Posts Tagged ‘editing’

I’ll write up the weekend properly later.

Here’s a list of things I’d like for this project next time:

1. Photographer. I say this for every shoot, but we’ve never yet been able to secure a production-stills-only member of crew, even when we have plenty of people on hand.

2. BTS cameraman. This one’s harder than it seems – we got some behind the scenes footage this year, but it immediately filled up my card and I don’t think it’s as easy as it seems to do this well. Again having a dedicated person would be good.

3. Credits. On Sparkle I had to lock off before finishing the art effects I wanted on the credits, and in ’13 and ’15 we’ve had to forego them completely, just because it’s always left to the end. We tend to have a list of participants well in advance; there’s no reason someone artistic with a vague knowledge of FCP, iMovie etc. couldn’t be doing this on Saturday, and make them super-fly.

4. Social media. I like the idea of Twittering mid-shoot, but it always takes up more time than I think it will. I’d love to have someone on hand to tweet pictures and updates as we go along, just for the fun of it.

5. someone to interact with sfl so i dont have to

I’d normally say “Watch this space for the final product”, but why not watch this space instead…

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(writing at 11am)

I’m uploading the rushes from yesterday, behind schedule because I forgot to pick up a CF reader from Isherwood last night (or should say early this morning). It’s taking its time and preventing me doing anything else.

Yesterday’s plan:

09:00 – Meet in Guildford, buy costumes and snacks, get specs and make sure we had our prop.

10:00 – Drive to location.

11:00 – Begin filming.

18:00 – Run out of sunlight. Drive to studio, get fish and chips, dress set in record time.

19:00 – Begin filming.

22:00 (aka a reasonable time in the evening) – wrap, strike the set, disperse crew for a nice early night.

Yesterday in fact went thus:

08:00 – Chloe picked up an airsoft weapon from Nat (aka Nataraptor) after we remembered at the last minute that we needed one.

08:30 – Picked up by Chloe and brought to Guildford for tea with Phil, Zac and Olivia and wait for Chris to arrive.

09:00 – Went to Primark (aka costume department) to buy several white shirts and black trousers, while Chris and Zac went to Tesco for all of the snacks. Try to hang around long enough to receive specs in case we need to buy a prop.

11:00 – No specs as of yet. Set off to location.

12:00 – Arrive on location. Walk up and down non-pavemented road looking for a tiny pocket of 3G to check my email/texts.

12:15 – Realise by means of SFL Twitter feed that our specs are not coming by email/text this year, but are in the account.

12:30 – Finally get into account to access our specs. Have a mild panic. Rejoice that we have the prop already on us.

13:00 – Begin shooting on location. We had three cameras – Chloe’s as main, Phil’s as 2nd, and mine for BTS and pictures. We fill it up pretty quickly. Chloe and I share main camera handling as I need to practice operating and using a higher spec DSLR than mine. Phil and Olive shoot additionally on his camera. Highlight was Chloe being a dead body. Thought we got found by passers-by who turned out to be Matt and Drew bringing more snacks. Got fake blood all over white shirts. Nearly cut Chris in half.

16:30 – Ran out of things to shoot, despite it being light for a good three hours more and us having only been filming for about three and a half hours. Agreed that it was more sensible to head back and get a head start on the studio.

17:30 – Crash in various locations for tea. Pick up sound and lighting gear.

18:30 – Reconvene at the studio and start setting up. Send Matt and Chris out for fish and chips. Eat fish and chips.

19:00 – Sit down with Phil and Zac (while Chloe sets up lights and Drew sets up sound). Talk through world facts, the character, what we’ve shot so far and how that ties into a backstory, character motives, etc., in line with our title and line of dialogue.

20:00 – Begin shooting. Chloe on camera, Drew on sound, Phil 1st, Olivia clapper.

00:30 – Finish shooting, and realise we may have missed all the last trains. Drive around a few train stations. Verify that there are no trains. Redistribute actors for crashing overnight. Strike set.

01:00 – Bed.

The Sunday Post-Production Party started at 10am at our house with me, Drew, Cédric, Phil and Tull piling into our flat and filling it with laptops and Oreos. We gave Tull’s rough cut to Cédric and Drew, so that they could start preparing for grading and composing respectively, and Phil and I sat with Tull to review the rough itself. I’ve never collaborated on an edit before and spent most of my energy trying not to make too many demands and force my opinions on everyone.

Between us we worked through the edit and finished with a cut of around 4:30 (which was a welcome change from last year, when we’d struggled to make it down to a final length 10 seconds over the limit). Throughout this process, having everyone in the same room was both a good laugh and also useful for keeping everyone in sync. Phil, Tull and I were on Macs, Cédric and Drew on PCs; I was editing in FCP7 and Tull was using X; and Cédric was using an Adobe package for grading. Constant communication helped prevent some of the issues we’d had in the past when mixing setups (like the Announcement soundtrack being a good ten seconds shorter than the video, or Wargames being shot in two different framerates).

