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Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer

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Neil Sadwelkar
Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 18, 2013 at 4:39:05 pm

For a feature being shot in India with an editor, and consultant editor from the US, and an asst editor trained in the US.
DIT, DoP, 1st/2nd AC all from India. (Why is this relevant? Read on...)

Movie shot on Arri Alexa as ProRes4444 2k. No ArriRAW.

Here is a workflow that's being evolved for editing Alexa ProRes on an Avid MC

On set DIT converts Alexa ProRes4444 media to Avid DNxHD36 .mxf files
On set sound mixer provides .wav files of sound recorded.

DIT on set copies .mxf files to Avid Media files folder in his Avid system on set.
DNxHD36 files get populated into bins by dragging the .mdb file to a bin, or
DNxHD36 files get populated into bins by copying them from the media tool to bin

These are video master clips representing camera clips. These will not be renamed.

Sound .wav files are imported into same Avid and placed in an Audio bin - day wise

DIT then drags all these video master clips to a new sequence
Then he syncs each video file to the corresponding audio files
Syncing either by eye-matching with the clap on screen, or by matching timecode if sound mixer has managed to match picture timecode and audio timecode.

From this sync sequence sub-clips are made to a new bin, one sub-clip per video clip.
These are auto synced to get new autosync sub-clips.
Autosync sub clips are renamed as per shots they represent.
DIT then makes scene wise bins and populates them with auto-sync sub-clips.

DIT then puts a watermark on a new layer in the sync sequence described above and exports this timeline for the director's viewing for dailies.

All this happens on set and is done by the DIT because the editor of the film insists that's how he's used to getting it done in the US. In fact the editor says he has never seen an Alexa project with files named as camera files (Like A021C003_130212_R5TG.mov).

After wrap, DIT sends the edit facility a hard drive with Avid DNxHD36 files, audio .wav files, and an Avid project with bins containing clips and auto sync sub-clips

Then, at the edit facility...

Someone (probably the edit asst) copies the media files to the editor's Avid system.
Opens project and checks for all clips to have arrived and reconnected correctly.

These auto-sync sub-clips are then moved to bins scene-wise. and used for the actual editing of the film.
The editor's assistant starts editing with the auto-sync sub-clips.

The editor reviews the assistant editor's cut and polishes it.

On this project, there's a consultant editor who insists that the DIT does all the syncing, naming of clips, making bins and creating dailies - all this on set. Because that's how 'it's done in Hollywood'.

Wonder how much DITs in Hollywood get paid for all this work.

When I edit a feature I never let anyone other than my own assistant do stuff like name clips, make subclips, bins etc. This belongs to the editor's team.

DIT can copy, verify and transcode. And then he/she can go and get a life.

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


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Job ter Burg
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:41:54 pm

All depends. Most of projects (35mm or S16 or digitally shot) had logging done in editorial, but on one or two projects the lab/TK house would provide editorial with logged and synced dailies.

I personally would then also require the syncing would be done subframe, using PerfSlip, which my AE's always do for me.

Other than that, the logging and syncing has to happen anyway, so it doesn't matter if it's done in editorial or on set.

But not if there's just one DIT, I just wouldn't trust it. This requires more hand on deck (on set) to pull off. I think that it would at least require an assistant or data wrangler or whatever you want to call someone in charge of these tasks.


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Michael Phillips
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:02:55 pm

This is a long standing debate here in the US - the difference between a DIT (hired by the production crew to handle image such as camera LUT, look, etc.) and a data wrangler, or a dailies service. Most DITs and Data Wranglers do not know postproduction that well and what is expected by editorial, not to mention other deliverables such as viewing dailies, reports, and such. But with technology such as it is, the application can be anywhere from free (Resolve) to dedicated dailies creation packages (not free). But it really comes down to the service and what is being asked to be delivered or not. For television series, the dailies comes synced due to turnaround time. For features, it may or may not be synced.

Since this DIT seems to just be using Media Composer as a second assistant, meaning syncing and naming, then I would hope they have familiarity with that job description. I am dealing now with a DIT who made dailies where none of the MXF have a REEL or Source File associated with them. No concept of metadata management or expectation in the downstream post processes. That is dangerous.

Also, their syncing process would seem to indicate they do not have common timecode between picture and sound? There is no need to make a sequence, sync, subclip, rename. A dailies provider knowing how to work syncing dailies can do this faster knowing how AutoSync works, give flexibility of mix track versus ISO, and as Job says, also provides the additional benefit of 1/4 frame resync in the proper project type if BWF is imported directly into the project.


Michael


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Fred Gasc
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:40:08 pm

This is an interesting thread also
For what's involved behind.
I don't know how are you guys in the US, but here it's the big mess.

There are extremely well prepared pros mixing with completly unprepared ones on the same productions. The all concept of tasks is vague and many areas are precarious. Doing more, faster and for less with crews with completly unbalanced levels of experience.
Many times you'd hear some people pointibg Arriraw without being aware of the minimum costs involved. They plan that as if it was prores. Everything is mixed together, red, dslrs, af100 and nobody cares about settings, metadatas and so on.

Now, since Resolve is free, everybody's a colorist. At least, on the quantel, nucodas etc...you don't find unexperienced people and job is done profesionaly, but those guys work each time less.
And even the real Resolve colorists,
Because "my nefew also uses Resolve"
Effect.

