: Little Frog in High Def
While I am on a plane to New Jersey (business purposes), I thought I'd take a little time to make a quick post. I am taking a little break from editing the documentary trailer.Things are slow going and the deadline was extended, because of a couple reasons. First off, I have a LOT of interviews to sort through for quote. And second, because a script is being written while I do this, and it isn't done yet. But the script will really be just a guide, one that I can add to, subtract from...change. Typical stuff, but not something that I am normally used to. I am used to being handed a script with interviews and suggested b-roll, and cutting away. Get the segments done, get the Act assembled and then see what works. I don't normally read or watch all the interviews and know what else I can gleen from a subject. I work with what I am given and can rearrange things or add small things or take out other small things. That is the way things are done with a TV documentary. Short delivery times once editing starts. The producer and director and writer (often the same person) fix the script and get the changes for me to address.This is different. I like this, but it is time consuming. I have more freedom and that is nice to have. And I get to figure out the "editing style" of this as well. Something that fits with the topic...yet semi fast paced. Not MTV/VH1 hyper fast and full of effects...basically devoid of content. Nor will it be the smei-fast paced cutting I employed on several Discovery Channel and History Channel documentaries. But no way am I going to make this as dry as several PBS shows I have seen. Sorry, but many of those things bore me to tears. Documentaries have to be engaging, both story wise and stylistically. And the style cannot...or SHOULD NOT...distract from the story. Story is king, but it has to be told right as well. And since this is a documentary TRAILER, it has to be a bit different. Not the short 2 min trailers, but sort of an example of what you might expect to see if you watched the whole thing.ANYWAY, this editing the media manager compressed low res footage stored on my laptop hard drive is proving to be a dream. No dropped frames, time code matches up perfectly.
The original workflow
I had when working with P2 was pretty slick. Shoot to P2, offload onto a Powerbook with a PCMCIA slot (or now to a MacBook Pro with the Duel Systems Adapter), erase the card (or simply trash the contents on the card), and return it to the field. They'd put it back into the camera and recording would continue.I was quite surprised to find that workflow was no longer possible. I got my hands onto an HVX-200 camera so that I could do P2 demos at MacWorld. I went out to shoot footage and when I tried to apply this workflow, I found that I couldn't trash the contents. They were locked and I could not unlock them. READ ONLY. And if I reformatted the card as MS-DOS (FAT-32) then put the card back into the camera, it was an unrecognized format. I HAD to reformat the card in the camera. That was the only solution. Oh, I could open the LOG AND TRANSFER interface in Final Cut Pro and delete the files in there. But that is slow and not too slick. And while the P2 Viewer that Panasonic makes can reformat the card...it is PC only. So us Mac guys, a HUGE part of the HVX-200 and P2 market, were left in the cold.Until now it seems.This post
at DVXUser announced that Able Cine
in Los Angeles has posted a P2 format utility
for the Mac (that's a lotta links for one sentence).DUDE! SWEET! Oh, wait...BUMMER! I JUST returned the camera and P2 cards today...so I cannot test this! GAH! I downloaded the application and installed it, but I have to wait until someone confirms this. Then when I get my hands on another camera I can get back to my original workflow.OK...flying back in the AM. Gotta get some zzzz's.
HUGE THANKS goes to Scott Simmons over at the Edit Blog.
