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Archive for August, 2009

With the release of any now OS you are going to have a period of time where third party vendor support lags. So if you get the OS the INSTANT it comes out, and install it THAT DAY…you’ll find that a lot of stuff won’t work. Well, a lot of hardware you depend on. Sure, your printer and scanner might (or might not), but I’m talking Pro Editing stuff here…after all, this is a pro editing blog.

Some companies, like Avid, used to take up to a year-and-a-half to finally support a major OS update. This meant that when they finally supported one platform, the next one was already out. They supported Jaguar not long after Panther was released. But I’m fine with this…I rely on my editing gear to earn a living and I’d rather have a good solid working system than be on the bleeding edge of the latest and greatest. I could wait. Avid made DARN SURE that things worked before they certified things. Now they are a bit quicker on the uptake, so it might only take 6 months.

But really, waiting a few months to make sure that EVERYTHING is working…is a good thing. Wait to make sure that AJA (that has for FCP 7, just not Snow Leopard), BMD and Matrox release drivers for their cards, that Sonnett, Caldigit and Highpoint release drivers for their hardware…hey, wait a minute..some of them have.

Caldigit released their new drivers, found here, not long ago. As did Highpoint, for their RocketRaid cards.

OK guys…getting there. But, I think people should dip their toes in the water first. Or let others check to see if there are sharks swimming about. I myself am installing SL on a separate partition on my laptop…and then the Studio 2009…and then Matrox MXO2 and stuff. See what happens. See if it looks and feels worth the update at this time.

But the fact that TWO companies were this fast to release new drivers…that says that they are in the know…they are trusted insiders. I have no doubt that the capture cards will soon follow suit.

EDIT: Ahhhh…Decklink released their drivers for Snow Leopard, today too. Woot!

ANOTHER EDIT: And now AJA did as well.

Well darn it all to heck, I can’t make it to Amsterdam this year. I didn’t last year either…but the year I did go…man, I had fun. Been trying to get back but too many things conspire against that. Not only is the city a blask, but I get to meet a whole lot of industry people at IBC, and a whole lot in my area at the Final Cut Pro User Group Supermeets. These are, hands down, one of the best networking opportunities out there. No, you might not meet your next employer, but you meet other users from across the globe who know more about you in some areas, and you might know more about them in others, and so you can exchange notes. Plus you can meet the developers of products and applications at talk to them first hand and give them your notes to their face. I will miss the chance to meet Andreas Kiel this year…I owe that guy a beer for all the helpful apps he makes.

Anyway…if you are there, you have to go. Seriously. And do what Mike says…take this opportunity to introduce yourself to someone and just start talking. I mean, you can talk tech there, and editing, and you won’t get blank stares like you do when you try to tell your great stories to your non-production friends. That happens to me too much, which is why I go to monthly meetings.

I digress…I need to post the details of this so you can go there and see for yourself. And hey…they serve beer.

AGENDA SET FOR SECOND ANNUAL AMSTERDAM FCPUG SUPERMEET

Final Cut Pro co-creator Michael Wohl featured with interactive Q&A panel
discussion between experts and audience

Summary:
The Final Cut Pro User Group Network have announced the agenda is now set
for the Second Annual Amsterdam FCPUG SuperMeet to be held Sunday, 13
September 2009 at The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Dam Square, the heart of
Amsterdam, Netherlands. Doors open at 16:30 with an FCP Showcase with over
26 exhibitors; Presentations begin at 19:00 and continue until 23:30. This
event is expected to be the largest gathering of Final Cut Studio users,
Gurus and Digital Filmmakers in Europe during the annual IBC trade show.

Body:
Los Angeles / Boston – The Final Cut Pro User Group Network (FCPUG Network)
have announced the agenda is now set for the Second Annual Amsterdam FCPUG
SuperMeet to be held Sunday, 13 September 2009 at The Grand Hotel
Krasnapolsky in Dam Square, the heart of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Doors open
at 16:30 with an FCP Showcase with 26 exhibitors; Presentations begin at
19:00 and continue until 23:30. This event is expected to be the largest
gathering of Final Cut Studio users, Gurus and Digital Filmmakers in Europe
during the annual IBC trade show.

