Skip to content

Little Frog in High Def

Adventures in Editing
Little Frog In High Def


Archive for September, 2008

To better organize myself I make folders to put bins in, and categorize these. So yesterday I made a folder for all the footage. Then today I opened one of the bins and was editing when I decided to add another folder. Since I number my folders (00_cuts, 01_footage, etc) I wanted to make this new folder have a greater standing… I wanted IT to be 01, and move footage to 02. So I changed the name of the folder.

And then suddenly the folder closed. I opened it to find that the bin I had open, said it was closed. Oookay. So I opened it and ANOTHER BIN with all the same footage opened. Odd. I closed it and then tried to close the one I had open, and it wouldn’t. Gave some odd error (Exception: Invalid arguement, filename:DAILIES.wrt). But when I changed the name of the folder back to 01_footage…it worked.


Michael, an “avid” reader (ugh) pointed out that Avid released an update to the Media Composer line that addresses TWO of my beefs that I had on my first day. The locator window that pops up when you add a locator (you can disable that now) and the ability to select all the clips to the RIGHT or LEFT of your current position, and move them….just like you can in FCP. Cool beans!

It can be found HERE. 800MB, so this will take a while.

EDIT – Well Scott Simmon’s of the EDITBLOG pointed out to me in Twitter than the DISABLE LOCATOR POPUP option has been around for a while. In the LOCATORS tool, click on the hamburger menu on the lower left and choose DISABLE LOCATORS POPUP. Thanks Scott.

ANOTHER EDIT: Steve Cohen of SPLICE HERE goes more in depth on this new feature. And told me something I didn’t know…before you install the update, you need to UNINSTALL THE OLD VERSION. I had no clue that you needed to do this. So the installer you download is a full installer. So I guess I now have to go and uninstall this and reinstall. Good thing it is quick and painless.

DAY 1 was…difficult. After being on Final Cut Pro for 3 years…with a small 2 month Avid break in there..a solid year of FCP since that…cutting on the Avid was, well, a challenge. I kept pressing FCP shortcuts and causing all sorts of things. The big thing I miss is the ability to drag clips on the timeline and arrange things. Especially when I am in the rough cut phase. Adding spaces for timing takes me longer on the Avid. I felt like I was editing in mud.

But that was just because I wasn’t used to it. I eventually got back into my Avid habits…at least keyboard wise. I now have to get out of click and drag editing mode and into trim editing mode.

But enough about that…now onto the joys.

LOCATORS – During the first day or so of editing, I scan through the footage and add locator at points of interest. Now, instead of just clicking and adding a locator, a dialog window pops up allowing you to add comments, and change the color right away. Now I also found this a little annoying, as I like to add locators and then move on. But the window is still nice.

SPEED – Sure my fumbling about was slowing me down, but the interface is a LOT faster. Timeline scrubbing, double clicking the footage. Faster and smoother. That was nice.

CLEAN CODEC – Even though the footage was captured 15:1, it was pretty clean. I could read what was on people’s shirts. Didn’t look like the mud of the AVR days.

One thing I forgot about Avid is that there is no way to really separate the media from project to project on the Finder Level. But again, I am used to FCP. Avid is the king of media management…so there is no need to really separate the media on the finder leve. But, there are times when you need to do that. I have three segments that I need to work on, all on the same firewire drive. We want to keep the media separate, so that we can move things from place to place easier. Now the company has figured out how to do that manually, and it is pretty slick. But I am not going to give away any trade secrets.

Scrolling at high speed seemed to choke more that before. Because this show has a lot of slow motion footage (shot with slow motion cameras) I need to scroll thru quickly to see what is happening, and the system chokes. But I attribute that to the firewire drive.

While I am finding myself back with some of my most favorite tools, this first day was a struggle. It will soon ease, and I’ll get back into the Avid swing soon. I hope. To have this powerful editing application available for as cheap as it is, is simply amazing. Now I can have a copy at home and bring media home to edit…since I share a bay with a night editor. This way I can continue being the workaholic I am and edit when inspiration strikes. Or edit when I need to stay home for some reason.

All and all, a decent day.

Tomorrow I start a new job editing a Discovery Channel show on an Avid. The NEW Avid. I have been toying with it the best I could with the footage I was able to capture, but now I am finally able to use it in the real world. I was over halfway through my review of the software when I got this job, so now I will postpone it for a week while I work…and really test it out. Interesting thing is that this company was using Avid Meridian v11 on OS9 up until about a month ago when they finally upgraded. BIG leap for them…and really a tribute to the software…that it could be used successfully for so long. I mean…OS 9 dude! Mid 90’s OS.

It is running on a Mac Pro, and the footage is stored on G-Raids…until they can get their Unity working right. This is a big switch from the other system too…non-Avid drives to store media. Although I did walk past a room with easily 2 bookshelves full of those 18GB LVD drives. Not as fun an seeing an RMAG as a doorstop. OFFLINE editing…that is what this company does. Hey, it works, why change? So the footage will be some low res codec like 15 or 20 to 1. Which is fine…I have seen that Avid is more than up to the task of the higher res codecs…and mixing them. DNxHD with DV with DVCPRO HD from tape, and P2 imported footage.

