A D V E N T U R E S I N
• South Park: TV’s Longest Week
• The Future of On-Set Metadata
• Fixing It In “Pre”
• How One Small Team Handles 3 Network Shows
Media that makes HD happen.
Whether you shoot high defi nition tape, optical, hard disk or fl ash, Sony Professional Media makes
HD happen. Only Sony media is co-engineered for optimal performance with Sony camcorders, so
you get bit-for-bit data integrity for those once-in-a-lifetime shots. Sony’s hybrid recording options
with fast fi le transfers and instant access make HD more effi cient than SD. Sony LTO and AIT
data cartridges can back up your fi le-based operations. And Sony supports you with trained media
specialists, unique recovery services and the Rewarding Recording ® loyalty program. The choice
for HD is Sony Professional Media. The #1 brand in professional media.
© 2008 Sony Electronics Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Features and specifi cations are subject to change without notice.
Sony, AIT, Rewarding Recording, HDNA and the HDNA logo are trademarks of Sony. LTO is a trademark of Quantum, HP and IBM. Professional Hard Disk Drive shown with optional battery.
THE MAGAZINE FOR MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WORKING IN VIDEO, FILM, AUDIO, MOTION GRAPHICS, IMAGING & DESIGN
CREATIVE COW MAGAZINE
A CREATIVECOW.NET PUBLICATION
Ron & Kathlyn Lindeboom
Gary Adcock, George Bashenov,
Jan-Willem Breure, Carl Larsen,
Pete O’Connell, Zed Saeed,
Subrato Sangupta, Dave Stump
LAYOUT & DESIGN:
Ron Lindeboom, Tim Wilson
ONLINE SYSTEMS ADMIN:
(805) 239-5645 voice
(805) 239-0712 fax
Creative COW Magazine is published bi-monthly by
CreativeCOW.net (Creative Communities of the World) at
125 Alydar Place, Paso Robles, CA 93446. (805) 239-5645.
Postage paid at Hanover, New Hampshire. U.S. subscription
rates are free to qualified subscribers. Creative COW
is a registered trademark of CreativeCOW.net. All rights
are reserved. Magazine contents are copyright © 2008 by
Creative COW Magazine. All rights are reserved. Right of
reprint is granted only to non-commercial educational
institutions such as high schools, colleges and universities.
No other grants are given.
The opinions of our writers do not always reflect those
of the publisher and while we make every effort to be
as accurate as possible, we cannot and do not assume
responsibility for damages due to errors or omissions.
LEGAL STATEMENT: All information in this magazine is
offered without guarantee as to its accuracy and applicability
in all circumstances. Please consult an attorney,
business advisor, accountant or other professional to discuss
your individual circumstances. Use of the information
in this magazine is not intended to replace professional
counsel. Use of this information is at your own risk
and we assume no liability for its use.
CREATIVE COMMUNITIES OF THE WORLD
M A G A Z I N E
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2008
In This Issue:
Tim Wilson’s Column ............................................ 6
The Back Forty ..................................................... 46
A D V E N T U R E S I N
South Park: TV’s Longest Week
South Park airs nearly upon delivery. Here’s why.
Hot Tools & Industry News
Here are some of the hot stories on the wire.
Metadata: Through the Eye of the Lens
Metadata for shooters, editors and compositors.
COWs Around the World
Users from around the globe take us into their world.
One Team. Three Shows. Every Week.
How one team handles three network shows every week.
Fix It In “Pre”
Workflow starts before the shooting does.
Learning More Than We Wanted To Know
Serving nearly a million different people a month teaches
you some real lessons in how to best structure a successful
business that can continue to grow.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
HP recommends Windows Vista ® Business.
Most boats plow through oceans. Proteus walks on water.
For the designers at Marine Advanced Research, an ordinary desktop couldn’t handle the digital prototyping
needed to engineer a ship like Proteus. So they turned to the HP xw4600 Workstation. It’s equipped with the memory
and processing power for serious 3-D modeling. But it also features HP’s performance-tuning software so you can
confi gure your setup to run most effi ciently with all your apps. As a result, Proteus’ designers not only put a ship in
the water in record time, they were able to make instant changes after each sea trial for a better, faster boat.
HP Workstations, starting at $639.* Learn more at hp.com/go/workstationspeed
Experience Proteus at wam-v.com
*Price available at hp.com and subject to change without notice. Reseller price may vary. Certain Windows Vista product features require advanced or additional
hardware. See www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/hardwarereqs.mspx and www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/capable.mspx for details.
Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor can help you determine which features of Windows Vista will run on your computer. To download the tool, visit www.windowsvista.
com/upgradeadvisor. © Copyright 2008 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice.
Simulated images. WAM-V ® is a U.S. registered trademark of Marine Advanced Research, Inc. Microsoft and Windows are U.S. registered trademarks of
Microsoft Corporation. Windows Vista is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
Workflow: It’s barely even a word at all anymore
and still funky
Creative COW Magazine
I’m not too fond of the “W” word. It’s an okay word on its own, but its thorough
abuse in marketing language has left “workflow” barely even a word at all anymore.
A good word, an important one if used properly, but otherwise hanging on
for dear life. There are a lot of other beaten-down, barely-words floating around out
there, and the more of them you string together, the less they mean.
You’ve probably seen a sentence like this one already today: “Maximize productivity
by leveraging the advanced functionality and native workflow toolset found in
the industry standard integrated suite.” See? Practically meaningless.
The more I thought about these barely-words, the more annoyed I got, so I decided
to just go with it. What could possibly be more annoying than “Workflow” for an
How about Workflow 2.0? You know, like “Web 2.0” and “Business 2.0.” They sound
like they mean something, and there are people making a lot of money trying to persuade
you that they actually do mean something. They’ve been at it for years, but I’m
still not convinced. “2.0” feels so played out that it’s not new at all anymore. It’s OLD.
And so we come to the name “Workflow 3.0,” the perfect balance between annoying
and meaningless, and still funky fresh!
All kidding aside, “2.0” actually makes things less clear. The words carry more
weight without that frill. “The web.” “Business.” Same thing with “workflow.” If you
want to know what it really means, peel off the word “flow.” “Flow” sounds so ethereal!
Almost like magic. Long flowing robes and flowing tresses, resting beside the gently
flowing stream. Ah, sweet repose!
No, the real word is work. If “workflow” means anything at all anymore, it’s not
a product feature. Workflow is a combination of planning, discipline and creativity,
achieved by perseverance, mastery of technology, and, if necessary, brute force, to get
from one end of your job to the other. It’s anything but ethereal.
To redeem its abuse elsewhere, we have some especially gleaming examples of
the proper use of the word “workflow” here. A team of 9 posting 3 network series every
week. An animated show created in 6 days, arriving for air with 90 minutes to spare.
Using metadata to manage the massive amount of precise information required for
advanced VFX. There’s math in that story, along with Batman, James Bond, and a clear
vision of the future of, yes, workflow. Not that you’ll find that word in the article.
I keep coming back to the general inadequacy of “flow.” It implies a linear process
moving in discrete steps, one after the other. There’s an element of that in every
project of course, but hey, we’ve known for over 100 years that time itself ain’t all that
linear. Why should our work be? The stories in this issue largely describe lots of work
happening at the same time, with teams that may be spread across the globe, all the
work coming together only at the very end — parallel processes moving toward a
It’s an evolution, really, from linear to nonlinear production, and now, to simultaneous
Well whaddya know, it’s “Workflow 3.0” after all! Just another public service from
your pals at the Cow, making sure that words still mean something. Read on for remarkable
stories about new and better ways to work.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Introducing the world’s largest affordable
SD, HD and 3 Gb/s SDI router!
Eliminate complicated manual video patching
forever! Broadcast Videohub is a powerful
broadcast grade routing switcher featuring a
massive 72 inputs, 144 outputs, 72 deck control
ports, auto switching SD, HD, and 3 Gb/s SDI, in a compact rack
mount chassis only a few inches thick.
Industrial Strength Routing Switcher
With 72 inputs and 144 outputs, Broadcast Videohub has enough
SDI connections for 72 edit systems or decks. With twice as many
SDI outputs, each user can have a completely independent SDI
output for monitoring. This means you can monitor direct from
any equipment in your building without effecting routing! 72 deck
control ports are also included for a complete routing solution.
Simultaneous SD, HD or 3 Gb/s Video
Broadcast Videohub handles mixed SD, HD and
3 Gb/s SDI connections all on the same router at
the same time. Broadcast Videohub detects when
an input changes, and automatically sets all the outputs connected,
to match the changed input. SDI re-clocking and output SDI slew
rates will also change automatically.
World’s Highest Quality
With exciting new 3 Gb/s SDI connections built in, Broadcast
Videohub allows twice the SDI data rate than normal HD-SDI.
Use 3 Gb/s SDI for high resolution real time 2048 x 1556 feature
film editing. 3 Gb/s SDI has full compatibility with SD, HD and 2K
in 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 all with a single BNC cable.
Network Router Control
Broadcast Videohub uses software control panels that run on
Windows and Mac OS X for “routing control” right from your
editing system desktop! Broadcast Videohub connects to any
computer via USB and is then shared over your local network.
Router labels can be changed from any computer and are fully
unicode compatible for foreign language support.
Learn more today at www.blackmagic-design.com
Creative Cow-Videohub-us.indd 1 12/8/08 12:23:22 PM
“IT HITS THE FAN”
An inside look at TV’s longest week: the teamwork and technology
behind the Emmy Award-winning worldwide hit, “South Park”
Each episode of “South Park” comes to life in six
days, start to finish — a crazy pace for an animated
series. Even crazier: each episode arrives at Comedy
Central in New York via uplink somewhere between
6:30 and 8:30 PM on Wednesday, to be shown that
night at 10 PM.
Cutting it close? Even a production as relatively
simple as a late-night talk show, where delivery might
entail no more than walking across the same building
it’s taped in, leaves more like five hours to air than
And because work proceeds on each episode until
the very last minute, an awful lot of things have to
go right, in very short order, with virtually no margin
It’s not just that the script has to be completed
in time for voice recording, creating and rendering
animation (including lip sync), color correction, visual
effects, scoring and audio post. It’s that the script
keeps changing to respond to the world’s most current
events, as well as the perfectionism of the show’s creators.
Which means that everything downstream from
Tim Wilson “Timmeh!”
Boston, Massachusetts USA
the script keeps changing too.
Their perfectionism is paying off. Now in its twelfth
season, “South Park” has been nominated for 7 Emmy
Awards for Best Animated Program, winning in 2005
and 2006 — and just as this issue was wrapping, the
three-parter “Imaginationland” was awarded the 2007
Emmy for “Outstanding Animated Program
One Hour Or More).”
South Park has
also won a GLAAD
Award, an NAACP Image
Award, a CableACE
Award, and the prestigious
Not bad for a cartoon
show about four
intended to look like it
was animated from construction paper
“I’d have finished this article a whole lot faster if I hadn’t kept stopping to watch
more episodes of ‘South Park,’” says Tim. Exhibit A: the article title and each of
the section headings is taken from an episode title. Pathetic.
EMMY is a registered trademark of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. All rights are reserved.
Workflow at South Park Studios has evolved with
the sole purpose of giving creators and executive
producers Matt Stone and Trey Parker the room
to write, direct, add additional music to the work
of South Park’s composers, and if called for, to
write songs, in such little time.
Before attending the University of Colorado
where he met Matt, Trey studied at Boston’s
Berklee College of Music. His song “Blame Canada,”
co-written with Marc Shaiman for the movie
“South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut” was nominated
for an Academy Award for Best Song.
The two also provide voices for most of the
show’s male characters.
Supervising Producer Frank Agnone is the
keeper of the workflow for the sixty people who put
the show together. From the time that pages for the
next episode arrive early in the morning after the previous
one airs, he makes sure that a lot of things happen
The basics are
those early pages are
recorded, the dialog
is cut up and passed
to storyboard artists.
by cutting together
the storyboards and
dialog to start shaping
Of course, even after the first pages arrive and
scene construction begins, nobody necessarily knows
where in the show it’s going to end up. The script
evolves as the week progresses: the final script is
generally in place around 2 AM Wednesday, about 12
hours before the show is uploaded for air.
