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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive

Archive for June, 2008

Calibrated Software offers a couple of applications that allow you to view and work with the native MXF files that a P2 camera generates.

The first is called MXF IMPORT FOR OSX. This allows you to import the video MXF files into FCP, Motion, Compressor or Soundtrack Pro and it will bring with it the audio as well…marrying them so that the applications see the video with audio. This does not create proxies, it simply ties the audio to the video when you import it into your application. As it says on the web site:

“Calibrated Software’s unique solution successfully joins the separate video and audio P2 MXF files so that Final Cut Pro sees them all as ONE file – complete with TimeCode and Reel Name. PullDown can also be removed or added for select frame rates.”

I downloaded the demo, installed it (and restarted my computer), and sure enough, it worked. And I was able to open the MXF files in Quicktime and have audio and timecode available to me. Which apparently can only be done if your machine has Final Cut Studio installed, because it must somehow work in conjunction with the DVCPRO HD codec that is installed with FCS.

If you DON’T have FCS installed on your computer and you want to view these files, than you can get the other piece of software called DVCProHD Decode. This not only allows you to open the files in QT and many other 3rd party applications, but also corrects the gamma of the clips properly. It “allows users the ability to select how gamma is reported to QuickTime and a variety of other color options within Calibrated’s DV Codec Preferences Panel.” That is pretty darn useful.

They both cost $59.95, but if you buy them as a package, they are $89.95.

But what about Raylight? This is cheaper than Raylight ($199)…but it doesn’t do all that Raylight does. Raylight does require you to launch the application, and then set it to detect P2 file structures…and it does make proxie files. A bit more complicated than Calibrated, but it offers a tad more. You can view the P2 Metadata with Raylight, something you cannot do with Calibrated’s importer and decoder.

BUT…I am not knocking it. Just pointing out the differences. So far I like both…both are great workflow alternatives. Personally I use the FCP LOG and TRANSFER method, or HD LOG, as I like to rename my clips when I import them. Plus it forces me to make sure I am NOT working with the master footage. If that goes, you are hosed. But many people need to edit things quickly, so they need to edit the masters.

Another great option when working with P2 footage.

EDIT: FYI, this software only works on INTEL Macs.

Apple has released another Pro Apps update, PRO APPS UPDATE 2008-02. This one upgrades FCP to 6.0.4 and Compressor to 3.0.3. According to the release notes:

“Enhanced Final Cut Server Support
Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 has been enhanced to support the latest updates to Final Cut Server. If you are using Final Cut Server 1.1, the server can directly find, access, process, and track Final Cut Pro 6.0.4 projects and media files without converting them to XML files. This enhancement increases the reliability and efficiency of client and server access.

Changes to XDCAM HD422 Sequence Presets
Because XDCAM HD422 devices always record audio at a bit depth of 24 bits, the XDCAM HD422 sequence presets have been updated to include default audio bit depth settings at 24 bits.

Update to Capturing HDV Clips
Updating your computer to use QuickTime 7.5 fixes a small issue when capturing HDV clips. When you use Capture Now to capture HDV clips and the capture runs beyond the end of the data on your tape, you can now stop the capture process by pressing the Esc key (Escape).

For more information, go to http://www.apple.com/support/releasenotes/en/Final_Cut_Pro_6.0_rn.”

As I always recommend, CLONE YOUR HARD DRIVE to another drive (be it another internal or external firewire drive…something you can BOOT from. USB doesn’t allow that) using Carbon Copy Cloner so that if this update doesn’t work and messes everything up, you will have a working system to return to…by cloning that back to your main drive.

Now for the record, I will NOT but upgrading to this version….yet. But, what I tend to do is download the stand alone installer INSTEAD of using the SOFTWARE UPDATE. This is so that if I ever needed to reinstall the software, I can get it back to the exact state I need it in. Like now…I am running FCP 6.0.2, as is everyone else in the office. If I crashed and needed to reinstall, I can get myself back to FCP 6.0.2 because I downloaded that stand alone installer. If I didn’t, I’d be stuck having to go to 6.0.4 and then be incompatible with everyone else in the office. Not a good thing. And Apple has yet to keep all the various versions online for those who don’t download the stand alone installers. I hope they fix that soon.

Have fun. Let us nervous nellies know how the update works for you.

Over at the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group, Ben King and Jude Cotter have worked hard to come up with the Final Cut Pro FAQ Wiki. This is a great way to search for the “frequently asked questions” to common FCP issues.

It is MUCH easier than the FAQ Ranch that was the OLD place to look for things.

Thanks guys.

Typically when you listen to a podcast if they mention a website or a product they will include links to these in the “show notes” for that episode on their website. In the past couple days I mentioned a few websites and products in the class I was speaking, so I’d like to include a few of those links on here so that you all can read more about what I was talking about.

The RESOURCE CENTER I mentioned in the previous entry, but here is the link anyway.

KenStone.net as a great resource for tutorials. Specifically the offline/online workflow and the Pleasantville effect. Look both of those up in the SEARCH area.

I also talked about the difference between Drop Frame time code and non-drop frame time code…more info for that can be found HERE.

