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Which Alexa workflow

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David Dubé
Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 23, 2011 at 11:03:10 pm

Hi all ! I am preparing a 3 year, round the globe sailing / shooting project. The images will serve for theatrical release, TV, DVD, BLU-RAY, and web. We want to use the Arri Alexa for it's image quality, portability and ruggedness. We will be shooting 500-1000 hours a year. We have people working with us for the video side, but I always value and trust the opinions of the COW members.

So here it is:

We want to use ProRes 4444 Log C as the master format.
We need dailies of all the footage in either DNxHD 36 or ProRes LT. (done on the boat)
We need the dailies to be minimally graded for reviewing and mastering weekly web clips (done on the boat)
We will offline edit with the dailies and then conform to ProRes 4444. (done on land)

Two questions:

1- For maximum efficiency in turn around time, how would you go about creating the dailies ?
Any particular software/hardware combination you would recommend ?

2- Giving the context of this production (lots of footage, difficult shooting environment, multiple operators), is it conceivable to use a NanoFlash for recording the dailies/offline and conforming to the ProRes 4444 material at the time of online, without this method becoming a nightmare of naming conventions / audio sync / timecode issues, etc.

Final thought: We would prefer not to tether the camera to any external recorder to maintain portability and simplicity, but at the same time I can't afford much less than 0.5x real time transcoding for the dailies. I will have 2 or 3 MacPros on board with MC 5.5 and whatever software / hardware we need for the fastest transcoding possible.

All your commentaries are much welcomed, thank you all for your time,

David


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Fred Jodry
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 25, 2011 at 3:05:21 am

Next to all of that software you will need about 1,000 watts of electricity when editing at regular speed. An all- windgenerator or other single means of making this much electricity on a sailboat less than 100 feet long will hit shortages for weeks at a time unless you design better than this. I am glad that you figured out that it takes fully 3 years to sail around the world. Regardless of what we say visit a few other Alexa productions in operation to get the best idea of what works how well.


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David Dubé
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 25, 2011 at 5:51:12 pm

Very funny indeed, and unuseful as well. I don't see why you would go out of your way to make fun of me, just don't respond if you have nothing to contribute.


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Fred Jodry
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 25, 2011 at 6:16:15 pm

David, if you`re taking a bunch of ocean liners then the first half of the paragraph is too literal, but the last sentence should hit the nail on the head.


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John Heagy
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 28, 2011 at 4:20:19 am

I wouldn't suggest using a separate recorder for proxies. Like you said file name/TC nightmare plus another thing to fail. You can easily exceed .5x proxy render time if you deploy Episode Engine on two of your Mac Pros. The more cores the better. Episode does not have proper LUT support but you can use the basic color correction settings to get close. Never tried creating Avid edit ready files with Episode. I would recommend archiving everything to LTO after each shoot. This will keep your footage safe in the event of power failure. A Cache-A system would be perfect.

John Heagy


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David Dubé
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 28, 2011 at 4:07:42 pm

Dear John,
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question in a smart way. I've worked with Episode before and it is fast. I would have to test it for sure but I think you're right about the render time. If I can also do a basic color correction directly in the software, all the better. Also, a cache-A system was also part of our back-up and shipping solution. Finally, with this workflow, I'd like to incorporate a solution like the Matchback magic software for FCP but for Avid, to insure an easy conform later on. Do you know of anything that could transfer the metadata from my ARRI files to the proxies ? Could Avid MetaSync do the trick ? Then I think I would use AMA to get the proxies into Avid for logging, to skip the ingest. And then ship my bins, with the original media and proxies for further editing. Many thanks !

David


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John Heagy
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 28, 2011 at 8:37:17 pm

Hi David,

So you're planning to do the offline with Avid and the online with FCP? This is what we do everyday.

We link QT media to Avid Meridan offline sequences based solely on TC and Reel. We built our own system but Videotoolshed has an app that does the same thing.

http://www.videotoolshed.com/product/41/fcpreconnect/3

The first step is to consolidate the Avid seq then export an omf. We use Automatic Duck to convert the omf to xml. The xml is processed externally and clips are linked to any media that matches.

This type of workflow requires unique Reel names. The Alexa creates Reel names based on Camera A, B etc and Card number. An example would be A001L6PQ... A Camera, Card 001, Left eye, and finally the 3 digit base36 camera serial number. Unfortunately the Alexa card number gets reset to 001 on power up so you'd end up with duplicate reels every day. That may have changed with the new firmware and allow you to enter a new Card number. If so you could combine camera and card numbers to keep every card unique. You could also blast your own reel numbers across clips using FCP or QTchange from Videotoolshed. This is want we plan on doing as we have a reel name system in place.

I can't speak in terms of AMA or any modern Avid system. We still use OS 9 Avids... yes OS 9.