Until then, the work carries on, scene by scene. As
editor David List notes, “It doesn’t matter so much to
us whether a scene is at the beginning or end, as far
as editorial is concerned. The challenge is more
for Matt and Trey as they build the story structure.
For us, it’s basically cutting. We know from
the beginning that there will be changes as we
go, but we’ve been doing this for so long that we
know how to keep moving.”
At the same time that Frank is working with
Trey to refine individual layouts, 3D modeling
begins. Those shots move very rapidly through
lip sync and into the hands of the animators.
“So it’s an ever changing formula,” says
Frank, “but ultimately it’s my responsibility to
make sure that the team of sixty people is staying
on schedule and we are hitting our deadlines
for Trey, hitting our video deadlines so that color
correction can happen on time, and then our audio
deadlines so that we’re making broadcasts
“TWO DAYS BEFORE THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW”
Things get especially hairy on the last day: a 30-hour
stretch that begins early Tuesday morning on the way
to completion by Wednesday afternoon.
Picture lock comes in for a landing at 9 AM Wednesday
morning, when the video is recorded to tape and
sent out for final color correction. At the same time,
the final clean-up and re-conform from last-minute
edits gets sent through audio post one last time.
“Then the scramble is on for those guys to make
sure all of the proper dialog and ADR work is in place,”
says Frank. “Sound design for shots that are coming in
until that 9 AM hour on Wednesday morning are also
attended to, and then a mix begins.”
The mix comes together just as the color graded
picture comes back at 1 PM Pacific, when Frank pulls
the plug on any additional work. “If I’m lucky, I’m out
the door by 2 PM, sometimes 2:30, to our uplink facility
to start fibering the episode to New York. On average
the show arrives on the east coast between 6:30 and 7
PM [Eastern], and it’s on the air at 10 PM.
“We had a couple of shows in this last run where
I was getting the show there as close as 8:30 for a 10
It’s difficult enough to keep track of all this as it’s
being described that it raises the obvious question:
8 September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 9
how does Frank track all of this as it’s actually happening?
He walks the floor to stay in touch with his key
people, but “to be honest with you,” he says, “I probably
do 80% of it by memory.”
“GOOD TIMES WITH WEAPONS”
Part of Technology Supervisor J.J. Franzen’s job is keep
looking for technologies to enable ever-increasing
production values in the fixed six-day cycle.
“We have a very fast blade-based network switch
in place now, replacing a bunch of standard switches,”
J.J. says. “We also have a BlueArc Titan, a very robust,
very specific, hardware-accelerated file serving system.
All it does is serve files as bloody fast as possible.”
“Fast” means 2GB/sec., over 8 4Gb fibre ports and 2
10GbE clustering ports.
Those files come from a LOT of storage: 26 TB of
production storage, 33 TB of nearline storage, and 15
TB of Avid Unity shared storage.
They’ve recently upped the number of processors
on the render farm from 120 to 320, housed in
forty 8-core OS-X Apple Xserves. “Our work stations
are Apple-based so we can farm out rendering, compositing,
effects, compression. Basically anything that
artists can do, they can now do on the farm.”
The original “South Park” infrastructure was SGI
IRIX. Even after transitioning to Windows on the desk-
top, the render farm ran under Linux. That’s obviously
changed with wall-to-wall Macs.
“There are pluses and minuses for having a homogeneous
computing environment — doing everything
anywhere is definitely one of the pluses. Since I’m an
old IRIX/Unix head, the fact that Macs now bring that
level of functionality to me while also bringing one of
the best end-user experiences for my artists made the
switch a win-win scenario.”
Increased processing power has “helped us up our
game,” J.J. says, including deeper textures on characters,
fluid and particle effects — some of which are also
added with Apple Motion — and more sophisticated
scene lighting. “It helps the overall look of the show
and also helps Trey. He is definitely thinking more cinematically
now than he used to in the past, because he
knows what he can pull off.”
One of J.J.’s next tasks is to find a new renderer
for Maya. Current candidates include Renderman and
Mental Ray. “Some of the renderers out there do an
amazing job with photo realism, the kind of thing that
makes you say ‘wow.’ But the thing is, we don’t want
photo realism. We want something that’ll look exactly
the same as we’ve already got, but give us flexibilities
to go further.”
And faster. Although Comedy Central won’t be HD
until January 2009, “South Park” episodes are already
being produced in HD. An even bigger task is going
back to re-render the first 174 episodes!
“We’ve always been digital pack rats, so we still
have all the Maya (and before season 5, Alias PowerAnimator)
scene files we used to create the show,”
says J.J. “Since HD has become a real possibility, we’ve
started re-rendering all those old episodes at full
1080p, which also means re-framing all the shots from
standard 4:3 to full 16:9.
“It’s very labor intensive, but it also means that
we’ll be the only animated show from the pre-HD
world that will have its entire catalog of episodes in
full native 1080p. It’s pretty sweet.”
“FOLLOW THAT EGG!”
New ideas from Matt and Trey are constantly coming
in, and the process of tightening and refining each
scene goes on until the very last minute. “Basically every
time Trey walks away from the Avid, we have another
version of the show,” says J.J.
Depending on the nature of those changes, they
can ripple back through the entire pipeline: voices
need to be re-recorded for new animation plus lipsync,
the new footage added back into the edit, and
most critically because they get the new scenes last,
new audio post.
With production deadlines so extremely tight, the
audio post team doesn’t have the luxury of waiting
until an entire episode is complete before beginning
their work. The disaster to avoid is having them work
like demons to finish scenes that have substantially
changed, or worse, are no longer in the show at all.
The additional challenge is, once a scene has been
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
changed, getting it into audio post as quickly as possible.
Shared storage would seem to be the easiest alternative
— but it’s simply not an option: the Avid Media
Composer and Digidesign Pro Tools systems they use
don’t work together on Avid Unity storage.
David describes the process this led to. “First, I
asked our lead editor, Keef Bartkus, if he could stop
what he was doing to allow me to have a few minutes
to update the current sequence. After copying the se-
quence, I’d throw down a dummy track for audio to
reference new edits.
“Then I would initiate the conform, basically consolidating
media into an OMF and then copying the
media (upwards of 8 or 9 GB) onto as many as 3 external
With five to ten new cuts of an episode on Tuesday
night alone, the copying process was sucking down 8
to 12 hours when the team could
least afford it.
They’ve recently turned to
StorageDNA 360, a software bridge
for data distribution and synchronization
across multiple storage
systems. All the video media is constantly
being pulled across from
the Unity to local hard drives for
the Pro Tools stations. When a cut
is completed on the picture side,
the media is on the drives for audio
post, fully synced and ready to go in
closer to 2 minutes than the previous
30-45 minutes for each cut.
J.J. says this means that “Matt
and Trey can throw out a random
idea and we can say ‘Sure, we’ll give
it a shot,’ because we feel relatively
confident that we can turn anything
around in a certain amount of
While distributing to local drives, the StorageDNA
360 is also passing everything to a nearline archive,
freeing up space on the primary storage that would
have been tied up by mirroring. They’re also automatically
preserving every version of the episode remotely.
“It gives us a disaster recovery scenario if the Unity
were to die, allowing the editors to get back to work
with a minimum of downtime,”
says J.J. “With the timeframes
we work under, every safety net
The idea for the Emmy Awardwinning
came from the summer before it
aired. “They called in the whole
crew for about 6 weeks and we
just worked on random stuff
that the lads had come up with,
basically developing concepts
for episodes in advance of the
run,” says J.J. “‘Imaginationland’
was one of those concepts.
The shortest version of the
concept is that a battle between
all of the good and evil characters
ever imagined spills over
into the “real” world. Featured players run from Aslan
to Zeus, and include Charlie Brown, both a Predator
and an Alien, Al Gore, Gandalf, Luke Skywalker, the
Blue Meanies, Michael Bay and Strawberry Shortcake.
And that’s a really, really short summary.
“The number of elements that we had to design
from scratch to produce these episodes was enormous,”
says Frank. “I think we approached about 120
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
A view from your edit suite.
Imagine true broadcast-level HD editing in places you never thought possible.
Io HD, paired up with Apple’s MacBook Pro and Final Cut Studio 2,
gets you a no-compromises HD editing suite wherever you want to work.
One FireWire cable to the Mac is all you need to work with full-resolution 10-bit
4:2:2 HD and SD video, using the powerful new ProRes 422 codec from Apple,
uniquely integrated directly into Io HD’s hardware.
Add in Io HD’s 10-bit up/down/cross conversion and unmatched video and audio
connectivity, and you’re seamlessly working in any format you want,
anywhere you need it... in a portable, professional package.
Check out Io HD at our website, or give us a call to nd an authorized
AJA Desktop Dealer near you.
hours a week, each of those three weeks, in order to
get that show put on the air.”
An uncensored director’s cut of “Imaginationland,”
along with previously unseen footage is available
on DVD, and uncensored versions of the individual
episodes are available at SouthParkStudios.com. You’ll
quickly see why the story was spread across three episodes,
why it won an Emmy, and, frankly, why the episodes
were originally aired with bleeps aplenty.
“YOU KNOW, I LEARNED SOMETHING TODAY”
There’s plenty in every
episode to be offended
by beyond the language.
“South Park” takes
aim at every religion,
and atheists to boot.
No politician or political
view is exempt. The internet,
rain forests, video
games, AARP, aliens
from outer space, racism,
tolerance and head
lice all get their turns in
the cross-hairs too, as
do Hollywood celebrities
of every sort.
Not that “South
Park” is so easily categorized
Touching moments sneak up on you, such as
the obvious sympathy for Britney Spears’ exploitation
in “Britney’s New Look” from Season 12, which also
observes that the distinction between the world of
tabloids and “real” news is barely worth talking about
Actually, theirs is satire at its very best: outrageousness
that doesn’t quite mask its humanity and
its emotional commitment to these issues, demanding
the same of its audience. Which is exactly why nobody
gets off the hook.
“That’s sort of the genius of Trey and Matt,” says
David. “It’s just really smart, smart, smart humor, and
it’s a win-win situation for wherever you stand politically.
I think that’s the beauty of the show, and I think
that’s why it’s been around so
It’s clear speaking to everyone
involved that they’re proud to
be part of a show that ultimately
means something. Not that they
have much time to enjoy it.
“It’s gratifying on a Wednesday
night, when emails and text
messages and phone calls start
pouring in. ‘Oh my goodness, can’t
believe you got away with it, how
do you guys do it, amazing,’” says
“They start flooding in after a
33 hour day that begins on Tuesday
morning, so it’s gratifying for
a minute and half, and then we
move on to the next episode just
(Frank’s “moving on” includes
supervising syndication, international
versioning, the HD transition
— including the back library — and the exceptionally
extensive South Park Studios website.)
How can anybody
keep up such an intense
production cycle? The answer
is, they can’t.
Each season is broken
up into two 7-episode
parts, with the second
half of the twelfth
season just begun as you
read this. With a month or
so of work on either side,
that’s just under half the
Still, as David says,
the team enjoys the show
so much that they’re excited
to get to work on the
next episode as quickly
as possible. “I think if you
sat everybody down,”
says Frank, “they’d all say that we’re lucky to be a part
of such a wonderful production that has had not only
success, but longevity, which is such a rarity in this industry.”
It’s crazy, but it’s clearly working.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Hot Industry Tools & News
AJA Video I/O Solutions
Now Integrated Into Autodesk Lustre
Autodesk Taps AJA OEM for Top Quality Input and Output of Video Files
AJA Video, a leading manufacturer of professional video interface and
conversion solutions, announced that Autodesk has chosen to integrate AJA’s
video technologies into its Autodesk Lustre 2009 digital color grading
Since 2006, Autodesk has incorporated AJA video
cards into its Autodesk Inferno, Autodesk Flint,
Autodesk Flame, Autodesk Fire and Autodesk
Smoke advanced systems products.
