Latest post Tue, Sep 20 2011 5:02 PM by Pixel Monkey. 3 replies.
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  • Mon, Sep 19 2011 4:43 PM

    Long-Form Projects Stability with MC 5.5 using Non-Avid Codecs

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             I’ve worked as an independent documentary filmmaker and editor for over 30 years.  I’m thinking of switching from Final Cut Pro to Avid.  I work in long-form feature documentary projects for broadcast.

             I’m currently working on a project with several hundred hours of original footage shot in the Sony XDCAM EX format.  The program will also contain other footage from other formats converted to Apple ProRes.

             My main concern with switching to Avid is about stability for working in long-form projects.

             My main gripe with FCP is that it tends to crash often due to the large amount of material in my project.  I’m wondering if Avid Media Composer 5.5 will be significantly different.

             I’ve talked to two long-time Avid editors, experienced with long-form documentaries, who told me that under Media Composer 4, where you had to convert all footage to Avid’s codec, the system was rock solid and rarely crashed.

             Now, one of the editors is now using MC 5.5 with other codecs supported through AMA on a long-form project and she reports that it crashes every day.

             If MC 5.5 does crash as often as FCP on long-form projects, I’m wondering if it might not be worth my while to make the switch right now.

    I’m in the middle of production on a documentary that already has 150+ hours and we expect to film 300+ new hours in the coming 6 months, followed by 6 - 12 months of editing.  We’ve done some minor editing to produce sample clips for fundraising, but haven’t yet begun any serious editing or even organization of the raw footage.  So, I need to make a decision soon about this. 

    I’d like to hear from other editors as to what your experience is with MC 5.5 handling hundreds of hours of material in non-Avid codecs and any other thoughts you might have about my dilemma.  (I know that FCP has no future for professional editors…the question is should I jump ship now or wait until my current project is finished, which could be 12 - 18 months from now.)

    As I would like to make a decision, ideally by the Sept 30 Avid deadline for FCP owners for the $995 deal, I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts and feedback as soon as possible.

    Many thanks!


    Robbie Leppzer

    Turning Tide Productions

    Wendell, MA


  • Mon, Sep 19 2011 5:13 PM In reply to

    Re: Long-Form Projects Stability with MC 5.5 using Non-Avid Codecs

    I am on PC not Mac but I have made several 4 hours timelines by multicam

    on a really big project which was over 600Gb. SD.

    I haven't experienced crashes.

    What do you mean non Avid codecs?

    You can't do something like that on XD and AMA link for example.

    Or at least I wouldn't do it.

    There is no real difficulty to transcode to Avid Codec's.

    I was editing in Liquid before 2-3 years and I've made the "jump".

    I could do this again and again for stability and only.

    Oh! and for the media management.

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  • Mon, Sep 19 2011 9:58 PM In reply to

    • Joe M
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    Re: Long-Form Projects Stability with MC 5.5 using Non-Avid Codecs

    As for stability and handling of non-AVID codecs I have had no problems... in fact, I almost exclusively use a non-AVID codec for all my many projects (i.e., Cineform). Bottom line, AVID is very stable on most platforms.  I don't think AVID would be around in the professional world today if it was considered an unstable working application.  In fact, that is it's strongest suit.

    If you are wondering about AMA linking stability... then, yes it is stable.  HOWEVER, it is does not have the same capacity to create a plan "B" recovery of a project in case something very unusual go wrong.   Personally, if you want absolute stability with ability to recover from an unexpected problem while editing... then, don't use AMA... simply take the time and effort to convert all your media to MXF file formats... then edit.  Considering the number of hours of raw material you are working with... AVID's file management system is probably the best you will find among all available editing applications.   

    The only real complaint I have with AVID is that I am not a big fan of  it's UI...but, that is just me and how I work makes AVID's UI very un-intuitive.  If you are looking for a very stable editing application (no matter the video file codec you use) AVID is your editing application of choice.  If you are looking for a UI that is similar to FCP, then Premier Pro may be your editing application.  Both have good and bad points...

    As for your particular project... you are at the point of trying to create a work flow that works for you... and... honestly, that is a big problem to try and attempt on such a big and important project.  NO editing application is going to be the perfect answer to your project needs until you... 1) learn how to use AVID (Or Prem. Pro) ...THEN... 2) develop a work flow that works for your situation.  Personally, I would never try to start such a long and important project on ANY new application.  Baby steps first...

    I believe your issue is committing to learning the application (whether it be Prem. Pro or AVID)... then, developing an efficient work flow.  Doing this will definately ease a lot of your concerns.  Until then, rest assured AVID is capable of doing what you want to meet your needs.... it is just that at this point, you need to be VERY specific as to what you want and need.  To do that... you need to learn on smaller projects - first.  I know very few experienced editors that attempt major and important projects with a brand new editing application where the work flow has not been established.  If this is your intent, I would highly recommend you spend time and money on obtaining a consultant to help make this transition fast and painless.  

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  • Tue, Sep 20 2011 5:02 PM In reply to

    • Pixel Monkey
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    Re: Long-Form Projects Stability with MC 5.5 using Non-Avid Codecs

    Hi Robbie.  This is a great question, so thanks for posting.  You've posted on an Avid forum so you're bound to get a ton of Avid zealots replying to this one.  Here are my 2-cents.

    I edit log format docs for PBS.  When I started, I had my shirt collars up all the time because it was the easiest place to store dozens of armslengths of Kodak 16 mil.

    Fade to black. 

    Fade-in: INT, night -- Yesterday (literally!).  Me in front of my Mac Pro with Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, and Avid Media Composer - all open at the same time, and all performing a specific task.  Of the three, Premiere is still the best one for capturing that weird 1080i/24p format that the SONY z7u creates.  Final Cut is still the best one for bulk-exporting QuickTime files.  And Media Composer?  Well that's the only thing I'll actually cut on when it comes to long-format.

    I always have fun saying the following statement because of how many feathers it ruffles: There is NO reliable track record in either Final Cut or Premiere for being able to return to a project flawlessly, three, five, or even ten years after I finished it.  For that alone, I'll tolerate any superficial problems with user interfaces, camera compatibilities, bugs, occasional feature bloating, and so on.

    Don't want to yap your ear off, so let me conclude by saying this.  Media Composer 5 came out last year.  Since, there have been a lot of editors in my city I've apparently angered.  They claim that I've stolen their documentary clients.  Truth is, I haven't.  With no urging on my part, they've migrated on their own because their Final Cut editors stopped becoming more efficient.  Final Cut doesn't have ScriptSync.  It doesn't have PhraseFind.  It constantly sends editors out of the Final Cut software to do things (which leaves those specific workflows subject to breakage by future "version environments".  It doesn't work well with scripts and transcripts.  And no Steve Jobs product can promise the archivability of a Media Composer workflow.  Heck, simply my ability to swap the project between my own Mac Avid and the client's Windows Avid within a few minute's time has brought me more work.  But ultimately, I am able to deliver significantly under-deadline and over-expectations because I've stayed with Avid.

    It's not a comfort thing, an interface thing or a compatibility thing.  I'll save that stuff for a selfish discussion on one's "editing environment".  This is a delivery thing.  With MC, delivery is faster and more reliable, which leaves me and the producer more time together to concentrate on the actual content.  And that's what's important.

    Many systems. Windows 7, Windows 10, and all flavors of macOS. Juts assume I'm running everything ;) [view my complete system specs]

    Editors are superheroes, cutting life together in a world that cuts itself apart.


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    Twitter: @heybove   Blog for Craft Editors

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