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The King and Dai - Elvis film I edited won Best Welsh Documentery

posted 24 Jul 2017, 12:31 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 24 Jul 2017, 12:31 ]

We just won Best Welsh Documentary Film at the Welsh International Film Festival. It's been a long road but finally the documentary is finished. We also did a screening at The Cube Cinema and it went down great.

The King and Dai is a documentary about The Porthcawl Elvis Festival. This is the biggest Elvis festival in the world according to Charles Stone, Elvises 1970s tour producer and manager of Kraig Parker, one of the top ten Elvis tribute acts in the world.

Rather than being about the elvis performers the film behind the scenes and finds tensions that in many way mirror the true story of Elvis’s life and his rocky relationship with his manager and the record industry of his day.

The Loft Life - Loukas Morley (3 mins)

posted 24 Jul 2017, 12:17 by Ben Edwards

Edited for Loukas Morley. I told James Murray-White, who shot it, to get him to sit down and wax poetic about what he did and wood. Seems to of worked out verry nicely.

Mark Todd New Zeeland Olympian

posted 9 Oct 2016, 05:53 by Ben Edwards

Recently shot a video for the new Zealand Herold.  It consisted of an interview and cutaways and was edited by The herold.  The video can be viewed at http://features.nzherald.co.nz/nzs-greatest-olympians-mark-todd/

The House That Kids Built

posted 6 May 2016, 12:51 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 11 May 2016, 10:03 ]

Recently finished cutting a 20 minute documenters 'The Schholhouse Project' about school-kids (from the sage of 7) who built a house.  Kids with power tools, what is there not to like.



The project was the brainchild of Dame Sally Coates (headmistress) and Roderick James (founding Director at The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)) and the film was directed and produced by Nathan Hughes Rough Glory Films.'

"We are extremely pleased to confirm that Burlington Danes Academy is hosting and participating in anexciting social projectmthis year. The innovative 'Schoolhouse Project' involves a team of staff and students working closely together to build a fully-functioning timber house on the academy grounds.

The challenge explores a practical and alternative approach to education, with the participating students gaining a wealth of valuable hands-on experience.The project demands the development and application of a range of important personal attributes, such as communication, confidence, drive and discipline, alongside an array of essential technical skills."  http://burlingtondanes.org/life-school/schoolhouse-project#sthash.kVEtHeXh.dpuf


Video and audio streaming made easy

posted 22 Mar 2016, 06:25 by Ben Edwards

Recently I have been doing video and audio streaming.  Thought i would share with you my experiences.

For either of these you need a internet service provider who provide a streaming service.  I use a small community service in Bristol, http://xtreamlab.net/. They provide a very cost effective and reliable service.

Video

Adobe provide a great, and free, video streaming program.  There free version is still available and works well.  There free version is still available from Adobe Media Encoder. Its relatively easy to setup and provides a reliable stream to send to your streaming provider.

Audio

While Adobe Media Encoder can encode audio i prefer to use a Rasbery Pi with darkice installed on it.  This provides a simple plug and play solution.  you simply turn on the Pi, plug it into the audio source and it starts streaming.  I use Streamer Radio to monitor the levels.

Will add more to this post soon.

Elvis has landed - The King and Dai!

posted 17 Sep 2015, 00:24 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 24 Jul 2017, 12:19 ]

For the last few years I have been editing a documentary about the Elvis Porthcawl Festival.  We have just picture locked.  Just did a couple of days with Exec Editor Mark Atkins and we re-structured first 20 minuets and it is looking great.  Really motoring along and looking great.  Watch this space.

funkybackup - Mac Timemachine type backup for Linux

posted 26 Aug 2015, 07:53 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 6 Jun 2016, 10:25 by Ben Edwards ]

I am punting this blog post and the script up so people can benefit from it and to get feedback.  It comes with absolutely no greentree and is currently being developed.  It seems to work for me  and will be used shortly in a small charity but should be considered a alpha version.  Just need to say that as I am giving it away and not legally or morally responsible for its use. all feedback gladly received.  I also need I know to add more annotation to the code.

