What I did over summer vacation

I know how Rip Van Winkle felt. It’s only been three months, but it feels – and looks – like I’ve been away from my studio for much longer. The place is an absolute mess.

Ever since I’ve been in business for myself, I’ve kicked back during the summer months, using the time to hone new skills, and acquaint myself with new gear and software. I’ve never been a Type A entrepreneur by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve always made time for teaching and writing – two very time-intensive, but low paying endeavors. I’ve even made time to go grad school and get a degree – a time-intensive and costly endeavor.

This summer was different. I rejoined the real world for the first time in seven years. Commuting, long hours, and insane deadlines returned to my daily life. Working with the ABC News team was a great experience, and in the process I learned a few things.

First, I learned that Avid still has a pretty darn strong value proposition in the world of documentary post production. The company does a pretty terrible job of articulating it at times, but nothing beats Avid in a shared storage environment. Five edit bays all accessing the same material, utilizing each others pulls and selects (rough sequences), and just being able to leave things in “drop boxes” requires an Avid. Yeah, I know it can be done in Final Cut Pro… but it’s not the same. In fact, even in a 2-seat environment Avid holds quite an edge if you need to share media and metadata.

I’m interested in seeing what Final Cut Server does to counter Avid’s huge advantage in collaborative environments.

Second, I learned that producers have a place in the edit room. Lots of my former producers might be surprised to learn I have come to this opinion. Initially I was hired as a producer/editor, but the whole production evolved to the more standard producer and editor teams. And the series was the better for it. Sure, flying solo’s great for the ego, but this producer/editor does better as a producer or editor – not both.

What I missed this summer…

  • Adobe’s big Flash and H.264 announcement. Definitely a case of losing the codec battle andwinning the platform war. Combined with the release of Premiere Pro, Encore, etc. on the Mac. Adobe’s in a great position. This sums up the technical stuff better than I ever could.
  • The iPhone hype. Turns out I saved myself $200 by being too busy to get on line for one. I’ll be commenting more on this shortly. Cringley did OK, but what is the fascination with psychoanalyzing Steve Jobs? For crying out loud… you’re supposed to charge what people will pay. A bunch of gotta have the first one, show-off types deserve to be fleeced.
  • Red One’s release. Actually it was late enough that I caught it. I’m not the type to say I told you so… but I just did. The skewering I took for simply saying it wasn’t going to be ready for NAB. Still, hats off to the Red team. I’m looking forward to getting acquainted with the post workflow for Red.
  • All the bloggers and forum trolls declaring what they would do if they were given David Krall’s job after he left Avid. It’s not like no one’s ever said that it’s time for Xpress Pro to go and that Media Composer needs to be repriced. That’s great. In fact… click here or here or… you get the idea. More substance in fewer words.

So, now I’m back. Those of you still checking in here regularly… I’ll be at full throttle soon enough.

4 Thoughts on “What I did over summer vacation

  1. mark Raudonis on September 13, 2007 at 3:03 am said:

    frank,

    I just watched an episode of NASCAR in Primetime, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good show. Very entertaining. I confess that I’m NOT a race fan, but if found the storytelling very compelling… especially the intercutting with the young kids (go karts). Nice job.

    I can’t let your comment about FCP and collaborative workflow go unchallenged. You say you know it CAN be done, but you sound like you don’t believe it. I’m guessing here, but methinks you just don’t have much experience with FCP/X-SAN compared to Avid/Unity. You’re comments about “just being able to leave things in drop boxes requires an AVID” is JUST PLAIN WRONG!

    We’ve been working in a collaborative environment using FCP and X-SAN for over three years now. I’m not talking about a couple of editors on a small documentary, but almost 100 editors company wide sharing 50 terrabytes of data. Most episodes have a minimum of 3-5 editors working simultaneously, sharing sequences, clips, selects, b-rolls etc.
    So, yes it CAN be done… and with some forethought and planning, it just as easily as with Unity.

    If you’re ever in Los Angeles, I invite you to stop by and see for yourself.

    Welcome back.

    Mark

  2. Mark,

    I believe you, and I even expected to hear from you.

    To be clear, my use of the term Drop Box referred to bins named as such. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but 2 FCP editors cannot be editing within the same project at the same time. We would typically be working in the same project with bins “Frank INBOX” or “For Frank” where others would leave stuff for me.

    Things like sequence and bin locking made project management simpler than in an FCP environment.

    Your point about it being just as easy “with some forethought and planning” — well that equals work which equals time which equals money. Far, far less forethought and planning are required in Unity environments.

    Now you’re in an ongoing post environment. Planning is amortized over a much longer period of time. It can be reasonably justified in certain situations.

  3. mark Raudonis on September 13, 2007 at 9:58 pm said:

    By “forethought and planning” I meant like around ten minutes!

    It’s really no biggie.

    “Same project at the same time”. No. But…. think of it this way, “The ENTIRE SAN is the project”. We rely on the basic mac file structure to organize media, cuts, grfx, interviews etc. For an FCP based workflow, the PROJECT IS IRRELEVANT! Most Avid folks just don’t understand that. The SAN contains the entire universe of choices. Your project need only contain a single timeline.

    It really annoys me when I keep hearing ” same project at the same time”. In an FCP/X-SAN workflow this really doesn’t matter. What counts is that dozens of editors can happily collaborate simultaneously on the same epsiode. THAT, I can assure you is quite easily accomplished.

    Mark

  4. Michael Rothenberg on September 25, 2007 at 1:30 pm said:

    Wow, Mark, I’ve always appreciated FCP’s flexibility with regard to projects but it never occurred to me to disregard project architecture altogether. That’s very clever. How do you deal with: a) media management, given that the Capture Scratch folder must be used and is organized by project; and b) archiving, given that the Autosave folder is organized the same way? Thanks for the whack on the side of the head.

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