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QuickTime MOV File Import into CSMXc UPDATE

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Douglas J
Douglas J's picture
User offline. Last seen 3 years 21 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 13 Nov 2006

We here at Abekas have been busy implementing new features and tidying up the old features in the ClipStoreMXc, and in late October released new software for ClipStoreMXc; known as the "V3.5-RC1" software release. One of the most important features of this software release is the implementation of QuickTime MOV file import. In addition, several new features have been added, with several old bugs repaired. Most all of the ClipStoreMXc's outfitted in the Mobile Television Group (MTVG) trucks are now running this new software?with promises from the EIC?s that all will be updated soon.

In late October, 2007 this newly minted software with MOV file ingest was put to the test, live on-the-air during the broadcast of an NHL hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Dallas Stars?on the New England Sports Network (NESN). The staff at NESN had earlier rendered all of their transitional motion graphics as QuickTime MOV files with video, alpha and audio contained within each MOV file. These files were then transported to the MTVG mobile truck located at the Dallas Stars arena, and ingested via MOV file import into the ClipStoreMXc. While there were some slightly painful learning curves to work around with this new workflow, the ClipStoreMXc went live on the air that evening. Lessons were learned, and information gathered about this new workflow method (see LESSONS LEARNED below).

On Saturday December 1, 2007 the V3.5-RC1 software with MOV file ingest was put through additional paces while live on-the-air, during the HD broadcast of the NHL hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning?again broadcast on NESN. This time, the process went much more smoothly, and the workflow process was carried out without any problems. The on-air look for the graphics also was much improved over the old (SD) videotape ingest method. During this NHL game, the ClipStoreMXc was under direct PBUS control from the Kalypso switcher (no TDC-100 in between, since each MOV file created a separate clip inside the ClipStoreMXc--therefore, there was no need to define each clip from within a gigantic "mega clip").

The Technical Director for the Bruins-Lightning game was Paul Spitzer, and he was able to quickly program the switcher's EMEM registers to load and play each clip?again, with direct control from the Kalypso switcher via PBUS protocol.

LESSONS LEARNED:
During the Dallas Stars-Boston Bruins game in October, the MOV files were ingested directly off the external portable USB disk drive. Since then, we have learned that when the MOV files are copied from the USB disk drive and onto the internal system "C" drive inside the CSMXc, and then imported from that internal ?C? drive, the MOV file import occurs 33% faster (due to Windows overhead of handling USB file transfers). Therefore, during setup for the Tampa Bay Lightning-Boston Bruins game, the NESN MOV files were copied from the portable USB disk drive and into a newly-created ?Watch Folder? on the ClipStoreMXc?s internal ?C? hard drive. Prior to this, the IMPORT utility in ClipStoreMXc was configured to import and automatically delete the MOV files as they were imported from this Watch Folder on the C drive. This method of ingest has two advantages:

? The MOV file ingest occurs 33% faster when the MOV files are imported off the internal C drive, versus when they are ingested directly off the portable USB drive (this is due to a Windows file-handling issue).

? Ensures the original MOV files are preserved on the portable USB drive, in case they need to be imported again (the MOV files are *copied* from the portable drive to the internal C drive).

Note that the Import utility in CSMXc is enabled first, and then the MOV files are copied off the portable USB disk drive and into the Watch Folder; this way, the import utility can begin the import process *while* the MOV file copy is taking place. There is NO need to completely copy all the MOV files before import can begin?both operations can happen simultaneously.

Keep in mind: the MOV file import is not anywhere near real-time. However, when comparing the entire workflow process, in the ?old videotape workflow method? one must consider the time it takes to ingest the two passes from videotape (in real-time) *plus* the time it takes to then use the Lance TDC-100 to define all of the clips from within the gigantic ?mega-clip?. In contrast, the MOV file ingest method by nature already has all of the clips separated into unique clips in the ClipStoreMXc?so that process is eliminated, which makes up for the less-than-real-time MOV files ingest.

I?ve written and posted a PDF on the Abekas FTP Site which details the above ?Watch Folder? method of importing the MOV files from the system C drive. I?ve also created a PDF which details the overall PBUS control of the CSMXc. These two PDF files can be downloaded from:

? ftp://ftp.abekas.com/Abekas_Products/ClipStoreMXc/Documents/Importing_Qu...

