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Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?

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Michael Paul
Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 16, 2013 at 12:43:47 pm

So I am asking for things you need to be aware of if you are going to edit for TV.

I was working at a company recently and there I've learned that I have to set the Default Pan under Autio Settings to Alternating L/R instead of All Tracks Centered. Still if people have a dialog I have to make sure that the left and right pan are on the same level.

Is that actually how you would normally do it for TV?
I've been told that "All Tracks Centered" is WRONG and still dialogs should be centered. I foud that to be kind of weird.

So how do you do it? Also since I wasn't aware of this at all I am wondering what other basic "rules" there are (according to them those are basic editing skills everyone should be aware of) you need to be aware of if you are going to edit for TV with Avid.


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Scott Cole
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 16, 2013 at 7:58:21 pm

The reality is, "editing for TV" is not just a simple set of rules. Quite frankly, every network has spec sheets that spell out proper audio and video levels, their desired video resolutions, audio track layouts, tape or file formats, codecs to be used if file based, and so much more. Understanding those specs comes from understanding all the technical issues involved. Quite often, that's why there are "finishing" editors out there who's job it is to color correct, create polished effects,and also to make sure your show meets those delivery specs. I'm not trying to discourage you, but really to encourage you.

Creative editing has rules, but they are there to be broken in creative ways. The "editing for TV" deliverable, on the other hand, has a whole lot of rules that unfortunately if broken result in either your show being turned back to you, or worse, failing in one way or another on its way to the audience. In earlier years, typically those skills were split amongst two different types of people. I'll be the first to admit I'm not that all creative, my strength has always been on the tech side, I'm a stickler for specs.

What's happening now, with the incredible drop in prices in high quality editing equipment, is that the two job roles are overlapping more and more. If you want to "edit for TV" you really need to work with other TV editors on a long term basis. Learn how to read waveform monitors and vectorscopes. Learn the proper levels that each of those devices display. Read up on how to mix both 5.1, stereo, and even mono audio. Discuss with other editors how to best mix audio for the show you are working on either as the finished product or for delivery to your audio mixing professional.

Once you learn all these rules, then common sense tells you which rules apply in which situations, what rules you must follow, and what rules you can break. But that only comes with experience. Keep plugging away. You'll get there.

M. Scott Cole
Senior Post Production Editor
60 MINUTES
CBS News, NYC
sc6@cbsnews.com
mscottc@comcast.net


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Scott Cole
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 17, 2013 at 4:23:32 pm

Realizing that my prior reply to your inquiry may be a little harsh, let me give you an example of why rules are hard to define in editing for TV. Just this morning I had to put together a 3 edit sequence. Yes it was incredibly simple but it's a perfect example of why the rules you mention in your question just don't work all the time. I had to put together a sequence for this morning's Sunday Morning. First I took in a piece from London that came in "split track," in other words, the correspondents VOs were on track 1, all the other audio was on track 2. Needless to say there are plenty of reasons why we do this. Immediately following that, I ingested the lead recorded from the studio with stereo sound on it, along with the material that was to immediately follow the piece. It also had two track stereo audio. When I put together the sequence the first and third edits needed to be cut into my sequence with "Alternating left and right tracks." On the other hand, the piece from London needed to be edited in "All tracks centered." No producer is going to tell me that I need to do that, it's up to me as the editor, understanding what goes out as final product, to determine that. No matter what setting I had chosen in my settings, I would have had to open the audio mixer and change either 1 or 2 of the clips regarding the audio panning. So the best advices really is, experience will tell you which of those two settings will least likely cause trouble for you, and stick with it. But know you are going to have to make decisions on each clip as you go along depending on the edit situation. I know my example is extremely simple, but I offer it up as a building block.

M. Scott Cole
Senior Post Production Editor
60 MINUTES
CBS News, NYC
sc6@cbsnews.com
mscottc@comcast.net


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Shane Ross
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 17, 2013 at 5:43:44 pm

And there's other things like starting on the 1:00:00;00 frame exactly, making sure you have Bars and Tone exactly where the specs call for them, slating properly...making sure you hit exact timing for the length of the show (say 44:30:00)...making sure that you have 2:00 act breaks. Making sure that your act out and act in's happen on a 00 frame. Lower thirds need to come on 10 frames after you see the interview subject for the first time, and be on for at least 2 seconds, no longer than 4 or 5 seconds.

Make sure that your text all falls within title safe...make sure that you avoid the area the network will put their "network bug."

So much more. This is all stuff that you basically learn on the job, and is based a lot on the network specs that are given.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Michael Paul
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 17, 2013 at 10:41:48 pm

First of all thanks for those replies. Now my question is if it's common knowledge to ALWAYS set the audio settings to alternating L/R instead of All Tracks Centered.
Wouldn't it be fine to just set Audio Settings to All Tracks Centered even if there is dialog?
I feel like this is just how this one company in particular does it but they told me that as a video editor I should be aware of this and they don't get how I can even be a video editor if I don't do audio exactly like this.

So I wanted to know if this is true and what's your take on this?


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Scott Cole
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 17, 2013 at 11:08:28 pm

For that setting, there is no absolute answer. It depends on the situation you are in. For someone to tell you "You aren't a qualified editor unless you do it this way," is just wrong. There are thousands of video editors out there, and I can assure you that every one of us does things slightly or radically differently. There is no absolute right or wrong way to do anything. As long as you meet your client's specifications and their desired program, hopefully within their budget and in the case of TV, by their deadline, that's all that really counts. Did I say "Don't miss the deadline?"

Avid put that setting there with both options for one simple reason, to give you the choice to select what works best given your current project. If you are editing a stereo project, and they provide you with all stereo media, then "alternating L/R" is the better setting.