Scheduled to appear will be Final Cut Pro co-creator Michael Wohl who will
show off the new features as well as discuss what we need to know about the
recently announced and shipping Final Cut Pro 7.

Also scheduled on the agenda and in order of appearance will be:

Apple Certified Trainer, editor and designer Simon Walker will show “How to
do a Grade with Color 1.5 in just 10 Minutes.”

Jason Levine, Sr. Worldwide Evangelist for Adobe, is back on the SuperMeet
stage to share the latest integration between Final Cut and Creative Suite 4
Production Premium. Jason will show how to take your FCP sequences into
Premiere Pro CS4 and dynamically create complex, rich Blu-Ray discs in
Encore CS4, building your menus natively in Photoshop CS4, and even creating
motion menus and transitions in After Effects CS4.

Space Digital’s Simon Blackledge and Gary Kelly will once again take the
SuperMeet stage with brand new tips on the importance of choosing “More
Right Tools for the Job” with Final Cut Pro at the center of their workflow.

MacVideo.tv’s Rick Young and JVC’s Semir Nouri will show off the incredibly
simple JVC “Instant Editing” workflow with and show some stunning footage
from the recently introduced compact hand-held GY-HM100 3-CCD camcorder and
shoulder-mount GY-HM700, the industry’s first professional camcorders to
record files in the native QuickTime format for Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

The organizers of the SuperMeet also intend to turn the show over to the
audience for an interactive discussion with Final Cut Studio experts who
will answer any and all questions on the new Final Cut Studio as well as
listen to user feedback and feature requests for future versions of Final
Cut Studio. This portion of the meeting will be videotaped and later put on
the internet for the world to see.

Also expected on stage will be a “Show and Tell” from a soon to be announced
EU filmmaker.

Rounding out the evening will be the always wild “World Famous Raffle” where
over €43,000 Euros of valuable prizes will be handed out to dozens of lucky
winners.

Doors will open at 17:00 featuring the “FCP Showcase,” where attendees will
be able to get up close and personal with 26 vendors and small developers
who will be showcasing their solutions for digital filmmakers and Final Cut
users. The SuperMeet will begin promptly at 19:00.

Tickets for the Amsterdam SuperMeet are selling fast and are available for
sale online for only €15.00 Euros each (Students with valid ID need only pay
€10.50 each). Tickets may be available at the door for €20.00 each but it is
expected this event will sell out as historically every SuperMeet sells out.

Food (snacks) will be served throughout the evening and cash bars will be
available for those that wish to network and share a few cocktails. For
daily updates as well as directions to the The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in
Dam Square, details on the agenda and a current list of raffle prizes, visit
the Amsterdam FCPUG SuperMeet web sites:

http://fcpugnetwork.org/
http://www.lafcpug.org/Amsterdam_2009.html

About the SuperMeets
SuperMeets are gatherings of Final Cut Pro editors, gurus and Mac-based
digital filmmakers from throughout the world who use or want to learn to use
Apple’s Final Cut Studio suite of applications, most importantly Final Cut
Pro. SuperMeets are held annually along side large trade shows such as
Macworld in San Francisco, NAB in Las Vegas, IBC in Amsterdam and in 2009 as
a stand alone event in London. The agenda usually includes appearances by
Apple, demos of new products, digital video tips and tricks, and filmmaker
show and tells, including an FCP Showcase with vendors and small developers
who will be showing off their solutions for digital filmmakers.

If you use FCP, most likely you have been hit with the wonderfully generic “GENERAL ERROR!” So informative. It tells you jack s**t about what the problem ACTUALLY is. And the problem is that it can cover all sorts of issues…exporting, editing, rendering…so your guess is as good as anyones as to what the issue ACTUALLY is.