The latest version of the scripts are available through GitHub, the ones below are not up to date and are for illustration purposed only.

funkybackup is a set of Linux scripts that give you a  Mac Timemaching style backup i.e.:
  • Backup every hour and keep for a day
  • Backup every day and keep for a month
  • Backup every month and keep for a year
  • Backup every year
  • Is very efficient as (incremental backups):
    • Only hold each version of a file once (using the minimum amount of disk space)
    • Only copies files that have changes (using minimum resources, disk, CPU and network (if copying over net) )
  • Is extremely easy for users to restore

It does not have, or need, a funky GUI as it creates a directory structure that is easy for the user to understand. 
Each backup has a directory and there is also a 'current' directory for the latest backup. 

In a way it is actually more flexible than Timemachine as in addition to this you can backup as often as you like (i.e. every 10 minutes).  Obviously it does depend of the amount on data you are backing up, how often it changes and the speed of your connection (you can backup locally or remotely over a network or the Internet). 

The latest versions of the scripts are at https://github.com/funkytwig/funkybackup

Scripts

OK, lets dive in and go through the scripts to show you how it works. 

Configuration (vars.bash).

This script is where you setup what you want to backup and where, it has the following variables:

  • backup_name - chose a name for your backup
  • script_home - where the funkybackup scripts live
  • what_to_backup - path to what you want to backup
  • path_to_store_backups - path to the directory you want to store backups in

Frequent Backup (backup.bash).

This script is run as often as you like and each time it runs it creates a backup directory. 

The directories are names as such:

backupname_sequence_F_day_date_HHMM (e.g.'ben_1440601201_F_Wed_26Aug2015_1600'):

  • backupname - the name you assign to the backup (I chose ben as it is my home directory).
  • sequence - This is so when you look at the directories in a file browser they can easily be ordered so the most recent is at the top.  It actually uses Julian seconds (seconds since 1 January 1, 4713 BC).
  • day - The day using 3 characters to make it easy for users to find the backup they want
  • date - The data is a format easy for people to read
  • HHMM - time of the backup

The _F_ is to show this is a frequent backup (i.e. more frequent than an hour).  The scripts use this to help then delete old backups.  The folowing is also used in this position

  • _F_ - Frequent Sub houre backups
  • _H_ - hourly backups
  • _M_ - monthly backups
  • _Y_ - Yearly backups

The script uses the Linux utility rsync to do the actual work.  The script currently backs up over the computers file-system (i.e. it uses directory structures).  This mean that it can back up onto a on or connected to the computer, a local network mount  or NAS (mounted locally).  It will also work through a VPN.  rsync also sports ssh transfers.    Doing this would require some slight changes to this script only and may be added to the scripts later.

As well as doing the frequent backups the script also creates a symbolic link to the latest backup (ben_9999999999_current).

Create Hourly, Daily and Yearly Backups (backup_close_period.bash)

Now this is where the magic happens.  This scripts does two things.  It renames the Frequent backups (so they become Hourly, Daily, Monthly or Yearly Backups) and deletes old backups.  It is called with a parameter which indicates the type of backup you are doing:

  • H - Hourly  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each hour.
  • D - Daily  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each day.
  • M - Monthly  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each month.
  • Y - Yearly  backups, the script is called with this parameter at the end of each year.

Here is the code:


So that is basically it it. This all called from a cronjob, mine looks like this:


Although the scripts are deigned to be run at the end of each period if they do not it does not really cause any problems as it is fairly robust in this respect.  If they are run at the wrong time your backups will still have the correct date/time.  The worst that can happen is the period backups may not be at the end of the period or  you may end up with more than on for a period.  however as the date/times and sequences are correct this is no a real problem. 

The scripts below are slightly updated version of the ones above and I have provided a updated cron and stub sxripts to run from cron so stderr goes into the scripts.

Any feedback, questions please get in touch.

