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Old July 26th, 2013, 12:24 PM   #1
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Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Hey everyone, I'm Bob. I've been reading here on the forum for several months but now I've registered. I need some insight from those who know what they're doing. I've been a serious amateur still photographer for 25+ years and have been pro for the last two. I've done some video work off and on over the last ten years but strictly low rent utilitarian stuff. A lot of the video was for after actions reviews when I was in the Army. Quality was not critical but I shot on miniDV and edited in Premiere Pro and authored in Encore. I've also shot vacation videos in the last couple years and edited them. So that's my experience.

I have agreed to do a job that I am struggling to sort out. I ride dressage horses and my trainer is bringing in a clinician from Spain for a four day clinic. Since I will not be riding in the clinic, I've been asked if I would like to do the video documentation of the clinic for the other riders. Each session will be about 45 minutes and each day will run from 6:00am to around 1:00pm. So, about nine rides per day. The video will be shot from a single location, on tripod. I need to be able to provide discs to each rider with their individual rides by the end of the last day. Daily distribution would be better.

I will be alone in this endeavor. My thinking is that I will set up a table at my recording location. The table will hold my external monitor for an HDMI feed from the camera; a Panasonic HDC-TM90. I will also have my laptop with an external hard drive and BD/DVD burner. Between rides, I can swap SD cards to the computer and save down the footage. Audio will be handled with a Sennheiser wireless lav into the camcorder.

Here's where things get dicey. I want to provide a decent quality product to the riders. My camera records in 1080p60, 1080i60 at four different bit rates, and iFrame which is 960x540p(not sure on the frame rate). The 1080 resolution is AVCHD and the iFrame is mp4. 45 minutes of iFrame encoded to 720x480 and burned to a DVD looks horrible and takes a little over an hour to process from inserting the SD card to popping out a DVD. Too long and too ugly!

So, I don't mind burning to Blu-Ray. I ran a test the other day and I was able to encode and burn a disc in about 35 minutes going from the Panasonic HG format to 1080i30. I think I would prefer to author the final footage in 60p since there is going to be some quick action. Obviously, to play on a Blu-Ray player, I am stuck with 1280x720 for 60p.

I should mention that I have Adobe Creative Cloud and Nero 12 Platnium. So far, Nero has been faster than Adobe Media Encoder.

So, what do you guys think? Any ideas on the best capture and output settings? I am not opposed to buying another camcorder for this since I've been looking to upgrade for a while now however, I don't want to buy something just to find out that it didn't improve my workflow. This could be a somewhat profitable venture and if I can get it right the first time, I may be in for more.

Bob

Last edited by Bob Ohlemann; July 26th, 2013 at 12:25 PM. Reason: sp
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Old July 29th, 2013, 04:13 AM   #2
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

If you're happy with the image quality from the camera already, then:

Shoot 1920x1080i60, which is 29.97 fps, at the highest bit rate setting. Dump it into Premiere Pro and edit native. When you're done, export a master format. I prefer TIFF sequences, but the file sizes are large.

Use this master to burn your DVD or Blu-ray. Hope this helps.

P.S. Are you using Encore to do the burning?
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Old July 29th, 2013, 07:54 AM   #3
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Bob, delivery on the day is very tricky. I would never expect to film, encode & author at a live event unless it was only one disc at the end. You will also want to use a dedicated DVD burner that will burn on the fly from your camera signal. This way you are encoding while you film and all you have to do is finalize the disc.

You will want to offer DVD because Blu-ray is just not as widely used.

The old principle: You can have it quick, cheap or good, choose two.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

I appreciate you guys chiming in. This is certainly a challenging situation for me. I've really had to wise-up on formats and coding. I've done a lot of testing and at this point I think I am going to stick with Blu-Ray discs. The clients are all upper income and will have Blu-ray players and computers that will support the format. The quality of the video will be significantly better and I will not have to transcode if I film the video in the correct format and import straight into Adobe Encore CS6. Not having to transcode will allow me to get the videos out quickly. I am planning to design all the menu items this week and have a template ready to go.

