Skip to content

Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
description of the photo

Archive

Archive for December, 2007

Pardon my “Variety” lingo (the “nod” thing…means “got notice and praise”) but this is UBER cool.

Two good friends of mine, Patrick Sheffield and Capt. Mike Mench created a couple VERY useful plugins: Capt’s Blowout Fixer (free) and the Electronic Makeup Artist (EMA) ($149). I have found these to be VERY useful. IN fact, the Blowout Fixer was being made right when I needed it…I had a bad shot (rare from this DP) where an actors face detail was lost. I gave the clip to Pat and Mike and they used it and others to fine tune the plugin…and I became the first one to use it. Saved that shot…which was pretty important. I haven’t used the EMA one yet, but I can see great uses for it.

ANYWAY…the reason I mention all this is, well, these plugins, and my buddies, got on air mention by Leo Laporte on a show he does in Canada called “The Lab with Leo Laporte.” ON Episode 91, which I just linked to, Leo and the Tiki Doctor Jeff Macphearson mention and demo these plugins.

These two often rib my about my “web celebrity.” Well…getting a “nod” from Leo is more celebrity than I have.

Check out these plugins. These and a handful of others can be found at Sheffield Softworks, with free ones to be had here.

Yup…you heard me…convert HDV to ProRes 422 via firewire…AND NO INTEL MAC REQUIRED!!

HDV to ProRes via Firewire

Now I don’t work with HDV yet…professionally. I have borrowed a couple cameras and shot family video…and captured native and as DVCPRO HD via my Kona LH. But I never explored capturing as ProRes. Why? Because the ability to do so was limited to Intel Macs with capture cards. Even though I have a Dual 2Ghz G5 and a Kona LH, I could not capture as ProRes. I tried, as others did, but it just wouldn’t do it.

Now Apple releases FCP 6.0.2 and makes it possible via firewire…even on a PowerPC Mac! I haven’t tried it, lacking an HDV camera (I had the HV20 for two days, returned it for a variety of reasons), but others have and it works.

How sweet is that?

(This article was around for a few weeks, I was just lazy in getting it out to you all…sorry. Doesn’t help that I am not a huge advocate of HDV.)

OK, I am a huge advocate for being organized and using standards when it comes to organization…and this is because of many reasons. If you work in a multiple editor environment, everyone knows where to find things. If another editor has to step into a project that another editor started for any reason, then they won’t be completely lost. And, if vendors deal with several post production clients, they won’t receive footage, EDLs or other deliverables that use any assortment of naming convention. Standardization is good in this respect (many respects, really…COME ON HD DVD/BLU-RAY!)

So, to further this cause, here are a couple articles from Post Production Standards on naming conventions. Thanks to Matt from FresHDV for the links:

VFX Naming

Turnover

I think I have a new blog to keep track of. I am adding this blog to the blog list on the right over there.

Forgot to post this as well…for the Kona folk out there:

“Available now at the Support section of our website is new version 5.0 software for the KONA lineup. New features and fixes include:

*New Features*

- OSX 10.5 “Leopard” compatibility (KONA LS, KONA LH, KONA 3, and KONA 2).

- Added 720p50 support (KONA LH, KONA 3, and KONA 2).

*Improvements and Fixes*

- RGB output support improved for 2K and Dual Link RGB 4:4:4 material. Improved performance when using Force RGB option in Apple Color (KONA 3).

- Improved performance on Intel Mac Pros with more than 2GB of memory, when using Final Cut Pro 6 for 3:2 pulldown.

- KONA driver loads faster during Mac startup (KONA LS, KONA LH, KONA 3, and KONA 2).

NOTE: There is important configuration and installation information contained in the Release Notes, so please be sure to read it completely.

Version 5.0 is only for Final Cut Studio Version 2. Earlier Final Cut Pro versions should not use this software. Please ensure you use the correct software for your system. AJA Driver Compatibility as of KONA Version 5.0 software is as follows:

FCP 6.0.x – Kona Driver version 5.0 (Leopard and Tiger OS compatible version)
FCP 6.0.x – Kona Driver version 4.0 (Tiger OS compatible version)
FCP 5.1.x – Kona Driver versions 3.1 through 3.4 (Tiger OS compatible versions)
FCP 5.0.x – Kona Driver version 3 (first Universal Binary version)

KONA v5.0 software can be found here:

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

Please be sure to download the appropriate software package for each KONA product type (KONA 3, KONA LH, etc.), and to fully read the included Release Notes, which contains important installation and configuration information. New Io HD software version 1.1 is also available (details on the Io Cow page and on our website).”

Following Press Release from Matrox about the MXO:

“Release 2.1 for Matrox MXO is now available for download. Highlights of MXO Release 2.1 include Mac OS X v10.5 (Leopard) support, Apple Color v1.0.2 support, Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 v3.1.1 support and genlock timing offset controls.