? ftp://ftp.abekas.com/Abekas_Products/ClipStoreMXc/Documents/Configuring_...

For any client who will be using the QuickTime MOV file ingest with PBUS control, the above ?Importing QuickTime MOV Files? procedure is quite helpful, to ensure the fastest method of ingest.

LIST OF ADVANTAGES
Here is a short list of reasons why the ?New MOV Import Workflow? is advantageous to the ?Old Videotape Ingest Workflow" (in no particular order):

*Superior Image Quality:* The traditional method of ingest into the ClipStoreMXc has been via videotape?invariably, this has been implemented on standard-definition (SD) analog videotape which is then up-converted to HD for purposes of ingest into the ClipStoreMXc. This videotape ingest process results in rather poor image quality on-air.

In contrast, the MOV ingest into ClipStoreMXc provides pristine digital HD image quality, which is identical to the quality of the graphics originally produced in the studio. And having pristine-quality HD images feeding the downstream transmission compression system (for home viewing) results in a home viewing experience that is vastly improved over the current method of encoding from ?SD up-converted to HD? graphics images.

*Accurate Ingest:* When ingesting from MOV files, the video, key and audio are *always* guaranteed to be frame-accurately aligned; compared to ingesting from two passes of videotape (one pass for video/audio, the other pass for key)?which is prone to having an offset between the various elements.

*More Reliable Control:* The ?old? ingest and control method requires the Lance TDC-100 to be in the control pathway between the switcher (controller) and the ClipStoreMXc (slave). The new MOV file ingest method eliminates the need for the TDC-100, with the switcher directly controlling the ClipStoreMXc. The ?new? workflow therefore has one less point of failure in the control pathway, and is therefore that much more reliable.

*Meaningful Clip Names:* The ?old? workflow had just one very long clip stored in the ClipStoreMXc with each element defined as a timecode ?IN? and ?OUT? point to define each ?clip?. This method therefore provided no meaningful names for each transitional element. In the ?new? workflow, each clip is stored individually, with each clip having its own alpha-numeric name. This clip name is identical to the name given to the MOV file in the studio where the graphics are created; therefore, the ?new? workflow method provides better workflow organization of the all the transitional graphics.

*Easier to Add New Clips:* Part way through any game?s season, there is invariably a need to add new transitional elements or motion clips. The old workflow required ?appending? a portion of a videotape to the end of the ?mega clip? stored inside the ClipStoreMXc. The TD then had to use the Lance TDC-100 to mark and pick out the clips from within the mega clip?and the switcher EMEM registers were then programmed to trigger these new elements.

In contrast, the MOV workflow allows new transitional elements to be directly imported as independent clips, with no need to pick them out from a mega-clip. This makes it easier to safely add new clips.

*Time-Savings | In the Studio:* In the studio where the original transitional graphics are created, software packages such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premier, Apple Final Cut Pro, etc. are used to create the original graphics. And nine times out of ten, these projects are rendered into QuickTime MOV files for purposes of studio archiving. In the traditional workflow, these MOV files are then played out in real-time using accelerator hardware so the elements can be copied to videotape for distribution to the mobile trucks; and this copy is done twice?one pass for video/audio, the other pass for alpha (key). With the ?new? MOV file workflow, this very time-consuming process to create videotapes can be eliminated and replaced with a simple ?drag-and-drop? copy of the rendered MOV files onto a portable USB disk drive.

*Time-Savings | In the Mobile Truck:* Consider the time it takes to ingest two passes of videotape (one pass for video/audio, the other for alpha) for all of the transitional elements; then the time it takes to program the Lance TDC-100 to ?pick out? the individual clips (this is done twice; once for the video/audio portion of the clip, the other for alpha). In contrast, the process to import individual MOV files from a portable USB drive, with no need to program the TDC-100 is overall a bit faster, and has much fewer headaches.

With the above information in mind, please educate and campaign your clients to adopt this new workflow method. I believe this new workflow process features many benefits for all involved. It just takes a small amount of discussion to turn over minds.

Douglas Johnson
Chief Product Manager, Abekas