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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive

Archive for February, 2007

I discovered this website the other day doing a search for FCP tutorials: Learn FCP Podcasts

These are a series of tutorials done by a filmmaker and FCP teacher Eliot Barring, and they are targetting for beginners, students, and FCP converts. They walk you thru the basics of FCP and cover many of the things FCP has to offer.

Cool.

Now…I just need to figure out how to add a link again…

John Wainwright, the guy that brought you PAN AND ZOOM for doing movement on stills in Final Cut Pro, announes the release of the Lyric Final Cut Filters. To quote the site:

“The Lyric Final Cut Effects Kit contains over 50 powerful video effect filters. It includes 15 new matte filters, updated versions of common built-in effects that can be controlled by mattes or alpha-channels, and a range of 30 special-effects filters for image-correction, photographic effects and other stylized effects.”

And to quote the man:

“They were initially inspired by my experiences with Photoshop and the techniques you use in it with digital photography, particularly effect masking and image self-compositing.”

So if you are a big fan of Photoshop and wanted to do some of the neat things in FCP that you could in PS, than you should try these out.

They are compatible with Final Cut Pro v4, HD & v5 and Final Cut Express v3 & HD on PowerPC (G4, G5) and Intel Macs.

They can be found here: FINAL CUT EFFECTS. They are available for $79 (introductory price), and have a gallery of what the effects look like and also offer a demo version.

I particularly like the look of the Water Color set. People always wanting to make their video look like drawings or paintings. I can’t wait to try that one out. See what my kids look like as moving art.

Watching the Oscars got me to thinking about the films that I made. A grand total of TWO…not counting stuff I made in film school. These were made independently.

The first on was made my final semister at film school in 1995, using leftover 16mm film from four fellow students. Shot in Washington DC over 2 days, and starring my wife…at the time my fianceé.

the secret agent:

This second was shot in 2005 (sheesh…10 YEARS!!) and was a part of a 20 film series where one person started a story, then another person picked up where that one left off, and so on. Mine was the fourth in the series, and made to stand on it’s own. Starring a couple of young actors I had the pleasure to work with on a couple TV series; Francesca Catalano and AJ Trauth.

I Don’t Know:

Production on ANDREW JACKSON (the show I am currently cutting for The History Channel) has wrapped, for now. Barring any pickup shoots, that is.

I have 74 DVCPRO HD tapes…each 30 min long. 44 of them are interviews for 22 hours…30 of them are recreation tapes totalling 15 hours. 45 hours on tape.

We hit 100 four GB P2 cards…each holding about 11 min per card totalling 18.33 hours.

Grand total…63.33 hours. But I mentioned that.

How much space has this taken? Dunno yet. Haven’t captured the last 4 days worth of tapes and P2 cards. But I’ll let you know. The tapes held a combination of 720p60 and 720p24 footage. The 720p60 at 59.94 for use as slow motion. And of course it will take up more than twice as much space as the 720p24 at 23.98.

I have a busy weekend of logging, capturing, naming and organizing to do. Then I have two weeks to finish the rough cut. So far I am on schedule. While Acts 4 and 5 (of a nine act show…90 min for two hours of air time) took me a week each to edit, that was because they both had two or three battle scenes. THOSE take a while. The other acts are much more straightforward and editing on them progresses much quicker.

I am storing this footage on two CalDigit S2VR Duo units. One is 1.5TB, the other 500GB, for a total of 2TB. I have all this footage backed up on my Dark Tower Raid (2.5TB). All the P2 source files are stored on one of my G-Raid 500GB drives, and also on a 500GB drive my producer owns. We are redundant. But this is good. If a drive fails for any reason, copying over the footage is much faster than recapturing…and cheaper too.

I’ll get the storage numbers posted by Monday.

EDIT: OK, so it is WEDNESDAY…forgive me. The media takes up 1.14TB of storage. I have an additional 400MB of material on the drive including Music, Sound Effects, Graphic show elements and Stills.

Man, I am blogging a lot today.

Final Cut Pro 5.1.4 was released, and it fixes Colorista. I just installed it and have my GUI back.

Who says Apple doesn’t respond quickly?

And Wes Plate confirms that this fixes Automatic Duck Pro Import as well.

Nice.

Graeme Nattress, the man who brought us Film Effects that made regular video have the feel of film and Standards Conversion that allows us to convert PAL to NTSC and visa versa, has announced the release of the Big Bag of Tricks. This is a HUGE collection of plugins that encompasses Set 1 and Set 2…with a few more thrown in for good measure. It includes image effects, transitions, levels and curves, noise reduction, time tools, TV effects…too many plugins to mention. Included is a PDF manual that talks about all the effects and how they work.

It costs $100 and is available now at www.nattress.com

Set 1 and Set 2 have been discontinued, and owners of te individual sets can purchase an upgrade, and owners of both can upgrade to the BBOT for free!

