Monday, 12 May 2014

C100 / Samurai Ninja / Media Composer 7 / Twixtor / resolve 10 Lite workflow

The following workflow describes the way I have been doing things. There may be more efficient ways to do them and please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Rhys Duncan C100 Steadicam Location shoot

The series I am currently working on is shot on a C100 recording internally and externally to a Samurai Ninja to DNxHD 120 MXF files, a Canon 5D mk2 and a GoPro mounted on a Phantom quad-copter.

The Samurai Ninja records to SSD, the rushes are then copied to an external hard drive for archives. In Media Composer the rushes are AMA linked then consolidated to an internal media drive. The 5D and GoPro rushes are AMA linked and transcoded to DNxHD 120 MXF files.

Media Composer 7 added the ability to consolidate/transcode in the background so this process doesn't hold up the editing process.

The Avid Media Files folders and project files are then manually backed up onto external drives using SyncToy 2. I currently have 11TB of internal media storage capacity.  The external backups are taken off-site with me every day (which makes cycling to work extra joyful!)

In this series the slo-mo effect is used a lot. In the last ep almost half of the 26 mins was slo-mo'd footage. For this I have used the twixtor plugin. I have found that it works well to varying degrees depending on the shots you are affecting.

Once the edit is complete an embedded AAF and QuickTime movie is sent to soundmix and I begin colour grading in Resolve. The unaffected footage can be exported/imported as an AAF. Twixtor'd footage and video mixtdowns need to be exported as a movie. I create a separate sequence for the twitor'd footage making sure any transitions are included in the length of each clip as there are no handles, remove gaps, and export (same as source) a movie. I export the rest of the sequence as an AAF linking video media only.

In Resolve I import the AAF. I have to do this twice to account for the two media drives. Upon the second import the AAF relinks to media from both drives. This seems to take much longer than it should and I have often wondered if I am missing something that could make this step faster. After grading I render the clips into a new Avid Media Files folder.  In MC I import the new AAF. This final step has not been without its problems in the past and I find that if I simplify the original sequence to only the clips I want to grade (no titles graphics etc) I get better results.

The slo-mos need to be added to the media pool and placed into a new timeline and edits inserted to separate the clips. Once graded I render the clips as single clips as DNxHD 120 MXF files to a folder. Then fast-import the files into MC and place them back into the sequence. To fast-import select the 'use the source file's resolution' option.

It's a bit fiddly but it will do for now.

One thing about Resolve Lite is beware of the using the blur where there is any camera movement and highlights as it may result in jittery motion. The full version has motion blur but I can't confirm it will solve this issue.

My next post post will be a quickie on subtitling.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

DIY Build Editing & Colour Grading Suite

In November 2013 I began working on a series for Maori Television that has yet to be released. I am the sole editor / colorist for this 12 episode documentary series. I have completed 8 eps to date.

I'm cutting on Media Composer 7 and grading on Davinci Resolve 10 Lite. 

Hardware.  I started this series using my factory Dell XPS 8300 which performed well despite it's modest specs but strangely Dell computers aren't supported by Black Magic products. So even though Resolve worked ok on my Dell I wasn't able to connect a reference monitor via a Black Magic PCI card or USB hub.  This is a problem since monitoring is essential for colour-grading.  So I bit the bullet and upgraded my PC. I decided to do a DIY build. Why?  Because I thought it would be fun and it was. 

Black Magic have a list of certified motherboards so that was my starting point. I also found the videoguys guides very helpful.  These are the components I went for:

Asus Z87 Expert   
Intel i5 4573  (update: upgraded to i7 4773 K)
EVGA Geforce GTX760
2 X 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws SDRAM  (update: added 2 X 8GB)
Kingston 250GB SSD
Western Digital 4TB HD
Corsair HX750 PSU
Cooler Master case

Windows 7 Home Premium OEM (update: replaced with Windows 7 Pro OEM)

The Asus Z87 has on-board thunderbolt which will be useful to my future storage solutions.
I went for the i5 at first to cut cost and upgraded when I could afford to.  My attempt to over-clock the cpu was pretty sad so I reverted to the default settings for stability. There are so many video cards on the market it was a nightmare choosing one but GTX760 has been working nicely so far.

When I wanted to upgrade the RAM I found out the hard way that Win 7 Home Premium only supports up to 16GB of RAM. What's more OEM versions can't be re-sold as they will not work on any other PC's. So I had to buy Windows Pro and let the Home Premium gather dust on the shelf.

I purchased an ex-demo Sony PVMA250 25" OLED from protel and yes the pictures are glorious!

To connect my monitor I purchased a Black Magic DeckLink Mini Monitor PCIe ($202 + GST).

The card is great BUT the audio is embedded in the video which means either playback the audio via the monitor or get an audio extractor to extract the audio from the HDMI signal. There are a variety of these on Ebay but I went for this unit from Jaycar Electronics ($99.90 + GST). Black Magic also sell products that are more expensive.

I have noticed a slight hum coming though but have yet to isolate it's source so will say no more. Sadly Media Composer and Resolve aren't so good at sharing so I have to close one of them to monitor the other which is a small pain. Otherwise my system is running sweet!

I will discuss the various workflow issues in my next post.