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  • Media workflow for multicam reality TV

  • Ryan Dundas

    March 22, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    I am an assistant editor for a small production company that is finally making the switch from Final Cut Pro 7 to Avid Media Composer. I have some Avid experience, but it has been a few years so I’m rusty. We are using an old version of Avid. I think it is version 7.0. We are about to start shooting our first project for Avid next week. We are shooting with 3 cameras and audio from a 788t recorder. So I will be syncing and making multigroups with all the footage.

    So if I am working with footage files that are ProRes 422 at 24p, should I simply AMA link them into my bin and use those clips for the entire post process? I can’t find anything about using AMA linked media for creating and editing with multigroup clips.

    Or am I better off transcoding all of my footage to Avid media files? Are there any pros/cons when editing multigroups made from AMA linked ProRes media compared to transcoding everything?

    I would like to eliminate the transcoding process to save time if possible. Another option we are considering is recording in DNxHD or DNxHR on our Atomos recorders to eliminate transcoding, but I think this requires us to purchase a code to unlock the codec. I’m trying to decide if it is worth paying for the upgrade if we can just continue to shoot in ProRes 422 and AMA link the media into media composer.

    We will also be shooting b-roll with some gopros and a Sony A7s on a Ronin. These files will have to be imported into Avid and transcoded. So if I do AMA Link the ProRes 422 files from my main cameras, will I have problems mixing that media in a sequence with the transcoded clips from my other cameras?

    Also I still need to research the workflow for getting the XAVC S files from the A7s into media composer. And how to copy a project and all associated media from our server to an external drive, because some editors want to work from home. So any tips on any of that stuff are greatly appreciated!

  • Shane Ross

    March 23, 2017 at 2:51 am

    First off, you’ll need to build a sync map and then multigroup the footage. Here’s a tutorial on that. It requires QuickKeys…an application that helps automate the process.

    https://willblanksblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/how-to-multigroup_15.html

    [Ryan Dundas] “So if I am working with footage files that are ProRes 422 at 24p, should I simply AMA link them into my bin and use those clips for the entire post process?”

    Best not to. You will be multiclipping 3 cameras…and a reality show that shoots A LOT of footage. That will require not only a LOT of server space, but a very FAST space if you want to play back all the angles at once…on multiple computers. You’ll need to utilize the offline/online workflow…transcode to 14:1 or DV or DNx36. As for AMA, it’s best not to edit AMA linked footage anyway, unless it is a very small project. Best to transcode (or consolidate at least to MXF…Avid supports ProRes) and have Avid media for speed of editing.

    Oh, and if you plan on having multiple editors on this, you’ll need storage that allows for project sharing…AVID ISIS, Nexis, Facillis Terrablock.

    [Ryan Dundas] “I can’t find anything about using AMA linked media for creating and editing with multigroup clips.

    There’s a reason. Don’t do it.

    [Ryan Dundas] “Or am I better off transcoding all of my footage to Avid media files? “

    Yes…absolutely. Better tracking, faster editing. Especially if you offline/online edit. Editing full res, Multicam, will SLOG the system.

    [Ryan Dundas] “Are there any pros/cons when editing multigroups made from AMA linked ProRes media compared to transcoding everything?”

    I listed them.

    [Ryan Dundas] “I would like to eliminate the transcoding process to save time if possible.”

    Sorry, you really can’t do that when it comes to editing reality shows with multiple cameras. Transcoding to offline resolution media will reduce the headaches of editing full res media, by a lot.

    [Ryan Dundas] “Another option we are considering is recording in DNxHD or DNxHR on our Atomos recorders to eliminate transcoding, but I think this requires us to purchase a code to unlock the codec”

    Do you really expect to have that large of a server….to support files that large? Quick Math…DNxHD 145 is 65.4 GB per HOUR. Multiply that by 3 cameras and then the amount of hours you shoot in a day…it goes, FAST.

    [Ryan Dundas] “We will also be shooting b-roll with some gopros and a Sony A7s on a Ronin. These files will have to be imported into Avid and transcoded.”

    Convert that footage to ProRes or DNxHD first…and make THOSE your masters that you AMA link to and transcode. Trying to relink/match back to those files in an online will be majorly problematic. GoPro doesn’t have timecode, nor real unique file names. and the A7s shoots a format not compatible with Avid…it can’t import them. Gotta convert first.

    [Ryan Dundas] ” So if I do AMA Link the ProRes 422 files from my main cameras, will I have problems mixing that media in a sequence with the transcoded clips from my other cameras?”

    Not if everything is proRes.

    Here’s what we do on a History Channel reality show. Shoot Canon C300…and GoPro. Convert ALL of that footage to DNxHD 175. We do this with a massive machine…a 32 core beast with gobs of RAM and Graphics cards, and utilizing Content Agent to do the conversions (This is a $50,000 machine, and the software is more). It will make the master DNxHD files AND the offine resolution 14:1 at the same time. We LTO the camera masters…put the high res DNxHD on massive 64TB drives, and edit with the 14:1 on our ISIS. And then the editors build out sync maps of the day and then use QuickKeys to make the multigroups.

    Mind you, we shoot a LOT of footage a day. 2-9 cameras. We edit with the 14:1, and when done, relink to the DNx175. Mind you, we have a decent budget, but for any reality show, you will need to convert the footage and do an offline/online workflow. Trying to edit full res will bring on headaches.

    [Ryan Dundas] “And how to copy a project and all associated media from our server to an external drive, because some editors want to work from home.”

