Monday, July 23, 2018

Avid Behaving Badly #20: LUTs break Multigroup Functionality in Avid 8.8.x and Avid 2018.x

Are you working on the newest, "top of the line," "best," Avid? Do you have multigroups? Are your multigroups completely fucking broken such that you can't select which camera is active in your quad or nine splits, and if you just cut the whole damn thing into your sequence, matching back into it actually takes you to a subgroup rather than the main group? If so, the problem isn't you. It's motherfucking Avid.

More specifically, Avid is crawling its way into the future of tapeless workflow and vast arrays of digital codecs in exactly the same way that a two year old might cling to every available surface in order to avoid being unceremoniously deposited into a crib. Seriously, Avid, why are you fighting the future? Why do you hate progress? Why can't you make LUTs work in any sort of reasonable way?

Wait... LUTs? Color Look Up Tables? Why the fuck are those even being mentioned in a rant about how bad Avid is at future proofing their product?

Well, it has to do with those broke-ass multigroups, and I can't tell you why. What I can tell, with absolute certainty, is that the problem is LUTs. Okay, I can tell you why: Avid's programmers don't give two fucks about you or your workflow and they want you to stab yourself in the eyes as soon as possible, preferably today. Don't do it! I've got a solution for you and, if I do say so, it's really goddamn elegant:

Don't delete that broken group. We're going to fix it with magic. Seriously. Avid has taken us back to the goddamn dark ages where people still believe supernatural spirits control their computers. Or something.

Anyway, go into your group work bin. Select all of your subclips. Right click those fuckers and choose "Source settings..." Find the section for LUTs. It should say something like "Slog 2" (because jesus christ modern workflow is a fucking slog, isn't it. Well named, Sony). Maybe it says "<multiple selections>" or something to that effect. That's fine. Whatever. Delete that shit. No matter what it says, delete it. No LUTs for you!

Save your bin and check out that group. Bam! It fucking works. Because Avid is bullshit and can't figure out goddamn new-fangled nonsense like color look up tables. You're welcome.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Avid Behaving Badly #19: Instructions for Uninstalling Out of Date AMA Plug-ins Don't Exist

Seriously Avid, how is this acceptable?  The latest versions of Avid (8.6+) require brand new AMA plugins from nablit, instead of the old ones from Sony.  Okay, great.  The instructions for upgrading to the new plugins say, and I quote:

Note: The nablet plug-ins and the legacy Sony plug-ins cannot coexist on the same system. Having them both installed will result in unpredictable behaviors of the editing application.

Okay.  Um...  That sort of begs the question:  How do I uninstall the old Sony plug-ins?

Maybe Avid's website will help (oh my god, I can't believe I just typed that sentence).

Please uninstall previous AMA plugin, prior to installing any updated AMA plugin.
Note: The nablet plug-ins and the legacy Sony plug-ins cannot coexist on the same system. Having them both installed will result in unpredictable behaviors of the editing application.

So that's a no.  Well what the fuck, Avid?  You can't just tell me how to uninstall this shit?  Of course not.  By now I should know better than to expect able customer support from you.  Let's try Sony...

Lastest version from nablet GmbH. Development of the AMA plugins for all Sony formats has been taken over by nablet GmbH. Learn more.

Well that's fucking dandy.  Okay, I have a way to do this.  A way that sucks dong.  I'm going to just download the old AMA files and install them on a clean computer.  Then I can just see what files show up, find those on my Avid, and delete them.  HOW THE FUCK DOES THE ENTIRE INTERNET NOT KNOW HOW TO UNINSTALL THOSE FILES???  Fuck you, entire internet. 

And now I've done that, and I'm posting what those files are for you, dear reader, so you don't have to download all this shit.  Because god damn it someone needs to be a responsible adult around here and clearly Avid, Sony, and Nablit can't be fucking bothered.

Actually - the downloads for the Sony AMA plug-ins contain a pdf file that does say how to uninstall these files!  So, you know, the way to get rid of the files to get them again first.  Yay?  I don't even know anymore.  Here are the instructions for Mac users like me (sorry PC folk.  Actually no, I'm not sorry.  You made a choice and you're going to have to live with that).

