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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for May, 2007

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I went camping for 3 days this weekend, where I cut the dickens out of my right index finger while carving a boat for my kids…doing a particularly STUPID thing, so all my fault (next time I get a knife that LOCKS open). It is in a splint, so typing is a task, to say the least. I can’t wait to start editing again…I lost the finger that presses the J key (to play in reverse) and I (to mark IN).

I have been busy working on two jobs. Finishing my current show for the History Channel and working at another company color correcting. It is working at the other company that brings me to my current thought…because the company is a BIG one with a lot going on.

Assistant editors. They are the backbone of a large production house. They handle the tapes, often label and organize them, then capture the footage and organize it. So they know what you have and where it is. AND, they know how the edit systems work…they have to be VERY technically minded. Because the editors have to be very creatively focused and often times can’t be bothered with technical issues. They are the backbone of the post section of the facility.

And I should know, I was an assistant. I was the backbone of a facility…well, part of the backbone. One of many…4 assistants for the 10 editors on staff. And I have been the only guy on a show managing two editors.

But recently I have been acting as my own assistant. A small show that can’t afford to hire an editor AND assistant. So I capture my own footage and organize it…which is good, because I then know where it is and what I have. These are small productions that really don’t need assistant editors. But going back to a big facility means having assistants. which is a good thing. Because without them there, I would be completely lost. Going to the company means that I need to figure out how they do things. And the other editors are busy doing their thing. And while the assistants are busy, they are available to help me, and they know EVERYTHING. They know what my project settings need to be, where the media is what graphics package needs to go into the show, who to call if THEY don’t know the answers.

And not only that, much of the busy work on the cut, blurring out faces or logos, fixing lower thirds, building the credits…THEY DO. I just sit myself down and color correct.

Man, I can see myself getting spoiled…fast.

Seriously, this is a shout out to all the hard working assistant editors who put in long hours and do most of the boring work. Thank you…we appreciate you. I do anyway.

Ok, THIS is just too darn funny.

Matrox MXO

Matrox finally announced the new 2.0 drivers for the popular MXO product. Now you can really balance your Apple Cinema Display to bars. And it has other neat stuff too. I’ll have to go into a bit more detail a little later. In the middle of getting a pilot presentation out the door…er…on the web. Here is the nitty gritty:

“Matrox MXO 2.0 Updater
(May 14, 2007, 5.77 MB)

Matrox MXO version 2.0 provides the following new features:
• With added proc amp controls, you can calibrate your DVI monitor to be used as a broadcast-quality video monitor in order to effectively display SD and HD video, while providing accurate color temperatures and eliminating artifacts.
• In Mastering mode, you can superimpose a customizable virtual bezel on a clip to identify the areas that would be hidden by a bezel when displayed on a standard television screen. This can be used, for example, to simulate a safe title area to check the placement of titles.
• Display your video or the MXO desktop on your secondary display at its true resolution (1:1 pixel ratio).
• Define a specific region on your secondary display’s desktop that you want to output through MXO’s video outputs when using Presentation mode.
• New video output standards – 1920×1080PsF at 23.98 fps and 1280×720p at 50 fps.
• New HD editing formats – 1080p at 23.98, 25, and 29.97 fps, and 720p at 25 and 50 fps.”

Note that it says “DVI monitor” and not Apple Cinema Display. This is because you can adjust several models now. I have adjusted my Dell 2405 with great success.

Download th 2.0 drivers here.

The third episode of this podcast from the Creative Cow is out, and I am in it. Walter Biscardi and I talk about our impressions of NAB…what we learned in the short time we had to walk around (we both worked the floor).

I was a part of the first podcast too…we recorded it right outside the ballroom after the Apple Event. Trying our best not to collect ourselves after the bombshell announcements.

Here are links to things that were discussed:

A Greener Apple article

Shane Ross’s Getting Organized in Final Cut Pro DVD

Apple Final Cut Studio

Royalty Free Music

eCinema’s DCM 23 reference LCD Monitor

Adobe Creative Suite

Noise Industry Plug-ins

Sony Luma Series LCD Monitors

Matrox MXO

Avid Editing Solutions

AJA Io HD

It is really odd to be watching a movie from which I used temp music for in a show that I am currently editing. I get distracted from the film and recall the scenes in the documentary where I use the music. It is a really odd, and takes away from the viewing experience of the film.