I didn’t mention this, but THIS SITE is where you can download all the drivers for P2 and the applications that Panasonic provides for P2.

We talked about how to capture HDV as PRORES via Firewire, and that link tells you how.

Heck, here is Larry Jordan’s site. He was one of our consultants and knows a great deal about FCP and HD formats.

And here’s a little shameless self promotion…my tutorials and articles on the Creative Cow, including all of my STOCK ANSWERS from the forums (dubbed the ultimate real world FAQ by the Cow folk).

OK…hardware:

G-Tech where we mentioned the G-Drive Q.

Caldigit where I mentioned the Firewire VR.

AJA Video Systems where I mentioned the Kona 3

OK…that’s it.

At the last LAFCPUG meeting, Andrew Balis, Final Cut Pro book and tutorial author and certified FCP instructor over at Moviola Digital in Los Angeles showed off what I think is a FONT of information. I mean…I think it covers a LOT of bases out there. The MOVIOLA RESOURCE CENTER not only has information about Final Cut Pro…such as tips and tutorials, Apple knowledgebase articles, hardware and hard drive information and links to other web resources…but it also covers Avid Media Composer, again with tips and tricks and tutorials and pointers to many other Avid web resources. And not only that, it has a general Knowledge Zone where you can learn about video formats, compression and a whole lot more.

Trying to describe everything this place has will take a LONG time. So please, just go check it out for yourself. I have…and I already learned a few things that I didn’t know. No matter how much you know, there is always more to learn.

Tomorrow I will spend half my day teaching at Citris College in Glendora…just east of Pasedena. That Intro to HD workshop I mentioned back in early May. This will be my first time teaching, but not my first time in front of students. No, I did that last April when I visited my alma mater Montana State University and the graduate Natural Sciences film program.

Am I nervous. HECK YEAH. I will have a bunch of people looking to ME to teach them. Taking down my every word as gospel. I haven’t prepared a thing. So I’d better have my act together, or figure out a good way to bluff my way thru this…

Oh…wait…most of the students read this blog.

*Ahem*

Am I nervous? HECK NO. I know exactly what I will be talking about and I am well prepared.

*Ahem*

I then have to RUSH back to the office and finish the FINE CUT of an episode in time for FedEx. I’ll tell you students about what that is tomorrow, or Thursday. If I can figure out how to get all the footage from a show to the classroom, I’ll show you the various stages of cutting. Not tomorrow…I didn’t think of it before I left. But I should try to remember it for Thursday.

I’d love to get into more of the creative style of cutting and how I make the choices I make in a cut, but there isn’t much time, and that takes TIME to explain. Or at least figure out how to explain. Honestly I don’t know how the professors do it.

Anyway…I am rambing. Tired and I gotta get to bed. Head is just spinning with the notes I need to address on the cut before I get it out the door.

Night.

LINK

“LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Comedian George Carlin, a counter-culture hero famed for his routines about drugs and dirty words, died of heart failure at a Los Angeles-area hospital on Sunday, a spokesman said. He was 71.

Carlin, who had a history of heart and drug-dependency problems, died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica about 6 p.m. PDT (2 a.m. British time) after being admitted earlier in the afternoon for chest pains, spokesman Jeff Abraham told Reuters.

Known for his edgy, provocative material, Carlin achieved status as an anti-Establishment icon in the 1970s with stand-up bits full of drug references and a routine called “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.” A regulatory battle over a radio broadcast of the routine ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court.”

One, if not the top, free thinkers of this era. He will truly be missed.

I returned home from work to a pleasant surprise…a package with PANASONIC emblazoned on the side. I rip it open…carefully, with a knife…and lay eyes upon an HVX-200A, the new HVX model with the better CCDs. Better in low light I hear. So I will be taking this puppy out for a few test shoots. Well, the best I can do on my street (wife is having a “girls night out and the kids will be in bed), and on the way to work in the subway station…and at night after the LAFCPUG meeting.

BTW, I will be working at the Cine Gear Expo in the Universal Studios backlot this Friday and Saturday, in the Panasonic booth. If you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Cool thing is, that it is on a subway stop so I can still ride my bike there. BE GREEN! HULK SMASH!

Larry Jordan…not THIS Larry Jordan, the guy behind Edit Well and the new host of The Digital Production Buzz, but rather THAT Larry Jordan, the one that started 2-Pop.com…has written about his first impressions with the new Avid 3.0 software.

It is a great article. My fellow bloggers agree…five other blogs I read link to it. BEFORE I did…sorry, I’m busy, or lazy, take your pick.

I had the pleasure of seeing this new version at a private demonstration at a hotel next to the convention center at this years NAB. They showed off the most recent version of the Avid DX system, including Avid Mojo DX and Nitris DX. Avid is finally moving away from the firewire connections that the previous version of Adrenaline and Mojo sported. To be honest, I had no clue that the Adrenaline was connected via firewire. The AJA I/O connects that way too…but that was SD only. ANYWAY, here is the press release, a little late in posting that. Sorry. But I’d like to go beyond the press release, just like Larry has, so when I get the new software I’ll try a thing or too. I am pretty excited about it. Just the small enhances like faster scrubbing and the new timecode filter make me happy.