Lustre is Autodesk’s premiere high-
performance GPU-accelerated color grading
solution tailor made for film and television
professionals. AJA technologies are being integrated into the
system to bring SD, HD, 2K and 1080p files into Lustre, and lay finished
clips back off to tape.
“We’ve been using AJA’s OEM technologies in our Flame and Smoke systems for over
two years now with great success,” said Stig Gruman, vice president of Autodesk’s Digital
Entertainment Group. “AJA’s technologies are reliable, stable and provide the pristine video quality
that our customers depend upon. As a result, we have now chosen to incorporate AJA I/O solutions into
our Lustre color grading system as well.”
“AJA has consistently strived to deliver products that exceed our customers’ expectations for quality,
reliability and support,” said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video. “We’re pleased that Autodesk has chosen
to incorporate our technologies into their Lustre system and feel that this ongoing OEM relationship is a
true testament to the value and quality of our products.”
For further information, see: forums.creativecow.net/readpost/105/860608
Aspera introduces File Transfer plug-in for Avid Interplay
High-performance File Transfer Plug-in Qualified for Avid Interplay Environments
Aspera Inc. has received qualification from Avid for its plug-in for high-speed workgroup-to-workgroup
transfer of rich media — via the Avid Transfer Engine — for use in the Avid Interplay product line. The plugin
allows Interplay users to exchange HD video sequences, clips and even entire projects over the wide area
network, at maximum speed, regardless of file size, transfer distance and network conditions. The Aspera
Plug-in interfaces with Avid Interplay Transfer to provide high-speed Aspera transfer capability directly
from Avid editing applications. Using Aspera’s innovative fasp transport protocol, Avid projects can be
moved securely and reliably within predictable timeframes, even at global distances.
For links and more, visit: forums.creativecow.net/readpost/105/860646
Cost effective Resolve ® R-100
brings da Vinci to everyone
da Vinci Systems has unveiled Resolve® R-100,
a fully upgradable, cost-effective version of
the Resolve R-series family of digital mastering
suites. “da Vinci has always been known in
the industry for its high-end post-production
systems, so the Resolve R-100 may take some
people by surprise,” said Dean Lyon, director
of marketing at da Vinci. “The R-100 enables
a broader range of facilities to own and take
advantage of a superb color corrector with da
Vinci power, quality, features, and support.”
The Resolve R-100 is a full-featured, nonlinear
image processor that can handle 4K resolution
and fits seamlessly into existing digital
workflows, including post houses that
principally perform editing or VFX work. Like all
Resolve suites, the R-100 is capable of running a
telecine and operating from a shared database
to enhance workflow efficiency. Because it is
a single-workstation solution, the R-100 can
be deployed effectively by a post house or
production studio wanting a second Resolve
suite for an assistant or for quality control
work. For broadcasters, the R-100 will prove
particularly valuable because of the amazing
speeds it achieves when processing HD images.
The Resolve R-100 comes loaded with a full
toolkit of features — including PowerWindows
— and has been designed to be upgraded
easily and cost effectively to the level of any of
the higher-end systems in the Resolve R-series
family. The R-100 is available for immediate
For more, please visit:
Artbeats adds new royalty-free
footage shot on RED One
Artbeats has just debuted the first and only
royalty-free stock footage shot on the RED One
Digital Camera. The initial release of over 300 clips
features a wide variety of natural scenes such
as wintery mountain vistas, remote waterways,
ethereal clouds, melting icicles and so much more.
“This is the first time that footage with resolutions
higher than HD (3K and 4K) is available on the
market,” said Phil Bates, president and founder
of Artbeats. “By offering higher resolutions, plus
the RED RAW files, our customers will now be
able to pan, scan, rotate or crop the clip to create
the desired look in HD — giving them increased
flexibility and creative freedom when editing their
Artbeats RED footage is available in the original
source size (2k, 3k, or 4k) in either 2:1 or 16:9
image aspect ratios depending on the clip, as well
as NTSC, PAL and Hi-Definition. The RAW (.R3D)
native files for each clip will be available for an
“This first launch is just a very small sampling
of what’s to come,” said Bates. “We have been
actively shooting and are working on acquiring
footage from outside sources that will encompass
a wide range of subject matter.”
View the Artbeats RED demo at artbeats.com/red.
16 September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 17
Avid: $3.68 trillion in box office
Avid Video, Audio, Networking and 3D Animation
Customers Deliver Highest-Grossing Summer
Blockbuster Movies for 2008
Generating a combined revenue of more than $3.68 trillion at the
U.S. box office, the top 28 highest-grossing movies this summer were
created by customers of Avid Technology using systems from at least
one Avid® brand. From The Dark Knight – the second film in history to
top the half-billion dollar mark – to The House Bunny, the majority of
these films deployed workflows consisting of multiple Avid systems
including Avid® Media Composer®, Avid DNxHD® 36 codec or Avid
Unity MediaNetwork for editing and shared storage; Digidesign®
Pro Tools® for sound; Sibelius® 5 for music composition and scoring;
and Softimage®|XSI® for 3D animation, 3D design and visual effects.
To create The Dark Knight, the latest film in the Batman franchise, the
team used an Avid editing and Avid Unity shared-storage workflow.
For composer Hans Zimmer, creating the score for The Dark Knight
involved a degree of complexity exceeding any of his previous
projects. With literally stacks of proprietary sample playback
machines delivering hundreds of outputs, the demands of multitrack
recording could only be entrusted to Pro Tools|HD®.
For the live-action, CG-heavy feature, The Incredible Hulk, four editors worked with six companies employed
to handle 667 visual effects shots, 400 of which included CG characters. In addition, the creature design of
Hulk and his nemesis, the Abomination, were both created using SOFTIMAGE|XSI software; and the sound
for the film was mixed using Pro Tools hardware.
To handle the complex project of editing the film, nine Avid Media Composer Adrenaline systems
connected to an Avid Unity MediaNetwork with 17 terabytes of shared storage enabled the four editors and
a team of assistants to simultaneously access media and flexibly share projects on the fly.
For the stereoscopic 3D film, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Quebec’s Hybride, one of the companies
at the forefront of stereoscopic 3D, used SOFTIMAGE|XSI. In all, a team of 80 people at Hybride spent more
than 15 months creating 234 scenes in stereoscopic 3D for this film.
Hancock, starring Will Smith, was edited on Avid systems, scored by legendary film composer John Powell
and his orchestral team using Sibelius software, and mixed in Pro Tools. In addition to Hancock, Powell and
his team used Sibelius to score a number of successful films, including this summer’s Kung Fu Panda.
For more details on Avid’s place in the summer’s blockbusters, please visit the News & Press Releases forum
at CreativeCow.net to find out more about Avid’s blockbuster Summer.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
through the eye of the lens
Pictures and sound are data. Information about them
is metadata — the data about the data.
Metadata can begin with information as simple
as reel name, clip name, date, duration. However, with
new cameras skipping video and film as we’ve known
them and recording straight to digital files, the potential
complexity of the metadata skyrockets.
This is why metadata collection is moving closer
and closer to the beginning of image capture, to lenses,
cameras, even cranes.
Dave Stump is the chair of the Camera subcommittee
of the American Society of Cinematographers,
and co-chair of the Metadata
subcommittee. His message to
Hollywood is how critical it is
that camera issues and metadata
issues be addressed at the
Creative Cow’s Gary Adcock
assists Dave on these two committees,
and told us about a presentation
that he and Dave gave
during NAB 2008 to illustrate
metadata. Dave held up a photograph
of his grandfather, and
asked if anyone in the audience
could figure out who it is. After
some guessing, someone in the
audience suggested looking at
the back of the photo to see if a
name was written there.
Dave Stump, ASC,
is leading the charge
to collect and protect
the entire production pipeline,
from the set through post.
Here’s why it matters...
Dave said, “Ah, you mean check the metadata.”
As his “day job” Dave has served as the visual effects
director of photography and VFX supervisor for
dozens of films, as diverse as “X-men” and “X2,” “Batman
Forever,” “Stand by Me,” “Free Willy,” and 2008’s
James Bond film, “Quantum of Solace.”
Regardless of a film’s scale or genre, Dave’s task is
the same, enabling the realistic combination of camera
footage with CGI. Until very recently, much of that
work was done by hand, guided by informed guesswork,
hoping to match camera position, lens length,
focus and more— typically all of them in motion at
once over the course of a shot.
In 2000, Dave was part of
a team that received a Technical
Achievement Award from
the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, for hand-development
of advanced camera
data capture systems, which he
describes below. We’ve come a
long way since then, in no small
measure thanks to the concerted
efforts of Dave and his colleagues.
As he tells it, his first goal
in that ongoing effort was simply
to explain what metadata is,
and why it matters.
— Tim Wilson
Dave Stump: Privately, the secondary goal was to
shame the proprietary sense of everyone in the manufacturing
community who builds our tools. Because
everyone who builds a machine, every one who builds
a computer-driven device, everybody who uses metadata,
builds their own metadata scheme, and no two
of them talk to each other.
You know the saying, “Standards are great. That’s
why we have so many of them.” If no two standards
can talk to each other, there’s no uniformity to the
metadata. It becomes meaningless.
Gary Adcock: It’s
not only that they
can’t talk to each
other. Even when
they do create and
they don’t store it
in the same place.
The ASC is trying
to maintain the integrity
of the workflow.
Dave: That’s right.
Whether we are
shooting on film or
digital cameras, the
pictures inevitably end up as files, data. You send part
of that data out to a visual effects house, some goes
out for edit, and so on. Most of the systems used in this
will bring in a DPX file or Cineon file. But the data in it
that would have told you when and where it was created
and who it belongs to, or what the original camera
settings were — or even how quickly the camera
was panning from left to right in degrees or frames
— frequently all of that information is discarded the
moment it’s ingested into a new machine. Thrown in
“What do I need that for? I’m just here to do some
compositing.” There’s no reason why we can’t all agree
on the value of the data like that, and agree to do no
harm to it.
Naming is vastly more important than you would
intuitively think it is, because that’s how you find
things. Names are the first thing you look for in databases.
So for starters, we can agree to preserve the
naming convention of a particular movie or particular
studio or a particular post house or particular vendor.
But the kind of metadata that we expect to put
on our pictures goes vastly vastly deeper than that.
Have you read the menu structure of a Sony F900 or a
Panavison Genesis? The menu tree of the Genesis is, I
don’t know — Gary what would say? Probably 100 different
Gary: Minimum. I think its closer to 200. With the Sony
F23, it’s something like 262 items.
Dave: So yeah, 262 menu entries. The F23 is almost the
same back end menu structure as the Genesis, so call
it 260 fields of metadata that ought to be included in
every picture the camera makes. Just for that camera
The problem is that so few of the people who are
part of this process have sat down and agreed on how
the data ought to come out. Most of them want to build
the machines where the data comes out themselves,
and fit them into another proprietary box which you
have to buy from them.
So the monetary interest in being the only solution
for metadata prevents the universalization of
standards. And, excuse me, that’s what standards
mean! Something that’s open source and universal.
When you say “our standard,” it’s no longer a standard.
Dave: What we are discovering now is the truth in
what I proposed years ago, that you can make cameras
that are smart enough to know what lens you are putting
on. You plug a lens into the camera and little contacts
in the back go here it is, Panavision lens, 15mm,
Serial number 119 and here is its mustache curve, here
is the distortion map for this lens, it is focused at 7 ft.,
stopped at f8, and so on.
20 Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 21
Tim: I was struck by your earlier example of following
the degrees of the angles that the camera moves
through during a shot.
Dave: Yes, on a frame-by-frame basis. Because the
visual effects people then have to take whatever pictures
you’ve created at 24 or 29 or 120 frames per second,
put them into a tracker, Boujou or PFTrack or who
knows what, and solve for movements including dolly
and tilt, focus, zoom, boom, swing, track and everything
else that goes into a shot. It’s a horribly complicated
equation to figure out after shooting.
