OK, this has been an odd couple weeks, as I took half a week off to vacation up at Lake Arrowhead, and then I had a tight tight deadline to get this show done. But I’ll keep this short and sweet too. I’ll mention the obstacles I faced, and how I solved them.
OBSTACLE #1: The heat.
Yes, it was getting hot in LA. In the 90’s in the valley where my office…er…garage…is located. And my garage lacks one major component…insulation. So while I did buy a 12,000 BTU air conditioner, it really didn’t cool the office down at all. And that made working out there intolerable, and dangerous for the equipment. So, I did the only thing I could do at the time…moved into the house. I set up a small table in my bedroom and set up my new 2012 MacBook Pro (non-retina) along with one of my Dell 24″ monitors and a speaker so that I could continue editing in a nice cool setting. I brought in my nice chair, bought a Griffin laptop mount to get the computer up to a reasonable height to match the Dell, connected the hard drive and was ready to go. This setup helped with obstacle #2.
OBSTACLE #2: Slow computer
Even though it is a tower with loads of RAM (if you think 16GB is loads) and a nice graphics card (Nvidia 285GT) with a Kona 3 card…Avid Symphony seemed to struggle. I would get beach balls periodically that would last about 30-45 seconds, then finally go away. The system would lag behind my keystrokes, meaning I’d hit 5-6 keys…then wait two seconds for the Avid to catch up to me. And I would get consistent FATAL IO ERRORS…related to the Kona. And this horrid “K” key bug where I’d press “K” to pause playback, only it wouldn’t, it just slowed playback down until I released it…in which case it resumed at full speed. I’d need to his the spacebar to stop. That happened periodically.
So in moving into the house, I began using my laptop to edit. And let me tell you, most of those problems went away. By most I mean the “K” key issue persisted, and I got one FATAL IO ERROR…but only after I installed the AJA IoXT box to the system. And then it only happened once in two weeks. And I didn’t use the IoXT all the time, as my reference monitor had to be left out in the office/garage, as I have no room on my bedroom setup for it. Ah well. But overall, the laptop performed a lot better than my tower. Even encoding an H.264 with TC burn was faster on that laptop. My 2008 MacPro is showing it’s age.
OBSTACLE #3: lots of footage, lots of scenes, music to be added…
Basically…time. I was running short on time, and I had a lot of footage to cut. In the end I went a couple days over my deadline, and ended up with a 57 min rough cut. The cut should be in the 48 min range for international, with three minutes removed for domestic. So I am 10 minutes long. No biggie, that just means that the episode will have to be attacked with a machete to cut out enough stuff to get me to time. It took me longer than usual as I had a small library of music that I needed to choose from, and I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist when it comes to music editing and temp audio mixing. It’s a blessing, and a curse. My cuts sound good…but take longer to do. It turned out to be fine, as the producers were still focused on the first episode that another editor cut…so I had some breathing room. Still, it took eighteen 12-14 hour days to get this cut done. 3 days more than I was allotted for this. I hope the next episode will go smoother. I think it will.
OBSTACLE #4: other things
Yes, other things needed my attention. I was on vacation, so was busy trying to work and pack at the same time. Then trying to work with the kids constantly coming in because they heard some cool moment they wanted to see, and they wanted to watch me edit (at that point I switched to using headphones so they couldn’t hear things), and I was trying to deal with two onlines for MSNBC that needed tweaks here and there (Defending Casey Anthony and Ted Bundy: Death Row Tapes. Casey already aired).
All in all I like my cut. I will need to go back and “fancify” things…rock and roll it a little. Add speed effects and cool transitions and the like. I did a bit while I was doing the rough after seeing what the first cut had, I had to try to keep the same style, and make it “not boring.” I did mainly focus on the story, but also wanted to have SOME cool things to make it stand out. And that cool stuff takes a while. I wonder how long the editors of AMERICAN HORROR STORY get to cut a show? I’ll see if the assistant editor Misha comments here and lets us know. He follows me on Twitter, and we’ve had pizza together…so I hope he might.
OK…the cut is done, and I’m off to eat dinner and watch a movie with my family. Here’s a picture of my timeline: