Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How could someone still be editing video from 2012? - slow software

There's so much other stuff to do. If you want to get good video, and quick video you cannot beat a LIVE SWITCH event. You have to setup a camera and a live switcher and edit on the fly, like a TV station would do. That's the fastest way to produce concert content. I know because I used to do that. But in 2012 and 2013 I just did a few shoots and this was with camcorders that were not connected to a switcher. I didn't have a switcher, and I don't have a crew, so I can't do things the fast and easy way. And my nice old analog switcher, I loaned to a friend, who lost in in his cluttered house. So I don't even have the switcher setup to do it, if I could find one I'd still need a volunteer crew, and those are even harder to find. As far as switchers go, the current hot item is the ATEM TV switcher by Black Magic. But I'm getting of my topic. I'm editing video, on and off, and it's taking a long time to do this. Why? Well there's plenty of distractions and normal work to do, so I'm not on a quick schedule. I'd like to get these done, but I'm not in a rush as if it's a paid job. So I can take my time. But besides taking my time, I have to spend money and a lot of effort to edit this stuff quickly and efficiently. I don't know if there is a way to do this quickly. I'm trying to find faster editing solutions for my setup. I know I can't beat a live switch and record of an event. I used to do that and it's speed can't be matched by any editing system. A live switch is an instant edit if you take the time to record it. There are other things in life besides editing. Using newer "multi=camera" or "multicam" software features, editors are supposed to be able to run an edit like a live switcher. This concept has been around for some time. AVID had a multicam option back in the early 1990's and it cost something like %$30,000 for that feature added to the price of a Media Composer. I asked for and specifically stated the needs and how to create an efficient MULTI cam system for Media 100 back in the mid 1990's. I wrote them a detailed letter explaining how this could work. Media 100 finally implemented Multicam, about ten years after I outlined how it would work and how we needed it. They did a really good job implementing that. Boris FX pulled it off. And it's no surprise as Boris was one of the original programmers of the Media 100 when it first started and his offshoot company Boris FX bought out Media 100. Boris knows how to create a good program, with Media 100 Suite. I only wish Boris FX was easier to run. Red to me is a deep mystery and a night mare by comparison. So even a Macintosh programmer can get things wrong. But I'm getting off my "LONG RAMBLING SUBJECT" which is below. You edit a few bands which you wanted to edit and the others were not recorded as well or you had some technical difficulty, so you delay editing those bands. Video from one of the bands you wanted to record turned out very badly, and you cannot get rid of the excess camera movement. These are all some excuses I could use. Also Cornerstone Festival is not continuing, unless you count a small offshoot festival called Audio Feed Music Festival. This festival is still happening and there are possible performances to edit from that festival that can be used for promotion, at least You Tube documentation. But the biggest reason is: The Media 100 Suite system has to import every piece of camera footage and convert it from AVCHD to Quicktime, and that is a slow process. Each piece of video has to be re-encoded into "large" quicktime files. These files are bigger and have less decompression to play, they require less work by the hardware and you can use older computers and older software to run and edit the programs with. I've been using technology from 2009 to edit the Cornerstone video stuff with. An old MacBook which cost me $1000 back in 2009 and Media 100 Suite, which ran $1000 to $1400 depending on when one might purchase it back then. I think I paid $1400 for it. In any event, that's a $2400 computer to edit video and it does a great job, but importing takes time and since I record as much of each set as possible, or concert on each camera angle, as one continuous clip, once it's transcoded for editing, I tend to want to edit the entire concert. This takes time. It should be maybe a week a band, but because I have other things to do as well, it turns out that it takes a month per band or concert. That's to long when you have 12 or more bands recorded with multiple cameras. There are other excuses of course that I could make. But in the end it comes down to trying to figure out if I'll bite the bullet and get better faster editing equipment to do this hobby. Now I'm trying out a newer computer and different piece of software. This software is very deep, and has a lot of features. It's called Edius by Grass Valley. Grass Valley makes production and TV studio switchers and other equipment. Grass Valley has a nonlinear