What is Forscene?

Forscene is a utility used by unscripted entertainment and documentaries, where there’s an edit producer who wants to do some kind of cutdown, but either doesn’t know Avid, production has decided they don’t want to rent another editing suite for the EP, or due to location it is not feasible to have an editing machine.

Forscene has the advantage of being much more user-friendly than Avid or other traditional NLEs. Its footage is stored on the cloud, which means that EPs can work from anywhere.

The Forscene machine is connected to one of the editing terminals, and then it is instructed to watch a specific folder that the media will be ingested to. It then transcodes the files locally and uploads them to the cloud, preserving original clip names and timecode. The EP can then rough out a sequence or pull selects and then export the sequence back into the NLE for the editor. The Forscene editing program is browser-based with minimal system requirements, and can be used anywhere a reliable internet connection is available. It is therefore well suited to remote work.

The problem with Forscene is that it understands master clips; it does not understand subclips. It’s possible to group clips for multicam in Forscene, but when the sequence comes back into NLE, the metadata that it attaches is master clips. There isn’t any way for the group clips in Forscene to carry into Avid, and there’s no way any group clips in Avid to be applied to the Forscene sequence. One of the other problems is that if audio was recorded separately, and has had to be synced afterwards in the Avid, that’s not something the Forscene sequence will have. The Forscene will only have whatever the camera guide track included.

This workflow tries to deal with some of these issues, by turning the Forscene sequence into subclipped camera that include the production audio. The Forscene sequence will matchframe back to camera rushes. The sequence will still not have grouped clips; if you wanted this, it would need to be manually located and entered by the assistant editor.

Whom is this workflow for?

This workflow is for assistant editors / edit assistants working on shows that meet the following criteria:

  • working in Forscene with an EP who intends to create sequences and an editor who intends to cut directly from those instances;
  • the editor is working in Avid Media Composer – for this guide, we’re in 8.6, on Windows, but OS X and similar versions of MC will be fine
  • audio was recorded separately from camera and needs to be synced to picture
  • audio and camera had timecode, and the timecode is correct
  • optional: multiple cameras were recording in different locations at the same time of day

If your show does not meet these criteria, this workflow may not work, or may be overly complicated for what you require.

This workflow isn’t going to cover the specifics of how to create sequences in Forscene. This is already well addressed by the official Forscene tutorials. It’s also not going to detail how to set up the Forscene; this will be done by Forscene itself or whichever company is supplying through them.

Ingest media via AMA

  1. AMA link camera media.
    • Create a bin for your camera roll. Name your bin after the camera roll. Input > Source Browser. Navigate to camera card. From the dropdown menu in top left, select your bin so that the AMA clips are sent there. Link. Alternate: Navigate to your clips in Finder or Explorer, and ALT+drag them in to AMA link (dragging without ALT is considered an import).
    • Do this for all camera cards.
  2. Import audio.
    • Create a new bin, name it the cardname, same as with the camera card bins. Right click inside the bin > import > navigate to your audio files. Make sure you are writing to the correct disk/workspace.
    • Select all clips and add the card name to the Disk Label column.
  3. Consolidate camera media.
    • Select all media in Superbin > right click > Consolidate. Select the correct drive/workspace on the left. Hit consolidate. Choose Relink native master clips.
  4. Move the AMA clips in AMA bins.
    • In Sift (search bar at the bottom of the bin), type .old to only show the AMA clips.
    • Select all of your AMA bins > right click > open all in one window.
    • Sort the AMA clips by Disk Label, and place them them into their respective AMA bins. Put them into their own AMA folder for the day. Close all the AMA bins.
      • The reason why we’re setting the Disk Label is because this is the preferred method to ingest the clips by into Forscene. You can check this in Forscene > Watch Folders > Folder > “bydisk.” This creates folders in Forscene for each camera card.