Yet in the grand scheme of things, that’s a minuscule
amount of data to collect while shooting. You only
have to remember to ask, “O’Connor, the next time
you build a pan head, we want it with a plug for a data
Or “Panavision, do you have a GPS set that you
can build into the base plate?”
GPS apparently takes very little real estate because
it’s there in my iPhone sitting on my desk.
Gary: I look at it from the post side. Cooke Optics has
this little box, the “/i dataLink.” It records focus, zoom
and all that from the lens, and then everything from
the camera too. It records all that to this little SD card.
Now you have the actual data. Instead of having
to recreate it, you can do motion matching and everything
in VFX long before the footage itself actually
gets there. There’s not somebody waiting for the footage,
and then starting to do all this work manually for
weeks and weeks on end.
Dave: Exactly. This is the classic mistake that studio
bean counters make. “We need to get the budget
down, so let’s beat this guy up for more of his wages.”
Instead, for a shot that used to be a Boujou problem,
you create a sync frame, like the bloop on the
slate. Now comes the rest of the data: here’s the center
shutter open pulse, here’s the pan, tilt, focus, zoom, fstop,
dolly, boom — synchronized with every frame of
the film that you shot.
The artist who would have spent six weeks tracking
this out by hand, and reverse engineering camera
position and focal length anecdotally or from someone’s
handwritten notes, can now simply take the
metadata file, plug it in and start doing the work. The
This is the way that I love to frame the discussion,
as an invitation to the producers and the studios
who want to save money. You know, we can all stand
around and haggle over 50 cents an hour for every employee
on the staff and you can feel like you’ve saved
Or we can automate those people’s work, get it
done in a week’s less time or a month’s less time, and
then save some real money.
Everyone asks, well, who’s going to pay for developing
all of this new automated metadata collection?
I say, we already pay for it anyway. How often do you
buy computers and cameras and lenses? We renew and
replenish this stuff on a daily basis. At least ask manufacturers
for what you want in the updates, rather than
just taking what you’re handed.
Dave: One of the obstructions to automating
the motion picture workplace is
that we don’t have a tradition of metadata
on set. We have a tradition of what I call
For example, script supervisors for the
most part take a paper copy of the script,
and note vast quantities of metadata in
real time just by watching the movie being
filmed: script changes, which actors are in
each shot, and so on.
And they notate that using lines and
squiggles and arrows and notes all over
the typed script, with hand written notes
to elaborate. They accumulate vast quantities
of paper that people have to keep in
The first assistant and the second assistant, all
the cameramen, the loader — these people keep vast
amounts of paper notes too. If you want to know what
lens they were shooting with, or if you want to know
what filters were on the camera or what settings they
shot with, you have to dig out that notebook and find
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008
the page that you want, and hopefully it’s in the right
Once you don’t have to have those notebooks
stacked in shelves, it becomes a downhill rush to automate
all metadata coming to the editors. It’s a small
step from there to attach the metadata to the picture
files themselves, and to preserve that information as
it passes from machine to machine in post.
FROM BATMAN TO ARTICULATE DEMANDS
Dave: The Tim Burton Batman movies were where I
first used my hand-created data capture system. In
the earliest days of live action motion control and
data capture, we had a shot that started in a macro
closeup, then boomed up to 60 feet in the sky. The
question everyone asked was, how in the world are
we ever going to focus this thing?
We ended up attaching an encoder to the crane
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
In one sequence, James Bond and Camille (Daniel Craig
and Olga Kurylenko) are tossed from an airplane with only one
parachute between them. To create the illusion, the actors and
their doubles were trained to free fall inside an ex-military vertical
wind tunnel, six stories tall with a wind machine blowing at 150
MPH. “We took out all the windows and and some of the walls and
painted it white to suit our purposes,” says Dave, “and we strung
lights everywhere — in the bottom, all around the walls.
“We put in 8 Dalsa Origin 4K cameras and 7 Sony F900Rs, all
of them locked in place. We also had an Arriflex 435, which was
mounted on a Steadicam and flown in freefall alongside the
“The heart of the challenge was to synchronize all of those
cameras, so that running with 90 degree shutters, they all have the
same effective center shutter opening interval. And it had to be
very, very precise.
“The reason that we worked with
so many digital cameras is because we
could use the the images as data from
those pictures to create a data cloud,
to recreate the bodies of the actors in
any given position. We knew the focal
length and the characteristics of every
lens, so we solved for every pixel from
every camera, for its position in space
throughout the entire synchronized
“And what you end up with is a 3D
model of those people, in that space, for
the entire length of that shot. A double
negative was taken of that data and
solved for the position of the actors,
who were then regenerated as CGI
characters and inserted into real aerial
photographic backgrounds from the
“It’s pretty astounding.”
arm to give us a numerical value for the position of the
camera at any given azimuth. We then wrote a lookup
table as an “if/then” equation. If the arm has boomed
up 6 feet, then the focus should be set at 6 feet. If the
arm has boomed up 12 feet, then the focus should be
set at 12 feet.
I’m oversimplifying, but it’s easy to put a motor on
a focuser. Once you write that lookup table, and you
swing the arm, and the arm data drives the focuser,
there’s no mistake to be made. You have the numbers.
It’s just an equation.
It turns out that you can record anything that you
can measure. So for “Batman Forever” I built a little kit,
and Panavision, to their credit, built me three encoded
PanaHeads that had differential encoders on primary
axles, recording pan and tilt, and converting that to
degrees, and saving that data.
Then I put a little puck wheel on a dolly. As it rolls,
it can measure tracking distance usually within greater
precision than16ths of an inch. For
swinging the arm of a crane, the same
thing: you put an azimuth encoder
to the chain of a Titan crane or you
put inclinometer encoders on the
side of the arm. When you read how
many degrees of tilt the arm is going
through, you know exactly what
height the crane is at.
So we were able to record all
these axes of movement, unobtrusively.
There was a little extra wiring
on the dolly that we ran through a
nice little cable harness, on down to
an RS 422 line connected to a computer
sitting off to the side.
Tim: How did we get from your hand-
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008
Simply the Best Storage Solutions
for Content Creation
“We’ve done hundreds of
jobs and every single one
passes through a G-Tech
product. From G-RAID’s
to the G-SPEED XL that
effortlessly supports our
Scratch DI sytsem.”
G-Tech offers storage solutions for every level of
production, from DVCPRO to 2K and beyond. Walk
into any post production facility around the globe and
chances are you’ll find a G-Tech product at work.
But don’t take our word for it...
Rock Paper Scissors
“G-RAID’s are really the
nervous system of our
company. They are flexible
and reliable enough for the
pounding they get daily
from Rock Paper Scissors
PlasterCITY Digital Post
“G-Tech plays a monumental
role in processing our client’s
digital movies. G-RAID mini’s
shuttle dailies, G-RAID2’s
backup digital negatives
and G-SPEED eS’s are used
by clients for editing.”
Third generation of the award winning G-RAID
product line, now featuring a quad interface
with eSATA connectivity, ultra quiet “smart” fan,
capacities to 3TB and over 120MB/sec performance!
Want to be part of of our next ad? Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Performance. Style. Reliability.
Learn about special offers for Creative Cow readers at www.g-technology.com/creativecow
“With over 200 TB of Red
Footage shot and archived
on G-RAID’s in 13 months,
I would say these drives
are battle tested. I always
tell clients G-Tech G-RAID’s
a Fabrik company
crafted systems to something more universal?
Dave: I had a meeting with some of the fellows from
the Fraunhofer Institute in Europe. They saw that I was
building and developing my own hardware and encoding
systems, and then strapping it all onto dollies
and cranes and arms.
They said, “We get that you like to tinker and build
this stuff yourself, but your greater value to the community
is in making articulate demands of the rest of
the hardware community, so that they get other people
to build it for you.”
That was very liberating to me, very freeing, just
realizing that the community can make demands of
And now, Panavision have a data port out of every
Technocrane they own. You can walk up and plug
a data capture system into the base of a Technocrane
and record every move for every frame. I wrote the
connector standard for them, so I know. [Laughs]
More than that, it’s just a big conduit, a data passthrough
for anything attached to the Technocrane, including
any camera and lens data that can be collected
off those machines.
Tim: Can you also collect metadata from non-Panavision
cameras and their lenses on the crane?
Dave: Yes! If the camera and lens and head send out
data, it will pass through the crane. So you can put an
Arriflex camera on that crane and record all the data.
Tim: Now you’re talking!
Dave: You know, Arri have taken a somewhat a proprietary
approach to packaging their data. But they’re
starting to see the logic of open source. And Cooke,
they’ve completely embraced the concept of the lens
as an open source data device.
Panavision actually got involved very early on
with putting encoders in their lenses. The guys at Fujinon
also developed a system to output data from their
lenses for George Lucas to use on the first digital Star
So there have been baby steps, but the Cooke
/i Lenses are the first committed, open source invitation
to everyone to embrace gathering metadata from
lenses. If you look on the Cooke Optical website, you
can download a PDF file. “Here is the standard, here
are the connectors, here is how it’s wired, here’s how
the data comes out. Do with it what you will. It’s open
They completely have the right idea. It’s up to us
in the community to demand that the rest of imaging
chain deliver data recorded to the images themselves
as they’re gathered on set, in ways that everybody else
Dave: Once we have metadata everywhere, everyone
will look around in shock and awe and ask each other,
“How did we ever make movies without this stuff?
On-set metadata collection will become as ubiquitous
as the walkie-talkie. You know, how did we
make movies before we had walkie-talkies? Well, we
shouted and stood on the side of the mountain and
sent semaphore to the guy on the next hill. We sent
smoke signals! Fire a gun — that means “GO!”
And now, you look at all the walkie-talkies on a
set and don’t even think to ask anymore how we ever
made movies without them!
Well, when on-set metadata becomes useful
and ubiquitous, we’ll be saying the same thing about
it then. Instead of waiting for all the pieces of paper
from the script supervisor and everyone else on the set
to arrive in an envelope at the production office each
night, we can have digital metadata, collected automatically
on-set, delivered even as we’re shooting.
The amount of information in today’s physical
metadata — script notes, camera movements, camera
settings — is trivial, insignificant in size compared to
the actual picture or sound data we’re already collecting.
But getting it attached to the picture and sound
data is NOT trivial. And it won’t happen unless you ask
The question is being asked. The answers are being
provided. It just takes time for the herd to move
in that direction. So, every chance that I get, I speak
to the herd, and I speak to the possibility of what we
could be doing.
The tools of metadata can and will enable authorship
of images, control of look management, efficiency
in visual effects and editorial, and make better movies
while saving the producers and studios money!
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008
WE ARE THE HD VIDEO EDITING & PRODUCTION EXPERTS!
Complete Post Production
Adobe ® CS 4
with the countless
new features and
in Adobe CS4
support for nextgeneration
workflows, project intelligence
with XMP metadata support, powerful speech
recognition technology, enhanced integration,
and more. These essential innovations and
improvements combine to give you the most
important benefit of all—more time to
explore, create, and deliver compelling
productions.. Includes: • Adobe After Effects ® CS4
• Adobe Premiere ® Pro CS4 • Adobe Encore ® CS4
• Adobe OnLocation ® CS4 • Adobe Photoshop ® CS4
Extended • Adobe Illustrator ® $ 00
CS4 • Adobe Flash
CS4 Professional • Adobe Soundbooth CS4
Upgrade from Adobe Production Studio 2.0
for only $599.00 for a limited time. Reg $799.00
Unlock the Power of After
Effects and Premiere Pro with Video Effects!
Boris Continuum Complete
AE Plug-In for Adobe CS3
With over 180 filters & 1500 presets
BCC will give you a decisive
advantage over the built in Adobe
effects with features such as Optical
$ 95 Flow, Open Gl rendering, Film
849 Processing, higher quality image
scaling, and more. It works right in After Effects so
you can access filters & features that let you create
unforgettable effects at an affordable price.
