07 August 2012

Undone Trailer #1

Check out the trailer for Paul Docherty & Ron Moreno's web film series "Undone," now online!

Fixing A little “Got-cha!” in the LightWorks to Premiere Finishing Workflow

On a recent music video I experimented with taking a project out of LightWorks and into Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5 for finishing and conform.   The project was only scheduled for 14 hours of total production (yes, that’s right, 14 hours to shoot, edit and deliver!) so Premiere’s native integration with After Effects, Photoshop and Audition were extremely attractive for our schedule.
The process is outlined in a previous blog post and in retrospect was amazing successful.  In fact, due to it’s success we’re currently working on a LightWorks to FCP workflow for people who wish to use Motion, Color and Sound Track Pro.
I’m currently cutting a feature documentary in EditShare’s latest Pro version of LightWorks, and we’re very interested in revisiting this workflow for finishing.  We were running some tests yesterday and noticed a interesting little bug in the workflow we hadn’t noticed before. 
After a successful import of the AAF sequence into Premiere, the media relinking kept returning an error for files we knew matched.  It didn’t seem to be an issue with the AAF, as some of the media seemed to relink just fine. 
We found our answer inside our LightWorks edit.  When trimming in LWKS you can extend a clip beyond it’s content region.  LWKS treats this as slug or filler, but we found when exporting the AAF that the extra filler space is treated as an extension of the clip.  When you try to relink to media files Premiere will reject the linking - believing that the empty clip and media you have selected do not match due to the fact the clip is longer than the media file.
Solution: I had to manually go through my LightWorks Edit and remove all the extraneous trims.  After making sure I hadn’t left any sloppy trims in the edit, we exported the AAF again, and all the media easily relinked in Premiere.
Is anyone out there interested in an FCP7 version of this finishing workflow? We’re considering it right now, as FCP7 is still one of the best ways to manage HDSLR footage.

Questions, comments, war stories?

11 July 2012



As an editor, I love cutting in LightWorks; it’s the fastest, most distraction-free editing environment I’ve come across*.  I want to be able to focus on story and content and know that when I’m done, I can easily hand off my edit for finishing without having to worry about platform.  Adobe Premiere has proven itself very flexible in format support; so it seemed like a natural gateway to the other Adobe tools.
            When starting this project, we knew we were going to use After Effects to embellish or augment a number of shots (43 to be precise).  Premiere integrates really well with After Effects and Photoshop; and the real-time composition sharing really appealed to me.  Since “Hung My Halo” is a small music video project (only around 32 minutes of footage), I thought it would be a good test-run into how CS5.5 could practically be used in a workflow for a larger film.


The video was filmed on the Canon 7D.  I embedded reel and timecode metadata using a fantastic piece of software called QT Change.
Next, I used Adobe Bridge to rename the clips, as the automation tool is frankly amazing (Though I do wish the application would also modify the names of the THM files).  My approach to renaming these files was by reel and clip number.  This is consistently the easiest method on the media management side.  I typically work with syncs and ghost (aka subclips) in LWKS that get renamed.
Next we imported the footage into LWKS using the transcode method, with DVCProHD as our target resolution.  Inside the edit we made good use of the Sync-Bins, being able to freely add clips to a bin when we found sync in the b-roll was a huge time saver.


We fist tried exporting an EDL from LightWorks as a method of getting footage into Premiere.  This caused a number of issues – the largest being that Premiere groups EDL shots together and seemed to only want to relink via tape-capture. 
Our second route was, and admittedly what we should have tried first, was exporting an AAF out of LightWorks.  LWKS automatically traces the edit (meaning that it removes all subclip and sync names and creates an edit that references the name of the original media file), and this opens perfectly in Premiere. 
This is where we hit a bit of a issue.  The exported AAF attempts to reference the original “cookie” materials generated by the LWKS transcode.  When attempting to relink to those QuickTime files, Premiere crashed or would report that the connections could not be made.
We were able to get the files to connect manually by pointing to the original H.264 files, but this process was tedious and made working with effects sluggish.  I’m not sure if this Relink issue was a problem of compatibility of the media produced by LightWorks or issues in Premiere’s ability to relink files.  In a more perfect world, had we had more time in our schedule, I would have transcoded the H.264 to a better format. 

NOTE: I did in fact, attempt to transcode the files using Adobe Media Encoder, and MPEG Streamclip.  AME produced clips with wildly incorrect timecode while MPEG Streamclip produced clips with no metadata at all.  We didn’t have time to properly work out a solution to this problem so we went ahead with the H.264 files.

