that it comes as an empty case…as I already have 4 drives (well, they are on the way).

Sorry that it has been a while. NAB had me slammed (working AND visiting the floor…meeting people I only knew online) and when I cam back I was working THREE projects: My History Channel show, a corporate video AND several videos for Sony’s P3 Playstation unveiling at E3. The History Channel show had been put on hold for 3 weeks awaiting notes, so I took these other project…and the start dates kept getting pushed. Soon not only did notes come in, but I had two projects that needed to be done NOW!. So I have been a bit busy. But things are back to normal now and I am only working on the History Channel show.

The new HD specs are HDCAM 1080p24 at 23.98 (or D5 with the same specs). They used to be 720p60 D5 at 59.94. But we are cool with the new specs…they are better. We have been discussing the various ways to go about onlining the show. Option one is to go to a Post Facility that is FCP from the ground up. High Def coming out their ears. Me uprezzing the show to 1080p24 and getting it to them to color correct with Final Touch then output to HDCAM. Option two is again, me uprezzing to 10-bit uncompressed 1080p24 and getting it to a different post facility (that also has FCP bays), output that to tape and then color correct on a DaVinci. My producer has done business with the DaVinci place for years, and the colorist is fast and good, so there is a comfort factor there.

The third option has been kicked around for a while but put on the back burner…me finishing the whole show, uprez, color correct and output. The reason that was on the back burner (at least for this show) was that all the equipment needed would cost as much as these post facilities doing the job…and you’d still need to pay me. I’d need a capture card, a high speed drive array and an HD color correction monitor. But I have now been added to the mix because when I color corrected and treated the show tease to show the post facility guys the look we were aiming for, my producer (and the colorist) both went “whoa…that’s good!” Now I find myself a serious contender for the final finish.

Now the capture card is set…I know I want a Kona 2 or LH. The monitor I want is set…the Sony PVM 14L5 with added HD SDI card. It has 800 scanlines and it 16:9 switchable. Saw it next to (above really) the Sony HD CRT at NAB and the image on both looked IDENTICAL. That is my monitor. But what about the drive array? What kind of high speed RAID will I need to work with and output Uncompressed 10-bit 1080p24 HD? This RAID was also on our radar as we wanted to have the ability to uprez and playback the show before we handed it off to either post facility we were considering for finishing the show. Both places charged for transfer time from our drives to theirs, and it worked out to be about $600 at each place….JUST to copy it to their drives. Both places use Fibrechannel drives, so we are considering Fibrechannel so that we can just plug in the drive and they can output from that. Take the $600 and put it towards the drives. But that is a penny in the bucket considering that those drives go for $8000 for between 1TB and 2TB, depending on the brand.

We have seen refirb XServes at 2TB and 3.5TB going for $4000 to $6000…which is a good deal. But they are refirbs, and I heard from several people that XServes have a 24% failure rate…thus the huge amount of refirbs on the market. We are also looking at Ciprico Media Vault 4210s, but again, $8000 for 2TB. If we had a series of shows then it would be a no brainer…the drives would pay for themselves with a few jobs. But we do 1 show a year…maybe two if they are rushed. Which has us thinking…do we really need a fibrechannel RAID for what we are doing? Can we do what we need to do with a good solid SATA Raid? DO we need the 350+MB/s that the fibrechannel offers, or can we do it with the 190-150MB/s that the SATA Raids offer. I am getting conflicting information.

It comes down to this. If I were to finish this show, and future shows with the given specs…can this be handled with a SATA RAID (Silver SATA V by Weibetech, 500P by Sonnet)? Or do I need a fibrechannel RAID like the T-16 by areasys.com, get a refirb XServe RAID (do you know they weigh 100lbs? I didn’t know that) or…what? GAH!

I am also being leaned more towards because of delivery specs of the placement of Lower Thirds differ in the HD area (16:9) than they do in the SD version (4:3 or 16:9 letterboxed)…so that would mean multiple color correction passes on the DaVinci, or to go with the FCP Post house which is charging quite a bit.

