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Proxy workflow for Avid

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Robb Harriss
Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 8, 2013 at 9:36:03 pm

With the demise of FCP it's interesting seeing the choices are making as they move onto something "new," as an editorial solution. Here I'm looking at going back to Avid after 11 years away from it. It's changed a lot since I started with it in the late 80s. Getting back up to speed hasn't even been that tough—so much has remained the same. But the real issue is the integration of CatDV with Avid. It's not nearly as nice as it is with FCP, but it looks like it will work. Still, I had a very nice workflow with FCP and CatDV and I'd like to have something approximating it. Add to that the fact that we've been slowing becoming more file based by capturing our HDCam footage to ProRes files, saving them and then doing preliminary editing in FCP using CatDV proxies. With hundreds of hours of footage always online as proxies it's made life a lot easier.
I've got CatDV, with the MXF option and the Calibrated plugin, reading and playing Avid MXF files that are created by capturing off tape. I can import an Avid ALE file of the Avid bins into CatDV and retain the bin naming and project information from Avid. I can make small and portable proxy files as motion jpeg MOV files. I can export a FCP XML file from CatDV to Avid. But then I get stuck. How am I going to relink from the proxies to the high rez DNxHD files? Should I be using Avid to create some low rez media first and bring those into CatDV? I'm trying to get at least a picture of the workflow in my head before I start capturing a few hundred more hours of footage into Avid. Note that I'm only talking about new captures from tape. I also have to deal with all my ProRes quicktime files already sitting on dozens of hard drives. Well, I always wanted an interesting life.
Anyone point me at a reasonable workflow? I've already heard some noises from people at Avid. Seems they want a better integration with CatDV as they get more competitive in siphoning off editors as they move away from FCP.
Robb

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Matthew Stamos
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 8, 2013 at 11:01:26 pm

The funny thing about Avid from where I sit is the best thing and the worst thing about Avid is the same thing, their closed software architecture. If your all Avid through and through the workflows are really impressive but the minute you toss a third party in the mix all bets are off.....

That said I have a customer that has a cool workflow with Avid that I think may help you picture this? They have two sets of Hi res footage and online and offline DNx. They have a single proxy mp4 I believe and depending on what storage you have mounted you get the appropriate hi res footage. In their case most everyone gets the offline 36 to 1 and the finishing folks get the full DNxHD and some folks only get the proxies.

The challenge in you situation is the re-linking on the Avid side with the AMA. This is still not a really great workflow until Avid can more easily bulk re-link media.

I would really like to hear what others are doing as this is not that easy! That said there is some cool Avid stuff coming soon to CatDV so stay tuned.


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 13, 2013 at 12:46:02 am

I'm narrowing down the process. It's starting to look like the approach is to have the three sets of footage: one full rez, one low rez MXF, and a third set small proxies for CatDV away from the editing systems. The full rez will be captured through the Kona 3 card (working on my non-64 bit kernel Mac Pro) in DNxHD MXF onto "archive drives. Then I'll transcode to low rez MXF files that will live for long periods on the system's raid. This will give me full time access of lots of footage for long periods. (linking back and forth has been just fine). A separate set of CatDV proxies live on a separate drive hanging off my network. That's connected to the one other person viewing footage, and anyone else needing to look around from time to time. A copy of these CatDV also lives on a portable firewire drive that goes into my bag, so I can go home (every couple of weeks, anyway).

At first it was difficult getting low resolution mxf files that were small enough to be worthwhile. It's reall about storage and the solid connections to the database. Turns out that I have an interesting wrinkle in that our footage is 1080i. From the beginning we've had HDCam oriented toward broadcast. Once I figured out the trick of switching the project format to NTSC 30i I was able to pick 20:1 mxf and away I went.

Still have issues getting data into CatDV. It works just fine if I scan the entire Avid MXF/1 directory structure. But that doesn't really give me the bin structure I'm looking for, just the project name (and a production if I want it) But if I capture to bins in the Avid and then export them to CatDV using ALE, the data comes in but there's no link to the footage. I'm guessing that's because these are tape captures. I can work around this for now: even the way we're setup now in FCP, each shoot is a "project." I can live with that for now. But it will get a lot harder when there are lots of clips within the Avid Media files structure. I suspect that it will work a little differently when I start testing the AMA files. That's what I'll do with my existing ProRes footage. I plan on transcoding then to mxf so the original high rez files can go away.

I still have to fool with MME to see if it makes life easier.