Notes from a Editor to Camera People

posted 17 Jul 2015, 07:18 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 20 Jul 2015, 02:26 ]

I was recently asked for feedback from a Cameraman from and editors perspective for a job I was editing.  I have also asked other editors for things that help in the edit that camera people can do.  Here are some notes.  Following there should get you better footage and help you get hired again/build a reputation.

This post is a work in progress.

A general point is that if you are working with a director it is your joint responsibility IMHO to get cutaways/general views (GVs).  You should always check with the director if you have not been asked for them/got them.  Not having good/appropriate GVs is the main reasons that edits are difficult and time consuming.

Try to think in terms of sequences, this is why it is important for you to know the story that is being told.  What is the beginning (often a wide establishing shot).  What details shots, GVs, actuatiy shots (shots of people doing stuff) will be useful as cutaways during interviews.  Is there something that can be used as an end shot.

This is also important for cutaways.  Short sequences of cutaways work well.  Just a single cutaway to cover a curt normally looks contrived.

The maybe not obvious but very useful.
  • If recording sound film 20-30 seconds in each location when no one is talking (if possible), ideally a minute.  This 'wildtrack' or 'room tone' is extremely useful when editing to allow the interview to breath (i.e. adding short gaps) or under photos or general non interview footage.  This can be combined with shooting a 'portrait' of the contributors that are sometimes useful.
  • This also applies when getting GVs/cutaways.  Always have the microphone on and record sound (be good if audio levels are set but for this auto levels is often OK), 
  • Non sync shots of interview are useful (shots without the mouth in shot).  Be creative.  Detail shots of eyes, wide shots from interesting angles etc.  You can just get the contributes to generally chat after interview (with director) as idealy you don't want to do this during the actual interview.
  • If you are shooting with a DSLR/steeped aperture photo lens changing the aperture during an interview makes the exposure jump and is not usable.  A decent Variable Neutral Density filter solves this problem but don't use a cheap one (is softens focus and introduces colour cast).  LCW ones are great and not expensive.
  • Get an establishing shot of the exterior of the building/where the action (i.e. wide shot) and interview is happening.
  • interview POV (point of view) shots are useful (shot in the direction contributor is looking).
  • This can be tricky (and is a joint responsibility between you band director) but listen to interview and make a list of pick up shots you need (shots of stuff they are referring to).  Generally trying to get these (if they are close) by pointing the camera at them during the interview is a bad idea as you may miss crucial facial expression.
  • Coverage is key.  Get lots of cutaways and each cutaway should be at at least 2 different shot size from same direction. Not having cutaways is the thing that makes and edit difficult.

Obvious to most people but mentioning for the not so experienced

  • Use a tripod whenever possible for interviews and static general shots.  Does not have to be a heavy or expensive tripod (if you are travelling light) for static locked off stuff.  If not shoot slightly wide (i.e. 5-10%) so the shots can be stabilised in the editing software and framing maintained.
  • If you are hand holding (especially with heavy kit) there is a tendency to point the camera down (to rest your arms) as soon as contributor has finished speaking.  Wait at least 3 seconds (preferably 5).  You may get useful facial expressions and having a few seconds after talking is very useful (if not essential) for pacing in edit.
  • Re-framing when possible can be very useful.  Either do it quickly when there is an opportunity or slowly if there is not (slow zooming can be used in vision).  Bigger shot sizes as interview gets more intense are good but generally changing shot size during interview will make it easier to add cuts without using cutaways.
  • If you are not working with a sound recordist get away from where people are talking and record general wildtrack if you have time.  This can be combines with getting very wide shots but does not even need a useful image.
  • Getting nod shots/listening shots of interviewer and interviewee is useful (with just them in shot from same angle). Can be very useful.
  • Tuck microphone cable inside clothing.
  • Other details shots (hands/stuff they are talking about) is useful.  Avoid the groin! believe me I haver see this actually used (badly) in broadcast.
  • General shots with people in them are very useful, again ideally on a tripod.

