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View Full Version : VT3, BetaSP, Nuendo, 10TB Server and the Future



bradl
12-08-2003, 10:11 PM
Sorry such a long post but thought it might be interesting to some...

My Audio Department recently converted to Nuendo (XP) from Sonic Solutions (MAC). Our normal work flow was they supply the VO's and other tracks on CD (WAV highest quality) then I print-to-tape (usually BetaSP, more later) our finished video pass with scratch audio for them to edit and/or sweeten then layback the finished piece to the Beta tape.

They have a BetaSP in the Audio Suite so they could acquire from that machine and lock it up and have it track for a visual reference as they worked on the their timeline. Occasionally, they would patch in a Digibeta and work from there.

Usually they are not pleased with the audio tracks I have provided out of VT3. Either it was too hot, too low, distored, noisy, bleed through on panned tracks, etc. This was dispite my attempts at suppling the best I could from my system. It was usually good enough to procede but always bothered me. Finally, Newtek enabled the SDI (AES) audio and things improved but that is only enabled on the input and NOT the output. So my final out still is sub-par. Hope they fix the digital out soon...

Today, I rendered the entire roughed-in project (so far) to a highly compressed AVI (MPEG4) but with Uncompressed PCM audio at the highest levels; it is 32 minutes long. Got it down to about 550MB and burned a CD (they are not networked- isolated for protection). Mark, the audio engineer, copied the file to his HD and loaded it in Nuendo. He was very pleased. He said the audio was pristine, and the video looked great, automatically popped up in a window and put a thumbnail track across the timeline.

Very cool!

We have moved one step closer to a tapeless studio!

Our next goal we are in the planning stages for, is a huge expandable ~10TB server for all of us to share. Unfortunately, we most likely will be going with 4 FCP G5 systems with SDI/HD I/O. We have a huge work flow of long format, uncompressed, and as much as I would like to try, I just don't see VT3 up to the task. But it will continue to be a big part of our Graphics/Animation/Spot production workflow.

Comments welcome!

tmon
12-09-2003, 01:10 AM
1. Why Nuendo over Sonic Solutions? Just curious, particularly since the NLE's are going to be Mac-based.

2. In addtion to implementing VT[x] SDI output, I've wondered, what if the bit depth were increased to 24-bit, rather than 16? That would give VT[3] audio more dynamic range, wouldn't it?

3. It is very easy to distort the signal when digitizing to VT. At least, when BC, works, I can recapture things more quickly... Why was today's 32 minute uncompressed PCM audio accepted differently than previous tracks that you have delivered? Because it went straight to CD, not analogue tape?

Do you utilize AFM audio tracks on your BetaSP or just longitudinal tracks? I think AFM has a better signal to noise ratio....

4. Just to confirm, it was the SDI I/O and HD capabilities that settled the decision to go with FCP/G5's? I guess it's hard to argue with that. We're looking into HD, and can't help but consider the Mac G5 options.

5. Will the workflow be to acquire everthing to the server (digitzing, recording VO's, etc.), then everybody pull the files onto local workstations for editing, etc., before putting stuff back onto the server?

6. What will you be doing for archival?
Is there a database front end for asset management?

djlithium
12-09-2003, 02:38 PM
Hi Brad.

Your approach is technically correct in transfering things around a non-networked studio but I am concerned about your using MPEG4 for video. Of course if it gets the job done, then cool.

Now, here is a shocker.

Have you attempted to load Nuendo onto your VT3 and use Directshow windowed playback? I think you may find that you can use another (onboard) sound card and dump stuff to tape in a similar way, lock it up and drop your video in two passes.

I run my T3 here at Imagecorp with both the on-board soundcard audio and the T3 running at the same time. Many people think this is going to screw up the world, but I have been doing this for sometime with great success. And its very handy in a lot of situations.

By switching your "preferred audio device" in the control panel under audio, sound, multimedia for your hardware back and fourth you can do some interesting stuff. I wish NewTek would allow you in the audio mixer, to map audio from any source to output to that hardware device that you have active or enabled. Running more then one soundcard in a system is not that hard, of course the T3 card is not ASIO so it become a bit more difficult to manage the devices properly.

I am going to do some tests here, but I think, if you are able to play Newtek RTV or AVI files back in another applciation, and that application uses another sound device (ie premiere, nuendo), you should get locked audio and video. If not, figuring out the number of frames offset should not be rocket science.

