by July 4, 2002 0 comments

The hero at Rashika Videotech, the studio doing post-production work for TV serial Sansaar, is Avid Xpress. Rashika Videotech runs about eight different machines with Avid

In the setup we visited, Avid Xpress runs on a G4 Mac with 800 MHz processing power and 256 MB memory. The hard
disk array is external and contains about 173 GB of space (expandable). The software uses its own proprietary video hardware and the display is two 19” monitors with a set of speakers. Attached to this, is a component monitor that shows the results of editing on the fly.

The serial is shot on location–in a palatial house with well manicured lawns and perfect inhabitants to match–and footage is
captured on beta tapes. These tapes are sent to Rashika where Avid Xpress takes over. 

Take 1: Digitizing video
The first step is to convert analog video into digital and is done with what is called batch digitizing. On the beta tape, the ‘OK’ shots–the ones approved for the final tape–are marked on the basis of their time stamps. These stamps are fed into Avid Logger and the software captures shots in digital format, giving the editor a much-needed break, or as was the case when we visited them, a soccer break.

One minute of broadcast quality, high-resolution video takes about a gigabyte of space on hard disk. Thus, one episode of 20 minutes can be stored on 18 GB. Since raw footage is a couple of hours long for this episode and hard disk space is limited, the initial capture into digital format is of low resolution. After editing the episode, batch digitizing is used to upgrade video into high, broadcast-quality resolution that is captured on beta or digibeta tapes.

Raw footage on hard disk is stored as video clips in what are called bins. You can see clips by name or as frames. You can create your own shortcuts for various settings and effects, save them and take them anywhere–on to timeline, for instance.

Take 2: Color correction
You can do color correction on the cuts and adjust brightness and contrast. For instance, you can temper a red colored cloth if it is too bright on screen. You can control volume from here as well.

Take 3: On the timeline
To start editing, you can directly put frames from the bin onto timeline. The timeline has eight audio and video layers and it is here that the raw footage is turned into the tight, finished product you see on screen.

There are several things you can do on timeline. You can change the sequence of cuts by drag and drop. You can trim the cut by putting your cursor from where you want to trim it and press U on the keyboard. Similarly, for trimming the head–the beginning of the shot, press Y. These changes happen on the fly. You can join two cuts so that the other starts while the audio of one is playing.

Take 4: Giving effects
Effects reside in Tools>Effect Palette and Effect Editor and you can drag shortcuts for both on timeline. From the latter, you can do color correction and give effects like the ‘negative’ film effect in horror or flashback scenes. From the former, you can give borders, animate border, increase its width or make the outlines soft. 

Remember the PIP effect in Doordarshan serials where a small moving picture would touch the four corners or move around the center? Or the Sony style of ending each serial where the picture moves to half of the screen and titles roll up? All these and many more effects like these are possible here.

You can put effects on one frame and drag and drop to all other frames on the timeline where you want to apply them. Use the feature called expert render if you want to put one effect on all layers of a cut. Here, the software renders only the top-most layer instead of all layers and plays effects on all layers in real time.

Take 5: Playing with audio
We come to the audio layers. The audio mix tool can increase or decrease volume and includes an audio equalizer. Other features include a hiss filter to remove background noise and plugins for special effects like echo. 

While the Consolidate feature removes unwanted footage stored on your hard disk, the custom sift feature lets you find clips in a bin.

With Avid Xpress (costing between Rs 13,00,000-21,00,000), you’re limited to effects the software provides. A more advanced option, Avid Media Composer, used in film editing, grants flexibility to create your own effects. 

Media Composer comes in three versions, the lowest being for Rs 25,00,000 while the highest for about Rs 60,00,000. Avid Xpress DV, an editing solution that works with DV format, is a low-cost alternative for about Rs 4,50,000. 

Contact: Real Image, Mumbai. Tel: 022-8311112 E-mail: 

Pragya Madan in Mumbai. We thank Kavita, Lawrence, and Rashika Videotech for their inputs

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