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Little Frog in High Def

Adventures in Editing
Little Frog In High Def


Archive for July, 2007

I don’t know how I missed posting this. Too excited I guess. Calling people and e-mailing…for I forgot to post it.

BLOOD DIAMONDS has been nominated for an Emmy. OUTSTANDING NONFICTION SPECIAL. So while me and my editing partner Dan Wolfmeyer didn’t get nominated for editing, the show as a whole was nominated for outstanding nonfiction special. In essence the entire production staff has been nominated. And I am proud to have been a part of this show. It perhaps the single most important documentary that I have worked on.

We are up against some stiff competition…even one from the same network as ours (History Channel):

Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed • The History Channel
Ghosts Of Abu Ghraib • HBO • Moxie Firecracker
Brando • TCM • A Greif Company Production
AFI’s 100 Years….100 Cheers: America’s Most Inspiring Movies • CBS • An AFI Production

But I think we can do it.

(The one you see on the right)

By Wayne Carey, of the Creative Cow:

COW Review

5 out of 5 Cows.

Thanks Wayne.

And yes, I like 80’s music and Jonny Quest.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I have been busy wrapping up ANDREW JACKSON, and starting my NEW job editing a surgery show for Discovery…and I have family in town…so…busy.

But, I wanted to post a quick news item. Because I am currently editing on an Avid (which I will blog about because I both like and dislike the system…it is an old one), and there is a LOT of stuff happening.

Avid lays off 129 people in a restructuring move.

This after CEO David Krall made the announcement a couple weeks ago that he was stepping down at the end of the month.

WHAT IS HAPPENING THERE? Are they FINALLY getting that their expensive price model cannot work in the current market? I mean, $5000 for a software version of Media Composer…ONLY the NLE itself. And if you want a Mojo, that is more. This is tough when you have Apple and Adobe offering full suites of software for 1/3 the price, including high end graphics and audio and DVD authoring tools.

I do see this as a good move. If the current staff isn’t doing what is required to make Avid competitive in today’s market, then maybe some new blood will. I for one want to see Avid sticking around. I still really like the software and would like to continue to have it as an option. Another tool in my belt.

ANYWAY…I an able to type this as the Unity is down…again. This time in a more serious way. It does tend to go down often, but that is solved with a reboot. Not this time. But, Technology isn’t perfect. I expect this so it is no skin off my nose. Give me time to write.

EDIT: This comes from a comment that I meant to keep brief at FresHDV, but ended up writing a bit about. Wanted to share.

I mean…coming from a history of working with Avid (10+ years), $5000 is a FANTASTIC price. VERY cheap. When you consider that a full system all but 5 years ago cost between $65k and $120k…that is DARN cheap.

The issue is that now they have competition. SERIOUS competition. Not consumer software, but pro software from TWO vendors that offer a full suite of applications for under $1700. Faced with that they have to do something. They can’t survive if they try to rely on their old client base who has the deep pockets and would see that as a deal. Because MANY of their clients are now looking at FCP and going “Hey, look at that! I can get a fully loaded HD ready system for about $20,000…or less! Start editing stuff on my laptop for $1200.” They look at Avid and see their Laptop offering and see the $5k price tag…and are lacking motion graphics abilities, sound mixing, DVD authoring…and now WORLD CLASS color correction.

Avid has Media Management down…that is what makes it so attractive. And using the softare on a laptop in conjunction with the footage on an Adrenaline (their big selling point at NAB) is nice, but is it worth the $5000 pricetag? It is great software and very powerful. But I can do so much with FCP that I would really only consider the Media Composer software when I needed to work in conjunction with other Avids, or where the tools it provided were key to the success of the project.

I have yet to find that need. Well…unless my current job would allow me to edit from my home, but they like to have us here with the producers…close. And that makes sense.

ANYWAY…I have to talk about my experience in returning to the Avid after a 2 year break. Quite interesting.
And no…The Unity is not down at the time of the writing of this addition to my first comment. End of the work day cool down before the horrid drive home.

