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October 2015

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PLAYING FAVORITES 29 POST OCTOBER 2015 At the time Symphony was introduced, Media Composer didn't do uncom- pressed SD video — it used very low compression, but broadcast networks didn't accept it. And color correction was sent to the DaVinci bay. All of a sudden Symphony added the ability to do de- cent color correction within the NLE." Curren notes that at the time, color correction was still something of "a black art." He says, "The only people who knew how to do it were working in million-dol- lar color correction bays. At Matchframe, I was able to learn from our colorists and adapt that knowledge to the toolsets within Symphony." Believing that color correction is still Symphony's "trump card" in the editorial world, Curren says, "Its source side color correction allows me to make corrections on a shot [that carry over] every time that shot appears in the timeline or to every instance of that shot or the same master clip name," he explains. "I can fix one shot, and its relatives are done in the entire show — in teases, in opens, etc. It was a huge breakthrough." According to Curren, however, he says he's disappointed that Avid "has not done any updating of its original color correction tools" and is "not de- veloping the toolset" in the same way that Blackmagic Design is "continuing to evolve Resolve. If I could have the Resolve toolset within Symphony, I'd be a happy camper!" Still, Curren calls Symphony's ability to do a "total conform" from the of- fline "a huge bonus. I can open a Media Composer project and everything is there as the offline editors left it. I can just start working forward." AlphaDogs deploys Facilis TerraBlock for shared storage, which he finds "works exactly the same as Avid Unity or ISIS, but at a lower cost point and a higher bandwidth." Curren has several favorite plug-ins for Symphony. "For years the Boris Continuum Complete [special effects] package came included with Media Composer, and a lot of editors got used to using it. I use its Flicker Fixer tool a lot, especially for iris changes during reality TV projects. It evens out the shot. The Boris DeNoise filter helps with color correction: If a shot is dark and you have to drive it hard to get it right, it can get noisy, and DeNoise helps with that problem." He did a lot of noise reduction, image stabilization and color correction on the recent indie feature, Where Is She Now? "They didn't use tripods, there was little lighting and the video was all different prosumer and consumer formats and frame sizes," Curren says. "Getting it to conform on another platform would have been a pain, but we were ready to go in Symphony. The system is great for mismatched sources and is especially good for docs that tend to be done over a number of years and incorporate all kinds of stock footage." MODERN VIDEOFILM (AUTODESK FLAME) One guess what's the favorite edit- ing tool of Flame conform editor Alex Romano at Modern VideoFilm, Burbank (, a Point.360 company. A long-time user of Autodesk products, he followed a somewhat circuitous route to Flame as he left conventional Grass Valley linear online editing some two decades ago. "I transitioned to Quantel Henry as a stepping stone on the way to Flame," Romano recalls. "I spent maybe three years on Henry at 525 Post; at the time Flame was more strictly a VFX system." When 525 Post closed, he began finishing trailers on Autodesk Inferno at Pacific Title. "Then we got [Autodesk] Smoke in 2007, and I started doing video deliver- ables for the new DI department," says Romano. "With V.7 software, the timeline editing features in Smoke were really ready for primetime." A move to Company 3 found him again using Smoke. "We blazed a lot of trails with features using SAN-based workflows," he says. He migrated to the TV side of the business at Modern VideoFilm in 2011, where he utilized Smoke on Linux. "The Smoke anniversary edition of 2013 was a complete rewrite of the core software, which allowed a great deal of processing to switch to GPU rendering. That has evolved with every version since then." When Smoke moved to Mac a year later, Modern's Smoke Advanced Linux systems were upgraded to Flame. "We had three editorial systems with Smoke and three VFX systems with Flame. Now we have six Flame systems in Burbank," Romano explains. "On the feature side, we have Flame for conform and Lustre for color correction, in addition to Resolve." Romano calls Flame "the ultimate finishing system. Others are making great strides to close the gap, but nothing beats Flame for online editing, bringing together the speed and fluidity of a ma- ture and efficient editing system with the depth and breadth of VFX capabilities ready and available for immediate use. For our level of finishing, nothing else comes close." Romano has been taking advantage of the expansion of the Matchbox open- source plug-in for Flame. "I can throw their directional blur effects into the time- line and with GPU rendering it takes no time at all to play them out," he reports. He's looking forward to the 2016 version of the Lightbox open-source plug in, which he says "does for pixels what Matchbox does for textures." During the first season of The CW's Jane the Virgin, Romano treated and composited the show's titles in Flame. "Part of the comedy was type-on text titles," he says. "One of them introduced a 'grandma' character, then the type backspaced to call her 'glamma.' With ready access to VFX tools in the timeline I could show the post supervisor differ- ent treatments for that title adding glow and sparkle to the text. We narrowed down the look, then I sent QuickTimes to the executive producer, and we decided Modern VideoFilm's Romano has been using Flame on shows such as Sleepy Hollow (opposite page).

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