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Old May 23rd, 2011, 05:40 PM   #106
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Brad:

Were you copying to your system disk? I've tried using PMB with my laptop a couple of times when on the road and found that copying to the system disk can be very slow,

Do you have a lot of free hard drive space on a drive separate from your computer's system drive? Or maybe you can get a 7200 rpm USB 2/3 drive? (A couple of weeks ago, our local Costco has a decent 7200 rpm 2 tb drive for about $100.) You absolutely want to have your video files on a different drive if it is at all financially possible for you to do so.

In addition, with you using an AMD processor, I suggest that you look at tools to convert your AVCHD files to AVI files that will be much easier for you to work with. I asked about the hard drive space because the price of using these kinds of tools is that decompressing from AVCHD format results in files that are about 5 times larger than the highly compressed mp4/h264 originals from the camera. Though the files are larger, they are much, much easier for Premier, Vegas, and such to edit. (Editing AVCHD requires a lot of overhead from the program to translate the files into editable form because the program is basically decompressing on the fly as you go through sections.) That is what you want with an AMD based system.

My preferred tool for this has been Cineform's NeoHD or NeoScene. (These may have been renamed in the last week or so as a result of Cineform's merger with GoPro.) Cineform has downloadable, free, fully functional trial versions that will allow you to convert the files for this project. The files will be usable beyond the 30 days, you just will not be able to do additional (free) conversions after the thirty days runs out. With your AMD system, it might well take overnight to do the conversion, but editing will be much easier for you. Cineform is betting that you will like their product and eventually will buy it. (As I did several years ago.)

There are other AVCHD tools out there, some of them free, and others will doubtless chime on their favorites.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 06:19 PM   #107
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I'll make an observation in regards to hardware - I've always sort of "incrementally upgraded"... a piece here, a piece there... this may not be the "best" approach...

I noticed that when I picked up a laptop that had "decent" specs, but not really quite as good as I would like for video, it handled editing better than I expected, because the ENTIRE machine was "current" - so when I built a Core i7 machine, I went ahead and got EVERYTHING relatively current... I think it makes a diference whether there are "bottlenecks" in "last years" technology at any given stage of the processing - IOW, a "current" 5400RPM drive might outperform a 7200RPM drive that's 3-5 years old, a "slow" motherboard with a fast processor is like putting a V8 in a Pinto...

FWIW, a new Quad processor and a new MB, and you've got a good start, but if your video and HDD subsystems are older... they may choke off the performance significantly. I had a fair amount of grief with editing with my slightly older but "top of the line" video card... picked up a more recent one, and problems went away... smoother playback and overall performance.

SO, I guess what I'm suggesting is to think of a video edit computer as a "system", not just one set of specs for one component and another set of specs for this other component... you need to put together a "balanced" computer, for want of a better description. And how fast a machine is satisfactory will be "balanced" with a) your budget, and b) how much patience you have...
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 06:51 PM   #108
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Brad,

Jay and Dave have given you some good advice there. AVCHD footage sucks to work with either on a Mac or PC. Get a good intermediate codec (Cineform is one of the best) for a couple of reasons. AVC is a highly compressed format created to capture and ultimately deliver content. It is great in that you can squeeze a lot of information into a small amount of memory. But that comes at a cost. The cost is that you are actually throwing away information as you save it. That's how any compression algorithm works. Also imbedded in the saved information for compressed codecs are instructions on how to reconstruct the video. That is why the more highly compressed the files, the more taxing they are on your computer. Working with something like Cineform files actually helps to speed things up.

Also, of greater concern, is the fact that you run the risk of getting more compression artifacts. You'll hear people talk about the pictures "falling apart" when they go to color correct or add FX. Converting the files to an lossless intermediate (or near lossless) intermediate codec will help so that you don't experience that. You'll see those artifacts really noticeably when the stage lights drop and your shooting a near black scene. Those ugly grey blocks are some macroblocking artifacts that are a result of the compressions and reconstruction that's going on

I also use Cineform which just recently, BTW, has gotten to be even a better deal now that they've eliminated NeoHD and only have Neo. It gives you resolution up to 4K and 4:4:4 colorspace for only $299. Sounds like a lot of money but for what you get it's a bargain.

For your computer upgrades, like Dave said, it's really important to think of your entire editing machine instead of individual components. I also build machines so the first thing I do is to make sure all components I spec for a build can be optimally run with each other. There are a lot of peculiar things that happen with some components when they interact too so it's a good idea to make sure whoever is going to do your build knows how all of these components will play with each other. You will be taxing your system so make sure you have a case that's big enough and has enough cooling.

