Working with EDLs from Apollo and Titan HD Extract


One of the major new features of firmware 2016.10 for Apollo and Titan users is the addition of EDLs (Edit Decision Lists) created when live switching. These enable the user to create a timeline in their NLE which exactly matches the live switch they made, but rather that being a single clip of the cut sequence, every cut or dissolve made live appears as a cut or dissolve in the timeline, enabling changes to be made to the edit.

EDLs go back to the days of tape editing. Creative editorial would be done with a lower quality copy of the footage, originally using U-Matic or VHS tapes, and later using a non-linear editing system. Then an EDL would be created and loaded into the edit controller of the online suite. The EDL is a list of in and out timecodes of the source material and master tape, together with source tape names.

While more sophisticated formats like XML (Extensible Markup Language) and AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) can convey far more detailed information about an edit (layers, effects, titles and so forth) for a simple single layer cut and dissolve edit, EDL is a very effective way of moving edits between systems, and is used in many workflows as the simplest and safest interchange format.

The EDL type created by the Apollo/Titan is called CMX3600, and is a human-readable text file. A simple two shot EDL might look something like this:

Each event in the EDL has a number, and the columns of each event line describe which segment of the source clip goes at which point in the master timeline. In the example above, the line for event 001 says that the shot is from reel 267A (clip 267, angle A) V denotes video only, and C denotes a cut. The timecodes indicate that the source clip from 09:37:00:13 to 09:37:02:21 should be placed at 01:00:00:00 in the timeline, and will end at 01:00:02:08. The subsequent lines beginning with asterisks are comments, and one comment line is used here to indicate the file name of the source clip, CLIP0000267_A. The reel name is a truncated form of this, since EDLs originated with tape controllers where reel names had to be brief. So the comment is used to give the full file name (minus the extension).

The process of creating a sequence in an NLE from an EDL is called conform, and the conform capabilities of different NLEs vary significantly. Final Cut Pro X cannot read EDLs at all, as Apple decided that they were a legacy format that did not require support. Final Cut Pro 7 can read EDLs, but the system was designed for re-capture from tape, and does not work easily with file-based media. Avid Media Composer can also read EDLs, but again the heritage of tape re-capture makes the process less than ideal for connecting to file-based media. Therefore for each of these NLEs the simplest method is to translate the EDL to the NLE’s native XML or AAF format. Premier Pro can import EDLs and relink to them, so you have the choice here of importing the EDL directly, or translating it to an XML or AAF. Translation from EDL to XML or AAF can be done with the free version of DaVinci Resolve.

Preparing the Media

When you copy your media from the Odyssey/Apollo SSD to your working drive, you need to use the CDProResTransfer utility. This will split the single file containing all the angles, and create separate QuickTime Movies. It will also create various XML folders containing metadata, and put the EDL in a folder called cd xml.

DaVinci Resolve

To conform an EDL in DaVinci Resolve, start by launching Resolve, logging in, and creating a new empty project by double-clicking Untitled Project in the Project Manager window. Then open the Project Settings window, by clicking the cog icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. In the Master Project Settings tab, set the Timeline resolution, Timeline frame rate and Playback frame rate to match your source media. Then scroll down and set the Conform Options as shown below:

In particular, make sure that you have selected Use Timecode: Embedded in the source clip, Assist using reel names from the: Source clip filename, and Extract reel names from EDL comments. These three are essential for matching the correct section of the correct source clip to the EDL. Then click Save to close the window.

Now, in the Media Storage browser, navigate to the location of your media, and drag all the camera angles into the Media Pool. Or you can, if you prefer, drag the files directly from the Finder. If you have not correctly set the project frame rate to match your media, you will be prompted to do so at this point. If you recorded a live switch, and wish to use this as a reference, do not drag that to the Media Pool. Right-click it in the Media Storage browser, and select Add as Offline Reference Clip.

Now move to the edit page, and from the File menu select Import AAF, EDL, XML… and browse to the EDL file. When you click Open, you will see this window:

edl 03

Give your timeline a name, if you wish, and ensure that the EDL frame rate matches that of the media. If your media uses drop-frame timecode (check the EDL in a text editor if you are unsure) make sure that box is checked, or that it is unchecked if your timecode is non-drop-frame. Click Ok, and a new timeline will be created matching your live edit.

If you added your recorded live switch as an offline reference clip, and wish to cross check the conform against that, you need to right-click the new timeline and choose Timeline/Link Offline Reference Clip and choose the live switch clip. You then need to go back to the Media Pool page, and right-click the reference clip, which will have a chequerboard icon next to it. Select Clip Attributes… and go to the Timecode tab. Change the start timecode of the clip to match the start timecode of the timeline, then return to the Edit page, and at the bottom of the source monitor window click the mode pop-up and select Offline instead of Source. Now when you play the timeline, the reference cut will play in sync with it. If necessary, you can change the frame offset at the top left to slip the reference into exact sync.

Although the EDLs created by the Odyssey/Apollo are video only, Resolve brings in the audio for each cut. You may in fact wish to tidy this up by laying a single audio clip across the entire timeline.

If you are editing in Resolve, you are now finished with the conform, and can start editing and grading. If you are using Resolve to translate the EDL for another application, there is one last step. From the File menu choose Export AAF, XML… and browse to a location for export. If preparing the EDL for Avid, choose AAF as the format; for Final Cut Pro 7 or Premiere Pro choose XML; and for Final Cut Pro X chose one of the FCPXML variants, depending on your version of FCP X – FCPXML 1.5 being the most recent.