Here I am at the DR Group outputting my show…actually, TJ Ryan, the post specialist here, is doing all the work, I am sitting back and watching…when TJ says, “Hey, wanna see your show on the BIG SCREEN?” By big screen he means the new theatre they are building. Barco 2K projector. Who am I to say no? But there will be no audio, as they are still building it and haven’t routed audio from the machine room yet. Still…I wanted to see it on the big screen.


It looks STUNNING! Nice…really nice. DVCPRO HD blown up big really holds up. A couple grain issues on a few dark scenes shot with the HVX, but just looks like film grain, so I am well used to it. Very sharp. VERY film like. Made me really like what I did with the color correction. Wow wow wow.

I remembered that ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, the third in the MARIACHI trilogy by Robert Rodriguez, was shot with the Varicam, and it saw major theatrical release. And I doubt that they audience (minus a few in the know) had any clue that this film was not only HD, but one of the more compressed formats of HD.

I know I just bought a Panasonic 42″ plasma monitor…but now I really want a Barco projector in my living room. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

I color corrected the entire show with COLORISTA and LOVE what that plugin can do. It treats color right. When you add blue to your blacks, it makes the blacks blacker, and bluish…whereas the 3-way CC will make the darks bright blue. And The ability to layer color correction and use one layer to isolate an area and brighten or adjust in other ways (keep a face out of the shadows)…VERY useful. One of my favorite and most used plugins. Can’t recommend it enough.

Now that I have FCS 2 I’ll have to try Color…but I know for quick and dirty color correction I’ll be using Colorista.

EDIT: ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO was shot with a Sony CineAlta. My faulty memory had him shooting that film with a Varicam, when all he did was TEST that camera as an option. It was, in fact, shot with a CineAlta. Doesn’t change the fact that my show still looked DARN GOOD on the semi-big screen…but it was a mistake that I needed to correct. Thanks Vincent.

Frank Capria over at Capria.TV asked people to submit their favorite editing quotes. And there are a few good ones. That reminded me of this list I found posted on a bulletin board at work…some 10 odd years ago. Still VERY true today.

10. It’s just a preview glitch…
9. It’s out of the safe area, you’ll never see that on the air…
8. It won’t really look like that…
7. I’ll fill out the paperwork tomorrow…
6. Why no, I don’t mind working on Saturday…
5. Oh, don’t go by THAT monitor…
4. It works better as a cut…
3. That glitch is on the source tape…
2. I’ll have all your changes done by the end of the day…
1. No, I agree. It’s much better that way.

10. It’s pretty simple. It should only take an hour…
9. Budget? Don’t worry about it…
8. Feel free to be creative with this…
7. I only need a couple dubs…
6. The network will love it. They won’t make any changes…
5. I’m positive we’ve got that shot on another tape…
4. I’ve never had this problem anywhere else I have edited…
3. Could I see it just one more time?
2. I thought you’d be able to just paint it out…
1. How hard could it be?

(when they pick up the second half of a session)
10. It’ll only take about an hour to render…
9. I’ve pre-built all of the chyron…
8. It should only go a couple of more hours…
7. I’ll be at home. Call me if you have any questions…
6. The producer has been really organized so far…
5. All of the decks are working perfectly…
4. The list has been working great…
3. I’ve had no problems with this Avid…
2. Don’t worry, the credit roll is short…
1. I’ve already done the hardest parts…

5. Kick me off if you need the station.
4. You don’t have to log everything.
3. We’ll finish early today.
2. I organized the files really well already.
1. An hour of footage a day, tops.

1. “I’ll be home soon.”

Not that long ago I pointed to a set of free plugins that my buddy Patrick Sheffield made for Final Cut Pro:


-Two Strip Technicolor
-Three Strip Technicolor
-Three Strip EXTREME
-Convolve Toy
-Captain’s Blowout Fixer

Now he has added TWO MORE plugins to the list. While they aren’t free, they do wonderful things that make them worth the purchase:

Sheffield Softworks

They include the EMA, “ELECTRONIC MAKEUP ARTIST.” This plugin will smooth out the wrinkles and blemishes on the skin of your subject, while leaving the rest of the picture untouched. The example has a picture of Lauren Bacall, and man, does it make her look young! The price? $149. WELL worth it. Make the bride’s mother look like the bride’s sister in the wedding video.

