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Old April 29th, 2003, 09:58 PM   #16
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Hi Jeremy,

rather than take up space on the board I'll reply to your questions via email. I think you have a contact on your (very impressive) site.

Talk to you there,

Best,

David.
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Old April 29th, 2003, 10:09 PM   #17
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Please also respond with a copy of your email so that all the members of the community can benefit from your exchange of knowledge.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 01:00 AM   #18
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Okay Jeremy,

I'm not the burning bush on this issue and please remember the opinions expressed here are just that; my opinions. They are based on my experience working in post production for the last 12 years. Others may have different points of view on the subject - and that's what makes the world great. But for what it's worth here we go;

The single most important thing I have learned about software and using it creatively is this:

It's not the bus. It's the driver.

It doesn't matter how expensive or feature rich a piece of software is or how super fast the box, without a creative problem solver at the wheel - nothing gets done. This might seem self evident but I guarantee that when someone sees a great piece of animation or a beautiful render - the first thing out of their mouth is "Wow! that's great - what software was it done in?".

When a carpenter brings in a beautifully made coffee table - do people go "Wow, that's great! What Saw did you use?". No. Because mercifully they have enough understanding of the craft to know that it really doesn't matter what the brand of saw was, it was the craftmanship and talent of the artist that created the table, not the tool.

Shake is a great app, it's good at what it does but it's not perfect. And without an artist that not only knows how to work the software but also 'how' to create the shot - it's useless - just like any other software. I have seen brilliant work created by talented guys and girls using After Effects or some other so called 'low end' application that outguns anything I've done in Shake. Plain and simple.

It's horses for courses. The Post houses that you've seen using it, I would suggest use it because they are dealing with Film footage (2K - - film is abbreviated as 2000 x 2000 pixels - or 2K - it's not exactly that but it's a ballpark reference), or High Definition (HD - where I am, these constitute 1080 x 768 pixels - compared to the standard PAL frame 768 x 576 - approx double the size and weigh in at about 7Mb per frame). These are huge files and even Shake can't move them around without using lower rez proxies - but at half or quarter proxy, you can move 2K plates around in near real time - and that's pretty good for a desktop compositor. Only the very expensive and powerful compositors like Flame, Inferno and Saber (ILM's modified inferno as far as I know) can move Film plates around in real time at full rez.

But if you're not doing film rez - or HD rez work - and don't need that real time or near real time interaction, I think there's little point in paying the premium price for that power. As far as compositors (and 3D and 2D apps etc.) go, you can pretty much produce the same imagery in all of them. Some may need work arounds or plugins, more time or a different approach to achieve the result - but it can be done in my opinion - it all comes down to the creativity of the artist driving the software.

I work for an Animation and Post house here in Australia and we have created effects work for Films, TV shows, Commercials, Music videos and the like. We use Shake because we own a license and it's effective for shoving big files around. We can't afford a Flame. But we are doing just as much work on our other 2 compositors - Combustion and Digital Fusion. Both of which do all the things Shake does - just in a slightly different way.

Colour correction in Combustion is very good, masking and tracking in Fusion is equally fine. We use 3Ds Max and Maya for 3D work - again, you can do the same things in both - just some things are easier in one than the other.

From your site, you are obviously a very creative guy - I think you should have no trouble becoming proficient in producing excellent compositing work for whatever project you desire, if you are happy to commit the time to learning how to do it - and there are all sorts of resources all over the net to help you out. A good place to start is Highend2D.com. And yes, I think it's ABSOLUTELY possible for you to create comparable graphics on another piece of software to that done in Shake - or any other software for that matter.

As far as getting to your dream - give these heroes of yours a call and see if you can get a job with them. If you can't hook actual work - what about work experience? Showing up for a couple of hours a day and looking over someone's shoulder. You learn a hell of alot and once you get your face known and you show them what you can do - your employment prospects skyrocket. It happens, I know 'cos that's what I did. Whatever it takes - make it happen.

Now since this is officially the longest post in forum history, I'll wish you all the very best...

and split.

Best regards,

David.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 02:53 AM   #19
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The series that I work on during the TV season (mercifully, I'm on hiatus at the moment) is making some industry headlines as they will be the first network prime time show to online with Final Cut Pro next year. The production have had two offline Avid bays for the first two seasons, with the online assembly done out of house; now it will be G4 workstations with most work being done internally.

I know that Shake is one of the components that the editors are learning over the summer, as the plan is to replace the odd jobbed-out Inferno fix or composite with that application. Obviously a time and money saver, but I do wonder if the editors will have the time to spend perfecting the effects (being a comedy, we don't do a ton but there are the occasional whammies). It will be interesting to see the results!
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Old April 30th, 2003, 02:58 AM   #20
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Online, offline?? que?

Please explain.

