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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for November, 2009

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If you are an AVID editor (the edit system, not the adjective), then this t-shirt is a MUST HAVE.

Seriously.

I have been doing a few tests lately.  Going from Avid to FCP to Color.  Because I am REALLY enjoying cutting with Avid again (well, the one home movie I am FINALLY getting to), but I REALLY like the color correcting tools of COLOR.  And I have a color correction job coming up that was edited in Avid, and I would like to figure out how to get it into Color.

Nowing going from Avid editing P2 footage that is DVCPRO HD to FCP using Automatic Duck is pretty easy, as the MXF files, well, the QT reference movies the Duck creates, are seen by FCP and seen by Color just fine.  But what I’d most likely run across media files that use the Avid DNxHD codec, and while you can see and edit those fine in FCP, Color does not see them.

So…what I have been testing is first Exporting an AAF from Avid Media Composer, importing that into FCP with Pro Import, and then media managing the footage, with handles, to ProRes 422.  So far my small tests have worked…and that is something I can take into COLOR and work with.

And no, not the kind of paper cut that hurts.  Wes of Automatic Duck has written a great post on the workflow used for a project he was making to promote a condominium complex.  For this project he wanted to use home owner testimonials to tell the tale, and his blog goes through the process he took to start the process (using a “paper cut”) through the actual edit itself (using Avid’s ScriptSync…a feature that ISN’T only for narrative projects).

Check it out.

Earlier today Avid release Media Composer version 4.0.4.  This version adds support for MacOS 10.6, or Snow Leopard.  GREAT news for all those people who bought new Macs that only come with Snow Leopard installed.  If you have Leopard, 10.5, then you can stick with what you have (MC 4.0.4 is compatible with Leopard, version 10.5.8.).  I still see absolutely NO need to upgrade to Snow Leopard if you don’t have to.  No benefits for anything I do, and it only makes a lot of the software I use no longer useable.

But, if you want to upgrade to Snow Leopard, Avid recommends that you do a clean install of the OS, rather than a simple upgrade.  The ReadMe states:

You cannot perform an upgrade from the Leopard to the Snow Leopard OS. You must perform a clean install of Snow Leopard in order for the editor installer to install properly. See your Apple documentation for information on performing a clean install.

The upgrade also states that it fixes a bug with Nitris and Mojo DX systems, where Fast Scrub would cause much-too-frequent waveform redraws.

NOW…I hope that people who run Avid MC edit bays will actually get out of the old Avid mindset of not upgrading the software for long periods of time.  Avid was known for slow updates and long times between bug fixes.  This has changed…for the better.  PLEASE do your editors a favor and upgrade the systems with every new dot.release. Don’t leave poor Walter Murch stuck editing on Avid MC 2.8.3 because you have an Adrenaline and think that Avid MC 4.0 no longer supports the Adrenaline.  IT DOES!  So don’t leave your editors in the dark…dealing with bugs.

Thank you.

To start off…read this post to see what the details were for the online I was doing.  These are the INITIAL details.  It got worse.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

All done?  OK, let’s move on.

Well, after a normal shift onlining two acts (we decided to do the online act by act), and then a marathon 25 hour online session over the weekend, I am done.  And that is all I pretty much did…online.  No color correction as there was no time.  This was the fastest and most down and ditry online I have ever done.  I finished 10 min before the producer had to jump onto a plane with the tape and drive with all the media managed footage.  So all I really did was make it air-able.  Make sure that it would pass QC.  That’s all there was time for.

NOW…I would like to point out that those first five formats I listed in the previous post were not the only formats that I was given.  By the time all was said and done there were H.264 files, MPEG-4, WMV files (that I had to convert to ProRes…so I had to buy Flip4Mac Pro) and Animation files the graphics).  It’s like they were grabbing every format they could and throwing it at me…a snowball fight that I was obviously losing.  And unfortunately, due to the rush, I was unable to convert any of them. I just had to render and go.

The show was initially edited on an XDCAM timeline, as that was the majority of the footage.  But that caused crashing left and right, and the machines slowed to a CRAWL.  So we switched to a ProRes HD timeline and that seemed to solve the issue. Because at the start we thought we had to deliver and HD show, and it wasn’t until later that we found out it was destined for SD, so I said I’d deal with that when we got to the online.  And I did.  I made a new sequence with the ProRes SD PAL Anamorphic settings and then copy and pasted the footage into this.

