How To Cut: Assisting for Reality TV, Part 2 - Autosequence, Multigrouping and Compiles

Download a template of the project we used on The Great Australian Bake Off by clicking this link. Once downloaded drag it into your Avid Projects folder, launch Media Composer and you can begin using the template on your own project!



This blog entry is part two of a series of three, this will be a continuation of How To Cut: Assisting for Reality TV, Part 1 - Project Setup so if you haven’t already I suggest you check it out. I am going to take you through my workflow that I employed with my fellow Assistants on The Great Australian Bake Off. Obviously if you have never worked on a reality TV show this will definitely help you to hit the ground running with a basic understanding of setting up a project for a competition style reality TV show. If you are a seasoned Editor and any have any suggestions or contributions be sure to leave them in the comments below! My approach is obviously not the only way but it is the way that worked for me and the rest of the post crew. This method of preparing timelines to a stage they are ready to go to the Editor’s workstation is Avid Media Composer specific but the ideas can be implemented in any non linear editing system as the fundamental principles remain universal.

The Great Australian Bake Off is a format based on a BAFTA winning British series The Great British Bake Off and here is a quick look at it:



After having successfully set up your project to ensure all your rushes are organised and transcoded the next step is often the most painful as it involves Autosequencing, Multigrouping and Compiling your rushes. I will go into more detail on each of these processes in a bit but ultimately the reason why you need to go through this step to take your collection rushes, which at this point are spread all over the place in a sort of database only you as an Assistant Editor can understand, and organise them into a working timeline that has multicam ability and free of “dead air” for the Editor to begin their assemble. In relation to The Great Australian Bake Off the idea was to give each Editor a timeline of the days shoot specific to a contestant which the Editor could then create “pods” and with the Producer cut the challenges while weaving the characters story arcs, but more on editing a Reality TV series in a future blog.

For now, lets go into the wonderful land of prepping to group!

Autosequence

Direct from Avid’s user manual it describes Autosequence as a feature “when picture and sound are captured separately. AutoSequence lets you add audio or video to the original videotape if it was transferred without sound or picture. You can also use the AutoSequence feature to organize dailies without having to duplicate source clips when you move them to other bins”.

But it can be so much more! Not only is it useful to generate a timeline of rushes synched to your audio but very useful to create a sequence lining up all your multicam tracks on top of each other to successfully group.

Just note however for this to successfully work all your cameras and audio files must have Time Of Day Timecode from the same source imbedded in the metadata.

1. Open the bins that contain the clips you want to include in the AutoSequence. I create a Bin based on each Camera eg. Camera A’s rushes. This includes all the individual clips shot by Camera A on one day.

2. Select all the clips.

3. Select Bin > AutoSequence

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The system creates a synchronised sequence with the clips you selected. The new sequence appears in the Record monitor and in the Timeline. The sequence also appears in the bin
with the same name as the tape name (for tape-based media) or the same name as the source file name (for file-based media) with a .xx (.01, .02, .03) extension.

This sequence which I label “Camera A” is now a timeline with all the clips spaced along correctly according to their TOD TC. You’ll notice the TC of the sequence begins at the TOD of the first clip.

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Repeat this step with all the cameras until you end up with a bin that contains sequences for each Camera.

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This step is also repeated with the Audio rushes. In our case we had radio mics on each contestant and I created a Timeline for each contestant and laid them up into a single Timeline.

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Now before we go onto the next step you have a vital thing to check! That is the Audio Sync. If you were like us and had a Timecode Slate showing TOD recorded at the head of each clip it is important you run through each AutoSequence and insure the TC slate is showing the same TC as your sequence references. If it is out a few frames, adjust it accordingly in the Timeline.

Always go off the slate rather than the Metadata as there can be lag and in ours there was always a 1 or 2 frame discrepancy. Easiest way is to bring up your TimeCode window and show the TC window and set it to show the sequence Master TC and land your playhead on a frame showing the slate and make sure the TOD TC lines up, if not, create an edit and move it.