The point of all of this, is that if you have a spiffy soundcard or optical audio out and want to run the audio from a AVI or RTV out to a deck with video using SDI (for video out) and Optical audio out, you probably can and get better audio out of your system as a result. I am going to do some basic playing around here and get some of my other sound applications to talk to Toaster3.

I will list my results here.

ArthurDent
12-09-2003, 05:45 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by taiji
[B]1. Why Nuendo over Sonic Solutions? Just curious, particularly since the NLE's are going to be Mac-based.

Taiji,
I thought I would give Brad a break and try to answer some of this for you. I work about 4 feet from Brad. Actually, the only thing between us is an old sgi. Our audio tech chose Nuendo for his personal reasons after working with Sonic for a number of years. Our video NLE plans were not really a large part of his thought process, but just his workflow and future expansion. We also have been put on hold for atleast a year, and had we been on a similar timetable, we might have gotten more coordination.

3. It is very easy to distort the signal when digitizing to VT. At least, when BC, works, I can recapture things more quickly... Why was today's 32 minute uncompressed PCM audio accepted differently than previous tracks that you have delivered? Because it went straight to CD, not analogue tape?

That is my guess. We have not had good success with the audio on our print to tapes. We have tried a variety of tweaks and settings, adjustments etc, but , frankly, in my estimation, it is just a weakness. Keeping it internal was a better bet. We have not ruled out the fact that we may have wiring issues, but the video is excellent, so go figure.


4. Just to confirm, it was the SDI I/O and HD capabilities that settled the decision to go with FCP/G5's? I guess it's hard to argue with that. We're looking into HD, and can't help but consider the Mac G5 options.

This is an area we are not 100% sold on. We do not want to make a costly mistake. We could potentially have the budget to go Avid, but we do not like the closed system. We also have to look at our entire workflow, team of people, and the general caliber of editor we can attract to our facility. VT3 has some great features when taken as a whole package, but noone else would be using the switcher, Mirage, LW, CG etc, just the editor (well, maybe CG). It is important to us to go with a mature product that does not require a lot of tweaking and fine tuning. That is just not our staff. VT3 seems to need that kind of diligence. We like the very open architecture, but it could cause some problems.
But HD is a big factor. We have invested in HD cameras and to not position ourselves for that kind of transition would not make sense to the people writing the checks.

5. Will the workflow be to acquire everthing to the server (digitzing, recording VO's, etc.), then everybody pull the files onto local workstations for editing, etc., before putting stuff back onto the server?

Eventually that would be the goal, but we are realistically going to have to phase that in. Storage/capacity will determine how much of this we will be able to do. Because we work in long format, keeping hours of footage on hand for six months before we use it, etc, we are trying to think through how best to utilize the server. I do not think we will be able to start with a couple of hundred terabytes. One scenatio is this:
1. We would love to have some G5's dedicated to capture - virtual vtr's. That material offlined and archived and dumped, ready fotr the next week.
2. That material would then stay off the server until a decision was made to put it in the braodcast schedule.
3. Like you mention, everything would be used from the server and pulled into workstations, and then put bakc on the server to be used by duplication and our uplink station. We also have to fit closed captioning into our workflow and we would like them to have access to the server.

6. What will you be doing for archival?
Is there a database front end for asset management?

These are the questions we are dealing with and feel somewhat overwhelmed by it all. To be honest we just don't know. We are looking hard at options in both of these categories. Archival is the pink elephant standing in the corner and asset management need to be solid. This is partly why Avid keeps popping up and why Toaster is not a serious contendor for this phase of our growth.

I'm sure Brad will add more specifics if he hasn't already beat me to the punch with his post.

ArthurDent
12-09-2003, 05:49 PM
djlithium.

The mpeg4 was only for reference in the Nuendo. It actually worked out well for him as opposed to cueing up the beta to check his sync with the video.

If we were to add Nuendo to our gear, what would the audio guys do? we can't put them out of a job?