Affordable & Easy to Use
Hardware & Software Systems
with the power
$ 95 149 of Pinnacle Studio
Ultimate editing software. Windows Vista & XP
compatible and supports HD DVD & AVCHD
editing, disc authoring, Web publishing and more.
Red Giant Software SPecial Effects
Tools for Video Professionals
Magic Bullet Looks
Desert sunrise, Arctic tundra,
nighttime urban streets: the look of
your footage defines the mood. Now
you can define the style of your
video or film, regardless of on-set
$ 95 conditions, with powerful imaging
399 tools. Choose from 100+ Look
presets, to help set the mood for everything from
a wedding to the next Sundance original. Includes
MagicBullet LooksBuilder for previewing.
Extend Your Home Theater Experience Within
Your Home & Beyond with Wireless Streaming
Now you can wirelessly stream $ 95
your live TV over your home 199
network, and watch & control programming from
your HD video source on any PC or mobile phone.
You can turn your PC into a DVR by recording
your favorite programs on a hard disk. HAVA also
enables TV functionality on a Media Center PC
without having a TV tuner installed.
Introducing the NEW Matrox RT.X2 LE
Realtime HD Editing at A Breakthrough Price
The new Matrox RT.X2 LE card dramatically
reduces the cost of a high performance HD editing
system. Not only is the price of the card itself
lower than ever, it also fits into a low cost desktop
system - giving you all the realtime editing power
and additional productivity tools you need to get
the most from Adobe CS3 Production Premium.
NEW! Matrox MXO 2 - Complete I/O for Mac
MXO2 is the first truly portable device that gives
you broadcast quality input/
Apple Final Cut
Studio 2 on the Mac. $ 00 1,595
High Performance Storage Solutions
for Video Exditing Professionals
RAID Storage Solutions
G-RAID FireWire modules
are designed specifically
for digital content creation!
G-RAID 2 is the ONLY
FireWire 800 storage solution
THE HARDWARE ADVANTAGE
for Adobe Editing Systems
$ 95 399
1.5TB = $499.95
designed to support multi-stream uncompressed
SD, DVCPRO, HD, HDV & DV systems.
• Unique design, compact aluminum enclosure
• FireWire 800 & 400 ports • MacOSX & WinXP
G-SPEEDeS eSATA Storage
Solution for SD/HD Video
Features a high-speed
3Gbit/sec eSATA interface
and provides RAID 5 data
protection. Available in
bundles with PCIe controller
$ 995 00
$ 95 759
NEW Sorenson Squeeze 5
Sorenson Squeeze 5 is the
encoding tool, enabling
users to efficiently repurpose
$ 95 474 for web, CD or DVD
allows users to output content in all popular
formats including: Flash, QuickTime, Windows
Media, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4. Includes
Sorenson Video 3 Pro, Spark Pro, MPEG-4 Pro
and H.264 Pro video codecs.
Sonicfire Pro 5
Sonicfire Pro 5 is the
music solution with
“Mood Mapping” for
$ 00 the mix & feel of music
299 to the changing moods
of any production. Save $100 on this bundle with:
• Sonicfire Pro 5 Standard Edition with Core Sessions
& Core Foundation ($199 value)
• Forward Momentum ($99) • Slam Funk ($99)
• 30-DAY MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE
• KNOWLEDGEABLE ADVICE
• LOW PRICES & BUNDLE SPECIALS!
• FREE TECH SUPPORT
$ 2,495 00
Focus FS-4 HD 60GB
Provides 4.5 hours of
recording & is compatible
with most HDV, DV,
DVCPRO50 & DVCPROHD
camcorders & editing
software, feature Direct To
Edit (DTE) technology to
your NLE format via FireWire.
Professional Film & Video
Editing & Finishing Solutions
Attention Avid Xpress
Owners: Upgrade to
Media Composer for only
$ 495 00
Designed by people like you, Media Composer
systems set the standard for nonlinear fi lm and
video editing performance. Whether you work on
a laptop or workstation, there’s a Media Composer
confi guration that puts your creative process in
high gear. Choose the platform you love: Intel
on Mac or Windows XP. Explore, experiment,
and express yourself with whatever HD, SD,
and DV formats you need, at the same time,
without having to render. Media Composer is the
application used to create more of the world’s
fi lms, television shows, and commercials than any
other editing system, and it's more powerful than
ever. BUNDLE! Avid Media Composer Software
with Avid Mojo DX Hardware Now available!
Portable Direct To Edit
Digital Disk Recorders
NEW! Focus FS-5 Portable DTE
Featuring a backlit color display,
100GB hard drive, & a removable,
rechargeable battery, FS-5 is the
perfect DTE for your HDV or DV
camcorder. With the FS-5 you can
optimize your editing workflow
while you shoot and add Metadata
$ 00 on the fly!
$ 799 95
Apple Final Cut
each step of
process: from $ 00 499
editing to color
Upgrade from Final Cut Studio
grading to 3D animation to audio post & DVD
authoring with Final Cut Studio 2. Includes:
• Apple Final Cut Pro 6 • DVD Studio Pro 4
• Motion 3 • Soundtrack Pro 2 • Compressor 3
• NEW! Color Buy Now! Full version $1,299.00
HDMI Editing with
If you’re looking for
incredible HDMI &
NTSC, PAL and
$ 00 349 S-Video capture
and playback, then the new Intensity Pro card is
perfect. Features the latest HDMI technology for
high quality capture & playback on Windows or
Mac OSX. Now you can edit using big-screen TV.
10-12 Charles St., Glen Cove, NY 11542 • 516-759-1611 • Fax 516-671-3092 • email@example.com
Share Your High-Definition
Productions on Blu-ray Disc!
DVD & CD
$ 95 399
Pioneer BDR-202 Blu-ray Disc NEW LOW PRICE!
writer is the all in one solution for anyone wanting
to create high quality content for Blu-ray Disc,
DVD or CD. Offering revolutionary 4x burning
speed, the BDR-202 can create a full BD-R 25GB
disc in around 25 minutes.
• BDR-202 features the fast SATA interface
• Up to 4X on BD-R media & 2X on BD-RE media
• 12X on DVD-R/+R • 24x on CD-R/CD-RW
Disc MEGA Pack
BDR202 plus Eye
Scream Factory’s DVD Art
Essentials menu backgrounds, a $ 00 450 5-pk of Verbatim 25GB BD-R
Blu-ray Discs & 1 BD-RE rewriteable Blu-ray Disc
Integrated Solution for Pro
Video & Audio Production
SONY Vegas Pro 8
Collection with DVD
Architect & Dolby
Combines VegasPro 8,
DVD Architect Pro 5 with
Blu-ray Disc Authoring,
and Dolby® Digital AC-3
encoding software to
$ 95 offer integrated tools for
449 all phases of professional
video, audio, DVD, and broadcast production.
These tools let you edit and process DV, AVCHD,
HDV, SD/HD-SDI, and all XDCAM formats
in real time, fine-tune audio with precision, and
author DVDs & Blu-ray Discs.
SPECIAL SONY VEGAS PRO BLU-RAY BUNDLE
Combine Vegas Pro 8 with the Pioneer BDR-202
Blu-ray Disc Burner & more for only $ 95 849
Professional & Affordable Mic
Solutions for Videographers
NEW! Azden 105LT
On-Camera UHF Wireless $ 95 299
Lapel Mic System
with Free Carrying Case
The 105UPR receiver
is an all-new, compact
case design with attached
shoe-mount & pivoting,
high-gain antenna. Unlike
the entry-level models
of its competitors, the
105UPR receiver offers 92
user-selectable channels in the 566-589MHz band.
105LT includes receiver & lapel mic with transmitter
$ 249 95
with Free Carrying Case
Azden SGM-2X Professional Shotgun Mic
We carry Azden’s complete line of on-camera
shotgun mics. Got to www.videoguys.com for more
Bella Professional Series
for video editors
- the Bella Pro Series
features color & icon coded
keycaps for most popular editing $ 95
programs, a patented, built-in jog/ 169
shuttle controller plus the NeoLite task light and
two high-speed USB 2.0 ports! Specific model
designs available for Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe
Premiere Pro, Avid Xpress, Sony vegas & more
Cows Around the World
The “W” in COW stands for “world,”
and we really mean it.
Here are reports from Cows in Russia, India,
the Netherlands and Canada about what
they do, and what they’re working on.
iPro, a distributor of Apple, opened a training center in
Moscow this spring with outlets in St. Petersburg and
Ekaterinaburg, my home city. I recently gave two FCP
courses — a five-day course in a local university and a
three-day course in the iPro training facility here.
The three-day FCP course is madness, although
my students absorbed quite a lot, and even passed the
certification exam. They were a sight to look at after 90
minutes of questioning in English! Microsoft is more
generous with non-native English speakers and doubles
the certification exam time for them, I am told.
I am certified to teach FCP and Motion but editors
and their employers are not prepared to buy training
right now. Also, custom duties and fees on hi-tech
goods in Russia are so high that customers in Far Eastern
cities, such as Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, sometimes
prefer to go to South Korea, Japan and China
and shop for Apple products there.
Meanwhile, I do sales presentations with Apple
Final Cut Studio, Aperture, and using Wacom tablets.
I even went abroad with Final Cut Studio and Aperture
recently — to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. But my
most recent destination was Khabarovsk (seen here,
right), with Tomsk and Magnitogorsk before it.
On a more creative front, I am finishing a DVD project
with footage from a literary festival that took place
in Ekaterinaburg. Young writers and poets competed
among themselves and took part in writing workshops
for three days. Six miniDV cassettes were used to tape
some of these activities. My task was to edit the material
and output a 90-second
ad, a seven-minute narrative
and a 90-minute documentary.
The project is almost
finished, and this week I
plan to burn 80 DVDs that
will eventually be mailed
to every participant. The
most distant of them lives
near Lake Baikal, 2800 kilometers
1400 miles) in Siberia, near
the Mongolian border —
but I have made it very clear
to the client that mailing
will not be part of my job.
And of course, our
wedding season has just ended. Due to climatic conditions,
it is short and intense. Every bride wants to get
wed and not wet (and definitely not frozen on the way
to the limo). DV shooters are in high demand, and I join
their ranks with my Canon XM2.
Guess what I use as a backup and B-roll cam? A
Flip! It is excellent in semi-dark conditions and beats
the XM2 when I shoot dances. Brides don’t like dancing
before on-camera lights.
With all that, my reading focus has shifted from
Final Cut Studio to Business & Marketing and Event
Videography at the COW.
I have had over 18 years of experience in cinematography,
coupled with nearly 12 years as a Director of
Photography in Bollywood. To me, the best cinematography
is the kind that takes you into another world,
and makes you quickly forget that you are watching a
movie. Seamless and realistic.
(That’s me, at right.)
My favorite lighting style is to shoot with naturallooking,
motivated light sources. I enjoy working with
large soft sources and then “paint” in the shadow
areas. I work very
hard to make certain
story is being told
is enhanced and
c o m m u n i c a t e d
with the light and
I have finished the
research for a documentary
sex tourism in Goa
that I hope to pro-
duce. There are few, if any, local prostitutes in the red
light districts of India’s major cities. The majority have
either migrated or been trafficked to those cities.
The daughters of migrant prostitute women are
generally expected to enter into prostitution as soon
as they reach puberty — and even before that, they
are expected to work all night performing in bars.
Prostitution involving boys tends to be less formal, but
is still quite common.
Locations like Goa can combine large numbers of
vulnerable children, and an under-resourced police
28 September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 29
force inexperienced in dealing with child sexual offenses,
plus a high degree of respect for western men,
to create an environment safe only for pedophiles. It
is a very sensitive subject, and I am now looking for
international funding for it.
I have my own production company in Mumbai,
shooting HD with the Panasonic HVX202. I have a team
that works with me, as well as equipment for multicam
Should a foreign producer choose to work in India,
I offer location scouting and help with local financing
along with my DP services. After producers apply for
permits at the Indian Embassy in their home nation,
I can help them obtain the approvals in India. If the
application is for a documentary or a television show,
we obtain permission from the Ministry of External Affairs.