ANYWAY…all that going on in my head as I also work on creating the show title graphic with Motion or AE. And take my kids to baseball practice. And pack for a move to a bigger house with more bedrooms (currently all three of my girls share a room…like the Brady Bunch…only MORE TOYS!).

Whew.

Any input would be appreciated.

When I went to NAB and worked the Panasonic booth, I noticed something that got me excited.

A P2 viewer for the Macintosh.

Now let me start off by telling you that the software that comes bundled with the camera includes a P2 Viewer…for a PC…running Windows. Now this was all fine and dandy when we had our PC laptop on the set, but what about when we had the Powerbook? What about all those other people who only have a powerbook for their location shoots? Now they have a solution.

This is a pre-existing program called HD LOG, written by Imagine Products, that they had dubbed the P2 Viewer for Macintosh. This application is not just a viewer. Oh my no. It is a full media logging application. This is why they decided to change the name of the product to better reflect that. It is called the P2 MEDIA MANAGER. It can not only view the raw MXF files, but convert them to Quicktime files that FCP can then start editing with.

OK…enough with the tease. I will be receiving a copy soon to test and review and I will reveal more in depth detail at that time.

www.imagineproducts.com/

I worked the first two days there at the Panasonic booth. My voice is STILL recovering. Man, I talked non-stop. So many people wanting to know the workflow from shooting with the HVX-200 and the P2 cards and how to ingest it into FCP for editing. On the plus side, my days went fast.

Then I enjoyed the show on Wed and Thursday. I met SO MANY people from the various forums I frequent (Apple FCP, Creative Cow, LAFCPUG) and I met Mike Curtis from HDFORINDIES at the LAFCPUG Supermeet. Tall man. I even ran into a few people I know from here…poker buddies. One worked the Final Touch pod at the Apple Booth, and the other worked the SGI (Silicon Graphics) booth. Met the people we are working with at Curious World Maps whose software we are using for our maps in the show (normally used only for news broadcasts), and the fine rep at G-Technology, the guys who make the fabulous G-Raids.

Here is a short synopsis of my tour:

The RED HD camera by Oakley. I was impressed with what RED could be. And knowing that having a great camera means nothing if it doesn’t work in post (as we have seen with the HDV line early on)…so I asked who they were working with for the post solution. Graeme said he couldn’t go into details, but that they were working with the three A’s…Apple, Avid and Adobe. That’s reassuring. Nice form factor…upgradability (swap out sensor and leave the rest of the camera alone)…and great price. $17,500 for the camera. $7500 for the optional lens, making it cost less than a Varicam. And it accepts any and all Prime lenses you’d use on a film shoot.

The Kona 3 impressed the heck out of me…2K to a 30″ Apple monitor. Realtime up and down convert…2K support. Knowing that there are capabilities built into it that they are STILL developing software to unlock and work with…future proofing the product…was nice. AND…seeing the Sony PVM-14L5 on top of a $35,000 Sony HD monitor displaying the same image…and it looking EXACTLY THE SAME tells me that that 14L5 is a fine monitor for color correcting. No need for the $11,000+ HD Monitor solutions out there. $1600 for that, and another $3000 for the HD SDI card makes it under $5000. THAT impressed me.

$5k for the Avid software that is comparable to FCP (no capture cards)…WITHOUT a machine…lets me know that FCP still leads that race. And $22K for the Adrenaline…again, just for the box and software, no computer, no drives…makes me shake my head. Better color correction built in, but that is remedied with plugins and add ons that still make it cheaper that the Avid.

Adobe production suite interoperability was sweet…on par with Apples. But wha impressed me is Audition (the audio editing app) and it’s ability to edit audio in a color spectral graph, and use photoshop tools to remove a squeak yet leave all the rest of the audio untouched. THAT blew me away.

And another Apple thing…the simultaneous recording of four uncompressed SD streams to XServe Raids, that you import into FCP and start editing while they are still recording!! You can begin editing and scrubbing thru…if you hit the colored garbage, you hit the spot that is still recording. Wait a second or two, then press play and you are off again. Peter Wiggins used this for the Tour de France for the BBC. Tom Meegan too. Wow!