If you have trouble with ANY recent Quicktime update...specifically QT 7.4 or QT 7.3, The solution is to go back to a previous version of Quicktime. Apple still hosts them, and Scott dug them up. The name of the link has the version number is listed in the link. And if you don't want to do an Archive and Install of the old OS, you can use Pacifist
to remove QT before you install the one you want.http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/quicktime731forleopard.html http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/quicktime731fortiger.html http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/quicktime731forpanther.html http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/quicktime72formac.html http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/quicktime716formac.html http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/quicktime652formac.html
When Steve Jobs was giving his keynote speech for MacWorld 2008, my buddy Jared and I were standing in the CalDigit booth, both of us staring at our iPhones...parked on the MacRumors site and reading the announcements as they came. That's right...we BOTH had our iPhones out. Wy didn't we just look at one and conserve the other's battery? We were excited. WE ARE MAC ADDICTS! And last year the keynote was exciting. But, with each announcement, our excitement faded. iPhone update? OK...cool. Now I can make my icons dance. Now what? Oh, I can find where I am with a new feature...that is cool. And it is VERY close. SDK due soon for it...soon. The iPhone sales numbers excited me...I am a stock holder, I like good sales numbers. Time Capsule. OK, that is neat. Not earth shattering, but helpful. MacBook Air? OK...it's thin, and it's...thin. But other than that....eeeeh. Slow processor, a battery you cannot change yourself. TWO external connections (USB, Mini-DVI). $1800. $1800!?! Who is this for? Sorry, that didn't excite me. And movie rentals on iTunes. BOOOORING. you have 30 days to watch them, and 24 hours once you started it. CRAP! I have Netflix and I can watch it whenever I want...no limit. BETTER QUALITY. Sorry...dumb. Apple TV 2. Eeeh...I like my TiVo. Just ho-hum announcements IMHO. Last year was exciting. Not only for Apple, but for a bunch the other products that were on the floor. There was the iPhone announcement, that was huge. Another company announced a service to modify a MacBook into a tablet Mac. That was cool (they won best in show too).OK, so let's get to this year. If you want to know what Apple released (if you don't already know), go to Apple.com and see for yourself. Don't get too disappointed over the MacBook Air. In the meantime, let me touch upon the things that I saw that caught my eye. MICROSOFT OFFICE 2008. Microsoft has the second biggest presence at MacWorld, next to Apple. Yes, people consider them the evil empire...I consider them a necessary evil. I use Microsoft Office because...well, I have to. I get scripts from producers and I need Word to read them (as opposed to NeoOffice and the iWork suite). Because one of my producers likes to put little notes that only pop up if you have MS Office 2004 or later to see. Microsoft released a new version this year, Office 2008. Apparently is has some really cool features...that I won't use myself...BUT I hear they are cool. A college friend of mine who works for Microsoft, and who was there in the both, told me so. Go to www.microsoft.com to find out what those features are. Just because a product caught my eye doesn't mean I know all about it. I just know it is new and has a lot to offer. Leave me alone...I worked the entire time for Caldigit. Speaking of CalDigit, lemme tell you what they had to offer. CALDIGIT . They have two things. First is their CalDigit Raid Card (at the time of writing this, it is not on their site). If you know about Apple's Raid Card ...this is similar, but different. When you buy a MacPro, the cool thing about it is that you have four internal drive bays to install hard drives. This means that you don't need to get an external drive right away to store your captured media. The advice I always give is "fill up these drives first, then buy an external solution," because internal drives are cheaper than external boxes. If you want to, you can even raid the drives so that you can have faster performance and edit uncompressed standard definition and many formats of high definition. Now, before the Raid cards, the only way you could raid these was to use the Disk Utility and do a software Raid. The problem with this concept is that if your operating system crashes, the software raid goes with it...and thus your media is lost. And you are limited to Raid 0 or Raid 1. With the Raid card, you can now raid the drives as Raid 0, Raid 5, or Raid 0+1 and have the cards manage the raid. They have an onboard CPU, as well as RAM and battery backup. What sets CalDigit's Raid Card apart from Apple are many things. 