    They’d better have enough storage to store ALL of the media (another reason to work 14:1). Because just locating the media for that episode only will be challenging, to say the least. Avid puts ALL media into the MXF folder, and then numbered folders. And if you are on an ISIS…there are subfolders based on the computer you are using. This isn’t FCP where you can just organize the media on the Finder level and FCP just points to it. Avid has it’s own way of organizing, and that’s what makes it amazingly great at tracking footage. You may want to discourage this “edit from home” on a reality show…unless they can have a copy of ALL the media.

    I also suggest hiring another AE with experience with Avid and reality shows. Going into this without any knowledge an experience isn’t something I recommend. I edit this stuff, but if I had to become an assistant for the same show? I’d be lost…

    Shane
    Little Frog Post
    Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

  • Bob Zelin

    March 23, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    shane writes –
    Oh, and if you plan on having multiple editors on this, you’ll need storage that allows for project sharing…AVID ISIS, Nexis, Facillis Terrablock.

    reply –
    Hi Shane !
    I have been contracted to build a budget shared storage system for this project. I will not be using AVID ISIS, Nexis, or
    Facilis Terrablock. I will be using a small QNAP NAS box with 10G connection from the QNAP to the switch, and
    all client computers will be running AVID Media Composer with Indiestor Mimiq, which fools the QNAP (or any shared storage) to think that it is hooked up to an AVID ISIS. There will be 6 Media Composer stations, all on Mac Pro towers (pre 2013).

    I have already done this successfully for Cannonball Productions in Los Angeles, and it works great. The days of being reliant on expensive shared storage systems are over.

    Bob Zelin

    Bob Zelin
    Rescue 1, Inc.
    bobzelin@icloud.com

  • Ryan Dundas

    March 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Shane thanks for the awesome response. It helped me out a lot!

    We decided to ditch ProRes and shoot in DNxHD 145 with our Atomos recorders. So I will AMA link those files then consolidate them to MXF on our server. For the GoPro and A7s I will do as you suggested and transcode to DNxHD first. I will keep just the consolidated media on our server and backup the master DNxHD quicktime files to a different raid.

    Thanks to Bob Z we are able to use our 42TB thunderbolt QNAP raid for shared storage on Avid. So that should provide enough space for the consolidated avid media for this project. We are making 3 different 30 minute segments about different food events. Each episode will only shoot for one day so we won’t have a ton of footage. We will have at most 4 people at the office editing at once.

    It is sort of a disaster right now because we have been working with Final Cut Pro here for years, and the boss just decided he wants to switch to avid for this project. Nobody is happy about it. Most of us are pushing to switch to Premiere Pro instead, but they already have money invested in avid licenses.

    Luckily most of our editors and myself have worked on Avid in the past. I was an AE for one season of a big budget reality show that used media composer almost 2 years ago. I didn’t create the workflow for that show, but I did most of the syncing and multigrouping. I used that same blog that you shared to teach myself the process so I have that down. Never tried quick keys, I do it all manually. It’s fairly similar to how I do it in Final Cut.

    For that show we were able to edit online without issues. I’m going to make some test multigroups with 3 cameras and see how our system handles it then decide if we should work offline.

    And about the editors working from home, is there a way to select all of the media in a project with the Media Tool then tell Avid to copy it all to another drive? We have 4 TB thunderbolt g-drives that should be able to hold all the media files for one episode. If so just need to figure out how to copy the project to the drive and reconnect the media.

  • Shane Ross

    March 23, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Bob! This is great news…I didn’t know there was this option. nice to know. So when people ask “How can I do this without ISIS or NEXIS?” I’ll say “Contact Bob!”

    Thanks

    Shane
    Little Frog Post
    Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

  • Shane Ross

    March 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    [Ryan Dundas] “And about the editors working from home, is there a way to select all of the media in a project with the Media Tool then tell Avid to copy it all to another drive? “

    If the media was ingested USING that project, then it’s associated with that project…so you can then search for all media associated with that particular project, and copy. OR…you can open all the bins of media and copy that way.

    Good job getting Bob Z on your team for this!

    Shane
    Little Frog Post
    Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

  • Lena Gregorian

    March 27, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Hello all,

    Thanks for this helpful post.
    Shane, just to make sure, first I transcode (for Offline) and than do multigroups/grouping and than make it Online?

    Thanks,
    L.

  • Shane Ross

    March 27, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    [Lena Gregorian] “Shane, just to make sure, first I transcode (for Offline) and than do multigroups/grouping and than make it Online?”

    Transcode first. If it’s a highly complex format, then transcode to full res, and then offline res. AVCHD and other H.264 formats tend to be complex. But test test test. But yes, transcode to offline…group. THEN EDIT. Lock picture. THEN relink to online. Going back to full res or high res is one of the final steps.

    Shane
    Little Frog Post
    Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

  • Lena Gregorian

    March 28, 2017 at 6:39 am

    I find myself in a similar situation, where we shoot very high quality media with 4-5 cameras, on a studio.
    But instead of usual video files, I have MXF on my hard disk (I expected high quality of DNx files). It’s been a while since my last project as AE, and after having the files at Avid MediaFile/MXF/1 (on the folder I’ve created by after importing demo file), the MXF won’t show in my project.
    Now I see that when importing a demo file into avid it created a folder “Creating” and I wonder if this one and the other files: msmFMID.prm and msmMMOB.mdb are necessary for this, as my HD did not include any of this, and only MXF’s.

    Thanks again,
    Lena.

  • Lena Gregorian

    March 28, 2017 at 6:56 am
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