I have a LG 14x Blu-Ray burner and it has been very quick and dependable so I think getting a disc out every 45 minutes is doable. I will offer a DVD option with the caveat that they will have to wait up to a week to receive it.

I've also gone ahead and ordered a new Canon XA20. I didn't want to go into this without a backup camera and since I've been eyeing this for a while, I decided it was the right time to jump on it. I will use the XA20 as the primary so I will have about a week to get comfortable with it before the clinic.

I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable with this and will have a chance to do a full dry run next monday. That will give me a few days to tweak anything that isn't working. I also have to provide a feed for the live sound so will need to figure that out. I have a couple mixers so, that shouldn't be too hard.

I'm still open to feedback. I am by no means feeling like I've got this whooped so anything constructive is appreciated.

Bob
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Old July 29th, 2013, 10:13 AM   #5
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Bob,
Why wouldn't you shoot in 1920 x 1080p @35mb/s

I think you are smart to give up on dvd delivery for that day. If you had to do some editing that would kill it.

I use TMPGEnc Authoring Works 5 for burning blurays.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 01:23 PM   #6
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ohlemann View Post

I have agreed to do a job that I am struggling to sort out. I ride dressage horses and my trainer is bringing in a clinician from Spain for a four day clinic. Since I will not be riding in the clinic, I've been asked if I would like to do the video documentation of the clinic for the other riders. Each session will be about 45 minutes and each day will run from 6:00am to around 1:00pm. So, about nine rides per day. The video will be shot from a single location, on tripod. I need to be able to provide discs to each rider with their individual rides by the end of the last day. Daily distribution would be better.

I will be alone in this endeavor.


Bob
Hi Bob.

Sometimes I work as a shooter for other video producers. Sometimes I'm a "data wrangler."

What Tim said earlier is true. If you need to get disks to all those riders before they leave for home, the only practical way I know is to connect the composite out from your camera to a DVD burner. You don't want to be up all night each night at the event editing and trying to burn disks.

What you are attempting to do is EXCEEDINGLY DIFFICULT. You said nine separate video productions by 1:00 pm each day. I've worked at something similar.

You can put an intro on each DVD before hand, but don't finalize, then add the video from the ride, and finalize. You can also pre-print the face of the white label DVDs before saving to them, with a blank box to write the individual ride with a sharpie. I worked a cheerleading competition for another producer and that's the method that was used to deliver more than 3,000 DVDs the SAME DAY to the participants. (My main job was wrangling the 4 burners LIVE to make the 67 masters for each team). It required a separate camera operator and wrangler for the 4 burners, plus the extra gear.

You can offer to ship edited blue rays later from the HD material on the cards. But if you really do need to get the disks out quick before the riders all leave for home, you really need to burn direct from the camera. The only way I've seen this work was the cheerleading competition. Plus, you said you are working by yourself. You'll need to concentrate on your shooting. You won't be able to concentrate on running extra equipment too. You'll need a SIMPLE WORKFLOW to pull it off. You probably won't have time to deal with the laptop. Insert disk before shoot. Press record on burner when you start shooting. Finalize the disk. Eject disk. Get ready for next rider.

As an aside, I've shot dressage once. There was very little time between riders the time I did it. And I was just working as a shooter for someone else. It wasn't as fast paced as the cheerleading competition, but you will not have much time to troubleshoot any problems that come up. And you will be outdoors.
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Old July 29th, 2013, 02:49 PM   #7
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Roger, the method you advise is almost exactly the way the videographer at the horse shows does it. She runs the component out to a Panasonic Diga HDD/DVD burner designed for recording TV and VHS tapes to DVD. She saves the rides in the hard disc and burns them all to DVD when each competitor has completed all their rides. There is a very primitive menu that displays a keyframe from each ride. It is quick, appears to be fairly easy and the quality is abysmal but, most will look at that video once or twice to compare against the judges comments and then never view it again.

