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Old December 30th, 2001, 10:50 AM   #1
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XL1 and time code - how are you dealing with it?

[I posted this on the XL-1 Watchdog board but I'm re-posting it here since I'm not sure where the topic has a better fit. Chris, feel free to delete one of the posts and move.]

The time code the XL1 produces is fine if we're just editing from one camera original - the time code begins at 00.00.00.00 and proceeds to, say, 01.00.00.00 if we're using a 60 minute tape. But since there's no way to set the time code how are you dealing with conforming from a number of reels, all of which have the same time code (same hour)?

I've been dealing with it simply by bumping the DV to Beta with SMPTE code and then digitizing. When all I have to deal is a few scenes I just go directly from the DV via FireWire - the code here is not critical. But now I need to offline and then conform DV material from more than 20 reels. I really don't want to bump everything to Beta just to get SMPTE code. I rather go directly from DV to AVID or Final Cut.

Have any of you been faced with this issue. How have you resolved it? Any sugestions will be appraciated.
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Old December 30th, 2001, 06:02 PM   #2
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Hi,

I don't know if this will be much help to you... but at least it's how I have been dealing with the duplicate TC problem.

I use Final Cut Pro, and I'm not familiar with how other editing programs are in terms of how they log and digitize. Final Cut Pro has a place where you enter the name of the tape when you log it. So, when you batch, FCP asks you if you have inserted tape the "so and so" bevor it starts digitizing. This doesn't prevent FCP from (inadvertently) batching the wrong material if you don't insert the tape it asked for, but at least you have a good chance of keeping the tapes sorted based on their names.

When I have a lot of tapes to batch, I stack them by date. A quick look at the tape data code usually makes up for bad labeling. The earliest tape gets to be "01" and so on. It's good to make a clearly visible number on the edge label of the tape or the tape box. The sorting of tapes into a chronology is also a good idea because when you batch, assuming you know the material, you will have a better chance of catching mistakes, (mistakenly inserted or forgottenly not ejected tapes) based on the continuity of their conten.

Basically, non-discrete time code is not the end of the world. You should see it as more like a luxury. Without it, you'll just have to be more orderly with how you prepare your material for logging and capturing.

Best of luck,
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Old December 30th, 2001, 08:56 PM   #3
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What you describe is much the way most systems work except that if there are several shots from the same reel that are not contiguous the system will still search for all the shots with the same reel number and digitize them in one pass before it asks you for the next reel.

If I understand you correctly FCP asks you for the reel number with every edit regardless if it's the same reel?

By the way - how do you like working with FCP? We work with Avids (Media Composer 8000, 1000 and Xpress) and many editors we hire have problems with FCP claiming it has many shortcomings compared to AVID. They are steering us away from even considering FCP. I see Avid is coming out with a direct competitor to FCP - competitively priced and designed for the Mac. I guess FCP is giving Avid a run for its money.
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Old December 31st, 2001, 06:36 AM   #4
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Hi,

I'm not sure I understand what you mean about "several shots from the same reel that are not contiguous". That shouldn't be a problem as long as there are no TC breaks in the one tape (reel number). You have a real problem if your TC zeros between takes. The only solution for that is to dub the tape onto a fresh tape, or to digitize direct. If you have duplicate timecodes in one tape then you can not batch digitize. But that is true for Avid as well.

I worked for a long time with the Avid Media 2000 before I decided to invest in my own equipment. I don't know what kinds of problems editors are having with FCP. It is slower than an Avid, up till now it hasn't had real-time video effects, except with additional hardware, (FCP3 has probably ended that).

FCP is not as "good" as an Avid in a lot of ways. But I am very satisfied with it. I have been working so much FCP that at the moment I would prefer to edit on it, rather than on an Avid. But that has mostly to do with familiarity. I haven't sat at an Avid for a long time. You also have to take into account that I am a shooting editor, that means I am not a full blooded cutter who has to live and breath the machine they are editing on. I am more sensitive to problems with camera systems than I am editing systems, and I have gotten used to the workaround world of DV. I find FCP fits well into that workaround world, it's not perfect but it works better than it should.

