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cool spotting app for taking notes and capturing timecode
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mintmix
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#1
17th January 2013
Old 17th January 2013
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cool spotting app for taking notes and capturing timecode

So I've been using this app called Spotting Session, built by some friends of mine, on my last couple of projects and wanted to let more people know about how useful it is.

The app streams timecode from Pro Tools (as well as Media Composer) to a server that distributes the code to any iOS device (it also has a web app that allows the user to stream to their laptop.) From there you just start typing when you have a note and the app captures the timecode along with your note and your username. It also has buttons for shortcuts for categorization. It works great in big groups during spotting sessions and mix playbacks.

I recently started using it halfway through mixing a feature. None of the producers would right down the timecode for their notes (surprise, surprise) and everyone would shout out their notes, out of order, driving the mixer mad. The app collates everyone's notes in order and exports them as PDF and importable markers. This allowed us to move much fast through the notes with less confusion and more organization.

I've been using it for a while now and love it. I have more time to watch what's happening, spending less time looking at the TC burn-in and am able to concentrate better on the project as a whole.

I'm curious what other people think about the app and if people think it's something the industry as a whole could adopt as a sophisticated tool for dealing with change notes on the mix stage and in the edit.

http://www.spottingsession.com
#2
17th January 2013
Old 17th January 2013
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cool will def give this a try
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18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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um $600 for a spotting app?!!
I use "just log it" which admittedly doesn't have the MTC integration, but its $5
(FIVE)
I can then import those notes as markers into PT using edimarker - FREE

Is the MTC integration worth more than a reconforming package or lexicon reverb bundle or even a serious waves bundle given how their prices have dropped?? More than a decklink card and a cheap LCD to go with it?
Hmmm....
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#4
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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How does this work in practice?

Here is how a typical spotting session for Music or ADR or Foley goes: Play back picture, Director stops you, tells you what they want there in terms of whatever is being discussed. For music, our sound design, this often includes mood, emotion, meaning of scene, what's happening. Often times the film is parked, nothing running. I usually type notes, or use regions in the PT timeline to indicate FX or Foley notes from the Director. Spotting sessions I have been in spend more time with the picture stopped than running.

Mix review session : it is either a step-through by scene process. Or, further down the road, playback whole film and they make notes. Mostly it is on a pad of paper, occasionally on an iPad -- but usually not, b/c they can't type fast and they don't want the light on. Then they look at their notes and they'll say, "Ok...in that first scene with Samantha and Darrin, the nose twinkle was too loud, and maybe too clangy sounding, and the transition out of that scene, just before Endora appears in Tabatha's room the first time, there was something funny in the dialogue and the music seemed over-powering. Can we look at that?". Takes me a couple seconds to jump to that scene other on the timeline, or with my scene markers. By the mix stage, I know the film or TV show very well, so identifying a scene is usually pretty easy.

Occasionally, they jot down a TC from the BITC and have a mix note... In that case I could see it being help, but by the time you recognize a problem, the scene is already gone and you are typing about a scene that finished 5 seconds ago and by the time you finish typing, you are 40 seconds into the next scene. Wouldn't the TC be off all the time? Do you hit a button and it captures the TC and then you type?

So given those typical scenarios, how does this help?
mintmix
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18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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Hey Brent, thanks for the feedback. I checked out that app and in the description it says:

"Once setup, start the timer and at the same time press play on the video or film material that needs to be reviewed."

So yeah, that's a 5 dollar app alright!

This app is for professionals on mix stage with a room full of producers. It's definitely on par with tools like conformers, EDL managers, or other project management tools.

