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HD Film Blog: Post-Production Underway for 'Closing Escrow'

Here's the latest in a series of blogs on the production of the motion picture "Closing Escrow," a SAG Modified Low-Budget Feature that is now being produced in HD in Los Angeles. This week's blogger is Director Armen Kaprelian:
Nov. 1, 2005

"OK, we made it through Principle Photography in one piece. We ended up shooting 56 hours of footage. Now the challenge is getting all that into our NLE [non-linear editing]. We decided to use FCP 5 because of the multi-cam editing feature, and for its ability to import 4 tracks of audio in one pass. That should really speed us up, considering at least 30 percent of our film was shot with 2 cameras and 4 mics.
"In trying to speed up the logging process, I had employed my assistant editor on the set to translate the notes from our script supervisor into an FCP file on my Powerbook. This helped us out immensely by giving us a head start in digitizing. The problem was that we had a void of information when our run-and-gun style of shooting out-paced our logging workflow (B unit insert shots).
"So when it came time to digitize, we had to fill in some of the sequences by actually watching each tape and logging the takes the old fashioned way. That wasn't so bad. What really slowed us down was the control track breaks in the master tapes. Our time code was always clean but broken control track (most likely resulting from the camera powering down mid-tape) would result in us having to re-digitize a few takes per tape.
"What should have taken us 1.5 hours to digitize each tape actually turned into 2 hours. That translated into some long nights as we only had a fixed amount of time/money to use the HDCAM deck.
"The system was set up to go out from the HDCAM deck through the HD pipe and into FCP at a low rez. That image was looking soft, so we decided to come out of the SD pipe with the following combination:
"From our 24 fps HDCAM tapes downconverted to SDI @ 30 fps with a 3:2 pulldown out of the deck. The signal was then sent with a window burn into our Blackmagic decklink card which performed the reverse 3:2 pulldown and translated it back to 24 fps SD. The anamorphic selection in FCP completed our footage's long and scary journey.
"We had hoped to come into FCP with the DV codec but it was dropping frames for some unknown reason. We didn't have the time to figure out why, so the team decided to import using the photo JPG codec. This was fine except for one problem--multicam editing in FCP 5 is based on the dynamic RT engine. Because photo JPG doesn't need to be compressed in RT, it won't work in the multi-clip environment. So, we'll be editing multi-cam takes the old fashioned way.
"Despite these few setbacks, post-production on 'Closing Escrow' is way ahead of schedule. We copied the 380 Gig capture scratch folder from our X-Drives to our 500GB G-tech Firewire drive. That allows us to occasionally work from home on our Powerbooks for those days when you just don't feel like putting on pants.
"We look forward to getting through the online process and getting the film out to market."

Armen Kaprelian