Archive for January, 2014

Aspect Ratio Mattes for 16:9 Projects

Sunday, January 26th, 2014


This link will download a bin of preset Matte Effects of commonly used aspect ratios that can be added to the top layer of an HD sequence. Since HD was introduced in Media Composer, the preset aspect ratio mattes still assume a 4:3 source and were never updated for 16:9.  These mattes were created and adjusted for a 16:9 aspect ratio. The bin was created in v6.5.4.1 and should be able to be opened in most versions of Media Composer. The mattes are as close as I can get based on the parameters available. 

Update to FrameFlex vs. Resize

Sunday, January 26th, 2014


It seems I fell victim to different behaviors with FrameFlex whether it be on the source side or in the timeline when I did my original test and described here.  In my test, I compared FrameFlex in the timeline to a resize using 3DWarp effect with HQ setting active. Where I went wrong, was assuming that transcoding the sequence with FrameFlex baked in was using the pixels from the higher resolution clip it was linked to and was surprised that both results looked exactly the same. The behavior is that a transcoded sequence with FrameFlex will apply parameters applied to the Source Setting as an extraction, but not the ones created with FrameFlex in the timeline regardless of active settings in the transcode dialog window. The result is that it will behave no differently than a 3DWarp or other resize effect and end up having no difference in quality defeating the purpose of using FrameFlex in the first place.

My thinking was once the editing was done, and a conform to the camera originals was completed, one could just do a transcode to the a mastering resolution and continue on from there. In order to preserve the higher quality extraction offered via FrameFlex, you need to render the FrameFlex effects in the timeline as you would any other effect as seen by these examples (courtesy of Grant Petty 4K images from the Blackmagic camera):

Click on image for 1920 x 1080 version. Here is the transcoded version of the event in the timeline:


And here is the rendered version:


As you can see, the rendered image is sharper overall in comparison to the transcode as it is uses all the pixels of the FrameFlex region of interest. In transcoding, the image is first getting scaled to 1920 x 1080, then a resize is applied.  So be sure to plan accordingly when using FrameFlex in the timeline for your mastering needs. I suggest creating a clip color for the event in the timeline as it is not possible to know which clips have a timeline FrameFlex applied to it as the green dot can now mean one or all of the following; frame rate mismatch, XY resolution does not match project, or a color transform is active.

Media Composer and OS X Mission Control (spaces and desktop)

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014


I got an email from my friend Joseph Krings,  about using Mac OS Spaces and Media Composer because I had mentioned it to him as being quite useful. Well it wasn’t me, but our mutual friend Tim Squyres that had made the suggestion and now was something I just had to try. I am probably the last person to know about this function, but I started looking into it and how to set it up with Media Composer when editing on a MacBook Pro (or any single monitor configuration).

There is plenty of information on setting up multiple desktops, such as this one.  On my MacBook Pro, I press the F3 Button to access the UI for setting it up. Just move the cursor to the upper right corner and you will see a square with + sign. Click that. In my test scenario, I added three desktops in this order from left to right:

  1. Bins
  2. Script in full screen mode (ScriptSync), optional if you’re using ScriptSync. 
  3. Composer and Timeline windows

This is done by dragging the individual windows into each of the different desktop icon representations, then organizing their layout from each window. All in all, it works quite well. Double clicking a clip will load it in the source monitor as expected, and that desktop view will become active. “Find Bin”, and ScriptSync editing all work as expected. The main benefit for me is to not have to deal with having multiple bins open and trying to organize them in whatever real estate I have available on a single screen. While Tab’d bins are nice for some workflows, there are times when I want to see multiple bins in a frame view where a single glance will tell me the coverage or information needed. And bins can each take on the size needed for the best display. Once set up,  I “four-finger swipe” back and forth between desktop views closely replicating the two monitor (or three screen in this case) Media Composer experience I am accustomed to when editing with desktop systems.

The only small inconvenience is that Media Composer does not remember the desktop layout it belongs to when launched a second time. There is a way to pin an application to a desktop view, but only works for applications that have a single UI window. Media Composer has multiple windows being assigned to different desktops and therefore cannot be pinned via the OS X UI.  I am still testing workspace layouts within Media Composer to see if I can get a combination that works and will provide an update if possible.  Perhaps someone else has been successful in saving a multidesktop configuration with Media Composer? If so, let me know! Because of this,  I leave the Project window and bins on the original desktop view as they will always open there, moving the Composer and Timeline windows to another desktop view. It’s quick to set up and good for the whole session.

Have fun swiping!

Locator VFX Workflow Utility

Monday, January 6th, 2014


Some of you may have seen postings by Chris Conlee on various forums describing his free utility to convert Markers (locators) used for VFX into a SubCap file allowing for the metadata to be an overlay burn-in for reference outputs. This is a great time saving utility literally saving days on shows with many VFX. Chris describes how it works in this COW posting and downloads can be found here. I suspect with a little fiddling it can be used for any comments contained with Markers that you may want to have displayed on output deliverables.

iXML AMA Plug-in Update

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Media Composer 7.0.3, the third maintenance release of Media Composer 7.0.0 brings some fixes and small refinements to the iXML AMA Plug-in that was introduced with 7.0.0. The good news is that it is out of the “danger zone” that I blogged about in its initial release here.

At least, while in a 1080p/23.976 project, timecode is correctly  interpolated and does not drift over the course of the clip by the .1% pulldown factor (1 frame every 00:00:42:16).  The Read Me also lists other bug fixes such as being warned when linking via AMA that a timecode mismatch exists between file and project type. While this is a nice addition, it is only in the console and the user is not notified of a mismatch at time of linking unless always checking the console becomes part of the process - which is clunky at best. With BWF import, the user is presented with timecode of file and can see right away what changes might occur at time of import.

My biggest issue now is that it is still a “Sophie’s Choice” when using either AMA or Import methods as they are not the same. Actually BWF import has gotten worse compared to BWF import in previous versions. Here are the differences in the same file using AMA versus import (click for larger image):


As you can see, the iXML contains a few more fields of metadata such as “Circled” and Wild Track” compared to BWF, but BWF import is missing Track metadata 4-8 which used to work.  iXML still does not support monophonic tracks into a single clip, pullup or pulldown workflows, nor allow for 1/4 frame resync in 35mm Film Projects, even if you link and do a transcode/consolidate. As far as BWF is concerned, import for frame rate is not prompted for some project types. For example, I get the timecode prompt when importing a BWF file into a 720p/23.976 project, but not in 1080p/25. And in the case 720p, it is using a 60 frame count which is not a SMPTE standard instead of a converted 30fps:

If AMA is the way of the future replacing “Import”, it really needs to provide all the functionality of the existing “import”. I guess as yet another workaround, one could export an ALE of the AMA linked files and merge them into the BWF imported ones to have parity. But why make users do that? What would make AMA a great tool is to allow for it to have “source settings” like other AMA linked formats. Not only for consistency purposes, but to allow the user to have control over the metadata with a refresh and update much like Wave Agent allows for with BWF and incorporate the existing BWF import functionality:


It should also be noted, that with 7.0.3, you cannot create an audio EDL from any imported or AMA linked BWF file. It will come up 00:00:00:00. I am sure this will be fixed in the point release, but the “workaround” for now is to duplicate the START timecode column into an AucTX column and use that to generate EDLs.

I have no real issues with iXML AMA Plug-in being a work in progress for a period of time, but not at the expense of existing and functioning workflows such as BWF import. I hope iXML and BWF Import functions will be addressed in the near future and not have to be a choice of the lesser evil depending on your workflow needs.