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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Archive for February, 2010

Post Fifth Pictures blog interviews Daryl Baskin, one of the editors for Star Trek the Next Generation. Five questions, with short and sweet answers.  Cool info.

They didn’t edit on Avid!

How a Camera Works from Austin Herring on Vimeo.

(Thanks to Jim Geduldick for finding it)

Being organized from start to finish is KEY to working quickly. While you think that it is time wasted that you could spend shooting/editing/whathaveyou…it really is the secret behind working efficiently, and smartly.

And don’t just take it from me because I am trying to sell a DVD on how you can better organize things in FCP (see the sidebar on the right)…but it has been coming up a lot lately. TWICE TODAY as a matter of fact.

First from my buddy Dan Wolfmeyer, who talks about the importance of being organized in post, but also BEFORE post. Getting post involved before you shoot, and just being organized from start to finish.

Then there is Norm Hollyn, USC professor and feature film editor (HEATHERS!)  He talks about not only the importance of organizing in post, but WHILE SHOOTING.  He and Shane Hurlbut (see links for Hurlbut’s blog in Norm’s blog) talk about the importance of organizing your footage on the set, especially in the world of the tapeless shoot.

Too many people want to shoot first, organize later…and that leads to a world of hurt.  I started this blog when I started working with P2, the first major tapeless format, so that I could share my experiences, and pitfalls, of working with that format.  And from the start I stress organization.  Taking the time to backup the footage, smartly, on location.  Helps to come from a film background where you need to reload and track film reels.

And I will also throw in another link to a post on the Suite Take Blog from about 7 months ago…all about organization.

With so many of industry professionals talking about how important organization is, you’d should get the hint that, well, organization is important.  So I don’t want to hear any excuses about how “oh, we just needed to capture and edit this quickly, we didn’t have time to stop and organize.”  That’s bullcrap.  Organization aids in the speed of editing, and helps you learn what you have, so you aren’t searching and searching for shots.

Organization on the set is equally important.  I can’t tell you how many times I get handed a box full of tapes, with ZERO writing on them.  What are they?  Which one is first?  And tapeless shoots with footage in such disarray that I am taking days just to sort it out.  Something that could have been prevented with just 5 min of time to properly label footage.

On bigger budget, and mid budget TV productions, they hire people SPECIFICALLY to keep things organized.  A whole profession whose sole purpose is to organize things!  The Assistant Editor.  Feature films have career assistant editors.  Major TV production companies have a handful…working day and night.  Now, there are times when there isn’t the budget for a full time assistant, in which case it is your job as the editor to know how to organize.  I have done this quite often, myself.  Never have I just captured willy nilly and began editing.  That’s just plain insane.

‘Nuff said?

The twenty-second episode of THE EDIT BAY is now available for download.

Some people start with lovely words, others shoot straight from the hip. Either way, the network gives you notes…

To play in your browser or download direct, click here.

To subscribe to this podcast in iTunes, CLICK HERE.

Bryce over at the Post Fifth Pictures blog will be having an iChat interview with Daryl Baskin, an editor who worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  He is currently accepting questions you’d like to ask…just pop them in the comments section of the post I linked to above.

Cool…now I need to think of one…

Well, it turns out that I didn’t do an Avid online of an FCP offline, it was an FCP online of an FCP online, converted to Avid for final delivery.  Well, I DID do one…I used Automatic Duck to convert the FCP sequence to an Avid sequence and then I recaptured.  But went it came time to color correct, I felt severly hamstrung by the color correction tools available in Media Composer.  No secondaries, no color wheels (No, it has color wheels, see my comments at the end of the article)…and the CURVES take a while to get used to when you are used to color wheels.  No way to visually save grades for easy application to shots that occur later.  Well, you have 8 slots that are push button, but EIGHT?  No, I needed 50!  That’s what I ended up with in Color.  Reality show with scenes happening all over the place.

Sure, you Symphony has far better controls, but I wasn’t using that.  What Avid really needs to do is take the Symphony and Media Composer and roll them into one.  Give MC the color controls of Symphony.  That would make it pretty comparable to what I can do in Final Cut Studio.

