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Little Frog in High Def

Adventures in Editing
Little Frog In High Def


Archive for July, 2009

OK, so here I am playing with my MXO2 mini (with MAX) and wanting to see how far I could push it. I was asked to upconvert some BetaSP footage to ProRes 1080i 59.94 (30fps, not 60) but my MXO2 was on the home system, meaning that I’d have to bring home the betaSP deck and do it there (the Kona 3 here at work doesn’t have analog inputs, and I don’t have that $1000 converter box). I still plan on bringing it home, as the MXO2 offers deck control and thus TIMECODE (very important), but I figured, why not test it here with the Mini (that I carry with me all the time, seeing as it is lighter than my iphone)?

So I connected the UVW-1800 to my MXO2 Mini, then the Mini to my Dual 2.4Ghz MacBook Pro. I then attached my small bus powered G-Drive mini via firewire 800. I went into the MXO2 system prefs and told it to SCALE the image to match the FCP settings (FCP 6.0.5, BTW). I then chose ProRes 422 1080i59.94. Lacking deck control I had to press play on the deck manually.

I then proceeded to capture 5 min of footage…upconverting BetaSP 720×486 to ProRes 422 1920×1080 without dropping one frame of video. I then captured 10 min…again, no frames dropped.

This isn’t supposed to be possible.

Now, this isn’t AT ALL a statement saying that now Matrox supports ProRes 422 1920×1080 capture on a laptop. They don’t. This might be a case of “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” Because I can also capture DV to my internal hard drive without dropping a frame either…never have. But because not everyone can do this, it isn’t supported nor recommended.

So I can capture ProRes 422 on my laptop without dropping a frame…this doesn’t meant that others might be able to…they might have issues. I just wanted to say “HOLY COW! I got it to do something it isn’t supposed to be able to do!”

Now, if I get that Keyspan Serial adapter I can get deck control…hmmm. Time to go shopping.

Update… I was able to get one full hour of ProRes 422 captured without a dropped frame.

Sorry that there have been no substantive posts from me lately. Two projects happening, and I am shooting pickups for one of them. Then shooting a webisode for another. And trying to keep my yard from dying in this heatwave/drought….and kick the tires of FCP 7.

Which brings me to my post…I found a bug. Not a big one, but one that is a pain in the neck with the current show I am working on. But only because I tested in FCP 7 and exported the project via XML to get back to the 6.0.5 that the rest of the company is on.

When taking a project from FCP 7 back to FCP 6.0.5 via XML, v4…everything works BUT…Boris Title 3D. Not if there is just one or two…but many back to back. My lower thirds come up fine and render fine, but when I try to render the twenty Title 3D cards I have in the credits…FCP crashes. Just putting the playhead over them crashes the system…or loading the sequence I built them in. Has something to do with having that many back to back.

But this isn’t specific to FCP7>FCP 6. Apparently this is an ongoing issue…happened with FCP 6>FCP 5 as well.

So I had to open the project in FCP 7 off my secondary boot drive…make the changes to the credits, export them as an Animation codec, then bring that file into FCP 6.0.5 and tag it on the end.

Wondered what was happening. 4 projects all XML’d fine, but when I hit the credits…YOINK! Crash.

Darn it. I don’t like to see this, and I attribute it to the tough economic times. Well, and to the fact that more people are switching to competing software. But the thing is that I really want to see Avid survive. There are many workflows that only an Avid can fill, and I for one really enjoy editing on an Avid.

Do they need to make an Avid-Phone so they can have revenue to help keep up their business?

Spoken in only the way Orson can tell it. Editors are a big part of film making…more than people realize. We can make or break a film. Get the book WHEN THE SHOOTING STOPS, THE CUTTING BEGINS and read it. Google it, I’m too busy to post that link.

OK, fine, I’ll do it.

With the release of FCS 2009 (since there is no 3 anywhere in the name, I guess this is what we have to call it), there also came a couple really good online resources.

First, online help for all the FCS applications, called the HELP LIBRARY. This contains the manuals, fast pace introductions to the apps, and workflow tips.

Which brings me to my second link…

Final Cut Studio Workflowsis a comprehensive list of documents on the various workflows for FCP, starting with how to figure out solid post production strategies (things I have meetings about well before production starts), to ingesting your footage, organizing it, and outputting for final delivery. Want free consulting on workflows? There it is!

Now I will go back to reading the forums were people are bitching and moaning about what was left out or not implemented properly or how Apple no longer supports their 4 year old computers.


OK, I am working, so I have no time to talk about this. It is new, it was announced…my impressions will be minimal and only based on what I read. There are dozens of blogs and articles that are going on about this so I won’t bother, not until I get a copy and dig in.

Want to read a lot of articles on this? Apple stuff and full release notes? Michael Horton at has made a list available on a discussion thread found here.

The things that excite me:

ProRes codecs…offline codecs! A viable offline/online workflow for tapeless. FULL RASTER and full size OFFLINE codec. Means no resizing of graphics and stills.

Markers that move with sequence…color coded. MARKERS THAT MOVE…DO YOU HEAR ME!?! Avid borrowed the TTTT command to select all to the right or left of a spot, FCP finally took a page from Avid, mimicing locator behavior.

AVCIntra native support. Not Native MXF support, but import AVCI in a QT wrapper as AVCI, not ProRes.

More P2 metadata upon import. Doesn’t look like it all, but a good amount.

More when I get it.

I am a recent fan of the Flanders Scientific monitors…I have a 1706W sitting in my bay and am loving it. Looking at it next to the Sony LMD and I shake my head. The FSI monitors are just good. Off axis especially.

