conigs

Paul Conigliaro - Motion Designer | Editor

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

MCA-I Madison Session Notes

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking at a breakout session for the MCA-I Madison Spring seminar. The topic was tapeless post-production workflow (specifically for FCP, but we did briefly discuss Avid & Premiere Pro). I promised everyone there I would post links to resources and some of the software we discussed in that session (and some we didn’t get to), so here it is:

Software:
Canon EOS Plugin – The official Canon plugin for Log & Transfer. Convoluted download process: Select Mac OSX, then click find “EOS MOVIE Plugin-E1 for Final Cut Pro Ver1.2″ in the list, and accept agreement.
Magic Bullet Grinder ($49) – Batch processing of DSLR footage, including proxies with timecode burn in.
5DtoRGB – Process DSLR footage with more control and bypass QuickTime.
5DDtoRGBB – (Unmentioned) Will launch multiple instances of 5DtoRGB for pseudo-batch processing.
Clipfinder 2.2 – Software to reconform FCP XML to RED proxies for passing to Color, among other advanced RED functions.
RED Final Cut Studio 3 Installer – Includes QuickTime codec, Log & Transfer plugin, and Color REDRAW plugin, as well as a useful whitepaper on RED workflow.
REDCine-X – 1st light color correction and transcoding of RED files.

Resources:
RED User Forums – (Unmentioned) Community of RED users, including posts from RED staff.
Inexpensive Archiving for Tapless Media – Post from Little Frog in High Def (Shane Ross) covering some LTO solutions he found at NAB2011.
FCP 7 Digital Workflows (PDF) – (Unmentioned) Straight from Apple, covers working in several formats, including REDCODE, P2, XDCAM, and AVC. Unfortunately, it does not cover DSLR footage. And for obvious reasons, only covers Apple software.

So there’s the things we went over, and some items that didn’t make it into the discussion in the alloted time. Feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

BG Renderer Hits Version 2

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

BG_Renderer2_lg

BG Renderer has officially hit version 2! I use this script daily, and this update is a must have. This time it comes in a basic and pro version. The basic version is very similar to version 1. However, the pro version has several feature improvements. These are the two that caught my eye right away:

  1. Render notifications through email, sms, Growl, or Prowl (for iPhone notifications, though Growl + Boxcar could be used as well).
  2. Render CS3 or CS4 comps in the CS5 render engine (if installed) to take advantage of 64-bit without having to update your project file.

Due to the massive amount of work that went into this update, Lloyd Alvarez made the tough decision to make BG Renderer a paid-license script (currently $4.99 for Basic and $19.99 for Pro, moving up to $14.99 & $29.99 respectively in a couple months). However, if you’ve used version 1, you know this script is worth every penny!

Offline Woes

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

AE-FCP

I’ve run into this problem a lot. Here’s the setup:

I’ll pull selects in Final Cut Pro, reveal the clip in the Finder and import it into After Effects to work with. When I go back to Final Cut Pro, the clip will be offline for a brief moment before showing up again. What’s worse is if I’ve rendered that clip somewhere in a timeline, that render will be gone.

I finally decided to dig into this to find out what was going on. It turns out it’s a simple thing, really. When you load a clip into After Effects CS4, it appends XMP metadata to the file. Final Cut Pro then sees the updated file and takes a moment to relink what it thinks is new media. So there you go.

Moral of the story: be careful when working directly with FCP media files in After Effects.

Why Film Editors Complain Alot Today

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

I was going to write up a post on the recent ACE pre-announcement—which is apprently all the rage lately—that they are giving their first ever technical award to Avid Media Composer. This award is also meant to be a snub against Apple, whom ACE feels is not listening to their concerns. As I said, I was going to write this post. Norman Hollyn took the words from my mouth.

Sorry folks, but that’s just the beginning of it. and complaining about not being consulted about our editing platform of choice reminds me of the days when some editors refused to move off of film because it “just wasn’t right.” I’m trying to think of how many editors who refuse to edit digitally are working today. The answer to that would be — none.

Give Me H.264 Editing or Give Me Headaches

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Apologies to Patrick Henry. One of the rumors floating around concerning Final Cut Pro 7 (and QuickTime in Snow Leopard) is that it will support native h.264 editing (via Philip Bloom). Depending on your point of view you may have read that and thought “F-ing awesome! About time!” or “Oh, great. Fantastic, another codec that shouldn’t be used for editing.” Both reactions are appropriate, because as with nearly everything, this is both good and bad. This new workflow might save time and headache, or it could end up being more of both.

