Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Exception: Cannot quick import a mixed resolution QuickTime movie

As with all things Avid, this is just stupid.  My Quicktime movie isn't mixed resolution, nor do I even know how I would go about making a mixed resolution movie.  What does that even mean?  Like halfway through, the resolution changes from 480p to 1080i or something?  Without even getting into why Avid seems to think that such a thing would ever exist, the fact of the matter is that this message is just completely fucking wrong.  Well, maybe not the text, per se - it's very possible that Avid cannot import a mixed resolution file, much in the same way that I cannot ride a goddamn unicorn to work.  What I mean is:  The thing causing this error is not the thing the error is talking about.

See, this message shows up when you're trying to import to a drive that's full.  I mean, come the fuck on, Avid.  Isn't "Error:  Not enough Space" a thing you used to LOVE showing back in the good ol' 3.1 days?  I seem to recall an "Error:  End of File not reached on Write" error at some point in your history as well, and even a very concise "Unable to Write File".  But no, not now.  Now you're throwing up this non-sequitir bullshit when the real problem is that my target drive is full.

So frustrating since the message makes it sound like the file being imported is the problem.  God damn it Avid, get your shit together.  You look like a fucking drunk.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Avid Behaving Badly #13: Changing Tape Source in NTSC 23.976 Changes Clip TC to 29.97 Pulldown.

There's no error message for this, because Avid doesn't like to admit when it's just fucking wrong.  Also, this is almost certainly related to the issue with autosequencing that I raised in my Avid Behaving Badly #12 post below.

Here's the bullshit workflow we have to use because stupid fucking Avid can't play back proxy MPEG-4 video in 9 camera split without stuttering (I know, it's not an every-frame-keyframe codec, but jesus christ, maybe if you used more than 2 fucking cores of my SIXTEEN CORE system, you'd get, I don't know, more fucking processing power!!  Seriously).  First, we capture using AI direct because Avid can't be bothered to implement their own tapeless fucking workflow.  Then we have to transcode everything to 8:1m because that's the only codec that works cleanly in 9 cam multicam split playback.  Transcoding, by the way, takes for goddamn ever.  I'm sure you knew that.

In order to transcode to 8:1m, for some reason that makes no sense whatsoever, you have to be in an NTSC 23.976 project.  Nevermind that Avid's entire workflow is based around digitizing all of your footage in low res and then uprezzing later to HD.  No, Avid doesn't give a fuck.  So it forces you to use what it calls a standard def "23.976" project.  But there's one problem with that:  There is no such thing, according to Avid, as a standard def 23.976 project!  What?  That's right.  Once you go to standard def, even though Avid displays that you're in a 23.976 project, you're actually in a 29.97 project where the timecode is being pulled down to 23.976.  Which means timecodes get fucked up all the goddamn time.

And that, dear reader, brings me to this issue.  Let's say that you realize, while in this "standard def" project for your transcode, that one of your tapes was accidentally mislabeled when you digitized it.  Maybe you fat-fingered it to have an extra 0 in the name or something.  Happens all the time; honest mistake.  So you go to modify the clip and change the source to the correct tape name.  Except, after you do that, your clip changes in duration from 1:14:05 to 1:30:12.  WHAT THE FUCK?  And then if you load that clip and go frame by frame, the frames will count like this:



And here's the best part:  Your clip is now fucked for good.  You have delete the clip, delete the media, and re-ingest.  All because Avid insists that standard def 23.976 is somehow different from a low res version of a 1080P 23.976 project.

Fuck you, Avid.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Avid Behaving Badly #12: Autosequencing in 23.976 NTSC doesn't Work

I'm working on a 24P show and we've been using the XDCam proxy files for our offline editing.  This season, however, we've added more cameras, and the multigroups lag when using the proxy MPEG-4 codec.  To solve this, we're transcoding everything to 8:1m.  So much for faster than real time capture.  But I digress.  In order to make the transcode happen, you have to change your project format to 23.976 NTSC or else the 8:1m codec won't even be made available to you.  Which is horseshit, but I digress.  After transcoding, I figured hey - there's no reason I can't make my timelines and groups in the standard def project, right?  Wrong.  There's a very good reason why I can't do those things, and it's that Avid is a piece of fucking garbage.  For a reason I cannot fathom, autosequences created in 23.976 NTSC projects don't match clip TC to sequence TC.  They just don't.

Change back to 1080P/23.976 and autosequencing works perfectly with the exact same clips in the exact same bins.

Stupid goddamn Avid.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Over 20,000 Pageviews

Here's a quick thank you to everyone who's checked out this blog and - hopefully - learned how to solve some stupid Avid bullshit as a result.  I've passed 20,000 pageviews, and that makes me feel pretty good!  I really just started this page as a means of both venting my frustration with Avid and the real lack of troubleshooting help on the internet for large-scale productions, but I'm glad that I have been able to get at least a couple of people through some tough bugs.

Keep on editing, and post here if there are any Avid issues you'd like see me post about.

Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Reset your PRAM and Delete your Site Settings

After two years, it has occurred to me that I have been remiss in my duties.  Up until now I've failed to mention the most basic troubleshooting techniques for dealing with Avid:  Resetting your PRAM and Deleting your Site Settings.  Seriously, what's wrong with my brain?

