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    I have been sitting quietly stewing about the talk of a low end
"dailies" machine, but I CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE. (sorry).  I feel that the cost
of video dailies reflects the investment required in order to provide the
services requested.  Most people from post houses that I have spoken to and
that I have worked for will take on dailies only when the book is empty.
They are just too much trouble.  Forgive the ramble, but I find that the
field has been made complicated when there is no need.
    There was once a time that "print and mag" would come in the door.  Your
racked everything up, lined up the punches roll into the 1st shot, adjust
the color, press go and roll the 3/4.  If the color went off, tweak it on
the fly.  1 clean copy, 1 visual TC.
Next, came the request to record visual ft and frames.  This was done with a
modified generator that carried ft frames in the user bits.  Shortly after
that editors requested that the ft frames be set to the feet and frame count
of the key numbers.  Each camera roll was transferred separately, the
editing was a bit rough.  It was a bit of a bother since you had to keep
checking the ft frame count to see that it was the same as the key numbers.
     More and more requests for neg.. dailies with keykode and multiple
dubs.  One light, soon became best light.  Best light is soon not good
enough since a trailer is to be cut from the rushes.  The editors wanted
transfer logs so that the scene, take, timecode and keykode information
would be imported into the non-linear edit system.  keykode readers/encoders
became the norm with logging software.
Soon things became very complex.  "Forced A Frame" transfers are requested.
(Summary on Forced A Frame)
This allows the editor to glance at his transfer log and see if there are
any problems in the 3:2 sequence during the transfer.  If all takes were
forced to "A frames" then all of the logged events will be on timecode: 00,
:05, :10 etc.  In practice most non-linear systems do not require "A Frame"
transfers to identify the extra field of film image (in NTSC) that must be
removed when working on a film project.  The software is able to correctly
remove these extra fields if you tell it which frame of the 3:2 sequence was
logged.  These frames are identified by ABCD with B and D being the film
frames that consists of 3 video fields.  If a D frame is logged, and the
edit system is told that a D frame is logged, then the software will remove
the correct fields.  "Forced A Frame" just allows you to trace list problems
much quicker.  remember A frames are always recorded.  They are just the
ONLY film frame that exists in ONLY one video frame in a sequence of 5 video
     Next, requests that the "0" foot of the key code be forced to "A
Frames".  This will mean that when the list is checked, all logged events
will fall on "0" and "5" and the key numbers will be on "0, 4, 8, 12".  Yes,
a little tricky but possible.  Just another step, another check, another
thing to miss another thing to go wrong.  We are no longer dealing with a
roll and record situation.  A Telecine editor to control both the TK and the
vtr in close relationship to ensure that all of these parameters are
followed is required. A color corrector is also necessary to notch the
transfer.  A still store will be needed to hold reference frames for
matching.   Add to this is the request for editor's cassettes on Digi Beta,
or Beta SP, with "0 off set dats".  Some productions request clean Digi Beta
protection, plus a SP for the editor, with visual burns.  This requires a
clean master, and dubs be pulled through an afterburner.
     Non-linear systems are now using component or digital in and high
quality editor's cassettes are required.  Often a digital audio transport is
used to chase the video to maintain high quality audio.  Since this will be
the production sound a second generation of analog is not acceptable.  To
ensure quality is maintained, the only choice is to operate totally in
Component Digital.  This has simplified distribution, but equipment is
expensive.  Afterburners, digital keyers, digital VITC.  Now throw 16x9 into
the mix.  A 16x9 master with 16x9 for the editor with burns popped on at
each slate for 5 seconds, all of the rest of the dubs are to be 4x3 clean
with only a production spoiler.  Oh! We need an aspect ratio converter.  You
will also need at least 2 SP and Digi Betas, one for recording the transfer
and one for dubbing.  If not then transfers must stop when dubs are pulled.
     Speaking of dubs.  Some productions will request as many as 15 copies.
The following is a typical request.   All, except the editors will have
property of # at ** as a spoiler in the picture.  The editors copy will have no
spoiler but only visual TC, Key/Ink  and Audio Codes.  One or 2 of the
viewing copies may also require a custom name inserted to personalize the
copies.  Often each of the labels must be personalized.  Often a L+R is
requested on some dubs, but not all and some may require TC on Ch2.  I won't
even get into the combinations that are requested on VHS.   All of these
requests are possible, but more time is required, set-ups are more complex,
and there are more places for things to go wrong.