Post some samples of your shoot when you get a chance. Would love to see how things turned out.

-Garrett

PS Jay, if you haven't already done so go upgrade your NeoHD to Neo. It's basically what use to be Neo 4K for free! gotta love those Cineform folks.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 07:33 PM   #109
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

" PS Jay, if you haven't already done so go upgrade your NeoHD to Neo. It's basically what use to be Neo 4K for free! gotta love those Cineform folks."

On my list, but I've been too jammed to get to it. (Editing all weekend and today I'm out of town with a 14 hour day working for lawyers. Where does the time go?)


Brad:
Three votes from us for trying Cineform. Check it out.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 10:55 PM   #110
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Just went o Cineform to download the latest Neo update and found that NeoScene is still available. Much less expensive and will probably take care of what Brad neeeds. But, try the trial (15 days for NeoScene) and see if the conversions do not make editing easier.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 11:06 PM   #111
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

We don't even know what NLE Brad is using/plans to use, do we? All this talk of Cineform may be premature/moot.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 12:16 AM   #112
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

True. I see it was you who mentioned Premiere, not Brad. My error. Cineform conversions do not work in some editing programs. I believe Pinnacle Studio is (or at least used to be) one such example. And, if Brad has Edius, which has its own conversion utility, he would not need Cineform.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #113
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Thanks guys for the suggestions. As far as PC upgrades, I'm not going to plan to do any more than what I have unless it becomes necessary. I am crossing my fingers that I can get by with what I have as I am already in over my head financially for this project and I don't even know if I will ever be doing something like this again. I am currently running Windows XP, AMD Phenom II X4 920 processor on an ASUS M3N78 Pro motherboard (video is on-board), 4gb RAM (max for XP), 250gb system drive, 500gb secondary drive (just added and only contains my video files from this recital). Those are the basics. I still can't figure out why my USB transfer is so slow, but that's not a huge issue because I still got the files transferred.

I did watch some of my video from both the XR500 and the CX160 last night and overall I think I have some really good material to work with. I could tell that I was learning as the recital progressed because my pans, zooms, and framing showed much improvement from beginning to end. You guys would probably criticize a lot of my movements, but I think they'll be okay for this project. The footage from the CX160 is also a lot better than I thought it would be, so I should be able to cover up a lot of my mistakes I made with the XR500. The picture quality of the XR500 is really good with only minimal "washed out" faces.

For editing, I already had Vegas Movie Studio 9.0 which I had used minimally for adding markers, transitions, text overlays, sound effects, etc. to a couple small personal projects. I also just installed Vegas Pro 10 as I wasn't sure if the Movie Studio was sufficient for this project. I'm not sure how much editing I really intend to do other than making cuts between cams and adding transitions and text overlays and such. I don't have any experience at all trying to make "corrections" to the video so I will probably just use it as is unless there are simple ways of making improvents.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 11:09 AM   #114
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Vegas software is less of a problem with your computer system than other NLEs would be. Win XP (32 bit, right?) and an AMD processor exact less of penalty with Vegas than with other companies' products such as Adobe CS5 and Avid MC5.

With your system and your past familiarity with Vegas Movie Studio 9, you might find that it will be the easiest and most efficient way for you to tackle your dance project. Your project has two video tracks, the two camera audio tracks and whatever CD/DVD/flashdrive audio tracks you got from the dance people. You mostly will not require much more than "cuts" editing, markers, a few titles and some minimal audio editing. You just sync up your tracks and scrub through to the points where you want to cut from one track to the other.

If playback and editing give you problems (slow, juddery or halting playback), you may want to try out Cineform's NeoScene. It does work with Vegas products. You certainly have the file space on a 500 gb video drive. Also, go to the web page of DVinfo sponsor Videoguys and get their instructions for Win XP Tweaks for Video Editing.

Videoguys Blog - Videoguys' Windows XP Tips & Tricks for Video Editing

Lots of useful stuff there.

A couple of suggestions for workflow and editing. First, with such a long program, I suggest that you divide the work into segments. Most NLEs will tend to bog down in editing AVCHD if you have very long timelines. Better to divide it up into acts or into somewhat arbitrary lengths (say, forty minutes to an hour). When everything is done, pull or copy all your segments into the timelines you will use for your DVDs. Seems like you will have 3 to 4 hours of video so you will have at least two DVDs per set. (Unless you took orders for custom DVDs where each customer orders only the dances he or she wants.) I do not know what you use for encoding and authoring DVDs but, with high-motion-high-contrast dance footage, my rule of thumb is to try to limit DVDs to 1 hours of video and never more than 2 hours, Put more than that on a disk and it starts looking like old VHS tape with macroblocking and other artifacts.

