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How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?

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Jonathan Wing
How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on Apr 10, 2014 at 11:53:59 pm
Last Edited By Jonathan Wing on Apr 10, 2014 at 11:58:22 pm

I am working on a live show for a certain artist that toured and they shot 5 cameras for every show and thensome, adding up to something close to 50-100 or so cameras, depending on the song. (It's very coreographed pop music and the band plays to a click every night, so all cameras surpsingly sync up without an issue).

Now, rather than create a multi-cam which would be next to impossible to playback, this has been my workflow so far for each song:

Stack every camera on its own track, resulting in possibly up to 100 layers, then either mute all tracks or clip disable all clips. Then soloing only one at a time to watch each camera through, I make my selects by cutting them up into moments that I think would work, and I do this for all hundred layers (!!! it takes forever...). While doing this, I sometimes color label and drag down moments that I know I want onto the bottom of the sequence, thus creating a stacked priority of distilling the shots down to more manageable layers and getting rid of the rest that doesn't work (I hope that makes sense-- in other words V1-V5 might be my top choices, and anything above that is muted and will later be tossed out). Anyway, as a result, I still have insane sequences that are difficult to manage both with computer power and mental power. I am just getting lost.

Has anyone ever taken on such a huge concert edit? What would your workflow/approach be? I've talked to some other editors and it seems like they do something pretty much similar (stacked layers, drag down the clips you like the best, delete the rest). But I'd like to hear what other people are doing, regardless of your software, and get some ideas as to how I could make this more manageable for me...


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Mark Suszko
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on Apr 11, 2014 at 3:07:57 pm

There has got to be a LOT of redundancy in that footage. To start, you might screen each angle one time and only actually capture that one killer shot, wherever it is in the performance. Avid and FCPX, with their abilities to add a lot of metadata tagging and rating or ranking of takes, seem like ideal platforms for this kind of work. If you can build a large enough "vocabulary" of descriptive tags for those shots, it may help to pick out a pattern before you even lay the first cut. Say, if the tags include emotional contexts like "nervous", "dark", "warm"... I dunno, I'm just spitballing ideas here...

Then just think hard about the aesthetic you want to go for. Maybe you don't even edit this "visually" at all, in the very first pass, but you just sift that metadata, browse the tags, for the best-rated clips, and let the direction be dictated by that at first, then edit subtractively after that point.

I don't think you try to build a 100-layer timeline in any case. I don't see an immediate utility to that. Even if the gear is technically capable of it, a 100- shot PIP screen in AE or whatever is kind of gimmicky. At the end of the day, you're still going to mostly show things in conventional visual language with establishing shots, mediums, close-ups, and some cut-aways. You can just afford to be even more picky in screening the raw footage than most people.

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Jonathan Wing
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on Apr 11, 2014 at 6:50:49 pm

A lot of redundancy is right-- but it's good to see it all because magic will happen in the places you least expect. :)

Thanks for your tips. Metadata is a good call. I'm currently working this project in premiere (that's what the company has me on) so I don't know if it can tag metadata but I know I can do color labels, so I might just use that to create my own coding system.

The 100-layer thing-- I may have misrepresented what I mean by that. I don't at all mean any sort of PiP type of visual. The only reason they would be layered is for the simple utility of keeping it all in sync. Each layer is a camera from each night, and basically I only solo one layer at a time so at a moment in the song, I can go layer by layer to see what happened and then I drag down any moments I like to V1-V5, which is are my top choice tracks and audition them against each other until I find my favorite moment. But meanwhile all the other shots are still available to grab in case a director comes in and says "what do we have for a wide shot from the London show?"... even if I didn't select it, I can still go to that moment in the song and find it on a higher layer and unmute it to see what it looks like. I mean, it makes sense logically, but my big problem is I can never remember which camera is which or what moment is what... it just becomes a big mess of confusion as far as which is which.

Maybe I should start a new sequence and only copy into it the moments I like, and then I can return to my 100-layer master sync sequence if a director needs to see another shot. But curious to hear if anyone has another approach? I guess most normal concert films are cut from one night so maybe I'm attempting a crazy first... yikes.

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Mark Suszko
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on Apr 11, 2014 at 7:33:24 pm

I get everything you're saying. You may be onto something by just having a LOT of different sequences, and being able to bop between them and copy-paste the bits your director likes from each. Each sequence drives the same pool of footage so you're not needlessly duplicating media. Since you're in Premiere, hopefully you have access to Adobe Prelude to enter your metadata and do initial preparation of clips during ingest. If you don't have Creative Cloud, for a project like this it may make sense to subscribe for a month just to help with the ingest and metadata tagging.

