Dubner International, Inc.
Bill Johnson - Scene Stealer You Can Lead a Horse to Water ...
excerpt of article printed in TV TECHNOLOGY, April 20, 1998
Harry Phenice and his wife Ginger own Toklat Video Productions. This award winning team combines over 70 years of photography and videography experience. Although they operate a full service studio, their first love is filming the great Alaskan outdoors and sharing the spectacular scenery and wildlife with others. Harry went from a Scene Stealer "Doubting Thomas" to an avid user and supporter.
Outdoor videography creates a special set of challenges. The risk of a grizzly attack or a stomping by a mother moose is often minor compared to the challenge of logging enormous quantities tape. A two week outing may produce over 80 hours of camera footage.
With pen, paper, VCR and a jog shuttle or remote, logging often takes two to six hours for each hour of footage. This tedious task fries your senses and, overtime, eats your lunch! We have tried a number of "auto" scene detectors. Most require substantial change between scenes to detect any change. We watch a family of bears for hours without ever moving the camera. This results in a large number of camera starts and stops with little change in the overall scene. The auto scene detectors do not work with these scenes.
Enter "Front and Center Stage" Scene Stealer
Scene Stealer detects the camera start and stop points. It does not rely on a major change between scenes.
We use a DVCPRO deck and Scene Stealer. This allows Scene Stealer to work with the actual timecode. Using a window dub works just as well. All we do is start the Scene Stealer program and start the deck. Scene Stealer does the logging for us while we work on another project or go to lunch. Yes, it is that easy.
Next, we pick scenes to use and add comments. With this quick and easy process, we complete a one hour tape in fifteen to twenty minutes.
Scene Stealer has a built-in Microsoft Access template. Once "keeper" scenes are marked and comments added, a click on the menu places picture, tape number, timecode, scene length and notes in an Access data file. The real power lies in the comments. Five fields in Access relate to the first five lines of Scene Stealer text.
Each line should be short and consistent throughout all tapes. We use the first line as a general description such as scenery, animal, bird, etc. The second line describes the type such as bear or moose. Lines three through five further define the scene. The sixth line does not show up in the Access data so we use it for longer editing and narration notes,
Thought given to those five lines really pays off. Retrieving just scenes of grizzly bears with cubs, taken during the summer, in Denali National Park, at mile 37 is a "piece of cake". In Access, run "Filter by Form," make selections in the appropriate columns, click "Apply Filter" and then print the report. Within minutes we have accomplished what would have taken days to assemble searching through our tapes.
When I first checked into Scene Stealer, I was a real "Doubting Thomas" that it could find the actual camera starts and stops. Now I believe anyone that does video and editing work should not be without Scene Stealer.
For more information about ToklatVideo's Alaskan videos and royalty free footage, contact Harry or Ginger Phenice at 907 262-9320, e-mail email@example.com or check out their web site at www.toklatvideo.com
From Interview to Transcript
Dan Wagner is an editor in San Diego with over ten years of editing experience. His company, MediaLogic, provides editorial services for various clients.
As Scene Stealer users, we all know, firsthand the power of good logs. They're quick and simple using a traditional log format (Scene, Take and Comments). But how do you handle interview footage? The old fashioned method of dubbing the footage to audio cassette and having transcripts created lacks the necessary timecode information. Scene Stealer speeds the process while automatically keeping track of timecode.
Scene Stealer lets you "put the pedal to the metal" -- a foot pedal that is. Adding a foot pedal to the game port on your computer and enabling the Scene Stealer's optional joystick button = audio play on the preferences menu speeds transcription.
My configuration includes a SoundBlaster, required for audio capture and playback, a simple VHS deck and the foot pedal. Using open window dubs of my camera original footage (SP mode works best), I digitize the footage using Scene Stealer's GRAB mode at 3 frames per second.
As the footage is being digitized, Scene Stealer marks the camera stops and starts automatically, but I manually mark the point at which the talent begins talking on the fly. Typically, the question is not needed in the program.
After the footage is digitized, I confirm that Scene Stealer's timecode matches my window dub. This step is very important. I can now jump to the beginning of the answers using the <+> key on the numeric keypad, put my I-beam in the text box, step on the pedal and type as the footage is being played. If the talent talks too slowly or too fast, I just press the <insert> key more than once. Two times for twice speed, etc.
Since long answers are seldom taken in their entirety, I tend to break up long answers by "paragraphs". I like to use <Ctrl C> to insert the current timecode position inside the annotation. And I'm sure to save my work often!
Note from Dan: If you find this little tip useful, E-mail me at MediaLogic@aol.com or tel: 619 689-9703. I'd love to hear how this works for you.
Bill Howze works with the Texas art community for presentations and community awareness programs. He has received annual awards from 1993 - 1996 from the American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston asked me to document the outreach activities of its education department at local schools and community centers. In the last 18 months, I've shot more than 30 half-hour reels of Hi-8mm tape. I log the tapes, print a copy kept in a 3-ring binder for quick reference, and save the files on Zip disks.
