Friday, April 20, 2012

CinemaEditor Magazine - Subscribe!

Just got informed of a pretty good deal over Twitter - US$5 for a yearly online subscription and US$25 for both online and hardcopy subscription over at CinemaEditor Magazine, the official magazine for the American Cinema Editors (ACE).

I really like reading about editing (even though in recent months, the Producing side has took more attention from the Editing side... pitfalls of a PrEditor) - both the bits about gear and about the craft. Actually, I like to read more about the craft. And it seems to be quite a niche subject so there's not much reading material out there.

So of course, I jumped at this opportunity!

If you'd like to get your hands on the mag, go on to

Thursday, October 27, 2011

LOL in the Edit Room

As an editor, somewhat ironically, I watch very few films and edit very few videos outside of work... guess I love editing a whole bunch but putting some distance between us is a good thing.

So, on the topic of 'distance', here's my favorite DoP bridging the time-space continuum with me ;)

Usually, in the edit room, it's me 'talking to' [or ranting at] the actors onscreen or my DoP/Director/Sound Guy/Client/Make-Up Artist off-screen, like a raving lunatic...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oiling the Wheels for the Next Wave

A little bit of a rest period post-madness, so have managed to upload a few more recent works:

Our future nursing professionals! From the NUS Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (Did you know we have an up-and-coming Nursing Undergrad, Masters AND PhD programme in Singapore?) Very classy piece and good interviews and footage to work with. Wasn't on set for this but I was told by my crew that the selected student-talents really did their homework (the preparation definitely shows in the delivery of the soundbites) and were a joy to work with during re-enactments with their positive attitudes. Kudos! When you have clients who really take ownership of their videos, the editor gets great footage to work with and the videos shine.

An Opening Video I did for the Singapore Sports Awards. Took me a while to experiment with and come up with the style but once I locked down what I wanted to achieve, making it happen was a smoother affair. Shortlisted the most dramatic stills and went for it. Clients had some footage, mostly news coverage sort, so we felt it would dilute the impact. That's where we boldly suggested going with just the stills and creating the story from there. Had a hand in crafting the pitched concept and this was one of the rarer projects where we managed to run the pitched copy almost 100% (tweaking it slightly to suit the photos we have to play with). Pretty happy with the final result - a "blockbuster movie trailer" of sorts. Kind of ran contrary to the initial brief/what they're used to previously - didn't use any video footage and kept it really short. But hey, clients' feedback post-event was that this really fired up the audience and set the mood - Mission: Accomplished!


With the breathing room created during this downtime, I finally got myself down to my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) doctor. Was following up for some other issue but with a few pokes and prods, she found out my back was actually too abnormally tense. I'd thought it's because I've been so busy that I've not gotten my weekly dose of gymming/exercise for 2 months running. It turned out that it was due to the long stretches of long/late edits leading to really late dinners, causing poor digestion which led to the pulling of the back muscles.

And that was how I ended up undergoing my first acupuncture session! Having gone through it, I'd say it looks scarier than it really is. Though there were some really strange and awkward sensations when she poked the needles in to the sorest of spots.

In any case, I'm glad she identified that problem because I felt better immediately after! No more sore back. Now, THAT'S a big thing for editors who sit in their chairs for more than 10 hours daily. And now, I'm finally restarting my exercising... and hope to get back on some sort of routine. Got to keep the most important piece of "equipment" chugging along nicely.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

X Marks The Spot

Ahhhh... between my last post and this post, much has happened. Many projects have been completed, many edit hours churned out and I've added a few new clients to my company and freelance list. Haven't had a proper break for more than a year and a half (but finally, a short beach getaway is coming right up) but those edits ain't gonna edit themselves, are they? :)

In fact, I've been so busy with pre/prod/post that I've not had the chance to upload some of our latest works online.  Though I've managed to squeeze two more new videos online - both fun to work with, on shoot and in post:

TV Commercial for our long-time theater client, Toy Factory, for their "881 - The Musical" production. Heard the musical sold very well and was well-received by the audience - kudos!

Something fun for another returning client, OpenNet. Where do you get such nimble and expressive hands? HINT: Editing develops agility and a good sense of rhythm ;)


BUT, the Biggest, Baddest, most Bombastic Breaking News of all broke a coupla' hours ago:

FCP X is (finally) here

It's only been a few hours and there has been a lot of online chatter about The X. I've seen the official intro video and read about the features, comments and hot-off-the-keyboards reviews (not to forget, the key omissions). Not being an early adopter of technology (but only staying ahead of the news without burning holes in my pockets), I'm going to adopt my usual 'Wait and See' approach.

