Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Heart Editing

Been on an editing frenzy, working on a few different videos at the same time. Was [and still am] juggling a 12-ep mini sitcom for service training, interview-based recruitment video, 4 versions of a TVC for an upcoming musical, 7-min interview-based internal sales video & a short turnaround 2.5-min launch video.

I'm lovin' it!
[Despite clocking an average of 12 hours per day this week... but the fatigue only sets in when I step out of my suite; am revvin' & ready to go once I'm back in my chair]

I always like to think through my edits - because every edit is different and needs to be approached differently, whether slightly or significantly.

There are differences in organization [had to think through how I was going to manage the 12-ep mini sitcom because the eps and scenes are being shot out of sequence, with staggered delivery], differences in grading [setting the 'look'], differences in cutting [the TVC was mainly cuts/dissolves/gradient wipes - which I like; the launch video was an exercise in patience & attention to detail - tons of keyframing] etc...

That is why I find myself actually thinking of my edits during the commute to and from work - because it means once I get my butt into my chair, I've already visualized what I'm going to try and do.

As a preditor, I almost always meet the clients and jot down notes on my edits personally. It also gives me the chance to clarify what they REALLY want, because often, comments can be vague and if passed from one person to another, the 'broken telephone effect' takes place.

I don't reckon getting editors so involved is a common phenomenon... at least we're not talking about projects of epic proportions, like editors who are committed to a big-budget feature film during pre-production itself.

But, I got to admit, sometimes the lack of distance between the 'client' and the 'editor' side of things creates much tension and struggle. There's definitely value in having a separate 'producer' to mediate and negotiate. But we're talking about a competent & experienced producer, not any random warm body you pick up and stick in front of the clients. Indeed, producing is an art, too.

Anyhow, as someone who likes variety [like dim sum & buffets - yum!], I'm enjoying tackling the different projects which are, in essence, communication tools. That's something we work a lot on: how to deliver an effective message through video. Oftentimes, we get approached by clients who want to 'make a video' and it's up to us to really dig deep to find out what they want the video to do for them. Some clients are more savvy with their communication objectives while others need more advising or digging. There's always this through-line we need to keep to, from the types of words we use in the script down to the kinds of shots selected [the shot sizes, the emotions, the colors, the music, the rhythm of cuts...]

You can have the fanciest graphics [which I will admit: we don't] or snazziest gimmicks - but without a sound communication concept, you're basically gonna end up with a glorified high-tech picture flipbook.

Guess I'm putting my Communications degree to work here :P Not all "corporate videos" are made equal!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Tiger Time!

2009 segued into 2010 without much of a fanfare. I was fairly busy back in December *quickly clicks through iCal to refresh my memory* We had some shoots to settle before everyone disappeared for the year-end holidays and we were on the lookout for an AP to join us since we were booked for more than a few projects due in first quarter of 2010.

We also had two launch videos for the same client, both with short but hard deadlines to meet. Project was awarded mid-December and delivery was January - right after we crossed over the calendar. Which meant the X'mas season was a terrible inconvenience!

Quite a fair bit of prep was needed. Casting was the main task during prep as it was a simple concept which hinged heavily on performance. Both videos required effects finishing as well. Here's an excerpt from one of the videos:

That said, the project went rather smoothly and I managed to spend some time indulging in the festive spirit with some friends - late night suppers, hotpot, BBQ and karaoke!

Once we entered the new year, we had a TVC shoot for Toy Factory, a local theater company. One of our long-term clients, since we also produced the TVCs for their previous annual productions. We were blessed with amazingly bright and sunny weather, which was exceptionally helpful since it was an entirely outdoor shoot and we didn't have the luxury of postponing it to any other day since we were working with a bunch of very busy actors. What if it had rained? Well... we would've had to work out something.

*One lesson learnt during the shoot: If you're shooting with the Letus adaptor, bring enough spare AA batteries! Better yet, always change into a fresh pair of AAs at the start of the shoot, especially if it's rental gear.*

The TVC was shot on a Sony EX3, with a Letus adaptor. Shots came out really nice. Love the colors. I was doing SxS card wrangling on the set. Compared to my previous wrangling experience with Panasonic P2 cards, I find the workflow for ingesting SxS cards much more intuitive and straightforward. Bonus was that the SxS cards plug right into the Expresscard slot in my MacBook Pro. Secure and fast transfer.

Fast forwarding from then on, my iCal has been packed with edits, edits and more edits. Guess my wish is finally coming true! A lot of shifting of schedules, since I plan my own edit schedules around shifting delivery deadlines and various other factors. As always, as a preditor, there is never enough time to edit when the producing minutiae swarms around you.

Had a fairly productive session today, though. It's only the day after the long Chinese New Year break and if not for my backed up edit schedule, I'd have taken it easy [or the day off!]. But duty beckoned and I went in for an overdue color grading. It was also the first project I've fully color graded using - we bought it at an awesome deal during X'mas [50% off, if I remember correctly].

We've previously used Magic Bullet Editors but I find Colorista and Looks much faster and easier to use. The only thing I wish I had was a 3-knob control panel of some sort for Colorista. But alas, I am by no means a professional colorist and the clientele we service do not demand such level of color precision. But nonetheless, color grading is such a value-adding step, that as much as possible [budget and schedule permitting], I'll do it.

Managed to finish the 6-min video in about 4 hours - with the help of absolute silence, minimum disturbances [or breaks] and intense concentration. Since the theme & tone for the video was pink, everything else in real-life looked too blue once I got my eyes off the monitor!

The next video to get the Magic Bullet Looks treatment would be the musical TVC. The footage that came out of the EX3 is already quite close to the look we're going for, so it's more a matter of enhancing and bringing out some of the colors.