XDCAM AMA Plug-in Uninstall Instructions Mac:
  1. 1)  Navigate to <SYSTEM DRIVE>/Library/Application Support/Avid/AVX2_Plug-ins/AMA/
  2. 2)  Delete the MVP_SonyXDCAMEX.avx and SonyXDCAM.avx files
  3. 3)  Empty the Trash to completely erase the files from the system 
There you go.  Now let's download some more out of date plug-ins that no one fucking wants to download and see which other files in my AVX2_Plu-ins folder need to be deleted.  Seriously is it too much to ask for this .pdf to just be ON THE FUCKING WEBSITE?  God damn it, Sony.  Think with the brain part of your heads.

For SRPA plug-ins (which I think is HDCam SR?), the file you want to delete is:

  1. MVP_MSP_Sony_SRDeck.avx 
And finally, for PLAV plug-ins, which somehow means "Sony RAW" files, the file you want to delete is:

  1. MVP_MSP_SonyRAW.avx 
So there you go, kids.  Someone finally put these fucking instructions online.  Oh yeah, delete this shit BEFORE you install the new nablit AMA plug-ins or shit gets weird.

Peace out, bitches.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Avid Behaving Badly #18: Avid AVC-Intra 100 Still Exists

Has anyone, in the last ten years, ever intentionally used the Avid AVC-Intra 100 codec for fucking anything?  Seriously.  I would love for someone to speak the fuck up here and tell me why this shit ass codec still exists.  Because holy fuck is it ever a shitty codec.  It's low res, poor quality, and has a huge file size.  There is literally zero reason you'd ever use it.  DNx36 is a baller-ass pimp codec in comparison, and don't even get me started on the best codec ever made, DNx145.  WHAT THE FUCK, AVID?  CLEAN YOUR FUCKING ROOM.  Seriously, there's so much old "legacy" bullshit in this program that just has no goddam reason for existing.  Just in case anyone from Avid is reading this, let me enlighten you:

AVC-Intra 100.  Fuck you.

Motion effects that aren't "Timewarp."

Resize, reposition, etc. effects that aren't "3D Warp."

For that matter, if you can promote the effect to anything, WHY FUCKING HAVE IT?  You know what I do when I have to fix someone's shoddy graphics work?  The first goddamn thing I do?  I PROMOTE THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF IT.  Half the time that fixes any render issues right there, without any actual work needing to be done.  I'm just sayin'.

Why is "play" still a command you can use, when "play/pause toggle" exists, and - while I'm asking - why the everlasting fuckstobber is "play" a default key???  Get that weak ass shit the fuck outta here, Avid!

And why is "group" an option when "multigroup" exists and does the same thing as group does when you're selecting only one group's worth of clips??  WHY?  It's like Avid is giving me two cups, one that holds only six ounces, and one that holds an unlimited goddamn amount of liquid, and then telling me to choose which one to use every single time I need to use one.  GUESS WHICH CUP ALWAYS WORKS, AVID?  FUCKING GUESS!!  Do you need thirty-seven menu items in the fucking hamburger menus?  NO, you fucking don't.

You know what else you don't need?  Any of the fucking wipes.  Good god.  Either there's a shitload of editors I've never met who don't understand how animatte and the paint effect work, or all of these wipes are just shitty layovers from 1970's effects that have no business in an NLE to begin with.  Seriously, these effects are so easy to reproduce with the other effects you have, WHY HAVE THEM AT ALL???

And what about that useless fucking "info" tab in the main project window?  Why does that worthless stepchild of a tab exist?  You know what happens when I click it?  I get a window that has two fucking buttons in it, and no info at all!  I can click that "hardware" button to get some hardware info, but why the shit-flinging gibbon isn't that just the default display here?  You know what makes one editor good and another great?  The great editor minimizes button presses.  They probably also don't take time out of work to type angry fucking blog posts, but whatever, fuck you.  So get that redundant and unnecessary shit out of my face, Avid.  Clean your shit up and figure out why the fuck any of this crap exists.  Make it justify it's worthless-ass existence.

AVC-Intra 100...  It's cute, Avid.  Totally cute that you think people use or even want this crap.  People used to think rock music was the devil, it was okay to own other people, and a horse and buggy was the pinnacle of transportation technology, but we got past that bullshit somehow.  Time to pull your own weight, Avid.  For fuck's sake.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Avid Behaving Badly #17: Caps lock disables when Launching the Title Tool

What the actual fuck, Avid.

Why???  WHY!?!?  Why would you make it so that the button I press when I want CAPS to STAY THE FUCK ON disables itself every time I open the Title Tool Application?

Jesus Christ, Avid.




