NAB 2017: What editors need to know after Avid Connect

NAB 2017: What editors need to know after Avid Connect

We’re all of four hours into and Avid have already announced new I/O hardware, VM options for Media Composer, and the welcome return of Script Sync and Phrase Find at their Avid Connect event. Here’s a quick roundup of their post offerings so far. 

DNxIQ

Let’s talk hardware first. DNxIQ is the successor to the Artist DNxIO, and delivers extensive format support for everything from SD to 4K. Avid’s intention is to make life easier for those of you who have found yourself delivering to more and more formats, having to take on new channels and devices without reducing support for older formats.

The DNxIQ has the same features and functions of the DNxIO, but has been upgraded to Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe Gen3 host connections, and adds support for Universal Mastering. It allows you to quickly and easily ingest, monitor, and output SD, HD, 2K, UHD, and 4K media and cross-convert formats and framerates on baseband output SDI, HDMI, and analog connections with Universal Mastering (as long as you have Media Composer | Symphony Option.)

Dana Ruzicka, chief product officer at Avid, explains that “Avid Artist | DNxIQ is built to handle any project that walks through the door – SD all the way to UHD, 4K and beyond. It features the most popular connection types encountered in a professional facility, and through its real-time Universal Mastering technology, it can easily deliver final masters for virtually any format and market.”

Blackmagic Design have had a hand in the design, resulting in a sleek, sturdy unit that is ompatible with any Avid Artist Suite solution and many third-party creative tools—including Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and more.

DNxIQ is available now. DNxIO will be discontinued on May 22nd or whenever Avid run out of stock, with support to continue until 2022.

Media Composer | First

Avid have announced that within the quarter they’ll be relaunching Media Composer | First, a free, entry-level version of the leading NLE.

With four video tracks, eight audio tracks, and a host of built-in visual effects, transitions, colour correction presets and titling templates, users can quickly cut together layers of video, dialogue, music and sound effects to produce captivating, professional-quality video content.

Media Composer | First also allows easy sharing, with one-click publishing to popular social media channels including YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook.

 

If you want to know more on the biggest and best NAB Show releases, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter‘Like’ us on Facebook or take a look at our roundup post.

What’s new in Media Composer 7?

What’s new in Media Composer 7?
Not content with saving us money by dropping the price, saving us time by upping the number of mind-numbing tasks that can be done in the background, improving our MAM and making it easier for us to work in hi-res, Avid have also tightened up Media Composer’s integration with Symphony, Interplay and Pro Tools. Here’s our round up of the key changes…

Automating the process of media management with Dynamic Media Folders
This new feature allows you to designate any folder on your machine as a Dynamic Media Folder and tell Media Composer to automatically copy, transcode or consolidate any files you drop into it. This accelerates and simplifies AMA tasks, as you can assign a profile to each folder to determine the format, resolution and destination of any files it works on. For example, you could drop 4K rushes into a folder, create HD DNx36 offline, transfer it to ISIS and start working with it immediately while the transcode happens in the background – you’ll receive a notification right on your timeline when the folder has finished its work. You can also automatically copy and relink to new media locations and check in to Interplay 3.0 without having to consolidate or transcode clips.

New codecs and improved AMA support
Avid’s quest to get you working with every format in Christendom continues in Media Composer 7, with AS-11 standard support and XAVC 2k/4k support both being added. The AMA workflow has been streamlined, too – linking media can now be taken care of in a single window, and you can drag and drop the clips you want to link to rather than generating new media. All your AMA media will now appear in the Media Tool panel so you can keep track of it, and you can relink, transcode or consolidate audio and video tracks separately. Any files with Alpha channels will retain them if they’re linked to (they appear as matte keys on your timeline).

Supporting AMWA standards for file-based delivery
Media Composer 7 sees Avid adding new tools to support project segmentation. They support the AS-11 delivery standard, and you can access your AS-11 file directly so that you can edit them without importing. Your segmentation will be displayed in the timeline, your metadata will show up in the right bin columns, and you’ll be able to export your AS-11 files in a single multi-essence OP1-A MXF file. There’s also AS-02 support for anyone looking to manage multi-version master files as a single bundle. You can create and manage the file essences of J2K, DNxHD, 1:1, AVC-I and IMX files, too.