Anyways…not to bust on Avid.  Mostly what was hampering me was my unfamiliarity with the MC interface,and curves.  Plenty of people do just fine with those controls, but I am just not used to them.  It took me 9 hours to color correct 15 min on Media Composer.  When I switched to Color, I did the whole show in that amount of time (45 min total).  I’m sure that given time I’d get used to curves, but I’d still miss secondaries, the color wheels, ability to do vignettes, Color Effects…many many tools.

So I did the final online and color correct with FCS.  Then I used Automatic Duck Pro Export 4.0.2 to export the project WITH MEDIA to Avid. That was a process I let go overnight.  When I came back in the morning, I moved the media to the proper locations, opened Avid MC, chose a new project with the proper 1080i 59.94 settings, imported the AAF file and BOOM, everything connected!  And there was no visible gamma shift.  To really see if there was, I’d need to switch back and forth from applications, but seeing how I have FCP on one drive partition, and Avid on another, I can’t do that.  But it looked spot on.  The only thing that didn’t transfer was all the text I made with Boris Title 3D.  The other text, the stuff made with the FCP TEXT tool, converted fine.

Now there seems to be a blurring of tools.  I can take an Avid offline (because I love the tools it now offers), convert it to FCP, online and color correct, and give them a tape and Avid master project with media.  Hmmm…except if I am relying heavily on MIX and MATCH, or tapeless acquisition.  I’ll have to look into that.

EDIT: Oliver Peters emailed me to point out my error in this post. The MC most certainly DOES have Color Wheels. I replied to him by saying I though they were HUE wheel controls. Because they are found in the HSL tab under HUE OFFSETS. When I adjusted these it seemed to add more color to the highs/mids/blacks than color wheels should. Well, it does, when compared to Color or Colorista. But when compared to the 3-way in FCP, they are actually slightly better at not neoning out the colors. As Oliver put it, “FCP seems to be increasing blue through the roof without reducing R&G. MC doesn’t seem to offer nearly as extreme of a shift, but it does seem to reduce R&G with the increase of blue.” So I wasn’t used to the way that Avid’s wheels did things, so I was thrown.

I still prefer Color and Colorista. Good thing Colorista is for the Avid too!

ABOUT TIME!

Panasonic announced a single-card reader for their P2 cards.  $350.  Two USB connections, one for Power and the other for data.  Due out in April.

Panasonic Broadcast has introduced a single-slot P2 solid-state memory card drive, the AJ-PCD2. Joining the company’s growing line of P2 workflow tools, the PCD2, with two USB 2.0 cables supplied, requires no separate power supply for file transfers and offers total compatibility with Mac and Windows desktop and laptop computers.

In contrast to other single-slot offerings, the PCD2 will afford complete flexibility and reliability in addition to being a low-cost solution.”

I AM AN IDIOT!  I am a moron!  I made a STUPID mistake!  What incompetence!  What lack of mental ability was I suffering?  A complete brain-fart!  GAH, I feel stupid.  But hey, we all make mistakes sometimes, right?

Two posts ago I talked about needing to deliver a project offlined with FCP as an Avid project file with Avid media.  So my plan was to convert the project with Automatic Duck Pro Export 4.0, recapture with Avid and then color correct with the Avid so that I had an Avid Project with Avid media to deliver.  Yes, I knew that the Avid Media Composer didn’t have the best color correcting controls (well, ones that I am really not familiar with), as they lack secondaries and the ability to do vignettes.  But, I thought I could manage this anyway.

I didn’t online this in FCP then convert to Avid because I had this strange notion in my head that converting the project to Avid from FCP didn’t bring the media over…not exactly.  When you go from Avid to FCP with media, Automatic Duck Pro Import will make Quicktime reference movies of the Avid media files…it doesn’t convert the full files.  For this reason you need to have the Avid codecs installed so that you can read these files.  You can then get the project, and the media to work on FCP…although the media is an Avid codec, like DNxHD or Avid DV.  This won’t go into Color as Color doesn’t recognize the Avid codecs, and your capture card won’t output that either… but that’s another story.  There’s a workflow for that.

ANYWAY…I had it in my head that a similar thing happened when you went the other way.  That Avid somehow made MXF reference files that pointed to the QT movies so that they’d work in Avid.  Because of that thought, knowing that the deliverables called for an Avid project and Avid media…FULL media, I didn’t just do everything in FCP and then convert when I was done.