Actually the first thing I did was media manage the acts to a local drive, from the SAN.  I wanted to have ONLY the footage used in the cut, with handles, so that I could send them the drive (keeking a copy here, JUST in case) for all the changes they needed to make on their end.  They did have a copy of the original footage they gave us, but we had added a lot of footage since then, so they wouldn’t be able to reconnect to all that new footage, that was scatter all over the SAN (6 editors).  I wanted things to be easy…everything in one place.  So, I media managed…then moved on.

And then I moved on to the resizing.  I spent a good amount of time resizing and changing the distortion of the clips to fit into this ProRes SD timeline.  Yes, this was time consuming…thanks for asking.

Then I quickly applied the COLOR CORRECTOR 3 way and BROADCAST SAFE FILTER to every clip.  Then I went through the cut clip by clip and adjusting things so that they fell well within the safe area.  I didn’t want to take any chances, I just wanted it to pass QC.  Now I did color correct a few clips, as some people were greenish, or had an orange hue, and I can’t just let that go.

Then I moved on to subtitles and lower third identifiers.  I changed the fonts to match the specs, and I had to replace all the TEXT generators with TITLE 3D, because I needed the white subtitles to have a black border to be more visible, and TEXT didn’t offer that option.  Yeah, that took a while too, thanks for asking!  I had to make sure that the titles and the lower thirds all stayed within 14:9 title safe in this 16:9 picture, so for that I used ANDY’S GUIDES 3.1. VERY useful…and free.  All of his plugins are free…check them out.

MOVING ON…

I did each act, then pasted them into the main sequence.  In there I had to make sure that there were 32 seconds of commercial blacks (emptyness between the acts)…that every act break landed on a 00 frame (so 1:06:07:00, not 1:06:07:12)…and that the show was to time.  EXACTLY to time.  Since each act was cut by a different editor, sometimes multiple editors, working simultaneously, getting proper timing was impossible.  So they left that up to me.  So after I got all the acts into the main project, and found out what my timing was that I needed to hit…I was 57 seconds short!…I started added ‘breath’ to the cut.  Pauses after one scene finishes to then another begins.  And there was plenty of breath to be added…things were slammed together.  Well, after an hour or two adding breath and fixing audio to still work, I was still 26 seconds short.  GAH!  But the exec producer said that we can be up to 30 seconds short…so we were fine.

YAAY!

So I then made the acts all hit the 00 mark on the act breaks, made sure the text was all good…and rendered.  For over an hour.  A little break.  And let me tell you, the HD downconverted fine to SD when I rendered, and the PAL DV, uncompressed 8-bit, and ProRes PAL looked OK.  The mpeg-4 and h.264 files were a tad rough, but since some were 320×240, I didn’t expect greatness.  And the NTSC footage that I didn’t have time to convert…I just had to render and let it be.  All in all the quality was fine, but there was a stutteriness and jerkiness to the footage that looked back.  Not really acceptable in my book, but, good enough for air… this time.  I’m sure they’ll color correct and convert when they have time for a later master.

I’m telling ya, this is a project that I would have LOVED to have edited with the new Avid Media Composer 4.0.  It seems build specificially for this purpose.  Because when I mix PAL and NTSC, I don’t see the stutteriness and jerkiness that I saw in FCP.  And the Motion Adaptive plugin not only dealt with that, but also upconverted or downconverted footage in very smart ways, and utilizes better technology (the only way I as a non-engineer can describe it) to make it work better.  BUT, this project was handed to us with 90% of the footage already captured, so he had to deal with what we were dealt.

Oh, one cool thing.  We were still editing the cold open/tease of the show when the producer had to catch the flight, so I had to leave a 1:20 hole in the show for it to fit into.  When the editor was done, he did the final online of that small segment and exported as a self contained QT file, and used YouSendIt (the pro version) to upload this to the client overseas.  And I used YouSendIt a lot to send them OMFs and MP4 of the cut.  Fine for stuff 2GB and under.

OK…that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Apparently I missed posting this, but the sixteenth episode of THE EDIT BAY is now available for download, and has been for a couple weeks.  This one is about “rock and rolling” a cut about….Jesus.

I post this mainly for the people who don’t download the show through iTunes, so to play in your browser or download direct, click here.  To subscribe to this podcast in iTunes,CLICK HERE.

The seventeeth episode of THE EDIT BAY is now available for download (I just now realized that I never announced that Ep.16 was too…I’ll fix that).  This one is about having footage on the brain.

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

At the next LAFCPUG meeting, Walter Murch, Steve Cohen and I will be talking Avid Media Composer.  I will open the show by showing off Avid Media Access (AMA)…getting tapeless footage into Avid…and the new Mix and Match feature where the Media Composer 4.0 allows you to mix not only various formats, but FRAME RATES…without rendering.  Very slick and something you must see.

