R3D Files and AMA "Unable to Provide Sample" error
I'm a 20 year AVID veteran, but have been using FCP as my home system for years. I recently bought the Symphony 6.0 crossgrade during the special a few weeks back.
I've been using it to edit a project that was shot on a R3D One at 4K.
Before I started, I downloaded the newest version of the R3D AMA plugin from AVID's website (1.7 I believe), and installed it on my MacPro 12 core, running LION 10.7.4.
My workflow was the following:
1. Open a bin and choose "Link to an AMA volume" from the file menu and point Avid at the Folder with my original R3D media.
2. Select all the clips and copy them into an "OFFLINE CLIPS" bin.
3. Transcode them onto an external drive at DNxHD 36 keeping all file names identical to the original media. I then removed the .new clips and selected all the offline originals, then chose "relink to specific resolution" and pointed the clips at the DNxHD36 transcoded media.
4. Edit the DNxHD36 clips into a finished sequence. Up to this point, everything worked as advertised.
5. My next step was to take the DNxHD36 clips offline, and attempt to relink to my original media. My goal was to have access to the original R3D files so I could use the "Set Source Settings" tool to tweak the exposure etc. before color grading but after the edit.
And here's where the trouble started. When I tried the traditional "relink" no clips were relinked. I realized this was probably because I'd used AMA to import them in the first place and they were R3D spanned files in the original folders.
So then I used "Link to AMA Volume" again. Now some of the clips came up in my sequence. But others had a black screen, with an error message that said "AMAProducerTask::Execute AMA Plug0In Unable to Provide Sample" at the bottom.
I searched that error message on AVID's community forum and found a thread from a couple of weeks ago from other users having the same problem. One of them described it as intermittent and said the clips sometimes came back if they scrubbed the timeline.
So I started doing that. Then I got a more alarming message that said "The Software License is No Longer Activated on this system, please contact Customer Service for assistance." Except that my software license is totally in order. And when I restarted the system, my license appeared to be totally intact.
Also, even for the clips that DID show in the timeline, when I used the "Set Source Settings" tool to adjust the gamma, exposure, etc. in preparation for transcoding to DNxHD 444, I could see the gamma shift in my preview monitor, but not in my program. In other words, the changes didn't "ripple" into my sequence.
I thought about exporting an XML of the sequence and just conforming it in After Effects, but then I realized that AVID doesn't make XMLs. Ugh.
Any suggestions? Short of transcoding 8 hours of footage into DNxHD 444, I'm not sure what to do. (And that's not an appealing option, especially when I can't see what I'm doing and I don't know if my color corrections will be visible in the transcoded footage until I've done it.)
An updated step by step guide for R3D would be great! ;)
Working my way down your lists:
No need to copy clips to another bin. You can transcode directly from that bin.
No need to preserve filname in the NAME column, Avid tracks original files via the TAPE, TapeID or Source File columns. In your case, it will be the Source File column. Change the name to something useful like scene/take, etc.
The .new clips automatically link to the DNxHD36 from the transcode, no need to do all that relinking business.
As long as you use AMA from start to finish, the spanned files is not an issue. Also, source settings only work with clips actively linked via AMA, not the transcoded ones.
For relinking back to AMA, you need to hide the Avid MediaFiles folder with the DNxHD media, open up the bins with the original linked AMA and do a relink to selected that way. It is not the most elegant and obvious method, but AMA has a ways to go - especially for new users.
Avid uses the industry standard of AAF, there is no XML representation of AAF yet, despite the long time promise from what was the AAF Association. I beleive it's still in the works. But Premiere Pro supports AAF, conform in PPro and move to After Effects if you feel that is a better workflow.
Also consider conform to original files via DaVinci Resolve which supports simple AAF or EDL.
I was following a workflow I found online, and which I tested with three clips in a simple sequence before I started. But I see what you're saying about the way AVID tracks the clips, and the unnecessary added effort I went to keep everything the same, including the clip name.
I'm not sure anything I did should have resulted in such a wild deviation from the expected result, but I'll definitely try "RELINK TO SELECTED" and see if that makes a difference.
In the meantime, I found that turning off AMA completely resulted in my AVID reverting into the calm, predictable, professional machine I'm used to working with.
So going forward, I might just have to take the time to transcode everything before I start my edit so as to avoid unpleasant surprises at the back end. (Though that just seems like a frustrating and unnecessary step, given the advertised functionality of AMA.)
To update the situation, in between crashes over the past 12 hours, I've been able to mostly transcode the sequence into DNxHD 444. So it's only some 15 unruly clips that are causing me headaches, and I can probably reconstitute them somewhere else manually, and then reimport them into AVID and manually cut them into the sequence.
But this is all happening on a 2 minute piece. I can't begin to imagine how upsetting this would all have been if instead it had been the feature I cut on Final Cut last summer.
I'm starting to think that AVID isn't the solution to my R3D workflow problem.
Anyway, thanks again for your thoughtful response, Michael.
Well sorry to hear about your troubles. As I said, AMA is in its continual v1 of functionality and we'll have to see what improvements come to common offline/online conform type workflows in future releases.
For longer form projects, everyone will pretty much agree that AMA at best is a link/transcode process. R3D is special case due to Avid's inability to relink if AMA and non AMA processes are used. Also, it is dependent on RED including the latest Avid SDK that would have the DNxHD444 for a selects transfer workflow.
For my R3D jobs, I always use REDCINE X up front with a transcode to native MXF wrapped DNxHD. First of all, it frees up the MC from being a transcode machine, it has access to ALL the color parameters should they need to be tweaked. Can add burn-in if needed, etc.
Also, for a performance based on editing style and program complexity, multicam, layers, VFX, your mileage goes a lot further with native DNxHD.
Thanks again Michael.
The only issue I have with transcoding using Red Cine X upfront is that for documentary work, exposure can change during the shot. So if you've got an eight minute-long piece of media, and you make a blanket correction to it and then transcode at the start of a project, you may wind up having your settings exactly wrong for the moment you choose to use in the final sequence.
The beauty of the conforming workflow is that you preserve the flexibility to "rescue" a shot right up to the moment at which you bake the DNxHD 444 for the color grade.
It's a totally awesome workflow in theory. It's just the practice part that's tripping me up. :)
Anyway, I appreciate you giving it so much thought.
Considering the current limitations of MC's ability to relink between Source File and Tape for R3D spanned files, the workflow you trying to do make sense. Hopefully they will fix that in an upcoming release as it's been a known issue for a while now.
The RCX Pro workflow for this would be conform the EDL in RCX and correct each segment in RCX for exposure and other needs before rendering out the high rez files.