Second, cut out the spaces between dances except when you have something adorable that a parent will actually want to see again. (By way of example, I just finished editing a 3 hour dance program that reduced down to just over 1 hours when all the superfluous parts were trimmed away.) On your timeline, leave a space between dances (maybe 10 frames to a second) and put your chapter markers in the middle of that black area. When DVD players pause to switch chapters, they will do it while the screen is black and silent rather than in the middle of playing video and audio. Much more professional looking. Also, apply a fade transition at the beginning and the end of that dance. With the differing camera angles, you can rely on simple cuts for most of your edits.

You said you "installed" Vegas Pro 10. Did you download a trial version or buy it?

If you bought it, the program certainly gives you a lot more capabilities than Vegas Movie Studio while also being somewhat familiar because it builds on the same interface. You will have to spend some time to learn the additional capabilities. Among other things, VPro10 can give you a multi-camera editing display which allows viewing both camera tracks simultaneously and readily switching between the tracks. (This is a bigger deal when you have three or more cameras going.) VPro also has a strong array of tools for tweaking things like shots with washed out faces. I believe that some of these are simple. (Check out the Vegas forum here if you have questions.)

There may be penalties to having these added capabilities. I say "may" because I have never tried VPro10 under XP. I suspect that that the additional capabilities impose a bigger load on the computer than Vegas Movie Studio. That load compounds the heavier processing loads already imposed by having two streams of AVCHD on your timeline. Again, Cineform may help a lot here.

Also, if the program and playback seems sluggish or halting, you can reduce the burden on your system by setting playback resolution down to instead of full. (Can you do that in Vegas Movie Studio?)
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Old May 24th, 2011, 11:37 AM   #115
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay West View Post
On your timeline, leave a space between dances (maybe 10 frames to a second) and put your chapter markers in the middle of that black area. When DVD players pause to switch chapters, they will do it while the screen is black and silent rather than in the middle of playing video and audio. Much more professional looking. Also, apply a fade transition at the beginning and the end of that dance. With the differing camera angles, you can rely on simple cuts for most of your edits.
I've don't the fade between dances with silence but for live shows I like to fade in and out between dances and cross fade the audio tracks of the audience clapping and cheering. It makes it feel more like a live production. I usually only leave 2 frames of black between numbers as 10 seems too long for my taste.

If you want to go real fancy you could place lower thirds with the dance title and class/age performing. That always gets people excited. For some reason it makes them view it as more professional. Also, create menus so that they can quickly jump to their child's dance. There's nothing more maddening than having to search through 50 dances to find little Jenny's one number to show the family. It's another one of those things that adds a touch of professionalism to your DVD (and you'd be surprised how many dance DVD's I've seen that don't do this). And if you really want to get them excited, do a credit roll at the end. It's funny how excited people get to see their name roll buy. It makes them feel like stars in a movie. I usually list pretty much how it was in the program with all the thanks, special thanks, dance numbers and each dancer. Run a mash-up of the music that was used during the recital playing in the background and if you've got someone you can get stills from you can have the stills floating by in the background. Again, all things to make your DVD stand out and be more attractive for people to buy. If you do that they'll want to buy your video even if they recorded it themselves.

For the few shows I still do I don't care if other people record too. The people usually buy at least one of my copies because they know they get all of the extra touches that make their kids feel special.

-Garrett
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Old May 24th, 2011, 12:35 PM   #116
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Thanks Jay and Garrett for the quick advice. I'm getting ready to go on vacation for a week so I'll be doing most of my editing once I get back. I do however want to get a jump start now so this advice helps!

Jay suggested dividing the work and I was already thinking about that. Does that mean I should start by syncing the entire show on one timeline and then cutting out sections and saving them into different projects in Vegas (I will use Pro 10 which is a fully functional version)? The show was basically formatted into 5 sections with a Solo Showcase at the beginning and then what they called scenes A, B, C, and D. Each scene has approximately 12 performances with special awards and recognitions in between every few numbers. Then there was also a finale which would be a good place to run credits (at the end of) as Garrett suggested if I can get all the info I need (there was no program book). I want to keep everything in the same order it was captured so if someone were to watch from beginning to end, it would be just like being at the show. On a past year's DVD, they had pulled all the awards and recognitions out and put them all together in one section of the DVD, but I don't want to do that.

