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Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?

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Christopher Reig
Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on May 31, 2014 at 2:39:49 pm

Hi everyone,

A question of curiosity for Avid assistant editors. When preparing bins in Media Composer to be handed off, I always ask the assistant how they would like it done, as everyone has their way.

One of the most common ways I am asked to do it, and they way I would do it if not instructed, is to drop the MXF media into the Avid MediaFiles bin, launch (or scan-update) Media Composer, and import the ALE shot log into a bin (always being sure to select 'Maintain Events as Logged' in the options). Then, I would re-link the media to the drive, check the TC / Tape-Reel / Drive, and away we go.

The dailies tools I use to prepare the media (Assimilate Scratch and Colorfront OSD, mainly) generally output folder structures for each clip, with the MXF media, an AAF file, and an XML file. (I think I read somewhere this is called 'AMT'). With the above mentioned workflow, I usually take just the MXF files.

I was wondering if someone more in-the-know with Avid could shed some light on how these files work. Given it's a pretty standard thing between the dailies suites, I know they must serve a purpose. And whilst I haven't had any complaints of things not working / conforming in the end, I would love to know if there is a more 'right' way of doing this.

Thanks again, and best wishes,

Chris


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Michael Phillips
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on May 31, 2014 at 8:33:47 pm

AMT is Avid Media Toolkit that allows third parties to create native MXF wrapped essence. This, combined with a DNxHD license, gives them the ability to create native MXF/DNxHD. It also has the ability to create an AAF of the resulting clip.

AMT does not create the ALE. ALE is created by the manufacturers creating the files whether they use AMT or not. This is why you will find some inconsistencies between programs as to how and where metadata is stored.

Typically, AMT creating MXF/DNxHD will only have limited metadata - it puts the filename as Tape and primary timecode (typically TOD) into START. All other metadata is usually provided via the ALE as a merge or as you have noted, as an import/relink.

Personally, if there is an AAF created, I will:

1. Copy MXF files to Avid MediaFiles folder
2. Drag and drop AAF files into bin. These will relink automatically to media
3. Merge ALE into existing master clips.

I have seen instances where just importing an ALE and relinking has been very hit and miss with the ability to stay linked - especially with audio tracks. MOS clips seem to fare better. Some people have never had a problem -


Michael


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Pat Horridge
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 1, 2014 at 8:10:57 am

The ingest also has an impact on how you plan to conform.
If your final finishing is outside Avid its less of an issue but if you plan to finish in MC or Symphony then how MC sees the originally (Import or AMA) makes a difference now MC has LUT support and background transcode. Ingesting in MC works well.

Pat Horridge
Technical Director, Trainer, Avid Certified Instructor
VET
Production Editing Digital Media Design DVD
T +44 (0)20 7505 4701 | F +44 (0)20 7505 4800 | E pat@vet.co.uk |
http://www.vet.co.uk | Lux Building 2-4 Hoxton Square London N1 6US


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Christopher Reig
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 1, 2014 at 10:01:26 pm

Hello Michael and Pat,

Thank you both for your detailed replies. It makes much more sense to me now.

Michael, I very much know of the problematic linking of audio tracks you speak of with an ALE. Generally speaking, I usually prepare vision-only DNxHD 36 MXF media for offline editing. I have always preferred to sync up the audio in Media Composer itself, bringing in the BWAV files from the sound recordist into their own bin for the day. It is very quick to create sync clips and strip out all but the mix track, and slip to perf as required.

I do also sync in my dailies tools for other deliverables, but I have always been cautious of doing this for the editorial media. It does send the audio TC and sound roll information via the ALE, but without knowing more about how this will affect an audio conform later on, I have always ebbed on the side of caution and done it in Media Composer.

Pat, a very interesting note on the finishing side. For episodic TV, usually they conform the camera originals in a Baselight or Resolve suite, perform the colour timing, and then round-trip the mastered DNxHD media back to Media Composer / Symphony for the final output with audio. For most of the film projects I work on, I am actually not sure what they finish on, but I know it's not often Avid.

Thank you again for your advice and wisdom. It is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes,

Christopher


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Michael Phillips
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 1, 2014 at 10:21:03 pm

I always advocate for double system audio sync in Media Composer as well, but sometimes that it not possible, or as you say, other deliverables require a sync in the dailies tool. I wish Media Composer would offer better support for embedded metadata when it comes to conform. This has been a known issue for a while. The QT AMA is limited to only filename an timecode and everything else is lost so formats like Alexa shooting ProRes, or Prores/DNxHD on a BMD camera loses the metadata... that's what got me to develop my own AMA plug-in for song metadata since the QT AMA left all the info behind. More info on that at http://www.mus-id.com

I have also written many blogs on how to get metadata into Media Composer at http://www.24p.com/wordpress


Michael


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Christopher Reig
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 12:58:53 am

Hi Michael,

One of my greatest 'pipe dream' wishes for MC is to be able to perform the sync in another dailies tool, carry the audio TC (and, if possible, slip offset), and have MC 'point' to the original BWF, creating sync clips based on this metadata. A kind of automation, if you will. But that's just fantasy-talk.