Sync Audio

  1. Colour code the clips by camera.
    • A camera can be light blue, B camera can be dark blue, C camera can be orange, etc.
  2. Open the syncing bins.
    • These are working bins that you will move footage in and out of as it migrates down your syncing pipeline. Recycle the same bins and always put them in the same location so you know what’s going on with a clip even if your work is interrupted. You can keep them in an assistant editor folder.
    • You should have four working bins: Syncing, Sync Errors, Maybe Synced, and Synced. Put the day’s audio clips into Syncing.
  3. Autosync.
    • Move one of the colours (ie A-Cam) from Superbin into Syncing. Select all clips in the bin.
    • Go to clip > Autosync (I have this hotkeyed to Shift+Z). Sync by source timecode. Choose Include audio from audio-only clips, range start A1 to A2. This will give you two tracks of audio and discard the rest, but the metadata is preserved such that sound can easily relink back to all production audio tracks if they choose. If the editor prefers to have all audio tracks to work with (most do not), then choose a A1 to A8 or however many tracks of audio there are. You can always remove additional tracks from the subclips later.
    • Avid will display an error code if there were some clips that did not sync because no matching timecode was fine. Click ok.
    • All of the clips that synced to some type of matching timecode have now been subclipped.
    • The master clips – and audio – that did not find a match are now selected and highlighted in the Syncing bin. Drag them over to Sync Errors. Sort by icon, select the Audio clips and move them back into Syncing.
    • In the Syncing bin, select the remaining subclips only, and move them into Maybe Synced.
    • Select the remaining master clips and move them into Synced.
    • Repeat this process for the rest of the cameras.
  4. Subclip the Sync Errors.
    • Click on the top clip in Sync Errors, double click to bring it up in Source window, and then subclip it (my subclip hotkey is D).
    • Do this for all remaining clips. Move them over to the Synced bin as you go along.
    • The reason why we’re subclipping these is so that we can visually see that this is something we tried to autosync to production audio, and were not able to. If we had some clips subclipped and some masters, things would be less organized.
  5. Manually check each clip in Maybe Synced.
    • Sort the bin by Name so that the camera masters interlap with their subclips.
    • Autosync works by looking for a timecode match and creating a subclip which discards the camera audio and adds the production audio. But in unscripted, there might be times when sound was rolling for say the A camera, and C camera was at the same time also rolling in a different location (usually for doing GVs/ B-roll). We want to identify those clips that have had the wrong audio applied. Double click on a clip, and skim through it in the source monitor. If the audio is correct, move it to the Synced bin. If it’s not correct, match frame batch to the source, clear in-to-out (I hotkey this to G) and the subclip. Delete the first subclip, which ended in .sync. Your new subclip has the camera guide track. Move that into the Synced bin.
    • Do this for all clips.
  6. Check that none of the subclips have been trimmed early.
    • The autosync process trims off any part of the clip where there is no timecode match. So if audio cut out too quickly, there’s a chance that there’s something relevant not included in the subclip.
    • To check for this, in your Syncing bin sort by Name, so that the master clips now interlap with their subclips.
    • In your bin, add a Start and Duration column.
    • Scroll through the bin, looking at the durations. Mostly they will be identical. In cases where the subclip is shorter, look at the Start time.
      • If it starts later than the master clip, open that subclip, matchframe back from the start, mark that as an outpoint, then go to the start of the master and mark that as an in. Scrub through this section – if it’s relevant, you can subclip it, only having the camera audio. If it’s just the cameras setting up, then don’t include it.
      • If the subclip starts at the same time as the master clip, open it, go to the end, matchframe back to the master, go to the end and mark this as an out. Scrub the section, subclip if it’s relevant, leave it if not.
    • This will be the time when you identify that one of the clips somehow did not get subclipped. If this is the case, take the master clip, try to autosync it in the audio folder, and if it doesn’t match up with anything, subclip it with the guide track only.
  7. Put the Master clips in a bin for Masters.
    • Sort by icon so that you can quickly grab all of the masters.
  8. Set the audio tracks.
    • We’re now going to strip the subclips that have camera guide only, to the correct amount of tracks. Sometimes camera will record 8 tracks of audio even if there’s really only 2 or 3 channels recording. Toggle Source/Record in Timeline, and turn on audio waveforms. Click through some of the master clips to assess how many channels are really recording information.
    • Unlink the master clips. Select them all > right click > Modify > Unlink
    • In the Synced folder, sift by .sub. Select all of the your .sub clips (the subclips that have camera guide track only) , right click > Modify > Set Tracks > and then deselect all of the ones that are likely blank. So if the most you’ve seen is three channels of audio, unselect channels 4 through 8.
    • Relink the master clips. Right click > Relink.
  9. Autosequence & sort subclips.
    • Sort by Disk Label, and color code all of the subclips.
    • Select all of one colour > right click > Autosequence (I mapped this to Shift+1). Name the Autosequence YYYYMMDD_Camera_Autosequence, ie 20171002_Acam_Autosequence. Put the Autosequence into a bin called YYYYMMDD_Syncmap. Do this for all cameras.
    • Open the bins you made earlier, with the camera card names, and put all of the subclips into those. Close them all out.
  10. Build a Syncmap.
    • In your Syncmaps bin, make a duplicate of the Autosequence that has the earliest Start time. Call this YYYYMMDD_Syncmap_v1.
    • Add more video and audiotracks, as many as you have cameras.
    • Tools>Timeline Window, add a timecode for each camera track, and externally recorded audio if you have any.
    • Open another autosequence into Source monitor.
    • Double tap Control to open the timecode window, type in the start time of the previous syncmap, insert edit into syncmap.
  11. Multigroup clips as needed.
    • If you’re not sure how to multigroup, I recommend this excellent tutorial Will Blanks.
  12. When finished, bring the Syncmap and subclip bins into the editor’s project.
    • Do not give them the master clips. You don’t want them to be able to matchframe back to the masterclips, which have the wrong audio on them, and you don’t want Forscene sequences that weren’t relinked by the assistant editor to be matchframed back to the masters.