Basically whenever you're getting weird errors, or multiple bus thread error crashes in a row, or "you can't write to drive X" message when pretty fucking clearly you have write permissions, the problem isn't you; it's Avid.  That's a shocker, I know, and wholly unexpected, but the fact of the matter is that Avid is the only program I've ever used that required regular resetting of your Mac's PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory).  Avid is also one of the rare pieces of software that corrupts it's own fucking settings.  Seriously, how is that even possible, Avid?  you generate the settings on launch, so can't you do a goddamn checksum to make sure the existing ones are fucking valid?

Anyway, these are the first steps anyone dealing with Avid should take when their machine starts acting all wonky:

First, reset your PRAM using the following steps:
1)  Shut down the computer.
2)  Unplug the fucker for a good 30 seconds to clear residual memory.
3)  Power back on.
4)  While the system is booting up, hold down Command+Option+P+R.  Keep holding these down through the next steps.
5)  The computer will chime and then restart.  Keep holding down the keys.
6)  Continue holding down the keys until the computer has chimed and restarted 3 times.

I should mention that for some reason I find that I always have to tell people (I mean Producers) that the "apple" key is called the fucking Command key - What gives?  There's no apple on it and the word "Command" is pretty clearly goddamn written right there!

Also, don't hold down the buttons for more than 5 chimes.  Eventually it will start resetting all kinds of weird shit inside the computer that will break the thing for reals, yo.

After resetting your PRAM, it's a good idea to trash your site settings:
1)  Navigate to MacHD / Applications / Avid Media Composer / Settings /
2)  Delete the following four files:
Site Settings.avs
Site Settings.xml
3)  Relaunch Avid!

I've noticed that in Avid 6.5 and 7.x the PRAM and Site Settings resets tend to fix 90% of the errors you get.  In earlier versions, well, see my previous posts.

I'll get back to my regularly scheduled ranting soon, I promise.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Exception: SYS_ERROR, OSErr: -5000

Dear ISIS:  I love you.  You're great.  None of the bullshit file count limits of Unity, I can fill your drives to 100% without issue, you have automatic redundancy built into your RAID storage, your control panel is .html based and runs in my browser, and you work over ethernet instead of requiring fiberoptic cable.  You're pretty fucking swell.

But there's this one thing you do sometimes that reminds me you're made by Avid.  See, it's like this:  When I create a user that has write access to a drive, and I log in as that user, I goddamn expect to be able to write to that fucking drive.

Instead, Avid gives me this:
What the fuck is that supposed to mean, Avid?  You're blaming the goddamn system OS for the fact that ISIS mounted my drive with incorrect permissions?  Why the christ would you do that?  Wait, wait - hang on while I get out my goddamn dictionary of What the Fuck OSErr: -5000 means.

Okay, yeah, this is a write error.  It means I can't write to the target drive.  Hey Avid, here's a tip:  When you can't write to the target drive, make an error window that says "Exception: I CAN'T WRITE TO THE TARGET DRIVE BECAUSE I'M A FUCKING TERRIBLE PROGRAM."  I could pay $1000 to a goddamn rabid squirrel and have an easier time figuring out why it's not doing what I want it to.  Seriously, get a goddamn clue, Avid.

Ahh, but the obtuse error message is the calling card of this piece of software.  To have Avid actually tell me something useful would be like buying Disney brand clothing made in the USA by people paid a living wage, or like riding a unicorn to work every day.  I really shouldn't be surprised that Avid doesn't tell me shit.

Back to the problem at hand, however:  This brief message just means you don't have write permissions to the drive that you're trying to write to.  Quit Avid, disconnect your drives, reconnect them, check them in the finder level to make sure you have write access, and relaunch Avid.  Easily solved once you know what on God's green Earth is going on.  And that term makes no sense:  Earth, the planet, is mostly blue, and earth, the substance, is fucking brown.  Stupid people who make up stupid idioms.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Avid Behaving Badly #11: AAF export files sometimes contain zero audio information for random clips

My work has upgraded to Avid 6.5.4.  While it's a vast improvement over 5.5 (you know, the one with the user experience akin to stabbing yourself repeatedly in the dick), it's got some seriously annoying bugs.  Mostly because they either don't throw error messages at all (like the one I'm talking about here), or because no matter what the error messages are, the solution is to reset the PRAM and delete the site settings and user folder within the project.  Fucking buggy ass application, man.

But I digress.  Avid has been doing some fucked up shit in this new version, and I'm here to tell you how to work around it.  Why me?  Because the entire fucking internet doesn't seem to know a goddamn about this AAF problem I've been having.  Fuck you, internet.  You don't know shit about Avid (well, okay, after I post this, you'll know a small amount of shit, I'll grant you that).

And now I'm digressing again!  Okay, on to business:


Randomly when creating AAF file exports (using the "embedded in AAF setting), Avid will change one or more clips to contain no data.  When we send the file to Mix, they report back that "the clip at timecode XX;XX;XX;XX on Track A2 has no audio but in the chase video, there should be some sound there."

Well, shit, Avid, there sure as fuck is sound there in the sequence that I exported!

No errors are reported during export.  Nothing is posted to the console.  The file size is even the exact same as if you export the same file again and don't get an error.

So how do you check for this?

You have to import your exported AAF back into Avid and then manually fucking check every clip to make sure there's sound there.  It goes faster if you turn on audio waveforms and just check clips that show as flatlines, but it's still a huge fucking waste of time.

To make matters worse, the bug is literally random.  Exporting the same sequence as an AAF twice will result in different clips losing audio data.  Sometimes it will result in no clips losing data, but fuck if I can tell you when that is without goddamn checking the entire thing again.

So remember, when you pay $1,000 for Avid, you're paying them to cost you $30-$100 in AE time every time you output an AAF.