Colour Space Conversion
1D and 3D LUT and CDL support is now built in throughout your Media Composer workflow, allowing you to manage, preserve, create and output colour metadata, convert colour spaces in real time, bulk modify clips, apply custom LUTs from other apps such as DaVinci Resolve and auto-convert clips to their proper colour space using their metadata. Your clips’ colour info will now appear right in the media bin, and taking a hint from the increasing popularity of node-based editing in other post apps, Avid are now letting you change the order in which multiple colour transforms are added to a clip.

Free edit stations from rendering with Avid’s new background transcode engine
As we mentioned earlier, you can now transcode, consolidate and copy clips in the background. Avid’s background transcode engine leverages not only your computer’s CPU but the power of any platforms you’re connected to (an Interplay Sphere environment for example) in order to process transcoding jobs with the least possible impact on your system performance. You can manage jobs simply using the new Process List, which allows you to cancel, pause and prioritise tasks, as well as monitor their progress.

Converting high res to HD with Frame Flex 
Frame Flex is a cunning new feature that enables easy pan and scanning of high res images so that you can cut an HD frame out of a 2K or 4K shot in order to deliver that media straight to HD. All you do is use a simple framing selection tool to choose the area of the clip you want to keep (you can check what it will look like in a source monitor UI). You shot is then cut down to size, and you can keyframe it, animate it using pans and zooms, use the same settings to bulk modify clips and then output them via Avid I/O or an Open I/O supported third party solution.

Improving your audio workflow
Last but not least, Avid have also given Media Composer’s audio workflow a boost. As the improved integration with Pro Tools and its new video engine suggests, the emphasis is on making audio for post workflows as seamless as possible and saving you valuable time. You can now cache audio waveforms and instantly redraw them on the timeline or at the source. The waveforms are stored at project data level and associated with a user, not a project, so you can have your own cache rather than working from a centrally stored one. You can also make gain adjustments on the timeline simply by clicking and dragging a clip’s gain, and there’s even an audio mixer UI that you can call up right on the timeline.

Symphony and Interplay
Media Composer will run on Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.8,  Windows 7  and Windows 8. If you have ongoing projects, don’t worry – you’ll now be able to roll back to the previous version of your software if you need to. If you opt for Media Composer 7 with Symphony option, you’ll get a 30 day free Symphony trial in-app, complete with Boris Continuum Complete, and if you decide to upgrade, all you need to do is enter the upgrade key Avid provide. Once you have your Symphony licence, you’re free to move it between systems, so your artists aren’t tied to one machine.

One thing you need to bear in mind is that Media Composer 7 comes in two versions – a standard version and an Interplay version. As the name suggests the Interplay edition is the only one that’s capable of integrating into a full Interplay environment, and as a result costs £380 extra (unless you’re an academic  – the standard price education version of MC7 is Interplay-capable. You also get some exclusive networked licensing options). However, you can upgrade from the standard to the Interplay edition for just £359 ex VAT, so if you’re thinking of moving to Interplay or are not sure how many of your users will require access to it, we’d recommend starting out with basic licences and then upgrading as many as you need when you’re ready to head over to Interplay.

You can buy Avid Media Composer 7 now on our site. If you’d like to know more, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook

Bringing video in house: The Jigsaw24 Guide

Bringing video in house: The Jigsaw24 Guide

Adding video content to your offering is a great way to win new business, up end user engagement and create a stronger brand identity for your clients – and thanks to Adobe, helping your existing design team get to grips with a new medium is far easier than you’d think. If you’re currently packing Master Collection (or have just picked a copy of Production Premium CS6), you already have all the tools you need to produce cracking content, all in a single, integrated workflow.

Here’s how we did it…

“When we decided to start producing videos in-house, we looked at all the major NLEs,'” explains Tom Cottle, our resident Multimedia Designer. “I’d used Final Cut before, but when I joined Jigsaw24, the rest of the design team already had Master Collection. When I started exploring the video tools that it included, it became obvious that when we were trying to hit tight deadlines, I’d really appreciate the dynamic link between Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects in Creative Suite, and the fact that it was cross-platform meant it would be easier to move projects between machines.”