Lastly, although the price may seem steep, this is designed for managing multiple users (from 1 to an entire movie theater.) I think if they opened up to a group buy where multiple users could own the license or perhaps an option for weekly or monthly rentals (kind of like how Adobe is doing things) it could help defray the cost a bit but with everything it can do, I think it's worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent_in_Sydney View Post
um $600 for a spotting app?!!
I use "just log it" which admittedly doesn't have the MTC integration, but its $5
(FIVE)
I can then import those notes as markers into PT using edimarker - FREE

Is the MTC integration worth more than a reconforming package or lexicon reverb bundle or even a serious waves bundle given how their prices have dropped?? More than a decklink card and a cheap LCD to go with it?
Hmmm....
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#6
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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Hey Minister,

For me, when I'm spotting the locked cut, we usually do stop and starts like you mentioned. There is often several people in the room: Director, a couple Producers and a couple people from the sound team (maybe a music editor and composer) As far as my notes go as a supervisor, I have to make ALOT of notes in a short period of time. Having buttons to quickly delineate whose department it goes to keeps my team organized so the FX editor only has to look at his notes and not the DX editor's. Because this app shortens the time it takes to take a note, I have more time to coherently convey all the things (emotion, performance or technical info) into that notes before we quickly move on. This is a huge time saver in TV where I often have less than a week from turnover to air and the spotting sessions a fast paced. Meanwhile other team members can be making their own notes that may not need a 10 min debate with the director.


On the mix stage while doing a playback, I don't do stop and starts. Sometimes we go by act though. During mix playbacks it is by far the most effective because everyones notes are collated in order in one place and you don't have to worry about that pesky producer who refuses to write down TC numbers. By being able to import the notes as markers, it empowers the mixer to use them or not if it fits with his/her workflow. Yes there are times when a director goes on a diatribe and gives you their whole life story on why they shot a scene a certain way but I would say that a large number of notes can be boiled down to turn X up or down. Kill this or that element etc... The filmmakers are always going to want to discuss a note after the playback, and the notes are editable so any additional in can be added in later. The point is: this app makes it much easier DURING the playback to make notes about the issue at hand so we can continue to review the show and focus on the image on screen, not the TC burn in.

As far as TC values being off, As soon as you start typing it has captured the TC. They are still playing with how to add functionality here because I have found it does take a split second for the human brain to react to what they are hearing or seeing, process their thought and then start typing. I suggested adding a slider on each note that would allow you to annotate additional TC info (ie: this note is 10sec long or the note started 5 sec back.)



Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
How does this work in practice?

Here is how a typical spotting session for Music or ADR or Foley goes: Play back picture, Director stops you, tells you what they want there in terms of whatever is being discussed. For music, our sound design, this often includes mood, emotion, meaning of scene, what's happening. Often times the film is parked, nothing running. I usually type notes, or use regions in the PT timeline to indicate FX or Foley notes from the Director. Spotting sessions I have been in spend more time with the picture stopped than running.

Mix review session : it is either a step-through by scene process. Or, further down the road, playback whole film and they make notes. Mostly it is on a pad of paper, occasionally on an iPad -- but usually not, b/c they can't type fast and they don't want the light on. Then they look at their notes and they'll say, "Ok...in that first scene with Samantha and Darrin, the nose twinkle was too loud, and maybe too clangy sounding, and the transition out of that scene, just before Endora appears in Tabatha's room the first time, there was something funny in the dialogue and the music seemed over-powering. Can we look at that?". Takes me a couple seconds to jump to that scene other on the timeline, or with my scene markers. By the mix stage, I know the film or TV show very well, so identifying a scene is usually pretty easy.

Occasionally, they jot down a TC from the BITC and have a mix note... In that case I could see it being help, but y the time you recognize a problem, the scene is already gone and you are typing about a scene that finished 5 seconds ago and by the time you finish typing, you are 40 seconds into the next scene. Wouldn't the TC be off all the time? Do you hit a button and it captures the TC and then you type?

So given those typical scenarios, how does this help?
#7
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
  #7
Matt R. Sherman
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent_in_Sydney View Post
um $600 for a spotting app?!!
I use "just log it" which admittedly doesn't have the MTC integration, but its $5
(FIVE)
I can then import those notes as markers into PT using edimarker - FREE

Is the MTC integration worth more than a reconforming package or lexicon reverb bundle or even a serious waves bundle given how their prices have dropped?? More than a decklink card and a cheap LCD to go with it?
Hmmm....
I'm with Brent. It's a great concept but that price tag is way out of the ballpark with the tiny budgets we have around here
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#8
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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Cool Idea, but you lost me when it didn't recognize Feet and Frames.
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18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
How does this work in practice?

