Archive for October, 2013

Avid Metadata Logging and Tracking

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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Many times I get asked what the different columns do in Media Composer as far as logging metadata and how one column may be better than another for a certain workflow. A very useful document has been updated to reflect changes with Media Composer v7 and also has a quick primer on the ALE header specification for different project types.

With ALE being the only “man-readable” file format that is supported for import, knowing how and what these columns do is a useful skill to have. Many of the tips presented here on 24p deal with metadata and how to get that into Media Composer, so consider this the master cheat sheet.

Clicking the image above will take you directly to the PDF document on avid.com saving you the time of trying to find it yourself.

Resolve ALE Merge for AMA Linked Files

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

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It is possible to log clips with Resolve and use ASC CDL values as part of Media Composer’s new LUT/ASC CDL support, when using AMA to link to original camera files. The trick is a little ALE editing of two column headings. It first starts with making sure Resolve REEL is correctly set using “source clip filename” as seen in the above screenshot. This is found in setting, conform options in the “assist using reel names from the” subsection. The clips will look like this in the Media Pool:

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Do whatever color correction work for ASC CDL as per Resolve guidelines, and then export the timeline as “ALE and CDL…”:

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The ALE then needs to have to two column headings edited and is easily done in a text editor. The columns heading and example values will look like the following before editing:

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Change “Name” to “Source File” and change “Tape” to “Name”. The original value in Name is exactly what AMA will produce in the “Source File” column when linking and now allows for a Merge to happen. The ALE will now look like:

ale-after.gifOnce edited and file saved, proceed per usual merge function in the import shot log settings. All metadata will be applied to the linked AMA clips including ASC CDL values as part of a color management workflow during the editorial process as well as any other values logged in Resolve.

This process will work for any ALE file as long as the filename + extension is somewhere in the ALE file - just edit its column header to “Source File”.

Tags & Keywords

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big fan of metadata and what it can do for production and postproduction workflows all the way through distribution.  Needless to say, one of the many features catching my eye this week when Apple Mavericks was introduced was “Tags and Keywords” for any file on the system. “Keywords” has been quite the buzz with FCPx users and how it can be used to manage lots of sources quickly and efficiently when needed. I have equated, perhaps crudely, that this is basically a “FIND” function on invisible spanned Markers. I am not belittling the feature in any way, other than to describe an implementation using Media Composer terms. I think it provides a fantastic new way to group sources in any way one sees fit and can provide an alternate view on the sources. I also think this becomes even more powerful when used with other search type metadata to further refine the results as too many results can be just as bad as not enough in certain situations.

I can’t help but think that these tags and keywords will be supported in FCPx when the update is released (as well as being free based on what we’ve seen so far). Now any tagging or “keywording” done by anyone, anywhere in the process, can be repurposed during the editorial process.  It’s almost a form of “crowdsourced logging” as these files move from system to system with keywords added and then being able to inherently take advantage of this metadata is pretty compelling. 

Could it be repurposed in Media Composer? I would think so, but there are several functional areas in Media Composer that would need to be updated to take advantage of this:

  • AMA: At the very least, the QuickTime AMA would need to be updated to see these tags and Keywords in order to even have access to them within the project. I have mentioned this in previous blogs, but the QuickTime AMA only supports filename and timecode. All other available metadata is ignored and cannot be repurpsoed without going through additional steps using third party solutions. Clip color only seems to be an internal tag and not available outside of Media Composer/Interplay. 
  • FIND: The “Find” function in Media Composer was a good start, but in my opinion, one area of missed opportunity in changing the way users interact with their media. This deserves its own blog, but for starters, adding the ability to search for Markers and Spanned Markers would go a long way. But a shortcut for TAG and Keywords field would be better rather than having to enter the same search item twice in order to filter out results. 
  • SPANNED MARKERS: It is unfortunate that the first release of Spanned Markers was designed for one use case only without more flexibility in the way most users want to use spanned markers. Aside from the inability to search them, the fact that they cannot overlap is very limiting as spans can have different metadata needs separated by a unique tag, and then additional keywords. 