Blu-Ray data DVDs. THey come in cartridges so you cannot touch the surface of the DVD. That is huge. Great archiving solution for Panasonic P2 (the booth I worked in) and since you cannot touch the disk, the safety of the data is greatly increased. Iomega had Rev Pro, but that held 35MB and cost $60 a disk. Bit on the high side.

G-Technology (makers of the G-Raid) have a fibrechannel RAID now. 3TB for $6000. Liked that.

A fibrechannel RAID made by a small company that gets you 4 TB for $6,500. Works on MAC and PC because the interface is WEB BASED. Use a browser to access the controls. 5 Year warranty, and a 30-day trial period. Sweet.

A $2000 camera jib for cameras up to 10 lbs. $2000!!! Smooth and easy enough for a non-camera guy like me to use.

Finding out…what it takes to get the shows I edit out to the other household. Man…you tend to forget what all is involved.

What won best in show? I didn’t stay to find out.

I am off to Vegas on Sunday (almost misspelled it Sinday…appropriate I think) to the National Alliance of Broadcasters convention. This is my first time going. It started out as me just going to see what is there and meet people I have chatted with online over the years, but it has turned into a job working the Panasonic Booth and demonstrating the P2/FCP workflow. I work Monday and Tuesday from 9a-6p, and have a conference to go to on Monday night, Tuesday night and Wed Night. Wed day and Thurs day are my days to enjoy the floor, research what is out there…and get lost in the technological critical mass of information overload.

If my hotel has wireless (or I find a hotspot or two) I will report findings that interest me and the projects I am working on. I plan on going to the Color Finesse booth, as they just released a new stand-alone color correction app that takes an XML from FCP and opens all the clips independantly for color correction, then exports them back. I plan on seeing what RED is all about (and meet Graeme Nattress and Mike Curtis), Going to the AJA Booth and see Jon Thorne, the Artbeats booth for Jerry Hofmann, the Apple Booth for my buddy TJ Ryan (a colorist and HD guru), the Automatic Duck booth to meet Wes Plate and much much more.

I have a feeling that by the time this is all over, I will have a big hangover, lots of embarassing pictures and my head would have exploded with information overload.

Hope to see people there. Again, I will be working the Panasonic booth.

www.andersholck.com/p2genie

The man who invented the single most helpful Final Cut Pro tool (FCP Rescue) is at it again.

Born from frustration on importing footage from multiple P2 cards, and all the organization and preparation you need to do in advance, or on the set (where mistakes can happen), he has written a handy application (still in beta testing) called the P2 Genie. It, like FCP Rescue, is simply a script…but it is a mighty helpful one (I love simplicity).

What this does for you is automatically creates a folder, names it (you can preset the name (but keep them short, like 1 and 2 or A3, B4…etc), set your destination (like attached firewire or USB drive) and downloads the entire contents of the card to that folder (CONTENTS and LASTCLIP.TXT) with the press of a button. Open the application…insert card…set the naming scheme, press START BACKUP…done. I’ve tested it a couple times and man, this is a timesaver.

Way to go Anders!

Now he has suggested that he offer it for a price of $25…and many people have cried foul. Why? He spent good time working on this and it is a great tool. He should be compensated for his time, and $25 is a very small price to pay. I mean, hey, the man offered FCP Rescue for free. I would gladly have paid $5 or $10 for this app, but he offered it for free.

I had this week off as we await notes from the network. I burned a DVD last week and sent it off to New York.

Up til this point I had kept the show separated by Acts…each act was a separate sequence. For the output I needed to combine them into what is called a “stringout” or “show build.” I copied and pasted each act into a new sequence, and separated them with 5 second titles denoting the act number. We are a few minutes over our target time, but that is a good thing. You can always trim…it is more difficult to add time.

One thing I noticed with the long sequence (1:36:36:00) is that when I made a small change, like nudging a clip or replacing another, I’d get the “preparing video for display” message. This I took to mean that I was low on memory…I only have 2.5GB RAM in my G5. So I ordered another 1G and now it doesn’t do that.