Here is how a typical spotting session for Music or ADR or Foley goes: Play back picture, Director stops you, tells you what they want there in terms of whatever is being discussed. For music, our sound design, this often includes mood, emotion, meaning of scene, what's happening. Often times the film is parked, nothing running. I usually type notes, or use regions in the PT timeline to indicate FX or Foley notes from the Director. Spotting sessions I have been in spend more time with the picture stopped than running.

Mix review session : it is either a step-through by scene process. Or, further down the road, playback whole film and they make notes. Mostly it is on a pad of paper, occasionally on an iPad -- but usually not, b/c they can't type fast and they don't want the light on. Then they look at their notes and they'll say, "Ok...in that first scene with Samantha and Darrin, the nose twinkle was too loud, and maybe too clangy sounding, and the transition out of that scene, just before Endora appears in Tabatha's room the first time, there was something funny in the dialogue and the music seemed over-powering. Can we look at that?". Takes me a couple seconds to jump to that scene other on the timeline, or with my scene markers. By the mix stage, I know the film or TV show very well, so identifying a scene is usually pretty easy.

Occasionally, they jot down a TC from the BITC and have a mix note... In that case I could see it being help, but by the time you recognize a problem, the scene is already gone and you are typing about a scene that finished 5 seconds ago and by the time you finish typing, you are 40 seconds into the next scene. Wouldn't the TC be off all the time? Do you hit a button and it captures the TC and then you type?

So given those typical scenarios, how does this help?
I agree. For spotting sessions it will be of very limited help. Due to how spotting sessions usually work.

The app is only helpful for full reviews, VFX approvals, editing notes. For sound you need too many words to describe what's wrong.

It might help to take notes for reviews in a cinema when there's no light at all but then there's no TC so you'll have to take rough notes anyway.

And then it's far too expensive for a helper app, IMO.

50$ maximum. It's a nice idea but too pricey, IMO.
#10
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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For me it's solving a non-existent problem. Nearly all my clients take note with BITC, and the ones who don't, know exactly whereabouts on the timeline they mean. Setting it up would be a loss of time for me personally.

I'm sure there are others that it might help, but not at that price!
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#11
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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Hello, for spotting sessions I just use any word or text program or pencil & parer, I got real good at short hand but had lousy spelling. For the actuall playbacks of projects in a mix I use CutNotes on my iPad. It does not sync with pro tools, you have to hit play at the same time. It's within reason for me for me and i have quick keys with the usual notes (eg. dial to low) or I type out, makes for better spelling.


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#12
18th January 2013
Old 18th January 2013
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I just hand my clients the iPad with VControl, and let them handle start/stops/rewinds.... That way we are able to work through everything at their pace. But I work in spots, not long form...
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#13
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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Hey everyone! Ron from SpottingSession here.

SpottingSession was developed with large studio productions in mind, but we are definitely sensitive to the needs of users that are working on independent projects or shorts that don't have the budget to afford a $600 app.

One idea we’re toying with is to have a single-user version of SpottingSession that would allow only one person at a time to connect to the app. All the other features that make SpottingSession such a timesaver would still exist. This would be offered at a much lower price, in the $30 - $50 range. Would anyone here be interested in that?

Note that we’re actively developing new features for SpottingSession and our roadmap is guided by feedback from users like you. Since we’re offering a trial version of SpottingSession FREE for 90 days, we’d love to have anyone that’s remotely interested give it a go with no obligation to buy the thing.

We want to learn as much as possible about each person’s workflow, and how we can make SpottingSession fit into that. So please hit me up on here or via email - ron@spottingsession.com - with any questions or feedback you’ve got.

Thanks!
http://spottingsession.com
#14
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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didn't see the price lol. Back to pen and paper
#15
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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Pen and paper here when I'm with the director, be it in the edit room or on the mix stage.
When reviewing the whole movie in a screening room, I'll use something like Evernote on my phone or tablet. I usually know the film quite well by then and know which reel I'm looking at and what the scene is.

I can understand the advantage of having something that auto-logs timecode, but I'm not quite sure that it's THAT useful.