I captured almost exacly 4hr 45min worth of video, but I'm guessing I will be taking out approximately 20-30 minutes of it so that will put me close to 2hr per DVD (I'm hoping to get by with only 2 DVDs). I do intend to put titles and such at the beginning of each performance and I also intend to create menu selections for each dance (using DVD Architect Pro) so I am not sure how much that adds to the content that needs to go onto each DVD.

I am hoping to start syncing everything up on the timeline tonight. Most of my content is going to come from the XR500 with cuts to the CX160 mainly to fix areas where dancers went out of my framing or when the CAM had focusing issues etc. About 1/4 of the way through I realized the AutoFocus was't doing as well as I expected so I switched to manual when I had a good chance. At the beginning, the curtain was closed so I didn't have anything to set the manual focus to and then the show started with fast moving solos. When I do cut between cams, is there a "rule of thumb" for how long a cut should be or how often I should make cuts?
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Old May 24th, 2011, 12:58 PM   #117
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Sounds like you already have a really solid workflow planned out and Jay and Garret's advice is great; I couldn't really add anything more, especially since I don't know Vegas that well.

Did PMB import everything as one giant 5-hour clip from each cam, so you can sync the two cams just once? Then you could just do that, save as 5 different sequences or timelines or projects, whatever Vegas wants you to do, delete the inapplicable parts for each one and thus have 5 smaller projects to work on. You'd even then empty out that original big project and then re-import the finished sub-projects back into it for your final export, if that makes sense. At least that's how I'd do it, roughly speaking, in Premiere, which is what I use. Vegas may lend itself to a better workflow; Jay would obviously know this.

About when to cut; it really should follow the content. With slow dances you could cut less frequently and use dissolves; faster music would be straight cuts more frequently. Obviously you cut if someone moves out of frame.

I'm learning from the great ideas here too; I've been doing this a while but I always have five seconds of black between dances on my discs; to hear Garrett considers ten frames too long is making me rethink everything.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 01:09 PM   #118
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

Sounds like it went fairly well Brad... which means you'll prolly be doing this again!

Good advice all around, Pro 10 does handle AVCHD better native than earlier versions, so may be workable without transcoding. If you've got several "sets", I'd break the project down into those to simplify sync - unless you left the cameras running all the time, in which case sync the whole thing, THEN break it down if needed by cutting, saving separate .veg files of the subsections, reassemble and render as a final project, OR put the pieces back together in DVD Architect in the final mix - use markers, they will import into DVDA for "chaptering"

You definitely can shorten the typical show by cutting dead time - this makes for a far better final "watch", as you keep up the pacing. Sometimes "video" can even be better than live in that respect! I tend to crossfade or fade video through black, using the audio to cushion the "cut" with longer crossfade.

AS noted, VP10 has multicam, but IIRC Studio would be fine for 2 video/3 audio tracks. The advantage of multicam (I use VAAST Infinicam myself) is that you can see which video is best and cut in near real time. Cuts should be timed to the music if at all possible, you can usually "feel" where they should be, but be careful, with AVCHD you can get some lag and may have to tweak your cuts here and there.

FWIW, I usually sync to the audio peaks, then adjust a little if needed for the time delay you can get in a big hall, so the visual cues match.

Vegas is a very "deep" program, with lots of tweaks available, BUT if your footage is pretty solid as it sounds, you may not need to delve into all the things it can do... unless you really want to.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 01:25 PM   #119
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

I have 3 clips total. One big 5 hour clip from the XR500 and then two 2hr30min clips from the CX160 (had to switch media half way through). So I will need to sync the two smaller clips to the larger clip. I am intending to only use the audio from the XR500 cam as it seems to have come out pretty well. I won't have an additional audio track. I could get the music tracks from the studio, but I don't feel that the extra work is necessary in this case as I got really good sound for the most part from the on cam mic.

Any advice on syncing other than Jay's original advice of using a camera flash which I didn't do?

When cutting between cams, is it okay to ONLY cut to cover up mistakes or should cuts be thrown in often for consistency? The picture quality is much better with the XR500 and I only want to cut to the CX160 if I have to.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #120
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Re: Amateur Recital Video Production

You can cut any way you want to. If you feel it works best to only cover mistakes, that's fine. I would cut away to cover most pans and zooms but stay close most of the time unless your pans and zooms are very smooth and professional. But go with whatever you think looks the most professional.

Sync using the audio peaks, as Dave said. It's the easiest way. I usually find the first big spike that occurs in both clips (like if the MC comes out and says "Good Evening" you find the "G" on both clips and use that -- it's usually a sharp peak). You'd use the audio from the 160 for sync purposes only but mute it.

There is a software plug-in called Plural Eyes that will do this for you and I believe it works with Vegas.
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