1. You can install it yourself. The Apple Raid card is really big, and to install it you need to take many of the MacPro components out so that you can get the card in. The CalDigit card is smaller, and is easily installed.2. Expandibility. With the Apple Raid Card, you are limited to the internal drives. That is all that it will control. CalDigit's Raid Card offers expandibility. It has three external mini-SAS connections that you can connect to external 4-drive enclosures (up to three for a total of 16 drives) that CalDigit makes. You can do Raid 0, Raid 1, Raid 5, Raid 6. AND....I love this...AND when you run out of space and need more storage, you simply buy one of these external boxes and ADD IT TO YOUR RAID...no erasing, no loss of data. You just use the software to add it to the raid and boom, more storage. They call it "migration." I like it.3. Speed. The CalDigit Raid Card gets you slightly faster read/write times than the Apple Raid Card. 4. Price. The Apple Raid Card is $800. The CalDigit Raid Card is $550. So you won't break the bank.5. BOOTABLE. That's right...if you Raid all four internal drives and install the OS on that Raid (why would you do that?), that Raid is bootable.CalDigit also announced the HD ONE. This is the "little brother" to the HD PRO. Same capacity, same transfer speeds, less upgradability in terms of RAM...and cheaper. If you don't need to do Uncompressed HD 4:4:4 or 2K and 4K...this might be the box for you.SONNET TECH. Sticking with the hard drive enclosure theme, let's take a look at Sonnet Tech. First off, the D800 Raid 5 series has always been a fully populated drive solution, just like CalDigit's HD Pro and Dulce's ProDQ and a host of others. But, due to popular demand, they are offering the D800E...meaning "expandable." They will sell the case empty and ready for you the consumer to populate with hard drives of your choice. Now, while I find this cool and appealing to many many people (I get people arguing with me about wanting the CalDigit towers to be sold empty) it isn't the best solution. Why? Well, when the companies populate the enclosure with drives, they not only make sure the firmware on the drives is updated and compatible with their controller cards (a big thing if you want good performance)...so if something fails, you have one person to call. That company. They support the whole shibang...and the warranty they offer covers everything. If you buy the enclosure bare, then when a drive fails you'll get the run around as the drive manufacturer and enclosure company will point fingers at the other guy. My advice? Buy them populated
What really caught my eye at the booth was the fact that they had a MacBook Pro hooked up to an AJA I/O HD which was in turn hooked up to a small flat hard drive, called the Fusion F2. A two 2.5" hardware raided BUS POWERED hard drive. But while it was powered by the firewire bus, that wasn't how it was connected. It was connected via eSATA. Because of this, it was a perfect solution to a field capture and edit package that includes the MacBook Pro and AJA I/O HD. The I/O HD connects via firewire 800, so that ties up the firewire bus. Your only option...which is a good option because of the speeds required for ProRes 422...is to connect an eSATA drive. The Fusion F2 is great because it doesn't require separate power. It pulls power from the computer via the firewire 400 port, yet doesn't get all caught up in the firewire bus, so it doesn't conflict with the I/O HD. SWEET! I'll be getting a unit to test and review soon.OK...what else. More iPhone and iPod cases that you can shake a stick at. The usual crowd of laptop bag manufacturers, drive enclosure companies, software vendors. I would mention that KIDPIX is now available for OSX...which is REALLY EXCITING to me, because I have 3 daughters that loved the original version that came with the original iMac, and they were bummed when I lost the disk. But I am sure most of you won't be as excited as I was to find that. So, moving on.
ELGATO. Not really a newly announced product, but one that I finally relented into buying...the Elgato TURBO.264 hardware encoder. This handy little device connects via USB and speeds up the H.264 encoding process enormously. It has software that comes with it with presets for iPhone, iPod video high res, iPod low res, and web streaming. And you can make your own custom presets as well. It is touted to take the bulk of the encoding burden off of your computer, but really I think it simply compliments it. It doesn't take it all on by itself, I am sure, and here is why I think that. When I took a 2 min DVCPRO HD 720p 23.98 file and encoded it for the iPhone on my Powerbook G4 1.67Mhz machine with Compressor...it took 15 min. QT Pro export took the same time, same export settings.. When I used the encoder...it took 5 min. SWEET! But that is an OLD machine, what about a new one? So I took the same file to an Octo Core MacPro. Not the new one, the first version. On that, Compressor took a little over 4 min, as did QT Pro. But the Elgato? Well, on the Octo it did it faster than real time. A little over 1 min. So it was much faster on the speedier machine. This is why I believe it doesn't do all the encoding internally, but shares the burden. That makes this the best purchase I have made in a while.NEC. OK...this brings me to my all time favorite thing at MacWorld 2008. It was the thing that won the MacWorld 2008 Best In Show prize, for good reason too. I was on the way to the restroom when I walked past the NEC booth and glanced at the two monitors they had on display. My glance turned into a long look, one that stopped me in my tracks. On the monitors, a 24" and 30" model, were really vibrant pictures and a demo of Lightroom. What caused me to stop in my tracks was the fact that when i was walking by and looking at the monitors, the colors on the images did not change. Off axis viewing didn't diminish the colors at all. By off axis, I mean viewed at a 45 degree angle or more. So the image I saw looking directly at the monitor was exactly the same color when viewed at 45 degrees, and even more...70 to 75 degrees! THAT IS HUGE.