(Avid 8 only).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Avid Behaving Badly #16: AMA linked clips reference the wrong AMA linked clips

Dealt with this years ago, but it's come up again for a friend on Avid 8.x.x so I figured I'd write it out.  This is so stupid.  When you AMA link clips, avid generates a pointer hash that tells the bin which clip file is being referenced.  Unfortunately, whatever algorithm generates this hash is totally stupid and frequently creates duplicate hashes.  The result is that clip AH010602A01.04 suddenly has a tape source of AH010602F03.  Fucking Avid.

It doesn't matter if the clips are different lengths, have different TCs, or are even in the same format.  If you have AMA linked clips, you can have bad reference pointers.  The problem isn't super common (maybe 1 clip in every 50), but if you're working on a real show, it'll pop up daily.  Yes, before you ask, dear reader, this will happen with quick ingest XDCam stations since they AMA link to the MPEG reference files for copyover.

So how do you prevent this nonsense?

Well, you can't.  Not really.  The best I've got is a shitty workaround that adds a fuckload of time to your already busy schedule, and it fucks you if you're trying to do a true tapeless workflow (well, it fucks online, not you, but you shouldn't be going tapeless anyway).

The short option is to transcode full-res source files to Avid codecs and edit in full res.  That's the only tapeless solution I'm aware of, but it's going to take up a fuckton of storage space.  Don't go tapeless.  Ever.  One magnet or power surge or misplaced glass of water will make you lose your entire fucking show.

The longer, shittier option is to output those full res clips to new master tapes and capture them normally, or AMA link the master tape clips and then transcode the AMA link files to low res media for edit (which can be properly upressed for online later).  God forbid you just transcode the full-res files to low res Avid codec media for edit, when you get to online you'll need the entire master files (and a correspondingly large amount of media storage) in order to upres.

It's a fucking shitshow with AMA links as your primary media extraction tool right now.  I had hoped they had fixed this in 8.x.x but word on the street is that it's still a big problem.

If anyone still reads this shithole blog, please let me know if you find a more elegant solution!  Thanks everyone.  Except you, Avid; you're a steaming pile of hot garbage.

2019 Update! Avid finally got their shit together and AMA links in 8.8.x and the 2018.x versions of Avid relink based on the Disk Label or Tape Label fields without error. So, you know, if you work at a place that actually updates their software more often than once a decade, you're in luck.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Avid Behaving Badly #15: Rendering a Scaled Effect on a Framerate Converted Clip Breaks Field Order

You know how sometimes you feel like you've dealt with all the weird shit that the version of Avid you're using is ever going to throw at you, and you're fucking Avid Superman around the office?  And then this happens.  This weird, absurd, ridiculous problem.

I mean, I just wrote that title, which is an exact description of the issue, and it still looks like goddamn gibberish.

So what error am I talking about?  Well, none.  Avid doesn't give an error in this case, it just spits out video that's corrupted.  If you, unlike Avid, know what fields are, the rendered video has the fields out of order.  The resulting image looks like it has scan lines, or some kind of fucked up interlacing, or something.  It's all shitty looking on the screen, basically.

Now this is a rare issue.  It seems to only happen when you do all of the following:
Step 1) Convert the framerate of your source video clip to another framerate, either by editing with it in a different framerate project, or by exporting the clip as a different framerate and then re-importing it.
Step 2) Put a scaling effect on the clip such as 3D Warp, Pan and Scan, or Resize.
Step 3)  Render it.

That's the thing - the effects look and play FINE unrendered.  It's only when you render them that Avid decides to shit the bed.

If you're like me, you'll assume that the rendering is the problem (but it isn't).  I tried every fucking render setting combination that's goddamn possible, and the problem still occurred.  So what the fuck?  A video mixdown is essential a media file of a render, and that still has the problem.  Exporting the clip is the same.  Exporting the source clip in the new framerate and reimporting it as the same framerate as your project, and then putting the effect on it still has the problem!  WHAT??

I suppose that, if I had a real-time playback to an actual tapedeck (and not a U1 drive), I could just hit record on the deck and play on the Avid and then let the output happen that way, but god damn if that isn't some bullshit and also not a thing I can do with my current hardware.

So how does one actually fix this nonsense?  Well, the big clue is that the problem really is the fields being out of order.  And there is one effect in Avid that can identify field order:  Timewarp.

