So I am finally done with my rough cut of the show. It took 5 weeks but I finally did it. A week longer than normal, but I had a lot of recreation clips. Since this show relied heavily on recreation, I had a lot to sort thru. The reason I had tons of clips was due to the way the HVX-200 and P2 break up the footage. Every time you start, then stop the camera, that is a new clip. So where I once was able to scrub thru a 10 minute clip to find what I needed, I had to load 15-30 clips into the viewer. That is one of the few drawbacks to the P2 workflow.

But that’s not what I am here to talk about. I am here to talk about how we did our rough cut edit session.

My producer is in Long Beach and I am in Sherman Oaks. An hours drive with good traffic. And in Los Angeles, good traffic is rare. I had sent the project file to my producer the day I finished, so that he could open it and relink the media and watch the cut himself (he has all the media too)…and at full resolution. Which he did. But there were a few reconnecting hiccups as I just copied over the P2 footage I imported, and scattered them onto one of his G-Raid 500GB drives and a G-Raid 1TB drive. Because the clips were all over, and the drive names didn’t match what I had (I have media on two 500GB G-Raids and an internal 250GB SATA) reconnecting became quite a chore. It took him the better part of a day, and he had to go thru each Act (I have a sequence for each Act) and connect manually. If I send him another cut he will have to do it all over again, so we determined that he will clean off three drives and I will copy over the drives, and name them the same names, so that there will be no issues reconnecting the footage. We planned this from the start, but then, well, got lazy I suppose. I thought it would be easy to just reconnect, as I had no problems with smaller projects in the past. But this one is HUGE, so it was a different monster.

But, again, I have strayed.

OK…the remote edit session. I hooked up my iSight camera to my laptop, and pointed it at one of my Dell 2405 monitors and set playback to Digital Cinema Preview:

I used a stack of CDs to get it to the proper height. Here is what my desktop looked like:

OK….the reason we did it this way is that we were working with HD footage, and I lacked both the AJ-HD1200 DVCPRO HD deck, and an HD capture card that would have allowed me to stream the output from the G5 directly into the powerbook. And if I did that, I’d still need yet another computer to then chat with my producer…a 3-way chat. So I had to resort to doing it this way, which I hear is what they did on SCRUBS for music spotting sessions with their composer, who lived out of state. They did figure out how to go directly into a machine, but as I said, would require three computers. I have that (my old iBook), but lack the other essential hardware (deck and/or card). And pointing it at the monitor worked well, as he could then hear the playback, and me.

On his end the iSight was pointed at him, so I got to see his reactions and more importantly, know when he was talking. When I played back the video, it was pretty loud so I couldn’t hear him, but when he talked he moved, or he waved a hand to indicate that we needed to fix this spot. Also on his end was a 32″ Samsung HDTV, connected to his G5 tower via DVI>HDMI. So he threw the video chat window onto that and increased the size. Sure, it was fuzzy, but he could see the picture, and because he watched it full res earlier, knew the footage was good.

So we had our session. Watching the cut, stopping when something needed to be fixed. Cutting sections that didn’t work or seemed redundant. Since we were 15 minutes over our delivery time requirements, we needed to cut time. And we wanted to get to about 5 min over. Which we did…4:48 longer than delivery requirements. Gives us room for network notes. We also looked at the holes in the footage I had. Stills and footage I needed. When we hit those sections my producer would search various sites for the needed stills, then drop them onto the iChat window, or e-mail them to me to drop into the show. A few sections required VO changes, which he did, then either e-mailed or iChat transferred. And in one case, he wanted to add an interview byte that I didn’t have, so he found the byte, exported it, and dropped it onto my iDisk. I then grabbed it (after a 2 hour upload) and dropped it into the cut.

11 hours later we were halfway thru Act 7 (4PM to 3AM) and had to call it a night. We picked it up the next day and finished the remaining acts (9 total). We then went back thru the show to see if there were any holes that still needed fixing and patched them up. By 12:30 AM the next night (we started at 4PM again) we were done.

Now came the DVD encoding.

Oh…my…GOD. Again…I did things all wrong. But, these are lessons learned. Stuff that I will never do wrong again. What did I do wrong? Well, after nesting the sequence and adding a TC Reader so that I had visible TC for the network to supply notes, I didn’t render the sequence before I exported. I started too, but then saw the 4 hour time and thought, “heck, I’ll just export and it will render when it does that.” Yes it will, and it will take a lot longer. 18 hours to be exact. I exported it thru Compressor (File>Export>Compressor) and chose the 120min preset. And 20 hours later (from 6:30 AM to 12:30 AM…after I did more finessing to fix the music and sound were I cut out huge sections) I finally had what I needed to encode. Making the DVD with DVD SP then took a total of 50 min…burn time included. It is times like these where you really want that Dual 2.7 G5 (remember, i am using a Dual 2Ghz G5).

I took the DVD and tested it on my home DVD player. Which is a good test as it is a finicky one that doesn’t like burned DVDs all that often. It worked, and it looked beautiful.


Now I have a week to go thru the show and work on the green screen sections and tricks I want to do with the still images while we await notes.