Tell us briefly about your company.
Vidiots is a New York based production company specializing in video post production for film and television. Our credits to date include ABC Super Bowl XL 2006, ABC NBA Finals opens, ABC Daytime Emmy Awards, CBS March Madness, CBS The Masters, CBS US Open, MTV Cribs and John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes.
Tell us about your work on The Masters?
We’ve worked with CBS for some time, delivering pieces to them during football season and most recently for the NCAA Tournament. For The Masters, we cut opens, interstitials, and player profiles. Opens were finished in HD and consisted of a mix of formats while the scenic aerial shots of Augusta National came in on HDCAM SR, which we then selected, timed out, color corrected and composited with graphics and titles for output to HDCAM.
What material did you have to work with to assemble the features and interstitials?
Basically, we worked with all formats of tape from Beta and DigiBeta (in standard def) to HDCAM, HDCAM SR and DVCPRO HD. The scenic shots were HDCAM SR while archive tapes, portraits, and beauty shots were in other formats.
Pieces from all the tapes had to be included into the packages and eventually laid to Sony HDCAM. Those tapes were then downconverted to Digi Beta for airing in standard definition.
What was the turnaround time?
As always the turnaround time for any CBS Sports project must be quite fast and can require long hours. The Masters was no different. Because of the design and effect heavy cuts and compositing, a typical package usually took a 12-20 hour session. Basically, we worked a one-day turnaround. Tapes arrived Tuesday, we’d load them Tuesday night, cut Wednesday and Thursday and deliver Friday. Sometimes we’d deliver one batch to CBS on Thursday and one on Friday.
What was your workflow?
Most of the footage was loaded at night so we’d be ready to go the following day. We are an all Avid HD facility, so tapes were loaded into Media Composer Adrenaline HD at 1080i using DNxHD, Avid’s HD editing format. Any upconversion was done in the decks from Beta SP and DigiBeta as well as crossconverts from Panasonic DVCPRO HD (720p), Sony HDCAM and HDCAM SR. The pieces were then cut, and assembled. We added a number of effects such as glows, glints, 3D warps, and animatte layering with Sapphire Plug-ins and Boris FX. We mixed audio in the Adrenalines and in some cases with Pro Tools. Most of the music and sound effects came from CDs, iPod files, and our sound library. At the end of the session, we output to HDCAM at 1080i and downconverted to Digi Beta for standard definition 4:3. In some cases, we load OMF files to our FTP site, so they could do the mixes at an on site location.
Was Avid DNxHD a big help in your workflow?
Absolutely, Avid DNxHD makes HD footage look great and does not take up the bandwidth of other HD formats. We also can mix SD footage (that has been in the system) for the edit before upconverting.
What was unique about work on The Masters vs. other projects you’ve done?
Well, all HD jobs are unique in that you never truly know what formats will be brought to the edit, but you have to be prepared anyway. Adrenaline HD and DNxHD make cutting HD actually like cutting anything else. After the upconverts and cross converts, once it’s in the box, it’s like cutting any SD project. For us, it’s more the pre-thought that goes into HD projects – what could the producer possibly bring in? So it’s important to be ready for different tapes.
What do you see as the main challenges of working in HD?
The main challenges we come up with a lot is how to deal with SD footage in the HD world. A lot of times there are framing issues when converting 4:3 SD footage to 16:9 (without it being center cut). The opposite is also true - on many jobs the HD cut also needs to air on the SD channel, which means that we have to be conscious about where we place cyrons and where the 4:3 shot sits in the 16:9 window, so that nothing gets cut out in the SD air.
What do you estimate is your percentage of HD work?
The percentage of our HD workflow has been growing. It is still a small percentage of the television industry because of the limited amount of HD channels. Most everything is shot in HD, but still airs in SD. As a facility though, we are wired for HD and strive to stay on the cusp of technology. HD is definitely the future. We’re constantly upgrading rooms for HD, and with Media Composer Adrenaline HD, more and more facilities will be doing it.