editing system that has been out for a long time called Edius. Edius has a ton of features. But for the few features I really want, I have to navigate around all those other advanced features and try to get the program to run in a graphical modeless way, with the program getting out of my way. You'd think I could configure that system to run in a "light" manner and do multi-cam editing. But that is not the case. Edius is deep. By deep I mean it has a lot of features and a lot of features that are showing up in options and check boxes which reminds me of the Windows way of doing things. Yes there is everything in there but the kitchen sink. It's a wonderfully powerful program. But unfortunately that power, and all those strange options get in the way of an older guy who needs a much bigger computer screen to see all the fine fonts for example. The screen is filled with buttons and little drop down dialogs can appear covering almost every feature a professional editor would ever dream of. It reminds me of some professional computer software on the PC that I've seen. Very deep and full of features. But those features get in the way of "speed of editing". For example I'm just learning and trying out the multi-camera timeline. I want to be able to just do a few things that I could easily do with Media 100. With multiple camera, that is with many multiple camera events, the goal is to have a set of cameras all running at the same time. They are all put in sync with each other as if it's a live switch and you will just cut between them. There are two steps. First you align and sync up the cameras. Then you get to choose the audio you want to use and line that up as well or choose that from one of the cameras. And you turn off all the other audio and let all those cameras play on a modern "MULTICAM" layout. This will play all the cameras at once, on a screen display that shows all of them as if they are TV monitors from a multi-camera shoot. You will choose the cameras by just pointing to them as the program is playing. And the cameras I chosen by pointing an clicking a mouse on any angle while the program is playing. Media 100 does all this. And it does it very simply. Using an older system with limits on the speed of the video, causes some stuttering during playback and dropped frames occur. This happens naturally inside Media 100 without it failing. And the biggest problem I have is sometimes the audio would seem to drift or not be aligned for a camera angle. And that would cause a slight delay. I'm not even sure why that would happen. It's almost like a camera was recording at a wrong speed, but that is not possible with the level of equipment I was using. So Media 100 is simple to use and very graphical. There are almost no dialog boxes to get in the way. But importing the video is slow. . . really slow. Because the the power required to decode and use AVCHD video which Sony creates in a HD camcorder now. This creates highly compressed video that can't be played back from the source video file inside a Macintosh system. A PC system with Edius (or Sony Vegas Pro) can use AVCHD directly and play the video immediately with a very fast or almost instant import. This makes a huge difference in the cost of doing projects as well, because you don't have to buy more and more disk space to store intermediate source files for your Media 100 Edit. So now I'm trying Edius on a new laptop computer. This is an ASUS gaming machine, known as "Republic of Gamers" machine. It's found in more powerful varieties off the internet or in a lower end but still powerful configuration at Best Buy. I bought the Best Buy "cheap" version of this gaming machine, which is one of the most powerful laptops that Best Buy sells. At least the most powerful PC laptop. So I have this Asus ROG laptop. It has a few "drawbacks" and Windows 8 and the strange over gestured touch pad are a part of this. Windows 8 is slowly being tamed and setting up and turning off most of the ASUS gestures helps a lot to begin with. Upgrading to 8.1 will likely help a lot as well, but that won't happen at first. There are a few strange things that have happened, but that's geek stuff with Windows 8 so I'll leave that out for this post. Let's get down to an Edius review and some of the things that are a pain with it. If they would just make it simple or have a simple menu that acted more like Media 100 I'd be very happy. You can apparently customize the menu, but there are strange things that happen inside Edius which are geared toward very advanced and perhaps strange edit practices. You can do maybe 9 times more things, but most of those things you don't want to do. So you end up bumping into those "features" which just pop up and do things to your timeline/program, that damage it while your editing. It's strange and I suppose an advance user will find a way to work through those features and run around them. I'm going to give you an example of an Advanced feature, inside Edius, that needs to change in my opinion. They have a configuration for "how many cameras" you