The clinics such as I am doing are obviously far more demanding. Instead of a six minute ride, we're looking at 45-55 minutes. Because these are instructional clinics, the riders may view these discs many, many times to review their training. I have to provide sound which is usually only done on freestyle tests at shows and from what I've seen, just recorded from the PA with the internal mic.

The only reason I took this job was because I was too dumb to know better. Now that I am commited, I refuse to turn in a crappy product. I will be shooting mostly friends whom I've been riding with for several years. I see them several times a week and if they have to wait a few days to get a disc, it will not be a big deal. That said, I have set certain standards for myself and I will exhaust every effort in order to achieve them. In the end, as long as I get quality data, I can make everyone happy.

Roger, since you have shot dressage before, what are your thoughts on framerate? Will it matter what I shoot at?

Thanks guys, Bob
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Old July 30th, 2013, 07:53 AM   #8
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Bob, I'm afraid there's no way around it. The higher the quality of the finished product, the more time and effort will be required. You will need to ship disks or upload files later.

You will need to shoot at the highest quality your camera allows.
You will need to get the footage into your NLE software of choice.
You will need to tweak the video, audio, add text.
You will need to encode the final videos into a format the clients can view.
You will need to get the final videos to the client.

Each step takes time. Just the encoding step can take hours.

Sorry. There's always an inverse relationship between speed and quality. Clients often don't want to pay for all the work required to deliver a quality product.

One thing you can do, maybe you can find a burner that takes an HDMI input. But I don't know if anyone even makes one. If someone does make it, it might be expensive. The DVD burners that were used at the cheerleading gig were very expensive back when Sony still made them. Nobody seems to make commercial grade burners anymore. That's probably because disks are on the way out. Now clients are asking for "live streaming"-- again, without a clue of what's involved, and what it costs.

ADDENDUM: Some Blue Ray Players (I have one) play a variety of AVCHD and MP4 videos on either disk (blue ray or standard dvd), memory card, or external hard drive. If the 45 minute files from your XA-20 that is coming will fit on the disks you will be using (blue rays or double layer dvd) then MAYBE you can figure out a way to do a straight file copy from the camera's memory card to your blank disk. MAYBE. That's something I'd be interested in trying if I get another camera.

Audio will probably be pretty good on the XA-20. I get really good results from my xh-a1s from proper microphones, when everything goes just right. Most of the time though, to get really great results requires some audio tweaking in post. Will an instructor be giving (audio) critiques of the rides as they occur through a PA system? You may want to mic him separately. There are quite a few variables for audio to consider out in the field.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; July 30th, 2013 at 11:02 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old July 30th, 2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Bob,

I have done countless brutal turnaround jobs. Everything from the old days of staying up all night to put together muti projector slide shows and photo prints to quick turn video projects. I had one client that judged my video work in a strange way. I had to make the audience cry! If they weren't crying after the video played then I had not done a good job, in his opinion.

First, there is a big problem you can fix. Don’t do it alone. Someone with some skills obviously would be best but I don’t care if you have to resort to someone with little skill, don’t underestimate an extra pair of hands. What you are doing is not rocket science but it is hard and fast. You need an assistant no matter what.

Second, is this a “must have it same day” job or not? At first it sounded like it but then you said if they have to wait it’s no big deal? That cushion would matter to me and how I did things.

Who is wearing the wireless lav? I hope it is the instructor who will be in a fixed position and not a rider? In any case, be sure to record back up audio.

I believe your assumption that “affluence” will mean your audience is blu ray capable is a mistake. We are video professionals, we think HD quality and technology is a big deal because it is TO US. I can guarantee you there are countless SD DVD players out there hooked up to some of the most expensive monitors on the market. And, when you ask those people if they have a blu ray player there answer will be “what’s that?”

Equipment fails. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. What pieces of gear can shut you down on the spot? Are they all backed up? Only one burner, one computer, etc. ect. Burners go down a lot. Especially outside in dirty environments, can you protect it from dirt and dust?

