Finishing Challenges, Part 2

Last time I talked about today’s challenges when sending footage for grading. While drives can still be shipped, more and more projects require me to send files electronically. Because files are getting bigger and bigger, sending full-length clips isn’t practical. Sending trimmed files is becoming essential.

When you work with trimmed files, it’s important that the files match the original files in the edit in terms of filename and— most importantly— timecode. Most of my work is short form, so the process doesn’t take too much time.

My method is fairly simple, and in this example I use Premiere. First, I go to the first shot in my sequence, position the playhead anywhere on the clip and then do a match frame command.

Doing a match frame finds the clip in the project and loads it into the source monitor. It also marks an in point and out point on the clip, based on how it’s used in the sequence. Since I want some flexibility when I get the clips back from color, I modify the marked in and out points. I usually subtract a second from the in point and add a second to the out point so I have one-second heads and tails.

I usually use one-second heads and tails. I might vary that, but I’ve also found that it’s better to be consistent for all the clips just in case something gets screwed up with timecode. This way, if I don’t have the right timecode on the returned clip, I know that the original “edit” in point was one second after the start of the clip.

After I adjust the in and out points—while the source monitor is still selected—I execute a file export command. This opens up an export window to export the clip in the source window. From there, I choose the codec I want to use. I try to match or exceed the codec used in the original file, and I also make sure the resolution and frame rate match.

Note that if I use the same clip twice in an edit, I can’t export two trimmed clips with the same filename because the first clip would overwrite the second one. To combat this, I append a number “02” to the end of the second file’s name before the extension.

Next, I select the option to export the marked section of the clip rather than the default option, which exports the entire clip. Then I start the export. What I end up with is a sub-clip of the original footage with the same filename and the same timecode. This makes it easy to sync back to the original clips when I get the graded ones back from color, assuming the filename and timecode haven’t been changed.

There are some additional steps I take after I export the files. I’ll detail those next time.

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