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Best workflow for complete production of action short film?

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Kevin Schaich
Best workflow for complete production of action short film?
on Jul 20, 2012 at 8:14:47 pm

Hey guys.

I make a lot of action shorts for my video class, and I'm struggling to find a workflow that works for me.

Here's my setup:

Canon EOS 60D, Zoom H4n external recorder for audio, Premiere for video editing, Audition for occasional audio editing, After Effects for color correction, composition, and effects.

And here's all the things I need to do in post:

Sync video/external audio tracks, edit in premiere, maybe do some audio editing if there's some artifacts I need to remove, color correction/grading (I'd prefer to do this in After Effects rather than Premiere), add sound effects, do some effects like muzzle flares, chroma keying and explosions.

Before I ask my main question, I'm very curious as to if anyone has found an efficient way to sync up audio in post. I like to shoot everything in individual clips so it makes things easy to recognize and edit, so individually lining up potentially hundreds of clips is very time-consuming to me. I've tried PluralEyes but my problem with this is that you can only do one sequence at a time. If anyone has suggestions I'm very curious.

Anyway, I have been unable to find a complete post-production workflow that makes sense to me. My major dilemma is I'm not sure what the most efficient way to work between programs is. What I've been doing right now is editing first, then importing my premiere project into After Effects so all the sequences and clips come up separately. I really like this because it makes things really easy when doing color grading for individual clips. After that, I usually export from After Effects and import back into Premiere to do the sound effects, because if I don't export I get a ton of lag by using a dynamic link from After Effects. The main problem with this progression is once I import my Premiere project into After Effects for coloring/effects, I can't revise my Premiere timeline and all my edits are committed. Also, it may be just a psychological thing, but I feel like if I have to export and import along the way I'm doing something wrong and probably losing quality along the way.

This seems really inefficient and I'm curious what the best way to do this is. How do they do it in Hollywood? If you guys were doing this type of shoot, I'd be very grateful to know your COMPLETE workflow. I want to know what order you do everything how you move between programs and such. I'd like to maintain as much of a non-destructive and flexible workflow as I can and would really like the ability to maintain individual clips in between programs. I'm not new to video editing but I've recently gotten a lot more involved in effects and color correction and really putting the finishing touches on my projects, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

And sorry if I posted in the wrong forum, I'm new here. So please be gentle. ;)
Thanks a ton for the help guys.

-Kevin Schaich


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Best workflow for complete production of action short film?
on Jul 20, 2012 at 10:23:06 pm

Not having timecode makes things a pain in the behind.

*** Option 1 ***
Take all of your footage and drop it into a timeline and drop all of your audio in. Sync with Plural Eyes first and import the resulting XML into a clean project. Link/group these audio and video together. You can also merge clips, but these have some workflow limitations http://help.adobe.com/en_US/premierepro/cs/using/WS2bacbdf8d487e582-73725e6...

Linking/grouping clips = editing from one timeline into another.
Merging clips = editing from source monitor.

***Option 2 ***
If the camera audio is usable then edit. Sync your master timeline with Plural Eyes. This will create gaps as it decides what audio to use and what audio to put to the side. You'll need to clean the edit from there.

Timecode syncing makes everything easier, with that said, I strongly prefer option #1

Edit to your heart's content. I suggest having smaller timelines per scene, why? You can move them around in chunks and if you need to re-edit after you've completed finishing (color/sound editing) then you only have to pick apart and redo smaller portions of the film while leaving other areas safe and undisturbed.

Once an edit is locked, send the audio to Audition for mixing. Audition can also take a rendered version of your edit as it has a video viewport, so bring in an MOV from Premiere. Edit all audio in Audition... seriously. Editing audio in your NLE is cumbersome and it's easier to send everything over for more complicated projects than to send over just problem clips. Granted you may need to do some level of fine tuning in your NLE if you plan on screening work for a client/producer/test audience.

At the same time you could be working on effects and color grading in After Effects. Once you have effects like gun flashes, you can bring a new version of the video into Audition to sync any sound effects.

Once sound and effects are locked, you can render out audio and bring it into a master timeline in After Effects and just lay down the audio track. Take the master timeline and drag it onto Adobe Media Encoder and work out all your delivery formats.

So that's kind of best case scenario, no round trips with rendering so you're using native media start-to-finish.

Get use to marking timelines with a version number so you can always revert a scene back if you liked a previous edit.