I like Graeme…he gave me a t-shirt. And helped me make my own “plugins.” Now he is busy coding for the RED camera, so that we can work with the footage it shoots. And I thought that I was busy.

Red Giant Software has been kind enough to give the steps required to get back to FCP 5.1.2…including linking to the FCP 5.1.2 update package.

Going Back to FCP 5.1.2

I did this with success (thanks guys) and am in the process of trying to install Colorista again, but it isn’t taking. I tried installing 4 times and it still doesn’t show up in the EFFECTS>MAGIC BULLET folder.

Still trying…in their support pages now, which is where I found the link.

AJA Kona 3X

This is HUGE. The Kona 3, which used to be only available for the Quad Macs and Mac Intels that sported the PCI-e architecture, is now available for the older PCI-X machines. Looks like this replaces the Kona 2, which is no longer offered.

What is so huge about this is that now I, on my PCI-X machine, can get a Kona 3 and use it to output my show. I edit 720p23.98, but am required to output 1080p23.98 to D5 or HDCAM…cross converting like this was something that only the Kona 3 could do. Well, it still is the Kona 3…but now available for the PCI-X macs.

Thank you AJA!

EDIT: Here is the press release that AJA posted at the Creative Cow:

*NEW KONA 3X*

We are pleased to announce a PCI-X version of the incredibly popular KONA 3, the KONA 3X.

KONA 3X is available now, in stock and ready to ship.

KONA 3X is identical to the KONA 3 in terms of function and cabling, its only difference being it is a PCI-X 133 card, whereas the KONA 3 is a 4-lane PCIe (PCI Express) card. KONA 3X is perfect for use in PCI-X Apple G5 systems, as well as with the new Apple XServe (with the addition of an optional Apple bracket, see below).

Again, all of the features found on the KONA 3 are identical to what is found on the KONA 3X. The best way to think of it is it is the PCI-X version of KONA 3, with all of the same features, cabling, and K3-BOX options. Now, G5 owners can have features previously only found on the Mac Pro and PCIe G5’s via the KONA 3, such as HD to HD cross-conversion, 2K HSDL I/O, real 2K workflows, 1080p/60, and HD video+key.

KONA 3X can also be used in the new Intel-based Xserve’s, bringing all of its unique features to that platform. The new Xserve can be configured with an optional PCI-X adapter. Detailed Apple part numbers and setup information can be found in the KONA 3X Read-Me supplied in the box, as well as here for your convenience:

http://www.aja.com/pdf/ReadMeFirst_KONA3x.pdf

KONA 3X
$2990.00 US MSRP

K3-BOX
$299.00 US MSRP

Available now!

http://www.aja.com/html/products_macintosh_kona.html

___________________________________________________

*KONA 2 DISCONTINUED*

Effective immediately, the KONA 2 is discontinued and not available for purchase. It has been replaced by the new and more powerful KONA 3X.

Of course, KONA 2 will continue to be fully supported by AJA, and units will remain in our inventory for any service issues, etc.

Upon it’s introduction, KONA 2 represented a major step forward in editing on the Mac. Now, KONA 3 and KONA 3X are the new standard by which all other cards are measured!

You know those really odd names you get when shooting with the HVX-200? 0001HG, 0002T5, 00035C…etc. Well, there is SOME rhythm to them…the first number is the clip number shot on that card, or sometimes set of cards. 0001, 0002, 0003…and so on. The other numbers are random, and SUPPOSED to be so random, that you can shoot with one camera for years and not get the same number twice. At least according to the people at Panasonic I spoke with.

Well…

On this most recent project we are using the Varicam as the main camera, and an HVX for B-Cam. The SAME HVX for all the shoots, as we own it. It thus far…for this project, seen three days work. In those four days it has shot 808 clips.

And in those 808 clips, I have TWO with duplicate file names. Yup…two. 00029X and 0012TK. I figured I’d see duplicate names one day, but not in the same project and not with only 3 days under it’s belt.

So there goes THAT little safety factor.

Wes Plate has issued a warning that Automatic Duck Pro Import is not compatible with the latest version FCP:

“We are seeing an incompatibility here with our Pro Import FCP plug-in, something changed in the new release.

If you are using Pro Import FCP we recommend you not update to 5.1.3 at this time. We’ll update our web site when a solution is found.

http://www.automaticduck.com/support/blog/ “

And Colorista loses it’s GUI interface with this update as well. OH, yeah…BTW, I bought Colorista.

FCP 5.1.3 UPDATE

And no…sadly it doesn’t fix the P2 import bug. Still failed to import 6 out of the 10 clips in card one from my most recent shoot…that FCP 5.1.1 imported flawlessly.

Bummer.

