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  • Sun, May 25 2014 11:28 PM

    Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Hello all,

    I am soon to start a feature film project (2h estimated runtime) for theatrical release.

    It will be my biggest project to date, so I am trying to prepare as best I can, and I count on your kind answers to maybe help me achieve this. I apologize in advance for the long post, feel free to only answer parts of my concerns if you don't have so much time! (you can reply using the number of the question at stake)

    Before I begin, I have to specify that I've been until now mostly a FCP7 editor; although I've used MC in the past, it's been a while, so I am also trying to catch up on it as fast as I can, so please don't be hard on me if there are some things that may be obvious for you that I don't know, and don't hesitate to toss in any tips you may think of. Also, I've worked mainly on documentaries lately, so it's also been a while since I worked on fiction, and I feel my workflow may be rusty...

    So, here are the project's basic specs:

    the film is being shot on Arri Alexa, 2k Pro Res 444. Sound is recorded on a Zaxcom Nomad. Sound editing will likely be done in Protools, and color in Davinci Resolve.

    The offline will be done on MC7, using DNxHD36 encoded and provided by a lab. I will have an assistant sync and prep the material for me. But, although I will have the assistant do the syncing and in the end probably the preparing and handing over the film to the sound and color departments, I feel I should be well informed on every aspect in case she runs into trouble down the line.

    So let's start with the technical questions:

    - first and foremost, I would like to know what I should beware of when handling the Alexa material to ensure a smooth workflow for every step of post; I am mostly concerned about metadata, as I've read conforming might have issues if the proper metadata isn't present.

    1) So, what exact metadata should populate the DNxHD36 clips? As I understand it, please correct me if this is inaccurate, we need to have Tape metadata. Is this right? And if it's not present, we should copy the Source File info into the Tape metadata columns?

    Please be as precise as you can on this aspect, as I feel it might be essential.

    2) I asked to have camera and sound timecode jammed during shooting to ease my assistant's life, but I am worried sync might still have issues as apparently there might be a frame or two delays every once in a while. Any advice on this?

    3) following up on sync issues: I thought about having the project created as a 24p film project in order to have access to perf slip syncing, so that syncing gets done in the most precise way possible. But I would like to know if there are any gotchas or specific things to know about film projects on MC. For one, I read somewhere here, if I recall it was Michael Philips saying this, subclips created in film projects will be "hard" subclips, meaning you cannot edit past their limits. Is this right? And are there other things like this?

    4) We have read there might be sync issues during sound conforming in protools when using recordings produced by the Zaxcom Nomad, where sync would be off by less than a frame between the Aaf imported sound and the sound conformed by protools. Any experience on this? Tips?

    I think this is it for the technical part.

    Now on to some questions regarding editorial and your preferred methods. I would like to know how all of you go about some things.

    5) So,  firstly I am having doubts about the best setup and handling of audio during editorial. I will have on any given take between 4 and 10 audio tracks. Now, I would like to avoid editing with all tracks all the time, as in my mind it seems like a big hassle (isn't it? or is it just me?), hence the audio conforming questions above.

    As I see it, there are three ways of editing with such material:

    a) sync and edit using all audio tracks all of the time (the one I want to avoid if possible, unless I find REALLY good reasons not to) :

    b) sync all audio tracks, but then edit unto the timeline only boom and lav mix (I will not get an overall downmix because of some issue with the way the Nomad works), and every once in a while as needed some ISOs. This requires simple matchframe procedure.

    c) sync only 2 tracks, boom and lav mix and edit with that. This means when I need ISOs, I will have to perform a double matchframe back to the sound clips.

    So which method do you prefer and why? What would your advice be?

    I hesitate between b and c. If I have all audio tracks, laying down the ISOs would be easier, but it seems everytime I load a source clip into the source monitor all audio tracks get activated on the timeline, meaning I have to patch only the two tracks I want on EVERY edit. To be clear, if I have let's say 8 tracks on a clip, I disable tracks 3-6 and then edit onto the timeline, but on the next clip I load, all 8 tracks get selected again and so I have to deactivate tracks 3-6 again. 

    Is this correct, or is there a way to tell MC not to behave this way?