Bringing a Forscene Sequence into Avid

  1. Export an AAF from Forscene.
    • Not sure how? Steps are here.
  2. Import the AAF to Avid.
    • In Avid, create a bin for AAFs, right click in the bin > Import > Navigate to your AAF. A sequence will come in, and the bin will be populated with consolidated media.
    • Everything should automatically link and magically be online, but we still need to fix some things. Right now, the Forscene clips will link to the consolidated media, which means that if the editor wants to cut directly from this sequence, he is matchframing back to master clips, which don’t have the production audio synced. So we need to fix this by relinking the AAF to our subclips.
  3. Relink the Forscene sequence to our subclips.
    • Delete all of the consolidated media (everything in the bin besides the Sequence).
    • Open our rushes bins (Open all in one window), and then go through each tab and hit Ctrl+A to select them all. Do this for all rushes for the day.
    • Select the Forscene sequence > Right click > Relink > under “Relink selected items to” check “selected items in ALL open bins”. Hit Okay
    • Now the Forscene will relink the camera clips to our subclips, but we STILL don’t have the production audio linked.
  4. Relink production audio. 
      • Open the Forscene timeline. Select the first clip, mark In, go to the end of the edit, mark Out; go back to the in, matchframe, mark in, and with all of your audio tracks selected, press B to overwrite edit.
      • Do this for all remaining clips.
      • If there’s a lot of cuts, it can be automated using Autohotkey or Keyboard Maestro. Use the following AHK script:

    ; ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ; Audio Punch-In Tool for Avid Media Composer
    ; Matchframes audio from a subclip and
    ; inserts it into a sequence. 

    ; Requires the following hotkeys:
    ; 7 = Fast Forward
    ; N = Rewind
    ; Shift+M = Matchframe
    ; G = Clear In-To-Out
    ; M = Toggle Source/Record
    ; left arrow = Step Backward One Frame
    ; right arrow = Step Forward One Frame

    ; Q = A1, W = A2, E = A3, R = A4
    ; T = A5, Y = A6, U = A7, A = A8

    ; ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ^j::
    send, i7
    sleep, 100
    send, {Left}
    sleep, 100
    send, {LShift Down}m{LShift Up}
    sleep, 100
    send, {Right}
    sleep, 100
    send, gmonqwertyuabqwertyua
    Return

  5. Repeat for all Forscene AAFs. When completed, they should all matchframe back to your subclips.

Known Issues

Issue: Forscene clips do not play audio inside of Forscene.
Fix: Log in and of Forscene. May need to do it a couple of times.

Issue: New Avid media has not been ingested into Forscene.
Fix: Check that the watchfolder for the correct workspace or folder is correct. Check that the ISIS is mounted or otherwise accessible by the Forscene terminal.

Issue: Forscene is taking forever to ingest media.
Fix: Forscene works by re-transcoding the media to very small file sizes, which is why it may take a few hours for a large amount of fresh media.