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At around 6pm, we handed over the locked-off edit for actual grading and composition. Cédric and Drew already had a head-start on this from working on the rough, but Cédric would need to apply the grade shot by shot, and composing everything obviously takes time. Fortunately, Dan, Phil and I had decided we wanted the night-time cityscape which the film opens on, and we were a tempting fifteen minutes away from the gorgeous views offered by the hills of Guildford.

Phil took us up to the Mount, overlooking Guildford Cathedral and boasting a view all the way across to the Wembley Arches. After setting up some shots and waiting for nightfall, I did my first ever camera operating – granted, it was a motionless shot of a town, but it was exciting nonetheless. After about two hours of charging batteries, lightsabre battles and lying on my back in the grass, we came back with the 15 seconds which would be our film’s introduction. We then took to finding some kind of visual effect to throw over the footage using only FCP7, and ended up cobbling together the “sparkle” effect using a filter and various layers of fade. For a team with no special effects experience or software, it didn’t come out too bad.

We were hitting stumbling blocks, of course. Cédric’s grade refused to look the same in the export as it did in the editor. Drew’s music, as stubborn and self-assured as its composer, would not balance neatly with the narration. A full thirty minutes were dedicated to trying to find the perfect sound for our detonator, which we later decided sounded better in silence. But the agreement to lock off something–anything–before dawn meant that concessions were made and compromises met, and finally we piled everything together into FCP7: the locked-off, graded edit, the music and narration, and the “special effect”-ified cityscape. At around 3am, everyone confirmed their preferred name spellings for the credits, and Cédric, Phil and Tull were finally allowed to go home.

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I love this short. I love the way the title juxtaposes the theme, and the backstory for the explosives which you hardly get to hear about in the narrative. I love the memories it brings up when I watch it of an enjoyable, fast-paced shoot without drama or stress. What I think I love most about it is how different it is to some of the other things we’ve made. Strings, as I’ve talked about before, was so tightly tied to my personal vision that it was hard to give anyone else creative input or accept when things weren’t perfect. Wargames was huge and I was wholly unprepared for the challenge. But I approached this with a level of indifference which I actually think helped it a lot, because I wasn’t working towards an idea in my head, and I wasn’t desperate for everything to be perfect, and I wasn’t afraid of the people I was with judging my ideas. We came to the idea and we tackled it as best we could and we settled for what worked, not what we felt like we needed.

Watch Sparkle on YouTube here!

Back to Part 1

A short while before the emotional rollercoaster of A Special Announcement began, foley extraordinaire Phil Grigg had convinced me to let a friend of his edit Strings. This was mostly for practical reasons: I had no editing software of my own, and Phil wanted to submit the final film for his course at university, and the deadline was looming. He and Drew both needed time for foley and music, respectively, so we needed to move fast. The editor in question, James Berridge, had a lot of experience, some flashy software, and was keen to help out. After no shortage of consideration on my part, I agreed.

I’m not going to lie – at first I was not happy about the idea. Despite all the above practicalities, not to mention the risks of a first-time director editing her self-written film with very little experience – despite all that, this was, after all, my first ever production, lovingly and stubbornly clung to from the initial concept stages right through to the shoot, and I wasn’t sure I could surrender the footage to another editor. How could anyone else possibly achieve my vision?

But I did eventually concede. We were running out of time, and Phil assured me it would be a collaborative process, and I could have as much or as little creative control as I liked. And I had to remind myself that Project Flashcards is, at its heart, a collaborative project. A fresh set of (highly experienced) eyes was probably exactly what this needed.

That didn’t stop me creating a new storyboard based on the footage and talking poor James through it very, very thoroughly. I wasn’t quite brave enough to trust anyone else completely just yet.

We met initially to go through the storyboard and concepts, and put together the first half before I had to leave. James send me this first half for me to review, and I send him back a (fairly exhaustive) list of feedback. He incorporated it and sent be me back the redraft, this time with the second half as well. Once I’d reviewed that (this was maybe two weeks after our initial meeting) we met up again, and as time was getting on and deadlines drawing near, I decided that whatever we ended up with that evening would be locked off, without questions.

And after all that, I was surprised at how enjoyable and successful the experience was. If anything, James was just the right combination of willing to follow direction and prepared to offer suggestion, because what we ended up with, I am convinced, was as close to what I had in my head as the footage could offer, but ten times better than I could have put together myself. I knew just how I wanted each cut to look, but a combination of my terrible drawings, thorough descriptions and James’ educated efforts produced results which I am certain I would not have managed on my own.

This did make me realise that the collaborative aspect of Project Flashcards is not only to benefit others who are involved, but largely also for me to outsource all the bits I am not able to do myself (writing everything, being good at acting, owning expensive equipment and so  on). By that same token, maybe it will help me learn to outsource the bits I want to keep to myself, and take on the bits I am more apprehensive of.