If you are working on a project with multiple sources, some mono and some stereo, and you are at the point where you aren't sure which tracks are going where, then "all tracks centered" would be a better choice. A similar scenario would be several tracks that are dialogue, sound effects, and narration, and you also have a need for overlapping music. In that case, I'd created 8 audio tracks, the first four would be TK1-narration, TK2-Dialogue, TK3-SFX, TK4-Other mono audio, TK5/6 Music 1 and TK7/8 Music 2. I'd run with the setting in question set for "all tracks centered." At some point before doing the actual mix work I'd do a global left pan of tracks 5 and 7 and a global right pan of tracks 6 and 8. This is an example only. You really have to sit down and figure out what will work for the project you are doing.

I always tell editors who work either with me or for me, "I don't care how you get there, I just care that you get there." In other words, as long as your final product accomplishes what's needed, I don't care how you do it, as long as you do it efficiently. Your job, as a professional, is to know the tools, know the client's needs, and find the most proficient way to use the tools to meet their needs. Every project is different, and almost every project is a learning experience. That being said, this company knows their needs, and for them, "alternating L/R" may be the better setting.

M. Scott Cole
Senior Post Production Editor
60 MINUTES
CBS News, NYC
sc6@cbsnews.com
mscottc@comcast.net


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Glenn Sakatch
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 18, 2013 at 3:56:33 pm

As Scott said, there are rules, but as usual rules are meant to be broken.

I would say it is a pretty good rule to have bars and tone start at 59;00;00, (notice the semi colon...not a colon) Broadcast shows need to be drop not full or non drop frame.

I would say it is a pretty good rule to run a slate from 59;45;00 to 59;50;00
I would say it is a pretty good rule to run black for 10 seconds
I would say it is a pretty good rule to start the show at 01;00;00;00

by saying these rules, i would be breaking the rules of many broadcasters. We have clients that insist the show has 10 secs of slate, some insist on 5
Some want a full minute of bars- beginning at 00;58;45;00
Some want the timecode to be at 10 hours instead of 1 hour
Some want full blacks in between segments, but most seem to want 10 seconds blacks.
Some want the segments to start at a 00 frame, many don't care.

The first thing i do for a program is request that broadcasters spec sheet. I try to avoid assuming any settings, as (up here anyway) they are all different.

As for audio, there has been a lot of discussion about the L/R panning, based on dialogue, but music hasn't been discussed. Music should naturally be set to L/R for proper stereo.

In actuality, we (and i would assume most) send audio to a post audio house for final mix. They send us back stereo files that we pan L/R and layback onto our timeline. In this scenario the best rule
i would come up with is "keep your timeline organized for the audio house"

Dialogue on CH 1/2, perhaps 3/4
Nats on dedicated channels
Music on dedicated channels.

From here it is easier to set your default to come in L/R, then if you have dialogue issues, you can simply concentrate on those channels, and centre them up if necessary. Your audio house will not be terribly happy if your audio mapping is all over the place.

Glenn


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Shane Ross
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 18, 2013 at 5:11:34 pm

[Glenn Sakatch] "Broadcast shows need to be drop not full or non drop frame."

Unless you are delivering a 23.98 timecode master...then the delivery can only be non-drop. BUT...you must time the show so that it times out properly at drop frame timings. Avid makes this easy by showing multiple timeline timecodes. Other NLE's you have to do calculations.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Scott Cole
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 18, 2013 at 6:31:05 pm

Shane: "Unless you are delivering a 23.98 timecode master...then the delivery can only be non-drop. BUT...you must time the show so that it times out properly at drop frame timings. Avid makes this easy by showing multiple timeline timecodes. Other NLE's you have to do calculations."

Every show I've delivered for broadcast in the United States, obviously most for CBS, but also for Discovery Networks, Showtime and others have all been Dropframe Timecode, 59.97i. In the broadcast world, I've never seen NON-Drop be acceptable except for anything under a minute, or animations.

M. Scott Cole
Senior Post Production Editor
60 MINUTES
CBS News, NYC
sc6@cbsnews.com
mscottc@comcast.net


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Shane Ross
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 18, 2013 at 6:37:56 pm

I've delivered 23.98 masters to the History Channel (HDCAM SR 23.98) ...but with them also digibeta 29.97 masters. I've also delivered 23.98 masters to Discovery (Destination America) and The Disney Channel. It's rare, but not uncommon. Most networks do want 29.97 masters even if your show was shot and edited at 23.98...but that's easy to deliver.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Shane Ross
Re: Basic Editing Knowledge for TV?
on Feb 18, 2013 at 5:09:08 pm

[Michael Paul] " Now my question is if it's common knowledge to ALWAYS set the audio settings to alternating L/R instead of All Tracks Centered"

3 out of 5 companies I work for want it this way. It's so common, I make a practice of just doing it anyway.

[Michael Paul] "Wouldn't it be fine to just set Audio Settings to All Tracks Centered even if there is dialog?"

No, then your effects and music are mono, and that's a big no no. Dynamic audio is very important. Audio, in my opinion, is more important than visuals...it hits people's subconscious more. I might have one shot on screen, but there might be 3-10 layered audio bits. A black man huddled with his kids surrounded by Klansmen on horses (shot MOS...go figure), so I layer in horse hooves, horse snorts, rain (it's raining), men shouting, thunder, fire (they have torches)...and dramatic music. And this is in stereo. Mono, it would seem a little odd.

Plus, the less work we leave for the audio guys the better, they have less time to work on things than we do. Simply mapping the audio in this manner saves them a couple hours in fixing things.

[Michael Paul] "I feel like this is just how this one company in particular does it but they told me that as a video editor I should be aware of this and they don't get how I can even be a video editor if I don't do audio exactly like this."

As I said, this is more common than no. So common I just do it all the time.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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