:D

djlithium
12-09-2003, 06:24 PM
Sure you can put them out of a job.
In my tests this afternoon with Cubase VST 5.0 (haven't got Nuendo here, only at home) I was able to pull up the seperated WAV file and call for the AVI video from the drives and play it back in perfect sync out my on-board audio card. You can do all of your sweetening on the VT3 using Nuendo or CubaseVST and another sound card. I even got it to work ok with the VT card, but video playback does not show up on the video switch as a direct show source.

the solution to that is getting newtek to make a plug in for VST and Nuendo to pull that direct show source into VT. From there, you hit playback on your audio mixing app and out to tape.

You can even get TC output from it if you have a proper TC card in the box.

:)


Sound cool? Definitly.

RomainR
12-09-2003, 07:17 PM
Brad, Arthur,

How is your audio routed to the Beta decks?

bradl
12-09-2003, 08:32 PM
Originally posted by taiji
1. Why Nuendo over Sonic Solutions? Just curious, particularly since the NLE's are going to be Mac-based.
Mark's dept. just got the Euphonix System 5-B Digital Audio Mixing System. See link to article about our system:Euphonix At GETV (http://www.euphonix.com/news/news2003/080603_getv.htm). This is considered one of the most advanced (and expensive) system on the planet. For years he fought with different issues concerning Mac's and Sonic's software and grew more and more dissatisfied. The Euphonix installer encouraged him to make the switch to Nuendo, and he has been loving it, big time.

2. In addtion to implementing VT[x] SDI output, I've wondered, what if the bit depth were increased to 24-bit, rather than 16? That would give VT[3] audio more dynamic range, wouldn't it?

Not being a audio engineer, I honestly don't know if bit depth increase would help. It wouldn't make setting or reproducing at proper levels any better. Things I do know that have played a role in the problems:

1. Lack of professional connectors (XLR balanced) for analog audio
2. No VU or db reference for input or output
3. Changing specs with new builds
4. Lack of tools to process audio
5. Only -40db seperation between tracks
6. No AES out


3. It is very easy to distort the signal when digitizing to VT. At least, when BC, works, I can recapture things more quickly... Why was today's 32 minute uncompressed PCM audio accepted differently than previous tracks that you have delivered? Because it went straight to CD, not analogue tape?

AuthorDent (aka Mike - a Hitchhiker's Guide fan) nailed this one. We always worked off tape from our Digital On-line Suite (Axial 3K Editor, DD-35 Production Switcher, Dveous 2 Channel, DESAM 820, Chyron Max, Digibeta's, BetaSP's, and D-9) and have only recently moved much of the spot production into the VT3. Would have moved to VT NL sooner but VT2 was not good enough. VT3 still cannot match the quality and over-all look of our old Linear spots, but it is very close. The NL workflow keeps the productions more flexible, plus integration of LW, Mirage, DFX and Jumpback clips are much easier.


Do you utilize AFM audio tracks on your BetaSP or just longitudinal tracks? I think AFM has a better signal to noise ratio....

We only really use Ch. 1&2 off of SP because 3&4 get wiped out with video edits and is not really practical. Now on field tapes AFM makes more sense. The signal to noise off of longitudinal tracks is very good and for first or second generation, acceptable. Now Digibeta is another story; 4 fully editable tracks of AES, and pre-read to boot. Sony Digibeta is the closest thing to perfection in the SD world. D-5 is technically better, but not at all practical or affordable.


4. Just to confirm, it was the SDI I/O and HD capabilities that settled the decision to go with FCP/G5's? I guess it's hard to argue with that. We're looking into HD, and can't help but consider the Mac G5 options.

Here again Mike covered this. FYI, I hate Macs. Have had to use and administer several for my Mother-in-law since the Macintosh Classic (you know the one, with the 9" B/W screen). So that is my only worry about going with FCP. But the G-5 with the UNIX based code sounds like it may be up to the task. Honestly, we won't edit HD for some time yet... VT5 or 6 would probably be considered but who has time to wait. Now is all that matters. Lastly, we need certifed FC/SAN connectivity and for some reason, Newtek does not have any desire whatsoever in persuing that at this time.


5. Will the workflow be to acquire everthing to the server (digitzing, recording VO's, etc.), then everybody pull the files onto local workstations for editing, etc., before putting stuff back onto the server?

No. We are trying to set it up with shared access via 2Gb Fiber Channel Switch with RAID 5-0, like Rorke Data's Galaxy 60 RAID running Rorke ís ImageSan file-sharing application. Our source material is used by several editors, creating several different programs with different lengths and customized graphics and 'tags' so the SAN, if it works, would be perfect. Each workstation may end up having a good chunk of HD space for frequently used material, just to minimize the FC bandwidth usage.


