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Festival Laurels for your award-winning movie


Ok so first you have to win some festival awards or at least be an official selection. Then you have to be on Windows. That said here's a very cool application that will make the creation of festival laurels for your movie's poster, DVD box, etc very simple.

EZLeaves is a FREE application that allows to quickly and easily generate custom festival laurel leave images. Features include:

  • Choose from four different laurel leave styles

  • Use any system-defined font

  • Export to JPG or BMP

  • Define up to 10 lines of custom text

  • Full control over the height and font settings of each
    line, or you can use one font and color for all lines

EZLeaves runs on Windows and requires at least 1024x768 desktop resolution. For more information, visit this site:

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contest, festivals, indie filmmaking, photoshop, television, video, windows, free

Calibrated {Q} Another native MXF importer


Here's something interesting. An app that gives you native MXF in all QuickTime applications including FCP. Calibrated Software's unique solution successfully joins the separate video and audio P2 MXF files so that Final Cut Pro sees them all as ONE file - complete with TimeCode and Reel Name. PullDown can also be removed or added for select frame rates. And you're not just limited to Final Cut Pro, you can also natively import files in Compressor, Motion and Sound Track Pro.

Not only that but they have also unveiled a DVCPROHD decoder for Windows. This is something our friends across the aisle have been requesting for a long time. Calibrated{Q} DVCProHD Decode is a multi-threaded DVCProHD QuickTime Codec(Decode Only) that enables you to view QuickTime DVCProHD Movies in QuickTime Player and other 3rd party applications that support QuickTime. Check out both at Calibrated:

Technorati Tags:
24p, apple, final cut pro, os x, p2, panasonic, production, television, video, windows, pc, vista

Posted by: Noah Kadner on Jun 27, 2008 at 1:43:23 pmComments (1) storage, apple, technology, panasonic, p2, final cut pro

How to Label DVD-Rs 2008 Edition


This question comes up a lot- how does one label a DVD-R? I would never use a print on inkjet disc- because they smear with just a droplet of moisture nor stick on labels because they peel and jam. Instead- I'd go for one of three technologies- depending on budget and how professional the labels need to look:

1. Sharpie. This is cheap as dirt and works like a charm for sending to replication houses and for internal backups. But not so much given to clients- looks decidely ghetto for that...
2. LightScribe- this is a type of DVD burner than works with special media and lets you burn a monochrome image directly onto the disc surface. Looks a lot more pro than Sharpie for clients and has no issues with peeling off.
3. Rimage Everest Thermal transfer printers. The only printer I would even consider. These are quite expensive but worth every penny. You can easily create a full color DVD with a printed surface that exceeds the image quality of most replicated discs but with zero risk of peeling, fading or smearing. This is the way to go if you want to do one-off discs that look as pro as can be.

Technorati Tags:
indie filmmaking, new techology, production, dvd, printers

OpenCut- RED Editing Contest


Now here's something interesting, the folks over at Silverado Systems have partnered up with Vuze to create a different kind of contest. OpenCut is a completely open-source film competition designed to encourage people to take professionally shot material and edit it in their own way. As there is no "one way" to tell a story, so too can stories benefit from being re-edited and re-told from many different vantage points and perspectives.

They have a short film shot on the RED camera with dailies they'll copy over to your hard drive. Then you cut it altogether any way you want using Final Cut Pro. It's a good way to get your hands on RED footage if you haven't already and maybe even get credited as the editor on the final version as they submit it to festivals.

The winner of OpenCut 1.0 will receive a brand new AJA IO HD from Silverado. They will also be recognized as the "editor-of-record" at IMDB and will have their cut submitted to multiple film festivals. So get your entry fee and your hard drive over there and start cutting....

Technorati Tags:
apple, final cut pro, indie filmmaking, production, video, festivals, contest, RED

Posted by: Noah Kadner on May 16, 2008 at 5:28:18 pm editing, final cut pro, workflow, red camera, open source

Chronosync- invaluable tool for tapeless workflow


Here's a tool for anyone working with the solid-state and tapeless workflow, for example the Panasonic HVX200 and Sony EX1. If you've been dragging and dropping footage from your folders to your hard drive you could be a bit more at risk than you realize.

