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Bits & Pieces

Covid-19, VHS and Youtube Church Services

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So, the World as we knew it has changed and I’ve been pondering for several weeks on what to write to update this page of miscellaneous ramblings without success.

So here goes, in short I’ve edited and produced more videos in the last 4 months than I probably have in the last 2 or even 3 years, I’ve been able to finally get to grips with Final Cut Pro X and horror of horrors, I’m thinking of ditching my standby Final Cut Pro 7 system which has now been demoted to running a 4 camera CCTV system!

One feature I still find irritating is the ability to have more than one timeline (or project in FCPX) open on screen at a time, with FCP7 I’d often make different versions of a programme and then have several open at the same time across 3 screens and be able to cut / copy / paste between them, although FCPX allows duplicate Projects I’ve not found a way to have more than one open at a time however, a major bonus and a ‘must have’ with FCPX is the addition of a third party App called CommandPost, this allows a ’scrolling timeline’ which Apple should have included in FCPX!

I still use a Blackmagic Intensity Pro on my FCP7 to capture VHS tapes, usually wedding videos. Many couples married in the mid 90’s are now approaching milestone silver anniversaries and want to show their wedding video or snippets from it at an Anniversary party, having dug out the VHS cassette, they’ve found they had no way to play it as they’d thrown their VHS machine away many years ago!

After my Panasonic Pro SVHS machines died, I’d managed to obtain a little used JVC SVHS/VHS machine several years ago that still puts out a good picture, feeding this output via ’S’ or composite into a JVC BR-HD50 usually corrected any timebase errors, the signal then came out the BR-HD50 via HDMI into a Blackmagic Intensity card and was recorded to ProRes in Blackmagic’s Media Express, I’d then top & tail it and add chapter markers in FCP7, send a reference file to Compressor and author and burn to DVD in DVDStudioPro or, for the more technically minded, an H264 on a USB - I’ve done it this way for years and it always produced a high quality result.

A recent software / firmware update for the Intensity card started to show some errors and had become unreliable, so a look around eBay produced an Intensity Pro 4K card, I made an offer and had it accepted, so it’s on it’s way. This will work in my 2011/2012 MacPro with Mojave, FCPX and a 3Gb video card, still using the HDMI from the JVC BR-HD50.

Apart from the sudden influx of VHS weddings to DVD, most of my recent edits have been for Churches, I’ve supported 2 in particular during the Covid-19 crisis with weekly edits for YouTube, website or Facebook. One of these involves 10 - 12 short videos recorded on a phone (despite repeated requests, they still record upright!) or on a laptop and all with varying resolutions from 320px to 3840px being sent to me via Dropbox or Google.

I drop these into FCPX using a 720/30 preset which tends to look good when viewed on YouTube via laptops or phones. Some clips need colour correcting and for the lower resolution videos, the addition of a slight sharpening filter, the audio levels are sweetened and balanced to around -6db, the addition of lower thirds for names and a transition between sections - this outputs to a ProRes file which I then convert to H264 via either Adobe Media Encoder (yes, I know it’s old but it works!) or ff-Works, this gives a 4 to 5Gb file for a 1 hour service, it’s then uploaded to Youtube and set as a Premiere to start at 10.30 on the Sunday morning, these are getting weekly viewings of around 250, not bad when the average congregation on a Sunday morning is around 120.

So that’s most of my news from the past 4 months, I’ve heard recently that my local church is planning to try and hold Services from the 6th of September 2020 and I’ve been put on notice to operate the computer and video projector, what for I’ve not yet been told, but at least it’s a little bit of normality coming back to our very different world.
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