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Logging philosophy and tips for FCP & AVID

I know that a lot of people love to spend weeks or months in edit-rooms logging and organizing all their shot’s in the smallest detail and sometimes when there is more than one editor or assistants there is a reason to log to a certain extend so that everybody involved can find things.

Personally when I ‘m the only editor on the job I load whole tapes and sort the footage out when it’s all not linear anymore.
-In my experience trying to be smart and only digitizing tapes partially is gonna cost more time later having to shuttle to the parts that you didn’t digitize.
-Drive space is not an issue anymore with current drive prices and possibilities to cut on a lower resolution until you’ve reached a fine cut.
-Most things I’ve cut from commercial to feature or documentary end up being a combination of little bits and pieces of all the takes or scenes from all tapes.
-It’s a waste of time to try to find precise in and out points by shuttling a beta or mini-dv tape with the hard-to-use-slider in the digitize-tool or log &capture window.
-In both fcp and avid if your working on a project for a long time there is a good change that you have to redigitise your cut or parts of it because of a change to an other system a resolution change or a drive that crashed.
At that point the original masterclips and bins that you named and logged so carefully are useless because new masterclips are generated when you redigitise and they end up in one big bin.
If on the other hand you organize stuff in sequences you can always redigitise that "b-roll playground" sequence or that "cutaways for the moon scene" sequence. Click here for more about organizing a project with sequences instead of logging.

If you have logging to do you have 2 choices
It is important that whatever you do you don't have to do things 2x!
so no typing in word or excel and then retyping stuff on the avid.

1. Use an excel spreadsheet
Biggest disadvantage is that if you don’t have excellent error-check and find&replace skills you’ll have a hard time getting the info into the avid.
2. Use medialog, the avid tool that makes setting up a project outside the editroom really easy.
On my site if you have a Mac running Os 9.x. Go to support>downloads
For a PC version ask places that have PC based systems like symphony or x-press for a copy of medialog.
The biggest advantage of medialog is that you don’t have to type the : (colon) 3 times for every timecode you enter.
The transition to the avid is very simple because you can just open the bins on the avid and start to batch digitize.
It doesn’t matter what version or platform of medialog you use.
If you use an older version of medialog you can open it on higher versions of the AVID no problem.
If your medialog version is a later version than the avid you’re using save the bins as .ALE for import into AVID
Coming from a PC version of medialog to a Mac AVID is no problem, the other way around you have to add ".avb" to the end of every bin name.

As for the Excel spreadsheets to Medialog or AVID Here's how;
The AVID is very sensitive to exact formatting of your data.
ALWAYS fill in every cell that you create, even if information is the same you have to repeat that information or you will have problems going to the avid!
(that’s another reason to try to get medialog)
timecode format is always 8 characters separated by colons 01:34:12:08
you have to Create a column for Name, Start, End, Tape
other columns are optional and will show up as custom columns in the avid bin
A few notes about columns:
-If you log without "Tracks" V1A1-2 will be assumed on import into avid
If you have to use tracks examine carefully how the avid lists different situations like V1A2 or V1A1A2-3 by exporting masterclips from the avid.
-You can’t have any of the following columns:
Creation date, color framing, video, audio, FPS, CFPS, Disk
Because you can’t format those the same way the avid bins do, it will generate errors on import.

Log your stuff.
Then when you’re all done, print out your logs and double check them for consistency and completeness of all cells!!! (this is where your find&replace skills come in)

Save it as a tab delimited text file.

Open Medialog or AVID and create a Bin with one clip in it. Set the Bin headings to include Start, End and Tape. + your custom columns in the same order as in your spreadsheet.
Select the clip and choose export from the File menu. Export it as a Shotlog/aka ALE.

Open the ALE in Simpletext and copy the header.
Open the Excel export in Simpletext and paste the header.

Import the Excel log - with ALE header - into Medialog or AVID.

In all circumstances avoid using illegal characters.
There are 3 errors that you will get if it doesn’t work:
1. "error: unknown file format"
Something is wrong with the header, the order of the columns or some other formatting thing in the first lines of the textfile.
If you get this error it is usually the header with spaces in the wrong places. Make sure that you copy&paste an unchanged, fresh header direct from an export from Medialog or AVID.
Excel tends to add spaces to the header.

2. "endtime is less or equal than starttime line 103"
you have a typo on that line in the spreadsheet

3. "data is missing line 225"
you forgot to repeat a tapename or something else on that line in the spreadsheet. Remember no empty cells anywhere! if you drag a cell down by the right bottom corner you can easily duplicate a tape name in the cells below it.

Click here to download the medialog pdf manual and read APPENDIX A for more info about formatting data for the AVID.

Unique scene numbering
Important for many reasons like clear communication about sceuals etc
Movies are never shot in order so in the edit room the only way to start assembling pieces of a film is to go by the numbers.
Different forms of shooting use their own formats
If a film has many skids, like a comedy, and in the script the scenes within a skid are numbered 1 through 4 for example.
Take initiative and make unique scene numbers to avoid confusion over which scene belongs to which skid
skid 1 >100
scene 1>101
first setup (no letter)>101
take one >101-1
take two>101-2
new angle >101A-1
new scene within skid 102-1
new skid >201-1
In a narrative script every different location even going to a different room is a new scene number.
It is important to number the scenes before the break down so that everybody can use the same numbers to communicate.
living room scene first shot 12-1
new angle 12A-1
overshoulder after that 12B-1
kitchen scene following
On a commercial/industrial shoot it is important to keep the day's separate
because you shoot a lot of the same takes with all kinds of minor differences in them.
The directors or client's usually say stuff in the editroom like:
"I think on wednesday we got the wrong angle on the CU of the package" or
"two day's ago we had a better shot of that girl.
day 1>100
scene 1>101
take one>101-1
new angle 101A-1
new location/character/prop 102-1
first shot next day 201-1

For documentary’s you have to try to be consisted with :
Names of characters
I usually assign 2 letter names to all the characters
"Virginia brooks" is VB
this is important because you don’t want to take the change that someone making notes or doing logging gets lazy and starts making up different versions of the same character and it saves a lot of typing in general.
Manhattan is always’s NYC for example or whatever you decide
When you decide on a name the first time you see something new in the footage take your time to think of something short, unique and descriptive and use that same name all the time when you see that same footage.
Front lawn main character’s house is always "lawn VB" and not "grass in front" or "ext in front of house"
Sometimes you have to take some liberties with your own rules and give that one shot that is actually on the street in front of the house also the name "lawn VB" just because you know that otherwise you’ll be looking for that shot forever and it belongs to the lawn shots anyhow.

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