ChronoSync is a data management tool that allows you to efficiently synchronize files and folders from one disk location to another with full verification and resume capabilities. In other words, it's perfect for copying footage from your SxS card or P2 card onto your hard drive.

About the only real drawback with ChronoSync is that it doesnt generate a checksum for the files. So verifying can be a a bit slow.

For more information and to order, visit econtechnologies. Here's the link:

Technorati Tags:
24p, apple, final cut pro, high-definition, indie filmmaking, production, sony, video

Posted by: Noah Kadner on May 3, 2008 at 7:12:27 am mac os, movies, sony, panasonic, p2, workflow, red camera

New version of XDCAM EX Transfer Software Available


If you're having any problems with Sony XDCAM EX footage the latest version of the XDCAM transfer software might be a big help. It has some new error correction built in that can recover corrupted material.

The PDZ-KP1 XDCAM Transfer Software is an import plug in for Final Cut Pro. XDCAM Transfer Version 2.5 supports the current XDCAM HD and SD optical products, the new PDW-U1 optical XDCAM drive, and the PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX camcorder which records on SxS flash cards.

Check it out:

Technorati Tags:
24p, apple, final cut pro, indie filmmaking, video, sony, high-definition

Breaking the Speed Limit -- Editing Phantom High-Speed Footage in Final Cut Pro 2 of 2


Once we have the actual shot, we can then control the downloading of footage from the camera using Vision Research’s software. Thus far they’ve only released a version that runs on Windows. In order to preserve the Mac-loving image of Simplemente, we decided to run it on a MacBook Pro with Boot Camp. We can then select the ins and outs of any particular shot. Typically the exact moment you want to save is a tiny fraction of that 6 minute take and the rest is a lot of frames with no activity you can delete. The selected portions are then saved out to a hard drive using Vision Research’s proprietary Cine file format.

This is where the Final Cut Pro workflow can be tricky. You can use Vision Research’s software to create a QuickTime .MOV file at up to 2K for use in Final Cut Pro. This is nice because it means you don’t have to do any further conversions to get into FCP but it also means you have to wait for the conversion to finish when you really just want to start editing. Not to mention you’re throwing away some of the sensor data unless you go QuickTime uncompressed, which results in huge files.

Another workflow and the one we decided to go with at Simplemente involves a special third-party plugin from Glue Tools. The Phantom Cine QuickTime Toolkit allows you to load the native Cine files directly into Final Cut Pro. This is great because it means we can start cutting instantly. The real-time performance is not quite as speedy as you might be used to coming from say DV. Then again we’re talking about full 2K uncompressed so I’m just happy to have it there in the first place. Glue Tools is neat because we can also use their DPX Toolkit to go straight from the Cine files to logarithmic 2K DPX files. This maintains all the dynamic range goodness of the original footage, say if we wanted to finish in Color.

The responsiveness is more than enough to scrub through and quickly assemble an edit. We’re also not having to worry about sync sound at 1,000 fps which makes the editing process even more straightforward. We were able to put together the footage for the theatrical reels very quickly this way. We then did an export to 1920x1080/24p ProRes HQ from our 2K timeline.

The theatrical screening was also very FCP-centric. We were able to get a Sony 4K SXRD digital projector and hook up to it via HD-SDI. We used an AJA IO-HD box to connect from a MacPro Quad Core to the Sony projector. We then played out the ProRes 1920x1080 directly from Final Cut Pro. It looked really amazing up on the big screen and I was struck not only by how fast we got it all together but by how easily I was able to jump up to full-on 2K uncompressed using the same Final Cut Pro I’m used to cutting “mere” standard definition and 720p DVCPROHD with...

