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A Mission for the U.S. Army with Imagine's video-logger, The Executive Producer®, and Image Mine®

COW Library : Apple Final Cut Pro Legacy : Bill Horneck : A Mission for the U.S. Army with Imagine's video-logger, The Executive Producer®, and Image Mine®
A Mission for the U.S. Army with Imagines video-logger, The Executive Producer, and Image Mine
Creative COW Looks at Imagine Products' The Executive Producer® and Image Mine® in Action!

A Mission for the U.S. Army with Imagine’s video-logger, The Executive Producer®, and Image Mine®”
Bill Horneck
Bill Horneck <wkh@digitalproducers.com>
Minds i No Limits, Corp., Boynton Beach, Florida USA

©2003 Bill Horneck and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Producer Bill Horneck recently tackled the challenge of producing a 28:30 TV show entitled, “Insuring America’s Military Might: A Journey Into Yuma Proving Ground” for the United States Army and the Educational Broadcasting Network of Hollywood, Florida. The show was part of EBN's series “The Green Planet.” In this article, Bill shares the experience and how he relied extensively on Imagine Products’ The Executive Producer® (TEP) for video logging, and Image Mine® for library functions for media asset management.




What do you say to a client who asks you to tell the story of an important U.S. Army installation which is spread across more than a million square acres of Arizona desert, Alaskan wilderness and South American jungle -- that's to be created with a relatively small budget and only 4 days of shooting and that requires the use of stock footage found only in a box of poorly logged VHS, DVcam and MiniDV tapes?

“Lucky for you guys we use the best logging and library system in the business!” was the reply of producer Bill Horneck, when faced with the challenge. And with that said, he and his team recently tackled the challenge of producing a 28:30 TV show entitled, “Insuring America’s Military Might: A Journey Into Yuma Proving Ground” for the United States Army and the Educational Broadcasting Network of Hollywood, Florida for the series “The Green Planet.”

About the project's beginnings, Horneck says: "In my world of TV and video, the belt cinching that's occurred in the past few years has really made it tough to eek out profits and has also caused me to be extremely careful of time management on projects like this one. Production companies and, more importantly, producers who take on challenging assignments must have cost effective, efficient and user-friendly solutions to pull all aspects of the production together so that in the end, everyone’s efforts, investments and talents show up on the screen.

The media asset management (MAM) methods my company has committed to over the last seven years have proven to us to be an invaluable resource which has not only saved time and money for our company -- but in the eyes of our clients, colleagues and vendors, they've given us an edge that lets us be effecient, deliver in a timely manner and do it all within budget."

When asked about his company's tools of choice and how they work within his company, Horneck offers: "These methods rely extensively on two main tools: one is Imagine Products’ The Executive Producer® (TEP) for video logging. The other is Imagine Products Image Mine® for media librarying functions. I firmly believe that MAM is the one essential production solution many producers fail to embrace. To me, it's an extremely useful element when seeking to create profitable, high quality programs and projects without a lot of aggravation. Not only have these tools allowed us to organize ourselves far beyond that of many of our competitors but in doing so, we keep far cooler heads as we can schedule and maintain a lot of control within the parameters of these projected schedules. All too often, we've seen other companies flounder as they wade through things looking for the shot or trying to find things when they are in the stress of the production as it nears a deadline."



From back to front, left to right: Rick Smosky, Director of Photography;
Lauren Simmons, Associate Producer; Brad Lieberman, Audio;
Scott Grody, ExecutiveProducer; and Bill Horneck, Producer.



When asked about the Yuma Proving Ground project, Horneck remembers: "This project kicked off with my associate producer, Lauren Simmons, and myself working in our offices with TEP from early in the script phase. Upon being handed the “big box” of multi-format stock, we immediately transferred it all to BetaSP. Over the course of two weeks, Lauren used her G4 running MacTEP and I used my PC running WinTEP, jumping back and forth between MS Word and our logging screens. We carefully marked and noted all clips within the stock footage that covered scenes we knew we couldn't get on location. Our usual routine is to mark “best of the best” scenes or shots by using “hot key” combinations to quickly grab color reference image, time codes and shot descriptions, which we then cross reference over twelve different fields of our library. We then put a scene number from the script into the clip name in our logs, and the reel and time code from the clip into our script.





While finalizing the shooting script for the Yuma, Arizona shoot days, we could easily retrieve specific shots, such as a desert landscape with soldiers on an M1 Abrams Tank, from our database. The clip’s information was pasted into our shooting script so we knew that scene was covered by stock. We found it quicker to paste our reel number, time code and description information from the logs into the script, even though you can create storyboards in TEP that print out like a script. We also used AV Scripter, which does a great job taking the script text file created in MS Word and automatically updating scene numbers any time you revise the script. On location, the prep work removes any guesswork about what scenes or shots we are missing or have already. It's an efficient way to save time and, ultimately, money.

