Specs for Turnover to DI
By Reels, Parts, or whole film?
This is up to you. If you are planning on going out to film each reel must be under 2000ft including leaders (~22min). If your unfamiliar with finding reel breaks, the goal is that the break be in a place where slight discontinuity in sound or picture is less problematic. Look for places where there is a change in location (good for color variation), and no music or dialog. This is quickly becoming less of a problem as modern theaters often have platter systems where changeovers are a non-issue, and digital projection which doesn't have this issue is becoming the norm.
Leaders and Sequence Timecode:
I typically work with “film style” or "academy" leader, which means an 8 second count down starting at 01:00:00:00 with a 2-pop at 01:00:06:00 and FFOA (first frame of action) at 01:00:08:00. If your working in reels, each reel should start at a new hour timecode corresponding to the Reel, e.g. Reel 2 starts @ 02:00:00:00.
I'm also fine working with “video style” leaders with a slate starting at 00:59:30:00 (or similar), and then 2-pop @ 00:59:58:00 and FFOA beginning at 01:00:00:00.
Either of the above methods is fine as long as sound turnovers get exactly the same timing and 2-pop remains the same. Please include a tail pop on all reels except the last reel. As is always the case, the “pop” of the tail pop should come 2 second after LFOA (last frame of action). Even better is to use my leaders which will automatically relink in the DI… you can get them get them here (link).
The color and file format pipeline for VFX should be worked out as early as possible in the process. Final VFX need to be turned over to the DI in such a way that the color is identical to the raw media. This seems obvious, but sometimes is overlooked. I can tell you how to set this up in Nuke, AE, or whatever software you are using.
The timecode and file naming of final VFX turned over to DI (either DPX or high quality Prores QTs) must match exactly the naming and timecode of what is turned over to editorial.
If there was a framing chart shot, please include this. Specify if there is a “safety” (sometimes called look around) area on the neg that is being recorded but is not intended to be part of the final framed image. For most aspect ratios a simple description is all that's needed. For final output most theaters are setup to frequently project 1.85:1 (commonly referred to as "flat") or 2.39:1 (commonly referred to as "scope"). Other aspect ratio's are possible of course but must be framed inside one of these containers (which is easy).
Versioning and Naming Conventions:
It really helps me out if you can use a consistent naming convention when turning over your film to me. Even better is to use my naming convention. But whatever you do PLEASE NEVER VERSION THINGS WITH THE WORD "FINAL". USE A VERSION NUMBER. If you can, please label your timelines as follows:
ThreeLetterCodeForYourFilm_EditVersionNumber_ReelNumber. So if your film is called "The Cat's Pajamas" and your final locked picture is edit v37 and your working in reels, then your reel 1 timeline would be TCP_v37_R01. If your version numbers have periods in them such as v3.7, replace the dots with the letter "d" for example TPC_v3d7_R01. Some people like to use dates instead of a version #, that's fine. The version number MUST get incremented with ANY change no mater how small. In other words, if you trim a single shot by 1 frame, that is a new version number.
The two options we have here are doing a fresh conform from the original media and using an AAF or XML, or simply delivering a "pre-conformed" file (typically a Prores4444 quicktime) of the whole film (or by reels), and chopping it up "notching" that using an EDL. There are pro's and con's to each approach, we should discuss which workflow to use.
The below section outlines elements to be included in your initial delivery of elements (turnover) to me, only one section applies to you, choose XML/AAF or Pre-Conform Workflow based on a discussion with me.
XML/AAF WORKFLOW - PLEASE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING:
Quicktime reference with burn in:
These should be Prores (LT, SQ, or HQ) if on FCP and DNXHD if on Avid. You may be able to simply use your offline codec which might save some time. Burnins should include at a minimum the sequence TC, and ideally the source TC (although this is tricky on FCP). Reference Qts should include audio either of offline audio or final mix. If you have done temp color grading include that in the reference. It's important that the reference QT have correct embedded timecode. Open the QT up in QTPro7 and change the window in the lower left to view timecode and confirm that it is the correct sequence TC.
Depending on the shooting ratio of the film and how much media is involved this can be either all the media that was shot, or just a consolidated subset. If prepping a consolidated set there are a number of tools which can take an EDL or XML and just copy the files used. Contact me for more details. If there are a variety of formats, some transcoding may be neccesary and we should discuss this in advance. This is particularly true if there are any framerate conversions.
XML or AAF
Whether you use XML or AAF depends on if you are coming from Avid, FCP or Premiere. Before exporting an XML or AAF prep your timeline by flattening it to the lowest possible number of tracks. There should only be two tracks if you have a picture in picture effect or a two track dissolve effect. Most information such as dissolves and even repos/zooms should come though. That said, potential problem areas should be flagged and logged into a simple log so an assistant can double check them. Speed ramps where you have a speed change that changes speed throughout a shot will not come though. Those should be treated as a VFX shot and done separately.
Conform and VFX Log.
This should be a simple list, for example a google doc spreadsheet of the potential tricky areas for the conform. Any repositions, zooms, speed changes, flopped shots, reversed shots, you get the picture. List the sequence TC and a brief description of what was done. Depending on how many VFX the film has, it can also be useful to provide a VFX log of all VFX in the film. The conform log is completely necessary, however the VFX log may not be necessary if all VFX are completed in advance of the conform, and only one version is provided.
PRE-CONFORM WORKFLOW - PLEASE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING:
Quicktime reference with burn in:
These should be Prores (LT, SQ, or HQ) if on FCP and DNXHD if on Avid. You may be able to simply use your offline codec which might save some time. Burnins should include at a minimum the sequence TC, and ideally the source TC (although this is tricky on FCP). Reference Qts should include audio either of offline audio or final mix. If you have done temp color grading that may be useful as a reference, include this in the reference QT. Its important that the reference QT have correct embedded timecode. Open the QT up in QTPro7 and change the window in the lower left to view timecode and confirm that it is the correct sequence TC.
Single flattened quicktime per reel:
These should obviously have all temp color grading removed, and be at the highest quality possible e.g ideally the same codec as source exported with "same as source" e.g. no recompression . If there are dissolves where it will be important to have different color grades on either side of the dissolve you can include these shots with handles separately. Make sure that these pre-conformed quicktimes have correct sequence timecode embedded in the quicktime file as well as having the temp audio in the file as well.
Plain vanilla CMX3600 EDL.