Sunday, October 6, 2013

5D Mark iii, Adobe After Effects, & Timelapses

The job I'm currently on requires me to put together A LOT of timelapses using Adobe After Effects.  Everything was going fine, until we got a 5D Mark iii added to the mix of DSLRs.  When I would go to import photos, I would get this error message: "after effects error: photoshop file format error (-30504). ( 45 :: 35 )."  I had no idea what that meant since I'd only learned AE recently for this job.  I assumed that the solution to this was the solution to most computer related things: it needed an update.

First I looked for the most recent AE update, which was oddly inconvenient to find the link to.  I chased links from their website, to their Facebook page, and back to their website.  Anyway, here it is:

CS6 11.0.3 Update 10/03/13
(I personally enjoy that "thankyou" is in the URL.)

Perhaps I should have mentioned this, but updating that didn't do anything.  Actually it might have.  I feel like I might have gotten a different error message.  I'm can't remember since I found the actual solution so quickly after, but updating things for the hell of it is good, right?  I think so.

The update that fixes this problem for realizes:
Camera Raw 7.1 Update

This was also oddly difficult to locate.  First I was tipped off by a forum post saying something about updating my ACR.  Eventually I figured out that stood for the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in.  That led me to a super cool list of cameras that the plug-in supports, but no link.  I shluffed through a little more internet and found the above link.  Now everything is happy, which keeps my boss happy, which keeps me happy.  Happiness for everyone!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

REDCINE-X Pro Audio Bug

I'm currently doing a bunch of on-set transcodes (literally, RIGHT NOW!), and although the RED EPIC has a small external mic connected for a scratch track, and I could hear it on the raw footage in REDCINE-X Pro, it was non-existent on the Apple ProRes 422 transcodes.

After repeatedly messing with the export audio channel check boxes, doing a bunch of transcode test, opening them in Quicktime, VLC, and FCP, I honestly could not figure out where my audio was going, even after consulting a friend who I equate to being my Jedi Master of DITing.  So I went to the Jedi Council, REDUSER.

Luckily someone on REDUSER was able to understand my confused jibberish and point me in the direction of this setting box.  (Edit Preset > Setup... > Audio)

The way they explained it to me is that there is a bug for pre-existing presets when you update REDCINE-X Pro (which I had just updated to 15) and unless you assign a value to the Render Setting (apparently Normal is like zero), you will not have audio because it will not know to look for anything.

So I changed Normal to Best and all was well.  The end.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Transcoding Canon C300 with Telestream Episode Pro 6: Glitch

Canon C300 footage transcoded with Telestream's Episode Pro 6 causes a 3 frame drop at the end of each clip.

Eventually I will post on this entire process, but for now, this entry will focus on a glitch I seem to have discovered when transcoding Canon C300 MXF files to XDCAM MXF files so than can be transported to post via XDCAM Disk.

The C300 splits the clips into 2.05GB segments, or 5:16 long.  Rather than stitching them back together for or during transcoding, post is having me transcode them all as if there are individual clips, and they stitch them in AVID.  In Episode Pro, I'm using the "XDCAM HD422 MXF 1080p25 50Mbit" encoder, found under "Editing Avid (MXF) XDCAM HD" section of the encoders menu.  Our only goal is to take the Canon wrapper off, and re-wrap it in XDCAM, so I modify it by unchecking anything else it could possibly change besides the wrapper: "Frame Rate", "Deinterlace", "Resize", and "Sample Rate."

This is a show with a high volume of footage, so I don't have time to manually check every clip before sending it to post.  Post eventually reported back to me that all of my transcodes were missing three frames at the end of each clip.  This is a decently big problem when it comes to shots longer than 5:16.  My biggest complaint about this job was the lack of a prep week.  There was actually a lack of any sort of prep, and I feel this is something I would have discovered had I had prep time.

As much as I hate to admit it, my first thought was "Oh god I did something wrong and have probably been ruining most of this footage!!!"  So I frantically checked all of my setting and work and couldn't find anything, and contacted Telestream.  I have to say, Telestream has pretty great customer support!  Unfortunately it was a weekend when this came up and no one was able to respond, but come Monday, I got an email with FTP server information asking me to send in a sample along with all of my settings.  I've also spoken with them over the phone and have to give mad props to Todd, I've pretty much only been working with him and he is awesome, patient, and will answer any stupid or not stupid question I have for him, as well as join in with me on aggravation with computers, bosses, and tricky workflows.  And he used to work for Apple!  BONUS!  Anyway, Telestream was able to replicate the problem (THANK GOD I WASN'T CRAZY) and has sent it to the engineers.

Currently their guess is it has something to do with the C300s metadata since the camera is still fairly new and Episode Pro does not exhibit this problem with any other MXF workflows.  Hooray for discovering new problems!  But double hooray for companies so willing to jump on it and fix it!  A massive breath of fresh air compared to the 3D AVID debacle.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Behold! A Website!

...or at least the start of one.

