Post a (Very) Large P2 Project with Avid Unity ISIS and Avid Media Composer 3.0
ORGANIZE YOUR MEDIA
When a field crew drops off 20 TB of P2 master reels, they’ll most likely be on multiple external hard drives. A clear, organized system is very important. You must be able to locate a reel just as you would pick a tape off a shelf. Consultation with the field crew is essential to getting it organized from the start.
IMPORT P2 REEL TO P2 MASTER BIN
In Avid Media Composer 3.0, create two bins: A P2 Master Bin for the P2 source and an Edit Bin, which will contain the transcoded clips. Import P2 clips into the P2 Master Bin by choosing File-Import P2-Clips to Bin, and navigate to the first P2 reel (choose the folder that contains the Contents folder). The clip data moves quickly into the bin and the P2 source media is now viewable.
ASSIGN A TAPE NAME
On the Format tab in the Project window, change project type to the 1080 HD flavor (in this case, 1080p/23.976). Select all the clips in the bin and choose Modify from the Clip menu. Choose Set Source and create a unique tape name. In this example, I use 07305DR1, which points me directly to drive 7, March 5, Shooter: DR, Reel 1. Click through a couple of warnings to confirm the modification; the P2 Master clips now have a tape name. (The P2 source is unaffected; the tape name only exists in Media Composer.)
TRANSCODE TO AVID UNITY
On the Format tab, change the project type back to SD in order to transcode to a lower resolution. Choose Consolidate/Transcode from the Clip menu. Next, choose Transcode; the appropriate media workspace; and Convert Video (and appropriate offline resolution). Note: You must choose Convert Audio Format to move the audio, even if it stays MXF (PCM). Click Transcode and the P2 master "tape" will begin "digitizing."
MOVE TRANSCODED CLIPS INTO OFFLINE EDIT BIN
Select the transcoded clips and drag them to the Edit Bin. Note that the Source Name has been carried over to the lower-resolution clips.
UNMOUNT VIRTUAL DRIVE AND REPEAT
Unmount the Virtual P2 drive, then follow steps 2 – 6 for your remaining reels. When all reels are transcoded, move the P2 Master Bins to a new project to avoid confusion in edit.
Create a gripping documentary series: Within the dramatic story arc, examine interesting characters and follow their stories (perhaps place them in a larger, universal context? Your call on that one). Throw some humor in there for good measure. Prepare Emmy speech.
PREP SEQUENCE AND PROJECT FOR UPREZZING
Take Avid Unity media offline, duplicate your locked sequence and move it into an Uprez Bin. Move Uprez Bin to the P2 Master Project created in step 6. Delete the audio tracks. Choose Bin-Set Bin Display: Click on Master Clips; Sequences; and Show Reference Clips and Clips created by user. Unclick the rest and hit OK. Select all the clips, leaving the sequence, and put them into a Reference Clips Bin. Sort that by tape name. Double-click the sequence to load it into the timeline (all media should be offline). Set the project type to the appropriate HD mode, making sure raster type is DVCPro HD.
RELINK CLIPS TO P2 SOURCE
In the Reference Clips Bin, choose a batch of clips to relink, and using the tape number, find and open the corresponding P2 Master Bin. Bring the P2 Master Clips back online with the File-Import P2-Clips to Bin command (same as step 2). Select the batch of clips from the Reference Clip Bin and choose Clip-Relink. Unclick Relink to Media from… and Match Case…. Choose the virtual drive as the relink volume, and hit OK. The Reference Clips are now linked to the P2 source. In the timeline, you should see that those bits have come online. You may need to load the clips into the source monitor for it to "see" them.
TRANSCODE TO AVID DNXHD
Change the project type back to the 1080 flavor of HD and highlight the locked sequence. Choose Clip-Transcode to convert the P2 to Avid DNxHD, selecting the appropriate drive for your online system. When the transcode is finished, unmount the virtual P2 drive and move on to the next reel, repeating steps 9 and 10 for each reel in the sequence. The timeline will come online bit by bit in the same way a typical tape-based uprez does. When you’re finished, you will have a sequence completely uprezzed to Avid DNxHD, ready to send to Avid Sympony or Avid DS|Nitris.
Tools Used: Avid Media Composer 3.0, Avid Unity ISIS 1.4, WiebeTech SilverSATA II SR external drives for P2 reels
ACSR | Elite and Director of Post, Max Post
Mike Walsh is the director of post at Max Post, Inc., located in Burbank, California. He supervises post for Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, as well as for other series from Original Productions (including the upcoming Iditarod). Before moving into post, he was a producer for Monster Garage and a writer/director/DP during the short film craze of the early 2000s.
MIKE SAYS KEEP IN MIND…
The key to this workflow is making sure you’re in the correct project type for the step. To assign a tape name to P2 clips or transcode to Avid DNxHD, you must be in 1080 mode. To transcode to low-res, SD (NTSC) mode, and to relink to P2, you must be in 720 mode and set the raster type to DVCPro HD.
Some of the steps are fairly involved, but if you map keyboard shorcuts for things like Modify and Transcode, things will move much more quickly.
These steps are meant to outline the process for a tape-like P2 workflow, but of course on a large series, there are other considerations to be addressed (project mangement, media storage, etc.). Stay organized, test your workflow, back up and protect your media, and plan as much as you can in advance.