As well as editing in Premiere Pro, Tom and the rest of the design team can ingest their footage in Prelude, add titles and graphics in Photoshop or After Effects, grade using SpeedGrade and output footage via Media Encoder or Encore, all without leaving Creative Suite. “It means we can divide up jobs if we’re in a hurry – someone can tweak a frame in Photoshop while I’m cutting another part of the project, and because Adobe software’s so common it’s easy to pick up the basic controls fast, especially now that you can do some video editing in Photoshop,” he says.

And CS6 looks to be the most user-friendly iteration yet. “The new UI has me excited,” says Tom. “I often find myself rearranging my panels in Premiere, and I can see CS6 will help avoid this – it’s been more thoroughly thought out, which’ll really help anyone new to video. I like the new larger thumbnail view mode for clips in the project panel, which makes it easier to find the specific clip you need by hovering the mouse over the thumbnail to scrub
through it quickly. Plus with the new Global Performance Cache, everything’s so much faster, which we always need.”

Handheld footage looking blurry?

Not to worry. Premiere Pro and After Effects CS6 include Warp Stabiliser, a neat little tool that lets you stabilise your shots during editing. If you’re shooting video on an older DSLR, you might find that some shots have a strange ‘jello-like’ blur to them because the rolling shutter can’t handle video. This used to be a big problem, but thankfully Adobe have added Rolling Shutter Repair to Premiere Pro CS6. This lets you lose the blur without auto-stabilising the shot, so you can get that naturalistic, handheld look without looking like your footage has been slimed.

Want to add 3D graphics to your promos?

Easy-peasy. After Effects isn’t a full-on 3D modeller like CINEMA 4D or 3ds Max (though it does have built-in integration with them), but the latest version still makes it simple to add 3D text and graphics to your footage. There’s a new, more powerful 3D tracker that lets you identify spaces in your footage where 3D elements will work, then drop in extruded text or objects you’ve created in After Effects or Photoshop CS6 Extended.

Want to work more naturally with 3D images?

We’re big fans of Wacom’s Cintiq 24HD, a giant monitor-cum-tablet that lets you get close to your work comfortably (you can reposition it like an old school drafting table) and, with customisable controls, can be made to suit any programme or workflow. A lot of design and 3D software is optimised for pen tablets, and the Cintiq combines those pen controls with a huge, hi-res workspace that’s exactly what you need if you’re doing detailed 3D or illustration work. You can even set up different configurations of controls for different apps, and the Cintiq will automatically switch them when you move between programs, so you’ve always got your most-used tools right at your fingertips.

For those who don’t have a spare grand and a half, try the slightly more modest Intuos5, which combines a pen tablet and touchpad so you can work more fluidly than you’d be able to using a keyboard and mouse.

Don’t want to wait for renders?

To make the most of After Effects CS6’s ridiculous speeds, you’ll need a workstation with a powerful GPU. NVIDIA’s CUDA-enabled and widely- qualified Quadro range are a safe bet, with the Quadro 4000 being a staple of our M&E solutions.

For maximum efficiency, you can combine a Quadro with a Tesla card to make what NVIDIA call a ‘Maximus’ configuration – one card handles all the mundane graphics tasks, like refreshing your screen, while the other powers through renders or focuses on playing back video so you never experience
any lag. We can build you a custom setup like this mammoth, Maximus-ready workstation (it’s got a 500GB hard drive, an AJA Kona LHe Plus video card for handling your footage and two terabytes of memory), and will even pre-install and configure all the necessary software and drivers. We like to feel useful.

Want to go further than three-way colour correction?

SpeedGrade CS6 is a great place to start, with a vast library of presets and histogram and waveform displays that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s colour-corrected stills before. Powering the whole shebang is the IRIDAS Lumetri Deep Colour Engine, which allows you to apply all changes with 32-bit floating point accuracy, even if you’re working with mammoth RAW or HDR files (translation: it’s super-accurate, even when faced with multiple layers of effects, and it’s not going to freeze on you every five minutes.

Want your audio to be as polished as your footage?