If it’s a feature film, then from Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting. There is a permit fee of $200
for feature films, but none for documentaries. After
clearance, we then apply for actual location permits,
Even though I have
a Dutch name, I am
of Rwandan origin,
and grew up in Kenya
Since I was young
I have always been
looking for new
ways to communicate.
I have basically
done everything one
can do with his hands:
paintings and animation.
I also have a passion for music. I am currently
signed by two record labels, River Praise Records
and Bigbadboy Records. I create my own beats and
also write lyrics both for myself and for other artists.
(I sometimes rap in Dutch, but prefer to use English.)
I’ve done a lot with hip-hop: performances including
at the Xnoizz Flevo Festival in August, video clips and
My other interests include video production and
editing, of course. I use the Panasonic HVX200 to shoot
both DV and HD, and work in a combination of AE, Premiere,
FCP, Photoshop and Cinema 4D.
I recently finished a video for myself as a rapper,
Mission JW. It’s not a clip with just “yo, yo, yo” and
“bling, bling, bling.” The mixes are deep, and a serious
message that is also treated with humor. The central
theme is the prejudices against immigrants, even
from agencies which vary depending on location.
In case of aerial photography in India, one needs
to apply at least three months before the shoot, as this
is the most time-consuming permit process. If the DP
is a foreign national, permission will take 90 days, but
if the DP is Indian it will take only 50 days. There are
two ministries involved in this permission: the Ministry
of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Defense.
I have been able to do all of this for many productions
from all over the world. Some of my most recent
projects include: working as a fixer for a travel documentary
and cookery series, “Rhodes Across India” for
UKTV Food; DP and Line Producer on a documentary
about Kalaripayattu (a martial art originating in the
Indian state of Keral) by Dutch filmmaker Herma De
Walle; and second unit camera for an episode of the
documentary series “Shipbreakers” for National Geographic.
I am truly blessed to find that I can make a living
doing what I love to do.
those who were born and grew up here.
At present I am working on a video for the artist
“Levi.” It is going to be an abstract clip, combining 2D
and 3D with special effects to create a fantasy world.
After that, I will work on a commercial for SME TV,
the first afro-oriented broadcasting network in the
Netherlands. The commercial will be flashy, yet still
displaying African roots. I will create the video and the
music that goes along with it as well.
I will also be traveling to Poland, where I will shoot
video clips with the R&B/hip-hop group “Sweetsani.”
The group consists of two singers and one rapper
(me). We’re planning to release our album next year in
I’m working on many other things: writing and
producing, designing a clothing line, and drawing and
painting as much as I can.
I want to be challenged. For that reason, I constantly
push back my boundary lines. Because in the
end, there is no boundary line to art.
When I finished doing compositing
for “Mr. Magorium’s
Magic Emporium” at BarXeven
last winter, I did VFX and
graphics for an independent
documentary about oil, and
then went to Argentina with
my wife. She’s from there, and
we were able to take some
extra time on this trip before
I started in May with Mr. X. They’re a
major Canadian effects house, with
around 70 or 80 people in Toronto,
and 10 or 15 here in Montreal.
My first job with Mr. X was
on “Death Race,” starring Jason
Statham, which came out late this
summer. There are a whole bunch of
green screen shots with him racing
in the car, looking intense, looking
over his shoulder at other racers and
so on. It switches from one shot to
the other, between the green screen
shots and some live shots taken
around some abandoned buildings
This was also my first compositing
job using Nuke. It’s a node-based
compositor originally developed for
in-house use by Digital Domain, and
won a Technical Achievement Academy Award in
2001. It’s developed now by The Foundry. Mr. X and
Weta Digital are among the high profile houses using
I’m using it on a movie called “Whiteout” at the
moment. It’s a murder mystery set in Antarctica starring
Kate Beckinsale that will be released in April 2009.
We’re adding snow and doing some 3D work.
One of the big deals with Nuke is that you can
hand-create EXRs with ease. EXR is a format designed
by Industrial Light and Magic and used on all the films
they work on. It’s a super-high resolution format, with
a dynamic range of over 30 stops. It also stores all
kinds of information in a single file — a shadow pass,
specular pass, ambient occlusions, and so on. You can
mix and match them, and tweak them to get the shading
just right to integrate with the real world.
EXRs are also efficient. Instead of having a huge
tree with two or three hundred nodes, I can have just
one node with all the separate passes still accessible in
it. Because all of this information is collapsed into one
file, you have to keep a bit more of it in your head.
You also have to be bit of a mathematician, think
about the numbers a lot. For example, there are 1024
possible channels in an EXR — RGBA are just the first
four. And each of them is displayed as a black and
white image. So you have to get used to thinking
30 September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008
about making adjustments to your scene by adjusting
those black and white images to affect, say, how much
color correction you’re applying to a scene, or how
transparent layers are relative to each other.
Which is the essence of compositing in a lot of
ways. Transparency, right? Visualizing transparency as
a black and white issue.
So what are YOU working on? The world wants to know!
When you have a minute, drop us a line:
focal press books
learn • master • create
[A} full primer...that is lavishly illustrated
and full of practical tips.
— Philip Hodgetts, Open Television
ORDER ONLINE NOW!
One team. Three shows. Every week.
How can one team triple its post-production workload without going insane, while keeping all
three clients happy? Here are some lessons learned from a decade of workflow innovation.
DigitalFilm Tree was born from the idea of combining
some key then-emerging technologies to
create budget-conscious film editing workflows, using
basic desktop computers, and basing it all on tools like
QuickTime and Final Cut Pro 1.0.
Some of our first breakthrough features were “Full
Frontal” and “Rules of Attraction,” helmed by visionary
and maverick directors who explicitly wanted to
explore new workflows for independent production.
Our first major challenge was designing workflows
that could be relied upon for traditional, largescale
feature film production.
Working closely with editor Walter Murch, we
were able to do this for Anthony Minghella’s “Cold
Mountain,” which established once and for all that Final
Cut Pro could be a viable part of mainstream Hollywood
The software itself is easy enough to use. Our challenge
was providing the in-house expertise to resolve
specifically film-related issues. These included cut list
and negative cutting problems that could be traced
Hollywood, California USA
back to improper telecine, or a less-than-thorough
creation of the initial Cinema Tools database.
We saw many of these same issues on our first
major HD project, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,”
which was shot on HDCAM at 24p, using the
Sony F-900 camera.
The biggest obstacle wasn’t managing all the effects
and compositing, which is what you might think.
It was that none of the tools of the time — Final Cut
Pro, Cinema Tools, AJA Kona, the SANs we worked with
— were qualified to work with HD.
The producers of Sky Captain were determined to
live on the bleeding edge, and these solutions simply
weren’t more than half-baked at the time. Fortunately,
we were able to work closely with all the manufacturers
involved, who were every bit as anxious as we were
to pull it off...which we did.
Our recent work on “The Forbidden Kingdom,”
starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan, added many additional
layers of complexity. We coordinated with the prodution
team during the shoot deep in mainland China,
Zed Saeed is the Senior Post Production Consultant with DigitalFilm Tree in
Los Angeles and New York. “Each year, some miracle technologies appear.
Few of these last,” he says. “Part of my job is to bet on the right horse.”
Cinematographer Peter Pau with Jet Li (left) and Jackie Chan (right) on
location deep in mainland China for “The Forbidden Kingdom.”
where our responsibilities included making tape backups
of the Panavision Genesis RAW files, and placing
them physically in a safe to satisfy the insurance bond.
We also coordinated a post team spread across China,
the US, Korea and Australia.
[Editor’s note: Zed wrote a full article for CreativeCow.
net covering every aspect of this remarkable production.
You can find it at http://library.creativecow.net/forbidden_
All of this put us in the right place, at the right
time, to work with Final Cut Pro in the world of episodic
production: all of the challenges of film production,
now applied to the creation of two dozen “short films,”
Episodic work brings so much more pressure that
it’s no wonder that the same studios who signed off on
Final Cut Pro-produced movies weren’t ready to use it
on their TV shows.
The pressure on us: the same team of nine that
used to post one episode of a single show each week
now becoming responsible for posting three different
network TV series, every week, at the same time.
We helped the medical comedy “Scrubs” become the
first major TV series to be onlined in Final Cut Pro,
starting in their second season. By the next season, we
took on the role of consultants and created, designed
and implemented an on-site Xsan system and network
for two editors and two assistant editors.
Even though “Scrubs” originates on super 16mm,
the final air master is delivered on Digital Betacam. At
the same time, the studio requires film cut lists in case
of a future film negative cut, which means that we had
to build that into the workflow as well.
We offline QuickTime files
from the dailies we process.
These are sent to the Scrubs editorial
for a creative edit. The Final
Cut Pro project files are then
emailed back to us for online
Our work has expanded to
all post services, including visual
effects. It is no small honor that
Jon Michel won the 2005 Emmy
for Outstanding Multi-camera
Editing for his work on Scrubs
Along with a move from
NBC to ABC, “Scrubs” will also
be moving from film to HD. The
HD transition has the reputation
for being difficult, but
compared to film, it’s a breeze.
One of the things you can’t
see as a viewer is that we’re
carefully preparing the Cinema
Tools databases and linking
them to the QT files as
we go, totally conformed to
match back for film integrity. That is, we have to
confirm every single clip against the edge code, so
that when going back to the sources for later cuts,
producers can actually find the clips they need.
Now, with HD, the only thing we have to
Zach Braff, “Scrubs”
worry about is timecode. We capture video, we output
video, end of story
THE GREAT FLOOD
Every post house has its challenges, but nothing prepared
us for what we call “The Great Flood of 2005.”
We came in one morning to find over 6 inches of water
across the entire facility. Let me tell you, walking from
32 Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 33
one room to another is a sloooow process when wading
through 6 inches of water!
We did dailies in the parking lot and continued to
online and deliver work to the clients, never missing a
day or a deadline for the next 2 weeks, until we found
a temporary space upstairs to move into.
We found and purchased a 10,000 sq. ft. facility
in 2007. We dubbed it “DFT 2.0,” because we now had
the opportunity to build for the future we’d seen was
coming: a data-centric environment, with the highest
bandwidth possible. We built it around a facility-wide
Bandwidth wasn’t enough. We created a multiplatform
shared environment to use our Mac, Windows,
Linux and IRIX platforms at the same time, sharing
files with no conversions or duplications.
We now had the network and workflow in place
to go from posting a single TV show every week
(“Scrubs”), to two a week, (“Everybody Hates Chris”)
to three a week, (“Weeds”) with the same number of
people and just a few more Macs.
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS
Produced by CBS Paramount and airing in the US on
the CW network, “Everybody Hates Chris” is based on
the life of comedian Chris Rock, who also narrates.
The speed with which “Everybody Hates Chris”
is created surpasses anything we have seen or experienced
before. The major concern has been that the
show’s child stars grow and change so quickly. As a result,
Everybody Hates Chris is shot and posted almost
twice as fast as any other TV show we’re familiar with.
One of the biggest changes we made to our workflow
was the addition of Apple’s Color to create the final
color correction. Even in cases where Final Cut Pro
is used for editing, final color work is often done in da
Vinci, Lustre or other very expensive color correction
suites. We believe that “Chris” is the first major network
show using Color.
Patrick Woodard, DFT’s lead colorist, did some
tests for “Everybody Hates Chris” producers, director
and director of photography. Everyone agreed that
the results held up very well.
The production team for “Chris” had several reasons
for taking the leap to Color. The first, obvious one
was the savings: traditional color grading suites can
cost upwards of $500/hr.
Another reason was that “Everybody Hates Chris”
is shot digitally, first with the Genesis Viper camera
and now with the Sony F23. The production felt that
they would benefit from a complete digital workflow
and all the flexibility of the digital process.
Flexibility was part of the third reason: speed.
Keeping everything tied into the Final Cut Studio sped
things up significantly.
Of course, one drawback of Color is that its output
is not in real time. Fortunately, Patrick has been able to
harness network and distributed rendering in Mac OS
X to take care of the rendering.