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Old April 30th, 2003, 10:16 AM   #21
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wow. what a reply. thank you very much for your knowledge. and thanks for the nice compliments on my site David. it's all a little over a year old though. i've been so busy at work i've not had time to do my personal thing.

anyway.

i completely agree with you, david, as far as not relying on the software. i've always felt that way. it's just that i see these things that are done and it's not like i don't have those same creative ideas but i guess just not the technical knowledge or better yet the technique knowledge of how to acheive what i'm looking for. i guess that's what practice is for.

i have no doubts that i can make creative projects (for what i'm looking to do). i guess my biggest concern is resolution. it always seems that no matter how high res my images are or when i capture video it just never seems to be as bright or as clear as what i'm comparing it to. now granted i'm not shooting video on some crazy $50,000 beta cam or whatever but a photoshop file should look the same whether it's brought into AE55 or shake or flame or whatever right?

maybe it comes down to i'm not satisfied with my own work.

Charles. while on the subject of resolution and video, first you mentioned that you use two avid bays. are you using the avid cards to capture video or using just the software like avid DV express? basically what i'm wondering is, you being in tv biz, how do you get your film/video/DV onto the machine to edit it. do you just capture through the firewire, or do you use like S-Video on the avid card or do you use some crazy 3/4 inch high end beta tape to some kind of high end recording/digitizing device/board. and then just transfer files to whatever machine.

i'm planning on getting a new camera soon and i just want to make sure that if i spend the money on a dv cam that i'm going to have the capabilities to make sure that what i tape is what i capture. know what i mean?

second thing for charles. like zac was wondering online, offline? do you literally mean you are making a show that will premeire on the internet(online) and the avid bays are sitting there by themselves not connected to the internet in anyway (offline)? that may sound kinda dumb i guess but i'm confused as to what that might mean.

thirdly the new G4 workstations you were talking about will be all DV/firewire? or just using them for putting it all together?

anyway thank you all very much for all your input. this is definitely the coolest thread i've been involved with. i've gotten many answers and appreciate it greatly. this site is becoming quite a resource for me.

thanks again to all. J.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 11:45 AM   #22
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Online editing - Final editing session in which the finished program master is assembled from the original production material.

Offline editing - Editing that is done using inexpensive, non-broadcast quality equipment (or at lower resolution, not suitable for BQ) to produce an Edit Decision List (EDL) which will be used later for assembling a BQ program using more expensive, (higher resolution) higher quality equipment.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 02:35 PM   #23
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thanks for the answers but i'm still a bit confused.

so you're saying that like television shows are all online. because they are obviously broadcast quality.

or perhaps it means after the initial edit they take the files to another machine to put it to likbe the beta tape that is actually broadcast?

and offline is essentially the initial editing process. creating graphics or animations that then go to and online editor.

what is a BQ program? and could you perhaps explain a bit better what the EDL is. sounds like it is literally a list of cuts points that they use for reference to assemble the fulll quality film or files?

also would after effects be considered offline then even though it's output can be broadcast or taken to tape for broadcast. so anything done on desktop is offline until it's taken to tape?

sorry to be such a know nothing i'm just trying to soak up as much information as i can.

thanks again for you replies everyone. J.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 03:18 PM   #24
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Jeremy:

First I should point out that I work on the show as a camera operator, but I hang out with the guys in editorial quite a bit and am very interested in their move to FCP (especially as we are now "poster boys" for Apple as a result!)

The workflow currently is that the 16mm film is telecined to DigiBeta, then dailies dubs are made onto standard Betacam. Those tapes are delivered to the editorial department, who digitize them into the Avids. The editors perform their work "offline", meaning as Jeff said that what you literally see in the monitors will never be seen on TV (the dailies are captured at a high compression rate to save space). The EDL (edit decision list) is generated from the Avid and includes cuts, dissolves etc. and is then used for the actual assembly at a post house, who use the original DigiBetas. Titles and effects are added at this point (some work may be done at a visual effects house and brought in separately). The audio follows a similar path, with audio sweetening and music added onto the master.

The new workflow for next season is that we will now be telecining the 16mm onto HDCAM with 16:9 aspect ratio, then a 4:3 NTSC extraction will be made onto Digibeta. Those tapes will be sent to editorial, who will digitize them at full resolution onto their drives (through a capture card, I believe) and perform the edit in FCP. Actually, I may have this wrong--they may capture at a lower rez, then once the edit is complete they may be batch capturing the selects at full rez. I'll have to see next year when we start again. Anyway, the plan is to do as much of the work inhouse as possible, so this means using Shake or After Effects to do the work that was previously shipped out to post effects houses. Down the road, if NBC decides to air "Scrubs" in 16:9 or HD, or both, the EDL will be trotted out again and the footage recut from the HD masters.

The whole model of "offline/online" is changing rapidly due to software based technology like Shake rather than multi-million dollar "boxes" like Inferno, as well as Avid and FCP being able to combine the process as described above.