OK…so now I have this long sequence that I need to put onto a DVD with a timecode windowburn. So I highlight everything by hitting CMD-A and selecting NEST. I chose MIX DOWN AUDIO as well. If you don’t, some of your audio won’t export for some reason. After it was nested I added the TIMECODE READER filter and rendered, then exported for DVD thru Compressor using the 120min preset.

Well, OK…I didn’t render the first time. BIG mistake. The export then needed to render as it exported, thus taking an inordinate long amount of time…19 hours to be exact. Only to find that there were a few things that we needed to fix before we sent it, so I did it again. This time rendering the timeline (13 minutes) then exporting to DVD…this time it took 13 hours. A little better. Now I am wishing I bought the Quad G5.

I then used DVD SP to author the DVD (my first time using it) and was able to make it so that the Execs could just press play, or they could select an Act they wanted to start on and go there. I thought that might impress…them being so used to VHS screener copies. OH, and the quality of the image…GORGEOUS! An offline cut at full resolution. That is a treat…something that I and my producer aren’t used to. Hoping to impress THC too.

We also spent a day at another post facility exploring their options for online. 1080p24 using a Kona 3 and Final Touch. We’ll see. They are test color correcting and onlining footage for us as I type this. And 1080p24 (output to HDCAM SR) is the optimal choice as it can then be converted to any other HD format an maintain excellent quality.

That’s it for now. Next week I will be tackling network notes and prepping for my trip to NAB…where I will be working at the Panasonic booth on Monday and Tuesday demoing the P2/FCP workflow. If you are coming, look for the man with curley brown and grey hair. Ask for Shane. Not Sean, or I will be forced to ignore you.

So I am finally done with my rough cut of the show. It took 5 weeks but I finally did it. A week longer than normal, but I had a lot of recreation clips. Since this show relied heavily on recreation, I had a lot to sort thru. The reason I had tons of clips was due to the way the HVX-200 and P2 break up the footage. Every time you start, then stop the camera, that is a new clip. So where I once was able to scrub thru a 10 minute clip to find what I needed, I had to load 15-30 clips into the viewer. That is one of the few drawbacks to the P2 workflow.

But that’s not what I am here to talk about. I am here to talk about how we did our rough cut edit session.

My producer is in Long Beach and I am in Sherman Oaks. An hours drive with good traffic. And in Los Angeles, good traffic is rare. I had sent the project file to my producer the day I finished, so that he could open it and relink the media and watch the cut himself (he has all the media too)…and at full resolution. Which he did. But there were a few reconnecting hiccups as I just copied over the P2 footage I imported, and scattered them onto one of his G-Raid 500GB drives and a G-Raid 1TB drive. Because the clips were all over, and the drive names didn’t match what I had (I have media on two 500GB G-Raids and an internal 250GB SATA) reconnecting became quite a chore. It took him the better part of a day, and he had to go thru each Act (I have a sequence for each Act) and connect manually. If I send him another cut he will have to do it all over again, so we determined that he will clean off three drives and I will copy over the drives, and name them the same names, so that there will be no issues reconnecting the footage. We planned this from the start, but then, well, got lazy I suppose. I thought it would be easy to just reconnect, as I had no problems with smaller projects in the past. But this one is HUGE, so it was a different monster.

But, again, I have strayed.

OK…the remote edit session. I hooked up my iSight camera to my laptop, and pointed it at one of my Dell 2405 monitors and set playback to Digital Cinema Preview:

I used a stack of CDs to get it to the proper height. Here is what my desktop looked like:

OK….the reason we did it this way is that we were working with HD footage, and I lacked both the AJ-HD1200 DVCPRO HD deck, and an HD capture card that would have allowed me to stream the output from the G5 directly into the powerbook. And if I did that, I’d still need yet another computer to then chat with my producer…a 3-way chat. So I had to resort to doing it this way, which I hear is what they did on SCRUBS for music spotting sessions with their composer, who lived out of state. They did figure out how to go directly into a machine, but as I said, would require three computers. I have that (my old iBook), but lack the other essential hardware (deck and/or card). And pointing it at the monitor worked well, as he could then hear the playback, and me.