ANYWAY, I have said this before. But now these guys don’t sit still. They don’t rest on their laurels and stick with the features that everyone else has….they go the extra mile. This is the benefit of the small company that actually LISTENS to their customers. They have just come out with new features for all their monitors based on customer requests. And all of these are FREE via a software download…how about that?

Take a gander at one new option:

Timecode Display. The monitors themselves can now display on screen timecode pulled directly off the SDI feeds using LTC, VITC 1 and VITC 2. So no more having to turn on the TC display via a tape deck or a camera, the monitors themselves can now display on screen TC. I’ve actually asked for a few improvements to this feature already.

For the rest, you have to look at Walter Biscardi’s blog, where I found this great news.

Thanks guys!

I posted this video on Twitter, because I thought it was well done, and I wanted to pass on the word about how United treats people. This shows the power of web video…what the man couldn’t do on his own by calling and callling United, gets resolved because he made a clever song and great video explaining his situation to the world. CNN picks this up and WHOOOPS, here comes United, all ready to deal with the man and start paying restitution.

The story can be found here.

They’ll steal from you and treat you like crap, unless their doing so gets such wide attention. Don’t think for a minute that this will change policy. To save face they’ll only help the very visible customers.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Old expression that still holds true.

There is a great post on the Creative Cow in the BUSINESS AND MARKETTING forum. A sample contract for all those just getting into editing…well, that isn’t true. This is a sample contract for all those who have to deal with independent clients (ones not associated with television or education) who are low rent in every meaning of the word. Bottom feeders.

So much of this rings true it is scary. Here’s a small sample to get you interested:

I, (name here) henceforth to be referred to as “the dummy”, will contract to work on your ill-defined project for an unspecified amount of hours, with no limitations on how many times I will re-do the work, until you are satisfied, for a single, fixed, fee, payable by third-party out-of-state check, only once and long after you have been completely satisfied, and after you yourself (henceforth to be known as “the client”) have made any and all profit from the use of this work, but not if the project incurs no profits. Profits to be determined by Client’s verbal say-so. Client will decide when and if to pay for services rendered on a flexible net-2000 basis, with free extensions.

Click here for the rest.

My buddy Scott Simmons of the Editblog has really outdone himself this time. He has written a GREAT post (5 pages and well worth it) on the basics of Avid Media Composer for the Final Cut Pro editor. And was is really cool about this is that you can follow along while using the Media Composer software because the newest version has a 14 day trial period, a free demo.

Download the software and play with it. It really is a great platform. And you can capture via firewire with it, so you really can try it out. And read the article, so you don’t get lost.

Part two of the great tutuorial series by Nick Holmes.

Welcome to round two of the MPEG Streamclip tutorial.

MPEG Streamclip will let you process several clips at once (batches). So you can set it up and walk away to do more useful things like wash the car, walk the dog or spend some quality time with the family.

I do a lot of projects about pro motorcycle racing. At first we tried bolting regular cameras onto a bike and chasing after the riders. Now these folks are all absolutely mad. Shooting around the track at incredible speeds is dangerous . We also discovered that the weight of the camera on our bike completely changed how it reacts when cornering. Hair raising stuff indeed.

Because we love our rider at least as much as our cameras, we invested in a bunch of those tiny little finger sized cams that record to solid state drives. We can tape those little guys anywhere for some really exciting and unusual shots.

We expect to have a few of them destroyed over the course of the season, so we had to find a way to save money. The recorders we got make AVI files and use the MPEG 4 codec. Not very FCP friendly, but that’s where MPEG Streamclip comes in.

Fire it up and click on *Edit > Batch List*, or press *command and B*:


The next window opens:


Now we need to give MPEG Streamclip some files to work with.
Either drag them in from the Finder or click the *Add Files* button:


After choosing the files, the next window pops up. Because the clips are going to be used in FCP, we want to Export to QuickTime. Check the *Fix Timecode Breaks* button here as well, then click OK:


We already know this window from part one of the tutorial.


The rest of my material is DV-PAL, so I choose that codec here:


Click on *To Batch* and up comes the next set of options. At the bottom of the window, we can choose how many clips are processed in parallel. Click on the button marked in blue below to choose between 1 to 4 clips, then on the *Go* button:


I chose to do 4 clips at once, so with a reasonably fast Mac it should not take long to process:


That’s all folks.

FINALLY! They have been filming the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group meetings diligently for a long time, but then would be very behind on the editing of them. And when they did come available, a year later…maybe…they might be out of date, or not marketted well (sorry Michael).

But now….NOW…they are on the ball. Now the meetings are all edited and up to date, and available online for a small…really small…fee. I mean, this is cheaper than going in person? But that money pays for all the great networking we have access to, and to the prizes that we all have a chance at winning (I won a G-Drive mini a couple meetings ago). Many thanks go out to the very devoted people who made this possible. Here’s the “press release” from the LAFCPUG newsletter:

We have caught up on past lafcpug meeting movies and you can now
subscribe and download them for a very low price each. (from .50 to $1.99

It’s so easy and so cheap. All you need do is go here:

Look left and click on “Sign up for a Customer Account” link. Fill in form.
Yes, you are asked for a credit card, but guess what, the first $5.00 of
lafcpug meetings are FREE. Meaning you can pick about 3-4 segments for
absolutely free.

After receiving your activation code email find the lafcpug meeting content
page and subscribe to it via iTunes. You are now set up and ready to
download. It’s that easy and those of you who do not live in LA can now feel
a part of the lafcpug experience. Some of these segments are worth gold.
Some are not. But hey, it’s cheap. Not much of a gamble here and you will
learn something.

So..go here and sign up and subscribe to the “LA Final Cut Pro User Group
Meeting Video Feed.”

Happy Learning!

Special thanks to Dean Cleary for shooting and editing. And Philip Hodgetts
and Gregory Clarke for inventing this whole thing.