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How to speed up my workflow

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Olly Lawer
How to speed up my workflow
on Nov 9, 2011 at 8:08:21 pm

Hi,

I am looking for some tips on speeding up my edits.

I started my production company a couple of years ago and had some fantastic feedback on my work. I'm now full time (due to redundancy) and I am determined to make a living from my work.

One thing that I would be foolish to ignore and be ignorant is that I am not the quickest at editing. I don't mean my technical ability falls short (although compared to others, it clearly would) - I am not fumbling at the keyboard, in fact I'm pretty quick with a mac, the problem is two fold.

One, I am a perfectionist and two, I don't plan ahead enough.

For example, right now I am trawling through footage from two camera's, both of a live event. I kind of know what I want for the promo, but I feel the need to go through each camera, creating markers for the bits I like and labelling them accordingly. For the B camera, this is easy as I can scrub through at 4x speed and pick the shots I want. Not so quick for picking out the audio I want from the presenter.

I can try and solve the perfectionism (and have done so far) by showing my clients a rough edit and then being sensible about deciding what I would deem as unacceptable (a light camera jog) and what the customer would find unacceptable. But it's the edit and cataloguing footage that takes the time!

You may well say that this is something experience will teach me and you are right. But experience tells me to ask people who do it well and learn from them. If I was just directing a shoot, it would be hugely quicker as I would mark the bits I want and then pull them out of the footage - but I am too busy concentrating on what I am filming (the technical side of things) and what my sub contractors are filming/doing.

Any tips welcome!

Olly Lawer


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Mark Suszko
Re: How to speed up my workflow
on Nov 10, 2011 at 3:33:30 pm

Synch the A and B cameras on the timeline using Multicam or just reducing the size of each on a temp basis. Play and make your cuts or marks in real time like a live Tv director.


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Alex Elkins
Re: How to speed up my workflow
on Nov 11, 2011 at 6:06:15 pm

Hi Olly,


Bear in mind that however experienced someone is as an editor, they still need to review the footage in order to know what's been shot. That takes time, no matter who you are. As you review the footage, even though there may be nothing on your timeline, in your head you should be editing. Thinking to yourself "ah, that cutaway would well when the presenter talks about XYZ"

Planning ahead is crucial. Say I'm editing a corporate video where a CEO talks about the product. If I don't have a script to work from I like to lay text slugs in my timeline saying things like 'Intro: 20 secs. Location scene set, product shots etc' which might be followed by 'CEO piece to camera: introduce product' etc, etc.
As I go through the footage I already have an idea of the shots I'm looking for. As soon as I see something that fits over one of my notes I add it to the timeline. I do this as quickly and roughly as possible. As I do this things begin to fall into place, and I can start re-arranging some of the shots to tell the story. Quickly it becomes clear what shots are working and what aren't and the first cut gets more and more refined as I go through the footage.

Another really useful thing is if the project is going to contain some voiceover, get that recorded early on, either by the artist if the script is signed off, or record a rough version yourself before you start editing. Talk slowly - you can always shorten your edit more easily than you can extend it.

Don't mess about with audio mixing and adding music on a first cut (unless the piece specifically NEEDS music). If you work heavily on sound before your picture is locked you'll end up cutting out a load of carefully tweaked levels for no reason.

Keyboard shortcuts: Learn them. There's almost no need for a mouse in FCP if you know the shortcuts. Learn as many as possible and you'll find your editing really speeding up. Here's a handy one: press CMD+Shift+/ to open the help menu, then type the name of any menu item (eg the name of a filter, window arrangements etc).

To me, one of the key things about editing is organisation. In being organised you're already beginning the editing process. If you find yourself repeatedly looking for the same clip, or not knowing which sequence a certain scene is in then you need to re-think your organisation techniques. If another editor was to pick up your project and start working on it now, would it be easy for them to work, or would they have to call you to ask how everything was organised?


Hopefully these are handy tips. I've completely ignored my own advice and have just spilled them out onto the screen as they've occurred to me. Maybe this post should be considered a rough cut?

Alex Elkins
Twitter: @postbluetv
http://www.PostBlue.tv
View Post Blue showreel
Shot on RED @ 100fps, Post on FCP/Color: Capoeira Film


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Scott Cumbo
Re: How to speed up my workflow
on Nov 12, 2011 at 3:21:00 pm

I never watch all the footage before i cut. I always just cut as I go and the edit evolves. but if i'm looking for a certain shot and i see something i may like for somewhere else i'll usually mark it.

talking head stuff is the easiest. i'll cut a sequence with anything thats remotely good so i'll end up with say a 15min sequence, than just keep triming it and reordering until i get where i need to be.

but i am not a perfectionist and usually work with the cilent in the room so it's about them being happy, not me.

I think the biggest thing to save time is to make quick decisions and trust your instincts. if you see something that may work, just do it, don't think about it. If you have an idea that will take awhile, but you're not positive it'll look good or work. you're usually better served to forget about it than waste an hour trying something. or be realise 15mins into that hour that it's not gonna work and bail out.

just random thoughts

Scott Cumbo
Editor
Broadway Video, NYC


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Brian Mulligan
Re: How to speed up my workflow
on Nov 13, 2011 at 3:54:17 pm

I work in broadcast, which has tight deadlines, so you learn to make decisions quickly. In that respect, I don't linger on specific edits, I find what works, cut it, and move to the next edit.

I always try and "cover black", you can always go back and fix, improve it. but if a deadline is looming, you at least have something to air.

Over time you get used to evaluating shots and forming quick edits in your head as you see your clips during preview.

Be confident in your decisions... as an editor you will make hundreds a day. Second guessing yourself over every cut, will slow you down.

Brian Mulligan
Senior Editor - Autodesk Smoke
WTHR-TV Indianapolis,IN, USA
Twitter: @bkmeditor


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Olly Lawer
Re: How to speed up my workflow
on Nov 15, 2011 at 2:35:54 pm

Thanks for all your advice.

I think I'm going out consider how I plan things out better. I'm pretty good at putting everything in the right places in Final Cut Pro so I know where to look. However, what not so good at is figuring out exactly what I want before I render the project.

I often do multiple versions. This is very time-consuming. I have figured out a better way of viewing some of the footage and this is to speed the footage up by twice.

Thank you for your tips, i will try some of them out and see if it speeds things up further.

Olly Lawer


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Damein Green
Re: How to speed up my workflow
on May 22, 2012 at 10:13:26 pm

One thing I try to do is do enough pre-production as possible. Edit things in my "mind" so I'll have an idea as to where I'm going to go once all my assets are ready. I'm also pretty big on "pre-editing" ... which is basically laying as much stuff down on the timeline as possible BEFORE the actual edit.

Hope this helps!

Damein Green
Senior Creative Producer
@DGreenTV


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