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Little Frog in High Def

Adventures in Editing
Little Frog In High Def


Archive for September, 2009

The fourteenth episode of THE EDIT BAY has been LOOONG overdue and is now available for download.  This one is…a fart story.

To play in your browser or download direct, click here.  To subscribe to this podcast in iTunes,CLICK HERE.


If you follow me on Twitter (comebackshane) you would no doubt been party to the Tweets I have been making about getting an Avid working on my FCP system…with hardware. If not, then time to start following me on Twitter! Well this is the FULL story about that process…

My boss called me into his office and asked my advice about an Avid online of an FCP offline of a cut. This was for another company that was all Final Cut Pro…they called us because they knew we did all of our finishing in house. Now, they needed to do an AVID online because part of their network deliverables required an Avid project file and DNx MXF media on a USB drive.  I said yes, this is possible, Automatic Duck and you are set.  But the other company wondered if we to do this job. We currently are an FCP shop, but there was an Avid Adrenaline somewhere in storage.  But, there were a few issues with that rig.

First off, this place hadn’t used it for about 14 months, and it was pretty much been broken up for “parts.”  The Adrenaline box was still in the rack, and we had the dongle, but the HP Pavillion it used to reside in was in the server room, quite dusty and missing the side panel and the system drive.  But I heard that they were having issues with that machine anyway and the didn’t want to rely on it. Since they were making the switch to Final Cut Pro, the system got pushed aside. No problem, this place is full of Macs, and Adrenaline works on a Mac (I found this out by looking it up and posting a question on Creative Cow).

But in doing further research I hit upon a problem…the Mac Pros we have are all the Jan 2008 model, the ones that came with Leopard installed.  The ones with new PCIe boards and the drivers for them were only on Leopard.  And Avid Adrenaline says that version 3.0 system requirements on the Mac are OSX TIGER…10.4.11. I found THIS out after buying my 2008 MacPro and trying to use it alongside the may 2007 models that were running Tiger (and they didn’t want to install Leopard) and when I tried to install Tiger, Kernal Panic city.  So…another wall.

So now I am back to my original idea that I mentioned in the Creative Cow…I was considering installing Windows XP Professional Edition (SP2) on the Mac Pro I have, booting to that OS, and running Adrenaline.  Using a Mac…to boot Windows…to run Avid Adrenaline.  Is this Avid certified? HELL NO. But worth a shot. So I found the WinXP install disks and used Boot camp to partition a drive and then start the install process. When it booted into windows…the screens remained black. The OS apparently didn’t recognize the graphics card. It was an old Service Pack 1 installer…no doubt the drivers weren’t there. So I decided to drop that idea. I didn’t want to work with Windows anyway.

Back to my idea about trying this on the Mac. Further research and further question asking of several friends and colleagues turned up the fact that I could most definitely use Avid Media Composer 3.0 with the Adrenaline box using Leopard. And since I had 3.0.5 on my home system, I just cloned that drive and brought it to the work machine. OS 10.5.4 and QT 7.4.5. Avid is picky about the OS. But when I booted to 10.5.4…only one monitor worked. Again, the OS didn’t recognize the graphics card, an ATI Radeon 3870. And looking on the web page for a driver turned up the line “MacOS has all the drivers installed in their system, so no driver is needed.” Riiiiight. Further advice said that 3.0 and Adrenaline worked fine under 10.5.6…so since this was a cloned drive I installed it and restarted. THERE was my second monitor.
OK, so I booted to 10.5.6…had the Adrenaline connected via Firewire, bought a Keyspan serial adapter for deck control, and connected the system to the SRW-5800 HDCAM SR deck we have in house…to see how things worked. Well, I could see the image from the deck, but I couldn’t get deck control. SO CLOSE! I could capture to DNxHD 145 and 220…but I had to have deck control off to do so. Hmmm…can’t have that. Have to figure out deck control.

I tried replacing the RS-422 cable…that didn’t work. I tried updating the drivers for the Keyspan…that didn’t work. I got an adapter so that I could try it on the RS-422 cable that I used with FCP (I didn’t before because the connection type wasn’t right…female/male connector issue) and it STILL didn’t work.

God dammit all! So close.

So I posted the question on the Creative Cow and on the Avid_L yahoo list (via a friend) and on FCP_L. There were lots of suggestions, but then one that seemed odd. Terry Curren suggested that I just use the Kona serial, as this is what someone else does (Greg Huson) and it works fine. Greg happens to have FCP and Avid on the same boot drive, and figured out that Avid recognizes the Kona serial port. So I installed the Kona drivers and sure enough, there was that option in the Deck Configuration list. So I chose it, and launched the Capture interface, and…

I had deck control!

