Magazine article American Cinematographer

Digital Video Editing: Expanding Creative Horizons

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Digital Video Editing: Expanding Creative Horizons

Article excerpt

Part 3 of 4 explores more of the latest offline equipment and postproduction techniques.

Avid's Media Composers

Since its introduction in 1989, Avid's Media Composer series has revolutionized the world of offline video editing by providing a fast, easy-to-use, picture-based editing system that runs on a Macintosh computer platform. Editing with the various models of Media Composer is instantaneous, so changes can be quickly incorporated into the offline. Once the changes have been made, an EDL is exported from the Media Composer to an online system which interprets the list and assembles the final program from it. Avid's systems range from the professional ($90,000) to the industrial 210 ($15,000). Avid offers five video resolution qualities, which are different image quality levels for the output one sees during editing.

The reason one might want to edit in lower image quality is to put more video source material on the optical drive. Any tape format can be imported into an Avid. Says Marketing Program Manager Tobin Koch, "The most solid product for doing offline editing where you want to create an EDL that supports all major EDL formats is to read SMPTE time code in. You can save a copy, then change it. The program you created refers to the digital information on the disk; you don't have to create a lot more information." Avid Technology has also announced Film Option software for the Media Composer Series 2000 systems, enabling the playback of digitized images at 24 fps. This software for NTSC will be available for purchase as either a 24 fps-configured Media Composer Series 2000, or unbundled as an option for current Media Composer customers. This is the world's first digital nonlinear editing system to run at a true 24 fps, resulting in an exact correlation of one firm frame to one digital video frame.

Prior to the development of this software, film-originated footage could only be edited nonlinearly if it was first transferred to video, which runs at 30 fps. When 24 to 30 fps conversion is made, extra video fields are fabricated to compensate for the editing process. These extra frames can produce a stutter effect, making it difficult to edit as precisely as with film. As a result, feature film and television episodic editors often viewed digital editing, despite its obvious advantages, as a process involving crucial compromises.

"We take the film transfers, convert them to 30-frame video, work with them in the digital domain, then convert them back to original 24-frame so you can edit exactly to the negative. The frames added during film-to-video transfer are removed electronically," Koch explains.

To make the process of film matchback easier, Avid came up with MediaMatch verson 4.0 ($7,000) with the new enhancements for translating a video EDL into a film cut list. With this software upgrade, editors can now generate both change lists and negative cut lists, in addition to the existing ability to create pull and assemble lists. Using the information contained in logs edited at 30 fps, MediaMatch 4.0 calculates the relationship between video and the original film. The cut list provides the start and end edge numbers for each film cut, and the order in which the film cuts must be assembled.

"We have audio capabilities up to 24 tracks of 48 kHz 16-bit audio," adds Koch. "Our base audio capabilities start out with 4 tracks of 22 kHz audio." Avid is now shipping Audio Vision, a fully digital, nonlinear, sound with pictures, track layup and editing station which integrates virtual track digital audio editing with sync-locked digital motion picture playback.

A new product, the Media Composer Model 210 ($14,995), consists of software and board-level hardware which can be added to a Mac computer to create a professional digital, nonlinear, offline editing system. Model 210 is targeted at small postproduction facilities, independent producers and advertising agencies who already own a Mac and want to add professional offline editing capabilities to the system. …

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