On a separate note: Arri did a near perfect file based workflow regarding Card and Clip names. Especially when compared to the abysmal FAT32/4Gig spanned/NONAME/CONTENTS/truncated UUID system Panasonic uses. The only thing I'd like added would be a date stamp to the Card names so it's easier to maintain unique reel names.

John Heagy


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gary adcock
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Feb 28, 2011 at 8:45:31 pm

[John Heagy] "The only thing I'd like added would be a date stamp to the Card names so it's easier to maintain unique reel names."

Which is now available in the V3 version of the camera software.

gary adcock
Studio37

Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
Chicago, IL

http://blogs.creativecow.net/24640



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John Heagy
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 1, 2011 at 9:05:39 pm

Hi Gary,

Date in the card volume name on v3? We did a shoot with v3 loaded and I got the same volume name as before. I looked through the manual and saw no setting to enable this.

Thanks
John Heagy


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David Dubé
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 1, 2011 at 9:15:08 pm

Maybe I didn't express myself correctly. We're going to stay Avid the whole way. My question is, can I transfer Arri's ProRes files metadata to the proxies I will be creating to ensure a perfect conform later on. I was refferring to a software like fcp matchback magic as an example. Many thanks !


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John Heagy
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 3, 2011 at 2:28:34 am

I'm not familiar with how Avid deals with ProRes. What metadata do you need beyond Reel and TC? I would hope both of those would come in with the import of proxy or 4444. Episode will preserve both if used to make the proxy files. If you can maintain unique Reel names the rest is standard offline/online workflow which Avid should handle without help.

John Heagy


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David Dubé
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 3, 2011 at 4:06:31 pm

Ok thanks I'll test those settings and repost here for reference, thanks a bunch !


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Steve Shaw
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 4, 2011 at 12:13:05 pm

Just made a new post about Avid Alexa workflows...
Worth having a look.

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/45/879529

Steve


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 22, 2011 at 7:34:53 am

You have an exciting project which has the potential of turning out into the best 3 years of your life.

You could take a look at Pomfort Alexa on Set. It's a data management solution for Alexa. I'm not sure if it will handle the ProRes to DNxHD conversion and how fast if at all, but you can connect with Patrick over at Pomfort and he can guide you as well.

pomfort.com

And yes, they do handle the colour space conversions for editing.

You could use an outboard recorder like the small Aja KiProMini, but like someone else suggested, you may get into naming, TC and other meta data mismatch issues. And considering the volume of shooting that you're likely to do over this long period, best to avoid these snafus that can quickly become a nightmare on land.

One observation I have about AMA is that, although it works fine with ProRes, it's not very robust with time codes especially if one is eventually going to make EDLs or AAFs for further working some other system. It works just fine for short jobs like commercials, but I've seen it get messy with long form work. Maybe operator error, but best to test things out first. I prefer conversion to DNxHD and editing.

You should also check what kind of time frames are involved in conversion within Avid like when you 'hard import' ProRes into DNxHD36.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Steve Shaw
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 22, 2011 at 8:24:03 am

The Alexicc Software we have just released enables Avid MC ProRes workflows for ALexa footage with LUTs (looks) burnt in by using ICC profiles.

This may be of interest?

See Alexicc on the Light Illusion website for more info.

Cheers,

Steve


Steve Shaw
LIGHT ILLUSION
steve@lightillusion.com
+44 (0)7765 400 908
http://www.lightillusion.com
Skype: shaw.clan

LUTs, CUBEs + GAMMA CURVEs


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David Dubé
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 22, 2011 at 4:29:39 pm

Very impressive demonstration of the Alexicc software on this site. Simple question though, if we only transcode to DNxHD 36 (no QTs) on an 8-core (16 thread) MacPro, what kind of performance can we achieve ? I assume that processing is the bottleneck here and having faster drives won't change render time. Also, is it possible to have multiple ICC profiles for multiple "basic" shooting conditions (ie: sunny, night, overcast, underwater, etc.) Thank you !

David


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Steve Shaw
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 22, 2011 at 7:40:50 pm

Hi David,

Speed is processor dependent, but we have good results on a MacBook Pro.

We have a demo/eval version available - e-mail me for a copy.

And you can have as many profiles available as you want...

Steve


Steve Shaw
LIGHT ILLUSION
steve@lightillusion.com
+44 (0)7765 400 908
http://www.lightillusion.com
Skype: shaw.clan

LUTs, CUBEs + GAMMA CURVEs


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David Dubé
Re: Which Alexa workflow
on Mar 22, 2011 at 4:23:40 pm

Hi Neil, thanks for your advice. We have heard things too about long term use of AMA. At any rate we will probably transcode to DNxHD 36 for dailies, offline edit and archival on the boat. From there we can just import it straight as managed media in MC. As for the "hard import" I haven't tested it yet but I don't see it being very fast. Thank you,

David


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