Posts Tagged ‘digital video’

The Value of a DIT in Today’s Digital Workflow

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Composite image of flash memory cards, showing...

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File-based work flows in video production have presented an incredible amount of benefits to the overall production process, but they have also demanded that video producers/directors reshape the way they move from production into post-production, and finally, to delivery. One of the key members of a tapeless video crew is the DIT, or Digital Imaging Technician. This individual, depending on the size of the shoot, is responsible for many things, but in my opinion, the most important function of the DIT is managing all of the assets while on location. This means taking the memory cards from the DP or camera assistant and transferring them over to hard drives. Once on the hard drives, a DIT will usually back up those files to a redundant drive and ensure that everything transferred correctly before re-formatting the cards for use again on the set. In addition, a DIT will prep each file for use in post-production and will prepare dailies for the director and the client to review.
For projects with smaller budgets, it may be tempting to forego the services of a DIT and simply let the director, DP, or a production assistant handle the duties of a DIT. Although this approach works, consider the side effects of this approach:

  • Using the director and/or DP to handle this job could slow down the pace of the shoot considerably. Once the cards are full, the director or DP must stop work, start transferring footage, wait for that footage to be transferred, confirm the transfer, reformat the cards, then return to the set. A DIT can handle all of this while the director and/or DP continue their work of shooting, setting up for the next shot, or working with the client and/or talent. This maintains a good work flow throughout the day and ensures that everything stays on schedule.
  • Using a production assistant as a DIT means assigning a less experienced person to do the job. An experienced DIT knows the equipment, knows exactly what he/she is doing, and can properly communicate with the director/DP.

So, even for those shoots that have smaller crews, a good DIT is a valuable asset to the team. However, with the ever-increasing capacity of memory cards, and the ever-decreasing cost of those memory cards, it will become easier for small ENG crews to spend an entire day shooting to memory cards, without ever having the need to transfer and reformat. All of the cards can simply be stored until the end of the day, then transferred at night, and used again the following day. But if the production turn-around is extremely tight, it may be in the producer’s best interest to hire a DIT and allow him/her to transfer all the footage during the course of the day, start prepping for post, and begin work on a rough edit. This will save a lot of time and will allow the producer to get the final video out to the client much quicker.

Ultimately, the use of the DIT depends on the situation, but don’t underestimate the value of that position in the ever-increasing world of tapeless video production.

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Tutorial – Introduction to MPEG Streamclip

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Editors don’t always have the luxury of working with raw files that are entirely the same. Sometimes, footage of varying formats will come in to the studio and editors are required to convert those files into a format suitable for post-production or for sharing via FTP or for upload to a website.

MPEG Streamclip from Squared5 is a video file conversion program available for a free download. In this tutorial we introduce MPEG Streamclip and provide a brief overview on how you can pull footage from a DVD, an existing video file, or even a website, and convert it into a format suitable for your particular project.

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Going Green

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

shoot_greenscreen2Many of our video projects are shot on location, but every so often we have an opportunity to so some green screen work for a client. Shooting a subject against a green screen will allow the video editor to remove the green background and replace it with another of his or her choosing. Green screens are used every day on the evening news when the weatherman delivers the forecast.

Working with a green screen can be tricky, because if not done correctly, you will have nightmares in post production as you try to key out the screen and insert your own background. My recommendation is to shoot some practice footage first before you start work with your client.  Here are a few things I’ve learned from my experiences:

  1. The green screen should have no wrinkles or folds. Any imperfections across the surface of the green screen will result in shadows and hard lines that will be difficult to key out in post.
  2. The green screen should be evenly lit. There should be no shadows and no fall off. The light should be soft and diffused. A light meter will help ensure accuracy.
  3. Create distance between the subject and the green screen. Any light reflecting off the green screen and onto the subject should be eliminated. If not, your subject’s edges will have a green glow when the screen is keyed out. Move your subject as far away from the screen as possible. Then use flags to block any reflected light coming from the screen.
  4. Shoot on a format with the highest-rated color space possible. MiniDV has a color space of 4:1:1. You can use it for green screen work, but it isn’t the best option. Just be aware that there will be some challenges in keying with MiniDV footage. The edges on your subject won’t be perfectly clean. However, if your video is intended only for the web, MiniDV will work for you. Consider this video we produced. It was shot on MiniDV and the client was satisfied with the green screen work. Formats like DVCPro and DVCProHD have a color space of 4:2:2, making them better for keying.

Learning the proper video production techniques takes practice. There’s always something new to learn and the more time you spend shooting and editing, the better your craft will be.

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