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Go to the head of each clip with a slate and readjust accordingly as you work down the Timeline.

4. Sort all the AutoSequences in your bin by Start Time and note the sequence which has the earliest TOD TC.

In our case it was the audio.

5. Create a new sequence, change the default 01:00:00:00 TC to match the sequence which has earliest TOD TC.

What you will now do is lay in each AutoSequence into a new sequence, layering the sequences.

6. Click and drag your AutoSequence with the earliest TOD TC into the Composer monitor, it loads the entire sequence.

Note. It’s handy to map the Toggle Sequence button to the TAB key on your keyboard so you can switch Timeline views between your Composer and Record monitors easily and quickly.

In your new sequence you should have added the relevant number of video and audio tracks as per how many AutoSequences you have, if you right click on the patch name V1 you can rename them to your choosing, since we are dealing with so much media I labelled each track patch equivalent to the AutoSequences ie. Camera A, Camera B, Camera C etc and colour coded them.

7. Now Overlay in the video/audio track into it’s correct patch line. This will form the basis for you to start layering the rest of your tracks. It doesn’t matter now what order you overlay you tracks in but what is important is making sure the In point is on the sequence’s correct TC that your AutoSequence starts at.

If “Camera B” AutoSequence starts at 08:14:25:17 put an In point into your layering sequence at 08:14:25:17 and Overlay.

Repeat this for all video and audio AutoSequences. Eventually you will get a complete timeline that looks like this:

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Now, I would love to be able to tell you to group these sequences all you do is mark In and Out and select all tracks in the Timeline and go Sequence > Collapse which collapses all the tracks into one grouped clip. But Avid Media Composer has yet to implement this feature so we must do it the frustratingly slow and clunky MultiGrouping way.

Multigroup

The grouping and multigrouping procedures gather selected clips into a single unique clip. Both procedures let you use special MultiCamera editing features, such as multi-split views in MultiCamera mode.

Now that you have the entire shoot day in a sequence “lay up” featuring all cameras and audio tracks, it is time to begin grouping the clips. Essentially you want to give the Editor a single line of video so that they can edit and “live swap” the camera angles as needed.

It’s quite tedious but the method we employed on The Great Australian Bake Off seemed to work quite well. It is essential that all video and audio is in sync, as once you have grouped clips it becomes increasingly time consuming to go back and regroup a clip that is out of sync.

The best way to ensure everything is in sync is by checking the slate’s TC is matching to the audio’s timecode. Simply park your playhead on the slate at the head of the clips, toggle between views of each camera. The slate should be reading the same TC in each shot, select your TC view on the TC Window to Source A1 TC1 to make sure the Audio’s native TC is matching the slates in V1. With this in sync you  are ready to go.

Hopefully your camera man have not buttoned off during the recording! The less times they button off the less you have to group. Ideally you’d have large one hour uninterrupted chunks of video to group, but inevitably this won’t be the case. In a nutshell, whenever a cameraman has buttoned off causing a “break” in the clip, you’ll need to create a fresh group.

To Group:

Note. This only pertains to the video, not the audio. Leave the audio lay up as is for now.

1. Duplicate your lay up into a new bin. Set the bins display to show reference clips, sort by TC, make sure you move the column Mark In TC near to the clip name also so you can see the Mark In TC.

2. Create a new bin called Workbin.

3. On your lay up sequence add a new video track where you will lay in the multigroup clips.

4. Park your playhead on the first group of clips, deselect all patches on the left. Highlight V1 and press match frame, it loads it into the source window and puts an In Point. Without moving your playhead, deselect V1, select V2 and press match frame. Repeat this process for all the layers of video.

Basically, you are setting an In Point on each clip that will tell Media Composer this is the instance you want to generate a grouped clip from and is the sync point.

