Completion Program w/ Full Sound Track
by James Jaeger

The following steps will result in a broadcast quality analog or digital tape from which demo tapes may be struck. Also, Super 8, if handled correctly per the steps of this program, will provide results on TV which are hardly distinguishable from 16mm and 35mm. This program is for 5 to 30 minute narrative dramatic shows which will train the Producer I/T for 16mm and 35mm features. Paul Gibbons was instrumental in developing this program with me.

1. Shoot the picture and titles with a high quality camera (such as the Elmo 1012s).

2. If shot in Super 8, shoot only Kodak Kodachrome 40 at 24 frames per second and make sure it is perfectly lit and at the exact correct f-stop when shooting indoors at least 125 footcandles. Underexpose the film 1/2 stop (from the exact normal setting) when shooting outside in bright sunlight. Call this the S/8 Original.

3. Use only 50 foot cartridges and make sure you rotate them randomly after each take so if and when a take jams, you will have coverage of alternate takes on alternate 50 foot rolls. If you do otherwise you run the great risk of loosing an entire sequence of takes if a roll jams. The down side of Super 8 is that inevitably a roll will jam on you. This is vital to remember.

4. Circle all wanted takes on the Camera Reports and Script Notes, (and sound reports if using double system).

5. Develop all S/8 footage at a Kodak lab and assemble onto 400 foot reels.

6. On a safe projector, view the S/8 Original, as few times as possible (preferably once) and list all the takes you know you cannot possibly use as well as confirm that the circled takes are what you want.

7. From the 400 ft rolls, make a second set of 400 foot reels, deleting all the No Good (NG) takes.

8. Break the resultant reels of good takes down into individual scenes and wind them, heads out, onto a super 8 flange. Make the Super 8 flange by ripping a side off a plastic 50 foot reel and winding it several times with white editor's tape such that the tape slightly overhangs the winding core to cover the sharp edges. Since white editor's tape is slightly slippery, the tight wound rolls of Super 8 will pop off with a light bit of back winding. Each take should be broken off with the light struck tail still attached, this way a minimum of picture will come in contact with the flange and be scratched during back winding.

9. As the reels are broken down, label and secure each take at the head, with a narrow piece of white editor's tape. The scene/take number should be written on the tape with a black "Sharpie."

10. Starting with the main titles and then scene 1, take 1, place all the breakdown rolls of each scene on a clean table in scene/angle/take sequence.

11. Assemble the entire film, with good Circa super 8 splicer, in script sequence order, until you get to the end titles. Make sure your splices are double sided and perfect. For this assembly, use only 1-hour long super 8 reels (in super 8 time). The less reel changes the transfer house has to make the less time they take and the less your hourly transfer bill will be. Do not make up reels any longer than an hour as these are the easiest tape lengths to use in 1-inch and 3/4". Call this the Assembled S/8 Original.

12. Send the S/8 footage to be transferred to video tape (with density correction) to a house that has a super 8 gate on a (Rank Cintel) flying spot scanner (such as Versatile Video, Sunnyvale, California does at the date of the creation of this memo). The Assembled S/8 Original should be simultaneously transferred to 1" highband video tape, 3/4" broadcast quality, 1/2-inch VHS, and a 1/4" audio tape (in four track mode). The 1-inch video tape, the 3/4 and 1/2 inch video tapes, as well as the 1/4-inch audio tape should all carry the production audio on track 1. A synchronous timecode must be simultaneously placed on each transfer element in track 2. Call these the 1G Edit Masters and prefix this term with 1", 3/4" or 1/2" as appropriate. Call the sound transfer the 1/4" Audio Protection Master.

13. The VHS copy should have the timecode burned into the picture as well as it audio track. If you are planning on definitely making a 1-inch, you can skip making the 3/4" and work off-line in 1/2 inch only. If you are not sure whether you would like to go all the way to 1-inch, yet leave this option open at a minimum cost, you might choose to work in 3/4 and end up with a 3/4 edited master. Some forms of 1/2" tape look as good as 3/4" so the choice is yours. This program will assume to are going to edit off-line in either 1/2" or 3/4", with a view towards using this as the finished product, yet retaining the option of completing in 1-inch as well. Thus the 3/4" off-line will not have timecode burned into the picture area if you want to use it as a show piece. As mentioned above, a 1/2" simultaneous copy with timecode burned into the picture (a "window dub"), can be made for the purpose of "paper cutting" the show before going into a 3/4 or 1/2" "cuts only" edit bay or more expensive title and effects edit bay. You could use this instead of cutting your S/8 Original, as below explained. I will use the term "3/4-inch", to include 1/2" as well, for this discussion.