Well, I was hit with this error this morning, and it took me ALL MORNING to figure out what it was. So in hopes that other people will learn from this, and find out what one possible reason for this GENERAL ERROR might be, I will tell you what it was.

I was exporting a self contained Quicktime Movie of my final locked picture. I do this all the time, so that we have a tape copy and a digital file. I do this with the Texted and Textless versions. Well, I did a batch export of these when I went away on Friday and was greeted with the GENERAL ERROR when I arrived Monday morning. I tried exporting again…error. I trashed my preferences with the Preference Manager, I repaired permissions with the Disk Utility, I restarted the computer…nada. Same error.

I thought it might be a render issue, so I re-rendered the entire timeline. Nope…General Error.

But then I noticed that the error happened at the same place every time. So then I started exporting the timeline in segments, until I got the error, then I narrowed my export range until I finally narrowed it down to one clip. Finally, I found the bugger! This was a file that was rendered out of COLOR, so I launched Color and re-rendered just that clip. Launched FCP again, it referenced the new clip and BOOM, I was in business. So somehow, in some way, that clip was corrupt.

So ONE possible cause of this issue is a corrupt clip…corrupt render…corrupt media file.

OH, crap, it just popped up with ANOTHER General Error. Looks like I have more searching to do.

Ugh.

EDIT: Well poop…that wasn’t it. Every time I found the problem clip, and re-rendered in Color, ANOTHER clip would cause the General Error. Even if I narrowed it down to the clip, then check all the clips AFTER that one. After I fix that one, suddenly the General Error would happen on a clip after that…or before. It was like WHACK-AN-ERROR…couldn’t nail it down. BUT…when I opened this project up in FCP 7 (FCP 6.0.5 project) and exported…no error at all.

SO…again, this error remains a mystery. Dammit.

I have been testing this application for a bit, and it is really cool.

P2 Flow

Made in collaboration between MXF4MAC.com and Spherico this handy application “provides editing of the original P2 metadata including MXF video/audio preview and unique workflow features for Final Cut Pro. It’s the only external application that is able to send MXF online clips to Final Cut Pro as well as offline clips that can be ingested with Log and Transfer.” That means that you can edit the metadata, then send use the application to send the clips with the new metadata to FCP for NATIVE access to the MXF files…OR…you can send the clips as “offline clips” that you can then use BATCH CAPTURE to import them into FCP as QT files. The first option is cool for the small one-man-band studios that have only one machine, but the QT import option is fantastic for the operation that has multiple machines but can only afford one copy of the application.

Here is a quick rundown:

- Full metadata editing
- Synchronized metadata editing for spanned clips
- Backward synchronizing of metadata for spanned clips – in case of incomplete spanned
clips had been edited
- Automatic Spotlight search for incomplete spanned clips
- Find function for metadata entries and batch metadata editing
- MXF video and audio preview (DV, DVCPRO25/50)
- AVC-Intra preview support on PPC when using recorded MP4 proxies
- Set in and out points for Final Cut Pro (DV, DVCPRO25/50)
- Send native MXF based online clips to Final Cut Pro (DV, DVCPRO25/50)
- Send offline clips to Final Cut Pro to batch ingest with Log and Transfer
- Full metadata mapping to Final Cut Pro
- Metadata mapping to QuickTime through Log and Transfer
- Memo List editing (DV, DVCPRO25/50, AVC-Intra proxies)
- Memo List mapping to Final Cut Pro markers
- Google Maps support for P2 location metadata (search only)
- Automatic angle mapping (for multicam setups) for Final Cut Pro based upon camera serial numbers
- VirtualTape function creates one single QuickTime movie from a selection of clips
- Visual feedback in the user interface for modified and unsaved P2 metadata
- Automatic update of Access Update metadata on changes
- Integrated user interface to work without cluttered windows
- Support for smallest MacBook display (1280 x 800) to work in the field

Let me highlight another feature for you: VirtualTape function creates one single QuickTime movie from a selection of clips. This means that instead of getting a MASSIVE amount of those small clips that P2 generates, you can join them as one big QT file…just like you might capture a huge section of tape. This is big…the first time I saw the massive amount of small clips P2 generated I was a tad overwhelmed. I like to have one big clip to scroll through for footage, and I had resorted to making selects Sequences for this purpose. But now…I don’t have to.

