Help! I can’t get my footage into the edit suite.

OK, OK, it’s not me having the problem. This is something that cropped up on another forum. It’s a common tale these days. A cameraman that is trying to deliver a file based format to an edit suite that does not have software that recognises the native camera files.

Yes it frustrating and annoying. Trying to un-wrap or transcode can be time consuming. You might even have to, heaven forbid, buy some extra software.

So whose fault is this. Is it because the camera manufacturers are bring out new cameras on a yearly basis or is it something else? Should we blame the software writers, or maybe the computer manufacturers?

We all got spoilt by the use of DVCAM and DVCPRO which are variations of the consumer DV products, so the mass market consumer codecs and connections work for us pro’s too and these are built in to most NLE’s.

Since the advent of file based formats we expect to be able to instantly import footage with no extra hardware and free software, but with ever changing computer operating systems, continuously “upgraded” edit software and the desire for faster, bigger, better leading to new cameras arriving every year it’s hard for Sony, Panasonic etc to keep up. They will almost always be a step or two behind as they have to wait for the NLE software to be finished before they can write the free software to link the cameras to the editor.

But hang on a minute. Is this really the fault of the equipment makers or software writer? Or is it simply that we are expecting too much from a computer based edit suite?

The key thing missing from so many so called edit suites these day is SDi or HDSDi. Worst case scenario: Go back to basics. Output the video from the camera (or a deck) via SDI into the edit suite and record it on the suite. A HDSDi/Component/Composite cards cost very little and will allow the editor to ingest just about anything without any codec worries. Back in the day…. when tape was king…. It was expected that the edit suite would be more than just a computer, it would also have tape decks etc to allow you to get material in and out. I guess these day we just expect everything to work without investing in hardware.
One thing I’m guilty of, is always trying to have the latest software and latest cameras. In many respects that’s asking for trouble. No one forces me to buy the very latest, particularly software. It’s often better to stay at least one or two releases behind. let someone else sort out the bugs. Bugs that will inevitably only come to light in real world workflows when 1000’s of people are pushing the software to it’s limits day in day out.

So… Get an HDSDi card, stay on a stable release of your chosen NLE and make sure you have the hardware you need to play back your footage over HDSDi and you should be fine.

Before you shoot me down in flames… I do wish, want, desire that all cameras, all formats, all codecs will work without extra hardware in every NLE on every operating system at every resolution/frame rate etc with one simple push of the “import” button. But you have to be realistic with so many possible combinations, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and take a step back in time.

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