to Bruce Hornsby:
Students Produce Concert DVD
and DIRECTV Programs
the shoot at Villa Montalvo behind them, the SFSU MSP students and their
mentors, Mark DeVito of Autumn Productions
and Thomas Luehrsen of Elmwood
Studios, focused on the next milestone: postproduction of the DIRECTV
special, which was slated for its first airing on September 6. DIRECTV
needed a broadcast-quality master tape by mid-August, so there was little
time to spare.
First up was the gargantuan task of logging the dozens of hours of footage from the shoot. Luehrsen established a logging procedure for the students to follow, devising a Final Cut Pro logsheet and logging codes that would ensure consistency. SFSU MSP Director of Intensive Programs Craig Abaya posted the logsheet and guidelines on their Hornsby project intranet website, which continued to serve as a clearinghouse and central resource. Sylvia Martinez Yenes, Tony Jenkins and John Gilmore and Dave Hurley took charge of logging, assisted by Matt Abaya and Tai Nguyen.
"We had a massive amount of video to log in a very short time, but we were able to make the process quite streamlined, thanks to Final Cut Pro's many automatic and semi-automatic logging features," says Luehrsen. "We could enter a lot of data automatically, through mouse clicks. For example, we created three-digit codes for each song that would be entered automatically while the students were logging, so they could concentrate on providing descriptive information for each shot. That's where you create the most value in logging by adding notes that will enable you to find the right shots later."
Hornsby Concert on DIRECTV
and Editing Tips
Logging and editing took place on a half-dozen Power Mac G4 systems in one of the MSP's four Power Mac labs. The finished song segments would then be transferred to the project's designated master system, a Power Mac G4 equipped with a 22-inch Apple Cinema Display, an ATTO SCSI expansion card and nine Seagate ultra-wide SCSI drives in a StorCase Technology enclosure.
"Craig gave us some guidelines about styles of editing and cutting to music, about listening for certain instruments and finding shots that captured them," says Jenkins. "As we were editing, we could also watch each other's work and get a feel for the overall rhythm that was evolving for the piece." Abaya, DeVito and Luehrsen also delivered technical pointers on editing long-form programming with Final Cut Pro.
"Keyboard shortcuts are key on a project of this nature," says DeVito. "Through a massive number of shortcuts, the students were able to do large tasks in relatively few keystrokes. Becoming more keyboard-oriented was the way to go, especially under the gun."
"After working with high-end nonlinear editors for years, I was amazed at the efficiency of Final Cut Pro's workflow," he continues. "We were able to complete each song on long timelines that didn't slow down CPU speed. The students could easily move around large sequences without the typical hassle of CPU slowdown. Final Cut Pro came through for us in a big way."
"Our audio mentor, Kim Foscato, checked to make sure that the rough mixes stayed in sync with the Camera One audio, and they did," says Craig Abaya. "Since the rough mixes were coming from the same source as the final mix, we felt we could reasonably proceed with the video edits."
"The one thing we couldn't be sure about was the amount of time we'd have at the head and tail of each song, which we'd need to weave the songs together," he continues. "We wouldn't be able to make decisions about connecting the songs until we received the final mix. All of the footage from each song was transferred to the master workstation, so we could just change an in-point to add more video at the head of a song."
"I do everything on the Mac," says Hurley. "My G4 has a 22-inch Apple Cinema Display, a broadcast monitor, a mixing board and a Final Cut Pro keyboard which I actually brought in to the lab while I was working on my song. I also have two iPods (a 20GB and a 5GB) that I use as personal hard drives as well as music players. The iPod is a fully functional FireWire drive, so I'd save the title sequence to my 20 gig iPod and carry it to the lab, then plug the iPod in to the master workstation to transfer the footage."
"There was a lot to do in just a few days, matching the audio and then stitching the segments together," says Jenkins. "I'd start by putting the video portion of the song into a timeline, then open its audio file individually and place it within the audio track. Then I'd nudge the audio a bit, until it synced with the video."
With the final stereo audio mix in place for all of the songs, Jenkins began to connect the individual segments and meld them into a unified whole. "The realtime effects in Final Cut Pro 3 were a big help in meeting our deadline," says Jenkins. "I could see my dissolves and transitions instantly, so the editing went faster. The more I work with Final Cut Pro, the more I like it."
"With so many colored spotlights on the stage, it was a challenge to keep the levels broadcast-legal," says DeVito. "We used color correction to dial down a lot of the saturated lights-especially around the drummer, who was directly under a bank of red lights and had a lot of reflections coming off his drums. To be able to go into Final Cut Pro and change the saturation and RGB levels was great. I felt like we had great control, because it separated out the highlights and mid-tones and shadows."
By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the project was output to a DVcam videotape and rushed to Monaco Film/Video/Digital in San Francisco, which transferred the footage to a DigiBeta master. "We loaded a tape into our deck, selected 'print to tape' and ordered a big Chinese dinner to celebrate," says Craig Abaya. "The hour and 19 minutes rolled out of the system flawlessly. It was a massive project, but the Mac never let us down."
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