This is really odd when you use temp music in a project, then watch the film at a later date. That is almost TOO distracting. This has happened to me too. I used temp music from a film on a TV movie, then a year later rented the movie to watch with the kids. When the music came up all I could picture were the scenes I used the music for in this movie. Because I worked on the project for a long time, heard the music every day…and up until that point, the TV movie was the only reference to the music I had.

If you are an editor then most likely you’ve used temp music in your projects. TEMP MUSIC is just that, music that you use temporarily in your cut so that invokes the same feeling and pacing that you intend to achieve in the final product. It is mainly to show the producer/director/network your work and how it will be with the proper music in place. They and you are the only people that hear that music…other than the composer who will listen to it to get an idea of what you intended the tempo and pacing of the scenes to be. The composer will compose original music that will eventually replace all of this music.

But not all the time. Often on a show I will work with music from a licensing company…music that you purchase the broadcast rights for. Depending on several factors, it may work out to be as expensive as hiring a composer.

I have also worked on other shows where the temp music was the final music. This temp music was produced by a composer for previous shows…and is normally used as temp music…but one more than one occasion it was just too perfect of a fit and we went with it. Or the delivery date of the show is short so there is no time for the composer to compose original music.

On one show we used popular music and some pre-produced music as temp. Girl bands mainly, it being a teen show where the four main characters were girls. Now, this can be dangerous as the director or producers or even network might fall in love with that music…it fits SO well that they want to use it. Well I had this one scene where the reaction of one of the characters instantly made me think of a song by The Who. So I used it in the scene, and it was VERY funny. So funny that the network wanted to license it. As you may or may not know, licensing popular music isn’t cheap. It can be VERY expensive. This particular song would cost the network $20,000. Not worth it. (Knowing that all three CSI shows use WHO music as their title music, picture the residuals on that. Sure, they most likely cut a deal, but still…) Now, as luck would have it our composer on the show is VERY good at making “sound a-likes,” versions of songs that sound very much like the original. The use of temp music on these shows often gets liked, so the composer is used to it. He did a bag-up job and the music fit very well and got a great laugh. And if you heard it, you’d know right away what WHO song it was based on.

Be aware that as I stated, the popular music and movie soundtracks I use are TEMP music…music that will be replaced later. Even in corporate productions I use pre-produced licensable music or temp music. Never use popular music in your productions…it isn’t worth it. Because if you get caught…oof.

Now, I have used my iPod for a variety of things.

- As a music player…as it was designed.
- As a hard drive to store all my sound effects that I can take with me from job to job.
- As a stop watch (built in option)
- As a flash light (I couldn’t find mine when I needed to go digging thru the attic, and my iPod Video has a VERY bright screen.)
- As a place to store my Demo Reel that I can show people I meet…although I have yet to do that.

Other uses I have heard others doing are recording audio, like dictation or interviews (with a third party attachment)…and cheating on exams.

But this has to be one of most clever uses I have ever heard of:

iPod Timecode Slate

Using a video iPod as a visual timecode slate to sync not only audio, but to also provide AUX timecode to clips so that you can multi-clip them using said timecode. Sheer brilliance.

Oh, there is a GOTCHA that you need to look out for…Scott points that out on a follow-up:

iPod Slate GOTCHA!

Man, I gotta get back into production more. I miss it.

FINALLY…it is here. GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO is the tutorial DVD that I worked on for a couple months last year. It was finally announced at the CreativeCow.net.

To quote the press release (since I am too lazy to re-describe the DVD):

“Getting Organized in Final Cut Pro reveals project set-up and media management secrets for real-world success with every version of FCP.

In this in-depth series of 9 video tutorials spanning over 90 minutes, Creative COW leader, and broadcast and film editor, Shane Ross will show you time-saving techniques that the manual left out. The lessons he provides here are the lessons he’s learned in the real world of large-scale production. Regardless of the size of your projects, Shane will help you organize them in ways that let you work faster and better.

Maybe you’re just getting started with Final Cut Pro. Maybe you’re a big project veteran who just wants to be more efficient. Either way, this disk is for you.

These 9 tutorials, totalling over one and a half hours, include:

• The basics of how FCP organizes captured footage

• How FCP connects to footage it imports

• Setting up your Scratch Disk

• Organizing a documentary or narrative project

• Working with multiple project files

• Organizing projects for multiple users using a SAN

• Using iTunes to track your audio

• Archiving

The disc includes several example project files, and a handful of color correction plugins designed by Shane and used on broadcast shows he’s edited.”