The models on display were the LCD2490WUXi (24") and the LCD2690WUXi (26"). I looked the monitors over and noted that they hand only VGA and DVI connections. I asked the person manning the booth if they had plans to make one of these amazing displays for video editing monitoring, because the current crop of HD LCDs have issues with off axis viewing. Red becomes "salmon," dark rich blues become lighter. Only the high end TVLogic displays have realy good off axis colors, but they start at $8000. The NEC rep said that it was something they were exploring...but was not available at this time. Because the current monitors has a response time of 12ms (milliseconds), and for video it would have to be at 8ms. Plus if they add the appropriate connections...HD SDI, Component...that would increase the price beyond the $1200 for the 24" and $2100 for the 26". I was fine with that. If they are able to make this monitor for $4000, and have the same off axis viewing I saw then...it'd be worth it. But for now, they are FANTASTIC monitors for photographers. Ones that I cannot recommend highly enough. These monitors really did deserve the MacWorld Best In Show.
The NEC rep mentioned that a large production house was already using them in their edit bays, but they didn't indicate which company or if they were being used for anything beyond simple client monitoring. I would LOVE to see this monitor in combination with my Matrox MXO....or even AJA Kona LH and AJA HDP.
Until this weekend I have avoided the Media Manager, which has been dubbed the "media mangler" for good reason. In the past, when you used the Media Manager to do anything, it would produce varying results....none of them the correct ones. It still has issues with SPEED CHANGES, but that is because actual media isn't made. But other than that, its reputation has improved.So, here I am working on a project, that documentary trailer that was shot HDV and that I captured as ProRes and DVCPRO HD. I settled on editing it using the DVCPRO HD captures, because I get more real time performance with effects and layering, faster render times...and because this is only going to DVD. Now, this week I am scheduled to fly to New Jersey for a P2 Bootcamp at Panasonic. A trip that will shut me down for 3 days on this project, and I really cannot afford to lose 3 days. The flight will take 6 hours and that is time that I can use to work on this project, even though the most I can squeeze out of my Powerbook battery is 4 hours. But, if I had an external firewire drive attached...bus powered and fast enough to handle the 1080i footage...my battery would last at most an hour and a half. So...what to do...RECOMPRESS.Yup...recompress the footage into a smaller file size that I can then store on my main hard drive. I looked at my options and there was on called OFFLINE RT HD. That seems like it will do the trick. So I dove into the Media Manager. The first thing I did was highlight the two folders of footage I wanted to recompressed and copy. Then I right clicked on them and chose MEDIA MANAGER (or you can go to the FILE menu and see the same option):
Now I wanted to recompress my exisiting footage into a smaller size, and retain the timecode, so I chose the following options:
Now...this took time. 24 hours on my Dual 2Ghz G5 (I know...upgrading soon). But I started it on Friday night when I was done, and it went into the weekend, when I wasn't working. And I'm sure an Intel Mac would do MUCH better.The end result was 16.1 GB (from 435GB) and easily fit on my Powerbook. I could play it without dropping a frame, and when I brought over the cuts I already had, I could reconnect to the sequences pretty easily. I figure when i am done and bring the sequences back to the main project, they will reconnect as well. I base this on testing I did where I cut random shots into a sequence, put that into it's own project, brought that back to the main computer and reconnected. It all connected fine and matched up.Nice to see things have much improved.