We never planned on posting 3 TV shows at the same
time! Yet because of shifted production cycles after
the recent writer’s strike and an odd series of convergences,
that’s exactly what we’re doing.
The shared-file system environment and workflow
efficiencies we’ve developed allow the same 9 people
that had previously been turning out one episode of
TV each week now able to do three, while still keeping
relatively sane hours.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
The fourth season of “Weeds,” coming to a close
as I write this, was our first with them. They didn’t contact
us for our FCP experience. Their editorial has been
based around Avid systems, and it’s working for them.
Rather, they came to us for our workflow expertise.
Their goal was to find new ways of working more economically
without sacrificing quality.
The production shoots on two Sony F23 cameras,
currently at the top of the Sony CineAlta line. (At this
writing, the F35 has yet to ship.) The show is recorded
in 4:2:2 to the Sony SRW-1, which is an HDCAM SR
format portable deck, typically filling 4-8 fifty minute
tapes per day.
The HDCAM SR camera masters are delivered to
us every night, where we create the DVCAM dailies
that go to the Weeds cutting room.
(After considerations of various formats, we decided
that DVCAM was the most efficient for editing.
DVCAM decks are more affordable and the DVCAM format
in general is more reliable and efficient than mini
In addition, digital “viewing” dailies are created
and uploaded to a secure, encrypted web-based viewing
system for “Weeds” producers, and for Showtime
and Lionsgate execs.
Weeds typically has two main editors and two assistant
editors, all using Avid Media Composer. When
picture is locked, an assistant editor provides us with
AAF files, 24 frame & 30 frame EDL’s, an Avid Bin, and
QuickTime reference files.
The show is assembled from the HDCAM SR tapes,
captured at 4:2:2 via HD-SDI to the Apple uncompressed
codec. We then conform, scene by scene, in
(Just as there was none for Weeds switching from
Avid, there were no efficiencies to be gained by having
us switch from FCP.)
Each week, the Weeds team completes two onlines
— one each for two episodes. The first is the
Promo Online, used for the “Next time on ‘Weeds’...”
announcements. These involve general online assembly,
without final color, VFX, or titles.
Second is the Final online, which includes all of
The first step toward onlining is identifying the
shots that need VFX or other treatment. These are
treated first, then graded using Color.
While he is also working on “Everybody Hates
Chris,” lead colorist Patrick Woodard breaks each episode
of “Weeds” into 4 7-minute “reels.”
Since the output from Color needs rendering, this
allows Patrick to color one reel, send it off for rendering,
and start work on the next, keeping episodes from
both shows moving forward at the same time.
A WEEK OF “WEEDS”
Below is a typical week for “Weeds.” The episodes are
numbered so that “4008” is Season 4, episode 8. The
“JT” referenced on Wednesday is post-production supervisor
4008: QC & Deliver
4009: Title ; 4009: Finish Color
4011: Promo Assembly Lock
4009: Picture Review 10am
4009: Changes & laydown by 6pm for Sound
4010: Final Assembly Lock
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 35
4010: JT Spot Color & VFX Notes
4011: Promo Assembly Deliverables by 4pm for
4009: Sweetened Master returns in evening
4010: Assembly Dubs by 8am for Spotting
4009: DVD sent for closed captioning by 8am
4010: Color; 4010 Title
So, as we arrive at the end of this particular week,
we’ve sent the final version of Episode 9 out for closed
captioning, and are coming to the end of Episode 10.
Episode 11’s Promo Online is also nearing completion
on a pace that will allow it to be shown as “Next
time on Weeds” as soon as Episode 10 finishes airing.
And that’s just for “Weeds.” Don’t forget that the
same team of nine of us is also posting and finishing
full episodes of “Scrubs” and “Everybody Hates Chris
simultaneously, every week.
DELIVERABLES, DELIVERABLES, DELIVERABLES!
When a TV show is finished, it is rare for the producers
to walk away with just one tape. Far more often, there
is a (very) long list of items that are to be extracted
from the master, and sent to various locations, executives
and broadcast facilities.
We have had to create a complex deliverables
matrix and handbook for each of the three shows we
work on every week. It goes all the way down to the
precise machine room patches needed to accomplish
“Weeds” has two lists of deliverables. One is
the set of tapes and disks of various formats that are
passed between members of the team during the post
process. The other is the set for final delivery.
Here is an illustration of the deliverables for week
one of “Weeds” this season.
Note that in addition to tape or disk format, there
are numerous requirements for audio channels, timecode
placements and VITC that have to be attended to
for each item, for each of the two lists of deliverables.
Needless to say, each of the networks for whom
we produce shows have different lists.”
We have an extensive quality control check Monday
mornings before the network begins working with the
episodes we deliver.
The HDCAM-SR of the final master for Weeds that
we deliver to Lionsgate also goes through an additional
third-party QC check. We were proud that in just our
second week with “Weeds,” we got the message from
post supervisor Jonathan Talbert that the episode
sailed through that third-party quality check without
a single request for changes.
The only way we have been able to pull it off
was organization, and clear communication between
None of our edit bays has a computer in it – only a keyboard, mouse, computer screen and a KVM box. The
computers all live in the machine room.
This “Keyboard, Video and Mouse” system, tied together through our ethernet networks, allows us to view
and control any computer from any screen and keyboard, anywhere in the facility. An operator can start a
capture on one Mac, then with the tap of a key switch to another Mac to check on a rendering, then switch to a
third to check dailies or color correction.
Similarly, our waveform/vectorscope sits in the machine room, and anyone from any bay can access it
at any time. True, software such as Final Cut
Pro and Color have their own waveform and
vectorscope for monitoring brightness, color
values and other values, but they are nowhere
near as sensitive, reliable or accurate as
Among the critical features of our
Tektronix WFM7120 is a detailed error log.
Based on values we can program (“legal”values
can often vary a little bit from broadcast facility
to another), this unit generates a very detailed
error log for any program put through it.
Having a description of the error, and
the timecode where it occurs, completely
eliminates the days of sitting there on a stool
to watch a show on scopes and hope to catch
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
I/O for the Mac
Portable • Affordable • Complete
Matrox is leading the way in mobile editing. The new Matrox MXO2 is the first truly portable
device that gives you broadcast-quality input/output, monitoring, and up/down/cross conversion
to streamline your workflow with Apple Final Cut Studio. It’s lightweight, fits in your laptop
bag, and can run for hours on a field battery. It lets you work seamlessly in any format you
want, including ProRes. Enjoy new-found freedom with Matrox MXO2.
Edit anywhere – only $1,595!
Contact us today for the name of a dealer near you.
1.800.361.4903 (US and Canada), +1.514.822.6364, www.matrox.com/video
Matrox is a registered trademark and Matrox MXO are trademarks of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. Apple Final Cut Studio and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc. registered in the United States and other countries.
teams. Even though the teams were using different
gear, each with their own workflows, we
were able to develop a single joint workflow
that served us all.
Did I mention that we’re doing this for
three network shows each week?
Creative COW wishes to thank all of
our contributors that gave of their time
to make this issue a great one. Each of
you is remarkable as you are all very busy
people and yet each one of you has been
willing to share your time to bring your
experiences and expertise to our readers.
Thank you, we appreciate greatly your
willingness to open up your stories to the
Creative COW Magazine readership.
DigitalFilm Tree’s workflow chart of Weeds
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
The ADS Group Campus
2155 Niagara Lane North
Plymouth, MN 55447
R E C ORD I N G S T UDI O
f1_CCow_6.125x4.625.indd 1 5/19/08 10:45:39 AM
Studio 120 is a team of full-time producers, engineers
and interactive media developers with substantial experience
in the areas of audio, video and multimedia production. We
provide a wide range of dynamic media projects for Marketing,
Merchandising, and Educational purposes for customers from
coast to coast.
• Location Video Production
• Audio Recording Studio
• Audio Editing & Mixing
• Video Post Production
• Encoding for DVD
• DVD Authoring
• Closed Captioning and Subtitling
• Pro Video Format Duplication
• Audio & Video for Web Streaming
• Audio & Video for Mobile Devices
• Foreign Language Translation
• Transcription & Recording
• Full Service DVD and CD Manufacturing
Contact us to
The ADS Group
Pre-production can keep your project on the rails as you balance storytelling
and project design, while staring down the barrel of brutal deadlines
The South Dakota Advertising Federation gave us
a unique opportunity: producing nearly two hours
of animations for use throughout this year’s ADDY
awards program, our regional portion of the world’s
largest advertising competition.
Besides the videos setting up each of the award
presentations, we also created a short visual effects
film for the show open, chronicling a few-second slice
of time where two cowboys catch each other cheating
while playing poker.
As long as we kept to the evening’s western
theme, the SDAF gave us complete creative freedom
— but due to scheduling conflicts, we had less than a
week between principal photography and delivery of
the final edit.
To complicate things further, the shoot location was
five hours away from our facility on the other side of
the state. We would not have an opportunity to go
St. Cloud, Minnesota USA
back and re-shoot if we overlooked something important
Therefore, we did as much preproduction as possible.
We had to have a clear understanding of what we
needed to shoot, and maximize our limited time with
the actors on location.
A static storyboard using rough pencil sketches
was a good start, but it didn’t give us any information
about camera moves, or the timing of our shots.
To help with that, we created a motion storyboard, or
It’s a simple process. We placed the storyboard
frames on a timeline to work with shot lengths. Then
we broke the frames into layers so that we could move
them to reflect changing camera positions.
This was especially helpful as it allowed us to play
with the timing of the shots, simulate camera moves,
and begin working on some of the more complicated
visual effects even before principal photography began.
“I’m a Creative Cow reader — maybe even a junkie,” says Carl. “I pass this
story along as encouragement that great productions can have very humble
beginnings.” Carl recently began his own production company, Telescope
Media Group, and wishes Vision Video “the absolute best in all of
their future projects.”
From top: storyboard with final shot; example of shallow depth of field
We also did several camera tracking tests and
mock shoots in our studio, which proved to be invaluable.
Because we planned to shoot everything overcranked
at 60fps, it was all the more essential to have a
strong understanding of how the edit was going to fit
together before the shoot began.
Thanks to our extensive pre-planning, we knew
the length of each shot, the camera’s perspective and
movement, and even had a music score in place before
we ever rolled camera in Deadwood.
HITTING THE TRAIL
As we went into the project, our goal was to create a
realistic effects film with high production values that
drew attention to the story, and not the effects themselves.
The production involved 2 days of shooting, 5 actors,
2 locations, 14 visual effects shots, and a very limited
budget, using a team of just the 3 of us at Video
Vision: Cody Redmer (previz, editor, lead compositor,
camera/DP, sound design); Dan Bruns (previz, crewing,
location scouting, assistant camera); and me (VFX supervisor,
We shot with a Panasonic
HVX-200 in 720p HD mode at
23.976 fps, using a Cinemek
Guerilla-35 depth of field converter
and Nikon f1.8 primes.
The “G35” is an HD 35mm
adapter still under development
as I write this. Its most attractive
feature is that it has a
static imaging plane and does
not require power. As a result,
it’s a simple, lightweight, and
compact unit that is very friendly
to off-speed shooting.
Since ours was a beta model,
one of the biggest challenges
was that it lost a significant
amount of light — I estimate
about 4 stops. (The newest production
versions are said to lose
only 1.4 stops.)
Nevertheless, it afforded
us the ability to mount 35mm
Nikon lenses on our camera.
This provided the beautifully
shallow depth of field and extreme
focus pulls seen throughout
We also used various camera
support systems, including
a home-made dolly system, and
a 10 foot Advanta-jib with pan
Editing was done in Final
Cut Pro, visual effects were handled
in After Effects, and music
was scored in Reason.
Here are a couple of examples of the way we put
the pieces together to tell our story.
THE RAIN SHOT
The only shot which we had essentially completed before
principal photography turned out to be one of the
most impressive. It appears at the middle of the film,
just after a muzzle flash leaves the audience wondering
which cowboy has just fired his gun.
