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First time working on huge project

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Greg Lindsey
First time working on huge project
on May 7, 2012 at 9:48:22 pm

This forum has been really helpful for me. I'm hoping to hear from people's experience about how to approach a current project I'm working on.

I went to Southeast Asia with 2 friends who started a non-profit and documented their trip. We traveled for 3 weeks and documented some very interesting stories. I came back with 3000 audio and video clips and we want to create a 10 minute promotional video and a short series of 15-20 minute reality webisodes of the trip.

I shot the video on a 5D and I worked with a local assistant who I put in charge of running audio with a Zoom H4n. I'm editing in FCP X. I'd like to make the webisodes available through iTunes if possible.

The challenge for me is that it seems massive and I haven't yet brought anybody else in to help me edit. It may not be as big and daunting as it appears once I get started and I'm going to take it in manageable chunks. I just thought I'd post about it here for discussion because I'm interested in hearing from other people who may have worked on similar projects and what's been useful for them. I'm not sure if its possible to do something like this on my own, or if I need to put together a team and assign roles.

Chicago, IL

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Shane Ross
Re: First time working on huge project
on May 8, 2012 at 12:50:04 am

Rule everything. The editors job is to know what footage they have. So, watch everything. While watching, start organizing. Put interviews in an area, B-roll in another. Organize the b-roll by location if needed.

The key to knowing what you have and where to find it is ORGANIZATION. Watch everything, keyword it, organize it. Then you can start to figure out what soundbites you want to feature. Make a selects bin (or whatever FCX calls a BIN) and put all the cool stuff you want to use on the piece in there. Then string that out on a timeline and start re-arranging.

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Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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Juris Eksts
Re: First time working on huge project
on May 8, 2012 at 9:05:52 am

Of course you can do it yourself, editing can be done by anyone!
It's just that some may be better than others.
The most difficult thing with a project you've been involved with from the beginning, and especially shot yourself, is that your judgment as to what is interesting is clouded.
If you want to make a programme for yourself, a record to remind you of what you went through, then that is one sort of programme, if you want to tell a story to others who have no background knowledge, that is another.
From that amount of material, you have to be completely ruthless.
If you have a load of interviews, string together the best half hour that will tell the story in a verbal form. Eventually you'll want to see on screen a very small proportion of the people telling that story, but you'll want to cover most of that with the pictures of action that will illustrate what they're saying. (Called cut-aways in England, and B-roll in America).
The cut-aways give you two things, - the first is that they tell the story visually, so you don't have to understand all the dialogue, and the second is that they let you cut down the dialogue to its' most essential words, without having a jump in the picture of someone talking.
I would approach the whole project with a first long assembly of the dialogue, with short pointers of what the visuals may be, then cut that down to maybe half an hour, then be absolutely ruthless to cut it to ten minutes (and this will probably be the most difficult part for you, it will involve 'killing your babies' - the bits you love but have no part in telling the essential story).
After that, refine the pictures, the visual element of the story, - you can probably put in the best visual material as either illustration of the verbal story, or as breakers between chapters of that story.
To tell a complete story you may need narration to fill in gaps that you can't cover with your interviews, but avoid that if possible, even using captions on screen to give geographical or other essential information.
You may be tempted to put music over some of the programme, but unless you can get permission from the appropriate people, don't use commercial tracks, they'll give you a complete nightmare. If during your travels you recorded for instance a band playing local music, use that, it will add to the story.
The hardest part will be deciding what goes out, and what stays in, but I hope you'll have fun over the whole thing.

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Greg Lindsey
Re: First time working on huge project
on May 8, 2012 at 2:01:13 pm

I feel encouraged. I've been watching interviews, b roll and audio and marking soundbites and making selects. But I also understand I may need a fresh set of eyes so at some point I'll get someone else to look at it and make suggestions. I think this is going to be really good experience.

FCP X has strengths when it comes to organizing and I'm really glad I installed an SSD because there's lots of processing happening to manage 3000 clips and I need the speed. At some point, I may replace my 3 year old laptop with a new one with thunderbolt so I can watch the material on my flatscreen or a larger reference monitor. This would be an overdue upgrade.

Well, I have a lot of work to do. I'll definitely refer back to what people here say.

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Richard Herd
Re: First time working on huge project
on May 9, 2012 at 5:13:10 pm

Organizing in X is unique. Before I even open up X, I have found it beneficial to organize the footage into folders using the finder. After it's in folders (psuedo-bins), then I open X and make sure the button is clicked that folders are imported as keyword collections. And then I finally import.

When I get new footage, I add them to the appropriate folder and then I import the item from the folder.

I do this for two reasons:

1. I like bins as an organizational/logical tool.
2. It makes sure the keywords stay regularized by event. It's really easy to create an event, but keywords from one event do not translate into the other event. Yes, I can cmd-click multiple keywords, but that's not really organizing.

Another word to the wise, when the first piece of footage is added to the project timeline then the project setting will duplicate from that setting, so be sure to pick a piece of footage that is Apple Pro Res and not h.264 -- even if the first piece isn't really the one you want.

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Nina Staum
Re: First time working on huge project
on May 23, 2012 at 1:36:19 am

I usually know it's the right time to get a second set of eyes when I'm out of ideas. Typically I want to assemble thedialogue, then work the visuals, music and timing to the point where I 'm hapoy - then I get it critiqued.

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