Premiere Pro – Method 1, XML

If you converted your EDL into a Final Cut Pro 7 XML in Resolve, as described in the previous section, you can simply drag the XML file into the Premiere Pro Project window. A new sequence will be created, and the source media will also be brought in and linked.

You may think you are all done at this point, but it is worth right-clicking the sequence in the project window and checking the Sequence Settings. Premiere Pro may create a sequence based on a Sony XDCAM HD preset. These use 1.333 anamorphic pixels and a resolution of 1440x1080. To match the source media you may want to change the Editing Mode to ARRI Cinema, change the Frame Size to 1920x1080, and the Pixel Aspect Ratio to Square Pixels (1.0). Set the field and timecode settings to match those of your media.

Premiere Pro – Method 2, EDL

You can import the EDL directly into Premiere Pro, but if you do so you will then need to link the media to it. From the File menu choose Import… and browse to the EDL. A window will pop up asking you to select the video standard of the EDL.

Although NTSC and PAL are technically standard definition, choose the one which corresponds to the frame rate of your material and click OK. A new window will appear, asking you to choose project settings. For ProRes material, it is best to start from one of the ARRI Cinema presets, and then go into the Settings tab. As in the previous section, ensure all the settings, particularly the timecode settings, match those of your media, then click OK. A new bin will be created containing one clip for each event in the EDL, and one sequence. If your sequence has a lot of cuts, the bin may contain a lot of clips. You need to keep all these, so it may be tidier if you move the sequence into a bin of its own.

Now right-click the sequence, and choose Link Media

In the Link Media window, select only File Name under Match File Properties, and un-check Preserve interpret footage settings. This will ensure the clips are updated to reflect the attributes of the media, rather than keeping the default settings Premiere has given them. Click Locate. In the Media Browser window that pops up, ensure that Display Only Exact Name Matches is checked, and browse to the location of the files. Double click the first file, and all the files will link, and the Media Browser window will close.

Final Cut Pro 7

To import the EDL you will need to have converted it to an XML, as described previously. You can simply drag the XML into the Project window.

Leaving the settings at defaults, a new sequence will be created which matches the resolution set by Resolve, but takes on the Compressor and Field Dominance settings of the Sequence Preset selected in Audio/Video Settings. You may either select a different Sequence Preset from the drop-down in the Import XML window, or leave it at defaults and then open the Sequence Settings of the resulting sequence, by choosing Settings… from the Sequence menu, and edit them as necessary.

Final Cut Pro X

As with FCP 7, you need to convert the EDL to an XML before you can import it into FCP X. Choose Import/XML… from the File menu. A new Event will be created, containing a single Project, which is the edited sequence. The settings will be chosen automatically based on the XML and the source media.

Depending on what you have set in your FCP X preferences, the media will either be linked to in its original location, or copies made within your library.

Avid Media Composer

Although Media Composer can import EDLs directly, the recommended approach is to translate the EDL to an AAF using Resolve. This allows you to AMA link to the original full length source media, and therefore gives you the most flexibility to modify the edit.

From the File menu choose Input/Import Media… and browse to the AAF. When you import it into a bin, one sequence and a number of master clips will be created. Delete all the master clips, leaving only the sequence. Then you need to bring the media into the project. Depending on your version of Media Composer, you will do this from the File menu by choosing either Input/Source Browser or Input/Link to Media… and browsing to the location of the QuickTime Movies. If you are using the Source Browser, ensure that you have selected Link, not Import in the bottom left hand corner. Select all the clips, and click Link to add them to a bin.

At this point you have a number of options. You can simply link the AMA linked QuickTimes to the sequence and start editing, or you can transcode to native Avid MXF files, using either DNxHD compression or preserving the ProRes compression of the original media. A detailed description of the process of transcoding is beyond the scope of this guide.

To link the media to the sequence, select the sequence in the bin, right-click it, and choose Relink…

As shown above, make sure Relink only to media from the current project is checked, and so is Ignore extension. Uncheck Match case when comparing source names, and Create new sequence. In the Relink by panel, change Tape Name or Source File ID to Tape Name or Source File Name. The Video Parameters shown above should be used if you have simply AMA linked to the original QuickTime media. If you have transcoded to MXF, you should choose Specific Resolution as the Relink method, and select the format you have transcoded to, in order to ensure that the sequence is linked to the transcoded media.

Click OK, and the sequence will be linked to the media. Audio does not relink using this method, so will remain offline. This is not usually a problem, as with a multi camera switch the normal approach would be to lay a single audio track across the duration of the sequence, so this can easily be done manually.

Note: At the time of writing (Media Composer 8.6.3) there appears to be an issue with AMA linked QuickTime media with 59.94 fps drop-frame timecode, which means the timecode is read incorrectly. A work-around for this is to transcode the media to MXF and then to modify (select all the clips, right-click, and select Modify/Modify Clip…) the start timecodes of the new clips to match those in the EDL.



Applies To

Apollo Recorder/Switcher, Apollo Option for Odyssey, Titan HD Extract


Created : 2016-10-12 14:13:38, Last Modified : 2017-06-08 15:58:34

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