6. What will you be doing for archival?
Is there a database front end for asset management?

You know, that is the same question I have been asking for several years now... Any suggestions? We have looked at several systems like massive data tape systems, robotic DVD systems, etc. but as it stands now, we will try to keep as much on HD's as possible and layoff the footage to tape or keep the original sourch tapes for re-digitization later if needed. Wish they would hurry up and bring to market that 100Tb, sugar-cubed sized storage media I have been reading about for 10 years now! Sony is working on a professional 100Gb DVD based device (blue laser), and a consumer version 27Gb one shipping any day now but beyond that the rest is just vapor-ware... AFAIK

bradl
12-09-2003, 08:55 PM
Originally posted by djlithium
Your approach is technically correct in transfering things around a non-networked studio but I am concerned about your using MPEG4 for video. Of course if it gets the job done, then cool.

DJ, I was looking for maximum video compression with Uncompressed audio. Since this was the first attempt with Nuendo and video, we were not sure what would work. My first try was MJPEG at the lowest level but it was 2 or 3 times the capacity of a CD-Rom and besides Mark didn't need or want a file that big. The video is just for reference. Considered DIVX 5.x.x next but that seemed a bit too extreme. Next, I considered WMV (9) but wasn't sure if he had that loaded yet so went with MPEG4 as a test. What would you suggest?



Have you attempted to load Nuendo onto your VT3 and use Directshow windowed playback? I think you may find that you can use another (onboard) sound card and dump stuff to tape in a similar way, lock it up and drop your video in two passes.

Have considered installing Nuendo on my VT workstation, but the expense and not really wanting to learn a new piece of software right now (I have a lot on my plate!) have delayed that. Any audio that is basic and can be done in VT3, I do, anything beyond that, its off to the Audio Dept. They have all the tools, the expertise, the music libraries, etc. so why fight the system, you know what I mean?



I am going to do some tests here, but I think, if you are able to play Newtek RTV or AVI files back in another applciation, and that application uses another sound device (ie premiere, nuendo), you should get locked audio and video...

...run the audio from a AVI or RTV out to a deck with video using SDI (for video out) and Optical audio out, you probably can and get better audio out of your system as a result.

If Nuendo could play RTV now that may be workable. Conversly, if Newtek would add VTR Emulation or TC Chase to the Timeline or a DDR (Aussie is looking into this) then VT3 would lock to Nuendo for reference and final output I suppose.

Optical out (converted to AES?) sounds like an improvement, but just fixing the VT code and using the SDI card would be much better for me.

bradl
12-09-2003, 09:06 PM
Originally posted by RomainR
How is your audio routed to the Beta decks?

Romain, we use our Digital Router I/O to VT3 and everything in the Digital Edit Suite. So I have a router head right next to VT3, which is nice. All signals in the Suite are digital except for the last 3 feet before the analog decks. We use Mirada A/D and D/A converters for video. However, analog audio (and video when appropriate) is routed at the same time (from the Digi-Bus converters, the DESAM analog outs, or natively out of a deck).

So bottom line is, analog to the betas, either directly from an analog source or D/A'd from a digital source. Since VT3 doesn't have Digital audio out yet, we set our Digibetas to analog audio input (we have the 500A models). Kind of a pain...

bradl
12-09-2003, 09:15 PM
I know there is a general bias against Final Cut Pro and AVID in these forums, but I would like some honest opinions:

1. If a full-blown G5 Dual Proc, SDI, Uncompressed FCP system costs exactly the same as a comparable AVID system, which would you buy, and why?

2. If the AVID cost 2X as much as FCP, which would you buy?

This is a huge point for us, and we have pretty much decided on FCP, but are still willing to consider an alternative, but we only have about a month before there is no turning back...

RomainR
12-09-2003, 09:51 PM
Holy smokes Batman,

That setup is a whoper. This going to that and that over there into them for this. You got my head spinning.

I just take my VT[3] audio out straight to a Mackie, the mackie goes to a compressor/limiter and the compressor goes out to the Beta or patched to whatever needs to be on the receiving end.

For Digitizing I run the audio to the Mackie->compressor/limiter->VT[3]in.

