April 5, 2007

The Class This Week


Assignment for Next Week

Additional Material


It's a magical and a scary time. Throughout the entire editing process we've been able to postpone the "final decisions" knowing that there was always another cut. Now, we've run out of other cuts.

Typically, the final screening, like today's, would be followed by a day or two or minor tweaking and then locking the film. Of couse, the concept of "locking" (no more editing of picture, the length and content stays the same) is fast disappearing. Nowadays, some films don't lock until close to their release date. Some films are even shooting until right before release. However, this is an expensive proposition and, even more so, can also lessen the quality of the work that needs to happen before the film is released. If a composer is writing and recording to one version of the film and if the sound editors are looping in a day or so, changes will cause lines not to be looped or music to be recorded incorrectly, leaving it up to the music editor to bring musical accents closer to where their intended placement was.

In any case, when the "lock" happens (let's call it "handover" since we're handing the film over to the sound, music and picture finishing departments) a number of things need to occur.

Tape Dubs
As soon as possible, the sound and picture departments (as well as the studio's marketing and publicity departments) will want to have tape copies of the film. Each one of these copies will have different requirements. Some will want temp music, other won't. Some will want time code, others won't. The best way to handle this, is to do an output to a DigiBeta tape with music split off from the rest of the sound, and added sound effects split off on yet another group of tracks. The Digibeta's multiple tracks make this very possible. Then, when tape dubs are required (and the assistants should have long ago gotten a list of every department's requirements along that line) different style dubs can be ordered off of this one master. Time codes can be burned in or not, music channels can be transferred with dialogue or not, etc.

The assistant will make sure that all unwanted sound is placed on added audio tracks that will not be part of the tape dubs or OMFs. One exception is what is commonly called "X tracks." These tracks are composed of the audio that was removed from the dialogue tracks in order to make room for other things. They are not meant to be used in the final mix, but are often helpful for other functions. For instance, if you've been screening with dialogue from one trake cheated over another picture, you'll put the original sync dialogue on the dialogue X track in case you need to loop that line. In that case, the original line will be there for lip sync guidance.

The assistant will also make sure that any picture that is not needed but which is on video tracks is completely removed from the timeline. This often occurs when an editor has put a cutaway on a higher track, but left the original shot on a lower video track. It is best, before handing over the picture to the online house or negative cutter, to cut the insert shot into the original video track, removing anything that is not meant to be used.

The assistant editor will then take the existing edited tracks and start to rearrange them in an order that makes sense for other departments. This may require him or her to split out the audio into a lot more tracks than the eight which the editor has been working with. At this point, this is okay because this version of the cut is not meant for screening or output. So, added sound effects get put on their own tracks. Music is on its own tracks, regardless of how many that ends up being. Dialogue lives on its own tracks, even if that means putting it across five or six tracks. Some amount of dialogue splitting goes on here as well. Doing this will make the sound editor's job a bit easier in Pro Tools.

Spotting Sessions
These are two separate sessions where the director and picture editor (and the producer, quite often) sit down with the various music and, then, sound people and go through the film, foot by foot, describing where music begins and ends, and putting adjectives to the music. I like to do music first, because knowing where music exists in a film will make certain sound decisions more obvious. Since the spotting sessions are what I like to call "adjective sessions" the music spotting session will give the sound editors a sense of just what will be accented musically (assuming that the music works and is kept in the final mix) and how big or small it's going to be. This might affect how much foley they are doing, for instance. I like to make sure that the composer and music editor leave the spotting sessions with all of the materials that they need to get going -- a video dub tailored to their specifications along with a detailed post production schedule. The sound editors will leave with a number of dubs, the ADR spotting list that I've made up before the session, OMFs and their attendant EDL printouts, and a detailed post production schedule.

Film Cut List (FCL)
Simultaneously with the above, the assistant is preparing the elements that will enable the negative cutter to match the original camera negative (OCN) to the Avid cut. If there is a print, then that print is conformed and marked up with edit marks and run through marks, as well as indications where opticals will be. The assistant, knowing where VFX or opticals will be edited into the final cut negative, marks down these items directly onto the cut work picture as "DO NOT CUT". Negative cutting destroys at least one frame at the head and one more at the tail, of every piece of negative in the film. You don't want the neg cutter to make an edit that will lose a frame that is needed.

The Avid automatically creates this FCL but like any computer program, it's not always 100% accurate thanks to the Garbage In, Garbage Out phenomenon. A good assistant will always check every single cut on the list, against the actual film (or against the Avid, if there is no film print) .

The following list is a description of the process of creating a FCL using Avid's FilmScribe.