I will definitely have a read of your blog! I just skimmed it now, and some very informative articles.

Best,

Chris


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Richard Sanchez
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 12:34:29 am

Rather than set your shot log to "Maintain Events as Logged" I would usually drag the AAFs into bins to create my master clips, and then select all clips with the Shot Log set to "Merge with known master clips" to apply the CDL, and Sound TC information that is usually contained in the ALE.

I would still provide the ALE, as I've seen meta data (particularly Sound TC) magically disappear, which require me to manually re-enter it based on the Sound TC burn, or remerge the ALE (which can sometimes be dangerous, because as Michael has mentioned before, the merge feature is not a true merge feature and an obliterate existing custom metadata on clips if you're not careful. Speaking of burns, I generally ask for a flash timecode burn with the video tc and filename on the bottom left, and the Sound TC and Sound Roll flash burned into the bottom right.

Richard Sanchez
Los Angeles, CA

"We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution." - Bill Hicks


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Christopher Reig
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 1:04:55 am

[Richard Sanchez] "Rather than set your shot log to "Maintain Events as Logged" I would usually drag the AAFs into bins to create my master clips, and then select all clips with the Shot Log set to "Merge with known master clips" to apply the CDL, and Sound TC information that is usually contained in the ALE.

I would still provide the ALE, as I've seen meta data (particularly Sound TC) magically disappear, which require me to manually re-enter it based on the Sound TC burn, or remerge the ALE (which can sometimes be dangerous, because as Michael has mentioned before, the merge feature is not a true merge feature and an obliterate existing custom metadata on clips if you're not careful. Speaking of burns, I generally ask for a flash timecode burn with the video tc and filename on the bottom left, and the Sound TC and Sound Roll flash burned into the bottom right.

"


Thanks for your reply, Richard!

I have always been very wary of ALE importing, for the aforementioned reasons. It really is very easy to nuke your metadata if you aren't 100% sure of what you are doing.

When it comes to burn ins, I usually set those up with the editor at the start of the show. Sometime they want flash burns with the crucial information, other times they want it persistent through the whole thing. It's the same deal with aspect ratio masking. Sometimes they prefer to receive the footage 'open gate', if it's a 2.40 film from a 1.78 source image. Other times, they just say 'send it to me masked, as it was shot'.

As for the colour, it's interesting you mentioned the CDL import via ALE. Most times the colour decisions set by the DP are baked in when creating the offline media. But it does intrigue me to be able to apply a colour transformation of the 'dailies grade' combined with a corresponding camera LUT. Gives the best of both worlds, especially when some slight colour changes are needed in editing.

Would you care to elaborate on what the process is when you 'apply the CDL' during an ALE import?

Best,

Christopher


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Michael Phillips
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 1:21:04 am

I did a Moviola Webinar where I show LUT and ALE merge using Resolve.
http://moviola.com/webinars/4k-with-avid-blackmagic-design/

It's a $9.95 rental charge, but seeing as I make money off that, I highly recommend it. :)


Michael


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Richard Sanchez
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 2:29:18 am

From the stand point of the AEs, the CDL is just a series of numbers. I probably worded it poorly when I said "Apply the CDL". The CDL is baked in before it makes it to editorial, but will be useful when conforming back to the camera negative, so making sure the CDL is stored and passed along is necessary. The CDL information is usually contained in the ALE.

Richard Sanchez
Los Angeles, CA

"We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution." - Bill Hicks


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Michael Phillips
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 3:08:52 am

With v7, the CDL values do not have to be baked in which is different than passing the CDL values along which has been supported since v3. With v7, you can keep the images "LOG" and update CDL values when needed.


Michael


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Michael Phillips
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 1:09:21 am

Richard - Avid has finally made the merge non-destructive in 7.0.3 where an ALE will only replace/overwrite the fields in the ALE and not all fields associated with the master clip -

http://24p.com/wordpress/?p=132


Michael


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Richard Sanchez
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 2:24:41 am

That's really really good to hear!

Richard Sanchez
Los Angeles, CA

"We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution." - Bill Hicks


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Michael Phillips
Re: Ingesting offline media - ALE, AAF, thoughts?
on Jun 2, 2014 at 12:40:02 pm

It is a good fix, too bad Avid doesn't promote the workflows that it now allows. Most people don't know it was fixed to behave this way, making it more a new feature than a bug fix in my opinion.

Michael


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