Wednesday, 16 July, 2014

Alexa transcodes and MPEG Streamclip

There seem to be a few ‘DITs’ in Mumbai who are in the crooked business of converting Alexa files using MPEG Streamclip and creating files with no timecode or reel name match with the original Alexa files. The result of this is that, after the editor finishes editing, the DI house cannot match the EDL to the original files. Editor gets the blame, and he/she or his/her assistant has to rematch the entire film. Days of wasted labour for no fault of theirs.

DI houses, to their credit or discredit sometimes perpetuate this “editor is to blame” myth and even go on to do the rematching on a Smoke system and charge the poor producer. For an activity that was not even necessary.

Here are details…

The picture shows Alexa original files in an FCP project side by side with MPEG Streamclip transcodes. You can see clearly that the transcoded files have no timecode (Media Start and Media End) and no Reel.

If you make an edit with these clips, and try to make an EDL, you get a missing reel names warning like this one.

If you continue, you get an EDL with warnings.

The exact same clips, if correctly transcoded with timecode preserved, will make an EDL which has the exact same timecode of the original. See this comparison on both EDLs.

As you can see, the EDL made with MPEG Streamclip transcodes don't carry original time codes, and have no Reel info, so they will never match back to original files.

So, if you’re an editor who has to edit a digitally shoot movie, please first check all the transcoded files for the presence of reel name and timecode. If there's no reel name and the timecode doesn’t match the original file, please bring it to the notice of the producer, quote this article if needed, and let them know that this could be problematic when doing DI.

If you haven’t started editing yet, get the files transcoded again before you begin. And, if you’ve already finished the edit, then there is still a way to mathematically calculate the cut start and end times and recreate EDLs without having to eye-match the whole edit.

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