Adobe’s Audition audio editing software is now packing a host of tools that anyone working on sound would previously have had to purchase a separate, dedicated digital audio workstation for, making it a great contender for producing podcasts and adding quality audio to your videos. You can align and replace your shonky location dialogue with your polished studio recordings, and the Rubbadub feature lets you fix any lip syncing issues in a fraction of the time it’d take to do by eye. You can also stretch your clips nondestructively in realtime, preview changes and settings, and a new varispeed mode adjusts speed and pitch together automatically.

Need to offer clients footage quickly?

Once you’ve got your footage, you’re going to need to distribute it. Encore lets you deliver to Blu-ray so you can hand clients a hard copy, while Media Encoder handles digital delivery. However, you’ll need a bit of help from Matrox, whose MXO2 Max and CompressHD cards let you accelerate transcoding to H.264 (the format you’ll need your footage in if you want to send it straight to the web) by up to five times.

To find out more about adding video to your design and publishing offering with Adobe Creative Suite 6 get in touch. Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. To keep up with all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

Adobe, Avid and Xsan

Adobe, Avid and Xsan

If you’re a former Final Cut devotee thinking of making the move to Media Composer or Premiere Pro, the prospect of giving up your Xsan and losing all that lovely shared storage might seem a bit daunting. However, all is not lost: there are some surprisingly simple ways to work around this, and keep the functionality of your Xsan intact.

The surprisingly simple bit

Premiere Pro works with Xsan. No, really. Granted, you may have to make some tweaks to your workflow – some users find it works better if you ensure that your project lives on the SAN, with your working media caches being set to ‘same as project’ so that you can carry the same preferences between workstations and editors, but generally speaking, you can keep your Xsan setup as is, especially if you’re using Premiere Pro on Macs, too.

The Avid option

Sadly, working things out with Media Composer is less easy. If you’re feeling flush, one option is to rip out your Xsan and replace it with one of the Avid equivalents – ISIS 5000 will stand in just fine for a standard SAN setup, or you can upgrade to Unity MediaNetwork hardware if you need truly simultaneous sharing of assets between users and platforms. There are plenty of advantages to moving to ISIS or Unity – the combination of AVID hardware and software should ensure reliability and they’re both certified by AVID, so you can be sure of a certain level of support.

The third way…

However, there is another way. Earlier this year, Tiger Technology and FilmPartners teamed up to offer a new, universal SAN management system for FCP, Premiere Pro and Media Composer.

MXFServer has been around for a while as a project management tool. It lets you store metadata and media in universal MXF containers that are then accessed through different ‘abstraction layers’ based on which editing application you’re using. This allows multiple users to access footage in QuickTime or any native MXF file format instantly, and use MXFServer’s bin-locking options to work collaboratively or individually on the project without needing to transcode anything.

Tiger Technology have now made everything that bit easier by developing an API that will allow MXFServer to interact directly with metaSAN. The result is a flexible system that allows for high speed, scalable shared storage to be managed effectively, with metaSAN handing the fine detail at file level while MXFServer takes care of your edit-in-place demands.

The flexibility of this system is fantastic, and makes it a great choice for anyone who needs to collaborate with third parties who may use different system, but it’s not certified by Avid or Adobe.

Wondering which is right for you? Give our consultants a call on 03332 409 306, email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or head over to Jigsaw24.com to see our full broadcast range.

New Perspectives On FCP X

New Perspectives On FCP X

Since the Sneak Peek, I’ve read and watched all sorts of commentary and speculation about the newly designed FCPX interface. I’ve also indulged in both the Larry Jordan and Philip Hodgetts’ webinars to hear their ideas about what we’re looking forward to because, as the saying goes, God is in the details (or the devil if you prefer the dark side).

As I’ve traversed these discussions, one of the features that appears to have polarised opinion is Filmstrip View in the Event Library. I understand Larry, for one, is reserving judgement because he doesn’t think it is an effective way to display a large amount of clips. My immediate thought about that is, no matter how large the project becomes, I don’t actually want to see all of my footage at once when I’m editing. That can quickly become overwhelming. What I need is a way to narrow down the content, to sift through my footage, so that I only see whatever’s appropriate for the section I’m working on and the handful of clips I can choose from now. That’s how I’ve been working with Final Cut Server, and the new tools in Final Cut Pro X seem to extend this concept further.

iMovie X?