Afterall, I am running a fairly stable (though sometimes quirky) FCP 6.0 system on 10.5 Leopard on a 2009 Mac Pro and... it works. I am very familiar with & fairly fast on it. I have more than a few current and pending projects - and lots more that I'll need to be able to tap into in case clients come back (a key omission in The X) - and clients have been coming back to update their videos recently.

The lack of OMF exporting feature in FCP X makes it a definite no-go for me as well. BUT from comments made by editors that Apple Dev team consults with, these "pro" features are currently omitted but not forgotten. Which suits me just fine - shall await a more stable and feature-complete package before making the switch. It's a complete rewrite, so surely, I'm not going to bank on it to be The One on first try (even though many people seem pretty upset by having their expectations shattered after waiting so long... as for me, I have too much patience. I can wait.)

In the meantime, I am grateful for the early adopters and FCP fanatics who had already started editing projects with FCP X mere hours after its release! For they will probably be the ones to stress the system and discover the 101 flaws and bugs that Apple will work on for its next update...

Moving to FCP X would probably be inevitable but does not have to be imminent for my shop. I can see FCP X potentially being very useful around here (once I get up to speed with the new.... almost-everything + the professional features get worked in and stabilized + all my paid plugins get their necessary updates) - we're a small shop and almost all our projects are short-form and not more than 20mins, we work with tapeless formats 70% of the time and deliver tapeless for majority of our clients as well.

I would be lying if I say I'm not equally thrilled AND spooked by the really low price point at US$299.99 - thrilled that for such a low price, I can get a whole buncha bells, whistles, SFX and templates bundled with a spanking new NLE; spooked because now really EVERYBODY can just get an iMac/MacBook Pro and be an editor/run a production house/set up their own internal post-production team. We're already experiencing some sort of stagnation of project prices despite high inflation... so this can be quite disconcerting.

Hardware and software-wise, the barriers to entry have really been dropped low. In terms of experience and expertise? It's probably going to remain difficult to explain the value-add of having an "education" (formal or usually, non-formal and in the "real world", supplemented by copious amounts of good, updated reading/viewing materials online).

In any case, I think many people are still reeling from the shock of finally coming face-to-face with the much-anticipated, spanking new FCP that looks and behaves so differently from its ancestors... hobbling along more like an iMovie Pro/crippled Final Cut Pro.

The release of the news came a little underwhelming but I guess life (and edits) will go on... to bed, I shall. Regardless of NLE, nothing can replace a clear mind when pressing them JKL keys!

Friday, October 29, 2010

ReelSpam [or 'What I Was Up To For The Past Few Months']

Been a while since I popped in but it's been a busy few months [and months to come]. Highly productive season working with new clients who've come our way. Doing pretty fun videos. Currently in the process of uploading the newly completed ones to our YouTube channel. Meanwhile, here are some of the latest works that I've edited.

This is a highlights reel containing footage from the 20 short vignettes I've cut for the 1-Altitude Gallery. Beautiful footage shot on the 5D. It was great fun cutting these 20 videos and giving each of them a unique theme/mood/rhythm. A little bummed I wasn't able to be on shoot since my crew had so much fun running about like tourists - but those videos weren't gonna edit themselves!

Client came back to us after we did a good job for them on our first collaboration - the first video really made the APAC office stand out among their global counterparts. So, they decided to take our concept further and commission a Part Deux using the same actor, animation style and premise. This one is on Cloud Computing and we worked with our animation partner to create something fun.

Finally uploaded the other Youth Olympic Games videos I've edited. I guess you could call these 'mini narrative-documentaries'. Worked with our regular freelance director on these and we pieced together the stories, while setting a specific mood for each piece. Because all these videos were screened at the same Olympic exhibition venue in Suntec Convention Centre, the last thing we want is all of them having the same generic treatment and style. Somewhat bucking convention, these videos were not LOUD and "MTV-ish" - as some might have readily associated with youths and sports. Instead, they're dignified and contemplative.