Sent from my XT910
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#16
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FullFrequency View Post
For me it's solving a non-existent problem.

#17
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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Quote:
One idea we’re toying with is to have a single-user version of SpottingSession that would allow only one person at a time to connect to the app. All the other features that make SpottingSession such a timesaver would still exist. This would be offered at a much lower price, in the $30 - $50 range. Would anyone here be interested in that?
I'm always looking for new ways to improve my workflow. At $30 to $50 price range, It seems pretty reasonable.
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#18
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
  #18
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It's nice to see this kind of consideration for Indy budgets. Yes I would be interested if all functionality remained (including turning notes into PT markers) however, a single user at a time may be too limiting? How many devices could connect this way? does it imply the server is on a single system and several iphones/ipads could be involved in a session? would suggest allowing something like that where at least 2 or 3 people could contribute ? this would be normal for small shops to require
#19
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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Android version?
#20
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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I tried SpottingSession a few minutes ago with PT on a macbook air and an iPhone. I must say I am very impressed how everything worked flawlessly.

One little bug I had was when first opening the app, the brightness of the iPhone was almost turned at the lowest level. Once set back to normal brightness in the iphone preferences, everything ran smoothly.

A few feedbacks to improve your SpottingSession app :

1-It would be great to be able to customize the labels and layers of note buttons.

2-It would be great to be able to assign shortcuts and labels on specific keys.

as an example, you could assign and label the down arrow key so every time you hit it, it creates a "bring level down" note at that precise TC...

3-A "lock page" feature would be great to be able to set-up a default landing page after hitting the "submit" button. It would save one step for every note submitted.

As a few examples, a composer would hit the "music" button the first time, lock the page, then every time he hits the "submit button" it would go back to the music sub page instead of going back to the main category page to hit "music" again.
an FX editor would lock the FX page once to go back to the FX sub menu after hitting "submit", the mixer would lock the mix page while the Producer, director might want to go back to the main category page every time.

4-It would be good to have a preference to avoid hitting submit after each note. I know you must have this option when writing something, but a lot of users will prefer using the pre labeled button note shortcuts and no writing. This would save another step.

I hope I am not too confusing.

I agree that it would be nice to be able to run 3 or 4 iPhones /ipads at the same time.

Really nice app, congratulation!
#21
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallbudgetguru View Post
It's nice to see this kind of consideration for Indy budgets. Yes I would be interested if all functionality remained (including turning notes into PT markers) however, a single user at a time may be too limiting? How many devices could connect this way? does it imply the server is on a single system and several iphones/ipads could be involved in a session? would suggest allowing something like that where at least 2 or 3 people could contribute ? this would be normal for small shops to require
A single user would mean only one person could connect and contribute at a time, as we get the impression many do this type of work alone. We are still working out the details of how many users and how much it will cost, but I will update here once we've got something.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cebolao View Post
Android version?
No Android version yet, but for now you can use the web client in any browser to connect to a session (you can access web spotting at any time from the top right of spottingsession.com)
#22
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
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Thanks for the great feedback TheGolfer! Let me address a few of your points for everyone's edification.

The brightness turning down in the iPhone app is actually a feature, as we don't want a bright and distracting screen if you're in a dark editing bay. There is a button at the bottom of the spotting screen that allows you to adjust the brightness from directly within the app.

Regarding points #1 and 2, we've got these features in the pipeline for release. The buttons will act more like tags, allowing you to select multiple of them, and we will allow you to create new custom tags from the desktop app on a per-session basis that would show up in all connected devices.

Re: #3 - Excellent idea on locking pages, that's something we hadn't considered.

Re: #4 - We are still experimenting with what the best flow for creating a marker is. If you try the web client you'll notice it behaves slightly differently than the iOS app in terms of how a user submits a marker. Your feedback is useful in helping us decide the most efficient way to conduct these sessions.

I'll share your comments with the team and hopefully we'll have some updates for you soon. Thanks again!


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGolfer View Post
I tried SpottingSession a few minutes ago with PT on a macbook air and an iPhone. I must say I am very impressed how everything worked flawlessly.

