My Two Favorite 7.0.3 Bug Fixes

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Win Van den Broeck does an excellent job of listing all the available fixes and “new” items in Media Composer v7.0.3 in his blog. For me, my two favorites are listed as bug fixes in the 7.0.3 Read Me, that border on being new features as they start enabling new workflows, or re-enabling old ones.

The first one is 24fps timecode support in the SoundTC column for “NTSC” based project types. I’ve written about workflow issues with SoundTC in this blog, but basically the issue was that SoundTC was always hard-coded to 30fps timecode in a 23.976 or 24.000 HD project type. This was a workflow carryover from NTSC based workflows before HD was available, but never updated in the nine years since HD was a standard Avid project. This is important to workflows that sync in third party systems prior to editorial as there is only one master clip that needs to carry all the timecode information. From a conform perspective, productions were putting this timecode in any of the other five AuxTC columns making it very inconsistent from production to production. With 7.0.3 and forward, there is now a self defined timecode column for this metadata. Some things to be aware of though as the “bug fix” is just enough to allow for 24 frame counts but know that:

  • ALE has a new Global header  ”SOUNDTC_FPS” where the value 24 or 30 can be defined. Unlike the header for Video FPS, the ALE will not import if there is a 23.976 value. Only 24 or 30 can be defined. This type of ALE will only work in 7.0.3 and forward. I have not tried it in an earlier version to see what happens, but I suspect a similar error message will pop up. 
  • Any one clip can either be 24 or 30. Unfortunately you cannot track what the value is other than loading the clip and scrolling bast the :23 frame count to see what it’s doing. I recommend adding a custom column and entering a value there if it needs to be tracked. It would be nice if the global header from the ALE be used as a column once imported.
  • The user is prompted with the choice of 24 or 30 only when that field is empty and a new value is being entered by hand or by “duplicate column” feature. If there is a value there, any new entry will assume the frame rate of the existing timecode. If you need to change the timecode count type, delete values first, then enter a new value where you will prompted. An exception to this is merging an ALE where SOUNDTC_FPS is defined. All existing values will now reflect what is defined in the ALE.
  • If you create an EDL with mixed timecode values in the SoundTC, it will not be flagged with an FCM command or comment.
  • If you export an ALE from the bin, it does not contain the new Global Header
  • You can bring a bin with 24 frame timecode in the SoundTC back to MC v6.5.4.1 and it will count as 24, but you will have no ability to change it as in 7.0.3 if needed.
  • Bringing a bin forward will assume the 30fps timecode and remain as such in 7.0.3, but can be changed once value is deleted and a new one entered.
  • User will be prompted when doing a “duplicate column.”

My second favorite one is the change to the ALE merge process. In all previous versions, merging an ALE into existing masterclips was not a true merge, but a “replace with” whatever was in the ALE. So if there was existing metadata in a column that was not in the ALE, it would get deleted. For example, here is a bin with metadata before the merge (click images for larger version):

703ale-merge-before.png And in previous versions, merging the following ALE:

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would result in the bin now looking like

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Where only the fields in the ALE remain, but all the other column metadata has been deleted. In 7.0.3, the same ALE merge results in

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Where all the metadata remains and only what is in the ALE changes after the merge. This one has lots of the workflow benefits as external databases can now be easily repurposed in editorial at any point in the process.  The metadata update does propagate to the subclips, but I still need to test for .sync and .grp. This starts enabling color workflows as mentioned in this blog entry.

Both of these features are much needed workflow type solutions. I hope Avid is reaching out to the third parties that create dailies for post production to generate ALE with only changed columns as a feature as well as be aware of the SoundTC column, even if it is to be tracked as redundant metadata during the transition process.  ALE merging of a subset of columns is currently done by editing the ALE itself to only contain relevant fields and is how the above example was created. Some databases will export only selected fields which makes the process a whole lot smoother.

For me, these are more than bug fixes, but workflow enhancements important to the post process. I almost would have highlighted these two in the “What’s New” section of the Read Me rather than in the bug fix list, but good to know these are now available.

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