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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bryson jones
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 12:09:34 am

Rob, we've been on a broadcast gig most of this last year and right as we went to holiday break we cracked a couple of things. We're developing an interesting AMA workflow for dealing with Archive and MAM using CatDV.

In the end, Interplay is the best way to do all of this with Avid. If you can afford it, buy it. (Yes, I just said that on this forum but it's true... IF you have the money. A lot of folks don't.)

The auto relink in FCP has actually never been a big feature for my clients. I'm not sure why but they've all just seemed to get by happily without the drag and drop. If you're just dealing with media management and archive, I feel like this AMA workflow is going to make for a pretty interesting 2013.

I'm interested to see what Squarebox brings on the Avid side. Hopefully between their coding and our workflow innovations we can deliver some solid Avid workflows.

For the record, my first CatDV client (over 5 years ago) was Avid based and still uses CatDV happily for logging and producer access even without a CatDV "hook" to Avid.

bryson

bryson "at" northshoreautomation.com

northshoreautomation.com


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 2:03:35 am

I'm sure Interplay would be helpful, but it's doubtful, here. We're just too small a shop now. I really don't 'have to worry about sharing media, anymore. I'm down to exporting a project so I can work on it elsewhere.

The fact is I've gotten spoiled by the way CatDV works with FCP. It's been so nice when my partner can rough out a cut in CatDV and I can open it fully populated in FCP. I'm guessing I'll have to have two different approaches: one for tape-based media and one for file-based. If each project was separate and distinct it would be easy. But we're constantly repurposing footage. It's actually more important for me to have all my CatDV proxies online so we can draw from dozens of different shoots to build a show. Lots more paper and pencils, I'm guessing—forward into the past. Still I"m expecting things to get better. After all, despite all the improvements and capabilities of current NLEs, there are still functions missing, or less poorly implemented than those of some systems from the 80s. There's room for improvement. At least I'm not alone in wanting/needing a better connection between Avid and CatDV. Think of all those poor bastards out there who haven't caught onto CatDV yet.

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Matthew Stamos
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 2:55:22 am

Interplay all dialed in is impressive no doubt about it. Reality for us video folks is no MAM, DAM, PAM out there that I am aware of can integrate with Media Composer and all the other groovy Avid tools as seamlessly as Interplay. On that note I don't think Interplay is even an apples to apples comparison with CatDV. Example being with a budget for Interplay I would still have some CatDV in the mix. A server with a few few Worker Nodes in the workflow or at least a desktop seat or two lying around. CatDV is like a swiss army knife in a file based workflow.


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 10:39:32 pm

Yes, the reason I use CatDV — it fills in all the blanks, literally and figuratively. No editing system out there deals well with logging. And logging is really the key to anything non-linear. It's the logs, not the editing software.

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Caspian Brand
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 9:29:43 pm

Robb,

I know you posted this about Avid with CatDV, and that you mentioned thinking about moving to Avid. Based on your workflow comments, if you haven't bit the bullet on Avid yet, I would highly recommend giving Adobe Premiere CS6 a try, it feels like an extension/updated version of FCP7 with some Avid style editing tools as well, and it's integration with CatDV is a real pleasure to work with more similar to how it is with FCP7.

Best Regards,
-Caspian

Product Specialist
Studio Network Solutions


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Matthew Stamos
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 10:57:20 pm

Good point Caspian, the new Premiere plugin is very cool with the ability to search CatDV from within Premiere 6. I would say if you are a CatDV user and planning on switching from FCP7 Premiere has to be a consideration.