    Option C seems fine if I don't need to go on the lookout for other ISOs too often, but if I do it seems less efficient than option b)... Advice?

    6) Is there a way to enter comments for clips without having MC stop playback? I am trying to find an efficient workflow for taking notes on every take while I watch the material with the director (he will be present throughout all the editing process).

    To achieve this: is there a shortcut for selecting the active bin? And then a way to navigate and enter comments in the clips without touching the mouse and without stopping playback?

    7) What is your preferred workflow for logging and setting aside selects? Do you subclip and give a name to the subclip (ex: best "go get him" dial)? (I find I can be fast doing this even if it stops playback, but If I were to do this then I couldn't work in a film project, as I would need to be able to trim past the subclip limits)... Do you use locators? (It seems I can put locators without stopping playback, but I cannot give them names until playback stops?) Or do you enter comments for reference and then after set in-out points and lay down to the timeline shot by shot (I used to do this, but I wonder if I could be more efficient). For reference, I won't have ScriptSync for cycling through takes by dialogue or other, so don't mention it, and I don't think I can ask my assistant to perform script integration either...

    Oh, one last thing:

    8) anyone know if MC7 can open and read MC8 created bins and or projects? 

    I think that is all for now. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read this post and giving me your advice and tips. Thanks again and I hope I will have the pleasure of reading you soon!

    Best to all,

    Mauricio Lleras.

     

  • Mon, May 26 2014 12:07 AM In reply to

    • gumbaedit
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Richmond, VA
    • Posts 522
    • Points 6,850

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    My reply may sound a bit rude, and if so, I apologize, it's not my intent.  However, based on the number of questions you are asking and the knowledge level they require to answer, I have a few questions of my own for you.

    1.  Have you ever edited a dialogue feature film of this size before.

    2.  Is your assistant a novice, or have they worked on something this siaze before.

     

    Here's my reason's for these two questions.  If you have never edited a feature of this aize before, either in fcp or avid, then you may already know that some of the answers to your questions come down to preference (like how many tracks you want to edit with).  There are dozens of answers, but only you will know which one works foe you.

    The second question has more to do with the skill level of your assistant, if you have already hired him, and he doens't have answeres to these questions already, you could very well be in trouble come delevery time.  If he's experienced, he'll talk to the post super, sound super and vfx super, and figure out what they need and how to set up his workflow.  That's what he's there for, use that knowledge.

     

    Finally, the questions that you have asked are not easily answerable in this forum as an entire unit.  Yes, we can be helpful, but you're looking at a lot of back and forth in the forums with this, only to get answers in peicemeal form.  My advice is to find someone local to you who knows avid, set up a day or two to run through all of your questions, and then either pay them or treat them to a really nice dinner both nights.  Many pages could be written in response to your questions, but to really get it, you need to sit in front of an avid with someone.

    Those are my thoughts, anyway.  And again, I'm sorry if I come of as a little blunt.  Just trying to save you some time.

    6 core Late 2013 MacPro 3.0 gHz, 16 gigs RAM, MC 8.8.5 on OSX 10.12.4, DNxIO, Flanders CM250, BMD Desktop Video version 10.9.1 [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, May 26 2014 1:17 AM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Mauricio Lleras:

    1) So, what exact metadata should populate the DNxHD36 clips? As I understand it, please correct me if this is inaccurate, we need to have Tape metadata. Is this right?

    Either Tape or Source File should be present. A clip cannot have both, one is good enough. If the lab uses Avid MC to create the DNxHD clips for you, they will have a Source File. If they use any 3rd party applications (like Resolve or what not), the clips will have a Tape name (as these applications use the Avid SDK and will emulate a tape).

    And if it's not present, we should copy the Source File info into the Tape metadata columns?

    Not necessary.

    2) I asked to have camera and sound timecode jammed during shooting to ease my assistant's life, but I am worried sync might still have issues as apparently there might be a frame or two delays every once in a while. Any advice on this?

    Have your AE use Perf Slip to correct for any TC errors as well as for sub-frame precision. You will need to set the project up as a 35mm Film project, and most of all, your audio needs to be brought into such a project.

