TIVA Talks: Program Finishing

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 TIVA recently presented an incredibly informative panel at Henninger Media Services  that was all about program finishing, a vital part of any film or video production. While a plethora of topics were discussed, they mainly centered around the areas of color correction, conversions, captioning, audio, delivery formats and disc authoring. The panel, consisting of Henninger employees, included Senior Editor Joe Bridgers, Colorist Loren Masheter, Audio Engineer Bob Bass, Core and Standard Conversions team member Chuck Adams, and Ari Zagnit, who talked about compression. It was a successful event that attracted members from all aspects of the video production community who packed the space and asked some great questions.

Editing And Frame Rates

One of the major topics that came up was frame rates, specifically 30 fps vs. 23.98 fps and which one was ultimately better depending on the project and how it’s going to be exhibited or shown to the public. Joe Bridgers  shared his thoughts that 23.98 was better for projects that will be shown at festivals or places out of the country and out of the main stream light. 30 fps, on the other hand, is much more ideal for mainstream distribution and the panel highly advised filmmakers to give Henninger a call at the beginning of a project to help them get started. One of the best pieces of advice that came from the panel was when planning a project to start at the very end and proceed to work your way backwards. This will help you plan out which frame rates to use and what details your project needs so you can know what resources to have on hand.  A great question came when someone asked what they should do if they have a mixed timeline (a timeline that has both types of frame rates in it). The answer was to figure out what your final frame rate version should be and use spot conversion to make sure your time line has one single frame rate.

Color Correction

One of the last and most vital steps in the editing process is color correction, which ensures that your work has the best look and colors possible. One thing that Loren Masheter stressed during the panel was to be very careful with your color lookup table. It’s a great tool for taking an image on a camera monitor and adding color correction elements so you and the client can get an idea of what the final image will look like. However, when you send it to a place like Henninger to be color corrected, you may want to make sure the table is not on as many color correctors use bandwidth to make adjustments. If the table is on, the bandwidth will have some trouble making adjustments since the original colors have been changed. So when you send in work to be color corrected, make sure it’s stripped down with the table off. As far as equipment goes, a series of monitors that the crew at Henninger really likes working with are the ones made by Flanders Scientific. While these can be fairly pricey, they are very much beloved for their quality and  incredibly sharp displays. A stand-out piece of software that was praised for its ease of use and value was Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Software. 

Converting and Sound

One of Chuck Adams’ favorite series of converters that is extremely capable and efficient at converting frame rates are those made by Snell and Wilcox with one of his favorites being the Alchemist.  One of the converting issues to look out for when working on video is when you try to up convert a 23.98 frame rate and the image becomes softer looking. Additionally, two frames can become blended together, creating a dissolve look in your film which would appear instead of the cut you’re trying to achieve. The Alchemist is incredibly capable of separating the two cuts so you don’t get that annoying blending effect.

The conversation then turned to Bob Bass who discussed audio mixing and the most ideal conditions for it. While you obviously want to have either a lavaliere or boom mic for audio, boom mics tend to be a bit better because they won’t pick up sounds such as clothing rustling the same way a lavaliere does. If you do end up with multiple audio sources on a track, leave them both on the track for the mixer. However, try to have the “talking heads” audio closer to the video tracks and the music further down. As far some good mics to use, one that came up was the Sennheiser MKH 416 Boom Mike, which was touted for its adaptability.

Disc Authoring

The evening ended on the subject of Disc Authoring and the best delivery practices to ensure a problem free ending to your project. The biggest tip was to have your work be as clean as possible before final compression so you don’t encounter any trouble. As far as formats go, Blu-ray was more adapt at handling compression but can be a bit more demanding since it’s made for higher quality work. DVDs on the other hand are considered a universal format and can handle a much greater variety of work. While 1080p will look fantastic on a DVD, you don’t have that high a resolution on DVD formats as it handles most of them quite well. A useful and simple tip is at the very beginning of the project, decide what format you’re going to be utilizing so you can plan everything accordingly. If you’re going to be sending out work online, the best way to send it is via an H264 Codec MP file since its a versatile codec that can be easily embedded.

While I’ve tried to cover as much of the panel as possible, there was just so much covered that I couldn’t get every little detail. But hopefully you were able to get a good tip or two from this recap.

 

 

 

 

 




TIVA’s Tapeless Workflow Panel

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Recently TIVA, the television, internet and video association, held an incredibly informative panel at Henninger Media Services that was all about tapeless workflow and the pros/cons of going into the tapeless world. Henninger moderated the event and supplied the speakers for panelists Sam Crawford and Sue O’Hora. The areas covered included the three main stages of production and some of the best ways to handle footage and data in a tapeless, and most importantly safe manner.

Pre-Production and Production Stages

As Sue pointed out,  one of the most important decisions to make during pre-production is how you are going to do the transfer after you’re done shooting and what type of environment you’ll be in. It’s always a good idea to equip you or your camera people with two drives and have them download the data to both so there is a safety net in case something happens to one of the drives. Some of the options include a next box which is known for its rugged durability, can handle multiple types of cards, shows previews and verification, and you can data dump after the shoot. Another option is a Mac program called ShotPut Pro that costs $99 and is capable of handling multiple codecs as well as downloading and verifying footage.

Post-Production and Media Formats

Sam Crawford then took over the conversation and discussed how he and Henninger handle things in the post-production area. One of the things he stressed was to make sure all your data is on a solid state system, not some thing like DVDs that need to be spinned up. Saving footage in solid state systems means they’re less likely to get destroyed and you’ll be able to archive in case you need that footage for later use. He also stressed that some of the key things to think about in the post production phase are media formats, editing software options, color correction, audio mix, final finishing and then the very last step, which is delivery.