I apologize that I can't be more specific, because this is just an area of interest for me rather than expertise...hope this was in some way helpful.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 04:03 PM   #25
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oh no. don't apologize for anything. everyones responses have really been quite beneficial.

i was just having trouble with the online/offline thing. but it has been quite cleared up. seems like a good thing that the software is kind of taking over and negating the use for the online machines. sounds like in the past it would have been twice as much work. first you build a low res version and then do it all over for the final cut. no wonder things take forever to do.

every time someone writes back they mention something else i don't know.

so here's this ones. what does "telecined" mean? i assume it has something to do with the process of getting from the film to the digibeta. but with a name like that it sounds like much more than just a reel to reel operation.

also what's "dailies dubs". is it just another word for dubbing from the digiBeta to the 3/4 or 1 inch betacam.

and why can't the inhouse guys just use the digibeta tapes instead of doing another dub to beta. is it and input/output thing because of the equipment they are using there. and just don't have the capabilities to capture straight from the digibeta. or is it just in the long run easier for them to use the betas instead?

for your next season it sounds like you guys are going to be getting some pretty nifty stuff to work with. HDCAM, new machines, FCP and shake. sounds like it'd be pretty nice to have to work there.

if they capture from the digitbeta do you know what kind of inputs that equipment uses. i thought most cards (like avids) were BNC, s-video or composite for the most part. its the whole beta thing that i'm missing i guess or does it use those. i assume that it would be using one of those cuase i'd imagine the tapes go into some kind of beta deck that just plugs into the computer then?

again i'm sorry for knowing nothing about real production. after the computer i couldn't tell you happens which is why i'm glad everybody replied to this post.

thanks again. J.
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Old April 30th, 2003, 08:09 PM   #26
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Telescine refers to, there are many different methods, but transferring footage from film onto a tape or digital medium.

Dailies are kind of like it sounds, it is all the raw footage that was shot that day, sometimes these are called 'rushes'.

thats all i can answer.

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Old April 30th, 2003, 09:45 PM   #27
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Dailies or rushes are used to check everything and see if something needs to be reshot. They are used rather than the original footage to minimize the risk to the camera original footage. How would you like to explain to the director that the machine ate the tape or you spilled coffee on it?

How they connect is part of the quality issue. Connecting via composite (RCA, BNC, S-Video etc.) is the lowest quality. The next best is analog component (Beta SP) and the best are various forms of digital component. Many factors effect quality.

High end Avids use component inputs of one form or another (depends on how the Avid is configured). The same can be true of Power Macs. They can take FireWire in or if a high end capture card is installed, they will capture digi beta etc.

On line, off line was developed to save money. Let's say my online room cost $1,000,000 and I charge $1000 an hour to work in it. I have an off line room that cost $80,000 and I charge $100 and hour to work in it. Where do you want to spend the majority of your time making decisions about your program? Put your program together in the cheap room and finish it in the BQ room. It's all about money.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 09:22 AM   #28
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thanks a lot again for the answers. it really helped a lot.

cheers. J.
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Old May 1st, 2003, 04:42 PM   #29
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Jeremy,

What Jeff has said is correct....it's all about the cash...offline = cheap.....online = $$$.

Also the high end kit is very 'client friendly'. They can see changes quickly and easily...everthing is realtime, uncompressed and instant(ish).

What has started to happen is that the goalposts have moved a little. Low end kit is capable of working online, indeed premiere with DV footage is fully 'online', but try to find a low end machine that will handle HD fully uncompressed footage. You need something like Inferno/flame to do that.

Despite this the upper end of the market is in real flux at the minute. Just look at discreet and you will see how they are trying to reposition themselves in the market place, redundacies and restructuring. Five-d (cyborg) recently went bust (with discreet later doing a very sneaky buyout). Without going into the politics of the situation, it is a really tough time for the highend manufacturers.

You will also notice how Apple are positioning themselves in the post-production marketplace. Many will remember when apple was the 'creative' computer of choice, something which seemed to wither away in apple's dark years of the late 90s. What they have done is to buy a portfolio of sofware - Nothing Real, Emagic etc to take hold of this end of the market. My feeling is that discreet are trying to do the same from the other way round, ie. a high end systems manufacturer investing in the low end (media cleaner, plasma, 3dsmax).

Incidentially someone mentioned the point earlier about support contracts. IIRC discreet charge about 8K a year on a system that cost 250K, (harware support from SGI is about the same again !) but to be honest it really not money well spent. It does cover maintainance software upgrades and telephone support...but installation costs and additonal 2 or 3k. You are still greeted by someone on the other end of the phone giving you a 'how odd !" type answer.

just to finish up....people often come into an online suite, either with work done in afterFX of request an effect that can only be done with and afterFX plugin.....(swift trip round the back of the facilty to pretend to be working on another high-end machine).

end of rant

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Old May 1st, 2003, 05:03 PM   #30
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good points all, simon.

the changes coming around are a good thing for the consumer, people like (i'd imagine) a lot of those on this forum who can do highend products but can only afford the low end cost.

speaking of apple more recent aquisitions. i personally am glad they've been buying some of those companies. i'm a mac person and it would be nice to see some more of this market flow back into apple land. and if that involves them buying up all the latest and greatest software companies just to have the apple logo on the box then so be it.

while you're here. what exactly is an inferno or flame system. is it just an amped up computer like a cgi machine or O2 system. or is it more like old tv rooms filled with all kinds of different boards and whatnot.

i'm kinda new to this part of it all and obviously am not to familiar with the high end products.

thanks for your input. J.
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