I am going to lay out an outline of my finishing workflow. I am not going to go into much detail for the simple fact that not only do I need a little job security (being one of the few guys who knows how to successfully do this is valuable) but also because I consult for a fee…which I guess is job security as well. But, I will lay out how easy this output was…even though it bumped into a few walls along the way, mainly due to working with HD for the first time.

Issue #1 was show timing. I needed to deliver a show that was rigidly timed in a DROP FRAME timecode. It needed to be 94:10 with :25 second blacks between each act. Well, as you may or may not know, DVCPRO HD 720p 23.98 is a non-drop code. And you can ONLY work in a non-drop timeline. Even if you go to the uncompressed codecs…non-drop only. So task #1 ws to find out what time I needed the non-drop master to be in order to get the drop frame downconverted master to be perfectly timed. The solution (this I will give you) was to take my rough cut, copy it and paste it into a 29.97 timeline. If I was short, I’d add slug to make up the time..if I was long, I’d chop off the excess until I had perfect timing. Then I copied all the footage again and pasted that into a non-drop 23.98 timeline and noted what the end time was. THAT was my target for the main cut. I put a marker there.

OK…so now that I have that down, I edited the show and addressed all the network notes only to find that we were 10 min SHORT! Doh! OK, so my producer scanned thru the interviews for great bytes and re-wrote the script and I frantically edited for 2 weeks to get myself there. With much struggling and adding more footage to the battle scenes, I got the show to time. I sent the acts one by one to my server for the composer (located in Colorado) to download and begin composing. Meanwhile, I work on the Shake comps for all the green screen footage I have. For the shots that were just beyond me, I subcontracted to a buddy of mine who is a Shake guru. He did 6 of the toughies, and I managed the simple keys…with much help from him. At the same time we had a guy working on our maps in Phoenix AZ. When he was done, he’d simply e-mail me a project file and I’d render it out (we are using Curious World Maps for the map software). I would then add those maps to the cut. Master still footage came in, and master Stock Footage (on DV…and how I upconverted this will be another post another day) and I cut it into the show…all working towards getting everything at full resolution.

The stills were fun. 4000×3000 mainly. I did most the moves in FCP, but did some of them in AE when I wanted to stylize the black and white ones, adding a little color. These took a while to render. And it was a mad dash to get all of them at full resolution. But, we did it and finally I was ready to prep for the output.

I uprezzed the footage using FCP and rendered it out…adding the higher resolution After Effects comps and maps. I needed to output a texted and textless master, so I duplicated my sequence and removed all the text and rendered again. When that was done I exported that to an external drive. I was able to fit both the texted and textless outputs onto a G-Raid.

I took this G-Raid and my laptop and project that I created for the final output to the audio mixer. Initially we were going to do the typical online workflow where we output the final picture and temp audio to HDCAM, then layback audio at a later date. But we were cutting things close, and I had to cancel layback once. Not wanting to incur another deck rental, I asked the mixer for the audio files. I would add them to my timeline and output the master picture and audio at the same time. He was hesitant, because they have done this in the past and had issues with sync. My solution was to bring my hard drive and laptop to the mix and after watching it and making sure it was good, to take the audio files and tie them to my picture…right there in the bay. I then checked sync at the head , middle and end of each act. I had to slip a couple things, that he reproduced on his end. But by the time I left, things were perfect.

I then took the drive, picture and audio to a post facility for output. Now, my machine is equiped to do this, but I am unfamiliar with the HDCAM deck and I wanted someone who was an expert with it to manage the output. So I went to a post facility specializing in FCP and did the output. A couple hiccups occurred that were fixed on the spot. But eventually the spot was output, twice (texted and textless) successfully.

I had my masters. The finish line was in site.

Off to the dub facility for closed caption encoding and downconvert and we were set. Out the door it went, and as you will note below in my previous post, it had minor issues that we addressed and resent.

This final output was not without its snags. Not everything went as smoothly as I would have liked, but I learned many things that will make the next one go much smoother.

I’ll be reminding you all of the airdate next week…BECAUSE IT AIRS NEXT WEEK! Friday, September 29, 2006…8:00 ET/PT.

I have another History Channel show that I start in 3 weeks, and it has it’s own set of issues, so I will continue bloggin away.