There we go…finally. Avid Adrenaline fully functioning. I captured HDCAM SR with timecode, I could output to a monitor, output back to the deck. Everything. Now I just need to test the online workflow. Take one of our finished locked shows, use Automatic Duck Pro Export 4.0 to convert the FCP EDL to AAF or something Avid can read, then recapture the tapes from HDV. Then re-acquaint myself with the color correction tools.

So now I have a bay that can online FCP or Avid. One computer, two separate boot disks (actually, four…one with FCP 6.0.5 (Final Cut Studio 2), one with FCP 7 (Studio 3), one with ProTools (to check our online sessions on occasion), and one Avid 3.0.5. One machine, two editing platforms with hardware.

I have many people to thank for this. I couldn’t have done this without the Creative Cow and the many people there, like Terry Curren and Mark Block…Greg Huson for figuring out the Kona Serial thing…people on the Avid_L and FCP_L on Yahoo…and friends Pat Sheffield, Paul Kavadias and John Malm. This is the reason I post on and visit all the forums I do. People helping people…best tech support you will EVER get.

Super short film…

“28 DAYS LATER,” in one minute, with one take.


Kermit the frog talks, nay SINGS, about the issues in keying the color green.

Click here to watch.

Hey there…things might look a little different.  That is because I have finally joined the WordPress revolution.  

Thanks to my buddy Bryce Randle at Post Fifth Pictures I have a sparkling new site.  He did all the design and implimentation…because I don’t know how to do such things.  I mean, come on…I was using BLOGGER.  So if you want a cool website like mine, give Bryce a hollar…his contact info is on the bottom of the website.  

I hope you enjoy the new look.  Stay tuned for a funny video I found today.

First of all, I’d like to point out that I added a LINK on the right to a new blog by my friend Bryce Randle, Post Fifth Pictures. Right away, he has a few good posts. The one I like is how to change the timecode and system freqency on an HDCAM HDW-F500 deck. GOOD stuff to know, especially if you are renting the deck and are unfamiliar with it. These HDCAM and HDCAM SR decks have very complex menus.

Thanks Bryce.

Another great article from Thomas over at THE EDIT SUITE. Tips and anecdotes about being a freelance editor.

Wow, another great plugin by my pal Patrick Sheffield of Sheffield Softworks, MOVIE COLOR.

Movie Color is a plugin for use within Final Cut Pro or Motion that gives you the ability to apply stylized “looks” to your footage. It comes with over 40 such looks pre-designed in the form of named presets. Many of these looks were developed from popular films such as Transformers, Harry Potter, Pelham 123, etc. All of these looks can be adjusted in minor scene-to-scene tweaking, or used as a starting point for a completely new look of your own. If you develop a look you’d like to share, name it and send it to me and it may be included in upcoming preset releases.

Movie Color allows you, through a variety of powerful methods, to build two tinted images and mix them back into your original image to varying degrees through the use of masks. A mask can be thought of as an adjustable stencil that allows you to control where and to what degree your tinted image is “painted” back over your original image. It also contains a Pre-Processing section that allows you to adjust the saturation, the brightness, and the contrast of your image as well as a “Bleach Bypass” setting.

Movie Color is an FxPlug plugin that utilizes the power of your graphics card to achieve a boost in processing. With a good graphics card, you can reach around 2 seconds render for every second of raw footage. Your mileage may vary. Movie Color requires at least 10.5 (Leopard) of the operating system and at least Final Cut Studio 2 (FCP 6/Motion 3).

If you’re intimidated by Color, try my Movie Color plugin – you can get great results without ever leaving the comfort of Final Cut Pro or Motion.

or more information, and to download a demo, visit Sheffield Softworks. The plugin’s normal price is $99, but currently has an introductory price of $20 off or $79.


Scott Simmons over at Pro Video Coalition links to from the Villiage Voice blogs. A must read.

There’s a great article on the Village Voice blogs by A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson titled I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script. It’s a must read for any editor who has spent a good portion of their career editing professionally and has an extended group of family and friends who know what he or she does for a living. I say this because if you fall into that aforementioned category then you’ve been asked, possibly many times, to edit the occasional wedding video, baby video, memorial tribute, work video etc. etc. etc. for a friend and family member or (perhaps worse) some friend of a friend who heard you were an editor.

Man…what is UP with Avid lately? Three major releases of the software in just one year? And all with major feature enhancements. OH…and all with a very low upgrade cost…$350. It wasn’t 5 years ago that upgrades were 1-2 years apart, and cost thousands of dollars.