Converting DCPs to MP4 (Making MP4 from DCP) BAT file

posted 2 May 2015, 16:55 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 2 May 2015, 17:15 ]

It is possible to convert unencrypted DCPs to H.264 MP4 (or other types of video files).  This guide is for windows.

To do this you first need to run cmd.exe.  You will be in your users home directory (e.g. c:\Users to start a windows shell). When started you need to create some directories

mkdir work
cd work
mkdir mov
cd mod
mkdir jpg

You then need to create a file called dcp2mp4.bat in the work directory you just created wit hthe following content.

del mov\sound.wav
del mov\movie.mp4
del /Q mov\jpg\*.*

@echo off

echo video file = %1
echo audio file = %2
echo FPS        = %3

pause

ffmpeg -lowres 0 -i %1 -q:v 2 mov\jpg\/image%%06d.jpg
ffmpeg -i %2 -y mov/sound.wav
ffmpeg -r %3 -i mov/jpg/image%%06d.jpg -i mov/sound.wav -ac 2 -ab 256k -crf 18 -y mov/movie.mp4

You also need to put ffmpeg.exe in this directory.  It is downloaded from http://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/. You need to
download the 'static' version.  It consists of 7z archive  which has 'bin' directory that had the exe.

To convert the DCP from the work directory run dcp2mp4.bat with the following command line paramaters:
  1. Full path of the ...video.xmf
  2. Full path to ...audio.xmf
  3. Frames Per Second
The first two are in the DCP file system.  If you drag and drop them from file manager to the command line it will put add the path and file to the command line.

Beginners guide to Digital Cinema Packages (DCP)

posted 17 Nov 2014, 04:54 by Ben Edwards   [ updated 14 May 2015, 15:59 ]

DCPs are how Digital Cinema Servers play films. a DCP is the digital equivalent of a 35mm film print. They are actually a directory/folder with a number of files in them. They are generally loaded onto the server (a process called ingesting) by plugging in a Hard Drive (USB2 or a faster CRU drive). 

I offer a very affordable Digital Cinema Package (DCP) Mastering/Creation service as it is very time consuming and prone to errors (DCP problems are the main reasons film festivals have problems playing films).  If you want to create your own DCP-o-Matic is a great free piece of software but allow yourself a lot of time (several days) and find a cinema you can test your DCP in.

The DCP actually contained a JPEG 2000 for each frame and a uncompressed WAV file for each audio channel.  JPEG 2000 holds a better quality image than standard JPEG but is very processor intensive to create.  Even on a fairly powerful computer (Quad core 3Ghz) it can take over 15 hours to create the 70 minute DCP.  DCPs contain a lot of data and gives a extremely high quality image.  A typical feature length film is over 150 gigabytes.  There is a quality setting in a lot of the software.  a 'bandwidth' of 50 gives quality similar to blu-ray and a 175 is roughly what feature films use.  It is no quicker to produce a DCP of a lower quality but the files are smaller (the bandwidth is Mbps so a 175 bandwidth gives a DCP more that 3 times larger).  50 does have the advantage that a feature length film can be distributed on a large memory stick.

INPUT FORMATS

To create a DCP you start with a video file (either with the audio tracks included or separate audio files or files).  Below the various video and audio formats are discussed.

VIDEO
DCP creation software can generally accept a variety of formats.  The format you should use depends on the source material the film was shot on.  For very high quality source (shot on Red or Arri Alexa) it is worth starting with 10 bit uncompressed 'YUV' video.  For other top end cameras (including Canon C300) prores 422 HQ or Avid DNxHD 180 are appropriate.  It is possible (but not ideal) to use H.264 (.mp4) but you should use a very high bitrate.  