I'm still not excited about a 100-track timeline, even though as you say you can mute 95 of them at a time. I think the synching and prep for that is like color-correcting ALL your footage before you even know what it is you want out of it. I'm fond of saying the edit begins with each decision of when to turn the camera on or off, to record or stand by, but expanding that idea, every phase of production, for me, is already framed in consideration of the edit. For something so daunting as this project, you HAVE to triage this footage as it comes in, you don't dare wait until it's all there in one huge bin. That's why I think the super-detailed logging/metadata step is your best insurance policy.

Also...have you got enough storage to pull this off? Or will everything need to be low rez proxies first?

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Jonathan Wing
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on Apr 11, 2014 at 8:26:42 pm
Last Edited By Jonathan Wing on Apr 11, 2014 at 8:27:26 pm

Thanks Mark, those are good points. Yes we have a SAN with endless terabytes and new Mac Pros so we are definitely suited to handle the task. So far I've done one song and I had no big issues apart from mentally getting lost when a director came in and asked for a certain camera, so I'm trying to re-think my approach. The syncs were actually given to me as stacks by our AE so it was indeed my starting point. Which that said, it's already beyond the ingest and logging stage-- we're already in the edit unfortunately. Oh well.

I'm also thinking of distilling this down into separate sequences ordered by camera type, at least that way if the director asks to see a wide, I can have a sequence with only wides to pull from. Mainly this is to help facilitate working with others and to know where I can find other options.

But I agree maybe I'm overdoing it with such a large timeline and I can have that to refer to for backup, but in approaching my edit I should start simple/clean and work from there. And then if a director wants to use a side CU from Berlin, I can track it down hopefully quickly. Oh boy...

Just for kicks I'll give you a glimpse of what my world has been looking like (this is the master sync with splices and color coding for good moments)

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Mark Suszko
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on Apr 11, 2014 at 8:49:28 pm

YIKES! I don't think this is how TETRIS is supposed to be played :-P

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Bill Davis
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on May 3, 2014 at 6:34:40 am
Last Edited By Bill Davis on May 3, 2014 at 6:41:14 am

Oh man, it is SUCH a shame you're not an FCP-X Editor.

This is precisely what the database and X's Angle Editor kicks ASS at doing.

Spend an easy day working on a database approach - maybe ISOs by instrument. or Tags by Measure, or Solos, or Just moments of Awesomeness by the players across all takes.

Set up the database to pull up exactly the alternatives that fit precisely the song and measure you're working on.

Then take your BEST 4 or 8 or 16 angles - whatever you feel you can really WATCH for in each pass - and then do multiple passes cutting in just the shots you feel are best from that selectio\n - knowing that if you see something better on pass 3 or 4 or 6 - using NEW angles - a simple click will insert them into your master, whether they're from show 1 or show 15

When you've worked "batch one" to your satisfaction, load up up new cameras in the angle editor - and take additional passes deciding if you can improve on the shots you've already cut in.

You can do that as many times as you like until you're absolutely SURE that you've got the absolute best shots for every measure of the performance - mixed down from as many song-takes as you have.

Plus, it doesn't matter if they shot on RED and Alesis or GoPros and iPhones - or a combination of that and DLSR and Phantoms - just take a couple of days and run Proxies - and you can do the entire 100 camera edit on a MacBook Pro - then just copy the project to something faster like a new MacPro and re-link back to the Original Media to export at the best rez you need and that the footage will support.

It's like what you're doing is EXACTLY what they designed X to do.


Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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Cécile Féat
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras?
on May 9, 2014 at 9:59:29 am

Interesting thread, I've been battling with sort of the same issues lately, and was wondering if both of you could give me an insight since I know Bill is a fervant FCPX admirer (no offence!! :-)) and Jonathan seems to be used to PPro.

Before I explain, I'm still working on FCP7 (ok you can start booing now...). The company I work for (In Belgium and I'm French so I apologize in advance for any mistakes :p) has been holding up on all the updating and upgrading process these past years. Was never the right time, always extremely busy and therefore just not ready to upgrade and risk being out of the system for a while (TV channels don't appreciate that very much, especially when you're supposed to deliver over 15 hours of TV shows a week every week for two different countries.) But now is the time for change at last! YAY!