What Editing System Will You be Using?

Obviously you need to be considerate of what media type you’re using, since the people you’re sending it to need to know in advance so they have something set up to handle it and can be prepared to deal with it. The next best thing is to be mindful of what type of NLE  (Non Linear Editing) system on which the footage will be edited. Since the client usually knows this information in advance, you should be able to prep the footage to best work with whatever editing system will be used in post production. Nothing is more frustrating than getting an angry call or email from a client saying what you sent them is completely incompatible with his or her systems.

Making Sure The Product is Delivered

The final, but most important, step is delivery and how you plan on getting the footage or finished product to your client. One of the most secure is to have a FTP or file transfer point that’s housed in a secure database. Word Wizards Inc. has had one for years and we can happily say it works very well and we’ve had very few issues with it. Since we get so many files for transcription, this is the easiest way to have them all in one central place. While we do sometimes get DVDs via delivery, that can be a little more worrisome since important footage is kind of just floating out there. Some other options include the popular Cloud-based dropbox and a more traditional file conveyance site, weTransfer.




Need a Little Help With that Documentary?

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While to many outsiders i.e. people not in the media or video production biz, making a documentary or any kind of media production may seem like fun, we video professionals know just how much hard grueling work is involved in even the most basic media. Not only are there a seemingly impossible number of steps you have to go through but obviously you want to make sure you’re doing it well. Working in a documentary rich community like the one here in the D.C. Metro area is enormously helpful because of the sheer number of professionals who strive to help each other out. Through each step of the process from conception and story boarding to filming, principle photography and finally editing, transcription and logging there is someone wanting to collaborate with you and make your work that much better. One of these people Adele Schmidt is definitely worth getting to know.

Adele Schimdt brings a decade and a half of valuable experience with her in that time has produced, edited and directed more than 6 long form award winning documentaries. Not only have these documentaries all been shown on National Public Television, they have also participated in over 50 national and international film festivals. So the fact Adele has become a well known documentary coach should surprise no one. She loves helping guide people through the process of making their film and is incredibly passionate about making sure new projects succeed.

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As a coaching consultant, Adele guides filmmakers in all stages of the documentary process. She works with them on research, helping them decide which talking heads and research to utilize. During the production and shooting process she loves to give them pointers and tips on how to create the best possible looking film. Finally during the editing phase, Adele helps filmmakers polish their work so that it absolutely shines. She is a firm believer in transcripts with time code and has referred Docs makers to Word Wizards, Inc. in the past. In addition to personal coaching, she also teaches a number of workshops and seminars during the year around the DC area.

In fact, she has an upcoming seminar on April 20th entitled “Finished My Documentary, What’s Next?” During the seminar Adele will present the first case study using her film Romantic Warriors – A Progressive Music Saga I and II. She will explain how the film has successfully self-financed itself via DVD by targeting social media campaigns and self distribution. Filmmakers will be able to learn the right techniques and methods in reaching the widest possible audience for their projects. To learn more about the seminar, check it out here: http://bit.ly/102sl76

To learn more about Adele and her consulting work, check out out some of these links:

 

 

 




No More DVD Rentals: Does Hollywood Encourage Piracy?

When was the last time you heard, or said, “Hey, lets go to the store an rent a movie?”

We all know that DVD rental stores seem to be heading the way of the dinosaur. A once vast international empire of video rental stores, like Blockbuster or the now bankrupt Hollywood Video, are now a rarity among communities in The United States. It seems that the convenience of online video streaming has changed the landscape of the film entertainment industry forever.

Another blockbuster store closing!

Convenience vs Content

Unfortunately, there are some serious drawbacks to online video rentals that have yet to be addressed. With traditional the rental system, you typically had 3 to 5 days to watch your movie. Now, if you choose to rent a movie for streaming online, you only get 24 hours to watch it and have to pay again if you don’t finish it in a day.

I remember when part of the experience of watching a DVD included special features, bonus tracks, secret menus with outtakes, and many other interactive features. Sadly, none of the DVD special features are available via any online video store. Don’t forget, if you have a slow internet connection, or if internet service is disrupted for some reason, your not going to be able to watch your video at all!

You can't watch the specil feautures online!

Possibly the biggest limitation of all is the content that’s available, or more importantly, not available, on these online streaming platforms as stated in this quote from an article by Scientific American, How Hollywood Is Encouraging Online Piracy.

“Yet, perhaps most important, there’s the availability problem. New movies aren’t available online until months after they are finished in the theaters, thanks to the “windowing” system—a long-established obligation that makes each movie available, say, first to hotels, then to pay-per-view systems, then to HBO and, only after that, to you for online rental.”

Online Piracy, Yo Ho!

There’s only one solution if you missed that new summer smash in the theater but its not available for online rental yet… Illegal video piracy! Yes, the despicable practice of watching movies for free on the internet illegally seems to be supported by the red tape imposed by Hollywood studio lawyers. The trend of online piracy has been rising ever since it became possible to “rip” DVD’s and put them on a website for everyone to enjoy as unpaid entertainment. The sad thing is that most people would choose to pay for these movies if they were given the opportunity, but because of all of the Hollywood legal so-and-so, people are forced into the seedy criminal activity of pirated media streaming.

Want it, Love it, Own it!

Either way, nothing will ever beat actually buying a DVD that you love. Remember, when you own a DVD you can watch the media and all the features as many times as you want, anytime you want. Online streaming, whether legal or illegal, means that if the website is down, your not watching, if your internet is out, fat chance, and if you want Blu-Ray quality, good luck getting your stream to play without interruption.