One of the downsides in supporting these type of features is not being cross-platform. But I am one who likes the tools to be the best they can be on whatever platform they are used, and not limited to the least common denominator of either operating system.

The other feature that caught my eye, but remains to be seen whether FCPx will support it (and to what extent) is the ability to remotely collaborate on documents as shown in the iWords for iCloud demo. For that we will have to wait and see.

 

Update 7/16/2014: As suspected, FCPx has added support for finder level logging as seen in this video.

Producer/Director Notes

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

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Reporting is still very much needed in collaborative workflows. Producers and directors like to have something they can look at to show coverage and other notes from production. This is required for dailies solutions. In post, I create PDF’s from the “Script” view of the bin that allows for a representative frame, a few columns of source metadata (depending on length of data) and a large empty area for anyone to enter notes. I print these up for those who need it directly from a bin.

It does take a little fiddling to get the right set up, but that is quickly done and once set can be saved as a form of a template.  From there, you can add other bins via the Tab’d bin view to quickly print them up when needed. On Mac OS X, PDF creation is native to the operating system and I use the PDF Preview to make sure it is set right. On Windows, there are Printer add-ons to create PDF. Having this printout view as a preset template would be a nice feature to have done automatically. But after one or two tweaks, you can create a PDF that exports as the example here:

scenes_31-32.pdf

I also subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud as Photoshop, After Effects and Illustrator are commonly needed in most workflows. But with that, I have been playing with all the other Adobe solutions available to me (Adobe Acrobat), and in the PDF example provided, I also embedded a URL link on the image frame to the clip stored on a cloud streaming service. In this case, I used AFrame, but it could be any of the many available streaming services. Clicking the thumbnail for 30A/1, will take you that clip on the AFrame site ready to play. Having this be part of the reporting output would be a great way to tie editorial, execs, and creatives together. In doing so, the document ranges from a simple printout to a more interactive dailies review solution. I can choose the different solutions at the price point needed, when I need it and keep the document small enough to send via email.

When MetaSync was supported, Media Composer supported Hyperlinks within bin columns . “Option/Control-clicking” the link would take you wherever that link went. One could imagine if that still existed, it could be added to the printout automating these types of workflows.

I have been playing with Adobe Prelude to better learn its place in the production to postproduction pipeline. It does allow for hyperlinks to be associated on a Marker or the span of a clip, very much like MetaSync’s AEO (Avid Enhanced Objects) allowed the creation of “smart media”.  Not only do features like that enable these simple review solutions, but become the basis for two-screen viewer participation in the broadcast environment where “value” is tagged from the very beginning of the process and extracted via the XMP when needed. 

Assimilate Play Workflow

Monday, October 21st, 2013

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In a previous blog I was discussing Assimilate’s Scratch Play as an exciting companion application for Media Composer and v7’s support for color managed sources. At the time, I only concentrated on 3D LUTs and ASC CDL workflows which unfortunately still do not work with Media Composer. But… Upon further testing I discovered that the 1D LUT (*. lut) imported fine and I was able to apply it to a source clip. So for workflows where a 1D LUT is sufficient, this starts to bring postproduction using Media Composer and production a little closer allowing for more real time interaction with a DP, DIT and colorist. Stay tuned for another “small changes/big impact” refinement that has been addressed that I will blog about when ready. 

Syncing Audio and Source Settings

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

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Color management on source clips has been a long time request, and Media Composer v7 introduced a lot of new functionality in that area that allows for LUTs or ASC CDL color metadata to be applied to sources. I hope this area continues to be developed moving forward removing some of the missing workflow pieces mentioned in this blog. The ability to keep color metadata active throughout the editorial process can streamline a lot of different workflows, but adding FrameFlex and color management on source clips affects several workflows when it comes to double system production and syncing in Media Composer for clips that do not have common timecode.

