Have FCP, Will Travel… Please Let Me Travel!

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This week I have the good fortune of getting out of the cold Chicago weather and editing in sunny California. I’m was brought out to do some on-site editing for Fender at the NAMM convention in Anaheim.

Like every travel job that I do, there are unique needs that needed to be addressed. No two jobs are exactly the same.  The needs of this job resulted in me having the most sophicated travel setup I’ve had to date. Here are the details of the job.

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NAMM is a convention that showcases manufactures of musical instruments and gear. It’s kind of the NAB of the music industry. Fender has one whole floor of the convention center, and my job is specific to what they’re doing here. There are 3 main areas of their venue. The Stage, where there will be live performances, both planned and as people walk up and just want to jam. There is the exhibit area where booths are setup for all of the separate companies that are under the Fender umbrella. And then there’s the “floor”, where people are just socializing and moving from one place to the other. All of these are being covered by video, and as quickly as possible edited down and posted to the web on the Fender website as well as many social media sites.

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The stage area is being covered by another editor who is recording the line feed and 3 iso cameras to AJA KI recorders.


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He then takes specific performances (just single songs), cuts them down, adds bumpers on both sides and compresses it for the web. He then hands it off to one of the 3 web guys that take care of the online distribution.

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As for my job, I’m handling the show floor and the booths, which is being covered by 2 roaming cameras shooting DVCPro50 widescreen on P2 cards. There is an assistant that will be running cards to and from the cameras whenever they think they got something special to post. That might be a good interview, a really kick ass performance by somebody jamming out, or an unexpected moment with a real rock star. It’s rumored that Eddie Van Halen may be showing up at some point.

So, my job started out sounding pretty simple, but the more we talked it through in the pre-production meeting we realized that the big issue is going to be time. Time to get the cards, time to download and wipe them, time to edit, and especially, time to compress the final video to flash so it can be uploaded. While this can easily all be done on a single machine, it didn’t seem like the best idea. So what we ended up with was a multiple station setup, all being run by a single operator (me).

So from left to right, here’s what I have setup.

P2 Ingest Station

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This machine is a MacBookPro laptop with Final Cut Pro doing nothing other then logging and importing p2 footage. The client provided the p2 reader, which is way overkill for what we’re doing. But it does hold multiple cards and connects via USB. It’s really designed to do a lot more then just read cards, but hey… it looks pretty awesome as part of my setup.

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The footage is all ingested over the network to the edit station, where I continue editing as the footage comes in (everything is networked via Gigabit Ethernet and a small 5 port switch. This also keeps me from having to copy footage from one machine to the other. All of the machines are using the same drive. It’s local to one machine, and remote to the other 2.

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Edit Station

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The edit station is another MacBookPro running FCP. On this machine I have a small Raid 0 strip of 2 G-Raid drives, giving me 1 TB of raided space and connected via FW800. I also have a 2TB Western Digital “My Book” drive that I’m using to mirror all of my work and captured footage on-site. I’m a big believer of having a duplicate or triplicate of everything when editing on the road.

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As I bring in the footage I’m first sorting it into different sequences (as opposed to bins), one for each of the companies. At some point the producer will come in and quickly tell me what footage goes up and what does not.  I will then edit down the clips with clean ins and outs, add the company logo bumper on the in and out and export it into a compression watch folder.

Compression Station

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The final stage is a MacPro Tower running Episode Pro. I customized it just for this job, and it is also using the same raid drive that both the P2 ingest machine and edit machine are using. So as soon as a file shows up in the watch folder, it starts compressing it using the preset that was already created and tested with the client. The output folder is a shared folder that the web crew has access to on their end of the network (upstream of my 5-port switch).

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Pulling It All Together

While it would not be too difficult to slide my chair from machine to machine, I had an idea as I was testing the system. Why not use Apple Remote Desktop to control all 3 machines from the one 23″ monitor!

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So, that’s what I’m doing. From the edit station, which has a large LCD hooked up, I have access to both of the other stations, and switching is very fast and easy since it’s all the same mouse and keyboard. What an awesome way to work!

Ready to Rock n’ Roll

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So at this point, I’m pretty much playing the waiting game. I’m set up, I’ve tested, retested and tested again and everything is working as expected. It all gets put to the test tomorrow.

About the Author

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Thomas Tomchak

Thomas Tomchak
President and Chief Technology Officer of Edit Creations, Inc.

Tom has been working in the broadcast industry since 1987 and has extensive experience editing corporate, broadcast and documentary programs. Tom has worked with a long list of nationally recognized companies and agencies including, Young and Rubicam, J.Walter Thompson, United Airlines, Better Homes & Gardens, Sears, Lions Clubs International, and Warner Brothers. You've seen his work on CNBC, United Airlines in-flight programming and major market television stations across the country.

Today he continues to seek new business opportunities while working with Edit-Creations' ever-expanding client base.

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There Are 4 Responses So Far. »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Thomas Tomchak and Thomas Tomchak, Drew Tyler. Drew Tyler said: check out this sweet travel setup! #fcp http://www.suitetake.com/2010/01/13/have-fcp-will-travel-please-let-me-travel/ […]

  2. Great setup and really interesting workflow! Thanks for giving such a thorough description. Quick question – why Episode Pro instead of Compressor? Is Episode your standard/preferred/recommended encoder? Thanks!

  3. Actually, I prefer compressor (especially the newest version in studio 3).

    This is my first experience using Episode Pro, and the only reason we're using it is because the client already had a workflow and settings preset that they were happy with. But to be honest, I'm surprised how easy it is to crash Episode Pro, even with it running on a clean install machine with nothing else going on. It also does not take advantage of the processors as much as compressor does.

    There is an optional install that allows you to use Episode Pro inside of compressor, but we didn't have another license of FCP Studio to put on this machine, so we're using the stand alone app.

  4. love the article. nice to see what people are working with in the field.

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