The Good

Not too long ago, a camera came on the market that offered inexpensive acquisition of full-raster 1080p video on a full-frame sensor using 35mm lenses. You know which camera I’m referring to. (Hint: It’s the Canon 5D MkII.) The images from this camera are great – shallow depth-of-field, great glass, decent color. Though problems arose with the format Canon chose for their QuickTime files: h.264. In Final Cut Pro, users had to either put up with dropped frames and poor performance, or transcode the footage to a more friendly format.

I firmly believe that anything that makes life easier is generally good. With native h.264 editing, users can now pull the QuickTime files straight off the camera and begin cutting. Just like that. No transcoding, saving on hard drive space and (potentially) time.

The Bad

Most editors will be able to say that they’ve seen this before with HDV. At first, Apple allowed editing of HDV footage by transcoding it to the Apple Intermediate Codec, otherwise, editing was just plain awful. Then they allowed native HDV timelines. Like this announcement, some rejoiced, others sighed… heavily.

The problem with natively editing with codecs like HDV and h.264 (both variants of MPEG compression) is that they’re not meant for intermediate use. And many (myself included) would argue that they shouldn’t even be acquisition formats. Now, with editing natively in those formats, footage is being compressed on acquisition, compressed on timeline renders, and more than likely, compressed again on output, with another potential compression when uploaded to sites like YouTube and Vimeo (which is where a lot of these pieces end up). That’s a lot of compression.

My hope is that Final Cut Pro will at least allow for ProRes rendering on h.264 timelines the way it does with HDV and XDCam EX footage. But that is still only a stopgap measure. The greater problem may be lack of understanding as to why the old way (transcoding to a more robust codec) is really the better way.

An Aside: Misunderstanding

It’s anecdote time. A documentary friend of mine who shoots and edits is in love with his HDV camera (one of the Sony prosumer ones, I believe). And with good reason. He could affordably shoot in HD, and in 24p as well. Well, really 24p with pulldown in a 1080i stream. Now, some of what he shoots goes directly to web and is on tight deadlines. He shoots, ingests his footage as native HDV 1080i. Edits in a native HDV 1080i timeline. Then waits. Then wonders why it’s taking so long for the “conforming to HDV” process. Then wonders why there’s this weird interlacing going on, especially when he down-converts the edit to DVD or lower res QuickTimes. This is all despite several conversations we’ve had as to the nature of HDV & long GOP MPEG-2, how the camera is actually recording 24p, and that videos on the web are progressive, not interlaced.

Now, this is a great shooter, a great editor, and an all-around good guy. He’s just not an engineer and doesn’t know all the technical details. This is what is lost on many people: post production is half creative fun, half engineering and technical voodoo. Democratization of technology is great and it allows many people to work creatively when they couldn’t before. But because of that, the details are obfuscated and many don’t know why what they’re doing isn’t necessarily the best way or is sometimes causing them more problems.

It’s a Sliding Scale

In the end, it will most likely only be the professional editors who even notice and/or complain about this new workflow in FCP, provided it is even true. We just have to remember that Final Cut Studio is an inexpensive product that can arguably scale from DV editing on a MacBook to full on feature editing on a network of loaded Mac Pros. It’s not just pros using Final Cut Pro. And if this new workflow makes life just a little easier for the hobbyists/amateurs/photographers/moms/students/anyone, then it’s probably a good thing. Though it doesn’t hurt to educate someone should they ask for help or have questions.

Aspect Matte – Easier Letterbox/Pillarbox Matting in FCP

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The Widescreen filter in Final Cut Pro can be anoying for two reasons: you have to apply it to each clip and it leaves transparent bars instead of a true matte. I’ve been using the method described here for quite some time now. Me being me, I assumed it was common practice, but perhaps not. So I’ve decided to share my extensive matte collection with everyone.

Below you will find a zip archive containing PSD files in common resolutions/formats (including HD & RED) with the following black mattes:

  • 1.33 (4:3)
  • 1.5 (3:2)
  • 1.67
  • 1.78 (16:9)
  • 1.85
  • 2 (2:1)
  • 2.39 (2.35)

Enjoy and feel free to share. The files are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

zip Aspect Matte (Zip Archive)

Content Providers Demand Hulu Remove Boxee Support

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Last night, both Boxee and Hulu announced on their blogs that content providers wanted Hulu pulled from Boxee. From Hulu’s blog:

Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.

boxee-hulu-break

For those unfamiliar with Boxee, it is a media center application built around X-Box Media Center (XBMC). It provides access to your own videos, music, and pictures as well as streams from ABC, Netflix, and formerly Hulu.