    3) following up on sync issues: I thought about having the project created as a 24p film project in order to have access to perf slip syncing, so that syncing gets done in the most precise way possible. But I would like to know if there are any gotchas or specific things to know about film projects on MC. For one, I read somewhere here, if I recall it was Michael Philips saying this, subclips created in film projects will be "hard" subclips, meaning you cannot edit past their limits. Is this right? And are there other things like this?

    This is not as relevant with file-based sources, as your clips and sync clips will likely consist of one picture event and one sound event, so you could not trim past their ends anyway. This was more relevant in the tape days, as you would get one long tape with multiple events on it, referencing different metadata (like Keykode).

    4) We have read there might be sync issues during sound conforming in protools when using recordings produced by the Zaxcom Nomad, where sync would be off by less than a frame between the Aaf imported sound and the sound conformed by protools. Any experience on this? Tips?

    I have not seen or heard about that, but I always provide a mixdown track with my Avid scatch mix for the dialogue editors to reference.

    5) So,  firstly I am having doubts about the best setup and handling of audio during editorial. I will have on any given take between 4 and 10 audio tracks. Now, I would like to avoid editing with all tracks all the time, as in my mind it seems like a big hassle (isn't it? or is it just me?), hence the audio conforming questions above.

    As I see it, there are three ways of editing with such material:

    a) sync and edit using all audio tracks all of the time (the one I want to avoid if possible, unless I find REALLY good reasons not to) :

    b) sync all audio tracks, but then edit unto the timeline only boom and lav mix (I will not get an overall downmix because of some issue with the way the Nomad works), and every once in a while as needed some ISOs. This requires simple matchframe procedure.

    c) sync only 2 tracks, boom and lav mix and edit with that. This means when I need ISOs, I will have to perform a double matchframe back to the sound clips.

    I've never done b), too much hassle deselecting tracks (as you point out). I have done a) as well as c). I generally prefer c) these days. I've written a breakdown of that method here: http://www.jobterburg.nl/Publications/Multitrack_Approach_110830.pdf

    6) Is there a way to enter comments for clips without having MC stop playback?

    Unfortuntaly, there is not.

    To achieve this: is there a shortcut for selecting the active bin?

    There is a "Find Bin" button you can map to your keyboard or under your Source monitor.

    And then a way to navigate and enter comments in the clips without touching the mouse and without stopping playback?

    MC unfortunately stops playback for most anything.

    7) What is your preferred workflow for logging and setting aside selects?

    I use Markers (Locators) for stuff I like. I use a Comments column in the bin for descriptions per take. I often make notes in the Script Reports (with analogue pencil). I often toss selects into a sequence which I then load into the source monitor when I start assembling a scene. I don't make new subclips, as I want to keep referring to my sync clips and there scene/shot/take name. Also, you will want to be able to matchframe to a take rather than to a select, and double matchframing from a select gets you the mute picture only; you would break the relation to the sync clip.

    8) anyone know if MC7 can open and read MC8 created bins and or projects?

    Yes.

     

    Media Composer /w Symphony option | PT-HD | Win7Pro64 HP | OSX MBP | ISIS5000 | Nitris DX | Artist Mix & Transport & Color | AJA T-Tap | Decklink... [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, May 26 2014 10:55 AM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Hello Job,

    first and foremost, thanks a lot for your quick and precise answers.

    Fantastic, as always (I've read a good number of your posts in the past...).

    I apologize I didn't get to you earlier, I'm in France so it was getting late last night...

    So I'll follow up with a couple smaller questions:

    Job ter Burg:

    Job ter Burg:
    Either Tape or Source File should be present. A clip cannot have both, one is good enough. If the lab uses Avid MC to create the DNxHD clips for you, they will have a Source File.

    So, if by any weird chance there is neither tape metadata NOR source file, then we are in trouble and need to populate one of those right?

    Job ter Burg:
    I've never done b), too much hassle deselecting tracks (as you point out). I have done a) as well as c). I generally prefer c) these days. I've written a breakdown of that method here: http://www.jobterburg.nl/Publications/Multitrack_Approach_110830.pdf
     

    So I heard back from the audio guys and our first test didn't go well (he couldn't conform the audio from the Nomad back in Protools)...If we don't find a solution I guess I will have to go with solution a) (cutting with all tracks all along). 