Take a gander…there is a demo available that will injest 3 clips…so that you can play around and kick the tires.

EDIT: P2 Flow will be demoed at the FCPUG SuperMeet in Amsterdam Sept. 13 at the Spherico and MXF4Mac tables by the authors themselves.

http://www.lafcpug.org/Amsterdam_2009.html

Remember not too long ago…well, TWO ENTRIES AGO… I told you that I had a some task that I needed an application to help with, so I e-mailed a developer I know and he said “Hey, look, I have what you want already…” remember that?

Well, I did it again.

We still rely on the old and ancient EDL technology to spit out lists and track footage use in our projects. Mainly stock footage that we need to order, or music cue sheets. So we output these EDLs, and we try to do as simply as we can, but they are still quite large and full of data that we don’t need and when you import them into Excel you need to do a lot of cleaning up. All of this takes time, and usually falls on the shoulders of an associate producer or clearance supervisor to deal with. This wasn’t the original intent of the EDLs…they were designed to be import into linear editing systems to assemble cuts that were done on offline systems.

So I got to thinking, MXLs are the new standard, and they contain a lot of information, and information WE NEED. So couldn’t someone devise an application that could read those XML files and give us just what we need? Cleanly? So I chatted with Phil Hodgetts of Intelligent Assistance and asked him if he could make something that does this. Because I have seen other products he made that utilizes data from XML files, so I figured it was right up his alley.

Turns out that he to has ALREADY MADE the product I was asking him to make. He released it not a few days before I inquired about it. Too funny.

So I downloaded the demo and tested it, and noticed that it seemed lacking in a lot of information that I needed. So I said “hey, can you add source timecode of the clips, and duration? We need to track the SOURCE footage used in a show.” Sure thing…the next day his partner Greg had made a few changes and viola! There they were. How’s THAT for listening to the client?

The product is called Sequence Clip Reporter and it is a part of their Assisted Editing series of applications. I cannot tell you how helpful this is…and how much of a time saver. It does a lot. The associate producer here is absolutely GIDDY about it, and can’t wait to buy it.

One thing I really like about this is that you can output a Video Only list that shows off ALL the layers, so no need for multiple EDLs, and audio only lists, and target only the audio you want.

And it only costs $69. Woot!

These two blog posts by Norm Hollyn are must reads.

First this one on his blog where he talks about collaboration between the director and editors…and really about the collaboration of OTHER editors. It really goes to show that you shouldn’t have an ego when it comes to your cut. Know when you are stuck and when you need help. This is a pitfall I have fallen into, and it isn’t pleasant…and can burn bridges. It is a good read…

Then there is this one on Film Industry Bloggers about how the auteur theory is bull. The thought being the director is the one and ONLY vision behind a film…the all powerful filmmaker.

And yes, I have been guilty of that too.

So the current show I am working on uses subtitles. A LOT of subtitles. This is a show that re-enacts 911 phone calls, and it isn’t the clearest audio, so we subtitle everything. Well…we, uh…had some problems with those subtitles.

Typos.

And not just a couple. There were a lot that had something spelled wrong…or two spaces, or missing commas…or something. The producer was a tad miffed at this. He was wondering who to blame…the editors? Another producer came to our defense…

“Hey, I haven’t met one editor that could spell! Not one.”

Uh, thanks…I guess.

No, I understand where he is coming from. I told my wife about this issue and she said “Well, who is supposed to check the spelling?” I said that I was. She laughed. “YOU? You can’t spell.”