Hulu provides users a great, legally sanctioned way to view television and film content. If you have never tried Hulu, please, take a look. Many shows are put up for viewing the following day. The great thing about Hulu, though, is that it’s content can be shared and embedded (or streamed, as was the case with Boxee). All the content is ad supported (one commercial where there would typically be 5-8 in a break). It seemed like a great win-win.

However, for some reason, content owners still must not get it. The commercials were still streamed to Boxee, so why they would want to remove a complete outlet to view that content is beyond me. The only thing I can see is that they still want on-line video content to fail. Or perhaps they were disillusioned that if content was watched through Boxee and not a web-page, it wouldn’t count as a view?

Whatever the case, this seems a “two-steps-forward and one-step-back” scenerio.

UPDATE: After talking with Dembro, we have come to the following conclusion:

Me: or maybe 3.) They have no f**ing clue what they’re doing and just want to exercise a little control over the content to make themselves feel better.
Dembro: yeah
Dembro: that’s probably it

And he also wrote his own post, though slightly more angry than mine.

UPDATE 2: I’d also like to point out that I had this post up (with heartbrake picture) 6 minutes before it was on Ars. So really, Chris Foresman copied me.

UPDATE 3: Mike Hedlund at O’Riely Radar has it exactly right:

Emphasis added: portable computing devices. Not to your TV — from your TV. To your dumb-ass laptop, you smelly, hairy, friendless, gamer-freak nerd. (Sorry, I hate to talk about you that way, but that’s how they think of the Internet. I think you smell great.) To your TV is something completely different, and from the “content providers’” point of view, completely wrong. Aren’t Apple and Tivo and YouTube bad enough as it is?

Red Delays Scarlet and EPIC

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

In an announcement on the Reduser forum this morning, Jim Jannard of Red Digital Cinema has stated they are no longer working overtime to push the release of Scarlet and EPIC. These cameras are still in the pipeline, they have just moved to a more typical development schedule.

I see no reason to continue to pay for rapid development and pushed schedules when the world is not ready to buy our product in the quantities that justify our urgency.  […] Retail camera sales are currently off 40-50%.

While it may be a blow to those who were hoping to get their hadns on one of those cameras once they were pre-announced, I can completely understand their decision. If the volume of sales won’t be there, it doesn’t make sense to push development as hard as they probably were.

Jon Chappell of Digital Rebellion highlights why this isn’t such a big deal, which I completely agree with. There may even be an upside. This may translate to more Red One sales, which could mean more support for the Red One in post. We’re getting there with RAW support in FCP, AE, and Premiere, but it could stand to be improved… especially 4k support in FCP.

Philips Cinema 21:9 Display

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

picture-4Philips just announced a 21:9 display promising to “[let] you enjoy movies as you would in the cinema and just as the director intended.” This seems interesting, but none of the math works out here. According to their press release:

Cinema 21:9 boasts a 56” screen that is shaped in the 21:9 aspect ratio, so movies in the 2.39:1 format completely fill the screen – exactly as you experience at the cinema.

Now, I’ve never seen a 2.39:1 film, I’ve seen 1.33, 1.66, 1.78, 1.85, 2:1, and 2.35 (if you want to go back to Cinemascope, then also 2.66). More than that, 21:9 actually comes out to 2.33, not 2.39. Though I’d guess they were rounding since 2.35 really equates to 21.15:9.

Now, while I’m a gadget-geek and this definitely piques my interest, I really have to doubt the appeal of a 2.35 (or 2.39 or 2.33, whatever it ends up being) screen. While it is clearly aimed at the “movie lovers,” how will people feel about watching HD content pillar-boxed? What about all the content that still is 4:3?  And moreover, since there is no HD standard that supports a native 2.35:1 aspect, will the device simply scale up and crop the stream (is the display actually 1920×817)? I have a feeling the display really doesn’t offer increased resolution, just a large, cropped 1080p display.

Call me a nay-sayer, but I just don’t see this catching on.

[via PromoMotion]

Jobs Takes Medical Leave From Apple

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

My Twitter feed was ablaze starting about an hour ago with variations of the above headline. Many news agencies are also reporting the same. The report is that he’ll be gone through June. But I’m not sure. I agree with Ryan Block:

Jobs finally stepping down (even if only for a few months), huh? I dunno, something in my gut tells me he might not be back.

We’ll see what happens over the coming months. Bot one thing can be certain: nearly every day most, if not all, of the tech blogs will be speculating and looking for information from their “sources” about Jobs’ health.
I just hope the man can get some peace.