Don't be afraid to re-edit in Premiere if you need to... yeah it sucks because those portions have to go through finishing again, but it happens. You'll get use to it as you deal with clients or get more experienced as you work in post. In larger movies, portions of the edit are locked and/or shots are given to VFX companies with extra handles (time on either end) to allow VFX work concurrently with principal editing.

Large films will also start VFX work during principal photography since decisions have been made about background design, possible gags, and so on.

Angelo Lorenzo
Fallen Empire - Digital Production Services
RED transcoding, on-set DIT, and RED Epic rental services.
Fallen Empire - The Blog
A blog dedicated to filmmaking, the RED workflow, and DIT tips and tricks


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Kevin Schaich
Re: Best workflow for complete production of action short film?
on Jul 21, 2012 at 3:52:30 am

[Angelo Lorenzo] "Once an edit is locked, send the audio to Audition for mixing. Audition can also take a rendered version of your edit as it has a video viewport, so bring in an MOV from Premiere. Edit all audio in Audition... seriously. Editing audio in your NLE is cumbersome and it's easier to send everything over for more complicated projects than to send over just problem clips. Granted you may need to do some level of fine tuning in your NLE if you plan on screening work for a client/producer/test audience.

At the same time you could be working on effects and color grading in After Effects. Once you have effects like gun flashes, you can bring a new version of the video into Audition to sync any sound effects."


I got pretty much all of that except this part. So, if I'm understanding right, export a rough cut from premiere just to Audition to get a rough idea of the audio to begin. Is that right? And after I'm done with most of the effects, I should export a rough effects cut back to Audition, finish the audio, export that to After Effects and do a final render? I'd just like a confirmation if I'm following your train of thought correctly.

What's the best way to get all of my Premiere edits into After effects without rendering and maintaining individual clips?

And, one last question. Say I get all my effects and audio done and I have everything in a master timeline in After Effects. If I decide I want to make another edit or take a shot out or something, what's the procedure for doing that without screwing up everything I already worked on?

Thanks for the reply by the way. That makes so much more sense than what I was doing.


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Best workflow for complete production of action short film?
on Jul 23, 2012 at 5:51:17 am

[Kevin Schaich] " So, if I'm understanding right, export a rough cut from premiere just to Audition to get a rough idea of the audio to begin. Is that right? And after I'm done with most of the effects, I should export a rough effects cut back to Audition, finish the audio, export that to After Effects and do a final render?"

It's not a rough cut at that point, consider it picture locked. But yes, exported to Audition and you don't need to jump into Premiere to make sure you have proper lip sync and so on, just watch within Premiere. It can be an h.264 file, something easy. And yes, if you add, say muzzle flashes, you can render out video from After Effects and place it into Audition to keep going with sound fx.

Editing audio within Premiere is doable, and for smaller videos for web or corporate use, it's usually fine. For something more dramatic, you'll appreciate the finesse of just mixing within Audition from the get-go.

[Kevin Schaich] "What's the best way to get all of my Premiere edits into After effects without rendering and maintaining individual clips?"

File > Import > Premiere Pro Project

You can import the entire project, or select sequences. The edited sequence comes in as a comp where each cut is its own layer.


[Kevin Schaich] "And, one last question. Say I get all my effects and audio done and I have everything in a master timeline in After Effects. If I decide I want to make another edit or take a shot out or something, what's the procedure for doing that without screwing up everything I already worked on?"

Just keep organized. Also break your project up into scenes so you're sliding around/replacing 20 chunks instead of some master timeline with 300 cuts.

You can also, if you like, drag comps from After Effects project bin to Premiere's project bin and that will dynamically link them in... useful if you feel less intimidated by Premiere's timeline in comparison to After Effects layer-based timeline.

*** Bonus Thought ***
If you're going to color grade in After Effects, pick up Test Gear http://www.synthetic-ap.com/products/tg/index.html Scopes are one of the most powerful tools in measuring the color/brightness and so on.

Angelo Lorenzo
Fallen Empire Digital Production Services - Los Angeles
RED transcoding, on-set DIT, and RED Epic rental services
Fallen Empire - The Blog
A blog dedicated to filmmaking, the RED workflow, and DIT tips and tricks


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Best workflow for complete production of action short film?
on Jul 20, 2012 at 11:07:42 pm

http://origin-resources.kodak.com/US/plugins/acrobat/en/motion/hub/Post_Pro... is a nice read, albeit film-centric

Angelo Lorenzo
Fallen Empire - Digital Production Services
RED transcoding, on-set DIT, and RED Epic rental services.
Fallen Empire - The Blog
A blog dedicated to filmmaking, the RED workflow, and DIT tips and tricks


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