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Little Frog in High Def

Musings of an NLE ronin…

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I posted this video on Twitter, because I thought it was well done, and I wanted to pass on the word about how United treats people. This shows the power of web video…what the man couldn’t do on his own by calling and callling United, gets resolved because he made a clever song and great video explaining his situation to the world. CNN picks this up and WHOOOPS, here comes United, all ready to deal with the man and start paying restitution.

The story can be found here.

They’ll steal from you and treat you like crap, unless their doing so gets such wide attention. Don’t think for a minute that this will change policy. To save face they’ll only help the very visible customers.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Old expression that still holds true.

There is a great post on the Creative Cow in the BUSINESS AND MARKETTING forum. A sample contract for all those just getting into editing…well, that isn’t true. This is a sample contract for all those who have to deal with independent clients (ones not associated with television or education) who are low rent in every meaning of the word. Bottom feeders.

So much of this rings true it is scary. Here’s a small sample to get you interested:

I, (name here) henceforth to be referred to as “the dummy”, will contract to work on your ill-defined project for an unspecified amount of hours, with no limitations on how many times I will re-do the work, until you are satisfied, for a single, fixed, fee, payable by third-party out-of-state check, only once and long after you have been completely satisfied, and after you yourself (henceforth to be known as “the client”) have made any and all profit from the use of this work, but not if the project incurs no profits. Profits to be determined by Client’s verbal say-so. Client will decide when and if to pay for services rendered on a flexible net-2000 basis, with free extensions.

Click here for the rest.

My buddy Scott Simmons of the Editblog has really outdone himself this time. He has written a GREAT post (5 pages and well worth it) on the basics of Avid Media Composer for the Final Cut Pro editor. And was is really cool about this is that you can follow along while using the Media Composer software because the newest version has a 14 day trial period, a free demo.

Download the software and play with it. It really is a great platform. And you can capture via firewire with it, so you really can try it out. And read the article, so you don’t get lost.

Part two of the great tutuorial series by Nick Holmes.

Welcome to round two of the MPEG Streamclip tutorial.

MPEG Streamclip will let you process several clips at once (batches). So you can set it up and walk away to do more useful things like wash the car, walk the dog or spend some quality time with the family.

I do a lot of projects about pro motorcycle racing. At first we tried bolting regular cameras onto a bike and chasing after the riders. Now these folks are all absolutely mad. Shooting around the track at incredible speeds is dangerous . We also discovered that the weight of the camera on our bike completely changed how it reacts when cornering. Hair raising stuff indeed.

Because we love our rider at least as much as our cameras, we invested in a bunch of those tiny little finger sized cams that record to solid state drives. We can tape those little guys anywhere for some really exciting and unusual shots.

We expect to have a few of them destroyed over the course of the season, so we had to find a way to save money. The recorders we got make AVI files and use the MPEG 4 codec. Not very FCP friendly, but that’s where MPEG Streamclip comes in.

Fire it up and click on *Edit > Batch List*, or press *command and B*:

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The next window opens:

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Now we need to give MPEG Streamclip some files to work with.
Either drag them in from the Finder or click the *Add Files* button:

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After choosing the files, the next window pops up. Because the clips are going to be used in FCP, we want to Export to QuickTime. Check the *Fix Timecode Breaks* button here as well, then click OK:

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We already know this window from part one of the tutorial.

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The rest of my material is DV-PAL, so I choose that codec here:

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Click on *To Batch* and up comes the next set of options. At the bottom of the window, we can choose how many clips are processed in parallel. Click on the button marked in blue below to choose between 1 to 4 clips, then on the *Go* button:

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I chose to do 4 clips at once, so with a reasonably fast Mac it should not take long to process:

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That’s all folks.

FINALLY! They have been filming the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group meetings diligently for a long time, but then would be very behind on the editing of them. And when they did come available, a year later…maybe…they might be out of date, or not marketted well (sorry Michael).

