We gearing up for another series. By “we” I mean the last company I worked with, on that Surgery Saved My Life show…guys I have worked with off and on for the past 4 years. The show we are cut consistet of DVCPRO 50 shot on both tape and P2, and used Avid Meridians (OLD OS 9 v11 Avid Meridians) to offline, with an Adrenaline as the assistants station where they injested the P2 footage, string it out, and output it to tape for capture. They had to do this because Discovery currently doesn’t take data files, while they do accept the HVX as a B camera (odd…but, OK).

NOW…we have a History Channel series on our table and this one will be in a format I have worked with three times in the past two years, DVCPRO HD…shot with the Varicam and P2.

NOW…the issue.

The show master needs to be a D5 at 1080p 23.98…and we intend on shooting 24p with the Varicam and 24PN with the HVX to get us 720p 23.98 footage to work with. I have a tried and true method for this and the workflow is tight (ANDREW JACKSON, BLOOD DIAMONDS, MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR). What the issue is…the producer is “iffy” about working with FCP. Well, HE isn’t iffy about it…he is actually looking forward to seeing what FCP can do. He is just one of the people stung by earlier versions of FCP not working within the current workflows the company had in place. And we are also facing stiff opposition at the main production company…the post super there ALSO having had a bad experience with FCP. They are just old school Avid people, and the setup we have now…5 machines connected to a 2TB unity, offlining at 20:1…works…for 29.97 SD. Now we are getting into 23.98 HD, and that wouldn’t be TOO much of an issue…except for the P2 footage.

Now, in my experience, 3 out of 4 places that tried FCP and had it “fail” for them, tried to incorporate FCP into their current AVID workflows. Which really can’t work. FCP has its own separate workflows that you should use. But, the 1 out of 4 was a truly bad FCP experience. FCP 4.0…couldn’t get the show to output to the proper show time, even though the timeline had it right. In fact, we couldn’t output the same duration TWICE! A serious mess. And I don’t know what the Post Supers issue was, but she is very negative about FCP. Not that I am against using an Avid. I just have a FCP system that I know works, so I am touting it. I would be fine using the Adrenaline if it is as inexpensive and as easy to do what I do with FCP.

So, the issues….

P2 footage, from as far as I can tell, can ONLY be read at full resolution. With FCP, you import at full res (no offline res option) or you use Raylight to access the MXF directly. With an Adrenaline, you drop the original MXF files into the system and it reads them. SO…with this in mind…we cannot use the Avid’s in an offline 20:1 capacity if we want to work with P2. And ALL the other Avids, the Meridians, CANNOT read these P2 files. FURTHERMORE, we cannot do what we are doing now and string together the P2 footage and output to DVCPRO HD tape, because then the footage is 59.94…with no flags on the footage indicating that it is 23.98…so if you tried to capture that as 23.98, it won’t do it properly. Only the Varicam can flag the footage…as far as I know…even if I use a Kona card to perform the capture.

Well, the Adrenaline has the option to transcode to a lower resolution (as this handy video shows…after injesting them. But this would mean still importing the footage at high resolution and using up that drive space, and encoding AGAIN to another format eating up more drive space. Why do that? And I am not sure as to the workflow for onlining this AND the Varicam footage intermixed on the timeline. And we can’t seem to find someone who has experience to explain it to us. And we have the additional issue of the final output needing to be 1080psf 23.98

So…here are our options, without going too in depth on the workflows because I’m not giving out workflow secrets for free:

Avid Adrenaline:

Import the P2 Footage and capture the Varicam Footage and edit. When it comes time to output, we need to output to DVCPRO HD EX tapes because the shows will be 44 min, and DVCPRO HD tapes only record 34 minutes.

Capture into a DaVinci system, color correct, output to HDCAM or D5. I hear that the DaVinci will do the conversion from 720p to 1080psf. Then capture into a Symphony to add titles and graphics. Output to D5 or HDCAM again.

Final Cut Pro is MUCH more simple:

Import Panasonic P2 footage…capture Varicam tapes…edit. During the editing process, add the lower thirds to the footage. We do this on an Avid too, but those are used merely as markers…time code noted for the final title session. With FCP, these are our final lower thirds and titles.

Export a Quicktime Movie, self contained TEXTLESS. Take this to a post facility where they will color correct with Color or Final Touch, bring back into FCP where the titles are waiting…output to HDCAM, upconverting on the fly to 1080psf with a Kona 3. Done. No recapture.

So the workflow for FCP seems a little easier. Most of this is seen in the details I am not against working on an Adrenaline (well, sorta. The last Adrenaline I worked on was a bear, and the Unity was having issues…MAJOR issues), I just happen to find the FCP workflow much easier…less steps involved. That and I find editing on FCP to be much faster and fun…I have gotten a little jaded towards FCP in that respect.

Now we have to wait and see what the post super at the main production company says.