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What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?

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Arthur Levivier
What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 13, 2015 at 7:11:56 pm

Hi everyone,

I come to you guys because I have LITTLE EXPERIENCE in editing and I am getting a bit overwhelmed by the HUGE PROJECT I’m working on…

My explanation is quite big and I have many questions so I hope some of you will have enough time and patience to help me. PLEASE, I will be very thankful. I really believe I can create a beautiful film if I don’t get crazy before that !

Basically I have been traveling across Australia for a year and a half and I have been filming all of it and did over 100 interviews. The thing is that I didn't chose any direction/topic before to start filming. I wanted to chose it depending on what the people would tell me. During the interviews, my main question was : "What do you think about Australia?" and from there started a conversation. So i end up now with lot of different talks about lot of different subjects from lot of different kind of people. For instance I have Aboriginals, Long time Australians, Short time Australians, immigrant, bag packers ect. They talk about many things like : Cultural diversity, Racism, Life, Work, Capitalism ect.


I know the first thing to do would be to write the story but it looks like there will be many small stories and I want also a big final movie. For that reason, I decided to make SMALL VIDEOS FIRST, like episodes and THEN A BIG MOVIE which would be a portrait of Australia trough the diversity of its people and their vision of life.

To try to do that, this is what I did so far :

Few months/weeks ago :

- I imported all my media in FCP X. I have ONLY ONE EVENT call “Australia Footage”.
>>>>> Is that a good idea ? (the thing is I really need everything in the same Library as later for the big movie I will need a bit of everything) If its not good, would creating lot of new events take much more space on my hard drive and make the computer run slower ?
- I have watched everything and selected "favorites" and “rejected".(I went from a total of 140 hours to 50 hours of everything BUT “rejected” including 7 hours of “favorites”).
- I 've tried to put keywords but I did that before to have an idea of my little stories so they are not very relevant.
- I’ve also written down everything that is said in the interviews. First I have done it by character on Word and then by subjects on CeltX. It helped me a lot to organise my thoughts about the final results but its still not clear.

Few days ago :

- Finally back in France and all settle ready to work I've started putting down some things on the time line. This is how I did it :
1. I chose a section in my footage that could be independent. For instance : all the videos about "John the truck driver"
2. I did a keyword for that section "John Truck driver" just so I would have only those videos in the browser when I select the keyword.
>>> Is that a good idea or should I create an other event ?
4. I created a new (and first) project called "John Truck Driver"
3. I went from first video til last and put sections I liked one by one in the timeline and tried to organise it per subjects like : introduction of john, john talking about capitalism, john talking about being a truck driver in Australia ect. but I became a bit messy as I ended up with lot of clip I wanted to use but didn’t know how to classify them.

So NOW I have a Project call "john the truck driver" and in that project, on the timeline I have few "groups of clips" separated by a gap and each representing a different subject and at the end lot of lonely clip that don’t fit in any particular subject.

THE THING IS there is the story about the Truck Driver but also later there will be the story about Australia and I’m not sure yet what I will use so it make it difficult…

4. I plan to do that for all my main characters that I have filmed enough to create a small story OR/AND subjects that I have enough footage to create a small video like “Bagpacking in Australia” for instance…

5.After all that I’m hoping that by the time I finish all those small project I will know my footage well enough to have the big movie in my mind…

So basicly, in addition to my small questions above, the main one is : [b]What do you think about my organisation and how could I improve it ?[/b] I feel like its gonna be messy and I might get lost very quickly…

Also, if you know any tutorial or books about the general method of editing for those kind of project I would be very happy to know about it !

I hope to read you soon.


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Noah Kadner
Re: What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:13:16 pm

Definitely do not want to cut an entire large project within a single event. I've seen large projects grouped into sections using events to organize, smart collections can also be a huge help to already ingested projects.

It sounds like you're somewhat new to FCPX? Might want to start with some bonafide training as it's program with a lot of powerful workflow aspects that don't necessarily reveal themselves casually.

My suggestion:


Call Box Training

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Bret Williams
Re: What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 13, 2015 at 8:15:14 pm

Your methods seem just fine. There's a million ways to tackle an edit. But I think with all the keyboarding you've done, you're best to keep it to one event and organize by keyword and folders if need be.

So now you've got a bunch of selects in the timeline for your first video and you want to know what to do next.

Welcome to editing. The rest is up to you. it's your vision. Sounds like you have a touch of writers block.

I would make a timeline for each video obviously and just worry about the story first. Put the words together to tell the story. Don't worry too much about the visuals. You might even want to work it all out on paper since you have the transcriptions. Everyone is different. Hope we get to see it when it's done. I'd love to visit Australia myself.

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Oliver Peters
Re: What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 14, 2015 at 2:17:11 am

I don't have a direct answer for you. The keywording in X is great for what you are doing. There are some tips in this blog post of mine from a few years ago, although this was done way before X was released.

If you are trying to do this as a documentary, then try to figure out what the main story thread is that you want to present. Resist the temptation to tell too many stories. Every exercise like this will have tangents. Don't be afraid to get rid of them. Good luck.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL

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Craig Alan
Re: What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 14, 2015 at 7:03:04 am

1 be sure you back up.

Decide what the common thread is and weave your story around it.

You might want to make this a series rather than a feature.

I would suggest a narrator v.o. To act as a host to examine this complex myriad of subjects.

But what is the thread ? Regions. Background. Diversity. What they have in common?

I might also consider finding an experienced editor to work with you.

I think your workflow will evolve as you tackle your first subject and learn how to sort through an excess of media. Then you can apply that to the stories that follow.

Personally I would keep each subject in their own event. Within the event apply your key words. But decide first how you are going to frame this story. The first thing you need to decide is if you have one story or many stories.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.

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Mark Suszko
Re: What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 14, 2015 at 5:25:40 pm

Ask yourself: what story or remarks that you captured, surprised you the most, or conflicted with your expectations? I think that's the overall place to start.

As to managing and using keywords, Ripple training is good, but I'll also suggest Larry Jordan for some of this, as he keeps it clear and simple at the beginning, leading you thru to the more complex ideas.

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Scott Witthaus
Re: What Strategy to use to edit a huge and messy project ?
on Jan 14, 2015 at 7:11:35 pm

In addition to what has been said...and what I teach my students who are new to X and editing in general...

The first thing we all want to do is start cutting. You spent so much time shooting, you just want to import the footage and start cutting. However, organization is critical. As boring as it is, go through ALL the footage and rate it, keyword it, and "event it". It can be boring to tears but it's critical to getting the best out of your footage. It will take you a long time, but do it. I can't stress this enough. It might take you a month, but do it.

Good luck!


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