The Elusiveness of EDL Comments

edl-comments-2.jpg

Back in Media Composer v8.2, I was testing some metadata workflows and discovered quite by accident that values in the “Comments” column appeared in EDLs when “Comments” was checked as an option. Since the original Avid/1 Media Composer, EDL comments were restricted to the comments added to any one segment in the timeline. I don’t know if this was an intentional change, or something that just came about as a result of something else as there was no mention of it in release documentation. I thought I would keep an eye on this to see of this feature evolved with follow-on releases.

Comments Column in the Bin

I should start by saying that the “Comments” column itself is quite elusive. It is a column that seems to be standard within Media Composer, but not exposed as a standard column when choosing columns. If one goes to bin’s script view and adds commentary to the large text area on a clip, then the column becomes selectable as a custom field via the “Choose Columns” despite it already being part of the bin. Importing or merging an ALE with a “Comments’ column will find its way into that text area. Once there is active metadata, it can be saved to other bin views.

Adding Comments to EDL

Once text has been added to a “Comments” column, and selecting “Clip Comments” from the List Option/Include in List for both Picture and Sound section, those comments will be added to the EDL after each event proceeded by a *

001  A001C007 V C  08:21:04:02 08:21:09:18 01:00:00:00 01:00:05:16
*COMMENT LINE

This can be quite useful when needing to add specific metadata to an EDL for a downstream process. A user can duplicate any column’s value into the “Comments” column then generate a list. A workaround using ASC CDL columns for Stock Footage tracking was blogged about here.

But there are limitations to be aware of when using “Comments”. I am not guaranteeing this is a complete list, but are the ones I discovered when considering different use cases in typical workflows:

  • Comments will appear in an EDL when added to a master clip
  • Despite a subclip displaying the Comment from the master clip in the bin, the EDL will not have the comment when edited from a subclip
  • If the user overwrites the existing Comment on a subclip in the bin with a comment, then that comment will appear in an EDL.
  • The same goes for .sync clips. Comments can be added to the V and A master clips, and the resulting .sync clip will display the V comment, but the EDL will have no comment. User can enter a new comment on the .sync clip and it will appear in the EDL
  • A group clip has a different behavior – the resulting group clip does not display any of the originating clip “Comments” in the bin and the EDL does not display any of the “Comments” from any of the angles used. A user can add a “Comment” to the .grp clip in the bin but unlike sub and sync clips, EDLs will still not show that “Comment”
  • Unfortunately, EDL Comment lines are still being limited to the old linear tape bay specifications of 80 character line lengths despite every other aspect of the EDL being changed to support newer digital workflows such as having up to 129 character as Source/REEL. Comments will wrap at 80 characters into multiple *Comments lines. This makes parsing a bit more problematic downstream.
  • Comment lines are changed to all UPPERCASE instead of keeping the text as entered in the bin. This prevents some interesting parsing algorithms to be used.
  • If a user did enter a “Comment” on a specific event in the timeline via the “Add Comment” function, the EDL will display this “Comment” and not the value from the bin. The EDL comment does not differentiate between the two, making it inconsistent and can be misleading or problematic depending on use.

This behavior is still consistent with the most recent release of 8.5.1 so I suspect this will be how it works for a while. It’s an interesting feature to consider if you are aware of its limitations in order to get expected results when used.

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