Help me do this right
I've been given the opportunity to edit a 10 minute film being created for a local film festival. Previously I've edited short projects (3 minutes and less) in FCP using NTSC footage and destined for NTSC broadcast.
The crew on this production are highly regarded, I want to make sure I do a fabulous job. What steps can I take in pre-production to make editing go smoothly? Any gotchas to watch out for?
I've already volunteered to be script supervisor, so I'll be present during shooting and know what takes are good. I'll also be thinking about continuity and scene transitions. The lighting and audio folks on the crew are pros, I'm planning to keep an eye out for lighting/audio problems just in case. I know the director is a big fan of doing ADR on-set while the actor still remembers the timing. There should be plenty of time between shooting and delivery, provided I can actively manage the amount of tweaking and re-tweaking the director and producer want.
Unfortunately at this point I don't know what I don't know, so I'm not sure what else to do or watch out for. Any words of wisdom/advice/warning would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for your help!
Is this single camera, or is there a "B" camera? Keep track of if you're getting enough establishing shots, cut-aways, reversals, etc. If there are two cameras, insist that they roll with the time code synched, this will save you time and work later. At minimum, use good slating technique, people ususally start a shoot in the morning with good discipline, but as the day wears on, or the pace has to pick up to get everything in the can, they tend to start getting sloppy.
Don't forget to ask for plenty of room tone after scenes, especially if you need to do ADR later. While shooting the room tone, ask the camera to capture something of possible use for b-roll, kill 2 birds. Typically XCU's of actor faces, or props, or their hands, maybe a scene out the window, etc. Anything. Tape is cheap, unless it comes back blank.
Log everything, not just good takes, even stuff you don't think can be of any use. Surprising how often a little clip of something that was taped by accident winds up geting used, often in an unexpected way. There are countless examples where a really good performance is stitched together from many different takes, none of which is perfect or usable by itself.
If you are the continuity person, don't let anybody rush you: be triple-sure you have EVERYTHING before you sign off on continuity.
I keep a copy of the script just for continuity purposes where I run highlighter pens vertically thru each paragraph, each line, to mark when we've got it shot. Different colors for different cameras or locations. When you're done, the lines should all run thru the whole script without any breaks.
If you have a digital camera with you, shoot wide stills of each setup, while they are still lit for the shot, to go with the continuity notes. If the still camera is really good, also shoot some plates of all four sides, the floor and ceiling/sky. These might come in handy in post for compositing or digital set repairs or extensions.
Mark, GREAT advice! Thank you!
I believe this is single camera, if not I'll be sure there's a clap or strobe so I can use FCP multicam to resynch the clips. Taking high quality pictures of the setup and location is a great idea, as is the highlighter script marking system. Sounds like I'm going to be busy!
Very very helpful. Thank you so much!
How many pages?
How many locations?
What's the shooting ratio?
How many actors?
What medium, film or video?
How many pages? - 11.
How many locations? - 4. Two indoor, Two outdoor. One outdoor has day/night segments.
What's the shooting ratio? - Unknown. The crew are all volunteer so I'd guess it'll be around 10:1.
How many actors? - 15.
What medium, film or video? - Video.
What kind of video (miniDV, HD, XDCAM???) Each of these formats will present a unique thing.
Because the actual amount of footage is so low (although the ratio is drastic, imo), highly consider logging and capturing/transferring all of it, not with onefile=onetape, but something like 20 minute "chunks." One file is "Tape 1 00:00:00 to 20:00:00" (for example) and another is "Tape 1 20:00:01 to 40:00:00"
A 10:1 ratio will generate about 100 minutes of footage. Here's a nightmare scenario: You'll spend 8 hours, carefully logging and capturing/transferring it all based on your script notes, and then when the director sees the assemble edit, she'll ask, "Why did you use that take?"
And you'll say, "Because that was the circle take."
And the director will say, "Let's see the other takes."
"Here's take 1." You'll watch it. "Here's take 2." You'll watch it. "Here's take 3." You'll watch it. "Here's take 4." You'll watch it. "Here's take 5." You'll watch it. "Here's take 6." You'll watch it. "Here's take 7." You'll watch it. "Here's take 8." You'll watch it. "Here's take 9." You'll watch it. "Here's take 10." You'll watch it.
Guess what the director will ask! "Can we see 'em again?"
Or I could be completely wrong. The director will see your cut and declare "PERFECT! There's nothing else left to do!"
I don't know if we're shooting in HD or not, or exactly what format the festival needs for projection. Needless to say these are my first two burning questions on this project! I'm hoping I don't have to do any frame rate conversion. I'm pretty sure the output is standard def. The good news/bad news if we shoot in HD is there will be much more data to deal with.
I've had good luck with FCP's 'log and capture' feature. If I need to reconnect the media FCP can do it directly from tape again. This only works if the camera people don't rewind to check a shot and forgot to leave enough space at the end of the take to preserve the timecode. I'll be sure to log everything just in case.
Yes, a lot of my sanity on this project will depend on my ability to "manage up". I'm already concerned about squeezing an 11 page script into 8 minutes of finished product plus two minutes of title/credits. It'll definitely be an adventure.
"I'm already concerned about squeezing an 11 page script into 8 minutes of finished product plus two minutes of title/credits. It'll definitely be an adventure."
Here is a bit of advice I always use, regardless of the final legth of the project:
For every shot you use, really decide if that particular shot has a purpose in telling the story. If it doesn't or you are unsure, cut it and see how much the shot is 'missed'.
In the scenario that I have to edit a piece where the script is longer than the final product should be, I do an 'additive' edit. That is where you only add the bare bones shots that are needed, and then from there you add other shots that enhance the story/look etc. This is a technique where you can truly evaluate the guts of the story and go from there. People have a habit of adding too much to their timeline then 'cut back' on shots- difficult to do once you have become really familiar with your edit.
And also in my opinion 2 minutes of titles/credits are overkill- in a shorts program people groan when credits take more than 60 seconds to roll. All credits can be given, just make them fly a little faster ;)
When I think of handing things off to be done, I think of managing expectations. For editing, some expectations to consider might be:
What will you get (tape, disk, memory card)
What format or codec
When will you get it (little at a time, all at once, drop dead date)
After you get it, what is expected?
Video edits, audio sweetening, compositing?
What process is expected for review (examine that night, all day sessions with director, review after rough cut, who decides its done)
When do they want it back
What format do they expect
Generally, the less surprises, the better.
Sounds like fun though :)