The camera starts far above a saloon in a heavy
40 September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Creative COW Magazine — September / October 2008 41
ainfall, races to the ground, and goes through the
roof to reveal the cowboys holding drawn guns around
a poker table. The shot ends with the camera moving
from a vertical orientation above the scene to a horizontal
perspective of the cowboys.
What sells the shot is the way we were able to
combine the CG elements and the live-action footage
into one fluid and believable movement.
Everything that appears before the camera finishes
moving through the roof of the saloon, was created
entirely in After Effects using a combination of 2D and
Once the virtual camera moves through the roof,
we switch to a 100% live-action shot of the cowboys
captured in camera on the HVX with the Advanta-jib.
The CG components of the shot were approached
in two parts, with separate After Effects comps and
cameras that were later meshed into one single move.
The camera goes from high above the desert to the
roof of the saloon in the first segment, then through
the various layers of the roof to reveal the cowboys
within the building in the second.
We began by creating a 2D terrain map for the
environment using Google Earth images. These were
then parented together and scaled exponentially to
simulate the effect of a camera rushing toward the
We also wanted to give the impression that there
was a downpour of rain interacting with the camera as
it flew into the roof of the saloon. For this, we created
a rain system with Trapcode Particular using custom
particles. This allowed us to have the raindrops fall
past the camera while the background was scaling
slowly, but then to speed past them before reaching
the roof of the building.
Additional clouds were added to make the shot
feel more organic. Finally, a number of adjustment layers
and selective grading masks were applied to the
composition to perform a day-for-night conversion
and to add additional depth of field rendering to the
In the second CG segment of the rain shot, we
made a 3D multi-plane composition to simulate the
movement of the camera through the various layers of
the roof. A number of photographed wood particles
were arranged in 3D space to give a more realistic impression
of the camera passing through the roof.
As a final step, the live action plate of the gunfighters
was brought into the scene as a 2D element, then
scaled and time remapped to match the movement of
AE’s virtual camera and the live-action footage.
THE WINDOW SHOT
Whenever possible, we made a conscious decision to
integrate live-action elements into the composites to
deliver a more nuanced and convincing end result. The
“window shot” proved to be a great application of this
In this shot, the camera pulls back from the gunfighters
in the saloon, moves through a window, and
dollies back roughly forty feet to reveal the sheriff
pointing his rifle at the dueling cowboys.
Instead of taking a series of still images and pulling
a virtual camera through the scene, we recorded
two live action shots: we physically moved the camera
and combined them into one seamless motion.
In the end, this shot required significant stabilization,
tracking, roto, rig removal, and time remapping
to get everything to match together. However, working
this way gave a more realistic sense of perspective
as the camera moved through the scene. There was no
other way to achieve the realism required for this shot
using still photography and a virtual camera alone.
SOUND: THE OTHER HALF OF THE PICTURE
Sound design played a critical role in adding production
value to the film.
The music was composed before shooting — even
before the rough edit of the animatic was completed.
This way, the music set the pace of the shots, and contributed
much more to the overall mood of the piece.
Once the animatic was replaced with the footage
from the shoot, the music was recomposed to accommodate
for small shifts in the timing of the edit.
Since all the footage we shot had no associated
sound, dozens of effects were added in FCP to highlight
each subtle movement within the piece. When
everything was finally synchronized in the edit, there
were over twenty tracks of audio dedicated to sound
At one point, we could not find an appropriate
sound effect for the cocking of the cowboy’s revolver.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
So, we decided to try recording
something ourselves in the studio.
I would normally not recommend
bringing a couple of handguns to
work, but in this particular case,
that’s exactly what we did.
The final sound used in
the edit was a combination of a
.38 Magnum and a .22 revolver
cocking simultaneously. A small
amount of reverb was applied
to the recording to make it mesh
more realistically with the action
of the footage.
FIXING IT IN “PRE”
With less than a week of post production,
we were very pleased
with the results of the film.
It was especially satisfying
to see that the film looked it was
produced by more than just the
three of us.
As with any project there
were some small surprises along
the way, but our emphasis on preproduction
helped us determine
the difficulties we would face
early in the planning process. Had
we taken the all-too-common approach
of shooting first, then attempting
to “fix it in post” later,
the project would have failed.
Start to finish, it was also a
reminder for us that complex visual
effects are amazing, but it is
critical that they are used in a way
that enhances your story, not just
for the sake of using the latest
Careful attention to production
details also means that you
don’t have to be a big company
to do exceptional work. In the end
your clients will thank you, and so
will your audience.
The crew set up multiple shots that in the end were compisited to make
the final image.
approved with metasan
• Up to 64tB Fc to
• 3 streams oF 10-Bit hd
Lightning Fast speeds
AV Optimized Flexible ScAlAbility
FREE ONE YEAR ONSITE SUPPORT FOR APPLE
• 2GB DDR ECC cache per controller
• Raid 5 over four FC channels throughput:
1530MB/s Read 518MB/s Write
caLL the Video storage experts at condre storage – 952-294-4900
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine 43
Get liberated now at www.childsplay.small-tree.com
“Small Tree Was
Great to Deal With!
They were willing
to get on the phone
with me to help
with set up.”
The PEG4 Server Card
revolutionized my network.
Receive an additional $50
off the PEG4 Server Card
when you mention this ad.
Offer valid until November 30 th , 2008
We Demand That Networking Should Be Child’s PLAY!
10 Gigabit Cards Switches Shared Storage and Much More
Small Tree Communications • 7300 Hudson Blvd., Suite 110, Oakdale, MN 55128 • 866.STC.4MAC • e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact ELLEN PARKER to place your ad!
For our magazine advertising programs, please contact
Ellen Parker by email at email@example.com
ACE-Cases.com ........................ 45
Adrienne Electronics ............. 45
ADS Group recording ........... 39
AJA ............................................... 13
Artbeats ..................................... 11
Avid ............................................. 47
Blackmagic Design .................. 7
Brooklyn Independent ......... 45
CalDigit ....................................... 19
Digital Juice .............................. 23
Dulce Systems ......................... 44
DVPA ........................................... 44
Elsevier / Focal Press ............. 31
Fibrenetix .................................. 29
G-Technology .......................... 25
HD Soundtools ........................ 45
HP Computers ........................... 5
MAM-A ....................................... 45
Matrox ........................................ 37
NEO Sounds .............................. 45
Panasonic ................. back cover
Roland / Edirol ......................... 39
Small Tree .................................. 44
Smartsound .............................. 15
Sony ............................................... 2
Videoguys.com ....................... 27
has the answer!
44 Creative COW Magazine
Creative Cow Magazine 45
time code that
matches what you
are capturing Live!
LIVE EVENTS • CORPORATE VIDEO • KIOSKS • WEB VIDEO & MORE
Reading a Friend’s Copy?
GET YOUR FREE
TO CREATIVE COW
Creative Cow Magazine is free
to qualified media professionals,
educators and students in the
fields of film, broadcast, corporate
and event video, live events,
compositors and motion
graphics artists, imaging, audio,
DVD production and other
T H E B A C K F O R T Y
Learning More Than We Ever Wanted To Know...
YOU LEARN PLENTY WHEN YOU SUPPORT OVER 975,000 UNIQUE VISITORS A MONTH
Bandwidth. Now that is a
word that we have used a
lot over the last year or so. We use
lots of it to supply Creative COW to
its ever growing body of users —
but we could use a lot more of the
personal variety, as well.
My apologies for the fact that
this magazine is a little late, but
among my other duties, I have
been grooming Tim Wilson to take
over the magazine. He has done
such a great job with it that Kathlyn
and I have talked it over and
have asked him to head the magazine
completely in 2009. He was delighted
at the offer and so, starting
with the next magazine, our November/December
issue, Tim and a
new team of designers and editors
will take over the magazine.
We know that Tim will do a
great job as he has done remarkable
work on the magazine since
joining us over two years ago. He
loves this magazine as I do. When
he first joined the team, I told him
what I’d like this magazine to become:
“picture Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark
Side of the Moon’ in print as a magazine,
Tim; with issues themed like
the great concept albums from the
70s,” I told him. He got it instantly
and we have been running with the
idea ever since.
The trouble is, we’ve been
running into the problems that occur
when one of the two chief guys
making a magazine is also the Director
of Business Development of
a huge website that is constantly
having to deal with seemingly endless
2008 was incredible. We started
the year with about 300,000
unique users a month and a third
the number of servers that we
have today. We spent 2008 building
servers and racing to keep up
with the incredible growth of the
COW. Why? Very shortly we should
break over a million unique visitors
a month, likely by mid-November.
Yes, this month. We are
getting over 976,000 unique visitors
a month right now and we
have grown over 150,000 visitors a
month since just last August 27th.
That’s two months. We have been
going nuts trying to keep up with it
all and add new features, as well.
In all of this, I told Tim that
while I hate to walk away from the
magazine — as I love doing this —
it’s time to do what I do best and
let Tim wear the hat that he wears
So, beginning with the next issue,
Tim becomes the magazine’s
Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher.
Kathlyn and I will remain as
publishers — which is just a fancy
way of saying that we’ll write the
checks for Tim. Well, Kathlyn will
Me, I am going to focus on the
kinds of business development
duties that I have been doing all
along, but now I get to do it without
the distraction of deadlines re-
Paso Robles, California USA
quired by the magazine. And Tim
gets to work with people that are
always available. Tim smiles.
The COW has been experiencing
an incredible degree of growth
and I have been working closely
with Abraham just to keep up with
it all. In August of 2007, we served
250,000+ unique users a month,
according to Google Analytics. In
September of 2008 we began passing
the 900,000 monthly unique
visitors marker. By the end of October,
we were passing the 975,000
monthly visitors marker. Wow.
We started doing this back 13
years ago on a $39 a month web
account. Today, it costs many hundreds
of times more than that to
do what we do. (Now you know
the reason for all the banners. Sorry.
But please note that without
the great sponsors you see in the
COW, only a broken address would
greet visitors. So thank you, sponsors.
And thank you most sincerely
for believing in and supporting
this magazine. Both Tim and I have
loved making it and now I will love
watching what Tim does with it.)
It has been an honor to have
been a part of a magazine that has
been so graciously accepted and
supported by the industry. I have
learned a lot making it over the last
couple of years. And the thing I have
learned most is: some talents must
be used sparingly so you can focus
on your greater strengths.
September / October 2008 — Creative COW Magazine
Your business side. Your creative side.
Inspire both. Introducing Avid’s new editing lineup.
An evolutionary system architecture that delivers what’s most important to you.
Quality, performance and value. A new way of thinking. A new way of doing business.
Take a closer look at Avid.com/NewThinkingCOW.
© 2008 Avid Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. Avid is a registered trademark of Avid Technology, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries.
introducing two new
legendary fi lmmakers.
Whether it’s a romantic comedy or high-speed action scene, Panasonic’s
new VariCam 3700 and VariCam 2700 P2 HD camcorders provide the
fi lm-like operation, fast-/slow-motion in-camera effects and subtle tone
control of the legendary VariCam – but now with the speed, fl exibility
and reliability of P2’s solid-state fi le-based workfl ow. Each of these
premium cinematography cameras allows a creative professional to
capture pristine-quality images using three of the fi nest, full native
resolution 2/3" CCDs and master-quality 10-bit, 4:2:2 AVC-Intra 100
compression. And, for ultimate quality without color sub-sampling,
VariCam 3700 offers dual-link RGB 4:4:4 output with log response
capability. With sophisticated in-camera controls, such as Film Rec
and Dynamic Range Stretch, true 24.00p frame rate recording,
when it counts
and lens performance optimization using Chromatic Aberration Compensation,
you get the extraordinary control and versatility you expect only from a
VariCam. And, the reliability of these solid-state master-quality cameras is
backed by an industry-leading fi ve-year limited warranty.
The new VariCam 3700 and VariCam 2700. The legend continues.
Learn more about the new P2 HD VariCams at
Unmatched recording capacity
with our new 64GB P2 card
© 2008 Panasonic Broadcast