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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for October, 2009

Well, not Daffy Duck, but a more…competent and less cartoony one.

If I said that I had a nasty OMF issue that I have NEVER seen before, and that the DUCK helped me fix it, would you understand what I mean?  I said that to my wife after she asked “how’s your day going so far?” and you could hear the silence on the other end when I replied with that above line.

“Pardon?”

So today I did something that I have done over 200 times with Final Cut Pro…exported an OMF for the audio house to start their mix.  Actually, the first time I didn’t do it.  I was busy juggling about 3 other things, so one of the offline editors did it.  But I told them what needed to be done.  Anyway, we did this export and sent it off, and the audio house calls the next day saying that only 5 tracks were in the OMF, where were the others?  Our timelines consist of 10 audio tracks, so this was a tad odd.  But what was odder still?  Sync was off.  WAY off.  Talking 2-5 seconds off, and just irregular.

So thinking that the offline editor messed up, I did the OMF.  Again, it is wrong.  Exact same issue.  First 5 tracks only, and not in sync.  Hmmm…  So I copy the sequence to a new project, new timeline, paste it, and re-export.  And I watch the progress as it goes.  After track 5, it stops.  Odd.  I boot to the drive with ProTools LE on it, open the OMF in a new session and…wow!  What a jumble.  Sync wasn’t the issue.  It wasn’t out of sync.  It was as if the audio slipped in a room full of banana peels.  The audio was on the proper tracks, but each clip was slipped all over that track.  Listening to it…was impossible.

Odd.

So I stripped off tracks 1-5 and tried exporting 6-10.  It got as far as track 6, then stopped.  I stripped 6, it did 7 only. I stripped 7, it did 8-10.  Then I imported all into ProTools and…I don’t want to talk about it.  U-G-L-Y it don’t need no alibi.

I have to say that I have never ever seen anything like this.  Not on Avid, not on FCP, not with Media 100.  Never.  And I am on like 5 dozen FCP and Avid forums and I have never seen this ever come up.  None of my friends have heard of it.  Some odd thing out of the blue.  This wasn’t hitting the 2GB size barrier as the show was 23 min and never went above 1.75GB.  In fact, if it WAS hitting the limit, I’d get a warning.

Now comes the Duck.  Automatic Duck Pro Export 4.0 to be exact. I had this, but hadn’t used it yet on this show.  Got it for FCP to Avid project transfers mainly.  I did have experience using this software…I have an older version that I used a couple years ago for exporting OMFs from FCP to keep all my levels and pans and dissolves intact, before FCP 6 came along and included that.  So I knew it was good. With some “reminding” about this software (thanks Wes) I did the export with the Duck.

Damned if it didn’t work.  Flawless as all get out.

The Duck to the rescue.

MAKING DVDS

Oct 22

I had one of those “D’oh!” moments today.  Oddly because it was a situation I faced before, YEARS ago, and solved, but for some reason I didn’t think of the solution again, until a day later.

I have been busy lately.  Busy on this ONE show that I have to do four versions on.  2 hour domestic (with commercial breaks), 2 hour international (additional footage, NO breaks), then one hour domestic and one hour international.  QUITE a task as this was done  with the offline edit/online workflow, and one that had me travelling for a remote online.  BUT…more on that later.

So while I am doing all of these outputs, I also need to make DVDs of these cuts.  Seems simple enough, right?  Export a ref movie, take into Compressor, use a preset, compress, make a DVD.  And it is fairly simple.  That works great for the ones that we need CLEAN.  But then we also need DVDs with burned in timecode.  THAT ain’t so simple.  Well, normally it is, as I do this all the time with one series I have here.  But for some reason this show is acting up.  The reference QT I exported didn’t have embedded timecode (I even tried self contained QT), so the Timecode filter in Compressor didn’t display it properly, it started at 00:00:00;00.

Useless.

So I thought about importing that REF movie into FCP, dropping a TC Generator onto it…then I get the GREEN render bar.  96 min show…rendering would take forever.  I tried exporting directly to Compressor, with QMASTER set up, and that said it would take 6 hours.  Just not right.

Then I rememebered having this same issue WAAAAY back when I started with FCP.  Encoding a DVD of the ROUGH CUT to the network took 19 hours (on a G5).  Too long.  So, I bought a capture card, Kona LH, and a DVD recorder, and output in real time.  Didn’t render, as this was a rough cut.

So NOW, here I am, same situation.  BUT, I don’t need to drop timecode onto the track, or nest or export a QT then reimport.  Because I am using a Kona card (LH in that particular bay, and Kona 3 in my online bay), and version 6 of the drivers has a TIMECODE OPTION.  Click this, a lower third timecode reader pops up, and there you go.  Hooked up a DVD recorder, pressed play.  DVD done in 2 hours.

KonaCP_Timecode

THANK GOD.

Still encoding the non-timecoded DVDs, as we make menus for them.  But the visible timecode ones are for other reasons, so quality isn’t a big issue.

OK, more deliverables to worry about.  Back to work.

This week Apple came out with it’s new iFRAME codec for iMovie.  Now, there has been a lot of confusion as to what this codec is, but there is a great blog post at Discrete Cosine that explains this very well.

