If you follow me on Twitter (comebackshane) you would no doubt been party to the Tweets I have been making about getting an Avid working on my FCP system…with hardware. If not, then time to start following me on Twitter! Well this is the FULL story about that process…

My boss called me into his office and asked my advice about an Avid online of an FCP offline of a cut. This was for another company that was all Final Cut Pro…they called us because they knew we did all of our finishing in house. Now, they needed to do an AVID online because part of their network deliverables required an Avid project file and DNx MXF media on a USB drive.  I said yes, this is possible, Automatic Duck and you are set.  But the other company wondered if we to do this job. We currently are an FCP shop, but there was an Avid Adrenaline somewhere in storage.  But, there were a few issues with that rig.

First off, this place hadn’t used it for about 14 months, and it was pretty much been broken up for “parts.”  The Adrenaline box was still in the rack, and we had the dongle, but the HP Pavillion it used to reside in was in the server room, quite dusty and missing the side panel and the system drive.  But I heard that they were having issues with that machine anyway and the didn’t want to rely on it. Since they were making the switch to Final Cut Pro, the system got pushed aside. No problem, this place is full of Macs, and Adrenaline works on a Mac (I found this out by looking it up and posting a question on Creative Cow).

But in doing further research I hit upon a problem…the Mac Pros we have are all the Jan 2008 model, the ones that came with Leopard installed.  The ones with new PCIe boards and the drivers for them were only on Leopard.  And Avid Adrenaline says that version 3.0 system requirements on the Mac are OSX TIGER…10.4.11. I found THIS out after buying my 2008 MacPro and trying to use it alongside the may 2007 models that were running Tiger (and they didn’t want to install Leopard) and when I tried to install Tiger, Kernal Panic city.  So…another wall.

So now I am back to my original idea that I mentioned in the Creative Cow…I was considering installing Windows XP Professional Edition (SP2) on the Mac Pro I have, booting to that OS, and running Adrenaline.  Using a Mac…to boot Windows…to run Avid Adrenaline.  Is this Avid certified? HELL NO. But worth a shot. So I found the WinXP install disks and used Boot camp to partition a drive and then start the install process. When it booted into windows…the screens remained black. The OS apparently didn’t recognize the graphics card. It was an old Service Pack 1 installer…no doubt the drivers weren’t there. So I decided to drop that idea. I didn’t want to work with Windows anyway.

Back to my idea about trying this on the Mac. Further research and further question asking of several friends and colleagues turned up the fact that I could most definitely use Avid Media Composer 3.0 with the Adrenaline box using Leopard. And since I had 3.0.5 on my home system, I just cloned that drive and brought it to the work machine. OS 10.5.4 and QT 7.4.5. Avid is picky about the OS. But when I booted to 10.5.4…only one monitor worked. Again, the OS didn’t recognize the graphics card, an ATI Radeon 3870. And looking on the web page for a driver turned up the line “MacOS has all the drivers installed in their system, so no driver is needed.” Riiiiight. Further advice said that 3.0 and Adrenaline worked fine under 10.5.6…so since this was a cloned drive I installed it and restarted. THERE was my second monitor.
OK, so I booted to 10.5.6…had the Adrenaline connected via Firewire, bought a Keyspan serial adapter for deck control, and connected the system to the SRW-5800 HDCAM SR deck we have in house…to see how things worked. Well, I could see the image from the deck, but I couldn’t get deck control. SO CLOSE! I could capture to DNxHD 145 and 220…but I had to have deck control off to do so. Hmmm…can’t have that. Have to figure out deck control.

I tried replacing the RS-422 cable…that didn’t work. I tried updating the drivers for the Keyspan…that didn’t work. I got an adapter so that I could try it on the RS-422 cable that I used with FCP (I didn’t before because the connection type wasn’t right…female/male connector issue) and it STILL didn’t work.

God dammit all! So close.

So I posted the question on the Creative Cow and on the Avid_L yahoo list (via a friend) and on FCP_L. There were lots of suggestions, but then one that seemed odd. Terry Curren suggested that I just use the Kona serial, as this is what someone else does (Greg Huson) and it works fine. Greg happens to have FCP and Avid on the same boot drive, and figured out that Avid recognizes the Kona serial port. So I installed the Kona drivers and sure enough, there was that option in the Deck Configuration list. So I chose it, and launched the Capture interface, and…

I had deck control!

There we go…finally. Avid Adrenaline fully functioning. I captured HDCAM SR with timecode, I could output to a monitor, output back to the deck. Everything. Now I just need to test the online workflow. Take one of our finished locked shows, use Automatic Duck Pro Export 4.0 to convert the FCP EDL to AAF or something Avid can read, then recapture the tapes from HDV. Then re-acquaint myself with the color correction tools.

So now I have a bay that can online FCP or Avid. One computer, two separate boot disks (actually, four…one with FCP 6.0.5 (Final Cut Studio 2), one with FCP 7 (Studio 3), one with ProTools (to check our online sessions on occasion), and one Avid 3.0.5. One machine, two editing platforms with hardware.

I have many people to thank for this. I couldn’t have done this without the Creative Cow and the many people there, like Terry Curren and Mark Block…Greg Huson for figuring out the Kona Serial thing…people on the Avid_L and FCP_L on Yahoo…and friends Pat Sheffield, Paul Kavadias and John Malm. This is the reason I post on and visit all the forums I do. People helping people…best tech support you will EVER get.