Many users like to create sync map relationships in the timeline by aligning picture will all related sound elements in tracks, then slipping and sliding to establish sync. But rather than having to edit from sequences as a source, the next step is to “subclip” each event as its own sequence, highlighting one or several sequences and selecting AutoSync from the “Bin” menu. This results in a true subclip that can be used like any other subclip showing sync breaks in the timeline while editing. But when any of these source settings are active on a master clip, it’s considered an “Effect”, losing the ability to sync as subclips using the timeline method. And more importantly for many productions, this means that tools like PluralEyes will no longer work as it depends on AAF sequence roundtripping as part of its process.

There are two workarounds to this problem, each involving a tradeoff that may or not be suitable depending on workflow needs:

  1. Transcode all your clips with source settings “baked in” which is done by checking “compatibility mode” in the transcode settings dialog box. This of course eliminates any of the “live” metadata workflow enhancements offered through LUT updating and FrameFlex (ASC CDL will still work).
  2. Sync clips from the bin by Marking an IN or OUT on each picture and sound clip, select both clips, select AytoSync. Resulting clips will retain the live source setting metadata but this can be more tedious in some situations, and as mentioned, not as fast as PluralEyes for difficult sync situations when no clapboard was used.
  3. Use sequences as source - loading into source is a drag and drop only and there will be no out of sync indicators in timeline if sync slips.

I hope this will be addressed in a future release so that productions can continue benefiting from all the features and solutions available with each new release.

AMA Transcode - heads-up!

Friday, October 4th, 2013

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MC v7 introduced a lot of workflow enhancements around AMA that will benefit many productions. Two big efficiency features are “Background Transcode” and “Dynamic Media Folders” (DMF). There are some differences that impact workflow between those two that will be addressed in a future blog when it comes to non-16:9/2K+ resolution media that users should be aware of, and should consider before embarking on many days worth of dailies.

This particular “heads-up” relates to AMA background transcode or DMF when working in “Film” projects. The reason I like working in Film projects was discussed in this blog. But users should be aware that using AMA for picture in addition to sound sources will prevent the 1/4 frame resyncing feature to work.

The workaround for double system sound workflows, is to import the BWF files rather than link with the BWF/iXML AMA Plug-in which currently has its own set of issues, but have been told that these will be addressed very soon. But you need both picture and sound to work in order to sync to the 1/4 frame and the only workaround for picture is to create the MXF/DNxHD media with a third party solution or with Media Composer v6.5.x and earlier. There has been no indication as to when this issue would be resolved.

The DPX Story Update…

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

It seems that my interpretation of the Glue Tools response to their no longer developing a DPX AMA Plug-in may have been a unwarranted. Perhaps a better word than “revoked” could have been used. That was the first word that came to mind based on the response I received from  Glue Tools when asked about it’s availability (having been invited to be part of the beta program several months prior). That, combined with my own experience in obtaining an AMA Development license, led me to the bigger topic discussed the original blog which was more about creating a rich developer platform regardless of how many “DPX solutions” might be created. Glue Tools was just an example.

I have been recently informed by Avid, that the DPX Plug-in decision was based on a mutual agreement, seeing as Avid was already working on one and it did not make business sense to have another one in development, combined with the fact that AMA only supports clip-based media in its current state, and not frame-based as you will find with DPX, DNG, OpenEXR, or sequential graphics of any kind. So between a new area of development and obvious additional support, and Avid having one in development, Glue Tools has moved on to other AMA solutions such as the one for the Phantom Cine camera. But from a business perspective, I run into the need for DPX far more than supporting the Phantom camera. In fact, the Phantom camera came up only once in the last two years. DPX on the other hand, is an industry standard interchange format as well as being available as a recording format with add-on recorders such as the Odyssey 7Q from Convergent Design, so its need is far greater in my opinion.

On a related AMA note, I was also informed that the iXML AMA Plug-in has been updated and will be rolling out soon. I will review that one, one it is publicly available. Maybe there will be an update to the QuickTime AMA plug-in to bring in more metadata than just timecode and file name. RED R3D could also use some TLC to take better advantage of Avid workflow solutions such as the new Dynamic Media Folders.