We essentially work with light multi-cam footage (by light I mean 2 to 4 cameras, so max 4 layers after synch, not 100. Yikes!), and interviews. (Seen Hell's Kithchen? Pretty much the same thing for example).
But our editing technique is exactly the same. We tower up the layers, and toggle/untoggle them at will. The reason we work like this is because we constantly need to shift the clips around. The synch is important at first, but to "illustrate" we always need to fetch other shots from other parts of the masterclip (ie Headshots, food shots whatever). Which makes using the Multi-Cam features a huge pain in the back ^^ Or maybe we just got it wrong ? We're so used to getting things done that way that we never really took (or had for that matter) time to think about working differently.

So here's my question: we're thinking of upgrading either to FCPX or PPro CC. What are your thoughts?

We have approx 15 stations, old Macpros we're bound to change anyway, work with a RAID and a SAN with access for every station of course, have 2 sound stations with Protools and Nuendo also linked, mostly receive XDCAM footage (although regularly input some other formats), occasionnally need to handle 4K for publicity jobs (although we all now 4K is going to spread everywhere so we have to prepare). But most of our jobs really consist of entertainment, broadcasting, reality TV shows. Handling huge amount of data with each time several hours of footage, and long timelines once the edit is done (always over 30min, frequently over 1H30).
AND our journalists start working on the program before us (Haha the assistant editor returns!) so you can double up the number of workstations and access for them (imac or mini). Projects switch hands numerous times before the final export, and ounce the sounmix is done there are always important editing changes after client viewing. So we need to be able to jump around the heavy projects easily, make the changes easily on all tracks (often at this stage we have over 50 audio tracks)

Do you think Première would handle it correctly? I've been hearing people saying PPro isn't that much liked by editors who work on documentaries or with large amount of data. Do you find it to be true? Or is it running ok?
And what of FCPX? Seems very interesting for plenty of reasons, but I've never read anything about using it in a linked environment, with multiple access and again large amount of data, and the libraries will have to be organised by the ingest department so we won't have much access to it (probably almost none). I'm not even going to start on the time it's going to take for our editors to get used to the timeline ^^ but they'll have to anyway!

Sorry for the long post, maybe I should have posted this directly in the top section. But I wanted to have your feedback :-)


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Bill Davis
Re: How would you approach your workflow to a concert edit with potentially hundreds of cameras? (long)
on May 12, 2014 at 5:35:28 pm

[Cécile Féat] "I know Bill is a fervant FCPX admirer (no offence!! :-))"

Heavens, why would I take offense? It's merely the latest work from the leading NLE designer of the modern era. Taking offense because I'm interested in what Mr. Ubillos dreamed up when Apple essentially gave him a blank check to re-imagine what an NLE needed to be in such a rapidly evolving era wold be like taking offense when the Beatles "revolutionized" pop music in the early 1960s. Things HAD to change. Crooners like Pat Boone and even Sinatra (as superb as he was) were stale-sounding and the market wanted something fresh. That said, some kids went with the Beatles, and some kids gravitated to the Stones. Nothing wrong with that. Like what you like! Heck, even perhaps the "safe" kids who developed a deep love for the Monkees and Herman's Hermits the other "packaged" corporate coifed and TV-safe pop acts had something to offer. So it's not about which NLE is "cooler" - it's about how much CHANGE you personally can tolerate in a world undergoing fundamental change. And how you approach it.

On to the question at hand.

From my vantage point, X is still the only program that's asking it's users to make wholesale changes in their thinking about what it means to be an editor in the modern era.

We've hashed it out here for years now. X is all about metadata management. From V1, it asked it's users to shift their thinking. Away from a singular focus on "the timeline" as the singular place where all editing value was crafted - and towards a system where you have a dual track system where your editing decisions had a brand new workspace - Initially the Event Library - now just the Library - which is essentially a database driven storage space for asset management. But one that wasn't separate from the editing environment, but bolted directly INTO it.

Do other editing systems feature database systems or database like attributes? Sure. But not the same way X can provide such a rich subset of both editing AND media asset management attributes in such a modern, "standalone" PLUS "thin client" system - that is accessible to anyone with modest resources (or organizations tired of licensing big systems that the editor can only use when they're in a seat paid for and maintained by said large organization.) It's a more PERSONAL tool design. You can own it, and keep it forever, and by doing that (without a feathered credit card!!) you're free to constantly use it to evolve as an editor on your own time and at your own pace, whether you're at your desk or in an airplane or on vacation.

X is a system feeds metadata into Magnetic timelines that make basic editing fast and easy - and yet allows the more sophisticated editor to work with lots of depth and precision. Note: that does NOT mean with every single useful or important editing technique that the high-end editor has come to expect in the programs that have had a decade or more to develop and that are tied to huge shop budgets or even to long developed programs such as FCP-Legacy. But it's hard to argue that all the much of an editors necessary palette is missing in X at this stage in it's development. It's not ALL there, feature by feature certainly - but the missing pieces are certainly being filled in fast,

X clearly envisions a world where that metadata decision pool is persistent, evolving, and yes, multi-user. And while all those elements are not all yet in place, many of them are and the rest are clearly coming.