For what it’s worth, I was seriously impressed at the speed with which both Premiere and After Effects handled the H.264 files.  Using CS5.5 did end up saving a huge amount of time organizing the effects shots.  I was able to quickly create an After Effects composition, do the required work and show it to my partner. 
The color correction tools natively found in Premiere are not great.  For this project a majority of the color correction was about applying a specific LUT and basic shot-to-shot correction.  I was able to get by using Red Giant Colorista Free and LUT Buddy.  I find the color correction tools in LightWorks much more powerful and more aptly designed for this sort of work.  That being said, I know there is a lot of buzz around the fact that Adobe has included Speed Grade in CS6.  I’m excited to try this workflow again with the more advanced grading tools.
The final export was smooth, as Media Encoder was able to quickly create master copies and a handful of internet formats we needed.


There is a future in this sort of workflow, and it’s important that LWKS is able to integrate well with tools like Adobe CS.  Since Premiere is already so tightly integrated into all the important parts of CS, it seems the logical focus should be on improving the way LWKS can exchange edits with Premiere.   
I would like to be able to understand the issue with Premiere’s inability to reconnect to media that was created by LWKS.  In this situation (where we are cutting at online quality) it could have saved a couple of hours of work dealing with manual relinking issues.  Another option might be to have an option in the LWKS AAF export to have an option to “relink to media with same file name as clip.”  
            I’m not sure if I would use this exact workflow for future long form projects.  I will most likely return to a more traditional way of working between LWKS and AFX, at least until there is a more direct solution for the relinking issue.  That being said, I will certainly be keeping an eye on future possibilities, and look forward to tinkering with new ways to streamline an open workflow.

* I want to point out that I am not on the payroll of Edit Share and receive no compensation from them in any way.

09 July 2012

It's Been A Long Time.

What can I say, we all get busy?

So much has happened since the last posting of ... wow, too many years ago.  I can't even begin to cover everything, so I will attempt to exercise the art of brevity. 

LightWorks is free.  Yes.  It's true.  LightWorks (my NLE of choice*) has officially come out of the beta phase and is being offered as both a free light edition and a $60/year Pro license.  I have been involved with the Beta for almost two years and in my opinion the folks over at EditShare have done a brilliant job at creating a very user-friendly, lightening-fast and modern NLE.  There will be many more blog posts about LWKS as I am in the process of writing a book for current Avid and FCP editors on switching to LightWorks, so keep an eye out!

FCP-X happened.  So much has been said that I honestly have nothing new to add to this arena.  I have edited one commercial on it.  I tested a recent version (10.0.4) of software for editing an upcoming documentary that I’ll be butting (a week’s worth of fiddling) and have come to some conclusions.  At the risk of being brow-beaten by my post-productions peers, I will say there is a lot to like about this software.  It’s different, VERY different. 
FCPX finally handles media well!  The copying & optimized/proxy transcoding is a dream.  It finally works the way it should have forever ago.  I’m still very confused about a number of points in the media-management end of this software, and the interface makes very little sense to me, but I see a future for this software in reality TV.
I know, I know, there’s a lot “missing.”  OMF support, export for grading, poor match-frame support, confusion trackless editing, not telling you when you lose sync, etc., etc..
            Think about it. When it comes to most TV production (at least here on the east cost) care about three things: 1) don’t lose anything 2) make it as easy as possible for the producer to pre-cut   3) finishing it faster, better, cheaper
            Reality TV is almost always already organized by date, not scenes, thus the Events concept works perfectly. Face-ID reduces the amount of time assistants / editors “waste” having to go looking for additional cut-away shots.  The current Shared storage solution solves the old FCP issues of sharing media and clips.  Making the interface more “pro-sumer” or “i-movie” like now takes down a barrier to producers.

AVID 6 – Used on a couple of jobs.  The application feels more akin to FCP7, less like the Avid I’m most familiar with (3.5.4!); otherwise, not so bad.  Didn’t experience any major issues aside from the mental leap to some of the newer features.

The Digital Bolex – Us film school graduating-filmphiles love the Bolex.  Now, some very smart and passionate folks have teamed up with the Bolex company to create a 2K RAW camera for under $4,000!  Still waiting to see some official footage release, but I am personally very excited.  Cameras come out in September. 

Black Magic Design – Also has a professional super-16mm RAW camera available in July.  The camera sounds great, but my reservation comes from the CMOS chip, form factor and touch screen monitor.  Cameras out in July 2012.

OKAY.  So maybe I failed at the targeted brevity.  I am very excited to get this blog back up and running!


A reflection on my most recent editing project: a dance-infused country music video.  The project was shot on a Canon 7D, edited in Edit Share LightWorks with the conform/color and DVD production done in Adobe Creative Suite 5.5.  I’m going to focus on the aspects of moving an edit out of LWKS and why we decided to move into Adobe CS for finishing.