14. Be sure all timecodes placed onto any of the elements are not done so such that they are at too high a gain otherwise they will bleed into the dialogue track. This is VERY important.

15. After the transfers and original come back, physically check all tape transfers to make sure they in fact have been properly done and you are satisfied with the quality. This may involve renting a half hour of 1" and 3/4" machine-time to high-speed through the tape - but it is necessary.

16. You can edit your Super 8 original as a work print under the condition that you never plan on needing it again in its pristine state. If you cannot afford a video editing system or the hourly rate, you may save money by first editing the Super 8. If you do not want to put your Super 8 original at risk, you can paper cut your 1/2" window dub as above mentioned.

17. To edit the Super 8 as a work print, have the Assembled S/8 Original edge coded.

18. When the Assembled S/8 Original is back from the coding house, roll through it with a super 8 viewer and log the start and stop edge code for each take in a book.

19. In the same log book, log the start and stop time code on a video tape transfer such that the film edge code and the tape time code are easily cross referenced.

20. Edit the Assembled S/8 Original and call this the S/8 Edit Master. Make careful notes as to where fades, dissolves and any special effects should be. Note what sound needs to be doctored up and what music should be where. Cut the title sequence. Make sure there is enough overlap into picture for any anticipated dissolves or fades.

21. From the S/8 Edit Master, make a "negative cut" log of the resultant edge codes from the footage. Opposite this log, find the correlating timecode numbers for these takes and assemble this log for use in the off-line editing room.

22. Rent a cuts only editing room that can handle your 1G Edit Master. These cost about $10 - $20 per hour in California. Book one 10 hour day for each 5-6 minutes of finished film time. You should be able do, or have a quality edit of a 30 minute film in about six or seven full days, not including titles, music or sound effects work. This would be about 5-6 pages of script per day.

23. If you require superimposed titles over picture, edit the beginning and the end of the show where titles will be superimposed, onto two separate tapes of broadcast quality. Layover the picture time code into track 1 and the dialogue into track 2. Call the resulting cassettes the 2G Head Master and the 2G Tail Master.

24. Take both the 2G Head Master and the 2G Tail Master, as well as the 1G Edit Master containing titles into an editing room that can do A & B Roll Editing. These rooms cost over $100 per hour and usually at least $150 per hour. If you know what you are doing in video editing and you know what you want - it does not "save" money to go to a cheap room as the inferior operating speed of the equipment and technicians usually make these sessions take much longer hence you spend more money. If you don't know what you are doing or what you want, go to the cheapest edit bays possible. These usually deliver quality picture and sound but they operate slower because they are less computerized and the operators less trained. Fast picture and sound manipulation, and excellent operation, and standard picture quality (such as the Sony 5800 series) is what you pay for at expensive bays - and as I said it is worth the expense if you know that you want and what you are doing.

25. On a broadcast quality, show length, pre-blacked cassette, with 2 minutes of color bars and tone at the head, blend 2G Head Master and the titles from the 1G Edit Master together, by fading up the titles as required. Place the resulting timecodes of picture onto track 1 and the timecode of titles onto track 2. Call this the 3G Head Master. If a floppy disc can retain the relative position of the title timecoded and the picture timecoded and be used for auto assembly, skip the next two steps and just walk out of the editing session with 3G Head Master with picture timecode in track 1 and original production audio in track 2. Again, I emphasize using a show length tape for the 3G Head Master - the reason you will see below.

26. If no floppy disc, edit decision list technology is available, using the 3G Head Master - pull a direct copy retaining all timecodes on the audio tracks exactly as they are. Verify that these title and picture timecodes can be read for later auto assembling. Call this the Timecode 4G Head Master and put this aside.

27. Then, auto assemble the production dialogue audio track from the 2G Head Master over the titles timecode track on the 3G Head Master.

28. Repeat the above process, on a separate piece of tape, for the 3G Tail Master.

29. What you want to walk out of the session with is the following:

a. A show length, broadcast quality cassette with color bars and tone at the head, the title sequence of the show complete with superimposed titles, dialogue on track 2 and picture timecode on track 1, not bleeding through to track 2.

b. A readable copy of the title piece with the timecode of the picture on track 1, and a timecode of the titles on track 2. or on a floppy disc with all timecode information.

c. A broadcast quality cassette with the end title sequence of the show complete with superimposed titles, dialogue on track 2 and picture timecode on track 1, not bleeding through to track 2.

d. A readable copy of the end title piece with the timecode of the picture on track 1, and a timecode of the end titles on track 2 or on a floppy disc with all timecode information.