Read what the half dozen of us who have been advocates of X from the beginning seem to be saying. We don't say it's perfect = but we nearly all DO say some consistent things. A) it's exciting to learn to change our traditional thinking. B) once learned, we feel like X is making us more EFFICIENT as editors and C) what we thought we were losing, we discovered new ways to do - or that we could live without in the face of all the new things we were being allowed to do.

The central factor for me is that since X is essentially a range-based visual database bolted onto a magnetic editing timeline - I've come to appreciate that just like an address book, my working environment becomes MORE valuable to me the more I work it. The more entires, the more I can look up and cross reference. The more database strategies I learn - from tagging to search processes - the more utility I can get out of my editing environment. And the EASIER my work becomes. This is difficult to explain to someone who doesn't use a visual database like this on a daily basis. Sort, search, find, access instantly - that's my new normal. And it makes me a more efficient editor.

And clearly, this concept is poised for growth into massively distributed workflows. Check out the Apple website for the Azteca TV case studies. It's high volume workflows with extremely demanding deadlines that have to accommodate multiple editors arrayed about centralized storage. If you read about it and some of the enabling technologies such as Cantemo's Portal - a web-based collaborative markup and EDL generator - it's pretty clear to see where X is headed in the future.

Now let's be clear if you want all of that NOW - on day one - install it and go to work tomorrow? - you're going to HATE X. Because the editor MUST change their thinking in order to use it efficiently. It's not learning how it CAN it do something. But rather HOW it does everything. It's an integrated editing system - NOT AT ALL just a new arrangement of old style editing ideas. Part, I believe of why it's so frustrating for experienced editors. You can instantly learn the X equivalents of, say, standards like Tops and Tails keyboard editing - only to be confused when the invocation of those causes the magnetic timeline a spasm of ripple adjustments! You've just got to learn to expect what X does. Not expect it to do what your prior NLE did.

It's possible right now to see X as an affordable, ownable small footprint editing client that will communicate with expansive editing networks and databases in a anything in-anywhere out creative system for a new generation. Or you can see it as an affordable standalone simple editing appliance for a solo practitioner to use for cutting and deploying web video.

The fact that it's fair to see it in BOTH places, is part of what makes it difficult for so many editor to understand.

It's an editing SYSTEM. Based in pure metadata, extremely modern code, and Intelligent design from both a modern computing and and operational perspective.

Some of us think it's a signpost to the future.

Others feel it went too far and too fast in dumping the old ways - to concentrate on new possibilities.

Only time will tell who was right.

But betting against Apple and world-class talent like Mr. Ubillos having a solid idea of where modern editing can evolve is a hard sell in my thinking.

Just look back that how the debate around X has evolved so far. At first, X was iMovie Pro. Then it wasn't. Then Magnetism was stupid, then it wasn't. First X was neglecting Multi-cam. Then it suddenly wasn't (and arguable had the BEST multi-cam implementation going.) Then X was to ISOLATED for multi-seat users - then the new Library model was rolled out and it wasn't.

How many times does it need to be shown that Apple is serious about evolving X into a mature, extremely professional product?

I still maintain that X is the only NLE software with a parent company behind it so strong that they could essentially wipe their NLE business AWAY totally, in order to re-think and re-craft something better.

That better thing is FCP-X - and it's pretty obvious by now that based on the areas where it's being developed most rapidly - it's becoming just what Apple has said it was creating all along. A re-imagined FLAGSHIP professional video and motion content creation program for the next decade and beyond.

Nobody can tell you if it's going to be perfect for your shop. What I can say is that X will STRETCH your editorial team into new modes of thinking. And some of those are both VERY valuable - and very hard to give up once you see their power.

But at heart, it's a judgement call. Stay with what's worked in the past, or risk being earlier in the evolution stage toward what's clearly coming.

Maybe some other NLE company like Adobe or AVID or BlackMagic will surge to the front - but as cool as some of their offerings are - I just don't see it. They are excellent companies with lots of smart people working there. But Apple is the one company that takes the biggest risks. And has historically elected to jump toward rather than slog toward greatness carrying a rucksack of historic compatibility on their shoulders.

Tortoise verses hare, but honestly, rabbits (if they stay on task) do typically hop across the finish line sooner than your average tortoise.

Just worth thinking about.

; )

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.

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