want to have in your "multicam window". This makes sense. But Edius is not limited to merely 16 cameras, although I can't imagine having to cut with a timeline with more than 16 cameras, apparently the interface can handle more than 16 camera angles. But that's for advanced editing, not basic editing and basic multi-cam editing. You don't need to worry about more than a half a dozen cameras for many shooting situations. Now I selected 4, 5 or 8 cameras in the Multicam dialog and I thought Edius was broke or crippled as I'm using the demo version. Because Media 100 has you pick a number of cameras in a dialog box and once you pick that each program has that many cameras in it that you create. With Media 100 we have an 8 camera timeline for example and new programs will just have a space for eight cameras. And I can "hide" the cameras an make the timeline less cluttered during the edit, but the camera angles will stay there. When I create a new timeline I don't have to add cameras to the timeline, they are already there. There is space for them because the dialog stays setup the way I used it last. Because of that, I can add programs and create new ones, in Media 100 and actually have many of them open at once as well. And I can quickly create a new scratch program and it will have the right amount of camera tracks automatically. It's a one mouse click command and that's efficient. But the Edius way, I select add cameras to multi-clip, and that should give me a new program sequence or timeline with that many cameras in the video channels, right? Nope. They are not there, there is only two video channels to begin with. So you have to find the hidden command, which is a right mouse click, another thing to do, and Add a channel above or below every channel that is already there. This is extra mouse clicks and extra things to do. I already know I have a three or four camera video shoot to do for my events. Each program I create or sequence, should already have four channels of video or AV channels appear automatically. But Edius cannot do that. I have to do more work. And I know this is nit picking, but creating an efficient interface, that doesn't require a lot of typing in dialog boxes, is what makes Media 100 Suite, so elegant. You can do almost everything you need with the mouse and that's something that most PC programs cannot do. It's because they are poorly designed and PC software makers are used to seeing huge dialog boxes appear with a million options and check boxes in them, with places to type, answers to make and of course little boring buttons that can barely be read. The more complex and feature rich an interface, the better it is, or so these PC developers believe. They think having a million boxes appearing and a million buttons, makes a better user experience. What happens is the programs get to complicated an they get in the way of the user. With an aging populace this even gets worse for older people. Because they cannot see as well and don't want to look at small dialog boxes. The fastest way to use an interface is to have one that is modeless, and doesn't get in your way. By modeless I mean it lets the user approach the problem the way they want to, not in some predefined procedure, which is the AVID way. By not getting in your way, I mean an interface that has a few buttons to press and things to do to slow you down as possible. The software is designed in a graphical method to allow you to slice and dice your way through the problem, very quickly with a streamlined interface. That is what Media 100 has, and that is why it is faster (once you have the video in the system) than any other system on the market. Some can edit with keyboard shortcuts very quickly and supposedly advanced editors that do nothing but edit can do this, but it's like using keyboard shortcuts on Word Perfect, and old program and old way of doing things. Typists could learn all the keyboard shortcuts and secretaries could do a letter very quickly on Word Perfect, but when Microsoft Word came out it was graphical for the Macintosh computer system. And with graphics it was easier to do things, less keys to learn, exotic key presses. With Edius, we see a kind of mix, between the "new way" which is a graphical modeless way of working, which has only been reached by Media 100 as far as I can tell, and the old keyboard shortcut way of doing things, which I'd like to call the Word Perfect way. Sure Word has keyboard shortcuts if you want them, but who wants to waste their time to learn all those. Advanced editors need those perhaps, but most people don't have time to be only an editor and they want a simple interface that just does what the want and doesn't get in the way. Now for some early criticisms of Edius. As well as creating a track a track can be deleted very quickly and easily. Apparently the track can be deleted or a part of the track, (the video part) when moving and sizing the height of the track for display purposes. This apparently happened to me in my latest edit. I'm trying to edit four cameras and line them