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 10:59:15 pm

Oh, I've kicked everything around. And I'll tell you calling something an extension of FCP isn't really a compliment. I've used it for years and was never really happy with it. It tried to do too much all at once and wasn't great at any of them. Still, it worked, after a fashion. You have to understand that after years of online tape editing I bought my non-linear first system in 1989. I have the scars from arrows on my back. I've worked on just about every system ever made (except Edius, actually) and not for short periods, but for years at a time. I've been through the wringer with all of them. Someday maybe I'll write the long list of complaints . Very few of them, if any, have measured up. Oh well, it is what it is. From my perspective right now the most important things for me are robustness and stability. As extensive as my complaints have been about Avid over the decades the one thing I've always given them has been how solid they've been in stability. Adobe has come a very long way indeed, but I wouldn't call it terribly stable. And where Premiere shines, well, I'm not all that interested. You see, I live in a very nice little walled garden. I get to control the footage, even shooting much of it myself, as it comes it. Since I stopped being a standalone post house years ago, I really don't have to deal with all sorts of mixed formats coming in the door. I capture my footage just the way I want it: ProRes. It's been cut that way and output that way for quite a long time, now. Switching to DNxHD? Ok, no big deal. Everything coming in new now will be captured native Avid. I want to work native to the editing system: it's faster, easier, more stable. I'm not that interested in AMA or Premiere's ability to deal with all sorts of formats more or less natively. Of course I'll use both AMA and Premiere when I really need them, but it will be on very isolated occasions. (Notice that all the recommendations are to transcode your AMA footage to Avid native anyway.) One upcoming acquisition is a Pix240. We'll hang that off a camera and record directly into DNxHD. Creative suite will be here for all its other reasons, so I'm sure Premiere will be used for some odd things. But it just doesn't have the hard core, banging on the keyboard tools I used day in and day out on longer form documentaries. And I'm looking forward to Avid's media management (as opposed to AMA) just to help me corral thousands of clips.
I'll be playing with some Red footage in Adobe and some Canon 300 clips from a friend of mine. But I really see Avid being more useful for all my HDCam tapes that I've been shooting since 2001 on a Sony 700 and then 750. It's getting more interesting with file-based only. I've been doing that for several years, now, capturing complete shoots in ProRes 422 and then archiving the footage. Getting all the cross linking to work with proxies and such is what's getting interesting with Avid. CatDV made it a lot easier with FCP and Premiere.

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Matthew Stamos
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 15, 2013 at 9:24:47 pm

This is basically what we have a few Avid shops doing with CatDV and it seems to be pretty solid. Email me off list and I will see about getting you some Avid bits that are in beta to take for a test drive.


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 15, 2013 at 9:34:48 pm

Thanks, got plenty of material here. I'm already into an Avid project. It looks like I have it all mapped out. I'm able to go back and forth between CatDV and Avid, with both bins, logs and sequences. FCP gets lumped in there as well. I still have to document it. I believe in idiot proofing systems and workflows for the future. The other piece in all this is the ability to carry projects home on an external drive. Looks like I have that in here too. I'm dropping Red and Canon C300 files into the mix just to make it interesting. The overall goal is to have as much available "online" at any time both on the Avid systems and as proxies for CatDV.
Robb

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Kevin Duggan
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 7:12:05 am

Hi Rob

check out MME at http://www.mme.tv. This gives you a way of logging in Catdv and compiling an AAF file that you can drag and drop into an Avid bin . Best place to start is to drag your AvidMediaFile>MXF>1 folder into Catdv as you say you already have the Calibrated plugin . Follow the instructions to install the jar.extension file into Catdv and then you will have a right click menu in the Browser window SEND to MME . WIth the native files stuff will auto relink metadata will be in your bin and off you go. Be aware that 6.5.1 and upwards is a complete re-write of AAF from Avid and that currently we only support Avids earlier but don`t worry we have licked this problem and are testing internally and plan to release the latest version into the wild shortly. There are a couple of movies that show teach you about AMA relinking etc but start as indicated . BBC Natural History Unit have been using this workflow for nearly a year now with no issues on colossal amounts of footage.

Kevin Duggan
CatDV/MME


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bryson jones
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 4:25:25 pm

Kevin, I think I might have this client in LA set up to use MME. Timeline and politics-wise it's been a long one. (Just tons of documentation and training, you know the drill.) But I believe that it might be a solid spot to implement MME or at least confirm that Avid is catching up to your forward-thinking workflow.

I'll hit you off the board and discuss but I think we'll all have a very different landscape in the coming months for these sorts of workflows.

Rob, I hear ya, in places where producers can and will do a rough cut, it's pretty nice to have it waiting for you. ;) I'll keep the board posted on this as it move along. We just got it rolling right before the break, as I said.

Question for ya, is it mostly the rough cut or are you also using the included clip "user" metadata in your edit process?

bryson

bryson "at" northshoreautomation.com

northshoreautomation.com


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Kevin Duggan
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 6:32:55 pm

Hi Bryson
AMA relinking of P2 and XDCam looking solid on new builds , if you can get people to understand how the Avid works then you are more than half way home ... MC 6.5.1 and upwards are a little more relaxed in this area , maybe Avid are moving but it is a thorny issue to discuss as the Tape and TImecode is time honoured and known to be robust ...

