Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Final Cut, Premiere, and the GH1

So, there are some limitations in Adobe Premiere when it comes to so-called "merged clips". We really need to have the option of using at least two tracks of audio. What if we have two characters and one is far behind the other? Normally on set we would put a plant mic or a lav on either the close character or the far one. That's standard operating procedure. We don't do anything nuts with multitrack audio like they do in TV or big-budget pictures. We just want to have the option of two tracks. Most of the time we'll use only one track (I think we did all of Android Insurrection with one track.) But we need the option of two.
And Premiere won't let us do that. Phooey on them.
There's another way to go and that's to make each clip a sequence. And then to edit by cutting a sequence made up of other sequences. Whatever you do, though, never ever alter one of those originating sequences.
Or, you can sync all your footage on timelines and then copy and paste from the "synced" timeline onto an "edit" timeline. We've actually made quite a few pictures that way. It's not necessarily the world's most awesome way to work, but it's a way to work.
Another advantage that Premiere has over Final Cut is that it'll read the .mts files that are made by the Panasonic GH1. With Final Cut Pro you have to convert those files to Quicktime movies. And presumably FCP X can read the files directly -- although it still seems to need to convert them. Yeah, I know.
The strange thing about FCP X is that we don't have to do anything right now. I do have a list of things I want changed though:

  1. Oh please heaven can't we have a simple key command to export a still image? "File > Export > Using Quicktime Conversion > Format > Still Image"? You're kidding, right? Who thought of that? 
  2. I know that you guys at Apple only edit home movies. But you've been shouted at by professional editors for many years until you've gotten most things right. Still, you can't seem to fathom that I have more than one hard drive with (shudder) more than one project I have to work on each day. The default location for all the render files and such should be saved with the project. I shouldn't have to manually change the scratch disk drive every damn time I change drives and/or project. It may be that FCP X has fixed this, I don't understand their new and much bemoaned data management system. Premiere, on the other hand, has always had this problem under control.
  3. I do kind of hate how I'm married to a codec (specifically ProRes) when working with an Apple product. I don't mind the Quicktime wrapper even, but making me work in ProRes (although it's a perfectly good codec) but not letting a PC write to ProRes is pretty obnoxious (and exactly the sort of thing people accuse Microsoft of doing.)

Now, with numerous editors editing on different machines with hard drives comprised of identical data, we've found another exciting issue with the Panasonic GH1. Whenever you format the SD card on that camera, the counter resets the name of the movie file to "00000.mts". What this means is that every danged day we start out with files that have exactly the same file name as every other day on the shoot. So yeah, we're very careful to put each of those files in their own directory.
But -- if you go from a drive named (say) "0801 edit" and work on a drive named (say) "0801 drew edit", you can find that Final Cut can lose the location of the files pretty damned easily. And now you have the problem that your files all have the same names. So you go in and manually reconnect the media. But sometimes Final Cut decides that an entire sequence should come from (say) "day 04" and your edit gets very very wack.
I wish the GH1 would let you manually reset the counter to zero on movie files. Interestingly the GH1 does let you manually reset zero on the names of the still picture files. What I'm thinking now is that we shouldn't be re-formatting the SD cards but rather should be erasing the data inside them on a computer. We'll see if/how that system works in a test at some point before we shoot the next movie. (Ha! Like we ever do tests.)


Kangas said...

I gots to tell you, I have no idea what you're talking about with Premiere not letting you have multiple tracks of audio...I do it all the time.

We record separate audio on a Fostex recorder, but we also have the on-camera mic plugged in for reference(which is pulled in), so I'm not sure what you're talking about. (and in my last case it got complicated because the on-cam mic was mono, but the Fostex stuff is stereo...)

Andrew Bellware said...

Do you sync the takes and then make them into merged clips?
Or do you sync the takes on the timeline and then copy and paste the pieces you want onto a different timeline?
How do you work with that?

Kangas said...

FUUUUUUUUCK! I posted a long reply and got a fucking blogger 303 error, and when I went back, it was gone!!!! Fuck, I'll send ya a fuckin' email.

Andrew Bellware said...

Do it do it do it!