As the name suggests, iFrame is just an i-frame only H.264 specification, using AAC audio. An intraframe version of H.264 eh? Sounds a lot like AVC-Intra, right? Exactly. And for exactly the same reasons – edit-ability. Whereas AVC-Intra targets the high end, iFrame targets the low end.

Go to the blog to read more…

The fifteenth episode of THE EDIT BAY is now available for download.  This one is a story about how long it took me to edit ONE ACT of a show.

To play in your browser or download direct, click here.  To subscribe to this podcast in iTunes,CLICK HERE.

Messy_Desktop

Seriously people…don’t let this be your desktop.

This is the desktop of a fellow editor, a co-worker at my latest job.  I will not name names, but they know who they are, and I have spoken to them about this.  This is a BIG no no.  One reason being that when I went to online the show, 8 items in the sequence were located on that desktop.  Again, big no no.

A while ago…not sure how long ago…I was confronted with an even worse looking desktop.  Picture that monitor on the left, but with about 1/3 more stuff, and then spread across THREE monitors.  That was the workstation of a good friend of mine.  I was brought in to finish an edit when he was called away for personal reasons.  Now his organization was made perfect sense to him, but I had no clue where a lot of stuff was, and I was always calling him looking for things.  And the project file was no better, very little organization…of a way that others might understand.  I myself come from a background of multiple editor situations.  Where you might have an assistant, or many, and many editors looking at the same project.  And because of that, you needed a uniform way of organizing things so that people could easily find things.  It was very common for an editor to be dropped into a show to help out for two days, then get back to what they were doing.

It was my friend’s desktop, and that project, that inspired me to make my Getting Organized with FCP tutorial DVD.  Now, this might seem like a sales pitch, and it is, sorta.  But mainly I want you to think about organizing things better.  Please try not have a desktop like I show here.  If someone else needed to work on the project for any reason, this would help them greatly.  Or if you are in a multiple editor situation, and the project needed to be worked on at another station, being well organized would help you avoid the issue of having media from your desktop or local drive in the project.

So no big sales pitch…buy the DVD if you want.  But more of a plea to please not do this, and please get SOME form of organization.  Read THIS article from the Suite Take at least…

Thank you.

If you are like me, when you hear a company say “hey, we mix and match formats and frame rates, all in real time and all at broadcast quality,” you ask, “how on God’s green Earth can you do that?”

I mean, how do you take a 1080i sequence full of 1080i XDCAM clips, then add a DV clip, and have it all play at broadcast quality.  WHAT broadcast quality?  Is the DV clip now XDCAM quality?  Or is it now playing DV quality out of the system?  And how does Media Composer handle the frame rate issue?  Not the way FCP does it with 2:2:2:4…oh please no.  And really?  Mix 25p and 1080i 29.97?  Really?  HOW!?

Well, I got to ask those questions.  And here are the answers.

Your sequence setting is what you tell it.  1080i, 720p, 525i…whathaveyou.  And whatever clip you add to that that ISN’T that format, gets scaled to that format…using a filter called a MOTION ADAPTER.  This add interpolation to match the sequence settings, and this is added automatically when you add new footage that doesn’t match.  And there are all sorts of interpolation modes…these are all user selectable.

AND you can change your sequence settings to match something else later.  Like, lets say that you started out with a 1080i sequence as most of your footage was HDV, then you add some DV and some betaSP footage.  But then you find out that you will master to SD only.  So why blow up the SD to HD?  Just change the sequence to SD, then your HD will scale down, which is better than scaling up SD.  Simple!

Another example of how useful this is.  Let’s say you had two cameras on a shoot, and the camera guys didn’t communicate well, so one shot 1080i and the other shot 1080p Advanced.  So you have 23.98 and 29.97.  I mean, who HASN’T been in that position? No problem, Avid Media Composer takes this in stride.  No transcoding, no converting.

And if you want the interpolation to be more robust, more…well…better.  Then you can “promote” the motion adapter to a full blown TIME WARP (that has been there for many years) and the footage will benefit more.

Now you might have the question in your head that I did in mine:  ”Is this hardware dependant?  I mean, do I need to have a Nitris DX or Mojo to get this to work.”

Nope.  Works in the software only version too.

BUT…the performance you get is all dependent on the usual factors:  What computer are you using? What graphics card? What drive array is the footage stored on? What are the sequence settings?  How many streams are you trying to work with?

And now, before you do the final output, do you need to transcode? Render?  Believe it or not, no.  Avid’s high quality scaling is so well done that rendering is not required to achieve full broadcast quality.  Well, this is dependent on your computer…the hardware is very involved in this process. The 8 core machines (Mac and PC) are pretty darn powerful, and they handle the heavy lifting.  Playing full res Mix and Match sequences require a decent processor, depending on the resolution of the media.  So what will be full res without rendering on an 8-core machine might require rendering if you are on a laptop.

The editor does need to have certain “switches “ turned on to see the highest quality output, such as:

-Full Quality 10bit output

-HQ RT Scaling Decoder

-Advanced Polyphase image interpolation.

Unbelievable.

For a quick first look at Avid Media Composer 4.0, and a look into how this Mix and Match works, Avid has put up two web videos for you to watch.  I posted the intro to Avid 4.0 at the top, but they can be found at www.avid.com/mc.

Advantage: Media Composer.