    Regarding your breakdown for method c), which is the one I'm aiming for if the sound guys can get the corform stuff sorted out, this seems very delicate and I am glad you brought it up as it had also occurred to me : (Do beware that this original clip has not been Perf Slipped (it doesn’t contain any video to slip perf to), so some sync discrepancy and phasing may occur when adding ISO’s to mixdowns).

    How does it get sorted out afterwards? Do the guys on the protools have to resync manually the non-perf Slipped clips? Or do they have the perf slip info to automatically and easily adjust sync based on that?

    If things get too complicated I might have to resort to solution a) for avoiding this and all other problems (urrgh). There is also a parallel solution to Solution b) which might be ok for conforming and keeping true sync, which would be to sync all tracks, cut only two of them (or as needed) and in the end have the assistant lay down all missing tracks manually by matchframing...This would be tedious and time consuming but I've read it is also done quite regularly...And I take it from yur answer there is no way to tell MC not to activate all tracks everytime I load a clip in the source monitor, which is also a pain...

    Job ter Burg:

    Is there a way to enter comments for clips without having MC stop playback?

    Unfortuntaly, there is not.

    To achieve this: is there a shortcut for selecting the active bin?

    There is a "Find Bin" button you can map to your keyboard or under your Source monitor.

    And then a way to navigate and enter comments in the clips without touching the mouse and without stopping playback?

    MC unfortunately stops playback for most anything.

    Following up on this, I am looking for the fastest way to enter comments without disrupting too much the viewing of the rushes experience. So I am looking for a way to enter comments for clips without having to use the mouse (too time consuming). I see an "add comments" option on the clip menu on the source side, which I would like to map to my keyboard using menu to button mapping, but when I perform the command I get a message saying something like "please load a non-filler clip", although the clip loaded in the source viewer is not a filler...Do you know why I get this? Is this a bug? How to go about it? For info, I can do the exact same thing on the record side (mapping the "add comments" command on the menu to a keyboard shortcut, and then entering comments for clips on the timeline at will), but I can't seem to get it to work on the source side...

    How do you specifically enter comments for clips? Do you just enter the comment column in the bin with the mouse?

    Job ter Burg:

    7) What is your preferred workflow for logging and setting aside selects?

    I use Markers (Locators) for stuff I like. I use a Comments column in the bin for descriptions per take.

    This is pretty much what I've done in the past too.

    Job ter Burg:
    I often toss selects into a sequence which I then load into the source monitor when I start assembling a scene.

    Thanks for this, it's a neat idea, I might try it out!

     

    Thanks a lot one more time, hoping to hear more from you.

    Have a great day

     

  • Mon, May 26 2014 11:08 AM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Mauricio Lleras:
    I see an "add comments" option on the clip menu on the source side, which I would like to map to my keyboard using menu to button mapping, but when I perform the command I get a message saying something like "please load a non-filler clip", although the clip loaded in the source viewer is not a filler.
    Add Comments is a way to add comments to specific timeline events, and they can be carried over into EDL Manager. I only use those for vfx comments and fx descriptions for the conform editors. Not for selects.

    Mauricio Lleras:
    How do you specifically enter comments for clips?
    I create a column named 'Comments' or 'MyName_Comments' (just click in an empty space in the bin to create any custom column), then add info there. Need some mouse work there.

     

    Media Composer /w Symphony option | PT-HD | Win7Pro64 HP | OSX MBP | ISIS5000 | Nitris DX | Artist Mix & Transport & Color | AJA T-Tap | Decklink... [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, May 26 2014 11:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Hello and thank you for your answer.

    Though I feel you might have somewhat misread my intentions with my post.

    As I said, I was looking to find out others' preferences, and although they are of course personal and depend on the project, I find hearing others' methods is often interesting, as you never know when they will do something, even if very small, that you might like and adopt yourself. 