Stay well and good luck with the project :-)

Kevin Duggan
CatDV/MME


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 11:29:01 pm

it's really the "rough" cut (I NEVER do rough work, dammit). It's also been the ability to work in the FCP timeline using the proxy footage and switch to master files later. Tape has always been nice because it's just been a matter of recapturing at full resolution. Going all file-based for footage gets a little "hinky." AMA seems to work a lot better going back and forth between offline and full rez files better than footage captured off tape into full quality DNxHD and then saved as files. Trying to link those files to proxies in CatDV is where the breakdown seems to be. It might be a weird combination of Avid managed media and AMA to CatDV. Or something.
The drag and drop from CatDV to a bin is sweet, but not the be all and end all. And I'm not particularly worried about getting metadata added in CatDV into the files on the editing system. All that information is what CatDV is for. And that's why we have a workgroup server so we can share fully updated information. Saying that, it seems crucial that some specific metadata goes back and forth, disk label, tape ID, those sorts of things that aide in linking files to other copies.

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 9, 2013 at 11:21:05 pm

I've been taking a look at MME. It seems like it might have some possibilities. The web site needs to have more information about CatDV integration, however. For someone like me, going between FCP and Avid holds little interest. Plus I have plenty of tools for doing that as it is.
I'm mostly interested in the creation of low resolution proxies from Avid managed DNxHD files. They need to be portable so they can be viewed on any system. So no odd codecs like DNx or ProRes. They need to be small and lightweight so we can have thousands of hours online and/or packed onto a pocket-sized firewire drive to hang off a laptop. He have to be able to link back to master footage sitting on the editing system, and do it without creating lots of extra or intermediary files. Fun, isn't it?

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Matthew Stamos
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 10, 2013 at 12:13:21 am

Robb your post reminds me of something a customer said to me recently... "I have been screwed by Apple, Adobe and Avid at some point over the years so I will just own all three and use which ever one I feel like that day"


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 10, 2013 at 12:17:05 am

you left out discreet and the people who bought EMC

LOL

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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bryson jones
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 10, 2013 at 12:50:55 am

Rob, as you read about MME, just replace FCP with CatDV, as they share the XML and all, it's really the same thing in a way.

I'm curious about your mention of capturing Avid media. What are you using to do that? I know BlackMagic and others say they can but it's really .mov wrapper, not true Avid MXF you can drop into the "1" folder. Is that what you're talking about or are you doing a fast import? From what I know, only a few expensive devices can actually make Avid MXF media you can edit without import or transcode.

The things that make Avid more stable (the db and its own MXF format) are what frustrates outside developers. Once you are away from paths, no one else can play. The online/offline relinks you talk about are done in their db, not in the filesystem. Wonderful but not very open.

I'm hoping AMA gives us the hooks and it looks like, for certain workflows, it will. But I've been burnt for 4 years on the promise of Media Composer. I'm staying with what I know for now. Oh and then there's that little bit about Avid bleeding money every quarter... How long do you get to do that before the doors close? I refuse to even consider what would happen to us all. Hey Adobe, wanna buy a company cheap?

Let me know on that media, but I'm guessing you're still importing, yes?

bryson

bryson "at" northshoreautomation.com

northshoreautomation.com


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 10, 2013 at 1:39:44 am

Using a Kona 3 card in an older 8 core Mac Pro. MC 6 and then 6.5 and the ability to use the Kona card is what's prompting the exploration.

I'm capturing as DNxHD 145. Weird seeing three files (again) instead of a single ProRes MOV file. I can import directly from the "1" directory into CatDV. Sending over an ALE isn't always as reliable. The MXF option and Calibrated plugin seem to be working. I can play the MXF files just fine in CatDV. (Quicktime will play them, but as individual steams and not as combined audio and video. In and out of FCP is fine, of course. My first experiments going back to MC, not so hot. I can send an XML to FCP which opens and plays it just fine. Automatic Duck formats it to an Avid compatible AFF and the media doesn't link. :-(

Like I said, it's an exploration. I think Avid's in better shape than it was a couple years ago. The last time I was at NAB I couldn't even get someone to sell me anything. The change to a more open architecture in 6/6.5 and new pricing means a great deal. The pre-production model offered to me in '89 was $85,000 without a media drive and had a service contract costing, oh, I don't remember, $10,000-$20,000 a year.

I suppose I can always dig up an old RM-440 controller. And if worse comes to worst, I have a 16mm six-plate flat bed sitting in the corner.

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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Matthew Stamos
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 10, 2013 at 3:05:32 am

I bet it still works!


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Robb Harriss
Re: Proxy workflow for Avid
on Jan 10, 2013 at 3:19:27 am

Not right now. Speed control servo died and we never had it fixed. Only a couple reels of 16 laying around here and maybe one reel of mag stripe.
:-(

Non-linear: all the time and nothing but.


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