Grab bag

It’s grab bag time! First up, I went to LA in early May to get training on a Lustre color grading system. I also hung out with Merry, who I knew in college and who had been drawn to the bright lights of Hollywood to be an assistant director. At the time I visited she was working on CSI:New York, and she let me hang out on the set for a day. Luckily the crew was really cool and had no problem with me being there — in fact I got mistaken for working there at one point :). Merry said there are other shows that are strictly locked down and would never have allowed outsiders to sit in video village with the director and screenwriter.

We also went to see Ironman at the Arclight, which features seat reservations. Yes! Why don’t more theaters do this? I would gladly pay a premium every time I went to the theater if I didn’t have to show up 45 minutes before showtime just to guarantee myself a decent seat.

“Actual suit worn by Robert Downey, Jr. in Ironman”

Merry and me at the Geisha House

On the set of CSI:NY

Here’s some other selections from the past few months. I keep forgetting my camera or not
bringing it with me to places. This must change!

Char and I went on a bike ride with Dad. You may be able to see him in the reflection of our glasses.

When we go for a bike ride on the Cape we often stop at this marsh

Berry picking in Ipswich

We made sure not to over-pick, unlike last year


Avid has posted a little tutorial on how to export and import quicktimes “correctly.” After reading it several times, I noticed that the author doesn’t cover what I think is the most important use-case: I would like to export video and not touch the levels at all. And then I would like to import it, and not touch the levels at all. Leave my levels alone! Don’t clip them, don’t make them colorsafe. My job as the online editor is to make the show broadcast-safe, and I don’t need the “help”. When Avid screws with my levels, it makes it impossible to roundtrip between Avid and Shake so I can do vfx work.

Thanks to this article, however, I think I finally understand what the Color Levels options in Avid mean:

  • “RGB”: This material I am importing or exporting is EVIL RGB, and needs to be fixed to proper broadcast safety. Please Avid, I am incapable of using a color corrector, won’t you squish (RGB option) or clip (RGB source) my levels for me?
  • “601/709”: LEAVE MY LEVELS ALOOOOONNNEEE. I’ll do my own correction, thanks!

If you select 601/709 everywhere you can, Avid won’t touch your levels and will preserve the full range of the image. I have confirmed this by exporting a dozen files with all sorts of settings. I was able to make the process work two ways:

  • Avid codecs using Format Settings / Video Settings / Options / Color Input: 601/709, and Color Levels: 601/709, then importing 601/709
  • Animation codec with Color Levels: 601/709 and importing 601/709

With the Avid codecs, selecting Color Input: RGB clips data off the top and bottom, and selecting Color Levels: RGB squishes the levels to broadcast safe without clipping.

I have been exporting and importing files incorrectly for years. Along with alpha channels, importing and exporting in Avid is insanely complex. Having backwards alpha channels doesn’t help. This needs to be fixed. Here is how these options should read:

  • Color Levels: Maintain color levels
  • Color Levels: Import as broadcast-safe