Posts Tagged ‘Post-Production’


Now You Don’t Need Editors – 21. September, 2011

So someone created a website where you can upload clips and it’ll edit them into a video for you.

Um, why isn’t this a bigger story? Why aren’t more people FREAKING OUT?!

Apparently they churn out a montage set to music but the company claims their algorithms can analyze your footage and pick out the most interesting parts.

Am I the only person that feels like we’re one step closer to Judgment Day?

Posted in Post-Production

So You’re An Editor? – 4. August, 2010

Oh so very funny. And then I cried. And then I looked for an Avid class.  Check it out.

But seriously, we don’t need the FCP bashing. And everyone wants you to find their know-it-all nephew a job. Yeah, I got a job for him. I’ll turn his @$$ out on Santa Monica Blvd. F**k your nephew.

Posted in Post-Production

The Joy of Editing with a Client – 10. February, 2010

There is so much truth in this that it had me laughing through my tears.

Whoosh! – watch more funny videos

So, still want to be an editor?

Posted in Post-Production

FCP Rig of the Day – 8. December, 2009

Check it out, I’m the rig of the day.


Thanks Final Cutters.

Posted in Post-Production

Wedding Video 2.0 – Aftermath – 18. November, 2009

Okay, it’s been a few days since returning from Chicago. The wedding shoot went… well, there’s a reason I use the word “aftermath”.

Let me avoid hyperbole and get to the facts.

I have footage from four cameras. Three were mini-DV. One was HDV. The venue was very dark. While great for atmosphere, it was not optimal for shooting. All the footage is rather murky. Sadly, that’s not the worst of it. The two oldest cameras have massive glitches whenever a flash goes off… which is like every 0.7 seconds; I’m guessing their sensors couldn’t handle the sudden and dramatic spike in brightness. The glitches look something like this…

(not actual footage)

I could work with the glitches but Final Cut Pro won’t let me capture the footage using the NTSC Firewire capture presets.


So I’m thinking I need to trick the system into seeing these tapes as analog and capture using the “non-controllable device” preset.

Just one tiny problem: I don’t have a non-controllable device.

I’ve been using an old DV camera to capture. I could wrangle access to a DRS-11 but I don’t think that’ll help me. I think I need something like the ADVC110 but that’s a $200 gamble on a possible solution.

Two questions:

  • Am I on the right track with my potential solution?
  • Is there something less expensive than the ADVC110 but just as good?
  • Sigh. Many lessons learned.

    Posted in Off-Topic

    Help Me Promote You – 29. October, 2009

    If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you know I’m looking for small shooting/editing gigs. I was recently put in contact with a San Francisco based company that primarily produces short videos for small businesses. Sounds like the perfect kind of work for me. I contacted them, they asked me to attend a webinar, I sent them a link to my films and I received this reply.

    Thank you for attending our orientation webinar yesterday. I hope you found it informative.

    I took at look at your links and they’re really create & good, but I had a difficult time assessing what kind of a job you’re capable of doing if sent out on a XXXXXXXX project. Do you have any links to your work that are more XXXXXXXX-style (b-roll over interview) that I can take a look at? If not, do you think you could create something like that for me to look at? Please let me know.

    So after watching an interview driven documentary short

    … and a verite/observational documentary

    … plus a spec spot that I directed, wrote, shot, edited, sound designed, color corrected and animated

    … they’re not sure if I can produce a 30-60 second video that’s interview driven yet intercut with b-roll (for the record, I taught at class at UCLA [proper, not extension] for three quarters where the students produced this exact kind of work) so they want me to shoot something for them to take a look at?


    So this is where you help me help you. I need to produce a 30-60 second short that promotes something so why shouldn’t it be your small business/services/cause/whatever?

    Did I mention I’m willing to do this for free?

    But wait, there’s a catch (a few, actually):

    1. I will come out and shoot for an hour, two max.
    2. Half the time will be spent interviewing you (or whoever runs the organization/business in question).
    3. The other half of the time I will be shooting b-roll.
    4. I am willing to travel a short, reasonable distance from my home (let’s say 20 miles). Any further than that and you have to pay for all associated travel expenses upfront. I might be willing to forgo this expense if your business/organization/cause is super cool (e.g., I’d do this for Tippi Hedren but only if she lets me in the cage with the tiger).
    5. As I’m doing this for free, I retain final cut.
    6. I will retain all master tapes.
    7. I will upload the piece to my Vimeo account where you can grab the embed code and repost the video.

    If you’re balking at my terms, remember that 1) I have a track record of high quality films, 2) I’m a professional using this piece to seek more work so it will be of the highest caliber and 3) I’m doing this for free for you.

    Time for me to hear your pitch.

    Posted in General

    The Mobile Editor – 22. October, 2009

    Times are tough. Jobs are scarce. You probably know someone that hasn’t worked at all this year. For those of us lucky enough to still have jobs, there’s a good chance we’re working at reduced pay or being forced into furloughs.

    And so I stumbled across this article on freelance editing. If I may summarize, your three goals as a freelance editor are:

    • Be a good editor
    • Be mobile
    • Get rehired

    The article has some great tips (my favorite might be the “Hard Drive of Tricks”) that every serious freelance editor should take to heart.

