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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for May, 2008

I found these blog postings thanks to Norman Hollyn over at Hollyn-wood. There is this blog called View From the Cutting Room Floor that talks about editing from the assistant editor’s perspective. Since I was once an assistant editor, I find it a trip down memory lane. In a series of entries Tim, the author, talks about the need to be well organized…a topic that I have been preaching about for a while…and will continue to preach. It is one of the single-most time saving things you can do.

Anyway, the posts are in three parts: Part 1, Part 2 and and Part 3.

Yes, I too am compulsive enough to put my outgoing bills in order of size. Sigh…I resemble that remark.

Well, about time this came out. Too bad it had to be third party, but hey…at least we have it now.

Final Print 1.6

To quote:

“A standalone application which prints a list of clips in a bin or markers contained in a clip or sequence. This provides a very useful workflow enhancement when handing off a project to someone else for further work.”

“- Displays a list of clips/sequences in a bin or a list of markers found within clips/sequences.
- Flexible customisation of columns including thumbnail.
- Customise print output with colour of header text and your own company or production logo.
- Print marker list to paper or PDF.”

Downloading demo now…

It is a milestone, but I’m not sure how MUCH of a milestone. Nearly 101,000 hits (not sure about unique hits or stuff like that) since 2/14/07. And that is just when I added the counter. The blog has been up since August 2006.

So…thanks guys. Thanks for listening, er, reading about what I have to say.

Terry Curren of Alpha Dogs in Burbank, and contributor to The Pro Video Coalition has this great rant…er…article about people complaining that the new price on the Avid Media Composer software is STILL too high.

Also goes into the fact that all the new people out there with little to no editing experience are getting their hands on this software (a lot of times downloaded for free from BitTorrent) are flooding the market with their cheaper rates…and often NO equipment rental fee.

This once again points to the fact that you get what you pay for. But then there is the problem of “good enough…”

Well, this isn’t new…happens a lot. Reconnecting issues where you don’t see the title of the clip, but rather just the name of the computer’s hard drive, and nothing else. This is driving me nuts.

An editor here had a majority of the photos and animations used in his project stored on his local drive. So when he opened the project, he could see everything just fine. But when I went to assemble the show, I had 118 missing media files. He moved the files to the SAN on the Finder level, but now we needed to get the project to reference those file, and not the ones on his computer. So we trashed the ones on the computer and then opened the project, with the intent of reconnecting to the ones on the SAN when we were prompted with the MISSING MEDIA FILES warning.

Most of them went fine…reconnected without issue. But then we got this:


(click on the images to see the high res versions)

It showed the name of the hard drive…but that’s it. No name for the media…it was blank. We clicked on SEARCH and the machine beeped at us. So we had to hit LOCATE…and find the file. But then when we found it, FCP would not automatically highlight it…because it didn’t associate a name with the file…for some odd reason.

So I had to turn off MATCH NAME AND REEL ONLY…and connect the files one at a time. Ugh…

This was a royal pain…44 images and media files to reconnect manually.

Now this all could have been avoided if I used the Media Manager. I have been very skittish of using it, due to the wild inconsistencies I’d get from it in FCP 3 to FCP 5. But it has really improved. We tested it on another project from the same editor…again, stills and media on his system drive. We found them in the Browser and then used the Media Manager to MOVE them onto the SAN into a folder we specified. That worked beautifully.

The Media Manager is improving. I just did a “consolidate” of all the footage used in a cut, with 1 second handles. Testing how long it will take…because this is what we will be giving to our colorist. The 45 min show took 30 min. Not bad, I was expecting hours. Only a few glitches here and there…and not related to speed changes, but to media that was 59.94 fps in a 23.98 project. They came over as freeze frames, and all I had to do was match back to the media and re-cut it in.

For the longest time I have been directing people to my tutorial on how to do Movement on Stills in FCP. Now, this is fine and dandy for temp moves, because it is fast and easy to do the move and then continue editing. But this method has a fatal flaw…relative movement. What that means is that when you start wide and then zoom in close, the first part of the move is REALLY FAST, but then as you zoom in closer, it slows down…the relative zoom speed isn’t constant.

Now as I said, I always did this as a temporary solution while I am doing my rough and fine cuts. But when it came time for me to work with the master stills I would use After Effects, as it dealt with relative movement properly. But I never recommended this method to others as it is not a cheap application, and people wouldn’t want to shell out the dough just for simple movement on stills.

But when you buy Final Cut Studio, you have another handy application that does the same good relative motion as After Effects does…MOTION. So from now on, I will be directing people to the GREAT TUTORIAL that Mark Spencer of Ripple Training has done.

