Avid has released a new version of Avid Log Exchange, software that cleans and converts almost any shot log into an ALE file. A shot log is a list of takes (or clips) on a source tape. Since Avid can only import shot logs that are in the ALE format, you must use the ALE
program to convert non-ALE files; these include telecine logs and logs you create using third-party programs such as Filemaker Pro, Excel or even Final Cut Pro.

Avid Log Exchange should also be used to clean any ALE files you receive, although it is not necessary to clean items you’ve logged directly into an Avid bin. While many people skip cleaning files already in the ALE format, Avid strongly recommends doing so to eliminate possible errors.

To begin, copy to your computer any shot log you need to convert and/or clean, then launch Avid Log Exchange. Version 20.1.1 is shown below.

Select from the INPUT column the format of your current shot log. In this example, I’ve selected FLX, which is one of four common telecine file formats (ALE, ATN, and FTL are the others). For any choice on the left that is not ALE, the only choice in the OUTPUT column on the right is ALE. The program assumes you want to clean and convert your shot log into an ALE file for use on the Avid. If you want to clean an existing ALE file, you need to select ALE from both the INPUT and the OUTPUT columns.

The clean button should always be checked, especially on a film project. Clips in a film project cannot have overlapping timecode because this prohibits the Avid from tracking the Keycode numbers. When the clean button is selected, ALE performs two procedures vital for film jobs:

• It verifies that the timecode numbers increment from clip to clip; any clip that does not have a higher timecode than the previous clip is deleted from the log.

• It makes sure that the timecode numbers for any two consecutive shots do not overlap. If the End TC of one is identical to the Start TC of the other, that is not considered an overlap. But if ALE finds an overlap in timecode, it will shorten the End TC of the earlier clip.

The relaxed button was added to resolve a problem I encountered while working on a sitcom. TV series sometimes use time-of-day timecode, and they tend to shoot well past midnight. When I ran ALE on my telecine logs, any shots made after midnight (when the timecode hour rolled over from 23 to 00) were deleted. Click the relaxed button if you are using time-of-day timecode and have mixed hours on a single tape. Avid Log Exchange will still fix overlapping timecode problems, but it won’t delete the clips whose numbers are not sequential.

The Log buttons are used to add or remove tracks that were incorrectly logged. For example, if you receive logs with four audio tracks when you need only two, uncheck A3 and A4 to have them removed during the cleaning process. Since this can lead to MOS and wildtrack clips being mis-logged, always check your clips before digitizing, and use the Avid’s Modify command if necessary.

Once you’ve selected all the choices appropriate for your project, click the CONVERT button. In the dialog box that opens, select your file and click OPEN, or double-click the file. Avid Log Exchange will immediately clean, convert and save the file with an ALE extension (placing it in the same location as the original file). If you start with an ALE file, the program will overwrite that file and leave you with a cleaned version using the same name.

Avid Log Exchange saves your settings when you exit the program (click the QUIT button). If you plan to use the same settings throughout your project put an alias of the program on your desktop. When you need to convert additional shot logs, just drag them over the alias and they will immediately be cleaned and converted using the most recently saved settings.

Converting Tab-Delimited Logs

It has always been possible to log shots in a spreadsheet or database, as long as you included Avid’s required fields (Clipname, Tape, Start TC, End TC and Tracks).

However, the steps needed to get that data into the Avid were always a bit convoluted, and included having to manually add an Avid-acceptable header to each file. Avid has simplified the process by adding some new choices to Avid Log Exchange (see below).

Create your tab-delimited log as usual and include column headings. Launch ALE and select tab-delimited from the INPUT column. A series of buttons at the which is automatically added to your log. Click each button that applies to your project. If you are working on a video project, only NTSC/PAL is important; the other three items will be ignored by the Avid (although the company recommends you choose 24 for the frame rate). Then click CONVERT and select the file to be cleaned and converted. Remember, in the Avid, settings can always be changed to overwrite certain logged items, such as sample rate and tracks to be digitized.

Moving Bins from Final Cut Pro to the Avid

Avid Log Exchange includes two new INPUT options for converting Final Cut Pro data into ALE files. For a film project, I recommend opening your Cinema Tools database and creating an ALE file by selecting Export Avid Log Exchange from the File Menu. I found this to work much better than using the Cinema Tools button in Avid Log Exchange.

The result is one large ALE file containing everything in the open database. As a final step, run this file through Avid Log Exchange by choosing ALE for both the INPUT and the OUTPUT. You should probably also select Relaxed.

For nonfilm jobs, you’ll need to turn the Final Cut Pro browser clip info into a batch list. To do this, open your Final Cut Pro project and sort all of your clips by Reel and Media Start. Remove any fields you don’t want or need to transfer.

The only Final Cut Pro fields the Avid needs are Name, Reel, Media Start, Media End, and Tracks; you can keep any other fields you desire. Select the Browser window, choose Export Batch List from the File Menu, and select Tabbed Text as the format before saving your file.

This creates one large text file with all the browser clip data, and a little extra data you need to delete. Select the batch list you created and press Command-I (Get Info). In the window that appears, switch the Open With option from Final Cut Pro to TextEdit, then close the window (see below).

Double-click the batch list to open it in TextEdit. Scan the file for Reel numbers that appear alone on a line and delete them (see below).

Save the fixed file and launch Avid Log Exchange. Select Final Cut Pro from the INPUT column, check the Relaxed button, and convert your batch list into an ALE file.

For both of the Final Cut Pro conversions, you’ll need to break the resulting ALE files into separate tape bins after importing them into the Avid.

Laura Congleton is an assistant editor in New York.
She is currently a member of the Guild’s Board of Directors.
She can be reached by E-mail at: gothamgal@yahoo.com.