Latest Mad Scramble is Now Over…

From Michael Sellers

Sometimes we have some super-intense thing going on and I don’t even mention it — then realize I should, just to keep you updated and give you a flavor for what this is like. Latest big scramble was getting the final DVD elements to Monterey. Believe it or not — for a Jan 8 release they need all elements in final form four months in advance. Pretty ridiculous – -but that’s how it is because Blockbuster and most of the big players want nothing short of the full final product when they make their buy decisions — and those decisions will be based upon presentations that start in October…..so we had to get it done.

I mentioned that while we were in Bahamas we were filming a UNEXSO special feature. Well — I spent all day yesterday editing it….got it done at 7pm and turned it over to Mark Linthicum for tech finalization. The good news is — with modern technology I was able to do it all on my laptop — lay in the visuals, the sound, the graphics for titles and so on — then mix it. It still amazes me that I can do this on a laptop when just five years ago I would have had to do it in a $200/hour editing bay. That’s how far things have come.

The finalization that Mark would do is just to “sweeten” the sound a bit with some special equipment he has — clean out some backgrond noises, upgrade the quality of the mic’d voices, and so on. All of this could actually be done on my laptop (with external hard drive) but I just dont’ have time for doing all that. I do the creative stuff, make the decisions, then hand it off for polishing.

Meanwhile — there was the whole matter of getting the final HDCAM and DigiBeta masters done and delivered. Nowadays you really don’t need for it to go to tape at all. The project files all exist on external hard drives — one 500GB hard drive per reel (5 reels of 20 minutes each in a film). The uncompressed 2k material is on these hard drives and the DVD authoring house can/should be able to work directly from the hard drives. But for reasons that have to do with monterey wanting to do things the way they’ve always done them, we had to output to HDCAM and output to Digibeta then deliver that to monterey, who then sends it to Technicolor for quality control tests, and then it goes to the authoring house. It’s silly to do the transfer to tape because a) it’s not needed, and b) you pick up “artifacts”, little glitches, and that’s waht Technicolor will find, and then we’ll have to re-do certain portions — more expense for everyone — and the glitches don’t exist on the hard drive. Arrrgggh…! Not only that — the hard drive material is at 24p but digibeta and HD Cam run at 29.97i. (24p means 24 frames per second, progressive scan — just like a movie projector. 29.97i, means 29.97 frames per second, interlace — which is the way TV images are done. But DVD’s run at 24p. So doing it this “old” way — we take our 24p hard drive, convert it to 29.97 digibeta, then the authoring house extracts frames and rebuilds it back to 24p which is what we had in the first place. Now they (the authoring people) say there is no quality lost in doing it this way — but it just seems counterintuitive to add the frames, converting from progressive to interlace in the process, and then bump it back down to 24p. Anyway — soon there will be no tape. I hope so.

Now for the final irony. All this built up to a big scramble to get it all up to Monterey in Thousand Oaks (an hour north of LA) before 3pm so they could FedEx it (we thought) to their authoriing house in Arizona. But turns out — what they did was FedEx it right back to Technicolor in Burbank 5 minutes from our office. Wasted motion, but their system is such that they wanted to log it in at monterey first before sending it on to Technicolor – chain of custody kind of thing.

Okay, back to work. That was probably pretty boring but there you have it.

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~ by Michael Sellers on September 18, 2007.

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