Archive for May, 2014

Using Amira Color Tool with Media Composer

Friday, May 30th, 2014

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If you shoot ARRIRAW or ProRes, the Amira Color tool is a straightforward, easy to use tool for creating ASC CDL and LUTs for different looks you create. It is a free download after registration at the ARRI Amira webpage. There is also a video posted on YouTube that covers its functionality. It is a subset of what Assimilate Play offers due to the limited codec support, but is easier to use for those who are dabbling in ASC CDL/LUT world for the first time.

I did a quick test to see how it might fit into a Media Composer workflow (v7.x and later) with ASC and CDL support. Unfortunately, as with Assimilate Play, the ASC CDL export will not work with Media Composer as it is XML and Media Composer imports its metadata as ALE or via an AAF. Also, the XML is rather limited as it does not even list the file to which the values should be applied.

The creation of looks and exporting as a LUT does work as long as you export in a .cube LUT format. The following chart shows which exports worked and did not (Green  = Yes, Red = No).

amira-color-tool-lut.gif

All .cube LUTs except for FilmLight imported into Media Composer. I am impressed at the number of LUT types it does support - I was also able to import one LUT type and save it out as another which would make this a nice LUT translator, but I need to more testing to ensure it did not change anything looks wise.It would be nice if it had a timecode display as well. But this is a nice little tool to have on hand for quick Look -> LUT generation, as well as apply LUTs quickly to ensure they are correct when created elsewhere. It is available for OS X only, 10.7, 10.8, and 10.9.

XDCAM Proxy and 4K XAVC Conform

Monday, May 5th, 2014

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The advantage of 4K XAVC shooting is that a proxy can be recorded at the same time on the same card. This facilitates the production workflow by keeping everything in one camera.

The recommendation when shooting 4K XAVC productions is to not use the XDCM proxies as the conform process will involve many file renaming steps in order for Media Composer to match the proxy with the 4K master file. Use AMA to link to the 4K files, or use DMF to create proxies to ensure proper source/reel tracking.

AMA uses the entire filename as the Source/Reel ID in the “Source File” column. They need to match as much as possible as Media Composer does not offer much control over reel identification with syntax control as you may find in dedicated conform processes of DI color correction systems.

4K XAVC filename:         B001C001_1308213D.MXF
XDCAM Proxy filename:     B001C001_1308213DS02.MXF

Notice the addition of S02 at the end of the file. This is currently used to identify the clip as the XDCAM proxy. Because the filenames are different, a relink conform process is not possible. Media Composer only offers the following modifications to the conform process:

  • Ignore characters after last occurrence of (enter text string)
  • Ignore extension (check box)

Using “ignore characters after last occurrence” can be problematic as the filename may have a name such as B001C001_1308213SS02.MXF where there are two S’ in a row. The workaround involves the following steps:

  1. Duplicate Source File column for all files into the Labroll column (or another column if Labroll is already being used)
  2. On the proxy clips that have the S02 at the end, enter an underscore to separate it from the filename as is B001C001_1308213D_S02.MXF.
  3. Select all the 4K clips and the sequence. They do not need to be in the same bin. With everything highlighted, right-click on the sequence and select “Relink”
  4. Check “Selected items in ALL open bins”
  5. In the “Relink by:” section for Original:
    1. Timecode = Start
    2. Source Name = Labroll
    3. Ignore extension = active (checked)
    4. Ignore characters after last occurrence: = “_” (underscore)
  6. In the “Relink by:” section for Target:
    1. Timecode = Start
    2. Source Name = Labroll
    3. Ignore extension = active (checked)
    4. Ignore characters after last occurrence: = (blank)
  7. Click OK.

It is helpful to set a source clip color on the 4K clips to verify the conform process in the timeline when complete. See the Media Composer 7 online help for more detail on setting source color and viewing in the timeline.

This workaround can be process intensive if you have a lot of clips to manage. One can use a text editor to do a search and replace of an ALE file and merge that back into the clips. Be aware that the ALE file must contain all the columns of metadata you want to preserve, as the merge is not a true merge, but more of a replace function. If using 7.0.3, then the merge is no longer “lossy” and will only update/replace columns in the ALE. See the Media Composer 7.x online help for ALE merge functions.

Making LUTs Available to All Projects

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

 

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In Media Composer 7.x, there is currently no way to differentiate a LUT import intended for all projects versus LUTs that are project specific. Importing a LUT is only available to the project in which it was imported. This is great when moving projects around from system to system,but if there was a LUT that you wanted to use all the time, regardless of project, the workaround is to manually copy the contents of the LUTs folder (found in the project folder) to:

  • OS X:  Library/Application Support/Avid/ColorManagement/LUTs folder
  • Windows: /ProgramData/Avid/ColorManagement/LUTs folder

For any single LUT you might want to move, you need to copy the LUT as well as the XML file of the same name. From then on your LUTs will show up in any new or existing project on that system.

Update 12/31/14: Media Composer 8.3 now allows for LUT import  to be per project, or system wide.

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