The list of support equipment for the TK suite is growing.  This equipment
is part of the normal inventory in a finishing suite or video post house,
but if it is in use by dailies all of the time, it can't be used by edit
suites.  The size of the equipment pool must be increased.  If the facility
is not a video post house or only has only 1 or 2 scanners then the cost of
support equipment becomes significant.  I would suggest that the extra
support equipment required may be approaching the cost of a refurbished
     The dailies are now done as a package.  The editorial is provided with
full complete shot logs, with scene, take, slate, cam roll, audio roll,
stereo-mono, and comments.  All transfers are "Forced 0 feet to 0 timecode"
and only A Frames are logged.  Editorial is now unable or unwilling to
correct even the slightest error in the log, and I am expecting to see
someone return a log file for spelling corrections.  Add to all of this the
lack of proper camera reports, sound logs and continuity sheets.  Frequent
tail slates, and lack of smart slates.  Lack of preroll on audio, and not
bothering to jam audio TC to slate.  Transfers that used to take 20 min
longer that the total film run time now can take as long as 4 to 6 hours for
1 hour of material.  I have seen editorial reject a vt and request a
retransfer because the audio was out of sync by 2 frames.  (the audio was
rolled late, there was no clapper on tape, a sync point was selected during
the action and back timed to the edit point.  It was identified in the log
as wild sync)
     The print jobs still exist.  They have also increased in complexity.
Mag has timecode on the balance track and must be logged.  Editors provide a
head and tail punch that must be logged.  Systems exist that will allow the
assistant to provide the transfer house to enter a text file with all of the
log information and which frames must be logged, with their ink numbers.
When this is loaded the logging software will capture the timecode, audio
code and keykode for this point.  Up to this point I have not been able to
have editorial provide these text files.  Editors do not understand that the
timecode on the balance track must have some preroll before it is logged at
the hole punch.  If there is none, the audio code reader will have not had
time to lock and the frame count between in audio, and in video will not be
the same, and there will be errors in the log.  The non-linear system will
only use the in point, and this is not accurate, because the reader is not
locked.  The resulting code calculated in the non-linear will then not agree
with the visual code.  We are required to back calculate the value of the in
timecode to a value that will create a value that agrees with the audio
burn.  Editorial create the problem, by not leaving enough rolling code at
the head, but will not correct it, this is the RESPONSIBILITY OF THE
TRANSFER HOUSE.(opps I did it again sorry).
     The film manufactures have made great strides in creating high contrast
print stock to provide "clean velvet like black" and rich colors.  These
prints have a contrast range that is well beyond the capabilities of a
dailies machine.  If the exposure is just slightly under, and the print a
bit dark, then the production office calls "why are our rushes so great in
the theatre, but look like #? at &. in video".  The colorist has gamma up as
high as he can in order to see any shadow detail.   All he has managed to do
is make the picture washed out and noisy.  He has had to turn up the noise
reducer to get rid of noise and grain, and now has some motion artifacts.
The editors are looking for detail since the compression in the non linear
system will create a certain artifacts of there own, and detail will be lost
at that stage.   Production wants pretty pictures to show investors.  BUT IT
LOOKED GREAT IN THE THEATRE.(I must stop soon or I will loose my temper).
The reply I received when I explained the dilemma, is "how come it looks
great on a Spirit."
     The demands of the consumer have pushed the cost of video dailies up by
requiring the transfer house to do more of the prep work, increasing the
complexity of the transfers to unnecessary levels, and requiring an endless
investment in more technology to keep up with the requirements of the
"transfer specs"
"STUFF" NEEDED.(sorry again and forgive me for using the stuff word).
I don't think it is the cost of the telecine that is putting the cost of
dailies up, I think it is the amount of time and equipment that is needed to
satisfy specifications created by people who have no idea of the
implications of their requests.  The transfer house is performing some of
the tasks that were done in the past by the editorial staff, and this
additional work must also be paid for.  The question is where is the most
cost effective place to do the job?

Wilf Giovanella
Challenge Broadcast
wilf at idirect.com

Thanks to Rich Torpey for support in 1999
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