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So this week at NAB Avid released details about their upgrade to the Media Composer editing system.  Talk about gamechanger.  Avid now allows for dragging and dropping in the timeline, native Quicktime AND RED support (and I’m not talking about Quicktime Proxies here), solo and mute buttons in the timeline, a much stronger user interface, I could go on…  Hey Apple and the uninspired team at Final Cut Pro: now that Avid has co-opted all your awesome features, what about you maybe making some of your own innovations?

It’s been a long time coming for Avid.  Granted, none of these improvements would have ever come had Apple not entered the market.  The Cupertino computer giant does deserve that credit.  But when it comes to making decisions about what software I’d use on my next job, any argument against Avid has officially been nullified for me.  I used to have an expression: Final Cut Pro is a great editor on top of a crappy media manager, and Avid is a so-so editor on top of an awesome media manager.  Today I officially put that to rest because Avid has proven that they are willing to change.

As for Final Cut Pro, I can’t say the same.  It’s been months since I purchased my upgrade to Final Cut Pro 7, and I have to say, I’m not about to open the box and install that POS on my computer.  Sure, there are quality cosmetic changes to the editing system, like the introduction of ProRes Proxy and 4444 and the colored locators that trim with your edits, but that masks the fact that Final Cut Studio 3 actually runs SLOWER than Final Cut Studio 2 [link 1] [link 2].  And Avid already has the best project-sharing functionality, so tell me what I should choose Apple next time around?

Apple entered the market strongly and has done great things to bring professional editing to the people.  But the truth is Avid has responded by doing laps around Apple while Apple is distracted by their innovations at the consumer level.  It’s high time that Apple either sh*t or get off the pot when it comes to Final Cut Studio.  Sell it or fix it.  I’m tired of dealing with this.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive.  No sooner than I write this post do I see and article from MacSoda that quotes the almighty himself Steve Jobs as saying “The next release will be awesome.”  Scanning through the comments, there’s a mixture of excitment and true disbelief as to whether that is indeed true or simply spin.  Color me undecided, but at the moment, I’m still waiting for something more than Steve’s curt emails.

If you disagree with me, please comment.  Check out the first comment left already by Zach Fine, who presents an excellent rebuttal about the FCS3 upgrade and makes some great points about workflows and benefits.  I still disagree about the state of Final Cut Pro, but hey, he’s a smart guy and he makes some great points.

Interesting post from the ever-excellent Silicon Alley Insider: Sorry, There’s No Way To Save The TV Business

As with print-based media, Internet-based distribution generates only a tiny fraction of the revenue and profit that today’s incumbent cable, broadcast, and satellite distribution models do.  As Internet-based distribution gains steam, therefore, most TV industry incumbents will no longer be able to support their existing cost structures.

Here’s the gist: we’re all going to be out of work in five years.  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is that I don’t see much of a future for the industry.  THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT I DON’T LOVE THE BUSINESS AND WANT TO DO THIS FOREVER, but the fact of the matter is, especially with post-production, job levels are taking a nose-dive and revenue streams are not far behind it.  I mean, we already have internet-equipped televisions, internet video on the rise, and more people then ever on the internet, so the technology is there.  How long before the industry has the rug pulled out from under us, just like the newspaper and record industry?

And things are already dead in this town.  What from the Writer’s Strike, the SAG “strike”, and the down economy, I can’t image jobs ever getting back to the levels they were at when I first moved out here.  I don’t want to say that we’ll never find a way to work, but if you’ve got any ideas, I suggest you pick up the phone and call some industry executives, because they want to know.

Quick link to a recent episode of KCRW’s The Business: Below The Line and Under The Gun.  It’s probably the best description of the job market facing us below-the-line’rs in this town.  Only problem is that it doesn’t even address the job market for post-production, because with the addition of technology to all these problems, editorial staffs have gone from double-digit crews to maybe two or three people for multi-million dollar projects! You want to talk about too much supply vs. demand, here is your example #1!

