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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…
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Category: P2

OK, it has been a while since I did a spontaneous blog post…dealing with an issue I am faced with at this moment.  But, it is one that has always been in the air, and has driven me to make the decisions I have made.

ARCHIVING TAPELESS MEDIA

I know that the current thought for rock solid archiving is LTO or DLT tape drive backups.  Because this is what banks use to archive all their data.  Yes, you have to buy a deck, and while it doesn’t cost as much as, say an HDCAM SR deck or D5 deck…it isn’t cheap.  And then you have multiple options…LTO3, LTO4, DLT.  And multiple types of software to backup/recover this data.  Not much of a standard there.  Although when I was at the DV Expo, there seemed to be a consortium of LTO drive makers that all were backing the new way of archiving, one that made things very simple, and made the drives show up like hard drives, and you could grab what you wanted. Still, to many places it is still cost prohibitive, and somewhat complex (if you don’t get newest) software.

The issue I’m facing today is that the first two seasons of a show had their camera masters archived to LTO4, using NETVAULT software.  They did this when they were housed at a post facility.  So archival and recovery was easy, as it was under the same roof as they were editing.  But then the post house closed, and auctioned off all of their equipment.  And the production didn’t buy the LTO deck.  So now they had all these tapes with their source footage, and no way to get anything off of them.  It’s like when I asked for an HD copy of a show I edited for my reel, and I was handed an HDCAM tape.  Well…nice, but, I don’t have an HDCAM deck.

So today the production told me that they needed to retreive some footage from a previous season to use in the current season.  But all they had were these tapes.  And the post house was gone.  It was now my job to find a way to get this footage off the drives.  I called around, and found a place that had the drives, had the software, and could do just what I needed.  And it was relatively cheap…but not when your budget is already spent, and low low low as it was.  There was a per/GB charge that wasn’t too bad, but then a bay rental fee.  And the total was steep given the budget, but what could we do?  We needed the footage.

This situation makes me feel much better about how I archive the current season of the show.  My current solution is to archive to hard drives.  And not one drive, but two per archive.  A manual “RAID 1″ if you will.  I backup all the cards to two hard drives…redundancy.  So I get 1TB Hitachi hard drives (around $60 each), and I have this SansDigital 4 drive eSATA dock ($99)…and I simply slap bare SATA drives in, backup, take them out, put them into Webietech drive cases ($7), and I’m done.  They are easy to access…and I don’t need my DOCK to access them.  Any single drive SATA docking system will work.  And they are cheap, so I can get a couple to keep around in storage if I wanted.  Then I can access any of the drives, any time I want.  Heck, I can even slap them onto a drive tray on my MacPro!

When I hand off drives to clients, I get drives with enclosures, so they can access them any time on any machine they want. Two drive redundancy if they want…they pay for the drives.

I know that LTO options are getting standardized, but still, when a client wants the source backups, and the get handed one of these…they now are in the situation described above.  With a tape in hand and no easy means to access the footage.  And from experience, clients want the easiest thing possible.

NOTE:  DO NOT DO THIS!

Can’t be more wrong than this.  What makes it worse is that the offloads were done on a PC, and the drive is formatted, NOT Fat32, but NTFS…meaning that I can’t make changes…I can’t go in an FIX the names.

If you want something to be the date, the card, and the camera…it should be 040810_01A.  That’s… April 8, 2010  - Card 1, Camera A.  040810_01B.  That’s …April 8, 2010 = Card 1, Camera B.

Working with Tapeless Formats in Final Cut Pro 7 via Log and Transfer.

This covers P2 (AVCIntra and DVCPRO HD), XDCAM EX, AVCHD, Canon DSLR (5D, 7D and T2i)…and one possible RED workflow. The basic workflow on getting footage off the cards and into FCP for editing.

Conforming 60p Footage to Smooth Slow Motion using Cinema Tools.

This is a quick tutorial that addresses the question “How do I get this great 60fps footage I shot into slow motion 23.98 or 29.97?”

Yeah…I’ve been busy with Tutorials.  This is what happens when I don’t have a steady job…

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…

I have been testing this application for a bit, and it is really cool.

P2 Flow

Made in collaboration between MXF4MAC.com and Spherico this handy application “provides editing of the original P2 metadata including MXF video/audio preview and unique workflow features for Final Cut Pro. It’s the only external application that is able to send MXF online clips to Final Cut Pro as well as offline clips that can be ingested with Log and Transfer.” That means that you can edit the metadata, then send use the application to send the clips with the new metadata to FCP for NATIVE access to the MXF files…OR…you can send the clips as “offline clips” that you can then use BATCH CAPTURE to import them into FCP as QT files. The first option is cool for the small one-man-band studios that have only one machine, but the QT import option is fantastic for the operation that has multiple machines but can only afford one copy of the application.

Here is a quick rundown:

- Full metadata editing
- Synchronized metadata editing for spanned clips
- Backward synchronizing of metadata for spanned clips – in case of incomplete spanned
clips had been edited
- Automatic Spotlight search for incomplete spanned clips
- Find function for metadata entries and batch metadata editing
- MXF video and audio preview (DV, DVCPRO25/50)
- AVC-Intra preview support on PPC when using recorded MP4 proxies
- Set in and out points for Final Cut Pro (DV, DVCPRO25/50)
- Send native MXF based online clips to Final Cut Pro (DV, DVCPRO25/50)
- Send offline clips to Final Cut Pro to batch ingest with Log and Transfer
- Full metadata mapping to Final Cut Pro
- Metadata mapping to QuickTime through Log and Transfer
- Memo List editing (DV, DVCPRO25/50, AVC-Intra proxies)
- Memo List mapping to Final Cut Pro markers
- Google Maps support for P2 location metadata (search only)
- Automatic angle mapping (for multicam setups) for Final Cut Pro based upon camera serial numbers
- VirtualTape function creates one single QuickTime movie from a selection of clips
- Visual feedback in the user interface for modified and unsaved P2 metadata
- Automatic update of Access Update metadata on changes
- Integrated user interface to work without cluttered windows
- Support for smallest MacBook display (1280 x 800) to work in the field

Let me highlight another feature for you: VirtualTape function creates one single QuickTime movie from a selection of clips. This means that instead of getting a MASSIVE amount of those small clips that P2 generates, you can join them as one big QT file…just like you might capture a huge section of tape. This is big…the first time I saw the massive amount of small clips P2 generated I was a tad overwhelmed. I like to have one big clip to scroll through for footage, and I had resorted to making selects Sequences for this purpose. But now…I don’t have to.

Take a gander…there is a demo available that will injest 3 clips…so that you can play around and kick the tires.

EDIT: P2 Flow will be demoed at the FCPUG SuperMeet in Amsterdam Sept. 13 at the Spherico and MXF4Mac tables by the authors themselves.

http://www.lafcpug.org/Amsterdam_2009.html