I must complain to him for calling this “KEN BURNS REDEUX.” It is FURTHER ingraining the idea of movement on stills as something that Mr. Burns invented, or perfected….when in fact it is not. It is something that has been done long before Mr. Burns was even born…he just happened to over use it on all of his documentaries, and those documentaries had a wide audience…and APPLE decided to call it that in iMovie, to appeal to the general public.

I was having drive issues with my Caldigit S2VR Duo (see here) and I sent it back to CalDigit so they can figure out what the heck is wrong with it. In the meantime, they sent me a 2TB HD One as a loaner while the Duo is in the shop.

Nice little thing this is. Little…I say this because I tested the HD Pro not long ago. Now, I haven’t fired it up yet, as the system I need to use it on is a PCI-X system, and the unit ships with a PCIe connector standard. Just awaiting the PCI-X “bridge card” that is on the way.

In the meantime I am using my Dark Tower Raid to edit from…the one I use to backup my footage. That sucker is STILL friggin quiet. I constantly forget that it is on.

Hmmm…I should post an updated picture of that as well.

EDIT: PCI-X card arrived today. I installed it and kept the eSATA card in and both the eSATA drives and the HD One mount. SWEET…this means that I can transfer footage over.

As you output your project to tape, or to DVD…whatever. Or before you encode it for the web or DVD…watch it all the way through. Even if you have seen it three dozen times, it would be very wise to watch your project before you do your final output, or an output that is going out to the network.

Why?

Well…one of the other editors here came to me with a big issue…one that I have never seen nor heard of before.

Last Friday he finished cutting his show…strung all the segments together, checked everything before the final render, then rendered. He did a quick glance through and things looked fine. He started the output (DVD-output to DVD Recorder via a Kona 3) then left. The assistants stopped the output when it was done, duplicated the DVD and sent it off to the network.

Come Monday…today…the editor in and finds that the network has complained that there were three black holes in the show. The editor goes to those spots and yup, there is nothing there but black. All three are stills (tiffs) with basic moves on them. When he matches frame, he sees the still, but there is black on the timeline. He is stumped, and comes to me to see what is going on.

I look at this and must admit that I too was stumped. I did a lot of fiddling…Made sure that the Canvas was set to RGB and not Alpha, but that wouldn’t be it because we saw everything else. The scale was right, opacity was 100%. I fiddled with that and BOOM, the clip appeared. Hmmm…I moved it back to 100% and it was still there…but with the typical light green render bar above it. Another hmmm.

I went to another one of the clips and de-activated it (control-b) then activated it again (control-b). Boom…the picture came online. It was a bad render…all three somehow rendered out black, and I haven’t a clue why. Re-rendered and all was well.

I bring this up to illustrate a point. The point is that you should watch your show as it outputs…so that you can catch stuff like this before it goes out and you end up with egg on your face.

I too was doing an output on Friday, and I too had a couple issues. About 20 min into a 45 min output I spotted a black hole that I forgot to add two stills into. I fixed that and started the output again. 24 min into the output and I encountered a clip where the filter hadn’t rendered properly. I adjusted it, and then started the output again. This was going to DVD so there was no starting where I left off. Third time…DARN IT. 36 min in and there was a small 2 second hole of nothing where I did a pull up but forgot to close the gap. Fixed it and then started again. FINALLY the output was done and clean…at 2:30 AM.

I picked up this habit of watching my outputs when I too did what the other editor did…sent something out that had a couple trouble spots. I didn’t watch the output, so I missed them. HUGE bro-ha ha from the network, and quite a chewing out by the post supervisor and producer. So I no longer just let things go…I watch. No matter how many times I have seen it and how boring it might be, I watch my outputs until they are done.

What does the above image have to do with all of this? Well, this is the subway station at Hollywood Highland at 2:45AM…when I realized that the subway stopped running and I needed to ride my bike ALL they way home.

EDIT: My buddy Tom has seen the exact same issue a couple years ago, as he posted here on the Cow

ANOTHER EDIT: I just did another output today, and again, while watching it, there were two mistakes that needed correction before it went out.

I first posted this discovery on Twitter…but then figured that it was so good that I had to share it with a wider audience.

This is VERY cool…and seems to utilize just about every resource the Mac OS has to offer, as well as many applications that are used on the Mac…and is obviously done by a very talented person.

In Final Cut Pro, why is the timeline window…or PROGRAM monitor if you want to get into TV terms…called the CANVAS? Is it because Apple wants us to think that what we are editing is some form of art? That we are painting on our canvas with video? Each brush stroke is a clip that we add to the timeline?

I guess that we all strive to be making art, but considering some of the things I have edited, I’m not sure they would be anything resembling art. Real estate videos showcasing a home, an actor’s demo reel, a 3 hour conference on the manufacturing process of microchip wafers. Nope…I don’t see the art there.

What’s wrong with SOURCE and RECORD? PREVIEW and PROGRAM? I mean, this is a professional application, right? Or did Apple just think that the main bulk of people using this wouldn’t get the terminology? Viewer I can see. It is the window you use to VIEW the footage you have. But CANVAS?

Oh…wait. Right. This is the same company that calls movement on stills the “Ken Burns Effect,” even though the guy didn’t invent it, nor perfect it. He just used it to bore us to tears watching his loooooong documentaries. OK, fine, I liked BASEBALL…but I am a little urked that Apple attributed that practice to a person who didn’t create it. I always called it MOTION CONTROL…because we did it on motion control platters with a camera pointed straight down on it. Or before that we put the pictures on a music stand and did the moves manually with a camera. Didn’t call it anything other than Move on Stills.

Sorry…pardon my ranting. It is late on a Friday night…I am STILL at work, and on my third attempt to output the Fine Cut of my show. The first two passes I found sections I forgot to address…one 15 minutes in and the other 22 minutes in.

Man, I got to write more about my day to day trials and tribulations. Sorry that I haven’t. Kinda got away from the original intention of this blog.

My producer from The Mexican American War and Andrew Jackson is teaching a 4 week workshop. Time permitting I might see if I can pitch in when it comes to the editing phase. Anyway, here is the press release for this event:

HISTORY/DISCOVERY Channel Producer to conduct summer HVX-200/Final Cut Pro workshop at LA’s Citrus College

LA’s Citrus College of the Performing Arts is conducting a 4-week summer INTRO TO PRO HD workshop with Emmy-winning HISTORY/DISCOVERY Channel writer/producer/director Jim Lindsay. One of LA’s best-kept secrets for arts education, Citrus has been the home of the Grammy Foundation’s summer “Grammy Camp”. Having offered terrific “real world” education in the recording and performing arts for junior-college tuition rates, Dean Robert Slack is moving into the video world, kicking it off with this workshop using Panasonic HVX-200 cameras and Apple Final Cut Pro. Jim Lindsay’s daughter Sara (former “Grammy Camper”) attends Citrus in the singing/songwriting track, thus the connection. Lindsay has been responsible for many of HISTORY’s highest profile specials including the 3-hour ALEXANDER THE GREAT, 2-hour MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR hosted by Oscar De La Hoya and most recently the 2-hour ANDREW JACKSON,(edited by Creative Cow Final Cut/P2 guru Shane Ross). Workshop will run Monday thru Thursday, 10 AM to 3 PM, June 23 – July 17, 2008. Cost is $400 per student. (No, that’s not a typo, $400 for 4 weeks, not 2 days. That’s why Citrus is LA’s best-kept secret.) Class size is limited to 24.

Lindsay has “done it all”, from shooting, to editing, to screenwriting (Showtime’s CONVICT COWBOY starring Jon Voight), to directing NBC’s UNSOLVED MYSTERIES all 9 years, and writing/producing/directing 50+ hours of prime-time specials for HISTORY, A&E, DISCOVERY, NBC, CBS, FOX & LIFETIME. So this will be no “academic theory” workshop. It will be classic Citrus “real world”, warts and all. Every student will come out with their own short film, shot in DVCPRO HD on the HVX-200’s and edited in FCP. (Jim will be taking students through the exact same HD workflow that he and Shane use for their HISTORY/DISCOVERY shows.) Jim will be covering every aspect of production: from story/structure, to network pitching, to prepping, budgeting, shooting, lighting, editing, finishing, distribution, the whole enchilada. Depending on their schedules, several members of his production team, including Shane, may be contributing as well. Overall, a rare opportunity to learn from folks who really “do it” for a living at levels of very high standards both creatively and technically.

For information on Citrus College, go to http://www.citrusarts.org/ or call the sign-up office at 626-914-8580.
The workshop brochure page can be viewed here
Jim Lindsay’s website is Jimfilm.com. Specific questions can be directed to Jim directly at jim@jimfilm.com (Use Safari. Firefox doesn’t display the site properly)
Digital Content Producer also featured the Lindsay team and their workflow in this article

I really have to tout this magazine…Edit Well. I have been interviewed for it (back in the fall of 2007) and I wrote an article for it (back in Jan 2008, Issue 20…Vol 2, number 8). But I never really read it. Not until I received the issue that I wrote for.

I have to HIGHLY recommend this online magazine to others. The subscription price is $99 for one year…and while that price might seem steep (it did to me at first), it really isn’t. You get quite a bang for your buck. It is full of so many great tutorials, articles and profiles…much better than many of the print magazines that I have lying about. Those magazines might have one article that I care to read…maybe two. Edit Well is filled with MANY articles that I want to read. And FCP tutorials, Motion tutorials…I swear that I have read every one with great interest. This does mean that it takes a while to get through one magazine though.

Check it out when you get a chance.