More to be added as I have time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RED Undead VS R3D File Recovery

I've been told of the process of recovering R3D files from an accidentally formatted card but hadn't actually had to do it myself until recently. Having the format and eject buttons right by each other on a touch screen is a terrible idea. My suggestions to RED would be to could keep them away from each other or have it not format or eject unless you hold it down for three seconds. It was a terrible moment when the 1st AC and I both realized which button had accidentally been hit. I think both of our initial instincts were to yank the card, but using our brains for a split second longer made us realize that would probably corrupt the whole thing.

1st lesson learned: Assign eject to a hot key very far from any format buttons, and don't drink too much coffee before using a tiny touch screen.

First I tried the "R3D File Recovery" feature in R3D Data Manager. It only recovered a couple clips out of the eight that were on the card. It kept telling me I needed REDline, even though I re-downloaded and installed it a few times. Probably a human error that I will investigate later.

I didn't really have time to mess with the REDline issue, so I moved onto RED Undead (which can be found in the beta tab on RED support). The user guide is very helpful, but I will summarize and modify it a bit.

1. Open Terminal. You can type "redundead" (doesn't matter if caps is used or not) and it'll show you it is indeed installed. The "Incorrect number of arguments." line looks like it might mean something isn't right, but it is.

2. Enter " diskutil list" and it'll give you a list of disks your computer is using so you can use the name it gave it, like "disk2". For this example we'll pretend it's called disk2. Mentally add an r on the front, "rdisk2"

3. Create a folder where you want the recovered files to go. For simplicity's sake, I put a folder on my desktop called "REDUndead". Make sure you know the path to this folder (ctrl click, "Get Info"). My computer and user is named Data Pengu, so my path looked like "/Users/Data_Pengu/Desktop"

4. Type "redundead" SPACE "dev/rdisk2" SPACE "/Users/Data_Pengu/Desktop/REDUndead"
(the spaces are super important and don't forget to add an r in front of your disk#)

5. Hit enter!

Now is the part where I nervously waited and felt helpless without the visual of a progress bar. It'll go along and do its thing until it triumphantly says "Done!" In my case it recovered everything but the first clip, which I've heard from others that also got everything but the first clip. Actually, not only will it recover everything but the first clip, but also go on to retrieve anything else on the card not already written over. You can stop it from doing this by hitting ctrl + z. Watch the roll # to make sure it's still on the roll you needed to recover.

And voila! You have your zombie clips and can move them where they were suppose to be! I went through all of my recovered clips and found no errors.

This also taught me the importance of using Disk Utility and the end of each job to get everything on the card back to a true 0 since even when formatted, anyone can still pull your footage off cards before shooting on them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Conforming a 3D Feature on AVID Pt. 2

The good news: I have successfully conformed the movie back to it's raw R3D files.

The bad news: Still no luck on getting it to conform in 3D.

To save some time and at least get something done, I went through and entered the tape name for only the files being used in the current edit. I'll go back and get them all entered so the editor is free to use anything not currently used in the edit.

****This is where this process became so time consuming, and I got hired on so many other jobs, that I forgot to ever come back and finish this post.

So...long story short:

I got in contact with a mysterious person (possible ex-employee) who got in touch with another mysterious person who tried to help me, but I never heard from them again. I'm not allowed to say who was helping me or how or specifically which step of the process, but nothing ever came from it, so it doesn't really matter. Though it was kind of neat to sort of feel like the AVID gods came down from Mt. Post-production to help a mere mortal with an impossible problem, until they forgot they left their oven on and left.

While I was hired on an incredibly long commercial, my director made a lot of calls to AVID and basically discovered they had no and did not plan to make a solution to convert a 2D edit to 3D. End of story. So I ended up coming in and one by one, switching each clip for it's stereoscopic mate. With the help of timecode and setting match edit to a convenient hot key, it was an annoying and time consuming process that gave us a new set of problems. Anywhere where there were effects (fades, text overlay, etc.) the image went way out of whack like when old school antenna TVs are having signal issues. It was over a month ago that I worked on this so I'm trying really hard to remember what we did to fix it without having an AVID system in front of me. I believe it had something to do with going down a few layers and removing something.

I think the main useful bulk of 3D AVID information is in the blog post before this.

Bottom line: Don't start a 3D edit in 2D unless you want to spend lots of time replacing edits. Find an assistant editor who knows how to make stereoscopic clips in AVID (i.e. me!). AVID won't save you. Oh and if you plan on making a film before the technology to finish it exists, invest in a time machine.

Oh and as an added bonus, because this also tripped us up, if you're using KiPros, beware of certain typed of walkie talkies causing them to cut if used near by or near long cabling.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Conforming a 3D Feature on AVID

Prior to this I've had no experience with AVID or conforming a movie, so the method I go about this might not be the best or most efficient, but it's what I figured out with the advise of a few professionals, some poking around on the internet, and a lot of trial and error. If you have any advise on improvements I could be making in my workflow, they would be appreciated.

