The official title of the History Channel Series I am working on is STRANGE HISTORY. The stories will mainly deal with taboos, cultural and sexual, and strange cultural practices from around the world. There, now you know.
The first week there I was working on one of the rental systems. Because my computer hadn’t come in yet and because they didn’t play on renting my system for a few weeks yet. Now, this rental system was a bit lacking. Sure, it had the Octo Mac 3.0Ghz and a LARGE Mackie Mixer (that you would find on an Avid system) with 16 channels, 4 of which we use. Two for FCP, two for the deck…oh, 5…one for the microphone (temp VO). It had a Kona 3 card, was on one of those HUGE editing desks, was nestled in a rack, and had big HD LCDs. Not color correctable ones, but an early model Sony Luma series that was fine for producers to look at. The computer monitors? Lacking….WAY lacking. 17″ square LCDs…brand I haven’t heard of. SMALL, to say the least. I suffered on these for two weeks. The third week I was on my system. The rental didn’t start on it until THIS week, but I wouldn’t allow myself to suffer any more.
About the mic. We had it plugged into the Mixer, but then, how to get that audio from the mixer into the computer? The Kona 3 cards only have AES EBU audio in, so what do we do? Well, I happen to have the Griffin iMic, a device that takes an audio input via RCA and plugs into the computer via USB. This shows up on the INPUT list in the VO tool just fine. ISSUE…I had one, but Griffin no longer made the iMic. So for 3 weeks we have been shuttling back and forth from bay to bay. I finally searched EBAY and found a few. We will be getting them in soon. Why not get a USB mic and be done with it? Well, we already had mics, and to control them from the mixer is a breeze, so why not just get the $20 tool that allows you to use that?
Now for the types of footage we are working with. Plenty of Varicam DVCPRO HD 720p24 footage. A few 32GB cards worth of P2. Then comes the temp footage. DVDs with screener footage, temp stills, FLASH MOVIES from the internet…VHS screeners. Hoo boy…where to start. DVDs we are ripping using DVDxDV. I find it much more stable than MPEG STREAMCLIP, and the encode process is fast and very clean. I have the PRO version on mine, because one show I worked on had DVD as a master, and I needed to encode it uncompressed SD to match everything else.
The flash video (odd that we have to do this, but the clearance people said that is where they were directed) presented a problem. We tried FFMPEGX but that didn’t do it. And we tried iSquint, but that didn’t encode to an editable format. I could have gone with Visual Hub….but our budget was tight, and we had other fish to fry. OH, and FIRST we had to get them off the web using a few website services that did this. SO I did a test capture using iShowU and that worked out very well. I took the result into Compressor and used the Advanced Conversion presents (DV/NTSC) to upscale it and make it into a workable codec and all was good. And because of the open format timeline, we could mix DVCPRO HD and DV just fine without rendering.
Mind you all of these DVD rips and internet downloads are ALL temp. WE are putting reel numbers that indicate that they are TEMP only. When we lock picture, THAT is when we order the master footage and capture it properly.
OK…now on to how I spent my days. The first 3 days I spent looking at footage of female boxers. Figuring out how to use markers to mark and name the footage, then use those markers to subclip the master tapes. The other editor just went with the markers, but I liked the actual subclips. Of course this presented me with a few issues in dealing with these subclips…which I talk about on the Apple forums. Then I was presented with a script…well, semi OUTLINE with interview soundbytes paraphrased…and no transcripts. So I then spend the next two days listening to interviews and making a few selects. The BIG producer came in and said that this segment wasn’t going to be in the first episode anymore, they have changed the order of a few things, so I was asked to start looking at footage for another segment. Again, no script, just interviews, so I listened to them.
The next week I was told to move onto yet ANOTHER segment, as it had more stuff to get into. And it did, the other one had no b-roll, it was all interview. It had to be, the story takes place in communist China in the 1970’s. There would be generic b-roll, but we didn’t have any yet. This other segment had more, and the producer had more of an idea about what points he wanted to hit, so I moved onto that. I spent the rest of the week cutting up the 3 hours of interviews into a 15 minute story. On Friday, I was handed a script. I was off.
Did I mention that the first rough cut for the first show was due the FOLLOWING Friday? I didn’t? Oh, well either did they. I find this out on Tuesday.
Well, I can’t go into details, but the delivery was pushed until Monday, then after a screening it was pushed to Tuesday, because huge structure changes needed to be addressed. What looked good on paper didn’t on TV…which is typical. So I came in on Sunday and worked for 12 hours, then came in on Monday and worked hard until I finished my segments at 3. WHEW. All we needed now was a quick tease, to tie the segments together and find a bridge…or leave that alone for now. Just need to get the network something to show how we want to approach things. Then I come to find that we need more changes, and delivery was pushed until this Friday.
So today I was back on boxing girls until I get a new script. Mind you, this is all very typical for this kind of work. I grow to expect it. And I know that all the effort I put in on the weekend might get tossed aside in favor of a new approach. BUT, that work still served a purpose. To find out what works and what doesn’t. Knowing what doesn’t is a pretty big thing. Now all we need to do is find out what does work.