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workflow/organisation advice for documentary editor cutting fiction

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Matt Scholes
workflow/organisation advice for documentary editor cutting fiction
on Sep 24, 2012 at 3:53:22 pm


Bit of a long and rambling post, but if you can offer any advice I'd be most appreciative. I've been cutting lots of shorter form docs over the past 2-3 years (for which I've got my own workflow/project organisation down). So now I wanted to get any advice on workflow/file naming/project organisation for something like this.

In two weeks I begin cutting a 12 x 22 min documentary style sitcom series for broadcast. Cutting in FCP 7, shot on two cameras (A Cam = Canon C300 & B Cam = Canon 550). The C300 will use an Atomos (?) device to encode direct to ProRes 422. I'm editing on set as they shoot.

The shooting is going to be out of sequence; So shooting over 4 x 3 week blocks, but by location rather than script order, so we'll be filming the first three episodes over three weeks in location sequence if that makes sense.

As it's filming non sequentially I'm keen to get a workflow going that's going to be organised and that will allow any notes from the director about a particular scene/take to be easily matched up with the correct scene/take in FCP.

Here is my initial thought process on how I'd instinctively go about it:

1) Ask the assistant to make sure the clip names are prefixed with A or B for relevant the camera, followed by shoot day and reel # i.e: A00101.
2) Transcode the 550 rushes.
2) Create a master project that contains each day's synced rushes in shooting order (Does the 550 allow sound to be recorded direct? or will I have to plural eyes them to the c300 rushes?)
3) Then create a project for each episode.
4) I'll cut scenes within the relevant episode's project, and then bring the scenes together when everything is shot.
5) Create another project for latest cuts/viewings of all episodes.

So, I suppose I'm wondering what's the best way of organising the media and naming the files. For instance, say that over one reel (CF card) they've shot several takes from two scenes from two different episodes: Episode 3, Scene 7 and Episode 2, Scene 1. The clip out of the camera will be something like A00504.

What would be the best way to organise this reel into the project?

Sync both cameras in the master project, make independent clips and then copy these into the relevant episode's project, where I would then create subclips i.e something like "EP03_S07_Bill walks into office CU"

Or would it be better to rename clips at finder's root level, i.e change a clip named A00504 to A005_E03_S07?

Are there any other problems or things I should be thinking of or asking? Or if anyone has an old FCP project similar to something like this, it would be really useful for me to see someone elses project structure.

I know all this is a bit specific, but just want to get things clear before I start.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.

If you aren't willing to change you shouldn't be editing" - Richard Marks

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Mark Suszko
Re: workflow/organisation advice for documentary editor cutting fiction
on Sep 24, 2012 at 5:03:16 pm

You sound like you really have it all together already. I just cringe at the thought of different episodes sharing the same cards. If I had one suggestion it would be not to do that, to spend a little more and keep enough cards so that each episode lives on it's own, segregated set of cards until they've been loaded into the archive and editing drives and confirmed.

This is more a superstitious gut feeling on my part than anything technical; certainly with very tight media management and scrupulous on-set logging and data entry during the ingest, there should be no technical reason you couldn't share episodes across the same set of cards.

However, based on real-world experiences with shared items like phones, car keys, favorite shirts, or one project scratch drive shared by two editors... Separate is safer. Bad enough to screw up ONE episode in some accident by losing data. But TWO?!?!?! And accidents WILL happen.

Declan McManus told me so.:-)

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Matt Scholes
Re: workflow/organisation advice for documentary editor cutting fiction
on Sep 24, 2012 at 5:21:51 pm

:-) Thanks Mark,

That's a good point, I'll speak to the producer and staunchly make the case for separate sets of cards for each episode.

In terms of file naming , do you think a generic clip name followed by renaming in FCP is a better practice than renaming at finder level? Or do you find it can sometimes lead to confusion?


If you aren't willing to change you shouldn't be editing" - Richard Marks

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Mark Suszko
Re: workflow/organisation advice for documentary editor cutting fiction
on Sep 24, 2012 at 6:26:20 pm

Just to be clear: I don't mean you need to buy cards for all 22 episodes. but that you rotate thru the sets, blanking and re-using them, in dedicated groups. Each ep should get enough blank cards to handle what's being shot just for that ep each day, then transferred daily and re-used. If you have two units shooting in hopscotch mode, where episode three is shooting on the office set, with one group of actors, and episode two is simultaneously shooting with another group of actors on the kitchen set, in the studio next door, for example, the cards for those two parallel operations IM should never share anything. Somebody from next door wants to borrow part of a card because they ran long? No way. Give up a whole empty card, or none at all, rather than split files across it.

On naming conventions, I don't have enough background to give a worthy opinion. Except to say I like names that are descriptive as possible, and not just alphanumerics. That's just me. And that re-naming clips later in a transfer or transcode process is in a way breaking the chain, and might give you trouble if you have to go back in time to re-load media that was only identified under the older scheme. The more you can do in naming and logging right on set, the better, IMO. But as long as it is logical and consistent, any scheme you devise will probably work. You have to make very certain everyone involved understands it, though.

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