“We are proud to bring our users timely support for these new releases,” said Wayne Andrews, Matrox MXO product manager. “These additional tools truly make Matrox MXO a must-have for video editors on the Mac, whether they use Apple Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro CS3.”

For more information read the document What’s new in Matrox MXO 2.1?

Hear that? SUPPORT FOR COLOR! Niiiiice.

I have just posted two new tutorials on the Creative Cow. The first one is an update to my original one on Importing Panasonic P2 that I put out when FCP 5.0.4 was the current version of FCP. There have been quite a lot of changes, so I made a new tutorial for the P2 Workflow with FCP 6.

I also have one on how to turn FCP filters into transitions. Something I had to figure out so that I could do some of the tricks I did when working on an Avid.

To see all of my tutorials and articles, click on the link I have on the right. That shows you the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

I intend on making a few more, as I am currently lacking an editing job. That and tackle some family home video.

Let me first point you to the Apple Discussion thread that prompted this discovery. Full credit goes to ILMSTMF…whoever that is (real name not given, location unknown).

OK…while trying to troubleshoot a frame rate issue, Mr. ILMSTMF did something that shouldn’t have worked. He imported an MXF file directly from the Contents folder…and it worked! He got the warning that the file wasn’t “optimal,” but still, it worked. Since he imported only the video file, there was no audio. He imported that separately and could sync it up.

Now…how the HECK did he do that? I didn’t believe it. So I did it myself. Wouldn’t you know it…It worked. I got the same message, but it worked.

When did this happen? When did FCP import MXF files natively? I couldn’t figure this out. How did this suddenly happen? And why didn’t Apple tell us about this.

Then Wes from Automatic Duck mentioned that he could do this…and he was running the same version. I iChatted with a couple other people and two of them couldn’t do it. What was different? When I was looking around I noticed that I had the P2CMS application from Panasonic installed. I asked the guys who couldn’t import…they didn’t install it. So I went looking in my Quicktime Library and I found this:

Yep…that component…MXFImporter.component…is installed with P2CMS. This is what allows their software to read the MXF footage. With this installed, the MXF files are selectable…without it, they are grey and you can’t click on them:

NOW…if Panasonic figured out how to get this working natively, why haven’t they licensed it to Apple and let us work with the footage? This is a very valid workflow for many people. I myself still prefer to Log and Import, as I like to rename my footage and organize it, but many many people just want to have instant access to the footage.

OK guys…we are ALMOST there. Just talk to each other and we can get the native support that so many people want.

(not that Apple or Panasonic read this blog…I was just talking metaphorically.)

For in case you are ever in Hollywood and need to know the industry lingo, here is the Hollywood Dictionary.

VERBS:

to schmooze = befriend scum
to pitch = grovel shamelessly
to brainstorm = feign preparedness
to research = procrastinate indefinitely
to network = spread disinformation
to collaborate = argue incessantly
to freelance = collect unemployment

NOUNS:

agent = frustrated lawyer
lawyer = frustrated producer
producer = frustrated writer
writer = frustrated director
director = frustrated actor
actor = frustrated human

COMPOUND WORDS:

high-concept = low brow
production value = gore
entry-level = pays nothing
highly qualified = knows the producer
network approved = had made them money

FINANCIAL TERMS:

net = something that apparently doesn’t exist
gross = Michael Eisner’s salary
back-end = you, if you think you’ll ever see it
residuals = braces for the kids
deferral = don’t hold your breath
points = see “net” or “back-end”

COMMON PHRASES:

You can trust me = You must be new
It needs some polishing = Change everything
It shows promise = It stinks rotten
It needs some fine tuning = Change everything
I’d like some input = I want total control
It needs some honing = Change everything
Call me back next week = Stay out of my life
It needs some tightening = Change everything
Try and punch it up = I have no idea what I want
It needs some streamlining = Change everything
You’ll never work in this town again = I have no power
whatsoever.

This comes from the Scott Simmons over at the Editblog.

IDENTIFY FILTER TIP.

I have heard people ask for this all the time, and I didn’t know how to do it either. All these things that FCP can do…some people know how to do this, some how to do that. Great thing is that we can share those tips with other.

Thanks Scott.

Sorry for the short notice, but tonight, Wednesday, December 12 @ 6:45, I will be at the LAFCPUG Meeting demoing the Matrox MXO. I will be showing off the new features (Blue Only option, display of interlacing) and be on the STUMP THE GURUs panel. And other guys will be there showing off other neat things, like Larry Jordan touching upon new features of FCP 6.0.2, Brian Valente from redrockmicro will show off, the Sony XDCAM EX will be shown off.

Plus they serve beer and wine.

I am just gonna copy and paste the announcement I received from www.imagineproducts.com. I believe it says it all:

“Problems Running MOV files in QT 7.3?

