Robot Wrangling

Tasmanian Roller Derby

So this is my second real attempt at shooting short doco style video. You can read some of my thoughts about what I wanted to do in a previous post and the lessons learnt in from the shoot.

So this is my post-production breakdown and thoughts.

I transcoded all the footage from the Canon 7D using Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Grinder creating both ProRes LT and Proxy versions (with burn-in timecode) of the files. The amazing cool thing about this is that I can get reset all the timecode across all the files to be continuous. Amazingly handy for looking at my rushes which I put on my iPad using Elgato’s Turbo H.264 HD hardware encoder.

I am still looking for a good application for viewing rushes on the iPad. The Apple native video app is crap as it has no folders. So that is something I need to workout before next shoot.

I edited using Final Cut Pro and for once I decided that I would look up some of those pesky buttons and features in the user interface and see if I could use them. I have been using the app for years but that one thing about being self taught is that sometimes you miss the simplest things. This opened up a whole world of time saving efficiencies that I now wish I new about before. 

Things I did before I started editing:

  1. Sorted my proxy files into the Project into bins. Interview, Dolly, Slow-mo, B-Roll, etc.
  2. Went though will my notes from rushes and colour coded clips in the browser to give myself some visual quick reference for shots I liked and wanted to use more than others.
  3. Copied and conformed all my 50 fps shots to 25fps using Cinema Tools. So I had 2 playback versions of those files to use.
  4. Spent a heap of time with my iPod listening for tracks that may work with the video (I narrowed it down to 15).
  5. Made sure all my sequences used the same settings (Final Cut decided that I wanted to edit as if I was working on DV PAL last time, and try to do that again this time). This is a must check before getting really stuck into editing as it is painful needing to reconform your sequences by hand if you miss something here.
  6. I looked at The Foundary’s Rolling Shutter plugin but found it didn’t work as well on the style of footage I shot to use it. Maybe next time.

Once I had done the above, I started dropping in some clips and testing out what music worked. The first lot of tracks I wanted to use didn’t fit as I realised that I didn’t want to use a lot of the setup footage from my B-Roll and just get straight into it. This meant I needed something that got into it fast, but nothing too pumping straight out of the gate. 

The rest of the editing was just dropping in the interviews around each other, covering gaps with B-Roll and then tightening. I actually cut a lot of the interview footage and mixed parts together. If you listen to one of the guys in the video I actually use some audio twice as the intonation from the a sentence didn’t fit to my edit (the magic of sound and video working hand in hand). The songs are both cut down versions which I edited to give me the length I wanted and take some of the lulls out.

Once the assembly edit was done, I then went in and did a second pass and tightened the cuts to the beat of the music. While some of the interview audio isn’t greatly in time (I could have been more strict on removing Umm’s, etc), the video itself needed to move with the music.

Once the edit was done, I moved into Colour Timing (aka Grading) and relied almost exclusively on Red Giant’s Coloristra II and Magic Bullet Looks. I have been reading The Color Correction Handbook by Alexis Van Hurkman and finally being albe to read the scopes and understand the basics help me move a lot faster in my grade. That being said, I am still a beginner and this being my second attempt at grading there are still lots of flaws in my approach and the grade is still very inconsistant. There are some shots I just couldn’t get to work for me as well as others and I think it’s just experience and a good setup that make the difference. I might post a side by side comparison sometime soon to show how much I changed the video (a lot in some places).

Once I had the majority of the video done (I still needed to do title plate and credits), I then moved into audio proper. I used the “Send to Soundtrack Pro” multi track option and found quickly that I really hate that program. I am an audio guy, I know DAWs fairly well and doing the whole run trip that Apple decrees in the Studio literature would be great if the bloody DAW was up to scratch. Maybe I was just me and not understanding the send system properly, but I had to do a lot of irritating re-setup in Soundtrack that should have just copied over on the export. Even an effect that was using one of Apple’s own plugins from Studio, I could key frame the change in one (Final Cut) but not the other… and it was a BLOODY audio plugin. So one of my biggest lessons learnt is either I need to research Soundtrack Pro more or bite the bullet and just use ProTools or Nuendo. 

Once I got my tracks sorted, then I cleaned up the dialogue from the interviews. Dutchess’ audio was particularly messy due to all the girls in the background. While there was more I could do to make all more consistant, the amount of frustration I was having in Soundtrack got me to “that will do” mentality.

So Editing Done, Sound Done, just needed a nice title plate. So into After Effects and Illustrator we go. I recreated the Van Diemen Roller’s logo from the EPS version I was given to separate the girl from the background and the text to animate separately. A quick jump into After Effects and no real thought as I made something up, dropped it into Final Cut and then added the Joffre Street Title Card and Credit on the end. Render and post and hope people watch it.

I think it came out good, but I can see lots of flaws, but as a learning experience the whole thing gave me lots more in value than the end product actually shows.

So where to next? I have a few ideas, but first I need to catch up on some other work.

If you want to keep up to date with what I am doing then jump over the my facebook company page

Some interesting things coming with the next CS update especially in the production suite. Looks like Adobe is really trying to make Premiere the go to tool for video editing over Final Cut Pro. It will be interesting to see how Final Cut Pro X either keeps people happy to say with it or will we start seeing people migrating over to Premiere? Only time will tell.