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June 2016

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REVIEW 44 POST JUNE 2016 ately I've been using a myriad of nonlinear editing software, transcoders and any other sort of video wizardry, ranging from Adobe Premiere Pro and Avid Media Composer to Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve. Unfortunately, a lot of today's NLEs have trouble when Sony releases new codecs into the market — XAVC S is particular- ly tricky. This is where Sony's Catalyst Production Suite can come to the rescue. It's a basic ingesting solution and basic NLE without all the bells and whistles. Sony's Catalyst Production Suite con- sists of one free and two paid products. Catalyst Browse is the free product that is great to use alongside Sony's products that record in the XDCAM or XAVC S fla- vor of 4K or raw codecs. You can browse the clips, find a great deal of metadata detail and even copy your footage from your memory card to a hard drive. The other two products are Catalyst Prepare and Catalyst Edit. CATALYST PREPARE Catalyst Prepare boasts a simple yet powerful interface. There are two options: "Organize" and "Edit." Under "Organize," you can copy footage to folders, transcode footage to a variety of codecs, assign audio channels, even mark "in" and "out" points that can be used when copy- ing media over to eliminate unneeded footage (I would be careful with that one). It also has a simple interface for copying, renaming and transcoding footage in batches without making you read a 1,000- page manual. Editing inside of Prepare is definite- ly not meant to be like editing with a full NLE. While you can apply LUTs, use Tangent Elements color correction panels and even verify your corrections on built- in scopes, Prepare is more of a way to ingest your media, log it, organize it into bins, transcode, apply a one-pass color if you are brave, and send to your NLE or Sony's Catalyst Edit. I tried doing this sort of workflow — I transcoded some GoPro .mp4s to Avid DNxHD 175 (23.98) and decided to send the media to Premiere by having Prepare make a Premiere Project. I did have two files that were recognized as "incompatible" or "corrupt," even though they could be read in Prepare. Other than that, my storyboard came across and I was up and running. CATALYST EDIT Now what do you do when you are done in Prepare? You have a few options thanks to Prepare's ability to export AAFs, Premiere Pro projects and other formats compatible with third-party products. One of the largest benefits of using Sony's own ecosphere of products is the interoperability between Prepare and Edit. Most NLEs like Media Composer work better with intraframe codecs like DNxHD and less than better with codecs such as XAVC. This is why transcoding to the co- dec flavor of choice (i.e. ProRes, DNxHD, etc.) is typically a good workflow. For this review I went ahead and as- sumed that you have a fast computer, so using XAVC won't be a huge slowdown. When testing Catalyst Edit, I was using some footage I had filmed of my children on an Easter egg hunt (https://www. Everything was done inside of Prepare and Edit, except the title card that I made in Adobe Photoshop (and filmed on my GoPro). Even with just 1080p footage, I ran into a few weird problems that were all fixed by a simple restart of the app. Keep in mind, I was running this on a mobile workstation that boasts an Nvidia Quadro M5000M, 32GBs of RAM and dual quad core Intel Mobile Xeons that run at 2.9GHz, so I was testing on a flamethrow- er. I would say that most of my issues came about when dragging footage around the timeline and trimming. Since I edit for a living, I am comfortable saying that this should have worked easily and sometimes it didn't. There are tools like the Roll Trim Tool, Envelope Tool and even a Fade Tool that easily helped me customize dissolves. In the end, Edit felt much like a young version of FCPX that worked great with XAVC codecs — and an interface that is clean and relatively easy to understand. If you are looking for bells and whistles, Edit has built-in waveforms and histo- grams, as well as some color plug-ins, blurs, etc. Once finished, export your se- quence easily in stereo or in multichannel audio configurations with codecs such as DNxHD. The exporting dialogue doesn't give you much customization beyond such presets as AVC/AAC (.mp4), which are most likely for YouTube or Vimeo with a Render Preset "Internet 1920x1080- 23.976p." Sony has presets that it thinks works best, that are actually pretty good. IN CONCLUSION I see Prepare and Edit fitting into the workflow of a post house or a production studio where there are only a few people working on projects that primarily film on Sony products. If you have an itch for a focus-based NLE and organizational tool, Sony Catalyst Production Suite might be worth a look. There aren't too many bells and whistles to get you distracted, but it will get the job done, even when working with codecs like XAVC. SONY CATALYST PRODUCTION SUITE A FOCUS-BASED NLE AND ORGANIZATIONAL TOOL VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: Sony PRODUCT: Catalyst Production Suite PRICE: $199.99 (Catalyst Prepare); $399.99 (Catalyst Prepare and Edit) WEBSITE: • Supports all of Sony's Codecs from XDCAM to XAVC S • GPU acceleration supported • Interfaces are easy to use and navigate BY BRADY BETZEL ONLINE EDITOR MARGARITA MIX HOLLYWOOD HOLLYWOOD BRADYBETZEL@GMAIL.COM L

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