Has any ever gone from SB Pro to Avid in their workflow using the ‘Conformation’ route? I’ve been attempting to use FCP 7 as an in-between step to bring it into Avid (SB Pro → FCP 7 → Avid MC5.5) without success.
Here’s what I’m doing:
In SB Pro - I use the ‘Conformation → Export Project’ to generate the XML and project files.
In FCP 7 - I import the XML and link the files which keeps my timeline sequence and camera moves. I then export an AAF using both Automatic Duck (which is now free) and also the Boris AAF Transfer plug-in.
In Avid MC 5.5.3 - I import the AAF which maintains the timeline and camera moves but the problem is I’m not able to re-link the media (Off-Line).
The main reason would be for the camera moves which would reduce a lot of rendering time and back-forth between SB Pro and Avid. Conforming the project back to SB Pro would be a great time saver too…
A real problem we have with the AAF export is we can’t render the MOVs at 23.98fps. Support said the Quick Time render interface is just to access the various codecs on the system but it bypasses all the other options, filters, etc. So even though I’m selecting a 23.98 export, it’s defaulting back to SB Pro’s project setting of whole numbers - 24fps in our case. Since our post pipeline is based in 23.98, the MOVs have to be transcoded when brought into the Avid.
When it comes to camera moves, sometimes we tweak it in the Avid but we usually just go back to SB Pro and re-edit there. Which means we have to re-export and transcode to bring the adjusted scenes back into the Avid.
Our current workflow is SB Pro → AAF/Mov Export @ 24fps → Import Avid (Transcode to 23.98) → Edit in Avid → SB Pro (Edit camera moves/conform Avid edits) → AAF/Mov Export of adjusted scenes → Import Avid (Transcode).
If we’re able to successfully bring the FCP project into Avid, the 23.98/24 fps issue becomes a moot point (no more transcoding) since we don’t need to render MOVs.
Another side benefit of going Conformation route is eliminating rendering times and also reduced file sizes and rendering times. Individual panels range from .5 - 1 megabytes while rendered movies are any where from 30 - 70 megs.
Another idea is to just do all your edits in SB Pro then export to Avid at the very end as a pre-edit to final footage… but this presents other challenges…
If only Avid supported XML
We actually made progress and were able to go SB Pro → FCP - Avid but ran into another problem (see below). My two biggest wish list items from this experience would be:
1) Allowing SB Pro to export MOVs at 23.98. This saves us the additional rendering step in our current pipeline, when we bring the files into our 23.98 pipeline.
2) In the Export or Conformation - Allow the option to generate AAF file with still images like the current Conformation with XML. This is the ideal workflow. Whether I can conform back to SB Pro or not, exporting still images with the camera data, audio, and sequence/timeline saves a lot of rendering time and storage space compared to MOVs.
*One small note though, the Targas would need to be generated at 23.98 vs 24. Not sure if this is just a metadata issue but I realized this is what was causing the problem in my FCP → Avid transfer (more in details below).
Also noticed the XML generated from SB Pro essentially has some type of effect/motion applied to each panel, whether there is actually a camera move or not. This is another issue I had to address in the FCP → Avid transfer (more in details below).
Here is the SB Pro → FCP → Avid process in detail, might prove useful to others:
After doing additional testing here on our end, we were successful in going from SB Pro → FCP → Avid. We’re not fully confident in the workflow yet to implement it, there’s a performance issue to workout.
Our first hurdle was overcoming SB Pro’s limitation to export/render projects at 23.98. If you’re Post pipeline is based in 24fps, then this is moot. I first used the Conformation feature to export the XML and Targa images then imported it into FCP 7.
In FCP 7, I created a new project/sequence running at 23.98 then copied/pasted the imported SB Pro sequence (24 fps) to our new 23.98 sequence. The new sequence is now 23.98 but the actual media (Targa images) are still labeled at 24fps. This was the problem I had when Re-linking the media in the Avid after exporting using Automatic Duck. I transcoded the media into 23.98 using Media Manager and the Recompress feature, and also applying Avid DnxHD codec. A new project folder with the Targa images is created, now at 23.98 with Avid DnxHD. This will be the folder used to Re-link in the Avid.
Something interesting I noticed, when SB Pro exports the XML file and it’s imported into FCP, every single scene/panel has some type of motion, scale, or position effect applied whether there is an actual camera move or not. This is going to be a problem once it’s brought into the Avid timeline as every scene in your sequence will indicate an effect. Using Remove Attribute and group selection, I removed the effect on the scenes where there was no real camera move.
Using Automatic Duck, exported an AAF using Avid Compatibility. I didn’t select the AMA link option instead opted for Using Existing Media on both audio and video.
In Avid MC 6, I imported the AAF from Automatic Duck into my 23.98 project. I used AMA Link - Files not Volume - to bring in the 23.98/Avid DnxHD Targas and Re-Linked the sequence. From here, I have a clean sequence with all the media Online and only scenes with actual camera moves are labeled with an effect.
Unfortunately for us, we discovered a performance issue when we tested this on our actual production Avid MC 5.5.3 systems. Everything comes to a sluggish crawl where as on our test system, it runs just fine. The production systems are connected to the ISIS while the test system running MC 6 is running locally.
Add my hat into the pool: You (Toonboom) need to develop an AAF export option that creates JPGs for every frame, and then uses Avid’s built in “resize” filter to recreate camera movements. If that last bit is too difficult then fine, render out MOVs for the shots with camera moves. At least give us still images for those shots without movement.
Here’s the final workflow we decided to go with to fit into our pipeline after all our initial SB Pro → Avid testing, might prove useful to others:
We do a two pass export process - one for still images and one for camera moves:
1) In SB Pro, we export Bitmap still images for all the ‘static’ camera scenes (File → Export → Bitmaps → All in Export Range).
2) I export a list to indicate all the camera moves (File → Export → CSV → Include Camera Information).
3) Turn on Auto-Tracking, referencing the CSV file, I go to all the scenes with a ‘dynamic’ camera and ‘Tag’ the scene (space bar in Notes/Action Notes will do). If there’s any motion being used, First Frame/Last Frame, it’s not indicated on the CSV.
4) Render out all the ‘Tagged’ camera moves (File → Export → EDL/AAF/XML → Tracked Panels). We use this versus “Export to Movie” because it allows us to render only those individual Panels with a camera move using the Tracking Feature.
5) Go through all your exported files and delete the still images where a camera move was rendered. Validate all the Tracked Scenes so it’s ready for revisionists.
In this workflow, we don’t use the timing feature of SB Pro. All the panels with camera moves are exported at a default 2 secs (48 frames). The editors speed up or slow down the camera move as needed in the Avid for timing.
We don’t use the exported AAF file.
Rendered MOVs are exported in 24fps so the Avid is handling the transcoding to 23.98fps upon import. We also installed the AvidDNxHD codec on the machines so the 24 fps MOVs are encoded in 1080p DNxHD 36.
Would it be hard to add an option in “Export to EDL/AAF/XML” where ‘static’ cameras are exported as Bitmaps and ‘dynamic’ cameras are rendered as an MOV? Would speed up the process by making it a one step export.