But now….NOW…they are on the ball. Now the meetings are all edited and up to date, and available online for a small…really small…fee. I mean, this is cheaper than going in person? But that money pays for all the great networking we have access to, and to the prizes that we all have a chance at winning (I won a G-Drive mini a couple meetings ago). Many thanks go out to the very devoted people who made this possible. Here’s the “press release” from the LAFCPUG newsletter:

We have caught up on past lafcpug meeting movies and you can now
subscribe and download them for a very low price each. (from .50 to $1.99
each)

It’s so easy and so cheap. All you need do is go here:

http://opentvnetwork.com/channel/contents/7

Look left and click on “Sign up for a Customer Account” link. Fill in form.
Yes, you are asked for a credit card, but guess what, the first $5.00 of
lafcpug meetings are FREE. Meaning you can pick about 3-4 segments for
absolutely free.

After receiving your activation code email find the lafcpug meeting content
page and subscribe to it via iTunes. You are now set up and ready to
download. It’s that easy and those of you who do not live in LA can now feel
a part of the lafcpug experience. Some of these segments are worth gold.
Some are not. But hey, it’s cheap. Not much of a gamble here and you will
learn something.

So..go here and sign up and subscribe to the “LA Final Cut Pro User Group
Meeting Video Feed.”

http://opentvnetwork.com/channel/contents/7

Happy Learning!

Special thanks to Dean Cleary for shooting and editing. And Philip Hodgetts
and Gregory Clarke for inventing this whole thing.

OK, so on this side doc that I am apparently taking FOREVER to finish, I have a challenge. The challenge is that 60% of it was shot with the HVX-200 at 720p24…and about 40% of it was shot HDV 1080i…but at 24p. So I have DVCPRO HD 720p at 23.98 and HDV 1080i 29.97…but with pulldown somewhere in there. How am I going to get this HDV footage to the format I need?

Well, I knew that I needed to first remove the pulldown. But you can’t do that with GOP formats like HDV and XDCAM…you need to convert it first. BUT…DVCPRO HD 720p is a 59.94 format and only 29.97 formats can be reverse telecined. What a pickle! So I had to convert to ProRes 1080i 29.97. I did that easiliy enough with Compressor. Then I reverse telecined with Cinema tools…and that looked fine. But then i remembered this article:

Final Cut Pro 6: 1080p24 workflow for Canon HV20 camcorder

Ahhh…I could do this in one pass. OK, I used Compressor to convert HDV 1080i 29.97 to ProRes 1080p 23.98. That looked good. But I needed DVCPRO HD 720p 23.98. OK then, ANOTHER pass in Compressor to get it to 720p DVCPRO HD. OK, that worked and it looks fine…but now I have transcoded twice…and I have quality loss.

Hmmm…Why not do it all at once? Convert to DVCPRO HD 720p and reverse telecine the footage (that is 29.97) to 23.98? I thought that since HDV was a GOP format, I’d need to first convert to an I Frame format…but the article proved that I didn’t. It converted and reversed…it must have done it in that order. So I did the exact same steps, but chose DVCPRO HD 720p instead of ProRes.

Looked great. Perfect. So one pass conversion of HDV 1080i 29.97 to DVCPRO HD 720p 23.98. This only worked because they shot 24p…or 24F rather…on a Canon HV20. I this won’t look right with regular HDV 1080i60. Well, it might not, I don’t have footage to test.

So ALL I have to do is separate out all the HDV footage, media manage it to another location, batch transcode/rev. telecine with Compressor (that’ll take a while), and then manually cut it back into the show. Whoooo….that is a lot of footage.

This great step by step tutorial comes to you from Nick Holmes, from across the Pond.

USING MPEG STREAMCLIP TO MAKE QT FILES FROM DVDS THAT YOU CAN EDIT WITH IN FCP

There’s this marvellous piece of free software called MPEG Streamclip, many of you are already using it or have heard of it. If you don’t have it, download it now! This is an invaluable tool that every video editor should have at their disposal.

So, what does it do?

MPEG Streamclip converts a bunch of video formats to something that you can use in Final Cut Pro and edit with. It also converts video that you just need in another format for whatever reason you might have.

Sometimes we get clients that turn up with something that absolutely must be in their project. The problem is, all they have is a DVD and there’s no chance of getting the original footage. Well, that’s clients for you. Welcome to the world of video post production.

If you look at the structure of a DVD in the Finder, there are several files with cryptic names -IFO, VOB, VTS…. What’s all that about?

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Don’t worry. Copy the entire DVD to a local hard drive. Open MPEG Streamclip. What?… OK, then download it now.