AUDIO
Again DCP software can generally accept most popular audio formats but as they use the below format it is a good idea to start with it:

Format: Waveform Audio (WAV)
Audio codec: Uncompressed
Sample Rate: 48000 Hz
Channels: stereo (or 5.1, in which case a file for each channel can be provided)
Sample size: 24 bit

It is best to supply a audio files mixed to -12 Db or even a little lower.  If the audio level is too high you will get pooping (where the audio breaks up and crackles).  The Dolby audio decoders tend to have a 'fader' level ranging from 0-10.  If your mix is too low (even by a few Db) it will not be possible to play loud enough.  It can be tricky to get it right as -18 will probably give you a far too low level even at a fader level of 10.  If your mix does not peek between -12 and -13 some DCP authoring software can adjust the level but you need to know accurately what Db the mix peeks at.

COLOURSPACE/GAMMA
The colourspace refers to how many colours (and what colours) are used for the video.  Computer monitors normal use sRGB but broadcast monitors use Rec.709 (or even P2 for high end cinema).   Gamma refers to the brightness of the image (this is a oversimplification as it uses curves but it gives the general idea).  If set up properly a Gamma of 2.2 is generally used for computer monitors and Rec.709 also often also uses 2.2.  Digital Cinema uses Rec.709 but has a Gamma of 2.6. The DCP creation software will convert to Rec.709/2.6 but it is important to know what the source material is so the software can be set up.  If you made the video yourself on a computer monitor sRGB/2.2 is best to use.  If the video was properly graded the person doing the grading should be able to tell you.

FRAME RATE
24 is the best framerate for Digital Cinema but 25 is also an option (see Framerate section of Delivery Options Below).  The DCP software should be able to do frame rate conversion for you and this should work well. This is done a lot for broadcast TV (i.e. most films are converted from 24 to 25fps) and you will not notice.  Ideally you should shoot in the same framerate as you edit and create the DCP in but simple conversion is very rarely noticeable (and only for films with a lot of fast movement such as action films).   The best option is to export the video file in the framerate you want the DCP to be so you can view the film at the new framerate and make sure there are no issues.

Lastly if different files are delivered for video and audio they must be exactly the same length (i.e. if they are lain down in a editing system they should be the exactly the same length).  It is a lot safer to start with a single file with audio and video. If the sound mix was done in a separate program than the video was edited it is easy to accidentally to get slightly different length files (partly as video works in frames and audio in time).

DELIVERY OPTIONS

There are two types of DCP, the original interop and a newer SMPTE.  interop only suportes 24fps but only newer DCP servers support SMPTE (which can support other framerates such as 25/30).

What type of DCP you create will depend on where you are distributing it and the framerate of your edit. If it is for a specific case you should ask them what server they use and if it supports 25fps (if your source is 25)  and create a SMPTE.  24fps Interlop is the best if you are delivering to multiple unknown venues but if your source material is 25fps SMPTE 25fps is probably the best option if you can confirm the venue support it. It is possible to put two versions on the same drive so for 25fps material a 25fps SMPTE and a 24fps Interlop is a good idea.  It will mean 2 DCPs need to be created so it may cost twice as much as it takes doubled the processing time. 

ENCRYPTION(KDM KEYS)
It is possible to have encrypted DCPs but these will require a key to be sent to each venue which unlocks the DCP for a specified number of days (The process also requires the venues to send the ‘certificate’ for their server to you).   There will geenraly be a cost for creating eatch certificate (£10-£20).

A much simpler option is to not encrypt the DCP and this is probably the best option unless you are doing a full cinema release. Some independent cinema releases are distributed uncompressed as it is very difficult to turn them into a format that can be played without a full digital cinema setup (costing over £20,00).  Some film festivals will only accept uncompressed DCPs.

MEDIA
There are a number of options here:
  • USB stick - This is best for short films
  • Portable USB Drive - This is a good budget option for longer films.  Portable (2.5") drives are populer as they are smaller so cheaper to post.
  • CRU Drives - These drives allow material to be ingested into the server quickly but are more expensive.
As a side note all DCP servers can read Linux formates drives  (although some can read Windows NFS drives).  These have to be specially formatted to a specific Linux type.  USB sticks are generality windows formatted (vFAT/FAT32) as should be able to be read on all servers.

Formatting Linux drives requires running Linux and is covered half way down http://www.knuterikevensen.com/?p=437



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