Being that it is the LOS ANGELES Final Cut Pro User Group…this meeting of course is in Los Angeles.  So if you are in the LA area, and would like to attend, tickets are $8 and can be found on the link I provided above.

OR….

You can win one of three tickets that I have allotted to me to give away.  But I am not going to just GIVE them away, I will hold a contest.  I am going to ask a question that relates to both FCP and Avid…sorta.  And the first three people who reply with the correct answer to will get the tickets.

Ready?

In the Avid Media Composer 3.0.5 release, they added a feature that Final Cut Pro has had for a while…MOVE ALL LEFT and MOVE ALL RIGHT.  You activate this by pressing a menu button on the timeline, then hovering the arrow above the spot you want to move, and click.  You can either move all from that point to the left, or to the right, or move all from IN to OUT.  This is a great new feature that allows Avid editors to open a hole in the cut and keep all of your L cuts and staggered edits intact.  This feature has been in FCP for a long time.

What is this feature called in FCP, and what key on the keyboard activates it?

Reply to comeback@mac.com.  First three correct answers win tickets.  Please only reply if you plan on using them.

NOW…in case you aren’t in LA and really want to see the meeting…YOU CAN!  All of the LAFCPUG meetings are available from the Open Television Network…for between $.50 and $.99.  A deal really.

I need a hobby.  Well, an inexpensive one.  I really want to get into cycling and get a road bike, or get one of those single gear really LIGHT ones but then I have to shell out cash for a bicycle and all the extras.  But then I’d be shape at least.

So what do I do for a hobby?  Play with plugins and workflows and see what works and what doesn’t.  I REALLY should play with MOTION so that I can learn that application.  That’s what a friend of mine does as a hobby, and he is so good, that he wrote a book on how to do really cool things with Motion.  But I get all into solving puzzles like how can I get an Avid Adrenaline that was on a PC onto the Mac I have running FCP?

The latest thing is that soon we will have a client that wants us to finish a project of theirs.  Online it and color correct it.  They shot on P2 and captured everything at full resolution, we just need to color correct it and output.  And I have gotten really handy with COLOR, so I’d like to do it there.  Only thing is…they are on an Avid Media Composer. So how on Earth do I get TAPELESS footage from Avid to FCP to then send to Color?  If it was tape, I could recapture.  But tapeless?

I know that I can use Automatic Duck to export and EDL from Avid and open that in FCP and have a nice full sequence that will need recapturing.  And I have done this before…on tape.  But tapeless?  Can I batch capture only what is needed.

Luckily I didn’t need to figure that out.  Because The Duck (the nickname for Automatic Duck) has a great new feature.  Not sure how new, but recent.  This feature allows you export an AAF with Imbedded media.  And then Automatic Duck, thru FCP will import that and create quicktime reference movies that are tied to the MXF format, or OMFI format Avid files.  Go watch the demo here…it’s pretty slick.

So I did that.  Imported some P2, did a quick little nonsense edit.  Added a couple filters.  Then exported the AAF, opened Final Cut Pro (after rebooting the computer to that partition), imported that AAF and FCP with the aid of The Duck Importer imported the cut and the media…intact.  And was is REALLY cool, it makes a bin of that footage, and you get not only the clip, but the ENTIRE clip.  So if you need to extend shots or look for more footage on that file, you can, and re-edit!

OK then…now the big test.  Can I then send this to Color (because it is DVCPRO HD QT files, it SHOULD work), color correct, then render out to FCP again.

I did the send to Color easily…all the files showed up.  I color corrected, then rendered, and got brand new QT files (as is normal with COLOR) linked to the new exported cut.  Worked like a charm.  Not bad Wes…not bad.

Now…I wonder what I need to do with MXF 145 or 220 files.  If I need to import them, then transcode to ProRes.  Hmmm…that bears testing…

IGP0035

A friend of mine’s wife took this.  A little frog, taken with a high def camera.

We got handed a project to do.  Majority already captured on a 6TB  RAID (Firewire Raid).  This footage consists of:

1) Uncompressed 8-bit PAL (4:3) (45% of the footage)

2) XDCAM 1080p PAL (full raster 16:9) (about 35% of the footage)

3) PAL DV 720×576 (Anamorphic and 4:3) (about 15% of the footage)

4) NTSC DV 720×480 (Anamorphic and 4:3) (about 5% of the footage)

And…just for the fun of it…

5) Canon 5D Mark II 1920×1080 30p (30fps!) H.264 files (full raster 16:9) (less than 1% of the footage)

Currently converting the DV/NTSC to PAL with Compressor (quite time consuming).  Already converted the Canon 5D footage to ProRes SD PAL Anamorphic (quite time consuming).

When editing started, it was decided to work with an XDCAM 1080i sequence.  This cause headaches NO END.  Crashing 4-5 times a day, slow timeline response…for days and days.  NO doubt this was do to the fact that we are taking formats with individual frames and dropping them into an intra-frame, Long GOP format sequence.  Just painful.

So we changed things.  I made a new sequence…ProRes 422 PAL, and copy-and-pasted the cut from the XDCAM sequence into this.  Yes, we needed to render a few things, but we had GREEN and light GREEN render bars, meaning that we could play it fine without stuttering or dropping frames.  And you know what?  We haven’t crashed since.

Now to figure out what to do with the 4:3 and 16:9 issue.  Delivering a 16:9 master.

Got this a month ago with a one month deadline.  Think we might miss that.  Can really go for that Avid 4.0 software on this, BUT…it was already captured in FCP before it was handed over.

Fun times.

I posted this two years ago, but it bears posting again.   I might try to make a habit of bringing it up every year or so.  Still so very true…

TOP TEN LIES EDITORS TELL THEIR PRODUCERS:
10. It’s just a preview glitch…
9. It’s out of the safe area, you’ll never see that on the air…
8. It won’t really look like that…
7. I’ll fill out the paperwork tomorrow…
6. Why no, I don’t mind working on Saturday…
5. Oh, don’t go by THAT monitor…
4. It works better as a cut…
3. That glitch is on the source tape…
2. I’ll have all your changes done by the end of the day…
1. No, I agree. It’s much better that way.

TOP TEN LIES PRODUCERS TELL THEIR EDITORS:
10. It’s pretty simple. It should only take an hour…
9. Budget? Don’t worry about it…
8. Feel free to be creative with this…
7. I only need a couple dubs…
6. The network will love it. They won’t make any changes…
5. I’m positive we’ve got that shot on another tape…
4. I’ve never had this problem anywhere else I have edited…
3. Could I see it just one more time?
2. I thought you’d be able to just paint it out…
1. How hard could it be?

TOP TEN LIES EDITORS TELL OTHER EDITORS:
(when they pick up the second half of a session)
10. It’ll only take about an hour to render…
9. I’ve pre-built all of the chyron…
8. It should only go a couple of more hours…
7. I’ll be at home. Call me if you have any questions…
6. The producer has been really organized so far…
5. All of the decks are working perfectly…
4. The list has been working great…
3. I’ve had no problems with this Avid…
2. Don’t worry, the credit roll is short…
1. I’ve already done the hardest parts…

TOP FIVE LIES EDITORS TELL THEIR ASSISTANT EDITORS:
5. Kick me off if you need the station.
4. You don’t have to log everything.
3. We’ll finish early today.
2. I organized the files really well already.
1. An hour of footage a day, tops.

#1 LIE EDITORS TELL THEIR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS:
1. “I’ll be home soon.”

avid

If you follow me on Twitter… or if you look to the right of my blog and see my Twitter feed… you may know that at the next LAFCPUG meeting I will be presenting the new Avid Mix and Match feature.  So…in order to do so, I am playing with that feature right now.  Seeing that I don’t have any paying work on an Avid, I took advantage of Avid Media Composer’s great 30-day trial version.  Great way to test things out.

And good, because I am highly skeptical about this.  STILL.  Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Well, I started out by installing it on my laptop.  I’ll get to the tower later, but it is busy converting a bunch of footage for something else, and it should be done by Wednesday.  So, I have Avid Media Composer 4.0 on my MacBook Pro dual 2.4Ghz machine.  I used the Media Composer’s AMA (Avid Media Access) option to import DVCPRO HD P2, AVCIntra P2 and XDCAM EX.  Running from 720p 23.98, to 720p 59.94, 1080p 23.98 and 1080i 29.97.  I’ll be capturing some HDCAM SR at work as DNxHD 145, then again at DNxHD 220.  Then some DV as native DV…and heck, HDV as native HDV because I have the stuff available.

So far…with my initial testing (VERY initial testing) on my MBP with the G-Tech G-Drive mini connected via FW800…it isn’t so smooth.  BUT, I was expecting this.  Avid did say that it relies heavily on the computer processing power, and fast drives, to make this possible.  I just know that a lot of people only use laptops, so I included it in my test.  SO, what I will do next is transfer everything to my Caldigit VR drive and have that connected via eSATA, and that will get me a little over 200MB/s using the AJA Disk test… or more reliably around 150MB/s using the HD SPEED TEST.  I’m sure things will be better…but I am wondering how much better?

More later…