Click on File > Open Files. MPEG Streamclip knows what you want and only the relevant files are highlighted.

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Choose VTS_01_1.VOB -you don’t usually need 1_0 as this is just black padding between the menu and the stuff you really need.

You might be asked if you want to fix timecode or data errors -click OK, it’s better. Trust me.

You might be asked if you want to join files. I prefer to say no at this point -give me the individual files, I’m a professional video editor after all.

The spinning wheel does its thing….. Hey look, it’s a scene from the DVD!

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Now we need to convert it to something that Final Cut pro can use. This is the only setting of any interest to Final Cut Pro editors:

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Click it and we are where we really need to be:

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MPEG Streamclip will always show this screen as a default. For the most part the DV codec is fully acceptable, after all its coming from a highly compressed source to begin with. Lets change it:

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What do we learn from the above illustration? you will notice that I have checked the reinterlace chroma box, Why?
Because I am an unwashed English dog that works in the PAL format. That’s why. No really, it looks nicer -do it.
All you have to do now is save your movie. Click the “Make Movie” button then give it a name and place to live.

If you are working in an uncompressed Timeline and your client brings a DVD that absolutely must be cut into the movie, then choose an appropriate setting from the list of those offered by MPEG Streamclip. If you are working in a HD Timeline and your client… Oh Noes! They be already in your office!
You were supposed to have your armed, drunken grandfather guarding the door. Check that he has not fallen asleep!

That’s all for now. In part two we will discuss converting batches in MPEG Streamclip.

A friend of mine made a discovery today. He found that he could view a ProRes file on a computer that DID NOT have Final Cut Pro installed. This was amazing, because as far as we knew, and in our past experience, this should not be possible. ProRes, like DVCPRO HD, HDV and XDCAM (and XDCAM EX) encoded quicktime files could NOT be viewed on any machine that didn’t have FCP installed. They were proprietary QT codecs that came with FCP only. So when you captured your footage and then gave the raw files to your client to view, all they’d get is a white screen and a notice that they needed to download some codec…that of course they couldn’t do (not available online).

But then Apple was nice to come out with free Quicktime decoders for ProRes, for both Mac and PC.

NOW…the interesting thing is that my friend did not download and install the decoders on this other machine. He just went to open the files, and after watching them said “hey, I shouldn’t be able to do this.” He wondered if this was some part of the latest QT update, 7.6.2. So I tested too. I grabbed a ProRes file (small one) and took it to the reception desk to the iMac sitting there…FCP not installed, but QT 7.6.2 was. And sure enough, it showed up in cover flow, and opened in QT.

I’ll be damned.

Looking into this I noticed something. On the download page for ProRes for Windows it says something…

“Apple ProRes QuickTime Decoder is also included in QuickTime 7.5.5 and later.”

Well blow me down. Did you know that? I didn’t know that? Where was that in the release notes? Well even if it WAS there, I wouldn’t have seen it. Who reads those anyway? Well, I guess it is time to start. Interestingly that note is not a part of the ProRes for Mac. Being a Mac guy that would be the only one I really look at…but being a help forum whore who posts links like this across 5 forums, you’d think that I’d READ them.

So apparently this decoder was included with QT for Macs too…at some point. At least in QT 7.6.2…maybe earlier. Experiment with this on your own if you can. If you have a ProRes file…you can simply transcode anything you captured into ProRes by using compressor…take it to a Mac without FCP installed and try it out. Report back if it does or does not work, and what version of QT that machine had. This way we can track when it was deployed.

Now I have tested and this is not true for DVCPRO HD…darn it all. I hope they do that soon. And HDV….and XDCAM.

OK, if you haven’t heard me talking about the Flanders Scientific monitors on the forums (mainly The Creative Cow), then let me mention here and now that I like these monitors. I did mention this before in my NAB WRAPUP for 2009, but not much.

I have the 1760W in my bay for a few weeks. I quickly swapped out the HD CRT (PVM-14L5) that I am using and put this in it’s place. The PVM replaced the utterly horrid LMD 2450W that was sitting there. I am using the PVM because I have to, but I am getting tired of the small 14″ monitor. When I first saw the Flanders I was blown away…GREAT color reproduction. Best monitor in it’s class…the sub $8000 market. Better than the JVCs, slightly better than the Panasonic 1760.