    Like me.

    For the past year I’ve had three part-time jobs while working on my own creative endeavors including writing, directing small projects and posting my first feature.

    In the past few months, I lost one of those jobs. Another job is forcing me into furloughs. A third is squeezing my hours and constantly paying me late. Add a recent tragedy that has hoisted additional financial responsibilities onto my shoulders and it’s time to put on the “freelance post-centric ninja” hat and start knocking on doors, offering my services.

    I have my own editing rig and access to a second.


    I can cut your project on Final Cut Pro, do some color correction and title design in After Effects, cut and mix your audio in Pro Tools or SoundTrack Pro. I can also write, direct, shoot & record audio. I’m a one-man band and here’s the proof:

    I’m ready to tackle your documentary or web series. Bring it!

    Posted in Post-Production

    Practice Make Green Screen Perfection – 5. August, 2009

    To further expound upon the making of my Amazon spec commercial, there was one green screen shot. I approached it with a firm hand and an empty mind. That is to say I’ve never pulled a green screen before.

    Now, I have shot them in the pat. One of my earliest jobs was capturing some green screen material for the band Train (I can never listen to that song ever again) for when they appeared on The Tonight Show with Leno. My collaborators were both guys I went to school with. One now directs webisodes for Disney. The other directed MONSTER HOUSE.

    Regardless, I jumped into my green screen head first. First I set a pretty specific garbage matte and then I used After Effects and Keylight to pull the green. It worked pretty well except some of the green elements in front of the screen weren’t the exact same color of green (the shooter in me knew better but the producer in me knew we didn’t have time to fix this). These elements didn’t pull like I’d hoped. There were two paths here. One, add another instance of Keylight to try and pull the second type of green or two, adjust the garbage matte so it’s more of a roto. I tried option one and everything went nuts so I hit “undo” and went with option two. Very tedious but it got the job done.

    If only I had a way to practice pulling green, garbage matting and rotoscoping but I don’t shoot much of that kind of material. Wait, you can. A few days after I wrapped I found this site. They have tons of green screen examples with all the elements necessary for a fully realized comp. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at this or if you have a comp in your future or if you just want to know the kind of Hell I went through, download any of these and see what it’s like.

    Posted in Post-Production

    Amazon Spec: Debrief – 3. August, 2009

    So while I wait for August 24th to roll around (that’s when Amazon announces the 5 finalist for the audience award and the jury prize winner), here is my promised debrief. Warning, it is very tech heavy.

    First, my 30-second spec combined live action and stop-motion animation. I’ve done one other film like this (check out CONVERSING). For that short, I shot both the live action and stop-motion animation with a Panasonic DVX100; I used iStopMotion to record the stop-motion animation to my laptop. The digital video was shot 30p and the animation 15 fps. I used a Sennheiser ME66 and ProTools 6.4 to record the voice talent. I edited the film with Final Cut Pro and mixed in ProTools. I was going to use the same setup for this project but I really wanted a higher resolution final so I thought I’d put the final cut through Instant HD and viola, I’m done.

    Just one problem: the test I put through Instant HD didn’t look as good as I hoped. I don’t blame the plugin, I just didn’t know how to punch up the optimum settings for export. Plus I was haunted by this post.

    I also had access to both a Sony A1U HDV camcorder and a Nikon D100 plus I was looking for a good excuse to learn After Effects so why not take the plunge with this project? Who doesn’t love a challenge, right?

    So, first I recorded my four actors (big thanks to Curtiss, Dan, Karina & Michael for lending their talent) using the above mentioned setup. I quickly cut and mixed the dialog so I could sync it up to my “proof of concept” cut. I then shot the live action (an extra thanks to Dan) as 59.94 HDV with the Sony “fake” Cineframe 30 mode turned on. After shooting I immediatly transcoded all the footage to ProRes for the rest of post. All of that went according to plan. The animation, not so much.

    I thought about shooting RAW files with the D100 but I’d heard from my photographer friends that it’s a whole other beast so I chose large RGB TIFF files (3000 x 2000) instead. Unfortunately, the camera came with one 512MB CompactFlash (CF) card. That card coulldn’t hold more than 17 shots so if I had any animation longer than 1s4f (1 second, 4 frames), I’d have to download the card, wipe it clean and pray I hadn’t bumped the camera in the process. Um, no thanks. I looked in the manual and it said the camera could handle the “promised” 1GB card but nothing bigger. Guess what? Today it’s hard to find a CF card smaller than 4GB. Thank the lord the 4GB card worked. Unfortuantely, that was just the start of my troubles.

    After shooting my first stop-motion shot I immediately ran head first into another problem. Although I put the camera in full manual, including the iris, the camera still adjusted the f-stop by 1/3 to 1/2 a stop according to the built in spot meter. That meant that the brightness of some frames in a single shot would be different than the others. I’d have to correct brightness frame by frame. Tedious? Yes. Doable? Yes. But that wasn’t the biggest pain in my neck.