The Los Angeles Final Cut Pro Users Group will be having it’s either annual meeting this coming Wednesday…June 18th. I remember hearing about this group and thinking that it was some small users group meeting of maybe 10 people…like the Mac User Groups I was used to in the past. When I finally attended a meeting I found out that I was WAY WRONG. They held the meetings in this HUGE theatre on Hollywood Blvd, on the Walk of Fame. Swanky.

I went to a meeting 4 years ago when FCP 4.5 was released. Dubbed FCP HD because you could capture one format of HD to it via firewire…DVCPRO HD. I had to go see this. Panasonic was there to demonstrate the DVCPRO HD workflow…Footage shot with a Varicam was then put into what they called the most affordable HD deck around, the AJ-HD1200. And it was…but at $25,000, I think it was a tad out of the price range of the crowd.

Anyway, this next meeting will be exciting…at least I find it exciting. And I have been to a lot of meetings. Here’s the blurb…

“Join us as we celebrate the eighth anniversary of the lafcpug. Scheduled to appear will be veteran film editor and Associate Professor and Head of the Editing Track at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Norman Hollyn. Plus, the brand new soon to be shipping Video Recorder/D.264 encoder from BlackMagic Design will make it’s LA debut. Plus, the brand new Focus FS-5 Portable DTE Recorder from Focus Enhancements will wow all of you who hate tape. Plus the FCP Tip/Trick of the Month, Stump The Gurus, Show and Tells and, if budget allows, Balloons, Circus Clowns and Pony Rides. And of course, World Famous Raffle. And MORE!.”

I am a fan of Norman’s blog, so it will be really nice to meet him. And I was very excited at NAB when I saw the announcement of that nifty device. And of course the new device by Focus. A whole lotta good stuff.

Every year at NAB, the there is a “Supermeet” of Final Cut Pro User Groups. To coincide with this meeting, the FCPUG consortium (if there is such a thing) or whoever is in charge (Michael Horton) puts out an annual Supermeet Magazine. This magazine is FREE and full of articles and tips and tutorials.

This year I wrote an article for the magazine…a tutorial on how to take your existing project in full resolution and create a low resolution version that you can take with you and edit on your laptop with a small drive, or the internal drive. I had envied Avid’s ability to transcode to a lower resolution…and it looks it is possible with FCP too. With a few workarounds. I cover those.

There used to be an Applescript called SPINDOWNFIX that prevented your firewire drives from spinning down while your machine was on. But now with Leopard out, it doesn’t work. And while you can choose the option in the ENERGY SAVER to prevent the drives from spinning down, this doesn’t always work.

So the guys at Digital Heaven have written a handy application called DISKOMANIA that prevents the drives from spinning down, and also works on Leopard.

Good. That feature always drove me nuts, and one of my G-Raids ignores that Energy Saver setting.

For a while now I have been editing in a SAN environment running XSAN 2 software. Now every editor here, me included, only have experience with Avid Unity, and so we were only used to the way Avid shares projects.

But on my tutorial DVD I talk about how you can work in a SAN environment with multiple seats…how you can share projects and manage your media. But if you want to learn about this from the man who designed the workflow, then you need to read THIS ARTICLE on Avid2FCP by Mark Raudonis. Mark is head of post production at Bunim Murray productions, one of the busiest reality TV production houses in town. They can have as many as 6 to 8 shows running at the same time, with multiple editors on each show. SO I think they have this pretty much down pat.

I see a lot of practices in his workflow that we have incorporated into our workflow. But I consulted with Mark before I started this gig, and we started with two assistant editors who have backgrounds in multi-seat FCP environments. It is a lot slicker than you might think. FCP’s ability to have multiple projects open is key here.

OK…have you ever needed to edit 16:9 in HD, but then are required to deliver a 4:3 digibeta that wasn’t letterboxed? Meaning that you had to zoom in and chop off the sides? Well, how would you know what the title safe area was for that? You’d need some sort of 4:3 guide that works on a 16:9 project. Where can you find those?

Oh…only at this new and cool FREE FCP plugin site done by my pal Andy Mees.

Hmmm…what about a cool stretch blur dissolve. OH, he has that too? Download.

The built in Title Tool on FCP sucks. And Boris might be a pain to get into the way you have to. I wish there was some other way to do text. Oh, there is!

But what about a better way to make your image exist in a 3D space? What about a timecode generator that I can adjust the time to what I want? What about a text crawl that moves at a fixed rate? Donedone…and done.

Go there and see for yourself.

Thanks Andy!

The hard working people at Apple have written a document that is VERY helpful for those out there who have MacPros and AJA Kona capture cards. It tells what the optimal PCI Express slot configuration is with various models of Intel Macs…basically which slots the cards should go in.

It also goes into the optimal RAM configurations, bounce buffer management, and a couple trouble shooting tips.

In reading this, I know that the configuration on my current machine is wrong…I have the Kona 3 card and fibre channel cards in the wrong slots. Time to crack open the Mac and remedy that.