Technorati Tags:
video, 24p, indie filmmaking, final cut pro, apple, slow motion

Breaking the Speed Limit -- Editing Phantom High-Speed Footage in Final Cut Pro: Part 1 of 2


I wrote two articles for the Final Cut Pro User's Group Supermeet at NAB. They appeared in the SuperMag magazine. Here's part one of the second article looking at Simplemente's work with the Phantom HD camera:

Rune Hansen and Monica Reina at Simplemente in Mexico City recently acquired a Phantom HD Digital Cinema camera from Vision Research. We got to shoot a bunch of slow-motion footage and then worked with it in Final Cut Pro to create demo reels for theatrical projection. We needed to accomplish all of this in the space of about 48 hours.

The Phantom HD’s claim to fame is the ability to shoot uncompressed, high speed footage at up to 1,000 frames per second (fps) and up to 2K (2048x2048 pixels) resolution using a special CMOS imager. It accepts standard PL-mount 35mm cinema lenses and is also capable of capturing in standard and HD resolutions from 1 fps all the way up to 1,000.

Working with uncompressed 2K images means two things: number one, you need a huge amount of really fast storage capability just to shoot at 2K 1,000 fps; and number two, manipulating it in FCP is going to be a bit of a challenge. We’ll get to the FCP workflow in a little bit. As for how the camera itself handles all of that data, the Phantom comes with 16 or 32 GB of on board ultra-high speed flash RAM. At 1,000 fps/uncompressed 2K, 32 GB is about 8.8 seconds of recording time.

Eight seconds might not sound like much coming from the world of standard shooting speeds. But at 1,000 fps that translates into an 8,700 frame clip that takes 6 minutes and 6 seconds to play back at 24 fps, in remarkably sharp and detailed slow-motion. Typically you’re shooting an event that only takes a few milliseconds or at most a few seconds to occur like an explosion or a car zooming by, so it’s actually very ample for most instances. You also can get a CineMag which gives you up to 256 or 512 GB more, albeit at relatively slower recording rates for when you need to capture an event much longer in duration. You still get up to 450 fps with the CineMag, which is not too shabby either.

Something else interesting I learned working with the Phantom is that you’re not stuck with the typical start/stop recording method you have with most cameras. If you think about it this would make an eight second record time fairly challenging. Let’s say you’re filming a soccer game and you want to get a goal from the kick to the score. That means you’d have to start recording the instant it looked like someone was about to kick and then hope they actually make the goal within the following 8 seconds, which would be quite difficult to nail perfectly every time.

To counter this, the Phantom has an operator adjustable circular recording buffer. This means that the camera is actually always capturing to RAM and that you can trigger the recording to be saved at any point. So let’s say we set the buffer for 4 seconds and then wait for the goal. The goal is made and then I hit the trigger. The camera will now save the 4 seconds in the past before I hit the trigger and the 4 seconds immediately after. This allows you to be very precise and it’s a lot of fun to sit there with the record trigger, which looks suspiciously like something Michael Bay would use to set off explosives. Part two coming....

Technorati Tags:
video, 24p, indie filmmaking, final cut pro, apple, slow motion

Mexico Goes to China - Part 2 of 2


I wrote two articles for the Final Cut Pro User's Group Supermeet at NAB. They appeared in the SuperMag magazine(which I named btw). Here's part two of the first article looking at an Apple network system that is being used at the Beijing Olympics this summer in China. For part one click here.

Simplemente chose to work with Gallery Software, a UK-based company that has been making QuickTime-compatible applications for over a decade. For the Beijing project, Simplemente selected Gallery’s SIENNA, a complete integration suite for connecting Final Cut Pro workstations to the traditional newsroom broadcast workflow. SIENNA was developed in response to the huge demand for Final Cut Pro integration from the world's leading news broadcasters. It brings compatibility to existing newsroom equipment for workflows based around native QuickTime and enables single media shared storage with Apple's Xsan.

“We’ve already started testing and training the complete solution with the operators from Televisa,” notes Reina. “Most of the editors came over from Pinnacle Vortex and they’re adjusting well. They like Final Cut Studio a lot. One of the greatest things is that you can be ingesting all those live streams and any of the workstations can access footage and start editing right away.”