In recent weeks many Final Cut Pro and Macintosh users have experienced problems playing back certain QuickTime files after upgrading to QT 7.3.

Imagine Products has worked hard to create a “repair” utility for existing MOV files (regardless of origin) to make them usable with all QT 7.0 – 7.3 versions.

This repair utility is designed specifically to modify QuickTime (MOV) files created with earlier versions of QuickTime that will no longer play in QT 7.3. It resets a binary null value for the Color Look Up Table (CLUT)–but only if appropriate.

The utility will not damage or alter files that are already compatible with QT 7.3.

The Fix:

You may download a free demo of the QT 7.3 Fixer. It will repair one file at a time allowing you to assess whether the utility will help with your MOV files.

The Multi-file QT 7.3 Fixer allows selection of entire folders of MOV files for batch processing. Or, you may select just a single movie file for processing.

You may purchase the QT 7.3 Multiple File Repair tool for a modest $29.00 from our web store.

NOTE: This software REQUIRES QuickTime 7.3 to function. It is Universal binary, PPC and IntelMac compatible. OSX 10.4 – 10.5.

Alternatives to modifying the existing MOV files would be to stay at (or roll back to) QuickTime 7.2; await a patch from Apple (if one is coming); or re-output QT files from MXFs using updated P2 Log, HD Log, or similar applications.

+++
Please note this problem has been resolved in all our Macintosh applications including: P2 Log, P2 Log Pro and HD Log applications and demos.

If you have not done so, please download fresh versions of these applications from our web site: www.imagineproducts.com

New versions of all our Panasonic P2 compatible applications are fully compatible with QT 7.0 – 7.3 and with all versions of OSX 10.4 & 10.5 (Leopard), PPC and IntelMacs.

Sincerely,

The Imagine Products, Inc. Team

P2 Log™, P2Log Pro™, HD Log™ and Mac Digital Clip Library are trademarks of Imagine Products, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.”

Just in case you missed it and REALLY want to see something I edited…and it is a darn good show, iffin I don’t say so myself.

Andrew Jackson on iTunes

We gearing up for another series. By “we” I mean the last company I worked with, on that Surgery Saved My Life show…guys I have worked with off and on for the past 4 years. The show we are cut consistet of DVCPRO 50 shot on both tape and P2, and used Avid Meridians (OLD OS 9 v11 Avid Meridians) to offline, with an Adrenaline as the assistants station where they injested the P2 footage, string it out, and output it to tape for capture. They had to do this because Discovery currently doesn’t take data files, while they do accept the HVX as a B camera (odd…but, OK).

NOW…we have a History Channel series on our table and this one will be in a format I have worked with three times in the past two years, DVCPRO HD…shot with the Varicam and P2.

NOW…the issue.

The show master needs to be a D5 at 1080p 23.98…and we intend on shooting 24p with the Varicam and 24PN with the HVX to get us 720p 23.98 footage to work with. I have a tried and true method for this and the workflow is tight (ANDREW JACKSON, BLOOD DIAMONDS, MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR). What the issue is…the producer is “iffy” about working with FCP. Well, HE isn’t iffy about it…he is actually looking forward to seeing what FCP can do. He is just one of the people stung by earlier versions of FCP not working within the current workflows the company had in place. And we are also facing stiff opposition at the main production company…the post super there ALSO having had a bad experience with FCP. They are just old school Avid people, and the setup we have now…5 machines connected to a 2TB unity, offlining at 20:1…works…for 29.97 SD. Now we are getting into 23.98 HD, and that wouldn’t be TOO much of an issue…except for the P2 footage.

Now, in my experience, 3 out of 4 places that tried FCP and had it “fail” for them, tried to incorporate FCP into their current AVID workflows. Which really can’t work. FCP has its own separate workflows that you should use. But, the 1 out of 4 was a truly bad FCP experience. FCP 4.0…couldn’t get the show to output to the proper show time, even though the timeline had it right. In fact, we couldn’t output the same duration TWICE! A serious mess. And I don’t know what the Post Supers issue was, but she is very negative about FCP. Not that I am against using an Avid. I just have a FCP system that I know works, so I am touting it. I would be fine using the Adrenaline if it is as inexpensive and as easy to do what I do with FCP.

So, the issues….

P2 footage, from as far as I can tell, can ONLY be read at full resolution. With FCP, you import at full res (no offline res option) or you use Raylight to access the MXF directly. With an Adrenaline, you drop the original MXF files into the system and it reads them. SO…with this in mind…we cannot use the Avid’s in an offline 20:1 capacity if we want to work with P2. And ALL the other Avids, the Meridians, CANNOT read these P2 files. FURTHERMORE, we cannot do what we are doing now and string together the P2 footage and output to DVCPRO HD tape, because then the footage is 59.94…with no flags on the footage indicating that it is 23.98…so if you tried to capture that as 23.98, it won’t do it properly. Only the Varicam can flag the footage…as far as I know…even if I use a Kona card to perform the capture.