up. It's taking a LOT LONGER on Edius to do this, because I'm still learning it's quirks which are kind of like a mini minefield for me. Now some editors may want to drop in video and have ripple cuts and replacements. I know that they may want to insert new video that is unrelated to the other video. I know that happens, it happens with montages, and with many news stories. So I know that they need that feature. But I can't easily lock down the interface and I can easily start to ripple cut and replace video that should be locked down for a multi-camera edit in Edius. Most people use multi-cam video to just cut between many cameras of the same event. That's the definition of multicam. Media 100 Suite has a special multicam timeline, and it locks you into that mode. Which is where you want to be 90 percent of the time. You can edit the other way as well, but multi-cam has a separate easy to understand graphical time line that opens up. With Edius the Multi-cam works on the regular time line. And for example I just found out that when trying to move and expand the tracks to show better and bigger images and expand the size of the waveform, I grabbed the video track by mistake apparently on a few tracks and deleted the video from the audio. Now I have three tracks of video lost because of this "advanced" feature. And because this happened with this strange interface and I can't clearly see or figure out what happened, now I have to go back and figure out a way to easily get the video back where I want it. And I already synced the audio and video. I completely deleted the video clip from one of the cameras. I also by mistake deleted part of the video I wanted to keep at the beginning of a program. And that clip was locked an synced in place. If I "cut and deleted" this as I would normally do in Media 100 it would require discrete steps, not an automatic process that happens because some ripple cut button was pressed and setup wrong. I didn't even see what caused the thing to be deleted. It's because the program has three or four different ways it acts in Edius. And it reacts differently depending on how you set it up. So to fix this, in Media 100 I'd just select all the tracks in the program, move them to the right and open up a space in the timeline. Then grab the missing track info, that that was cut away from the track that was shortened and make the clip long again. It would literally take three mouse clicks and one drag or two graphical drag actions. But with Edius I could not do that. I had to grab the clips and past a copy in a later portion of the timeline. . . there may be some exotic thing I could do, but I don't know what that is. And I had to actually drop a new piece of video on a new track and line it up with the old one. In the course of doing that, I inadvertently deleted another video channel from the multi-cam timeline (the regular timeline as they are the same). I tried to go back but then had to do it again. Then I started up the multi-cam after having adjusted and synced the videos. I had to expand the tracks vertically to make the audio waveforms bigger, to help align up the audio. That worked out, but then all but one of my video channels was black in multi-cam after I was done syncing 4 video tracks, which became 3 without my realizing it. So I had three tracks as I lost one of them. Now what? I should have selected all the tracks and made a composite track as a safety, but I didn't. Maybe that could be re expanded easily, but I doubt it. With Media 100 I can select all the tracks and create a composite clip by dragging them into a bin. I can then take that composite clip, which is a graphical program, turned into a clip and drop it on a new program with the same number of tracks or a greater number of tracks and the clip will turn into a new program with all the settings from the last one. This is a two step graphical process. It's genius, and it's brilliant and fast. And I don't think Edius can do that. This is why Media 100 is not updated much, you don't have to update a product that basically got it right the first time. It does what most editors want to do quickly and easily. So back to Edius. So now I'm playing the multi-cam and three of the camera channels are black and dead. There is only one channel of video showing, but they all appear in the timeline. Then I realize they are their, but only the audio. The video portions were deleted, by accident apparently during the re-sizing of the channels to do the edit. Yikes. I just finished setting up the sync and now my material is missing from my program. Can I go back to a backup save I made? There are a lot of backups, but of course it doesn't have the one I want or can easily find. So I'm left having spent and I know I'm still learning a lot of hours and occasional sleeping episodes in this late night session, trying to get a quick four camera switch session going with multi-cam. Think about it, multi-cam is a mode that mimics a live switcher. Grass Valley makes switchers, that's what it's supposed to do, 90 percent of the time. Why