But you can't apply a timewarp effect to a framerate converted clip!  So first you have to export the asshole clips in the framerate of the project that you're working in.  Strip off all of their FX, export them with 709 color space, full-res, in an Avid DNx codec of your proper framerate.  Note that for all of my example pics, I'm converting from 23.976 to a 59.94i project.  If you're going the other way, you'll need slightly different settings that pictured.

Then you need to import the video, ignoring alpha channels (why the fuck does DNx put the video on the alpha channel and have a blank video channel anyway?), and recognizing that 709 colorspace.

I stripped off the scaling effect and put a 100% speed timewarp on the source clip (that's normal playback speed; no time is actually being warped).  Then check the ignore render settings and set the render to "Both Fields."  Set the source video to "Film with 2:3 Pulldown" and the output video to "Interlaced" or "Progressive" depending on if you're in a 59.94i or 23.976p framerate project, respectively.  Click "Detect."

Then you can render that bitch.

Now apply your scaling effects to the rendered 100% timewarp clip, and they should render perfectly.

Fucking retarded that you need to use a motion effect to correct a field order conversion discrepancy, but that's goddamn Avid for you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dear Avid: Computers are a Thing and you should use Them

Dear Avid,

Let me tell you about computers.  Computers are amazing.  They can do lots of things that humans can do.  They excel at boring and repetitive, data-driven tasks.  I'd like you to realize this, because your program, Avid, runs on a computer, and should probably take advantage of that fact one of these days.

Herein I'm going to lay out some things that computers can do, some things that Avid already does, and some things that people pay thousands of dollars for people to do which Avid could do because:  Computers.  This will get into some very "big" ideas for the future of software, hardware, and video production and post-production.  There will be no tl;dr.


Computers can do voice recognition.  I can use Dragon speech to text to transcribe my footage, but Avid could just do this for me.

Computers can do facial recognition.  The camera on my phone knows where faces are and facebook can figure out who that face belongs to.  Avid could do this, too, and automatically log and categorize footage based on who appears in it.  Combined with voice recognition, Avid could generate transcripts by character and automatically generate script sync modules for every clip, ever.

Computers are really good at comparing two values.  Say, for example, the audio data in one file versus the audio data in another.  Plural Eyes already does this, but Avid could do it, too, and automatically sync all of my audio files.  Using facial recognition and voice recognition and scripts, it could compare the audio data to existing scripts and determine if a new file was actually from a different day, or could find the same audio on a cleaner mic, or could do lip-reading analysis to match an audio-only file to a video-only file.

Computers are really good at boring and repetitive tasks.  For example, the way to multigroup some footage is to put all footage from your shoot into a sequence with each camera on a different video track (and corresponding audio on the respective audio tracks), sync it, add edits across all tracks.  The easy (but not as good) way is to do this at all head frames.  A computer could almost instantly do this, without error.  The more advanced way is to add edits to head frames only when the previous clip-end-frame was a tail frame.  A computer could also do this with near instantaneous speed, and again, without error.  Then, to finish grouping, you have to subclip every possible subclip in the timeline post-add-edits-being-added, and assign the timeline TC to each subclip's AuxTC.  Again, a computer could do this step, flawlessly, and with great speed.

What I'm trying to say is, because of computers, Avid could sync all of your footage, generate a transcript of it, catalogue who is in each shot, find the cleanest audio for each character, find which camera angles show each character's faces, and could do this all with existing technology, automatically.  Then it could combine all of this data and footage into multigroups, all on its own.  What I'm saying is that 90% of the thing we call "Assistant Editing" could all be done by a computer.  More quickly, more effectively, and more cheaply.

But we don't need to stop there.  Computers can do all of these things so well that we could go even farther.  If a computer can identify footage, place it in a timeline, sync it, log it, and group it all on it's own, why not just have computers generate the timelines and multigroups dynamically and on the fly?  As in:  Let's eliminate the concept of timelines and groups and clips and all that.  Let's have a Stream.  Footage comes into the system, Avid scans it over for video and audio data, and then places it into the stream, at the right point in time relative to all other footage.  This stream is instantly updated to all users, and can be viewed in Timeline form, or Group form, or some kind of other wicked awesome form that I can't even imagine because the Stream doesn't exist yet.  A dynamic footage stream would eliminate the need to fix groups because they were missing a clip.  It would eliminate the need for over-cutting edited sequences with that fixed group.  It would mean that editors could start working the moment that the first tape was ingested with no fear of the footage "not being ready."