In Arizona, we set up Lauren’s G4 PowerBook running The Executive Producer for all interviews. The standard on-location setup for us is to “log on the fly”. We take video from the camera, or looped through the monitor, and send it to a USB video capture device plugged into the notebook. This enables us to grab our reference images for clips. For timecode, we connect a BNC cable out of the camera converted to RCA then into a small Horita battery powered Pocket timecode reader.

For the interviews, we preloaded all the questions from our script into TEP’s logging entry window. That way, as I asked each question Lauren marked the timecode IN and OUT for their response, and had time to make a quick description or comment about the byte for reviewing and digitizing back in Florida.

Over the four days, we shot a respectable 15 tapes and nearly 30 percent of it was logged by the time we returned home. Another amazing thing about The Executive Producer is being able to email our logs, which end up looking just like any nicely produced web page, from our location to our clients.





Proving we were getting tons of great footage by keeping everyone in the loop with emailed logs was a terrific confidence builder for the crucial client-producer relationship.

Back in Florida, we spent a week tightening all of our “digi logs,” as I like to call them, by re-marking every great shot or sound byte and then sorting them for post. Keep in mind that the great thing about working this way is that we are not using up an AVID suite for logging at $75.00 to $125.00 per hour. Instead, we’re in our offices multitasking, doing our logging, and keeping our other business needs going while preparing to use budgeted AVID time as wisely and efficiently as possible.

Before the edit, which we always accomplish with the outstanding help of Matt Piercefield at Saygo Studios, we exported and emailed a batch digitize list for every tape to Matt, so he could import them into his AVID before the edit. Digitizing then flew by because all the logging was done. Matt just rode levels and watched the content. Ask any editor who has worked with a well-organized batch digitize list and they will tell you what a luxury and time-saver it is for starting off the edit on the right foot.

Throughout post, I usually sit behind Matt on the couch with my laptop, working on whatever needs to get done. With my entire library of logs on my laptop I am waiting and ready to search Image Mine for any shot or byte Matt needs to finish a scene or improve the story. It's way more productive for me to give him an actual reel number and time code after finding it in a library search, then for him to click around the bins hoping to find what he is looking for.

Although TEP has cross-file searching which works great for a project of several tapes, with Image Mine we can search for any keyword combination across every field in our entire video library. Fields in our system include tape name, project name, the person on cameras name, shot size, shot style, description, camera subject or clip name, overall topic, comment, tape number, production number, client and rights status. During searches you also benefit from seeing a frame grab image, which always helps to bring back memories of the shot and what it was you liked about it.

On this project we saved about four days of the two-week edit that, I feel, other producers probably would have spent searching for clips or logging as they went. Instead, we put those four days back into creative development and telling the story. I also know we saved ourselves a good deal of money by not stressing our editor out with an unorganized, frenzied approach to back-seat editing or unproductive footage searches. By keeping things controlled and efficient, we had no overtime surprises when it came time to pay the bill. For me telling the story is both the challenge and the fun, especially on timely and patriotic projects like this one but there's nothing worse than souring the experience by having to pay more than you planned, or having to ask the client for more money because you didn't have your act together.

I already have my upgrade plan in motion with Imagine Products to transition up to TEPX (The Executive Producer Version X) and Image Mine Gold for the five computers in my office. Armed with many more great features by this summer’s end, I hope to be able to put the best logging and library tools for production to work again on our next mission for E.B.N. and other branches of the armed forces.

If you want more insight into how these tools help us, or how they can improve the way you produce, feel free to send me an email at wkh@digitalproducers.com or visit the folks at Imagine Products on the web at www.imagineproducts.com.

# # #

Bill Horneck has 17 years experience in video production and multimedia services and is founder of Minds i No Limits, Corp., in Boynton Beach, FL (www.digitalproducers.com). During his career he was awarded the prestigious “Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 1990 by the Long Island Association for his start-up, Destinatus Productions. He later served as Senior Producer, Executive in charge of Production and VP of Business Development for Five Star Productions, an Emmy award-winning, leading independent television production company in South Florida.

Minds i No Limits’ philosophy is to use cutting-edge producer’s tools and methods to create programs more efficiently and effectively while enhancing creativity and collaboration. This approach differentiates them from other TV/Video production entities and yields the greatest value to clients and sponsors.

# # #


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