“Now we have to put the complete solution together, test it and box it,” she continues. “Because it takes about two months to get a shipment of this size to China. It gets sent by boat along with all of the other cameras and support equipment that Televisa is sending. Then all of it has to go through the Chinese customs process. We’re also sending two people from Simplemente, Rune and one of our most brilliant young technicians, Saul Hernandez. This is in order to assure the best possible technical support for Televisa.”

Simplemente is still putting the final pieces of the puzzle together which includes the archiving system to backup all of those many hours of Olympics coverage. Hansen is looking into LTO-4 robotic tape libraries from Sun and Quantum to handle the load. Pausing from his work to consider the task ahead in China, Hansen observes, “more than just the complexity of this project, it's also extremely high profile. The risk obviously is very high. Thankfully we're seeing very high availability and performance from Final Cut and from SIENNA and we're also building in a lot of redundancy and backup workflows.”

“The most difficult part was getting all of the components that we required delivered on time together to test,” adds Reina. “Once we receive the gear, we know how to make it work. But there are always unknowns that you have to deal with and you never know until you have all of the equipment actually there and working together. She then adds with a smile, “ultimately we were able to solve every problem, at times like Jack Bauer on 24. The Simplemente motto is Adapt, Improvise and Overcome.”

Mexico Goes to China - Part 1 of 2


I wrote two articles for the Final Cut Pro Supermeet at NAB this year. Here's part one of the first article looking at an Apple SAN network system that is being used at the Beijing Olympics this summer in China:

Last NAB, we visited Simplemente, a production/post-production house and Apple Authorized Training Center/Dealer based in Mexico City. They’ve been working hard alongside one of their biggest clients, Televisa, the world’s largest Latin American broadcaster. This year Simplemente embarked on its most ambitious project yet, a complete post-production solution for Televisa’s coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Televisa’s prior Olympic coverage consisted of lots of VTRs, tape-to-tape and non-linear editing stations and a lot of notebook paper. There was no one single system controlling everything. This year they were determined to modernize their methods. “We were approached to propose a system for the broadcast workflow,” says Rune Hansen, Simplemente’s Chief Technology Officer. “We would need to cover the entire workflow: from multi-channel ingest, low resolution browse/editing proxies, database with metadata, integration with Final Cut Pro for editorial, live playout to air and eventually integration with a tape library backup system.”

“Everything started with a call from Max Arteaga, Televisa’s VP of operations and Elias Rodriguez, director of technical operations,” says Simplemente’s CEO (and Final Cut Pro Tequila Supermeet donor) Monica Reina. “They asked us if Apple had something ready for sports coverage. They were very happy with the Xsan we delivered and they wanted to explore more solutions with us. So we started doing some research and got a lot of help from Apple’s Adam Green. It’s been challenging because Televisa wanted the first stage of the project to be ready by mid-January. We only had from the end of November to make it happen. It was pretty tricky to put all that together, especially right at the end of the year.”

The technical stats Simplemente had to contend with proved especially daunting. The solution needed to handle 22 simultaneous ingest channels of live footage and nearly 50 Final Cut Pro editing workstations, mixed between offline-quality proxy editing and online. The system would be required to ingest 12 hours each day across the 22 channels of incoming footage. The daily total would be more than 250 hours of footage multiplied by the 20 days of Olympics coverage.

“And that's only the amount of work ingested live,” notes Hansen. “There are also the productions in-house, like reports about the athletes, behind the scenes, etc. On the editing side, we’re using Final Cut Pro. But once the material leaves Final Cut, we have to deliver the finished packages to the studios and directly into the rundowns so the stories can go on air immediately. This needs to happen even while the event is still in progress and the footage is still being ingested. We're lucky enough that FCP works with QuickTime, which is pretty much the only true cross-platform media format that exists. So we can use a lot of other systems and everybody can read/write each other’s files.” Part two coming soon!

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