30. Do not place the END TITLES on the 3G Head Master but on a separate piece of tape and call it your 3G Tail Master. This is vital and will be explained below.

31. Onto the 3G Head Master, (which will have color bars and finished titles, by this point if done right), continue video editing the rest of the show until you get to the last scene.

32. As you edit the show, keep careful track of its running time. Lengthen or shorten each scene slightly so you will come in at the correct running time by the time the show is edited. You are virtually doing a fine cut the first time through.

33. When you arrive at the last scene of the show, get out your 3G Tail Master and edit this onto the end of the last scene of the show. This is why the end titles must be on a separate cassette, as above advised. What would you do if, at the title session, you had placed it on the 3G Head Master along with the main titles? You would of had to have duped it off the 3G Head Master, thus making a further generation Tail Master (a 4G Tail Master), to cut it into the end of the show. Then the end of the show would end up having a fifth generation section of tape, or a 5G Tail Master. The end of the show would look degraded as you do not want to end up with a master any more than 4 Generations old (4G).

34. If you follow the above method, you will arrive with a finished, viewable, show, in the minimum possible number of generations without auto assembling from the 1G Edit Masters. You will have a high quality 3/4" or 1/2" cut of the show, ready to finish the sound and capable of making copies from as the body of the show will only be a second generation tape from a film transfer. You will be poised in a position to make, at any time a super high quality auto assembled 1-inch of the show, if or when you need to, and this will be entirely a second generation tape or broadcast quality.

35. The finished, cut show with titles, we will rename the 2G Master, (even though it was cut on the 3G Head Master). This 2G Master should retain the dialogue in audio track 2 and the picture timecode in audio track 1.

36. From the 2G Master, make at least three video 3/4" copies of the show. These copies will be used as sound effects tracks and music tracks. Each copy must retain picture timecode on track 1, but have no sound recorded on track 2. In other words they are time coded picture tapes with the dialogue track (track 1) empty. Sound effects and music should be recorded, at the proper places, on track 2 of each tape. This is easy to spot, because you have picture as a guide so you can easily cross index exact frame position by looking at the 2G Master. Use the cheapest recycled tape stock for the sound effects and good new stock for the music.

37. Build as many fx and music tracks as you wish on the video tapes so long as the are time coded, each to each, the same.

38. Create a mixdown cue sheet of the entire show's audio.

39. In sync to the timecoded picture, drop all the music and fx tracks onto individual tracks on an 8, 16 or 24 track audio master. Call this the Multi Track Master. Do not use any tape format smaller than 1" audio. Make sure the Multi Track Master carries the exact timecode from the 2G Master on track 1. Keep track 2 of the Multi Track Master empty to avoid crosstalk. Place split dialogue tracks from the 2G Master into tracks 3 and 4, the music into tracks 5 and 6, and the sound FX into the remaining tracks, 7 & 8. If you need more tracks, use 16 track, 2-inch tape. Never use 1/2" tape for a multi track master even if you only need 4 tracks. Very few quality mixing studios and 1-inch edit bays can handle 1/2" multi track tape.

40. Have an off-line mix session and get the sound balanced the way you want it. Mix down onto multi track, 1" tape, placing the timecode in track 1, leaving track 2 blank, placing dialogue into track 3 and the music and sound FX mix into track 4. Always keep the dialogue on a separate track from music and effects (M&E Track) incase foreign versions are someday desired as the dialogue track can be replaced without contending with the M&E track. Call this the Audio Mix Master.

41. Once the Audio Mix Master is done and plays properly with the 2G Master, decide on the exact timecode location of all fades, dissolves and other video fx, if you have not already done so and make a timecode floppy disc containing all edit decisions, called an edit decision list or EDL.

42. Auto assemble, and color correct, the 1-inch tape from the EDL including all fades, dissolves and video fx. Place a timecode on one of the tracks of the 1-inch if the audio mix cannot be laid back simultaneously onto the 1-inch during the auto assembly.

43. Layback onto the 1-inch auto assembled tape Audio Mix Master, if not already done during auto assembly just mentioned.

44. Pull a 1-inch protection master and simultaneously one (or more) 3/4" inter master(s).

45. Make 1-inch distribution copies from the original 1-inch (if not a large quantity) and 3/4" and/or 1/2" distribution copies from the protection master(s) as needed.

For questions or consulting on the above or current technology, contact BackBone Enterprises at 800/576-2001.

NOTE: Permission is granted by the copyright owner to disseminate this article in whole or in part provided credit is given to the author (with a link to the article's source URL)
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