1. Within the Avid Media Composer or Xpress program, identify the bins containing the reels for which cut-lists are to be generated.
2. From the Output menu, select and click FilmScribe.
3. Minimise the Avid application, by either clicking the minimise button marked by a bar on the top right corner of the Title Bar or click the symbol on the top left corner of the Title Bar and select minimise. You could optionally also exit the application itself if you do not wish to continue editing, as FilmScribe® runs independently of Media Composer or Xpress.
4. From File Menu, select New Cut List. The Cut List window opens.
5. From File Menu, select Open. An Explorer-type window opens. Go to Avid Projects, find the required project and open the Bin containing the reels for which Cut Lists are required. The bin window opens beneath the Cut List window. You should see only the sequences listed in this new window.
6. Drag the first sequence onto the empty panel on the top left corner of the Cut List window. The sequence appears in that panel. Select the tracks for which you need lists and also select your options in the Global and Assemble list options available on the right hand panel of the Cut List window. Be sure to select Key Numbers and at least Name (or Scene/Take, if you use that for clap numbers) among the options as the Cut List may possibly contain errors if only the Key Numbers option is chosen. Selecting "Show transition f/x as cuts" is recommended as it indicates the transition type next to the cut in the Assemble List itself.
7. Click the preview button. A Cut List will be generated according to the options you have chosen. If you have forgotten to select a track, you will be prompted to do so. Should you want to make any changes in the format, make the changes in the options and simply click preview again. The Preview window will update to reflect the changes required.
8. From the File Menu, choose Save. The Dialog box can be used to save this Cut List to any convenient location either on your computer or directly onto a floppy disc. Saving it within your computer and then copying it to a floppy disc is the recommended procedure. Be sure to retain the ".txt" suffix to the name or Windows may not be able to recognise the file later.
9. Take the floppy to a PC connected to a printer and take a print-out. Of course, if your computer is already attached to a printer, you can directly print the Cut List as well.

The Edit Decision List is the video or audio equivalent of the Film Cut List. Simply, it describes every single edit point in terms of time code and tape roll number. If the original telecine process and the subsequent digitizing was done properly, then the code numbers on the dubs should match the original material exactly and the online video editing house can match the Avid timeline cuts frame by frame. A sample edit list is in the Handouts section below.

In some cases, an EDL is created for the sound department, who will go back to the original set tapes and digitize in the correct audio, matching it exactly to the audio as cut in the handover/lock section above.

Of course, even better than matching audio cuts to the original using EDLs, is actually giving the sound department the audio files split exactly as you've split them in the Avid. This can be done using the OMF process. It's not hard, but there are several flavors of OMF and not every sound house works the exact same way. When you create the OMFs inside the Avid, you should make sure that you're using the exact settings that they need. Once again, a lot of advance planning will go a long way to making sure that whatever you create for your sound house, is what they really need.

Continuity for Version 499
This continuity, which you will get if you actually watch the latest cut, reflects a number of continuity changes -- including some rearrangements and a few deletions. s
This sequence, in which the two jocks are killed, went through a number of permutations, including some temp music suggested by David Newman, our composer. We will discuss it next week.
Bruce Nazarian's DVD Pitfalls (PDF File)
[Because of the size of this file (it's 25 pages) I'm not distributing this in class, but providing the link for it here.] In preparation for his presenation next week, Bruce wanted all of us to take a look at this, based on a Power Point presentation he gave several years ago. Bruce is a member of the one of the original trade associations for DVD Authoring and this is from a talk he gave for them in 2002.
Sample Avid Film Cut List (PDF File)
This is a sample cut list created using the Avid Filmscribe function.
How to Create EDLs in the Avid (PDF File)
There is a difference between and EDL and a Film Cut List. The Film Cut List does exactly what it says -- provide a way of telling a negative cutter how to cut the film negative to match the edit that you've made on the Avid. And Edit Decision List (EDL) is a list of every video edit that you've made. The FCL is designed to be used on film projects and requires that the proper information is input into the Avid when digitizing. The EDL is designed to be used on video projects and requires only that video roll numbers and time code numbers be entered properly on digitizing.
Post Schedule (revised) for the Remainder of the Semester (PDF File)
We will probably still be revising this schedule on a week-to-week basis, but this is the latest version.

Complete the picture editing of the film
We have finished working the major portions of the film and will now be doing the final tweaks before we lock picture before next week. We won't actually watch the film next week (though we might do that on a real film) but we have learned things from today's screening that we will probably want to incorporate into the final cut that will be locked and sent to the negative cutter.
Read this interview with David Newman
In this interview, from Soundtracknet, David talks about his work on the film SERENITY, as well as his background and film scoring work. In preparation for David's visit here next week.
Read the script pages for HEATHERS
If we have time, David Newman and I will talk about temping, spotting and scoring one sequence from HEATHERS -- the killing of the two jocks.
Complete your resume
Janet Conn will be back on April 26th to help rework your resumes. You should have your pass done by Wednesday, April 19th and emailed to her at this email address by then in order to get the benefit of her services.

Apple Motion - Using Keyframes
This tutorial, from Ken Stone, discusses one of the basic tenets of all effects work -- whether you're doing them in the Avid's Effects Pallette, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects or Apple's Motion. Keyframes are the way that we can precisely change the visual behavior of an image over time.
Getting Around in Motion
Mark Spencer's excellent basic tutorial on using keyboard shortcuts in Motion is also a great look into the basics of what the program can do.
Editors' Guild Articles on AE
The Editors Guild magazine has published a number of tips and tutorials on Adobe After Effects. This is a link to the main index page for them.
Moving Text Around In Circles in Motion
This is another article on Ken Stone's excellent web site, describes how to move text around in Apple's Motion.
David Newman Biography
I'm hoping to have David Newman here next week to talk about music and spotting, something that we'd be doing right about now in a post schedule. This is a link to his biography on the web site, Music From The Movies, so you can get to know a little something more about him.
What The Sound Department Does When We Handover
This article from the Editors Guild Newsletter discussed how handing over an OMF is superior to simply providing an EDL to your sound crew.
Tips and Hints on Avid Express Pro HD
Hershelder.com has a lot of information on it. This is a page of tips and tricks for the Avid Xpress HD.