Summer of 2015 is sadly in our rear view mirror now. But with fall here, there is much to be excited about. Many people consider the fall season to be more of a new year than January’s actual New Year’s. We have the start of school, the new television season and start of the football season. A crisp excitement washes over New England this time of year, but with it comes the need to hunker down and get back to work.

This month in Tech Edge, we are going to look at post production’s new time savers. These are recent changes in post production that have increased productivity and saved editors hours of time and effort.

The Emergence of Background Tasks.

Background tasks have really emerged in the past five years. Now every major editing platform offers background tasks. Tasks such as importing, transcoding, and even rendering effects. For some of these tasks, you even needed to add a network server. So what has changed? Desktop computers have gotten ridiculously powerful and much more affordable. The other factor is that editing software has gotten better as well. With more powerful computers, the software engineers for non-linear editing software can pack in more functionality and features.

Background tasks can run while you edit. So you can be transcoding clips, rendering a sequence or even importing media can be done while you do other editing tasks. In some cases, you don’t even need the editing software launched at all to have these tasks running. File-based editing saves a lot of time up front, but there is usually a price to pay. You will need to transcode at some point to export, and that usually is a buzzkill to the flow or your editing. Today in 2015 when using the latest builds of editing software, you can do those tasks in the background now.

Automatic Audio and Video Sync.

There was once a time where syncing up camera audio and double system (a.k.a. audio field hard disk) recording in an editing timeline was a nightmare. You would have to sync time code and rely on everyone in your production team to sync everything up during the shoot. When you imported these files into your editing software of choice, you would have to tediously sync up the audio and video manually…and that is given that everyone in your production team got all the timecode correct in the first place.

Today, there are many programs that will automatically sync up all of your double system audio with your video. Programs such as Woowave Woosync and Red Giant’s Plural Eyes have capabilities that will automatically sync up audio and video. All these programs ask you to do is import all of the audio and video clips you want synced together, and then it will sync them up in seconds and then export those clips together as an XML or an AAF file that you can import into your editing software of choice.

Morphing.

Morphing…it’s a word the raises eyebrows. It sounds equal parts dirty and nerdy. But for editors and people watching their content, it shatters reality. There are two tools that do this really well…Avid Media Composer’s Fluid Morph and Adobe Premiere Pro’s recent addition, Morph Cut.

Let’s say you are editing an interview piece and your interviewee has lot’s of long pauses, or even if you want to edit a sentence or two out. Before morphing, you would need to find some b-roll to cut to. What morphing does is eliminate jump cuts in talking head pieces. So any interview can be manipulated to remove any words or pauses. This makes an editor’s job much easier, because you no longer have to rely on b-roll and worry about the pacing of your edit. You can now morph two clips together seamlessly and not worry about jump cuts. The ripple effect of this is whenever you watch an interview piece that someone else produced; you will do so with a grain of salt now.

Searching in the Timeline.

The concept of searching in the timeline seems like it is not that impressive. Doing a search on a computer is something people take for granted now. But imagine you have an hour long piece and you want to jump directly to a certain clip or even a timeline marker with a comment a producer had about your edit. Before timeline searching, you would have to scroll, zoom, scroll, zoom, second guess yourself, scroll again, zoom again. It goes on and on. In the time it took you to read that last sentence, you could have typed a keyword into your timeline search and gotten to your location already. It’s one of the subtle features that looks really impressive in front of clients that don’t know editing like you do. The now defunct Final Cut Pro 7 had Timeline Search and it was a very under appreciated feature. Avid and Adobe both added this feature this past year and it was over due.

There are tons of other ways to save time when working in your creative software…features such as custom interface mappings, menu to keyboard reassignments and other custom keyboard features. Regardless of what software you use, it’s always a best practice to back up your settings. Modern creative software will back up all your settings to a file. Do a Google to search to see where your software saves that file and back it up in case your settings file gets lost or corrupted.

Steve McGrath is a Broadcast Sales Engineer for HB Communications. He has worked with NBC, ABC, CBS, NESN, NECN, Fox, ESPN, Pentagon, Powderhouse and many others. You can reach him at Steve.McGrath@HBCommunications.com. Learn more, visit www.HBCommunications.com.