Go with the workflow

15 months after going tapeless, I’ve just returned from a job where I was thoroughly glad we had tape.

I needed to incorporate clips and quotes from the TX of a conference, recorded onto Grass Valley Turbo and onto tape. These clips would be edited together with general footage of the conference and played back in the conference’s main room.

Originally, I had planned to have my FCP edit station within the production area, so I could record directly into Final Cut Pro and hard disk by taking the TX feed into a deck, then taking the deck’s firewire into FCP as a ‘non controlable device’. The same can be done with a FW camera, and it’s very handy – no ingest, no tape changes, immediate edit. But remember that unless you have a deck, there’s no backup, and you need to have a record station per source or vision mix live. But I digress.

My edit station was going to be ‘elsewhere’ in a large venue, so I would have to rely either on the GV Turbo recordings – MPEG2 files at 15 Mbits – or on DV Tape. The file based solution required copying the entire file from the GV Turbo onto a USB2 hard drive, then taking those files and copying them to the edit hard drive, then using Episode Pro to transcode into DV for editing, and then (phew!) locating the clips within the single file and chopping them out.

With tape, the 90 minute recording was handed over, taken to my edit bay, and I did a simple log and capture. Within half an hour of the presentation, we had our sound bites in and ready to roll. We’d still be copying files on a USB device had we gone for a file based workflow.

I’m not advocating a massed move back to tape – if I had been in the production area recording to disk using FCP, I’d be ready to play out my finished edit within half an hour. The time taken to export my edit and transcode to GV Turbo was roughly equivalent to running off to tape, but the way the Turbo works means that the file based efficiencies and benefits were centred around playout, not the whims and caprices of the editor.

It’s all down to workflow.

And there is no single ‘correct and canonical’ workflow. It varies. A planned workflow can change. The main thing is to spot the bottlenecks before they cause a problem and either work around them or (in this case) work with them.

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