Of course for a lot of people the immediate point of reference for the Event Library is iMovie, which includes dynamic filmstrips and skimming processes similar to those demonstrated in FCPX. I think that can nudge people towards feeling it lacks the gravitas required of a serious NLE. While I see that connection too, there’s something else or, more specifically, someone else that comes to mind.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Walter Murch speak on a few occasions and the honour of attending a special Master Class he taught a few years ago in Vancouver. You might argue that his approach is particularly idiosyncratic (whose methods aren’t when judged from the outside?), but I think we must all agree that his contributions to contemporary cinema are profound and there’s no-one more insightful, illuminating or provocative on the subject of editing films today.

Picture boards

You’ve probably already seen documentation of the ‘picture boards’ Walter has mounted around his cutting room. Essentially they consist of vast collections of frames from the film he’s working on. Each image on the boards is intended to represent a significant aspect of the shot it’s taken from. The idea is that the boards facilitate a change in the editor’s viewpoint. From the vantage point afforded by this shift in perspective, the editor has the chance to make different casual connections or observe unexpected patterns in the footage.

In his 2004 book ‘Behind the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain with Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema’, Charles Koppelman describes the philosophy behind the picture boards in some detail:

“Ironically, the more techno-centric film editing gets, the more powerful Murch’s custom-made innovations become. The organic qualities of the scene cards and photo boards compensate for perspectives that are hidden in the digital world. The efficiency, speed and increased choices of non-linear editing all have their benefits. But systems like Avid or Final Cut Pro obliterate some film editing tasks that contribute to the editor’s creative process. As Murch often points out, the simple act of having to rewind film on a flatbed editing machine gave him the chance to see footage in another context (high-speed, reverse) that could reveal a look, a gesture, or a completely forgotten shot. Likewise, the few moments he had to spend waiting for a reel to rewind injected a blank space into the process during which he could simply let his mind wander into subconscious areas. With random-access, computer-based editing, a mouse click instantly takes the editor right to a desired frame; there is no waiting, no downtime and fewer happy accidents. The photo boards are one way to compensate for this.”

The Verdict

The serious editors among you might baulk at an idea as fluffy or new-age-sounding as “happy accidents” but, when I’m feeling stuck, anything that will help me break through the block is a godsend. What I like about the picture boards – and I like them very much – is that they’re about changing how we view and understand the material we work with. They’re designed to spark our imagination, shift our perspective and, in doing so, inspire new ideas.

As demonstrated at the SuperMeet, the Event Library, through a multitude of features is intended to accelerate the editing process and provide that instant access to which Murch and Koppelman refer. While Filmstrips are clearly part of that re-imagined workflow, I also think that we’ll be able to use them to stimulate our creative process.

Read Jonathan’s original article at postpost.tv.

Want more FCP advice? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. In the meantime, head over to Jigsaw24.com to see our full video range.

Virtual moviemaking

Virtual moviemaking

Pre-Vis workflow Between Maya and NLE Applications

Maya 2011 introduces a large number of new features. Among those are tools for camera sequencing. These tools are designed to help you to sync an EDL (Edit Decision List) from NLEs such as Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer directly with your Maya scene. This workflow can help you to follow a storyboard created in one of these NLEs all without switching out of Maya.

Final Cut Pro is the de facto standard for digital storyboarding, the process of roughing out a story layout and camera shots using conceptual art and draft assets. In the past artists would either have had to have this project open in their NLE or re-create the storyboard on their Maya timeline for reference when creating the CG elements of the story.

Import storyboards

Maya can now import storyboard data in XML or Avid AAF formats directly to the Maya timeline. XML is supported by Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro CS5 so along with AAF means storyboards created in Apple, Adobe and Avid software can be imported.

When importing these files Maya will interpret the storyboard information and depending on exactly what information is there can create a Maya camera linked to each shot, add each shot to Maya’s timeline and even set up an image plane on each camera containing the conceptual artwork.

Lay out scenes easily

Having all of this information inside Maya will help CG artists to quickly and easily lay out their CG scenes to match the director’s creative vision. Finally Maya can re-export and EDL using updated shot information and draft CG images for review.

These features really streamline the workflow for anyone doing digital storyboarding and help artists and directors to achieve their creative vision more efficiently.

For more technical information on implementing this or other workflows, feel free to get in contact with our technical team on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full broadcast range. To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.