On his end the iSight was pointed at him, so I got to see his reactions and more importantly, know when he was talking. When I played back the video, it was pretty loud so I couldn’t hear him, but when he talked he moved, or he waved a hand to indicate that we needed to fix this spot. Also on his end was a 32″ Samsung HDTV, connected to his G5 tower via DVI>HDMI. So he threw the video chat window onto that and increased the size. Sure, it was fuzzy, but he could see the picture, and because he watched it full res earlier, knew the footage was good.

So we had our session. Watching the cut, stopping when something needed to be fixed. Cutting sections that didn’t work or seemed redundant. Since we were 15 minutes over our delivery time requirements, we needed to cut time. And we wanted to get to about 5 min over. Which we did…4:48 longer than delivery requirements. Gives us room for network notes. We also looked at the holes in the footage I had. Stills and footage I needed. When we hit those sections my producer would search various sites for the needed stills, then drop them onto the iChat window, or e-mail them to me to drop into the show. A few sections required VO changes, which he did, then either e-mailed or iChat transferred. And in one case, he wanted to add an interview byte that I didn’t have, so he found the byte, exported it, and dropped it onto my iDisk. I then grabbed it (after a 2 hour upload) and dropped it into the cut.

11 hours later we were halfway thru Act 7 (4PM to 3AM) and had to call it a night. We picked it up the next day and finished the remaining acts (9 total). We then went back thru the show to see if there were any holes that still needed fixing and patched them up. By 12:30 AM the next night (we started at 4PM again) we were done.

Now came the DVD encoding.

Oh…my…GOD. Again…I did things all wrong. But, these are lessons learned. Stuff that I will never do wrong again. What did I do wrong? Well, after nesting the sequence and adding a TC Reader so that I had visible TC for the network to supply notes, I didn’t render the sequence before I exported. I started too, but then saw the 4 hour time and thought, “heck, I’ll just export and it will render when it does that.” Yes it will, and it will take a lot longer. 18 hours to be exact. I exported it thru Compressor (File>Export>Compressor) and chose the 120min preset. And 20 hours later (from 6:30 AM to 12:30 AM…after I did more finessing to fix the music and sound were I cut out huge sections) I finally had what I needed to encode. Making the DVD with DVD SP then took a total of 50 min…burn time included. It is times like these where you really want that Dual 2.7 G5 (remember, i am using a Dual 2Ghz G5).

I took the DVD and tested it on my home DVD player. Which is a good test as it is a finicky one that doesn’t like burned DVDs all that often. It worked, and it looked beautiful.

Whew.

Now I have a week to go thru the show and work on the green screen sections and tricks I want to do with the still images while we await notes.

Here is an article that Panasonic did on our production that DVXUser has gotten it’s hands on first. It explains our entire workflow with the cameras, from shooting thru post. Most of the stuff I mention in the article I mention here (in fact, almost word for word…plagerising myself, but oddly written by me separately. Must be stuck in my brain.)

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=51378

I also did a demo of this workflow at LAFCPUG last meeting. The DVD will be available for sale soon at the LAFCPUG store.

AND…I will be working the Panasonic booth at NAB on Monday, April 23 and Tuesday, April 24 from 9AM to 6PM. I will be giving live demos on the P2/FCP workflow.

And just as an update I am FINALLY done with the “rough cut” of the show. Took a long time due to the huge amount of footage I had to sort thru, the cool music I wrestled with to fit properly, and the HUGE AMOUNT of battle scenes I had to cut. There is one per Act, except Act 9…but Act 1 has two, so it makes up for it.

Beautiful footage.

(Did I say that already? I don’t think I can say it enough.)

OK…sorry for the long lag in posting. Won’t happen again.

I have posted a few video tutorials over at www.proapptips.com and at www.creativecow.com. These include how to copy over raw P2 files onto a backup drive, and how to import that footage into Final Cut Pro.