    Also, regarding this for instance, it is not only a matter of personal preference but also of editing platform :

    gumbaedit:
    then you may already know that some of the answers to your questions come down to preference (like how many tracks you want to edit with)

    as for example in FCP7 you don't have the option to sync only 2 tracks as easily as in Media Composer, BUT once you unpatch tracks from the source side they stay that way , so it is a little bit less of a hassle to have all tracks present on the source clips.

    By the way, I have edited one project this big a couple of years ago, but it was in FCP, hence this questions that are in some ways specific to Avid. And like I said, it has been a while since I did that project, so I am looking to get up to speed again for being as efficient as I can, seeing I will be on a very tight schedule.

    Finally, regarding this:

    gumbaedit:
    The second question has more to do with the skill level of your assistant, if you have already hired him, and he doens't have answeres to these questions already, you could very well be in trouble come delevery time.  If he's experienced, he'll talk to the post super, sound super and vfx super, and figure out what they need and how to set up his workflow.  That's what he's there for, use that knowledge.

    They are already in contact and performing tests, but like I said, I like to be on top of things and as informed as I can on every level, trusting and using others' knowledge is of course necessary, but beeing able to personnally understand and maybe find solutions for all sorts of problems is from my point of view something we should all strive for...

    For instance, as I said to Job, I heard back from the sound guy and the first tests for audio conforming didn't go well. If i don't help in finding a solution, I might find myself forced by the producers to edit with all tracks (which I don't want to do) in order to avoid conforming and syncing issues. Sometimes you must rely only on yourself if you want to be sure you get what you need/want...

    gumbaedit:
    My advice is to find someone local to you who knows avid, set up a day or two to run through all of your questions, and then either pay them or treat them to a really nice dinner both nights

    This is an idea, but like I said, I thought it would be nice getting different perspectives, and these forums are perfect for this.

    Thanks for your time in any case.

  • Mon, May 26 2014 11:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Hello again,

    yes, I know how to enter comments to clips, I was rather asking if you had some way of not using the mouse for each entry of a comment. But thanks anyway.

    But more importantly what about this? 

    Regarding your breakdown for method c), which is the one I'm aiming for if the sound guys can get the corform stuff sorted out, this seems very delicate and I am glad you brought it up as it had also occurred to me : (Do beware that this original clip has not been Perf Slipped (it doesn’t contain any video to slip perf to), so some sync discrepancy and phasing may occur when adding ISO’s to mixdowns).

    How does it get sorted out afterwards? Do the guys on the protools have to resync manually the non-perf Slipped clips? Or do they have the perf slip info to automatically and easily adjust sync based on that?

    Thanks for your time
  • Mon, May 26 2014 12:29 PM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Mauricio Lleras:
    Do the guys on the protools have to resync manually the non-perf Slipped clips?
    Yes.

    Again, in cases like that, I leave the perf slipped tracks in there as well (at least boom mix), and tell them THAT's what is the sync reference.

    Also know that sound editors need to manually adjust timing on ALL of the ISO tracks anyway, as there are always minor phase differences between different booms and lavs by definition (different distances between source sound and microphone makes for slightly different timing).

    Media Composer /w Symphony option | PT-HD | Win7Pro64 HP | OSX MBP | ISIS5000 | Nitris DX | Artist Mix & Transport & Color | AJA T-Tap | Decklink... [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, May 26 2014 12:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Alright, thanks a lot for your assistance!

  • Mon, May 26 2014 2:10 PM In reply to

    • Susi
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • London, UK
    • Posts 575
    • Points 6,620

    Re: Preparing for a Feature Film shot on Arri Alexa: technical and editorial advice needed

    Editorial-wise, don't forget the value of scene/slate numbers and a marked up paper script.  We're all different, but I quite it for tracking which set-ups work for which bits of action or dialogue or TIME in the scene, and how they might play together, then whether 'selects' offer another interpretation...
    (Only ever edited one feature, back in the year 2000, but the edit had to move continents and old-school admin paid off, as well as idiot-proof bin-naming!) 

    Media Composer 8.6.4 on 15" mid-2012 Macbook Pro (OSX10.11.6) 2.7GHz Intel, 8GB RAM Gizmos: CanonXF200; Canon 550D (DSLR); Hero Go-Pro3 and 4; Sony... [view my complete system specs]
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