Take a look at this clip

Look at the right shoulder and arm of the man in the center of the screen. This is a section of a P2 clip, and it has the oddest artifacting I have seen. When I first saw it I made a marker note, “film scratch at 5:14:23:13…” Wait…what? Then I went back and looked again. Yup…film scratch, only…this isn’t film. This isn’t even TAPE. I have seen the occasional (and I mean, REALLY rare) digital hit…pixels of color. But this is…well, very different.

I received the Matrox MXO review unit last week, but didn’t get to test it until this weekend. Unfortunately it wasn’t a FULL test. I lack an Apple Cinema Display to test the capabilities of the MXO in that manner…so see whether or not I get a broadcast quality image on it. Which, of course, is the main reason I wanted to see the unit. I’ll get a hold of an ACD soon. My producer has one he is willing to loan me, but has been swamped. So…soon.

But I did test the MXO output to my HD CRT, the Sony PVM-14L5. I copied over a dozen shots from my Raid to a G-Raid and connected that to my Powerbook, since what people want is a box that can output from a laptop or iMac. So I wanted the test to be real world. I connected the MXO to my Powerbook via the DVI port, and a USB port. Then thru the MXO to the Sony via HD SDI.

One question that people have been asking me is does it play back 24p footage properly. Yes, it does. I loaded the same DVCPRO HD 23.98 shots on the tower and the laptop and pressed play, and it played back just fine. In fact, I switched back and forth between the MXO and my Kona LH (the monitor has two HD SDI inputs) and the images were identical. So the unit is capable of converting the DVI signal into a broadcast signal. AND…it carried embedded audio. I heard the audio from the clips playing back on the monitors speakers. The MXO is also designed to extract timecode information from the DVI port as well, but I don’t have a deck to layback to and test this.

I did try this on my Dell 2405 monitor, but I was having issues setting the Dell up to BARS. The MXO has calibration for the Apple Cinema Display, and obviously the ACD and the Dell are different and have different setups. But I did try, and I got close. The image looked great, but was a bit off…not green enough, too saturated…stuff like that. Close, but no cigar. So, awaiting the ACD.

This weekend I also shot a bit with the Canon XL-H1 HDV camera. I intended to capture this HDV footage to further test the MXO. I did shoot both 1080i60 and 1080 24F. Initially, because I have been seriously out of practice shooting, my footage was very stuttery and grainy. But then I played with the controls, turned down the gain, lowered the shutter speed from 500 to 180 and as low as 60 in broad daylight. I will say that this camera does MUCH better at 108060i. 24F lowers the vertical resolution by about 15%. It is noticable, but not by much. I shot my kids playing, and our excursion to the Griffith Observatory. So I got great shots of the city and of the Hollywood sign. The camera is a bit front heavy, but pretty easy to shoot with.

The issue I had was with capturing. I couldn’t get Final Cut Pro to see the camera at all. The computer saw it…right there in the system profiler. But no matter what HDV setting I chose…and a few that I tried to custom make…FCP would not see the camera. iMovie…nope. Couldn’t figure that out. So, I hooked up the camera to my Kona LH via HD SDI and captured it thru the card as DVCPRO HD. At least doing this I didn’t get any timecode breaks or cadence errors.

What I would like to point out is that this camera gave me a GREAT image. Stunning…clear…sharp. I mean, I could easily see shooting with this camera and mixing with with Varicam footage…heck, even HDCAM. I shot moving cars, whip pans, my kids running and skating. Not one bit of artifacting. Not one blurry shot. Each frame showed a clear sharp image. While this camera was a bit of a pain in post, it has changed my opinion of HDV. I no longer think that HDV≠HD.

I saw this post on the Creative Cow:

LINKY

And then he e-mailed me asking if I knew the solution to his problem. I am sorry to say that I did not.

What was the problem? Well, it was an issue with the P2 Genie. The problem is, P2 Genie doesn’t tell you if your drive is filled up, and instead operates as if everything is normal. So you can have it run thru its paces of copying, but it won’t, because the drive is full. And again, it doesn’t warn you that it is full. So three cards of information wasn’t transferred before they caught this. The cards were erased, but not reused, in case he could try to recover the information on them.

ANYWAY…this is a major flaw in the normally outstanding software. Anders (the author) knows about this but offers no immediate fix, stating rather that the fix will be addressed by NAB…in April.

So please, monitor your hard drive and make sure it isn’t filling up.

Missed me live on the Digital Production Buzz? You are in luck…it is ALREADY available for download. I mean, I JUST GOT HOME and there it is (I was there in person).

You can find it on iTunes, or download it HERE.

I don’t sound too bad. Normally I sound nasally, but I guess all the practice I got doing temp VO and all those tutorials.

OH, and on there I show Michael Horton what my stickies look like…so I’ll show you too.

Green are my Shane’s Stock Answers to frequently asked questions about FCP (now up to 40)
Purple are FCP tips
Yellow are personal
Blue are…blue.