Emulating Avid ScriptSync with Apple FCPx

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Moviola provides a lot of great instructional videos and webinars for the film and video industry. So it was with great interest that I signed up for “Emulating Script Sync with FCP X” which was streamed on November 19th. Those who missed it can watch it as a rebroadcast here.

All in all I learned a lot about FCPx’ handing of metadata and search functions as I have only dabbled with FCPx. The presentation was very clearly laid out and presented by someone who really knows the application. I am also a big fan of metadata and what can be done with it and was impressed with many of the functions available in FCPx. The standout ones for me were:

  • Multiple selection within a clip to apply a metadata tag
  • Filter by clip type (group, sync, etc.)
  • Saved searches
  • Hide/reject spans on clip
  • Creating string-outs based on metadata spans
  • Markers are searchable
  • Batch renaming based on concatenated metadata fields
  • The promise of merging ScriptE notes from the set. I know the team at ScriptE and they create great products.

As far as the “Emulating ScriptSync” portion, it was not even close to the concept of ScriptSync.   The solution shown was clearly based on script metadata provided by a script supervisor via their reports. I agree that no one knows better than the script supervisor anything and everything of what is being captured on set. Re-purposing any of this metadata is a no-brainer for NLE systems and has been a long time request with Media Composer, but its ALE merge operation is too limiting to take advantage of it at this time.

But back to “ScriptSync”. ScriptSync is not about pulling up a single span of a single clip as seen in the presentation. It is certainly a powerful search function of FCPx to do so, but Avid Media Composer ScriptSync implementation is all about context and choices based on review of all the takes for a given line or lines. Even reactions to lines for performers not speaking. It’s about seeing at a glance the coverage for a given scene, and with a single point and click, review all relevant takes, choosing the best one based on where it is in context of the story. As Walter Murch told me once on scrolling versus clicking to a spot: “you find the shot you need on the way to finding the shot you thought you wanted.” It is also about reverse search from the timeline as well. When asked by the director, “what else we got for that line?” and having the ability with a single click, open the script, highlight the intersection of dialog and selected take and immediately see all other coverage for that span of dialog is very powerful.

But that being said, ScriptSync could be so much more with additional development should Avid choose to do so. The addition of Nexidia’s phonetic technology a few years ago removed a lot of the tedious task of lining a script to mere minutes, but the fact that it is dependent on a flattened text file is but one of the limitations hampering its full potential in both scripted and non scripted shows that create transcripts from the dailies. As far as the other features shown in FCPx, a second pass at Media Composer’s FIND feature would go a long way to take advantage of the metadata in Media Composer.

Also note that ScriptSync should not be confused with PhraseFind, which is also based on Nexidia technology and offers a different benefit/value to the workflow, especially if no script or transcript is available. Each have their advantages and disadvantages, but if there is any written representation of dialog, ScriptSync is the way to go.

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