We're currently juggling 7 projects [and more KIV ones to come] through 2010 and into early 2011. Just wrapping up one for Sentosa... moving onto an overseas shoot next week... working with some old clients, clients who came back to us after moving to another company and new clients from new markets. A mix of branding, marketing, corporates, pro bono and TVCs; private, agency and government. Plate's getting pretty full... but we'll make it work. Somehow ;)

Also started working with PluralEyes on a recent project which we shot on the 5D, with audio coming from the Zoom H4N. Apart from some small workarounds that were needed, I was pretty impressed with the ease of syncing. We had more than 6 hours of interview footage, which was synced quite beautifully using PluralEyes. Kudos! Deep appreciation for that tool - good stuff at very reasonable price. Check it out at

Meanwhile, I've also taken up small freelance gigs for a Microsoft vendor producing customer testimonials. Currently, it's been subtitling work - taking local versions and adding English subtitles for the international market. But as with ALL edit jobs, it's never "just" a "simple subtitling job". I've learnt a few new things along the way when it comes to versioning things since I had to work around updating text information on graphics and videos which are already mashed together, as they come to me in .WMV or equivalent files. Every video is different and requires its own set of troubleshooting. I'm a devout MacHead... but hey, like many others, I got my start in Microsoft. I just found something better and am sticking to it ;) Besides, this is strictly business!

Talking about professionalism, I came across an article which I thought was really good for professionals who are doing videos... professionally. Looking through the list, I think we've discovered all these points for ourselves through the years but this guy really covered it in a clear and succinct manner. Recommended Read for everyone who's in the business and is involved in any level of client servicing:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Y to the O to the G - Creating [for] the Youth Olympic Games

Finally delivered a big project for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, held in Singapore from 14 to 26 August. We were responsible for all the audio-visuals in the Youth Olympic Village at NTU as well as the 'Blazing the Trail' Olympic Gallery at Suntec International Convention Centre [which is also a competition venue].

All in all, we completed... 3 single-screen AVs [of 4 videos - because one of the screens had 2 stories] and 2 x panoramic AV.

KAPOW! The Phantom high-speed piece we have over at Suntec Convention Centre - a centerpiece that greets visitors to the exhibition and competitions.

Pretty happy with all the AVs, especially the panoramic AV for Suntec - because it was a fairly epic project: 8m-wide screen consisting of purely Phantom high-speed footage which was composited into a custom canvas and also required masking and grading. We also worked with a sound designer to create an original 5.1 soundscape to further enhance the panoramic action. First time working with all these elements [Phantom, custom superwide canvas, DataOn Watchout system, 5.1 audio] - but happy to have worked out some kind of workflow that, well, worked!

Spent many nights transcoding the Phantom footage from .CINE to .MOV [Cinepak] and finally to .MOV [ProRes(HQ)] - but the footage [which I believe went from 12-bit to 10-bit] was really good for grading. So much latitude to work with! Worked especially well for the first Phantom sequence we shot - which we were still figuring out some of the settings - since I was able to correct some of the lighting/hue issues in post.

Here's an excerpt:

Quite bummed about the lack of publicity for the Suntec Olympic Gallery and any mention of this panorama - because I believe it's not something you get to see a lot. Was down at the site to finally take a look at the piece and was happy to see a pair of parents and their young child being mesmerized. After staring at each shot for more than a 100 times while editing, the 'WHOA' factor does wear off fairly fast. So it's really nice to see fresh pairs of eyes being lit up by the piece.

As for the other AVs, had quite a fun time with a pure editing piece: cutting footage of various Olympic Opening Ceremonies and the lighting of the flame. We had access to footage dating back to 1960 [Rome, I believe], right up to Beijing 2008. The footage from Tokyo 1964 was surreal, though... intercutting shots of the released birds with faces of freaked out athletes and having an ominous soundtrack underneath the shot of a wailing baby...

The Flame video, flanked by actual Olympic Torches from the past Games.
[having bright display panels shining onto the glossy HD TV isn't really a good idea...]

We also had 2 pieces profiling local YOG athletes: one which followed a day in the life of a Triathlete and another focused on the sport of Male Artistic Gymnastics and Equestrian. Nice little vignettes that give audiences a little peek into the lives of these young Olympians. Also the first time I worked with DSLR footage and it mixed pretty well when cut with our HDV footage. My director had [too much!] fun overcranking with the DSLR - but it did give a very nice mood to the two pieces.

The 2 AVs are enclosed in their own 'booths' which are shaped like the Olympic rings.

Didn't have the chance to see our works in the Youth Olympic Village though - somehow our accreditation passes weren't processed and so, we can't enter the restricted lands. Ah, bummer - I was looking forward to having some sort of special YOG souvenir.

Moving on, I'm currently working on a series of 20 x 1-min vignettes shot on the 5D for an upcoming tourist spot. Working with really nice visuals coming out from the 5D. We've also just finished a stopmotion piece... with the 5D. As I'm blogging here on a Saturday afternoon, I'm also monitoring the transcoding of 5D footage back on the work Mac Pro - through LogMeIn. This part, I like - since I don't miss inputting timecodes and popping in tapes!