That's all stuff that computers can do right now, and that Avid could do if they got out of the engineer mindset and hired some user experience coders, preferably ones who excel at efficiency and understand production timetables and budgets.


But we can go even farther if we consider that Avid could influence hardware manufacturers.  Cameras record meta-data to every clip that includes TC, camera ID, etc.  They could also record positional data (get on it, Sony) and Avid could dynamically generate a 3D map of the shooting location and where all cameras in your Stream are located at any given moment, what direction they're facing, field of view, etc..  Combined with facial recognition, we could generate a map of where the characters are in 3D.  This would allow for a 3D view to be used as camera selection so you can see instantly which characters are seen at what times and in what angles, and the editor could pick with a single click which camera to cut from.  Instead of viewing multi-cam, they could view the Stream in Map mode.

But what about broll?  It's often shot out of chronological order so placing it in the Stream isn't helpful.  Well, Avid can flag shots that don't register any of the characters' faces.  Someone can curate the shots as broll, or the camera op can enter broll as metadata when recording, which Avid could use.  Then avid could use the same software used for facial recognition to look at objects, and combine it with location and position data to figure out if a shot is broll from a certain location or of a certain object.  That can be superimposed over the Stream and Map (or put into its own Stream) so that editors can see - in addition to their primary footage - all of the broll shot at and around that location regardless of the time of day that it was shot.

In fact, location data would allow editors to see all footage from a location, regardless of its place in the Stream, so cheats and substitute shots could be quickly and easily retrieved.  I'm scrolling through the Stream, but at a fixed location so I'm only seeing footage from that location rather than from the entire shoot.

Of course, positional data relies on camera hardware changes.  That's not Avid's department.  But it's a thing that Avid should be actively encouraging in camera manufacturers.


Let's get back to the real, here and now, things that Avid could be doing.  Getting away from the lofty goals of a seamless and instantaneous Stream and 3D location-based footage browsing, let's talk tiny:

Did you know that your bins already have unique identifiers which are automatically generated by the computer whenever they are created?  That's how the bin knows if a duplicate copy of the same bin is being opened.  Did you know that if you make four bins named "Act 2" that the attic won't save all four of them because it references the name of the bin rather than the unique identifier?  Yeah.

There's also a big problem with end-users.  We're not smart.  We name bins "Act 2" when we damn well know we're doing a 26 episode season and every episode has an Act 2.  Avid could enforce some bin data in the project window such as the creation Date, Episode number, Show ID, and so forth.  In fact, the Lead AE could set avid to "name all bins with" and then generate a bin name template.  On my shows, we do <date> <show ID> <episode number> as a prefix to all bins.  This could be automatic.

Inside bins, sequences are dumb.  They could be made smarter, using similar naming conventions, or by adding columns for things like "last touched by".  Modified date and time shouldn't change unless you actually change an edit.  Moving your mark in point is not a modification of a cut, Avid.  It's just not.

Also, why doesn't Avid generate user logs across ISIS?  I'd love to be able to see "what episodes are actively being worked on?" or "Has Editor FictionalGuyWhoDoesn'tWork made any actual edits today?"  Avid could simply collate .lck files to see who has what open.  Speaking of... Avid could also do that to figure out which locks are old and eliminate them automatically.  Something like:  Editor Jim isn't logged into Avid, but he still has some locks that were not set by selecting "lock bin" from the menu.  Those must be locks that resulted from a crash - let me remove those and compare the data in those bins to what was saved in the attic.

Getting back to templates:  Avid has access to my computer's data about date and time.  It knows how long a sequence is.  It could easily store data for a Show Name and Episode Name.  So why can't I generate titles that use this data, and create a slate template that's automatically filled in with the fundamental information that goes on every single output?  Being able to add data fields to titles that updated automatically would be a great time-saver (as well as a mistake saver).

Speaking of titles, why no spellcheck?

And what about exporting all of the same sorts of files that you can import?  It's a pain in the ass to generate new graphics in Avid since you have to generate them as movies and then merge them using After Effects.  Avid can read a file with an alpha channel... why can't it make one?

Why does ProTools automatically generate .WAV files named in the format "Track Number_File Name_Take Number" but Avid imports .WAV files expecting the format to be "Take Number_File Name_Track Number"?  It's asinine.

Get your shit together, Avid.  The future is now, or at least, it could be if you took a moment to consider that Computers are a Thing.

I will now return you to your regularly scheduled bitching about bugs and the complicated work-arounds for them.