can't I simply do this. I can't because all the extra PC features that are advanced keep getting in my way. So I'm trying to learn how do to this the slow way. And the "way" that we are notified and change the features are related to little graphical buttons on the interface that are pushed or not pushed to set up settings for the timeline that will allow ripple cuts and deletes, etc. I'm hoping that I can get a simple interface configured and simple setup. I hope I can figure out a very quick streamlined way to edit with this system. I'm still learning obviously. What most software developers don't realize is we need a simple interface and simple way to get the majority of things we need done. I don't care if Edius has 1000 feature, in it. If they all randomly get in my way or pop up and cause confusion with all the extra clutter, they are useless and just something to slow me down. I want a fast quick interface with defined features, a simple interface and they can bury all the advanced features in a deeper level for the advanced guys who use this stuff, 5% of the time. That last 5% those extra features ruin the experience for the majority of us. This is the problem with many software designs. Edius isn't the only problem, we see it in Microsoft Word, and many advanced versions of software that have evolved in to huge bloating behemoths, like a huge person needing to go on the biggest loser weight loss plan. They become bloated down with features you don't need or want. It's filled with more features, so it's going to cost more right? Meanwhile the majority of users, turn to alternatives, like cheaper low cost programs like an Apple Word processor on the Ipad, that can do all the things most people need and it can create a Word document. Pages, is 90 percent of what I'd ever need from Microsoft Word and it costs me $10 on the ipad. Why would I pay $300 to Microsoft when a basic word processor is all I'll every need most of the time. I know it has indexes and footnote capability and can create an index or do mailing lists address printout form letters. . . but who needs those? Most people don't need those features. The same holds true for nonlinear editing. What is needed is a three level system with three levels of complexity in the same program. A lite and easy to use graphical system that doesn't get in the way. This is needed for senior aging populations as well. We need simple smart phone interfaces, not a cluttered interface full of boxes, like Windows tries to push as being simple. Simple doesn't mean less graphics, it means more simple and easier to use. So now I'm trying to use a Windows program under a cobbled together OS 8 and this thing has really small fonts and a really large and cumbersome feature set that gets in the way more than it helps. I just want to throw four video tracks and a few audio tracks and do a simple mix, like I'm using a quick video mixer. You'd think Grass Valley could create software to let that happen. . . please. I don't think most of these software manufacturers will listen. The best development for new software is simple to use software, often found on an iPad now a days. Apple has a version of IMovie for the ipad and iphone. It costs $5. It's a step in the right direction for sure. I can edit and shoot a single camera video, a movie really on a simple Iphone and edit it together. I actually shot a full length movie which was simply self viewing dialog for a comedy routine I was trying to work on, in a couple of days. This may have been the first movie to be shot and edited on an iphone in a couple of days. It's possible to take something like an iphone and make a documentary movie, without a computer. It would be basic and would not necessarily have all the sound features you'd want, but it can be done fairly quickly and cheaply. That's why Apple is advancing, they have one thing figured out. They build ergonomically correct hardware and software, and nobody does it better. Well it's early in the morning now and time to post this long diatribe. I've been editing and napping in a lazy boy. I found some Youtube videos showing how to use Edius, and those gave me some hints and ideas. I hope I won't be losing a lot of video tracks in the future, because of some weird backward interface. I hate having to navigate a program as if I'm walking on eggshells, with random hidden commands firing off and destroying my project, without me even knowing it. Maybe I'm just to tired to get it right, but I should not have to fight an interface to edit a video. The software should be easy and elegant. Edius is not really there, it's only maybe 30% there. Don't get me wrong I'm amazed at the raw power of the newer hardware, it's just the software that is lacking. The laptop may work out and I may keep it and use Edius. I'm hoping that I can do one band at least one song of each band per day. I'm going to shoot for that. I want to have a twelve song documentary done in a couple weeks time. That would be a decent pace and goal.

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