Now my big challenge will be to not only re-learn the Avid, but UN-learn…or shove aside…Final Cut Pro. Already I have caught myself pressing B to insert edit and tried in vain to grab and move clips before remembering I have to click on one of the arrows that allows me to grab them.

This first week is bound to be a challenge, and I will try HARD not to map the keyboard to match FCP.

Continuing the series on using temp music while editing, I have another example to present: When I use movie soundtracks as TEMP for my projects. When working on projects like THE MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR and ANDREW JACKSON (History Channel), I knew that the show was eventually going to be scored by a composer. And while I did ask the composer for all the music that he had that might fit the theme of the show. I did get a few tracks, but I needed more options. This is when I turned to movie soundtracks.

For MEXICAN AMERICAN WAR (MAW), I used music from THE ALAMO, SOMMERSBY, GETTYSBURG, MASTER AND COMMANDER and AMISTAD. Some of the music was too orchestral, and some too soft. But I did end up with a good selection to work from. For ANDREW JACKSON, I tried to use some of the same music, but also found a few good tracks from WE WERE SOLDIERS. But then I also relied on some of the original music scored for MAW and other new music from the composer.

When I submitted the rough cut to the network, I was told the music wasn’t right…not “exciting” enough. And this is one of those notes you can expect from the network…music notes…on temp music. Stuff that will be replaced. They want to make sure that you use the right kind of music so that the composer can score something similar that matches the feeling of the music you are using. When I asked what kind of music they wanted…and please give a specific soundtrack if they could…they came back with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. So I incorporated the high tempo music in battle scenes, and it worked well.

There are two dangers to using this scored music as temp. One very real, and the other just annoying. The real danger is that you are using music that was composed by a very high end composer who used a full orchestra to achieve that score. And your composer, while they might be good, they aren’t in the same league as John Williams or Hans Zimmer. And most likely they won’t have a full orchestra, just a keyboard, or more, with high quality (hopefully) samples of these instruments. So the score won’t sound as good as that highly produced multi million dollar soundtrack.

The annoying danger is that as the editor you now relate this music to your project, and not the movie it came from. For example, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, DEAD MAN’S CHEST. I used the music from this movie BEFORE I watched the movie. And being the editor I heard the tracks from that score over and over and over in relation to scenes that I cut. So when I did go see the movie, and the Kraken attacked the ship, I was distracted…HIGHLY distracted because I used that track in the battle scene when the British charged the American trenches.

Same thing happened to me when I worked on the Disney Channel series EVEN STEVENS. We did a final movie for the series finale and that had the family of some tropical island in a hidden camera reality show. We used music from SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS and DINOSAUR and half a dozen other sources. Again, I hadn’t seen DINOSAUR, so when I finally did, I hear the music of the Stevens’ arrival on the island over this opening scene of this dinosaur egg being carried halfway across the world.

Tip…use music from movies you have already seen. Unless that music is so closely tied to a movie that you cannot use it as temp without picturing Batman escaping Arkham in a cloud of bats. That is another danger. And again, tied to the use of music from one show in another…like me and the producer being unable to use music from the medical docu-drama in the show about rituals.

Here I wrote a long blog entry about this only to find that I already blogged about this earlier. Gah and double gah. Fine…whatever. I am going to post what I wrote. It is different enough…even though it has some very similar points. I’m gonna post it for all those who DON’T dig into my archives.

Here it is:


I was listening to THIS AMERICAN LIFE the other day and noticed something that took me out of the story. A small distraction that made me stop paying attention to the story and pay attention to something else…the music. Now, for those of you who don’t know what THIS AMERICAN LIFE is, it is a radio documentary series that airs on NPR and every week they choose a theme and showcase several stories that follow that theme. Look it up on iTunes and listen to it when you get a chance.

But let me get back to why I was distracted. I was distracted because the music used in the segment I was listening to was used in another segment I listened to a few weeks ago. And that got me thinking…the producers must have a small pool of music that they work with. Well, they actually might have a lot of music at their disposal, but then they might keep all of that music in a library and then the producer, or whatever the title is of the person who is editing and producing the segment (I don’t work in radio, so I don’t know), must dip into that pool of music to grab a track that fits the story and the feeling they are trying to convey.

This is not uncommon in my world either. When I work on projects I have four types of music that I might have access too. The first type is TEMP MUSIC, that is popular music and movie soundtracks that I use to convey what I want to convey in a scene. This music will be replaced later by a composer who will make a unique score for that project. The second type is popular music that I might actually use and get the rights to. The third type is from a music library. Either a library of music from bands (like the LAZY BONES RECORDINGS libraries) or scored music made for use in industrials, corporate spots and even broadcast programs. Like the SOUND IDEAS libraries or EXTREME MUSIC or companies that send you hard drives loaded with music. In this case you use the music, then pay a license fee based on the type of project, if it airs, where it airs, and so on.

