Monday 15 September 2003

Today in Punkworld Diary of

Today in Punkworld : Diary of DVD madness.

OK here goes :

6.30 pm on Thursday. Laura calls from DGM to say that the DHL flight carrying the Japanese footage has been re routed for a "medical emergency", which means that the footage will not be arriving at DGM Friday morning as expected.

8.30 pm on Thursday. The Vicar suggests that we collect the footage directly from the warehouse in Heathrow as soon as it clears customs. Heaven be praised, he suggests that get a taxi to do it, rather than sending me on a 4 hour round trip.

1.30 am Friday morning. The taxi delivers the footage to DGM.

10.00 am. I leave DGM deliver the footage to Toby in Poole, so that he can start encoding.

11.00 am (all these timings are approximate – I think we can allow a certain amount of leeway between friends). Arrive with senor Toby. It turns out the two tapes sent from a Japan – a DV CAM and a BETACAM - are both of the concert, so that we still do not have the rehearsal footage that we were planning to use as an extra. Toby starts copying the concert footage into his computer.

12.00 pm David (The Tall Pointy One ) arrives with the rough VHS video of the rehearsal footage ,and suggests that we will have to use that. We master the audio off the video and Toby starts the copy process into a different computer.

1.00 pm Toby hands me a copy of the audio from the first track of the Japanese footage. Drive back to DGM, arriving at about :

2.00 pm. Copy the audio from the Japanese footage into SADIE and line it up with the proper mixes sent from Machine (so that our newly mixed audio will be in sync with the original audio and the pictures).

3.00 pm. Start copying the proper mixes out of SADIE onto CD discs. The audio copies out of SADIE at two times real time. As there are six streams of surround sound, and a stereo mix, and the concert is 100 minutes long, this copy alone will take around 7 hours – not allowing for disc writing failures, which happen from time to time.

6.00 pm. I am spared about an hour of copying when The Tall Pointy One tells me that they are not using the bass channel. There are phase issues between that channel and the main audio which would cause havoc on systems using bass management (no, I am not going to translate that into English – no time. Can't you see I am on a tight deadline here).

7.00 pm. Toby phones to tell us that the main concert footage will finish being MPEG's (the process of digitizing it into DVD format) by about midnight. The quality of the footage, combined with the constantly moving cameras and swift edits, means that the process is taking longer than normal.

10.00 pm. Arrive with Toby with final audio in special files that will sync with original footage. Sit down and view rehearsal footage that he has lifted off dodgy video. Choose three sections "indiscretion I, II and III". As these need converting from PAL to NTSC, and the MPEG encoder does not like the poor quality of the footage, each of these sections will take around 3 hours to process. Dreams of a finish just after midnight vanish. Fortunately he has two machines, so that this footage can process while he does other things.

12.00 am. The main concert footage is finished, and looking good. Toby builds the motion menu for disc one – which features an improv from Warsaw.

1.00 am Motion menu complete. Senor T loads our synced audio into his Mac. All is going well until the disc with the audio for the centre (yes, that's how we spell it on this side of the atlantic) channel does not read. Nor does the back up.

1.30 am. Succeed in reading the disc on a PC in his office. Copy the audio onto the PC (takes about an hour), write the audio back onto another disc (takes about another hour), and then take it up to load onto the Mac. Which reads it sucessfully. Hallellujah.

4.00 am. Toby encodes the surround sound audio

5.00 am Everything is ready, except the rehearsal footage, which is still crunching away on the other computer.

6.00 am. Rehearsal footage is now complete, but the file sizes of everything – main footage, audio, motion menu, and rehearsal footage are too large. Senor T would normally tweak the MPEG rate on the various bits of footage, but this would involve twelve hours or so of re-encoding, so is not possible, as the finished DVD needs to be in Southampton by 12pm to fly to NY for Monday. It needs to be there on pain of death, as otherwise the release and accompanying KC tour may be cancelled

6.30 am. We decide to pull the rehearsal footage entirely in order to save disc space.

7.00 am. Hugh O'Donnell (yes, if we can't sleep why should he) tells us that we can't pull the rehearsal footage as the "Indiscretions" are credited on the main artwork, and the back cover, which have already been printed.

7.30 am. Plan B. We edit a short (four minute) section of rehearsal outtakes, divided into three sections (Indiscretion I, II & III). The Tall Pointy Singleton instantly suggests two good sections, the third takes much longer to find.

8.30 am The edited version of the rehearsal footage is being MPEG's.

10.00 am. Senor T has all the "assets", and begins to build the DVD, It is now 4.55 MB, which is under the total disc space of 4.7 MB, but the program warns that it may not work on all players.

10.30 am. We pull the footage on the motion menu in order to get the disc within safe limits. Senor T press go on the final master. There is no way that it can be in Southampton by 12.00. The Tall Pointy One arranges for us to deliver the master straight to Heathrow, where the final deadline is 4.30 pm.

1 pm. The Tall Pointy One drives from Poole to DGM with the finished master (after twenty nine hours without a break, I might be more than a little unsafe)

2 pm. Hugh O'Donnell takes the master to Heathrow.

And it flies to New York – where hopefully it arrives in time, has no faults, is pressed, and all live happily ever after.