Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making the Video Part 2... The edit

Last time i talked about the shoot of a music promo i was working on... this time it's the edit.

Once i got the two SATA drives from the Atomos Ninja backed-up on to another FireWire800 drive, i could begin trawling through all the footage. I like to watch everything i shot and then label and move the shots i want into another folder, ready to import into Final Cut Pro. I label them so that i know what is what when i am assembling the edit. It's no good calling them take 1, take 2 etc... i need to know what it is, so i call them things like 'Vocal Mime to Cam 1' or 'Audience Reactions 3' etc. It keeps things simple.

Once i've chosen all the footage, i then import the audio file of the song into Final Cut Pro. In this case, it needed some mastering work first. There was very little 'bottom end' or bass, and it also need converting into an AIFF file to make FCP run quicker. I made the adjustments in PEAK and then exported it.

Once that was done, i dropped it onto the timeline and started dragging in the clips. I knew already what the plan was, so i started at the beginning, looking for the opening shots and then the speed dating clips. As usual there was far too much footage, so it was a case what not to use... a nice position to be in. When you shot a promo in one day with no crew only a tripod and a shoulder rig, there's no slick dolly moves or long tracking shots, so you shoot accordingly and that means keep the edit snappy too. Linger on any one shot too long and people will lose interest. A huge mistake you see in lots of amateur band videos is a wide shot of the band performing that just lingers on screen too long. If the camera's not moving, the edit has to.

 The shot of the singer looking right down the lens seemed the best way to start and as there's no lip syncing during the speed dating section, it seemed preferable to using some of the gig section too near the beginning.

Then it was a case of trying to tell the story without hammering it home. The audience aren't stupid and nothing is worse than trying too hard to make a point... people can and will watch it more than once, so give them some credit and let them work it out a bit.

Luckily, i'd shot all the gig sections right the way through, so i could line up the beeps at the beginning of the takes and they would all sync up with no drifting issues. Then all i had to do was switch between takes while dropping in some of the story based takes at regular intervals to keep the flow.

I was really happy with the stuff we shot at the table of the singer singing to Matilda (or Nat as she's really known...) The lighting looks great and it joins to the two main sections of the video together perfectly.

Once i'd got all the clips in the right places and i'd watched it through a few times i began on the colour work. This involved using Magic Bullet Looks to grade it. I shot it all quite bright so i needed to make it darker and more moody. I used a preset i'd created for 'The Addicted' which only needed tweaking on the exposure to get each clip to match. On a few shots i added some anamorphic lens flares just to give it a bit of punch and then i added a widescreen matte which i eventually cropped off altogether at 2.35:1 for that cinematic look.

Un-graded footage shot with Frank Glencairns G-Log profile

The graded footage using one of my presets from Magic Bullet Looks

Al i had to do then was add the titles. Dan had already sent me the OffBeat Music animation and i already had the Recoil Films one, so i just needed to create the credits. I did this in FCPX as there's some nice looking presets which are really easy to tweak. Then i exported them and imported them into FCP7. A quick render (the quad-core i7 iMac really renders fast) and then export. Lastly, i dropped it into Compressor 4 to generate the 1080p web version which i uploaded to Vimeo.

Dan (the 1st AD), shot this little making-of video on the day of the shoot... it shows the fun (and the mayhem) involved in the shooting process. Notice how much everyone is enjoying themselves while i'm permanently staring down the viewfinder... such is life when you've got just one day to shoot. Mustn't complain though, we did fit in time for a pint and a McDonalds. ;-)

Here's the finished promo...

What would i have done differently given more time or money?
Well, a dolly and track would have been great, and a circle of track around the table scene would really push it onto another level, but there's always a wish list and you've got to work with what you've got. I'm really happy with it. I don't think you'd make much difference without spending 10 times what it cost and even then would any punters actually notice? Probably not...

I'm looking forward to working with the band again when they're in the top 10. ;-)

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