The fourth type of music that I use is that from a composer who we might have worked with in the past and who has an extensive library of music. This is the case for many projects I work on, including the History Channel series I just wrapped. Now, sometimes you use their music as temp and they might score something new for the project, or you might just use what you used, as it has been edited to fit exactly what you cut. Very often we will use temp music, then the composer scores something, but then in the mix we hear the score and opt not to use it, because the temp music fits the scene better. No problem, that new score will end up in our music library for some future show.

But then there is the issue like what happened with THIS AMERICAN LIFE…because we have this pool of music that we have to choose from, and we ONLY have this pool to choose from…and there are multiple editors working on different shows at the same time…the same music track might be used in multiple episodes. So if you are watching this History Channel show, you might hear the same music cues in a segment about ritual scarring and in another show in a segment about a group of fishermen who survived 9 months at sea. So in this respect this mirrors what I experienced in THIS AMERICAN LIFE. Same show, same music, different segments.

But there is a wrinkle in this tale. The interesting thing about this music is that it was originally slated for…and used in…ANOTHER documentary series that I worked on with this company. A medical series for Discovery. And since I was the only editor from that series that moved on to this new one, only I was affected by this music in the manner that I was. Well, the producers were as well. And this made using this music, meant for use in medical docudrama, in a series about strange rituals around the world…a little odd.

For example, when looking for the right music in a segment, I clicked on a track that I used in the medical show. And while it was perfect for this part of the segment, I found that I couldn’t use it. Because I used it for a moment in the medical show where the main doctor really opens up and pours his heart out about what drives him to do what he does. When the producer, who was sitting behind me, heard it, he too noticed it. “I don’t know about this…I associate it too much with Dr. (BLANK).”

“I know,” I replied. “I is so perfect for this part of the segment though.”

“Yeah, you’re right…but I can’t watch this segment with it…it will make me recall the doctor.”

Now, the average viewer would, of course, not have this reference and it would be fine for them. In fact, it was perfect. I had actually called in a few people from the production to listen and they agreed. Except for one guy, who also worked on that medical show and also recalled it instantly. While I did replace it initially, eventually I did use it in the end. Because the only people with the hangups were me, the production manager, and the producer.

I just found it very interesting how deep music can effect us. And when it is tied with a certain visual, you can’t think of it in any other context…it distracts you when you try.

I’m gonna have multiple parts on this…maybe two, maybe three. So there will be more on this topic later.

All I can say is that, I WANT THIS.

HD LCD…COMPONENT INPUTS…DVI INPUT (Love to see this with my MXO), video adjustments (Chroma, brightness, contrast)…and designed for broadcast and film work (Designed for KUNG FU PANDA).

$2500. Down from $3500.

Want want want.

I had written a huge post about the differences in mentality between TV production and dealing with agencies that do high end corporate video and commercials. But while proofreading it (a practice I encourage) I found it…to harsh.

Let me just say that they are completely different worlds. And that when dealing with an agency, I can’t be as vocal about my point of view as I can on documentary and narrative productions. A lot more politicking (sp?) involved than I am used to.

Every time I work on a project that involves an agency I shake my head in wonder…

The Real Shaolin is an excellent documentary about four people who go to the Shaolin Temple in China to study Kung Fu. You can read all about it on the site.

I just wanted to mention a couple things. First off, it is a really good documentary that I hope gets bought for distribution. It showed at the Toronto Film Festival last week and was loved by the audiences. Second, I wanted to mention that I cut the trailer for this documentary. Just so you can see something I worked on…while waiting for the last series to come out.

Plus I needed to blog about something…I have been lax of late.

Posted June 16, 2008:

“There is currently a known issue with Quicktime 7.5 and our latest MXO 2.1.3 drivers, in which our Proc Amp utility will not properly load our test bars for calibration purposes. Please note that this does not effect calibration profiles made prior to Quicktime 7.5, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and urge you to check back regularly for any updates regarding this matter

Matrox Support”

Well, this isn’t good. For all the people who run FCP 6.0.4 that requires QT 7.5…this basically hoses you on being able to set up the MXO and you Apple Cinema Display. I hope they get a fix soon. Sorry for the late notice on this. I don’t peruse their forums (I should now), and I only learned of this when a friend bought one and couldn’t get it to work properly.

NOTE: Andy commented that this only effects the Proc Amp monitor calibration of computer monitors like the Apple or Dell. All the other functions operate normally.

UPDATE: Matrox has released a patch that can be downloaded here. This fixes the calibration bug with QT 7.5.

On Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008 in Amsterdam, Mike Horton of the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro user Group will host the first annual IBC FCPUG Supermeet. These Supermeets are normally held in San Francisco and Las Vegas, but with IBC in Amsterdam at the same time, having a Supermeet of Final Cut Pro users in Europe is a great way to get people together to network. And that is the best part of these supermeets. Sure, there are people on stage talking about their products and giving small demos…those are always good. But the best thing to do at these meets is, well, what the title says, meet people.

So if you happen to be in Amsterdam for IBC, take a night to hit the meet. You can always hit the coffee shops and the Red Light District after it’s over. They are open late.