60-Second Q&A: Todd Ulman, Associate Producer, ABC Family Channel's Greek
Ulman has tried Avid's new software-only versions and likes what he sees
A: Greek shoots on 16mm because it enables us to create the look that the executive producers are going for. Transferring to HDCAM allows us to continue the process and take advantage of the efficiencies of a standard HD workflow and delivery.
Our production team shoots the film footage, Laser Pacific develops and telecines to an HDCAM master, and then we have them digitize the dailies using Avid DNxHD 36 onto a portable hard drive. The dailies are loaded, at the editing offices, into our Avid workstations (three Media Composer Soft 2.8 seats, a Nitris DX 3.0, and a Mojo SDI 3.0) using a Unity 5.01 storage array with 8 TB of capacity.
After picture lock, we output via the Nitris DX to HDCAM with the DNxHD 36 source material. That tape is used as a chase cassette by Laser Pacific during the online process, where they assemble from the original HDCAM Masters via their supercomputer assembly. We color-correct on a da Vinci system and do final layback to Sony HDCAM SR tape so that we have the 12 audio channels available for audio layback from the final mix.
Q: How much storage is required for a single episode?
A: We shoot about 14 hours of dailies per show and use about 250 GB for each episode.
Q: What do you like most about the new version of Media Composer?
A: Lots of things. It has a real-time timecode generator and edgecode character generator, which help immensely. This saves me tons of rendering time on the projects that need visual timecode as well as watermarks or other visible text. Also, having the edgecode character generator allows me to create lock box cassettes. This means I can have clean HD dailies but still have a proper lock box for the negative cutters. It saves a ton of legwork for the assistants, which saves me money and them aggravation! Of all the new features, I would say we use the timecode generator the most.
Q: Having worked with the previous version of Media Composer, how do you feel about the fact that the software is cheaper and now available to more people?
A: I hate to mention Final Cut Pro, but the fact that it was so available to college students and working professionals for such a low price really allowed it to enter mainstream editing. It is, by far, an inferior platform, and now that Media Composer is available to the masses at a price point that allows people to truly invest in themselves and their craft, I think we will see better filmmaking and more college kids that are destined to be great editors reverting back to a true, professional product.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about editing HD projects?
A: The biggest misconception is the cost. Studio execs and even other post producers constantly think, “How much more is HD going to cost?” or they just dismiss the workflow entirely based on that misconception. I keep telling my friends at the studios and my peers: “The Avid HD workflow doesn’t cost you more money. It saves you money.” I then invite them to the Greek post facilities to see how it’s done and let them judge for themselves. They always walk away with a smile, and then call me and say, “What do we want to buy again?”