    No, it was the camera and the CF card that almost killed me. The camera could shoot 6 shots before it needed time to write the images from the internal memory buffer to the CF card. It could take 2-5 minutes to write one image to the CF. But the bigger problem was downloading from the camera into iPhoto. This took around 20 minutes per download and once took almost an hour. This forced my one-day shoot to take twice as long. Ugh.

    Once in iPhoto, I renamed and exported the TIFF files to an external drive. It was then time for some After Effects magic. I was glad AFX allowed me to import a folder of still images as a contiguous video clip. Once in a timeline, I corrected the gamma to fix for the iris adjustment. Damn, that took a long time and boy did I grind my teeth. After that I created JPEG proxy files for the TIFF clips (a very good idea that saved me a ton of time). I then created another AFX project where I would lay in the animated clips end to end to get a sense of editing and pace. And, as I had 3000×2000 images but knew my final output would be a 1920×1080 HD Quicktime, I decided to create camera moves in post. Oh boy, the results looked so good I couldn’t have been happier.

    Also, at this point, I could fix any image problems while still in the highest possible resolution; the Clone tool became one of my most trusted tools and Keylight is awesome for green-screen work. Once that was done, I took each shot and output it as a 1920×1080 ProRes Quciktime so that I could combine my live action and stop motion in a single AFX comp where I could color correct with Colorista which is a GPU based plugin; As you’d know from a previous post, the TIFF files were too big for this.

    Once I laid out all the clips, it was time to apply Colorista. I took the Stu Maschwitz method and used Adjustment Layers instead of loading effects onto the master clip. This came in handy when I wanted to swap out clips (which happened more than a few times). Each clip had one color correction layer and all the live action clips had a secondary correction layer so I could bring my actor’s eyes up out of the darkness. Lastly, I applied a final “looks” layer over the whole project.

    On the sound side, I tried Soundtrack Pro but grew frustrated so quickly I fell back to ProTools for the sound edit, design and mix. I did have to add a bit of music and I used GarageBand to create the cues and then exported them to ProTools.

    Lastly, FYI, it took 14 minutes to render out a 30-second clip in After Effects but I’m incredibly happy with the results.

    Here’s hoping you get to see the fruit of my labors as a finalist.

    Timecode Mismatch – 20. June, 2009

    I’ve run into a post-production issue and I need to call upon the hive mind for help.

    My film was shot on the HVX200 @ 1080/24pA (23.98) and the audio was recorded into a Sound Devices 702T as Wave Files (WAV). We jam synced both devices and also used a timecode (TC) slate. We then fed the audio out of the 702T and back into the HVX200 via the camera’s XLR inputs.

    As the footage was transferred from the P2 cards and ingested into Final Cut Pro (FCP), we ended up with clips that had one video track and four audio tracks (a doubling of our stereo audio feed from the 702T, I believe).


    Now, I was always told that I’d need to take my FCP ingested clips, rip out the four tracks of audio, import the original stereo 702T WAV files, sync audio to picture, lock the new clip and repeat until done. Why do this? So I can use the “better” audio.

    For anyone that has ever had to sync hours of footage, you know this sucks big time. But that’s why we jam sync the TC; it’s supposed to make this whole procedure less painful. Plus Sam from the Confidence Bay showed me an awesome way to use QuicKeys to cut tens (if not hundreds) of hours out of this process.

    Perfect. I’m ready. I’m excited. I’m dying to sync all this footage so I can hand it over to my new kick ass editor.

    Just one problem: the audio and image use two different TC counts.

    The WAVs use a 24 (23.98) TC count (check out the TC in the top right window).



    The HVX200 footage, well, that’s a complicated story. If I recall properly, 1080 24pA DVCproHD footage is recorded to the P2 cards as 29.97. Then, in FCP, you ingest using the advanced pulldown setting and TADA, you have 23.98 clips. Unfortunately, what I found is that the 23.98 footage still uses a 29.97 count. I kid you not. A 23.98 clip counts up to frame 29. The TC doesn’t convert to a 24 count.



    And here’s the proof that 1) the clip is 23.98 and 2) that the sequence is set to cut 23.98 footage.



    Do you see my problem? I have one chunk of media that counts from 0-23 and another that counts from 0-29 and I’m supposed to use their respective TC to sync them together. “00:00:00:27” in the footage is “00:00:01:03” in the audio. Without resolving this discrepancy in counting, I can’t see a way to have FCP automatically sync the audio and image via TC.

    How do I easily resolve this so I don’t spend the next month syncing my footage? Is there a way to resolve this discrepancy without 1) a massive re-ingesting of all the footage or 2) paying for some expensive hardware transcoding? Should I even bother with this now? Is the the audio routed from the 702T to the HVX200 via XLR that much worse than the original WAV files? Would it be simpler to just clone a drive for my editor now and deal with this problem after I’ve locked the cut? This violates the “5 minutes now saves you 5 hours (or days) later” rule I learned from my buddy Ken but maybe this is one where I just have to suck it up and sync the WAVs to the edited picture (that might take a month as well).

    Thoughts? Questions? Solutions?