Saturday, November 24, 2007


As the tools get better and systems get faster, why does everything seem slower?

I’m one of three editors cutting WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB (WMC). Being first on, the assistant and I, CJ Liao, chose Macintosh Media Composer Adrenalines as the first two systems. The next two editors chose Meridiens, on OS X. The storage is Avid Unity.

After several weeks of dealing with crashes and incompatibilities, we’ve managed to reach an equilibrium where everything seems to be working pretty well. We’ve found the version of Sapphire that works on all systems. And we’ve gotten the equipment vendor to upgrade the CPU’s and software of the Adrenalines, and to upgrade the software on the Unity system. I still get the occasional “Bus error in Main thread” crash, but not very often.

Yet having the state of the art systems doesn’t mean I don’t go crazy waiting for bins to be created, for bins to open, for the Capture Tool to open, for saves to complete, for renders to complete, for the operating system to switch from any other program to the Media Composer. These are very fast machines, and the software has been working 95% of the time without a crash. Yet it seems my time twiddling has increased. If it isn’t just my own impatience, I can only guess that the cause of this slowness is the interaction with Unity.

Other thoughts about the current Media Composer, 2.7.5

- pre-set workspaces are great (Capture, Editing, Color Correction), yet no one but me seems to use them.

- pre-sets are imperfect: Capture never remembers that I opened the Waveform Monitor and the Vectorscope. I can set the Audio pre-set to record temp ADR. But it won't remember what bin I always record to, nor will it set the Audio Tool to Input.

- ScriptSync is a really cool tool. And not that useful. The major flaw is you can’t change the script pages to match new colored pages (who works with a script that never changes? - I mean, except when the writers are on strike). You must work with the script as imported, or import a whole new script and lose all the setup you’ve done. Plus, much of the time a camera take is just a series of re-starts by the camera and actors. To make ScriptSync useful it also needs a way to easily indicate re-starts in a take, when digitizing. It is a great technology and is a shame to not be used.

- the Audio Suite is wonderful. I’m hoping Avid continues to integrate more Digidesign audio plugins. The current D-Verb is okay, but could certainly be improved.

- I would love to integrate other Audio Suite plugins from other vendors (Sony, Waves), but I’m told Avid no longer supports those. A shame.

- my brain and fingers work faster than the Avid. I’ll make a deletion, then hit MarkIn… and the Avid doesn’t register it. Aren’t computers supposed to work faster than humans?

- I constantly save (Apple+S), but the system is slow and saves do not happen in the background, which makes saving a pain. And the Avid saves bins that are open but haven’t changed. Also, it gives you a message that it can’t saved locked bins. It would be nice to turn that off.

- MC is now fast enough to keep a waveform display in the timeline. Very nice.

- MC allows an external mixer, which for me is fantastic. I've never seen anyone else use one.

- I’ve layed out my editing screen with a palette of buttons, so I always have most commands I need easily available. Yet, every time I re-start the MC, the the shape of the palette is different from where I left it.

- the MC never remembers my render drive on start up. That’s just stupid. And it has always been that way.

- the MC never remembers the bin where I just saved a title to. Never has. Stupid.

- the Avid web site has some excellent tutorials where I’ve learned about SpectraMatte, Tracking, and Marquee. They need more.

- try as I might, I still can’t get a camera bump to smooth correctly using the tracking tool.

- an image blowup of any amount looks awful, so I have to avoid them. That isn’t helpful.

- the Marquee title tool isn’t very useful. It is quite complicated, so why bother.

- I keep my audio outputs in direct, and each track goes to a separate mix channel. But when I try to do a Quicktime Reference output, I get the error message that it can’t output the audio in Direct. This drives me crazy.

- Superbin: somebody needs to rethink how this works. I’ve tried, but can’t find much use for it.

- Color Correction is nice, but secondary CC would be even nicer.

- when I’m editing I keep several bins always open, to store titles, motion effects, and effect plugins. But many times, I will re-open a project and all bins are closed. I can find no reason why this happens.

- I would love to be able to attach a external keypad where I could assign Avid functions. A regular keyboard just doesn’t have enough keys.

- I haven’t figured out how to put my settings on the server so I can open them from any work station. It is hell sitting down to someone elses Avid and to not only not have your own keyboard shortcuts, but now you have to contend with how they have changed every keystroke.

- I wish Avid had a system of reporting problems, or would send a report to Avid after any crash.

All for now.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To move your settings to a server, open the Avid Users folder. Inside you'll see a folder with the name of your settings on it- move the entire folder to a server, then from the server into the Avid users folder of any MC. Then you can simply change settings on any system by going to the project window, settings tab, and selecting your settings from the drop down.

7:45 PM  

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