This is where I am a moron.  A complete idiot.  Because I didn’t watch the  ”FCP to Avid 2,” how to get from FCP to Avid with media recently.  Which was STUPID because Wes says, RIGHT THERE, clear as day, that when you go from FCP to Avid with media, it converts the FULL MEDIA over.  So you end up with MXF files and AIF files that Avid reads.

Why am I smacking myself…kicking myself…over this?  Because I am struggling to color correct with the Avid.  When you are used to the color wheels, and the smooth blacks, mids and whites levers, CURVES throw you.  Very different controls those.  And I couldn’t save color corrections in any visual way so that I knew by looking what saved grade could be applied to a reoccuring clip, or source file, later in the cut.  And I didn’t have secondaries to deal with the shots with the really blown out background, yet subject sitting in shadow.

I was slowed down…a lot.  By the end of one day I had color corrected 20 min.  Something I can do a full 44 min show in Color.

I was talking with an editor friend of mine who was going to be in the same boat in a couple months. Offline (well, edit full online quality) in FCP, but need to deliver Avid project and Avid media.  In that conversation, where I was telling him what I was doing, he asked, “Can’t the Duck just convert everything in the end, when you are done?  That’s what we were planning.”

“Huh…no, I don’t think so…lemme check on that.”

So I did, and I watched the video…and now I am kicking myself.

The plan now is to go back and capture/online/CC in FCP and Color, then use the Duck to convert.  That conversion might be just a test, to see how well it does.  But I hope to use it, and then be able to do the same for my friend.  I do have a backup plan.  Since I already converted the sequence to Avid, and captured all the media as Avid media…I have that to deliver.

This, my friends, is why TOP GEAR is a kick ass show.  I love what happens at the 6 min mark.

First posted on Andy Mees’ blog (nice scoop!), Matrox will soon be releasing new firmware for the MXO2 line of capture devices.  One major bump the line gets is 16 channels of embedded audio via SDI, vs the current 8.  That is HUGE for those of us who need to deliver masters with 9-12 channels of audio.  Now, or soon, we’ll be able to do that, and still output that closed captioning data too.  Which I have yet to do, but look forward to doing at some point in the future.

Along with this firmware, comes new applications!

Vetura is coming.

It’s an all new standalone player app, and one of my favourite features of the new release … open, view and playback your captured files directly on your big screen through the Vetura player with no need to fire up FCP or the like.

OK, for the rest of this, go read Andy’s blog.  There is no current timeframe for this release, other than “coming soon.”  I know I’ll be anxiously awaiting.

(Thanks Andy)

OK, first I need to point out this old post from 2009.  To summarize the part I want you to pay heed to, the HVR-1500 deck that I had SO MUCH trouble capturing with in FCP?  Well, it is rock solid in Avid. Not one issue…not one slipped frame, not one dropped frame, not one reconnect issue.  The Avid treats this like any old deck….or, NEW deck.

It just works.

That is my new tag line for Avid.  ”It just works.”  The NEW Avid, that is.  I won’t revisit my history with the older version that caused me to switch…that’s another topic.  But, I digress…

Here was the issue.  An outside client was planning on editing a show, or was in the middle of editing a show, on their Final Cut editing systems, when they saw in the networks specifications that the client required an Avid project file and Avid media as part of the show deliverables.  Well, now what?  So they contacted my boss and asked him advice on what to do.  They came to me, and I said, “Sure, this is very doable.”  That was when I busied myself getting Avid working on the company’s FCP online rig.

And I did do some testing, with a small sequence that I built in FCP and then using Automatic Duck Pro Export 4.0, brought into FCP.  But since I captured small clips and did the test, I didn’t FULLY test things.  I didn’t realize that after you brought the project over to Avid, that you needed to DECOMPOSE the sequence, as the clips that it brings over that are in the sequence, reference the full tapes.  Or the full captured clip.  But, Avid DECOMPOSE was easy and got me what I needed.

So here I am, capturing footage into the Avid Adrenaline 3.0.5, the deck from hell working like a charm.  (Darn it Apple, what’s up with that?)  I’ll be doing that today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, on to color correcting.

EDIT:  I spoke too soon.  TWO hiccups in the batch capture.  Both times Avid stating that there wasn’t enough pre-roll when there was.  Simply trying again made it work.  Still, two hiccups after 130 captured clips…opposed to 1 successful captured clip in 10 attempts on FCP…I’ll call that rock solid..ish.