Bob, out of all of these type of jobs I have done I did have one of them crash. It was a celebrity golf tournament. I had multiple photographers and runners in golf carts collecting CF cards so we could have big prints of the donors with their celebrity ready by the awards luncheon after the golf round. I had TWO of my three printers go down on me. I only got half of the prints done on time. Let’s just say it was very, very ugly. It almost cost me an existing client and did cost me a new one I was making that day.

If you’re in this gig on kind of the good guy system with friends and acquaintances you will be OK. If this is a real job with money, your reputation, and a must have delivery on the line I would back up everything that could fail and I would not do it alone. Remember, how do you eat a buffalo? One bite at a time.

Good luck. I hope you come back and let us know how it works out. A lot of guys don't.

Steve
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Old July 30th, 2013, 11:06 PM   #10
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

I had a dream.

In my dream, the OP was smiling and at ease.

He shot as normal, but to a card or direct to hard drive.

He calmly walked those cards to the production tent. There, he fed the card into one of three Mac laptops.

The cards were read by FCP-X. Some simple drag and drop title / chapter headers / credits were keystroked into the timeline and some typing for customization took place.

Then the producer - whilst sipping champagne - hit SHARE and each completed video was uploaded to the OP's on-line server account in glorious high-def!

A URL link was auto-typed into an email to the proper Client - who was able to click the included link and watch their performance on any computer, iPad or smart phone in the world - all before they got back to their palatial hotel suites and got their riding boots off!

The nice rich clients were able to forward their dressage performances (if they nailed it!) to their wives or husbands, their trainers and grooms and all their friends at the club - INSTANTLY!

So everyone got to share in the fun.

Or you can keep taking hours and hours and hours of hassle to burn stuff to plastic disks.

Your call.
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Old July 31st, 2013, 07:14 AM   #11
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

Wow, that does sound like a nice dream. Was that right after the dream where everyone in the world has no problem streaming HD video to any device?

I had a interesting exchange with the barn owners wife yesterday. I was there giving my horses treats and shooting some b-roll stuff for the menus and she was asking what it was for. I explained to her that I was really intent on providing a much better product than the girl that had done the video in the past. She said "Yeah...Robin started out trying to provide a better product but, something happened and she couldn't." Didn't quite know what to make of that.

Bob
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Old July 31st, 2013, 04:46 PM   #12
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

The thing that happenned to the other girl was reality setting in… It's rediculously tough to churn out stuff like this solo. seriously consider having someone help you just take content off of the cards into the machine and do basic datawrangling. That way at the end of each day you can just set up a bunch of automated batch jobs to dump content out. In this case it may actually be better if the disks don't get done by the last day and you make sure they're good. you just may need to cover the costs of shipping those disks out to the customers (which may be worth it in the longer run).
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Old July 31st, 2013, 06:04 PM   #13
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

+1 Tim

If you can not get enough profit out of a job to properly staff it you shouldn't take the job.

Steve
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Old July 31st, 2013, 07:10 PM   #14
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

I am no pro videographer. The only thing I had to go on when taking this gig was my limited experience and watching what my predecessor did. I still feel pretty confident that I have staffed it properly with just myself. There will be breaks between riders and there will be short walk breaks for the horses during the sessions. A good amount of the training will be stationary as far as the camera goes. I believe I will have time to handle all aspects of this. If anything has to give, it will be on-site authoring of discs. Even that I think will go smoothly with the exception of riders who opt for DVD over Blu-Ray. The transcoding required for that cannot be done on site due to time constraints.

Seriously, I have learned so much in the last couple weeks that I have absolutely no regrets about taking this on. I may feel differently after the clinic though! Maybe I'll setup a GoPro behind me and shoot a timelapse so everyone can see me sink or swim.

Bob
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Old July 31st, 2013, 07:40 PM   #15
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Re: Need lots of help...maybe a sanity check?

I hope you swim Bob. Drowning sucks!

Steve
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