FCP's cost / affectivity, has caused Avid a lot of headache.

In the end it really depends on what kind of projects you are working on. If time is a major factor, and/or you are working with clients that are sitting in the editing room, then there is no way around using an Avid or similar editing system. If you want to experiment, do shorts, independent projects or the like, and you don't have a lot of budget money, then I can only highly recommend FCP.
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Old December 31st, 2001, 11:48 AM   #5
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>>I'm not sure I understand what you mean about "several shots from the same reel that are not contiguous".<<

I'm assuming you're off-lining at low resolution to save on drive space and then on-lining (or re-digitizing at hires). If so, here's what I mean.

For example -- let's say you've shot a dialog scene between characters John and Mary the standard way - a two shot of the couple; a single of John; a reverse single of Mary. You made several takes of each shot and now you are batch assembling the dialog based on your off-line EDL.

A system like the Avid will search for, let's say, all the single shots of John that are on the same reel and re-digitize them (now in hires) wherever they belong according to the EDL. One shot might fall at the beginning of the dialog, another in the middle, a third toward the end. The Avid will just search for all shots coming from the same reel before it stops to ask you to insert a new reel. This system is semi-automated since much of the on-lining is done by the sofware with input from the operator only when a reel change is called for. If the scene ended up with 30 edits from three different reels, you will be asked for a reel change only three times. Not at every edit.

Is this similar to how FCP works? The semi-automated process is the heart of conforming since it saves a great deal of time. Of course, it seldom works purely this way since it is during the conforming process that a lot of tweaking goes on. The Avid will recall any color correction made in the off-line and execute it during the conforming process but it never really works as perfectly as it theoretically should.

According to the ads FCP3 has done away with the need for rendering and can do what no AVID can do yet - perform effects in real time. If this is true, then FCP3 is the product to beat.

Have you found FCP to be frame accurate 100% of the time even when using the time code from an XL-1? If you have any experience with Premiere, how would you compare them?

I'd like to hear more about the camera systems you're using. I'm currently working with an XL-1 and could use as many inside tips as I can get.
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Old January 1st, 2002, 07:11 AM   #6
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"The Avid will just search for all shots coming from the same reel before it stops to ask you to insert a new reel."

"Is this similar to how FCP works?"

FCP works basically the same as an Avid in this respect. I believe that Premiere does the same as well. The only real difference is the lack of a low-res to save disc space when cutting off-line. However, FCP3 promises to remedy that.

Just to get back to your original thread this way of "re-digitizing" eliminates the "problem" of non-discreet TC between reels (reels with the same TC) by asking for a new reel when all clips from that tape have been digitized... Just to get that out of the way. Or is that still unclear?

"According to the ads FCP3 has done away with the need for rendering and can do what no AVID can do yet - perform effects in real time."

I read an ad for FCP3 as well, and I didn't get the impression that it was promising render-free effects. Maybe I should read it again. I imagine FCP3 will work like an Avid, which offers real-time effects and non-real time effects. I.e. If you make a simple fade with an Avid you don't need to render it to see what it looks like. Up until now, you would have to render the same fade with FCP to actually see what it looks like in real time.

"Have you found FCP to be frame accurate 100% of the time even when using the time code from an XL-1? If you have any experience with Premiere, how would you compare them?"

I have found FCP to be very accurate. If it drops frames, which hasn't happened to me a lot, (but no Avid I ever worked on way 100% either) it will tell you. I have had bad experiences using the XL-1 as a VTR. FCP has trouble finding TC with the XL-1, it seems to spool too fast when the XL-1 goes into high speed FF or REW, the XL-1 just runs past time codes and gets lost. In an emergency, I'll use my XL-1 as a VTR and then I have to spool by hand to around where the TC is and then the XL-1 (or rather FCP using the XL-1) can find the TC. I use a Sony DCR-TRV900E PAL as VTR. It has been very reliable and works well with FCP.

Sorry, I can't make a qualified comparison between Premiere and FCP.

"I'd like to hear more about the camera systems you're using. I'm currently working with an XL-1 and could use as many inside tips as I can get."

