'Now or Never' Production Secrets

Category: Web Exclusives
Ben Levine works post-production magic on an Avid with Bluefish444.

From humble beginnings as a production assistant for world-renowned HBO, Ben Levine has subsequently gained a well-respected reputation within the production and post-production community in Los Angeles. Ben now works as a freelance director and editor, being handpicked for music videos, theatrical promos, and reality TV productions requiring the hand of a creative professional. Toon Disney/DisneyXD, VH1, MTV, Century Media Records, E! and Bravo are but a few of the names that demand quality content for which Ben Levine has become known.

Ben was recently called upon to direct, edit and finish a music clip for musician Camryn’s new video, “Now or Never.”Camryn (www.camryn.com) recently achieved the #1 independent female artist slot on the pop charts and is touring with the popular group One Direction. “Now or Never” has rapidly been climbing the billboard ratings.

 When preparing for the work on “Now or Never” Ben realized that he would be working with multiple formats and frame rates in a timeline full of multi-layered effects. The system that he used for the clip would be required to handle multiple streams of HD video.  In addition to Avid Ben was intrigued by working with additional new technologies.  He felt the Create 3D Ultra video card from Bluefish444 was a good match, and would complement the system that he was using for the post-production of the music clip.

The music video project required the use of AVID Media Composer 6, Symphony 6 and a HDMI secondary client monitor. The rough cut was put together in Media Composer 6 requiring multiple layers and some picture in picture and mosaicking. Real-time playback became an issue once or twice. At this point Ben was able to have AVID work in Draft quality that provided one-quarter resolution video frames to the Create 3D Ultra, which subsequently scaled the frames back to full HD. This was enough to allow the rough cut to be completed with little to no rendering, and the quality was surprisingly good. 

When the project was moved over for Color correction in Symphony rendering was not required, even when working with12 layers of video. Ben used a HP Z800 with Quadro FX4000 GPU, which gave the system enough power to work flawlessly through the multi-layered 7D material.  The Create 3D Ultra’s scaling technology enabling draft quality along with the HDMI output made it invaluable for this project, eliminating Ben’s need for a SDI to HDMI converter and allowing post production to continue through heavy effects and multiple video layers.

Ben comments, “I was very pleased with the performance of the system for this project, and working with Cutter Stevens of Bluefish444 was fantastic.  Overall the Bluefish444 AVID Open IO integration to  Media Composer was seamless. At start-up I needed to access the Bluefish control panel to configure the video output and audio settings, but from then on everything was taken care of and I didn’t have to change a single setting during post-production. Within Symphony I had to configure the output a little differently, but again I configured this once and away we went with the color correction.”

He continues, “Having been a user of Avid's software for almost two decades, I was skeptical of a single internal card's ability to deliver in place of a larger breakout box. It also just so happened that my first project with the Bluefish444 card, “Now or Never”, involved 10+ tracks of effects involving various formats at various frame rates, which could cause serious problems with even the most expensive of video hardware. The Bluefish444 card delivered as promised and made me a true-believer.  It was able to handle the workload like gangbusters, much of it in real time without rendering. These days, music video budgets are smaller and schedules are shorter, but Bluefish444 helped me reach my deadline on time. Whether it was with Media Composer 6 for my offline or Symphony 6 for my online and Color Correction, the Bluefish444 card was fast and reliable. I look forward to using their gear again and again and again.”



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