One little bug I had was when first opening the app, the brightness of the iPhone was almost turned at the lowest level. Once set back to normal brightness in the iphone preferences, everything ran smoothly.

A few feedbacks to improve your SpottingSession app :

1-It would be great to be able to customize the labels and layers of note buttons.

2-It would be great to be able to assign shortcuts and labels on specific keys.

as an example, you could assign and label the down arrow key so every time you hit it, it creates a "bring level down" note at that precise TC...

3-A "lock page" feature would be great to be able to set-up a default landing page after hitting the "submit" button. It would save one step for every note submitted.

As a few examples, a composer would hit the "music" button the first time, lock the page, then every time he hits the "submit button" it would go back to the music sub page instead of going back to the main category page to hit "music" again.
an FX editor would lock the FX page once to go back to the FX sub menu after hitting "submit", the mixer would lock the mix page while the Producer, director might want to go back to the main category page every time.

4-It would be good to have a preference to avoid hitting submit after each note. I know you must have this option when writing something, but a lot of users will prefer using the pre labeled button note shortcuts and no writing. This would save another step.

I hope I am not too confusing.

I agree that it would be nice to be able to run 3 or 4 iPhones /ipads at the same time.

Really nice app, congratulation!
#23
19th January 2013
Old 19th January 2013
  #23
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Quote:
The brightness turning down in the iPhone app is actually a feature, as we don't want a bright and distracting screen if you're in a dark editing bay. There is a button at the bottom of the spotting screen that allows you to adjust the brightness from directly within the app.
Yes, a great feature that I discovered once I had my brightness back. May I suggest to set the default value a little higher

It good to know this great app will come with great support!
#24
25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGolfer View Post
Yes, a great feature that I discovered once I had my brightness back. May I suggest to set the default value a little higher
The next version of the iOS app should have a higher brightness default value--thanks for the suggestion!
#25
25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
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Hi all! We took your feedback to heart and as of today we have a single user version of SpottingSession available for only $30.

Check out the website for details, and as usual any comments you have are well-received.

http://spottingsession.com
#26
25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
  #26
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I use pen and paper. Works great with my PTHD rig!
#27
25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
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How do we get the 90 day trial? Site says 30 days.
Looks like a great app but can't help but worry that clients may get trigger happy with such easy access to note making.
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#28
25th January 2013
Old 25th January 2013
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mundox View Post
How do we get the 90 day trial? Site says 30 days.
Looks like a great app but can't help but worry that clients may get trigger happy with such easy access to note making.
We're extending the trail to 90 days for Gearslutz users. Email ron@spottingsession.com with the email address you used to sign up on SpottingSession, and I'll take care of it.

And regarding those trigger-happy clients, we have a handy "delete note" feature
#29
29th January 2013
Old 29th January 2013
  #29
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Bought the single user PT version just now.
Kind of agree with the "it solves a problem that doesn't exist" comment, but nevertheless, it's really well executed, and has a high "cool!!" factor.

If, for 30 bucks, I can impress only one of my more gadget-minded customers, it's already well worth the money! :-)
#30
30th January 2013
Old 30th January 2013
  #30
Matt R. Sherman
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent_in_Sydney View Post
um $600 for a spotting app?!!
I use "just log it" which admittedly doesn't have the MTC integration, but its $5
(FIVE)
I can then import those notes as markers into PT using edimarker - FREE

Is the MTC integration worth more than a reconforming package or lexicon reverb bundle or even a serious waves bundle given how their prices have dropped?? More than a decklink card and a cheap LCD to go with it?
Hmmm....
Hey Brent,

Do you mind sharing your workflow for converting Just log it outputs into Markers in pro tools? I have tried doing this by sending the spotted notes to myself via email and dropping that text file into EdiMarker however have not had any success.

It will read the text file but the first column (marker name) ends up being "Just Log It!" so I've gone and rearranged the columns in numbers then pasted that back into a text file and it looks kosher in Edimarker, however, when trying to import the MIDI into a protools session no markers appear :-(

I'd like to do this from time to time. Perhaps you can explain your workflow here ?

Cheers!
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