I have a XL-1 PAL camera with the standard zoom and the Canon wide angle lens. I have the DCR-TRV900E PAL to use as VTR, digital still camera and analog input recorder for what ever special cameras I use now and then i.e. finger cameras, pixelvision camera etc.

As far as inside tips are concerned, this is hopefully the right place!
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Old January 1st, 2002, 02:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info. I guess I'm becoming familiar with FCP just as version 3 is coming out and it's a big improvement over v2. I was talking with a producer friend who uses FCPv2 exclusively for offlining and he wasn't familiar with many of the new additions. He always onlines in a standard digital edit suite.

Check out the Apple site >> http://www.apple.com/finalcutpro/ << for details on FCP3. There are some QuickTime testimonials that describe the software upgrades. It does have an new compression scheme that allows 40 minutes of video per gig. That's a lot of compression but it works for offlining purposes. I also find it hard to accept the "no rendering" claim. The other big improvement of FCP3 is more latitude for color correction which - even on Avids - is always a problem. According to my friend, no matter how you compare them, there's no comparison between an Avid and FCP but then, he hasn't seen 3. If it lives up to the claims, just the fact that it can run on any G4 or PowerBook is a huge advantage. Avid only supports the software as long as it's running on the exact hardware it was sold with.

By the way, I never use the XL1 as a playback VTR for editing. I meant code recorded on an XL1. We have several DV playback machines we use for editing. I also use the TRV900. In fact I've put footage shot with the TRV900 on one of out national networks intercut with DigiBeta with no one noticing. Haven't done that with the XL1 yet but I expect the same results.

Now I'm off to research power sources for the XL-1 and to find out if the MA200 works well with the XL-1.
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Old January 1st, 2002, 04:14 PM   #8
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I haven't had any TC Problems recording with my XL-1 personally. At least I have had no TC problems I would link to the XL-1. I usually acquit unexplainable TC glitches (which are not very often) on tape defects. However, that may not be very wise of me.

Although I find the images produced by my TRV900 to be very good, the images I make using the XL-1 are noticeably superior. For a lot of things I do, the camera handling is very important to me and I can operate with the XL-1 much better then I can with the TRV900. In my opinion, the camera "handling" or operation makes the biggest difference between the "quality" of images produced by the two cameras.
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Old January 1st, 2002, 08:39 PM   #9
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I've never encountered TC problems with my XL-1/Final Cut Pro combination. I also never use the XL-1 for logging or capture, only my Panasonic deck. I -have- gotten some glitches with my ZR-30 "holiday" cam but that's a different story.

I've never used an Avid system so I really can't compare to FCP. Since I also do not come from a professional editing background I also can't offer a perspective on FCP from that angle. I -can- however say that I've been using FCP since version 1.2 and find it a very complete, flexible and capable tool. Version 3, which I've only been using for a few days, offers has really introduced true value-added features in addition to compatibility with the Mac's OS 10.1.1. As compared to Premiere 6.01 (which I also use on a PC platform) I find FCP to be vastly more stable and usable. In my experience the Mac OS platform is just better suited for video editing than the Windows platform, particularly with the introcution of OS X (a Mac-ified version of Unix on the bsd kernal).

Rather than try to offer a full review myself I'll refer you to 2-pop.com, a site closely centered on the FCP user community. There's an extensive review of FCP 3 at:
http://www.2-pop.com/article/mainv/0,7220,32091,00.html

I will point out that one of the really handy additions to FCP is the "voice-over" facility which enables you to add a v-o track whiile you're viewing your sequence. It saves you from recording v-o's on separate DV reels and then futzing to lay it over your other audio tracks.

Cruise around the FCP forums at 2-pop and you'll encounter many folks who have Avid backgrounds or use Avids at work and FCP for their sidelines or off-hour work. Having followed 2-pop for a year or so I've (anecdotally) noted that the formerly rabid Avid enthusiasts have grown very quiet, some even very enthusiastic in their support of FCP. Personally, I really enjoy working with FCP. It's pain/gain ratio has definitely dropped to 0.001 for me.
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