ANYWAY, I am not going to go into tons of detail because I am not an engineer. I just know that this monitor shows me a more accurate representation of the footage than most I have seen in it’s class. I wanted to say that if you are in the LA area and wanted to come and see it for yourself, please let me know. FSI doesn’t work through dealers, so there are no floor models on display anywhere. The FSI guys tend to fly around and show them off in person. The head guy Dan was just leaving LA for a few weeks, so instead of throwing the monitor into a storage locker, he lent it to me. So if you are interested, and local, either e-mail me at comeback@mac.com, or leave your e-mail in the comments.

Thank you.

When I think that I might have to learn MORE about HD…I quiver. I haven’t even touched RED yet and already my brain is full.

My buddy Patrick Sheffield of Sheffield Softworks has been busy. Not editing like he normally does, but making more plugins. One in particular, TOON-A-MATIC. Yeah yeah, you have a few choices when it comes to plugins that “cartoon” your footage, but this is one of the better ones, and importantly, one of the LESS EXPENSIVE ones.

Check it out…a demo is available. Here’s the press release:

I thought you might be interested in our new Toon-A-Matic plugin. The Toon-A-Matic plugin gives your clip a “Toon Shaded” look that has been compared to A Scanner Darkly or those Charles Schwab ads. This filter uses a proprietary Toon Shader algorithm to produce a look similar to conventional ‘Cel Shaders’. It also has a “Caricature” setting to produce organic distortions to exaggerate or minimize features. The effect works best on HD material.

It is my first released FxPlug plugin, and as such, it is available in both Motion and Final Cut Pro. It requires Final Cut Studio 2, and the Leopard operating system

For more information, and to download a demo, visit Sheffield Softworks. The plugin’s normal price is $79, but currently has a one month introductory price of $10 off or $69.

Ben King of LAFCPUG has a great review of the new DROBO Pro that ALSO includes a simple way to set up a quick simple low rent shared storage network.

Nice Ben…

ACQUISITION AND DELIVERY WORKFLOW LINKS

I came across this yesterday on the Apple site. I list of video formats and links to the vendor sites and workflow examples. Pretty good launching pad for people considering their options when trying to figure out where to start.

Here is a nice tip for you Avid folks out there who edit with Avid and use DVD SP to make your DVDs. This comes from Evan’s Editing Brain Dump blog, and was pointed out to me by Jim of FinalCutUser.

Converting Avid locators into DVD Studio Pro chapter markers.

Still irks me that the Avid software bundle doesn’t ship with DVD Authoring software for Macs. It includes one for PCs, but my last three jobs were all on Macs running Avid. Every place had a copy of TOAST for this task. Ehh…it’s cheap enough.

ANYWAYS..good tip.

Ok, after reading this article by Philip Hodgetts with his thoughts on the removal of the Express34 slot from the 15″ model…I think I am calming down and seeing things in perspective. He said something that I didn’t know. I didn’t watch the key note…I just read the updates on MacRumors. So I missed this:

Phil Schiller said during the presentation, only “single digit” numbers of their users use the ExpressCard34 slot. At least 90% of people were paying for a feature they didn’t use.

Single digit number of users use this slot. A vast majority of people don’t use that connection, so to them it is a waste of space and money. Most people use SD cards. OK then…I get it. Why include something that 90% people don’t use? But it isn’t like they ENTIRELY did away with this…it is still available on the 17″ for the editors who want it. And since the prices were lowered across the board, the 17″ starts at $2499, which is where most 15″ fall in price on average.

OK..so it is still an option, it didn’t go away, you just have to pay a little more. And there are still adapters out there for the SxS cards like there are for P2 cards. And I know that a lot of shooters with the EX line don’t use those expensive SxS cards anyway, they use the Compact Flash adapters for a cheaper reliable alternative. Still sucks for adding a Firewire bus or eSATA, but, as Philip also said (and something I have noticed as well):

Frankly, my experience with the ExpressCard34 slot has hardly been stellar: cards unmount with the slightest bump.

These are really delicate connections.

Anway…if are still jonzing to buy a 15″ model with the Express34 slot now is the time to leap. As the End of Life models will go for a deal, and re-firbs as well.