What I've got:
- 7TB of raw left and right eye footage from a RED EPIC.
- A ProRes 2D rough cut of a feature using left eye footage.
- A PC workstation at a Post House (No, I don't know the specs)
- 2 Master 12TB RAIDs (Mac Formatted, RAID5)
- 1 Back-up edit RAID (Mac Formatted, RAID5)
- Some snacks.
- A book.
- My MacBook Pro.

I've heard a lot of negative things about AVID. So far, I'm okay with AVID. We're not friends, but I'd say hi if I passed AVID on the street. At first the constant auto-saving was annoying, especially since you can't do anything else while it's happening. It also occasionally freezes while auto-saving, though I'd imagine that has something to do with the large drive to drive copy happening on at the same time. I'll know for sure when that copy finishes. If I wait long enough AVID usually remembers what it was doing and un-freezes, this is where the book comes in handy. The other thing I dislike about AVID is the auto-saving upon quitting. For example: I thought I messed something up and wasn't sure how to undo it, so I though, 'I'll quit and re-open without saving.' NOPE! AVID MUST SAVE ALL! ALL THE TIME! Luckily I hadn't actually messed anything up and all was well; lesson learned. Also according to my sort of mentor, the little squarish white, black, white stripped thing in the bottom left corner of each window is called the hamburger.

First I made a bin to work out of separate from the bins the editor was using, so I wouldn't mess anything up. I made a copy of the edit sequence to work from. I set all of my bins so they only show me the columns: Tape, Camroll, S3D Clip Name, S3D Channel, S3D Group Name, S3D Inversion, and S3D Eye Order. I also clicked on the hamburger so I could set the bin display to only show me Master Clips, Sequences, Groups, and Stereoscopic Clips, and to Show Reference Clips.

Upon the recommendation of a professional at Spy Post (, which is where I'm working on this, I first went through and gave all of the ProRes Tape and Camroll names that matched the clip names, minus the .mov part. Camroll is easy because you can just click on the field and directly copy/paste it. Tape is more annoying and tedious since you have to right click, select modify, go to source, copy/paste the name, and click through a bunch of 'Are you sure you want to do this? The world might end.' prompts. On the bright side, once you've entered all the source names they are available to select when you go to enter Tape names for the R3D clips.

When importing all of the raw R3D, I used the Link to AMA Volume feature. This would almost be really cool and efficient if I didn't have to select each roll folder instead of being able to select days. (My file folder structure goes like this: Drive Name>Days>Rolls>L or R) I could have told it to make specific bins or something, but I didn't, so it made L and R bins. It did at least put all of the rolls in the same L or R folder, instead of making a million new ones. This was nice when I dragged all of the L and R bin contents into my special bin I was working out of.

I then went through and selected in the S3D Channel column whether or not clips were left or right eye, and while you're at it, you might as well select the S3D Inversion as well, depending on how the movie was shot. A cool thing I learned a little late was if you have multiple clips selected, they all change when you get the channel or inversion. I found it most efficient to do all of the left eye first, then re-sort the organization by the S3D Channel column so all of the Monoscopic clips end up together, select all of them because most are probably right eye, deselect all of the ProRes .mov ones that get mixed in from the edit, and set their Channel and Inversion.

Now for S3D Group Names! I thought it'd be super cool if I just selected everything (minus the .mov ones), right clicked, and selected 'Populate S3D Group Names automatically', and everything worked, but it didn't. Something about not liking multiple roll names (using the console from the Tools menu is helpful for figuring these things out). I ended up having to select each roll and populating the group names. I did it so they would all have the left eye name since the edit was done with it. Again, selecting each roll, deselecting the .mov that get in the way, and voila, group names. This was also good for me to find the occasional missing eye clip. AVID will complain about something something can't exactly remember the prompt, then you look to see which eye has one that the other doesn't, deselect it, and voila, group names. I noted which were missing so I could track them down later.

If I wanted to, I could make a new bin for 3D clips and turn all of my group named clips into stereoscopic clips and put them in that bin, which I've done in a test and it works great, but I would first like to figure out how to conform the stereoscopic clips back to the edit, so I'm working on a test. I'm failing so far. Matching raw R3D back to the edit is easy, once you figure out that AVID hates Mac formatted drives but holds back its disdain until the moment you go to relink. After moving the clips to something Windows formatted, it's happy to conform it. So I had to figure out where to get 7TB of space with no budget for buying another RAID. I ended up dividing the Edit Back-up drive onto the remaining space of the Master raw drives, reformatting it for Windows, and copying all of the raw onto it. And by me I mean the editor because I was out of town.

Blah blah blah, stuff copied, AVID happy with a NTFS drive, missing metadata re-entered, able to conform back to 2D R3D footage, but I still can't for the life of me figure out how to get stereoscopic clips to relink to the edit. So now I research, scour forums, maybe make some calls to AVID, eat some cereal, maybe go for a walk because I have been sitting for WAY too long.