Well, the Adrenaline has the option to transcode to a lower resolution (as this handy video shows…after injesting them. But this would mean still importing the footage at high resolution and using up that drive space, and encoding AGAIN to another format eating up more drive space. Why do that? And I am not sure as to the workflow for onlining this AND the Varicam footage intermixed on the timeline. And we can’t seem to find someone who has experience to explain it to us. And we have the additional issue of the final output needing to be 1080psf 23.98

So…here are our options, without going too in depth on the workflows because I’m not giving out workflow secrets for free:

Avid Adrenaline:

Import the P2 Footage and capture the Varicam Footage and edit. When it comes time to output, we need to output to DVCPRO HD EX tapes because the shows will be 44 min, and DVCPRO HD tapes only record 34 minutes.

Capture into a DaVinci system, color correct, output to HDCAM or D5. I hear that the DaVinci will do the conversion from 720p to 1080psf. Then capture into a Symphony to add titles and graphics. Output to D5 or HDCAM again.

Final Cut Pro is MUCH more simple:

Import Panasonic P2 footage…capture Varicam tapes…edit. During the editing process, add the lower thirds to the footage. We do this on an Avid too, but those are used merely as markers…time code noted for the final title session. With FCP, these are our final lower thirds and titles.

Export a Quicktime Movie, self contained TEXTLESS. Take this to a post facility where they will color correct with Color or Final Touch, bring back into FCP where the titles are waiting…output to HDCAM, upconverting on the fly to 1080psf with a Kona 3. Done. No recapture.

So the workflow for FCP seems a little easier. Most of this is seen in the details I am not against working on an Adrenaline (well, sorta. The last Adrenaline I worked on was a bear, and the Unity was having issues…MAJOR issues), I just happen to find the FCP workflow much easier…less steps involved. That and I find editing on FCP to be much faster and fun…I have gotten a little jaded towards FCP in that respect.

Now we have to wait and see what the post super at the main production company says.

I come to find myself unemployed…rather suddenly too. While this isn’t unheard of, it isn’t uncommon. The sudden part, that is.

I finished my Discovery Health show (Surgery Saved My Life – “Battleground Miami”…no clue when it airs) back in mid-November. I locked the show, went to the online (online! I remember having to online a show…goodness, what a memory), the final mix…and then it was done. About time too…I was on that for 4 weeks longer than it should have taken. But, I was without a writer/producer for the most part…someone to bounce ideas off and work with. Very necessary. Eventually the main producer had some time and we banged the show out in 2 weeks. Done.

LUCKILY I wasn’t without work for long after that. Only 3 days. My producer from Andrew Jackson was called in to help a Discovery series that was in trouble. It had been languishing for quite some time…the network never really happy with the cuts they were seeing. The company specializes in Reality shows, so they needed a little help in writing for a documentary. The producer goes in, writes a few lines of VO, they spend a day re-cutting a couple scenes…BOOM! Discovery is happy. But they are lagging behind, and need more editors to help move along the shows. My producer recommended me (this is how I land a majority of my work, recommendations) and I find myself employed. And I am told that it would last until the week before Christmas. I hear this news 2 days before my last day on Surgery…nice peace of mind.

I lasted 3 weeks. Not because of anything I did…but because, well, they didn’t have work for me to do. The producer on the show I was working on was also working on THREE other shows, and didn’t have much time to devote to the show I was on. I was given tapes and scenes to rough out, and the day editor (I was working nights) then smoothed them out…for they knew the style of the show. For three weeks this worked…but then…nothing to do. So I was let go. Two weeks BEFORE I planned on being let go. The big thing that got to me was WHEN I was told.

On Wednesday (last week), I was told Friday would be my last day, and that I would be handed by check. Pretty abrupt. BUT, that is the life of a freelancer out here. It says in the contract that we sign that they can let us go “at will.” Meaning, whenever they want…no notice required. But, the contract also says that we can quit “at will” too, sans notice. So it isn’t unexpected. The hiring process happens this quickly too. Typically I’ll get a call on Friday and am asked “can you start Monday?” Or the following day. Once I was called at 9AM, interviewed on the phone for 15 minutes, and asked if I could be there in an hour. Things happen mighty fast in this town.

Just this week, on a Tuesday, I was asked by someone (who I was recommended by another guy I know…see?) if I could work on a project for a couple days…starting Wednesday. I was SO there.

Yes, this can be a little hectic. And I am constantly updating my resume and calling people, but it is fun. I get to work on a variety of projects…from a documentary on Andrew Jackson to following doctors in a trauma unit to exploring ruins and ancient bones with an archaeologist to 2 min presentation on the Blue Angels. That makes it all worth while.