New professions that nobody really
Knows because a DIT could also
Be the prod's daughter.

It's the huge mess. I don't know where we're going but there is a deprofesionalization. Second editor assistant is at 800 euros/month at best. You don't Pay your bills with that. The doorman of my building and the cleaning Lady earn more.

I came relatively late in this business,
And still have a lot to learn, but
I see the most experienced long
Time pros that are going crazy
Because all this "low cost"
Mentality is starting to cost more
Money to everybody!

But now advertising is youtube
And widgets for tablets...
I'm not far to think that Apple
Was in fact Clever with fcpx.
Maybe they anticipated where
All that is going.

Fred.


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Job ter Burg
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:05:47 pm

Met a great DIT / data wrangling team in SA. They have a van filled with the right gear (including MC) and smart and fast storage solutions, and they were simply able to make anything for anyone - tested and backed up.

In my experience, all that is rare.

On most productions I find that everyone seems to be reinventing the workflow wheel again and again, time after time.

And whenever you mention this, someone steps forward claiming to have the great all-in-one-box solution, that usually turns out to not tailor my needs at all.


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Michael Phillips
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:54:58 pm

That is rare - properly setting up for on-set, near-set or nearby facility all bring different challenges coupled with camera format, number of cameras, amount of files being shot, codec, etc. And even more rare is the production that gets away with just a LUT being applied - we are always requested by the DP to balance shots, make them look better, etc. to better reflect his/her work which means a colorist, and not just a transcoder.

Michael


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:24:55 am

Michael,

Thanks for the info.
The point of placing camera master clips and sound in a sequence and syncing them there is that then this sequence becomes a ready dailies roll for exporting h.264 dailies. It also becomes a reference roll sort of like a 'camroll' or tape capture of all shots coming off one card, in shooting order.

Otherwise, of course it's easy to autosync in a bin by highlighting the constituent clips and autosyncing them by common TC or in point.

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


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Michael Phillips
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:44:27 am

God point, but I would find doing an AutoSequence (with option key modifier) would accomplish the same thing in ascending timeocde shoot order after an AutoSync.

Michael


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Job ter Burg
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 6:13:27 am

OK, ALT-AutoSequence was new to me.... Thanks Michael!


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Michael Phillips
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:08:49 pm

You're welcome! Historically, AutoSequence was designed to do audio layback from MOS film to tape transfers. In either PAL or NTSC, syncing was done 1/4 in Avid via AutoSync, then AutoSequence would lay out the .sync clips back in tape order (since all dailies were done to tape). Then an audio only digital cut would create sync dailies back on the original tape masters. This saved time (and money) in telecine dailies, and offered more accurate sync (1/4 frame) and resulted in sync dailies on tape for any other use on those tapes.

With the advent of file-based cameras and the use of time of day timecode, AutoSequence had less use other than a TOD view for reality shows and such (each camera on its own track), but the option or ALT key removed the gaps while also removing all IN and OUT marks.

End of history lesson. :)

Michael


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:43:19 pm

Thanks Michael for the brief history lesson. I used to be an intern in 'those days' so I've had occasion to do exactly what you describe. Seems like a previous life now.

Anyway, two more questions...

If the video timecode and audio timecode are not matching for some reason, and one does an autosync with the clap and IN points on clap frame, then is there a way to see the original sound file TC in the autosync subclip?

And two, if the sound mixer's audio file is, say 8 tracks, then is there a feature whereby these auto sync subclips have 'collapsed' audio tracks, say 2 tracks, which can be edited, and whilst editing, 'uncollapsed' to see all 8 tracks by the press of a button or menu item?

I don't recall any such feature in 'those days' but maybe the newer MC 6 or 6.5 have such a feature. I did do a Google and Avid community search on this one but didn't get any info.

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


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Job ter Burg
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 2:58:04 pm

When you load a sync clip into the source monitor, you can choose which TC to display. V1 will show you the picture's TC, but A1 (or A2) will show the original TC for the sound clip.

Also, you could copy (CMD-D / CTRL-D) the Start TC column for the imported sound clips into, say, the AuxTC1 column, which you could then have the sync clips display at bin level.

As for the multitrack thingy, you can't easily "uncollapse" in MC (you can matchframe, but that would mean you loose subframe syncing), but normally the 'uncollapse' is done in sound post.

If you supply Pro Tools based sound editorial with an (unconsolidated) AAF and all linked media, plus all original BWF files, PT allows them to designate picture editorial's production sound tracks as Field Recorder Guide Tracks, and this will let them link back to all original tracks for the original BWF files.

Here's a link to a doc I once drew up about it. It's a bit dated, and modern versions of MC and PT allow for more flexibility (like the ability to relink to BWF-P files, not just M's).
terburg.home.xs4all.nl/Publications/Multitrack Approach_110830.pdf


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Job ter Burg
Re: Editing Alexa files in Avid Media Composer
on Apr 19, 2013 at 3:03:50 pm

P.S. MC now does have an option in AutoSync that lets you choose how many tracks (or actually which track range) you want to include in the AutoSynced clip.

PT 10 needs you to right-click on a track to designate it as a Field Recorder Guide Track - in v9 that was not necessary. Some of this functionality already was available in PT 8.1, or so I was told.


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