Also included are organization tips, and how to do movement on stills. Capt. Mike Mench of the Apple Forums has quite a few there as well. It was him that got me starting doing this, as we realized that it is much easier to show someone how to do something rather than try to type it out.

Here are the links:

www.proapptips.com/shane

P2 Workflow Tutorial

Movement on Stills Tutorial

DVCPRO HD Framerate Converter Tutorial

The P2 Store.

This is the P2 store:

EDIT: This blog was fixed. Earlier I had incorrectly stated which buttons to press to make the P2 Store mount on a MAC. Sorry that this took so long to fix. Here is the link to the P2 Store manual, which goes into greater detail:

P2 Store Manual

This is a card reader and hard drive in one. And dumping your P2 footage to it couldn’t be simplier.

On the second shoot, we had one of these on hand. It arrived at the dealer a few days before the shoot, and my producer jumped on it.

This time, when the cards filled up, they were brought to this device and inserted into the P2 card slot. To dump the footage onto the internal 60GB hard drive, all my producer had to do was press one button…START:

Indicator lights would light up and display the progress of the download. When the card was fully downloaded, a green indicator lit up saying it was complete. Now the card could be erased for use again. So the WRITE PROTECT switch was flipped off and this button was pressed:

This process was repeated until the drive was full. When the drive was full, another set of lights indicated so. Now the footage needed to be copied off the drive to external backup drives (this time Acomdata 60GB drives were utilized). Again the PC laptop was used to connect the P2 Store to offload the data. The drive mounted as 16 separate drives, labelled with letters of the alphabet (our letters started with F and went to Z). My producer then dragged these folders onto the backup drive and a new folder with the letter as its name was created, complete with the CONTENTS folder and LASTCLIP.TXT file. He did this for all the drives and then unmounted the P2 Store and hard drive. Again, with the P2 reader software available only for the PC, my producer could play the footage and see what he had.

When the P2 store was successfully backed up, he erased it by pressing this button:

This button can only be pressed with a pen or paperclip, making it very difficult to accidentally press the button. Now, those buttons themselves did not automatically start the erase process. No. You had to first press those buttons, then press the Start button, again protecting against accidental erasure.

Getting the P2 Store to mount on a PC is as simple as plugging it in. Getting it to mount on a Mac is a bit more difficult. And copying the footage off is more of a task as well.

First, you connect the drive to the Mac via a USB 2.0 connection…the same way you connect it to the PC. But it won’t mount until you press these three buttons simultaneously for 3-5 seconds:

Now the drives will mount. Only this time, instead of nice drive names, you get 16 NO_NAME drives. And dragging these drive onto the backup drive doesn’t automatically create a new folder containing the contents, it just dumps the contents onto the drive. So now you have to manually create and name the folders on the backup drive and copy the NO_NAME drives onto them. In a way this might be slightly better, as you can then include in the folder’s names the camera the card came from. This way you might be able to track down what camera shot what, in case you had a problem with the footage.

Once the backup drive is full you repeat the process. On our shoot, this process was repeated three times.

Now I want to mention a little tip on organization in your edit system when you import these files. The first time I imported the footage from the P2 cards, I dumped all the clips from each day into one dailies bin…so I had two bins, one for each day. This was a nightmare. Not only did I have 1088 clips in one bin, and 1123 in another, but it made sorting my footage VERY difficult. This time I did things very differently, and how I generally organize footage I capture from tape.

I create a new bin with the same name as the P2 folder. I then set this as my logging bin by CONTROL-Clicking or right-clicking on it and selecting SET LOGGING BIN. I then import all the footage from one folder into that bin. I then make a new bin and repeat the process. Once I have all the footage in the system, I then go into each bin and OPTION-DRAG it into separate scene bins. So now the footage is in the dailies bin, and the scene bin. This way I can find it by scene, as I am accustomed to when I edit…and I can find it by date, in case my producer says “I know we shot that on Saturday, Jan 25 in the afternoon.”

I have an online video tutorial on importing P2 footage on www.creativecow.com. It can be found here:

P2 Workflow Tutorial

Now, I really have to get back to editing. I am behind as it is.