GRAPHIC NOVEL LOOK – This plugin makes your footage look like artwork. Along the same vein as what you see with Linklater’s films like SCANNER DARKLY and WAKING LIFE…pretty darn neat. This one goes for $49…which is a bargain because I have seen other plugins that do similar looks (Toon It) at a much higher cost. I am looking for an excuse to use this one.

I am sure my mother will appreciate my home movies more after I apply the EMA plugin.

OK…I FINALLY got my copy of Final Cut Studio 2. And yes, I was EAGER to install it. But…I am still in the middle of a project. Well, near the END of a project…one that I will be outputting on Wednesday. So, what am I to do? Let the box sit there and nag at me quietly?


So, I installed it. BUT…I did something first.

First thing I did was move things off my secondary internal hard drive onto one of my G-Raids. I was using it as a scratch drive for my personal home movies, and to back up edited exported movies. So the move was easy. When that was done, I used the Disk Utility and WIPED THE SUCKER CLEAN! Then I installed the software from my G5, the original install disk, onto that drive, then upgraded to OSX 10.4 with the included update disk, then ran all the software updates to get me to the most current version of everything. OS 10.4.10, QT 7.1.6, itunes 7.3…the whole shibang. Then I installed FCS 2…everything. That took a few hours, and all the while I was building the credit bed for my current show on my Powerbook…nice having two machines! Then I used the Software Updater to get all the updates to FCS2…all the .01 updates. Then I installed a few of my other applications, like Shake 4.1, Firefox, Quicksilver (can’t live without that!), OpenOffice (forget Microsoft!), After Effects, Photoshop…the usual gang.

So now I am looking at a nice clean install of everything. And I still have my old setup on the OTHER internal drive. So I can work on new projects with FCS2, and still work on my old ones on FCP 5.1.4. I really think this is the way to do it. When I am sure everything is running smoothly and I am sure I transferred everything from my other drive, I’ll wipe it and copy those personal projects back (I have two 250GB drives…I know, I know)…or maybe I’ll just keep the old version on there until the NEXT upgrade and install FCS3 on that. Who knows!

Anyway…that is my tip for the day…week…month…whathaveyou.

EDIT: Anonymous Jim commented that it is best to download the combo update installers from the website rather than using the Software Update. He says “The bulds for each OS on disc and software update and from Apple’s site are all different. Always update by downloading the combo installers…never touch software update app.”

Thanks Jim.

While I am still busy on two shows, let me quickly post a nice handy Applescript that my buddy Andreas Keil from made. It is a script that will alert you when FCP is done rendering, much like After Effects beeps when it is done exporting a movie. Handy if you have a long render and want to let your machine do it’s work while you run about your office doing other things.


For ease of use, drop it in your dock. Then, start a render and then click on the app in the dock. Nothing will happen until the render finishes, at which stage your system alert sound should sound five times.

Apparently you must have Universal access activated for this to work – which is is System preferences > Universal Access > tick the box Enable access for assistive devices at the bottom of the window.

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while…I am just darn busy. I an trying to wrap up post on Andrew Jackson (color correction, OMF export, putting in the full res pictures and doing moves on them, editing 4 short ipod pieces, then getting ready for the mix and layback) all while I am now working at my NEW job, a Discovery channel show about surgeons saving peoples lives…that is editing on an Avid.

Yes…Avid. Meridian v11…on a G4 running OS9 no less.

There are MAJOR differences, of course. And I really have to try to get my Avid legs back. But there are some key features that I miss in FCP…most tied to media management, but a few others. And there are LOTS of things I miss about FCP. I’ll have to go into more detail AFTER Andrew Jackson delivers and I have an evening to sit down and write.

Unlike Mike Curtis, I cannot spit out 3 pages of content in 5 minutes. Try as I might.

More after next week ends. I’ll try put news and other stuff up so that you aren’t TOO disappointed to visit my site and see the same posting from a week ago. I know I hate visiting peoples sites and seeing that it hadn’t been updated in a while.