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Wiring “Conan”

CreativeCOW presents Wiring “Conan” -- Art of the Edit Feature

The studio taping of "Conan" starts at 4:30 Pacific, and runs in real time. It ends at 5:30, and we have to have everything in Atlanta by 8 PM Pacific time, 11 PM Eastern, when the show starts to air.

Act One can run anywhere from 10 minutes to as much as 18, and is the only one I get to actually watch. I listen to the director, the AD and the tape AD to see if there any camera fixes that need to happen, or note if there are any words that need to bleeped. After that comes a two to three minute break that commercials will fit into when it airs, and the time when I get to work. My goal is to have the edit notes for Act One completed by the time Act Two finishes on stage.

The nine stage cameras are run through a 180x256 Trinix NXT router into the production trailer, and ingested to the Grass Valley K2 Summit server. The system can record six 3D cameras, or four matte/fill pairs, but, using ChannelFlex, we're taking in 12 single-channel feeds. That includes ISOs of cameras 1-9 from the stage, a line cut from the switcher, a program backup, and a recording of the nine-way screen split so that we can see all the cameras at once as reference during the edit. We have 6 ingest crates that allow for the 12 feeds.

As backup, we're recording the program feed of the studio into Edit 2, 3 and 4, leaving Edit 1 available to me to start editing right away. Those program feeds are recorded at DVCPRO HD 1080i/60 at 29.97fps through AJA Kona 3 cards with AJA's VTR Exchange software, to 2TB CalDigit VR drives.

Our third-level backup is nine XDCAMs rolling all the ISOs and the primary line cut in Ingest. The full-resolution files are recorded to Grass Valley's native format, and we work with QuickTime reference movies: 8 tracks of audio, a time code track, an XML file, and a thumbnail, all contained in a folder. File structure on our 80TB K2 SAN can become folder-intensive, so Grass Valley created software called GVConnect, which they developed with Apple. It's basically a Final Cut Pro plug-in that we launch from the Tools menu, or from custom keyboard shortcuts that we've mapped. We then use the K2 Dyno system to control the ingesters and to start managing the media.

I have a template that I've made for the show composite, which already has a timeline that's striped with one-hour drop frame time code, color bars and tone, and a slate with our stage 15 logo on it. When I'm ready to edit in Final Cut Pro, I select the bin I want clips to fall into, and use the GVConnect software to navigate to the clips I'll need.

One of the cool things about the Grass Valley system is that we can edit with growing files. We have access to those clips just ten to fifteen seconds after they have started rolling onto the SAN. We simply do a refresh, and media is added accordingly.


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GV Connect operating inside Final Cut Pro.






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