One of the things I am known for are my SHANE'S STOCK ANSWERS to commonly asked questions. Getting a little tired of typing the same answer over and over, I decided to build a sort of FAQ (frequently asked questions) database and call them Shane's Stock Answers. So when the question came up, I'd simply copy and paste my answer. People have often asked if I had a place I stored all of my stock answers...a site they could quickly search through to find what they want.Well yes, as a matter of fact, now I do:Shane's Stock Answers, Part 1
More to come...
Yup...I'm going. And I will be working for the same company I have been all year...CalDigit. And they will have new and exciting products they will be announcing. Pretty cool ones. I'll talk more about them after the show, or during the show AFTER the announcement. So I'll be at the booth. Not in my NEON ORANGE shirt they made me wear last year. Ugh. Nope...Navy Blue. Whew. Much better. And I'll be giving two demos while working the booth. The P2 workflow with FCP 6 and a field package...and utilizing an I/O HD in a remote workflow. Pretty exciting...considering that I just got the I/O HD on Thursday to test. Before that, the most I had done with it is pick it up at IBC to see how much it weighed. So, if you want to see me, I'll be there all week...Jan 14-18. And I'll also be at the FCPUG Super Meet
on Wednesday. I'll be wearing a MEDIA OFFLINE t-shirt (black, Avid MEDIA OFFLINE font).
Before I go into this, if you haven't read Chris Poisson's article here at the Cow on how to capture HDV as ProRes 422 via firewire please do so now. I'll wait.
http://library.creativecow.net/articles/poisson_chris/hdv-prores.php...Alright, let's talk about what I am doing now.I have been hired to edit a 5-10 min "Teaser" for a documentary...a teaser that will be used as a fund raising tool to solicit more money to finish shooting and editing this documentary. This documentary was shot on HDV at 1080i 29.97 using the Sony VU1 HDV camera...with another one as b-camera, and at one point a small DV camera for minor pickup shots. When I mix the footage, I might treat the DV to look really grainy or something else to set it apart. That I captured natively with my DSR-11 deck. But the HDV footage I have set about capturing as ProRes via firewire. And thus far (on the second to last tape...it is finishing the encode as I type) it has been pretty smooth.I rented a Sony HVR-1500 deck that is FLUSH with connections. Yes, I could have captured via HD SDI or HD Component...but because I am running an older Dual 2.0Ghz G5 (PPC), I can't capture it as ProRes via my Kona LH. You can only capture as ProRes with a capture card if you are running an Intel Mac. And I don't want to capture as DVCPRO HD...the old way of dealing with HDV...because I'd lose some resolution. Sony HDV is 1440x1080 (anamorphic)...and DVCPRO HD at 1080 is 1280x1080...I'd be losing 200 lines of resolution! Well, that's just not acceptable, not with ProRes out there. And ever since the FCP 6.0.2 update, you can capture HDV as ProRes via firewire even if you are running and older PPC Mac, like I am. How cool is that? Pretty cool in my book.Now...my first question was...why ProRes and not the higher quality ProRes HQ? Well, when I captured a couple short clips and compared...I couldn't see any difference. Yes, I used my HD CRT to judge them. I'm guessing that this is because the HDV format is already highly compressed...and that the HQ ProRes is for higher end HD formats like HDCAM and HDCAM SR...where you can tell the difference. And because ProRes was 15.1MB/s and ProRes HQ was 22.3MB/s...I opted for the lower bit rate one...since there was no visible difference. And the Caldigit S2VR Duo that I am capturing this footage to is handling it all beautifully. (FYI, I wil be backing up all of this footage onto my homemade RAID tower, that has been designated as footage backup.)So as the article describes, when I start capturing, the actual capture window does lag behind by 33%. And it plays back in slow motion...this is I wager is because it is transcoding HDV into ProRes. So to monitor the footage, I connected the deck to the HD CRT via the SUPER out, so I could see timecode. When the tape ends, I press stop, and then the system takes about 30-45 min to finish the encode. This would be shorter on a faster Mac, I am sure.And as advertised it breaks up the footage at the start and stop points on the camera. When the tape is full of interviews, that is fine. There are about 1-4 clips to deal with. But when we are