With the release of Avid Media Composer 4.0 (and Symphony 4.0, and Newscutter 8.0), Avid brings to the table something huge. Not only mixed FORMATS…but now mixed FRAME RATES on a single timeline. 59.94, 29.97, 23.98…DVCPRO HD 720p, XDCAM 1080i, DV, 1:1… all playing at once at “full quality” with no transcoding. What an UPDATE! Now with AMA (Avid Media Access) that just opens a bin and populates it with media when you add a tapeless medium, and mixed format timelines, a timecode reader that requires zero rendering…this is some MIGHTY powerful software.

– Eliminating timely transcode processes with the capability to mix and match different frame rates and resolutions in an open timeline within the same project.

– Expanding native support for file-based media with the addition of industry-leading formats such as Panasonic AVC-I and Ikegami GFCAM. GFCAM support is a result of Avid Media Access (AMA).

I wonder how it does this mixing of frame rates. Does it do it RIGHT? Adding the proper pulldown to 23.98 when in a 29.97 timeline, unlike FCPs 2:2:2:4 pulldown nonsense. And what does “full quality” mean when mixing XDCAM 1080i, DVCPRO HD 720p and DV? Does it play each format at IT’S full quality? Or does it convert it when you play back to the sequence settings, with no transcoding required? Guess that is for us to see and find out.

So here I am, all set to do a tutorial on all the fine uses of the OPTION KEY in FCP…because this key really does a lot…when I come across this old tip from Ken Stone dot net.

The Option Key in FCP 4.

Yup…FCP 4! And ALL of those tips are still VERY relevant. Only I think he left one out. If you press OPT-P when you are parked on an unrendered section of your timeline, it will play forward as fast as it can…like a RAM PREVIEW. Only without audio. So at least you can get a quick look at what your effect will look like.

Well darn it all, there goes that tutorial. But HEY…there already IS one…so read it. GREAT tips, huge time saver.

A few weeks ago I watched the current show I am working on with my co-workers in the lobby. It played on the big HTDV we have. This is an office ritual that I just haven’t gotten into because I was either busy, or wasn’t interested as I watched the thing like 5 times just a couple weeks prior. Dunno why that is…when shows air that I spent 5 months on I watch them…just to see how it looks on the TV. It took until a couple weeks ago for me to do the same with this show.

And it looked like crap.

The producers were telling me how horrid the color correction looked. But I was looking at this image on the TV, a pretty off-brand HDTV, that is being fed from a DirecTV box…SUPPOSEDLY in HD now (before it was SD and I think that is why I didn’t watch). But the compression looked HORRID. I told the producer that the show didn’t look like that when it left my bay. It looked a lot better. In fact, this was worse looking than any other show I worked on. And I am convinced it is the compression…or the TV…something. I took the producer to my bay and showed her what it looks like on my GOOD HD CRT, and even what it looked like on the not-so-good HD LCD. She was sort of appeased. At least now she knew that I didn’t make it look as bad as we saw.

I recall being in a bar at Ceasar’s Palace in Vegas with a couple friends…one of them a “camera shader” (the guy who makes sure all the cameras spit out the same looking image) for major league sports. We watched some basketball broadcast on one of the MANY TVs they had…and it looked like crap. And 4 of the TVs showing this didn’t even have the same look. He pointed that out to us and said “See? What does my job even MATTER if by the time the signal hits these TVs it looks like that? Pure crap.” “Well,” I replied, “the crap has a uniform crappy look. At least you have that.”

This brings me to a thought. Should I get a crappy HDTV to put in my bay? Hang it on the wall and feed it from the capture card, so that I can see what it MIGHT look like when grandma in Montana gets it on her TV? Although my grandma doesn’t have an HDTV…but that’s besides the point. Should I have something that shows a degraded crappy image, so that I might see “hey, this bleach bypass look I am giving it blows out WAY TOO MUCH on this TV, I need to tone it down.”

This would be something very akin to what every GOOD audio mixer I know does when we go in to hear final audio. They play it back on a TV…using the TV speakers. They will MIX with the good board and great speakers, but when it comes to final delivery, they output it the way 90% of the audience will hear it…from those crappy TV speakers. Because some subtle sound you can hear in surround won’t be audible on those tinny things, so they have to boost it, or change it somehow. So I’m thinking that I should do the same….get the crappy…well, decent…HDTV and use that as a secondary monitor. Just to check that what I think looks good, will really look good. Not that this will take into account the over-the-air compression that happens, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

So you have this DV tape, and you would like to see the DATE AND TIME that it was shot appear on the screen, just like you see when you play it in the camera’s viewfinder. Well, before today you couldn’t. It was there, but FCP (nor Avid for that matter) didn’t have any way to display this.

Well Automatic Duck has you covered with their “coming soon” plugin for FCP, ProDate DV. This is great for home video, LEGAL video, weddings…all sorts of stuff.

Check it out…