I found that to be the most effective for sound with VT[3].

I never had troubles with channel leaking and stuff. You might want to check the wirring as Arthur mentioned.


As for the FCP Avid dilema, I think I'd stick to FCP. Just to stay on the ARTSY side of life.:D

bradl
12-09-2003, 10:28 PM
Oh did I forget to mention I have a Mackie hooked up as well...

Oh what tangle webs we weave...

Romain, it really is not a convoluted as I made it sound.

VT3 is on the router and has digital (audio not working yet) and analog outs to anywhere.

For inputs, all analog goes through my Mackie, but during BC using SDI, I automatically get the AES input. For monitoring, the VT3 feeds the Mackie Tape inputs.

OK, so it is convoluted... sigh...

tmon
12-09-2003, 11:40 PM
This is a huge point for us, and we have pretty much decided on FCP, but are still willing to consider an alternative, but we only have about a month before there is no turning back...

Did you ever look at/consider Quantel "eQ"?

djlithium
12-10-2003, 01:56 AM
To be honest, I think your best bet is using the networked approach. Take your rendered "offline" version and send it to your audio guy over the network then he sends you the wave back which you simply replace in your timeline.

Output to analog from that point should be very easy.

I have not really had any issues with transfering stuff from tape and back using the VT3. One of the reasons I created those skins was to give me a basic guide of where things were.

One of the skins that should have a volume level meter on it more then anything would be the audio properties skin in VT-Edit with a clip led or function.

Again 90% of what we are running into for problems with VT-3 audio could be resolved with a DirectX or VST effects stack accessable to the VT3 desktop. In suite processing and basic volume control and pan is not enough. But with routing access to a VST or DX effect rack, thats all we would really need for the time being. VST is an open architecture as is the direct x instrument and effects system.

I suggest everyone including NewTek staff, to check out this site.

www.kvr-vst.com

Probably the best source of information on VST and directX audio plug-ins and free downloads on the net.

ArthurDent
12-11-2003, 10:20 AM
Originally posted by taiji
Did you ever look at/consider Quantel "eQ"?

Taiji,

We haven't really looked at it or considered it. My impression of Quantel was that it was outside our budget. But that could be a false impression??

-AD

"Don't Panic"

djlithium
12-11-2003, 01:13 PM
How about you guys grab the SDK and put a few bucks aside each month for development??

Not a bad idea. Would be good though if we had some examples of how to write modules for T3 and not just toaster card stuff.

But still, that is kind of an approach you would have to take only if you feel you want to dedicate the time and effort to it. I would and I am. :)

ArthurDent
12-12-2003, 07:51 AM
Come again, DJ? Is this where you meant to post this reply?

djlithium
12-12-2003, 02:07 PM
Yes it is where I meant to reply.

We need some more 3rd party people on board here.

This is a prime example.

Liber777
12-13-2003, 09:21 PM
DJ Lithium,

What audio card are you using in your VT system? We're looking at getting Nuendo here...

Thanks!
Stivan

djlithium
12-13-2003, 10:11 PM
At the moment?
just a crappy on board Cmedia chipset.
doesn't interfere with VT3 at all. Normally I would be running an Echo Gina 24/96 because of the multiple outs.

tmon
12-19-2003, 07:37 PM
Arthur/BradL,

I don't have pricing for a Quantel system, but for multiple seats, yeah, I would think it would bust most peoples' budgets.

I'm trying to investigate FCP more. The got spanked pretty good in that emedia review (http://vbulletin.newtek.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15134).

Are you going with the Blackmagic Decklink cards? I am wondering if the emedia "criticisms" of FCP (as well as the similar complaints I've heard from other pro editors) would be lessened if FCP were utilizing a better RGB card....

bradl
12-21-2003, 03:41 PM
Originally posted by taiji
Are you going with the Blackmagic Decklink cards? Finally read the article and checked out Decklink. The brains behind Blackmagic is the guy who originally started Digital Voodoo, Grant Petty, who lost managerial control of that company and resigned. I was told at Siggraph two years ago to keep an eye on his product developement as he was on the leading edge of the market with his drivers and such. Guess they were right.

Interesting 'open letter' he put out in regards to his old company:
Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design responds to Digital Voodoo's announcement of the reasons for ending Mac development. (http://www.decklink.com/press.asp?view=61)