I’d love to hear what anyone has to say about this.  Hell, talk me down if you think I’m crazy.  I would love for someone to make me feel better about this.  Please comment!

Hey everyone.  First of all, a quick thanks to Bruce Sharpe, CEO of Singular Software.  His company made PluralEyes, the company I referenced in my previous Dear Production entry.  A few days ago posted my blog on his twitter feed.  That’s big for someone like me who is brand new to this web 2.0 linked economy.  He also recommended a good story about I Love Lucy and how the show really innovated multi-camera production.  You can find Bruce on twitter and on blogspot, and probably at NAB this week.  From his twitter feed:From Bruce Sharpe's Twitter Feed

Here’s the video I recommended about his company:
(I’m just learning how to embed video on WordPress)

Also thanks to Lindsey Rundell, my assistant editor amigo, currently working on .  She read my post and told me about Quickeys, a macros program which should make half of Avid Multi-Grouping easier.  The program allows you to program a series of keystrokes into one keystroke so that, in her words, “It does the F1-6 deal for you AND adds the Aux TC.”  It looks like it would be a great help, but nothing is a replacement for proper production techniques.  Thanks Lindsey!

Okay, I’m not one here to criticize people in production. Post-production is almost a completely different beast from production and I’ve walked very little in the shoes of the camera department (enough to know I didn’t want to do it for a living). That said, DEAR PRODUCTION: JAM SYNC YOUR DAMN CAMERAS!!!

For those unaware, jam syncing is a process used by productions when sound is recorded separately or when multiple cameras are shooting the same event. It’s used in features, television, music videos, documentary, and especially reality television.  Simply put, the production team uses a machine to send continuous matching timecode to each camera.  Once the footage lands in my hands, that allows me to simply hit “Sync By Timecode”, create synced groups with every angle’s action lined up, and start editing immediately.  All production has to do is occasionally set their timecodes to match that machine.  Working with it is great…IF it happens.

What production doesn’t understand is that if at any point the timecode drifts out-of-sync – at any point – then the amount of time I have to spend syncing clips increases exponentially compared to the amount of time they delay stopping to sync their cameras. And every camera has a tendency to drift out of sync. All too often, they decline to be diligent.  On one project, this showed up during a live-to-tape session where six cameras and an audio recorder were recording the same group meeting.  NONE of these cameras were synced.  Despite the fact that each camera was stationary and the location did not move, there was not even a slate to provide me with a point of sync.  Each clip had to be synced according to some random point in the action.  And that took over two days with a second-shift assistant editor working on it as well.  If they had simply jam synced, this would have taken us minutes, not days.  And I should say that while this was a bad experience, I’d be a rich man if I only had a dollar for every time I had to deal with timecode sync issues.

Here I’ll post what some of you may be looking for: Tim Leavitt over at View From The Cutting Room Floor has a great blog post about fool-proof Avid MultiGroups.  That describes the process you have to go through if you’re editing in Avid and you have the problems I describe here.  If you’re working in Final Cut Pro, here’s a great post from our dear friends at the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro User Group (who are totally awesome, let me just say) about syncing multicam clips.  As an added bonus, you should check out this little plug-in gem called PluralEyes.  It’s a Final Cut Pro plug-in that scans your audio waveforms and aligns your all your clips in your sequence so that you never have to sync again! It’s only in beta phase now, and I’ve downloaded it but haven’t had the chance to use it yet.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity.  This video also has a great explanation of what I’m talking about as far as jam syncing.  Email me if you need any additional help.  I’ll see what I can do.

Just to make a final point and show I’m not really just sore about my experiences but that this is really a good idea.  Imagine that this happens on a Michael Bay movie. There’s some action sequence that has ten cameras covering some big explosion. Imagine getting all that footage and not having timecode to sync the entire action.  It would be hell to edit, right?  Well, my dear friends in production, please remember: jam sync your damn cameras.

-Rob

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