For this piece, the museum asked for 10 minutes of all the activities that involve the local school district. I was able to search the logs, create a storyboard, and load the material into my EMC for off-line in less than an hour.
It would be impossible to undertake projects like this without the Stealer.
[For further information about Bill Howze Documentaries, contact Bill Howze in Houston, tel.: 713 521-3214.]
From Not So Perfect Quotes to Perfect Video
The thing that..(pause)..I love so mu much about uh about this school (noise in the background)...is that there's...an energy about it. It's very special. It's very unique."
A pretty plain, boring quote. Drivel, really. But listening to it...you'll have to take my word on this...it's actually not too bad. If you take out the ums and the uhs and the pregnant pauses, you realize that you're listening to an articulate person, speaking truly from the heart.
How do you incorporate such an imperfect quote into your trying-to-be-perfect video? Until recently, my solution was hit pause/play/pause/play until I transcribed all the spots and then methodically eliminated them in the editing process. Actually it was more like pause/rewind-a-couple seconds/play.
Then I quit procrastinating and bought Dubner's Scene Stealer. To me, the software is like a dream-come-true in terms of ease of use and versatility.
Logging is an essential part of creating a good product. You have to organize the shots so that the editing goes faster, identify all the sound bytes and set them up so they can be constructed effectively.
The project we just finished, the impetus for finally buying Scene Stealer, was a marketing video for a local private school. It was the biggest budget shoot I've ever directed: an eight day shooting schedule, a seven person crew, and we shot the whole thing sync-sound on Super16 film. For obvious reasons, I wanted it to turn out excellent. I wanted to make sure that we used every shot most effectively. Some shots with similar themes were far apart from one another on the raw footage. I wanted to make sure that the logging was thorough enough to identify those types of connections.
Plus we were weaving the video together using interviews as opposed to a simple voice-over narrator. All the interviews had to be meticulously logged to find the gems among the ums and the uhs.
Scene Stealer was the perfect solution. The software identifies scene changes automatically; all you have to do is type in a description. I was able to (1) transcribe interviews with absolute accuracy at 4 to 5 times the speed of what I used to (2) print a text-only description of all the takes, and (3) make laser-print copes of all the images I had marked to be kept in a notebook for reference. Furthermore, I was able to fit over ten hours of video with sync sound onto less that a gigabyte of hard drive space. I was able to take the "raw footage" home with me, on a jazz cartridge, to work on my home computer.
There are certain things Scene Stealer cannot do. For example,the quality of the captured image may not let you decide if "take 1"or "take 2"of a dolly move is smoother or which take of an actor's performance is absolute best. Although I've found that assessment is just as easily made in the actual editing process.
The "storyboard" feature is not a poor man's non-linear editing system as I had hoped, but I can see our creative writer cutting and pasting shots in a particular order on her computer, and then having the editor play it back on his computer to see how the shots were cut together.
A Scene Stealer feature I find really impressive is its ability to export images and text into Microsoft Access. We're in the middle of creating a visual database for archival footage. It's taken awhile to get the hang of MS Access, but the payoff is going to be worth it when we can simply type in a lookup phrase such as "downtown homeless" and instantly find anything in our library related to our city's downtown- dwelling derelicts.
I'll add the most unusual thing about owning Dubner's Scene Stealer is the access you have to its designer. On the program diskette, there's a phone number, that goes straight to his desk. He'll answer your questions and if you have suggestions, or comments,he'll take them into consider for the next update release. Ultimately, it's because of this commitment to customer satisfaction that Scene Stealer is as enjoyable an experience to work with as it is.
Profile: Interactive Video in Savannah
Technical Production Services in Savannah, GA is responsible for developing the interactive film and video production for the 8th Air Force Heritage Museum. The project involves collecting over 30 hours of film including color film shot by airmen during W.W.II.
We grab a frame every second from the window-dubs, annotate the material, print out the films into 3 ring binders and then archive the files to a removable storage medium. The binders allow the designers and producers to review the annotated material prior to us putting roughs together in the Scene Stealer storyboard feature. The process is operating flawlessly over a network allowing multiple operators to annotate and review material.
We exported all the material from Scene Stealer into a Microsoft Access database that provides a pictorial listing. To locate a seven to ten second clip of a B-17 flying left to right takes no time at all.
It's difficult to consider doing this project without Scene Stealer. The sheer amount of footage excludes simply placing it all in the non-linear environment. This is truly a wonderful device that integrates well within the development process.
[For information about TPS or their interactive project, contact Murray Wilson at 912 233-7900;compuserve 70404.3530.]
Scene Stealer specifications
Contact us directly for answers to your questions and to request a free demonstration disk.