talking about b-roll and scenings...suddenly I have 65 clips to deal with. But, this is no different than with P2...footage is broken up at the camera start and stops. While I might be used to this, it doesn't mean that I like it. I don't...I really really don't. I like my b-roll of the desert and the desert sunset to be in 10-20 min chunks, not 5 sec to 1.5 min bits and pieces strew about. This makes scrubbing thru footage a BIG hassle. I'll probably end up linking them all together either as a sequence, or more likely as a self contained QT file. Although that is dangerous, as the new QT file won't contain the original tape timecode. Gah..what a pain!So I do what the article states, delete the CLIPS (not the media, just highlight the clips and press delete) from the Browser and then on the finder level in the Capture Scratch folder, open and rename the footage more descriptively. Then re-import that into FCP and organize it. NOTE: There are a couple issues with this workflow that I'd like to point out. When you capture this footage, FCP does not assign it a reel number. This is a pretty important piece of info to have on the clip. Fixing that is simple enough, just add it in the Browser. You'll be warned that you are "Changing the source timecode on the file," that's fine...just click OK.Hmmm...this brings up a concern. When you do this capture, you do it pretty much as a CAPTURE NOW. Roll the tape and let it go. There is no LOG AND CAPTURE, no place to add REEL numbers. So let's say that you lose a drive, and your footage is lost. How will you get it back? With logging and capturing, simply BATCH CAPTURE your footage and it will reconnect in the Browser and timeline. But with this method, CAN you batch capture? Because of the camera starts and stops will the recapture start on the exact same first frame and last frame? If you have to recapture the footage and try to reconnect it that way, how can you assure that you get the same TC start and end times...and the same clip names? The more I think about it...the more this workflow makes me nervous. This is why I am backing up my footage. I think if I have the time, I will also capture the footage (only 8 tapes) via HD SDI as DVCPRO HD 1080i 29.97 and see how things look. At least with this format, I can log and capture, label my clips, assign reel numbers as I capture, have the ability to capture the b-roll as one long clip. And piece of mind that I can re-capture via "batch capture" in case footage is lost. Sometimes I think slight loss in quality might be preferable when it comes to a proven stable workflow. We'll see...still figuring this out. What are your thoughts about this?
A.C.E. editor Harry B. Miller III (http://imdb.com/name/nm0587823/) over at the American Cinema Editors Blog (http://ace-filmeditors.org/blog/index.html) talks about his experience in editing a feature film with FCP. A nice frank post about the strengths and weaknesses of the application in a tapeless feature film workflow.(thanks to Scott at the EditBlog for the link)
Well, it was inevitable. Sooner or later I'd have to work on a project that was shot with an HDV camera. And now here it comes. It will be a "trailer" for a documentary on Shamanism. I say "trailer" with "quotes" because it isn't like a movie trailer...2 min tease of what the movie is about. No, it is a partially shot documentary in need of finishing funds. So I will be cutting a 10 min "mini-doc" (do I love those "quotation marks" or what?) about the subject.And it was shot on HDV. With the VU1. And not only that...but the b-camera was a DV camera. BUT...no worries. It was used sparingly, and just to get another angle on interviews, so I can blow up and effect the footage and make it look like crud...in other words, make it look "cool." I will make my attempt to capture HDV as ProRes...via firewire. Because I am very behind in the times and am still running a very reliable Dual 2Ghz G5 with a Kona LH...and for some reason I can't capture ProRes via the card without an Intel Mac, but I can via Firewire.So I'll keep you appraised with how things are going and what workflows I will be using...what works, what doesn't. Basically what I intended the blog to be.OH...since a lot of the workflow depends on the final delivery format, I will say that the intended delivery will be DVD...to give out as fundraising tools. But I will cut this as if I intend to output to HDCAM at 1080i 29.97. Because in the end...the FINAL project will have that as the final master.
High definition editing from the trenches...