5. Notice in your sequence’s bin you can see the TC appearing in the Mark In TC column, they should all be the same or one or two frames out if you had to adjust for syncing. This will help you identify which clips to select to group, select all the clips with the Mark In TC.

6. Select Bin > Group Clips.

Note. I actually set up a keyboard short cut to save me going to the menu each time I recommend you do the same.

7. You’ll be prompted with a dialogue box, select the option In Points as this will syncing the grouped clip according to the In Points set in each clip you have selected.

8. A new group clip will be generated and placed at the top of the bin. Select it and drag it to your Workbin. Load it into the composer window. Make sure the TC is selected to Source V1 TC1, type in the TOD TC as is displayed where your playhead is positioned on the timeline or Marked In on the individual clips.

9. Place an In Point on the correct starting TC and overlay it into the sequence on the spare video track you have created for grouped clips.

10. Now move your playhead in the timeline until the video breaks (where a cameraman has buttoned off), this will be the start of a new grouped clip. Repeat steps 4-9.

11. Create a new sequence - this will be your master sequence which you duplicate and create compiles/assembly from. You want to load your lay up and grouped sequence into the composer window and insert the grouped video track and all the audio tracks into this new sequence. Be sure to patch the grouped clips into the V1 line, otherwise playback for multicam will not work properly.

It is a long and laborious process and very time consuming, but you can get through it fairly quickly and with a little practice you’ll get the hang of it. There are other ways of grouping large timelines such as this one and none are better or worse, this was just the method we employed and it seemed to work fine. With three Assistant Editors tackling the grouping we could get through a full day in half a day each so our turn around was quite high.

Notes on grouping audio. We chose not to group the audio, main reason being it became more hassle for the editors to switch the grouped clip between who was speaking, if there was more than one person they would have to duplicate the audio grouped clip and overlay it underneath and select the correct radio mic. It was much easier for them to just delete the necessary radio mics as needed leaving the correct one on the timeline.

Compiling & Assembly

The final stage in preparing a sequence before it can go to the Editor is compiling and creating an assembly that they can work from, in our case it was delivering a sequence that was specific to each contestant and had no “dead air” in it.

1. Duplicate your master grouped sequence, label it as you wish. We labelled ours by contestant.

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The idea is to correct all the clips to be on a particular contestant and cut out any bits in the sequence that are unusable such as camera repositioning.

2. Begin playing back your sequence, use your Mark In and Out points to select sections that are unusable and extract them.

3. Ensure that the correct contestant is featured in the shot, as there were nine cameras shooting they weren’t all covering the same contestant. For this example, we will focus on “Julie”. By right clicking on the grouped clip it reveals all the clips contained in that group, I would then select the right camera to have Julie on screen.

4. As I worked my way through the sequence I would also use my Locators to mark up the start of any “on the fly” interviews conducted, shots that looked interesting or usable, any conversations between contestants or particular dramatic points/action that occurred. This was mainly for the Producers who would refer to the locators but also assisted the editors as they couldn’t afford the time to watch the entire sequence for each contestant back so it was handy to have specific shots and starts of interviews already located for them.

4. After working your way through you should end up with a sequence that if played back is completely focused on that contestant, has no “dead air” and is marked up.

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5. The final step was creating sub sequences from the master, we did this by “challenge” putting them into their own bins.

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Your sequences are now ready to go to the Editor! The next time you see it will be a completed episode that needs to go to Online. That will be another write up in How To Cut: Assisting for Reality TV, Part 3 - Preparing for Online.

As always if you have any comments or suggestions or pick up something that is wrong feel free to get in touch and notify me! Always interested to see other Editor’s way of doing things, ultimately if it’s quicker and easier I’ll adopt it!

Additional Information

Software used: Avid Media Composer

Post was completed at: Two Doggs.tv

Articles featuring The Great Australian Bake Off:
Ninemsn - http://channelnine.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8550663&id=8377378
Daily Telegraph - http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/great-australian-bake-off-cooling-its-heels/story-e6frewz0-1226607123102

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