True…true…

So, we needed to figure something out. We have another producer who is a master of spelling and punctuation, but we need to somehow get all the text that we have in the show to her to check. And since we use the TEXT tool in FCP she would have to either sit at one of our edit stations, or we’d have to get her a copy of FCP so she could look at the project on her machine. Well, those weren’t viable options. We needed another alternative. I wrote a few programmers I knew to ask if they had any solutions. I knew that we could export an XML of the cut, and that the text data must be in there somewhere…so some solution must exist.

Andreas Kiel of Spherico answered the call.

First he mentioned an application that he wrote a while ago, but no longer supports (but still sells) called Title Cleaner. This is a great simple application that has a built in spell checker, for multiple languages. And removes extra spaces and poor punctuation. Well, that is one solution…one that would be fine, but then there was another solution that was better. Because I needed to somehow get the text to our spell master…and while we are on that track, we need to export a document of ALL the subtitles as part of our final show deliverables. Something some intern has been doing…manually typing what was on the screen.

So we were able to kill two birds with one stone with Title Exchange Pro. This will export a file that you can open with Excel, complete with timecode IN and OUT points. Perfect! But it’s usefulness doesn’t stop there. Using this you can export your subtitles as a file that you can import into DVD Studio Pro to make an embedded subtitle file. Nice…

Title Exchange Pro is 135.00 Euros…and with today’s exchange rate that is..well, close to $200.
Title Cleaner is 25.00 Euros, which works out to be about $50.

So, up to you. I just like the fact that I wrote to someone to ask “hey, can you make something that does this” and they reply, “ah, but I already have.”

Look at those links…Title Exchange does a lot more, but being that I am narrow sighted and only paying attention to what I need, that is all I pay attention to.

I dunno why, but I have been neglecting to read articles at Ken Stone dot net during the summer. I can’t explain why. That site is full of more FCP tips than any other. And a few great ones come from Steve Martin (no, not the comedian/actor) of Ripple Training. What’s new in FCP 7, the 10 Things I Love lists a few nuggets I missed.

- Adding Markers on the fly while you edit…with the ability to type in them while the video is playing

- The ability to export the Markers as a list! Duuuuude!

- The great changes to how FCP does speed changes, and still frames.

- Reveal Affilate clips in the timeline….select one clip, chose this option and ALL the instances that clip is in the timeline light up.

- Advanced Match Frame options

MORE!

There are a few that have been there in FCP 6, but he might not have noticed, like ZOOM INTO PLAYHEAD.

But see…there are all these little changes that we seem to gloss over. Because BluRay support wasn’t implimented, or native AVCHD support, or whatever people are bitching about lately.

Take a lookee here. At the top, where it says FCP 7 User Manual…note that VIEW AS PDF is now an option…and you can click on that, then go FILE>SAVE AS….and have the entire PDF version of the manual on your hard drive.

Thank you Apple. You do listen.

So there have been some good comments about THE EDIT BAY Special Edition video podcast about true 24P monitoring (the post right below this one). Owen points out that many HD LCDs are switchable to 48Hz and therefore can show a true 23.98 signal. I confirmed that yes, this is true. But I still stand by my statement that it isn’t needed, and INSISTING on needing it is silly.

Here is a follow-up video to that podcast.

A special VIDEO edition of THE EDIT BAY is now available for download.

I have heard time and time again on the forums, and in person, people wanting…nay…DEMANDING “true 24p” monitoring with their capture card and HD monitor. I am here to tell you…”no, you don’t.” True 24p monitoring is possible, but no professional editor or colorist or online editor I know uses it. And this video podcast tells you…SHOWS you…why.

Shot on my iPhone.

To play in your browser or download direct, click here. Mind you this isn’t streaming…so it will need to download first. And it is 111MB, so it might take a while.

To subscribe to this podcast in iTunes, CLICK HERE.

EDIT: Hmmm…the iTunes download doesn’t seem to be working. It downloads…but then isn’t there. Tried this on two machines. I’ll work on it tomorrow.

EDIT 2, Electric Boogaloo: FIXED!