This is Part III in a series called Over the Editor’s Shoulder where I document my daily progress on a freelance editing project I’m working on. I chronicle what I do in the edit bay, what I learn, my struggles, failures, successes and more.
We pick up our journey last Thursday. The night before I was lying in bed and received a blast of emails. These were comments in ScreenLight from the client. Nervous about the first feedback I decided to wait until the next morning to see what he thought. I was shocked with what happened next.
This project is a little outside of my editing comfort zone. I touched on this in one of the other parts in this series. That being said, I’m very nervous to get the initial feedback. I know I’m a darn good editor but anytime you’re working with someone new you don’t quite know how he or she is going to react to a rough cut, especially one in a genre you aren’t 100% familiar with.
The feedback was…positive. He was quite pleased with the first cut of it. I was much further along than he thought I would be.
Some of the comments were to remove this person’s name, show some a-roll over these couple sound bites, extend this part a bit, …those kinds of things. Phew! No big deal. All easy fixes, especially at this stage of the edit.
We had a goal of getting the rough cut to my client’s client by Friday so that night I cranked out all the revisions. I used my usual workflow working with Markers in Media Composer to track all the changes I made. I hit export and opened up a beer. Rough cut was delivered that night before the next day’s deadline.
That day I got more feedback from the client. But it had been a long week so when I got off work I went straight to the bar with my friends to watch the Wizards lose. I think that’s the first basketball game I’ve watched since Jordan was playing…
Saturday I learned something brand new and completely wasted my time on learning something else.
Let’s talk about wasting time first.
I have this “light burns” transition package I got from VideoHive a year or more ago. For some reason I’ve been DYING to use them. They didn’t really fit with the video I’m editing but I forced them in there anyway. The client was cool with it and understood the look I was trying to create. He has a much better package, which he sent over to me.
With my light burn things all I have to do is import and throw a Luma Key on them. I adjust the Gain and Softness settings and it works! Well the client’s wouldn’t work that way for some reason. Anything I did make it look horrible. I scoured the forums and finally came across something that showed me how to do it. Essentially you place a copy of the exact same clip on a track above it. Remove it’s saturation then throw Matte Key on it (I forget off the top of my head if you have to hit Invert Key or not). And bingo! It works-ish. It definitely looked much better than using the Luma key but in the end I knew it wasn’t going to work so I scraped them. Maybe another project I’ll get my light burns in there…
The cool thing I learned:
I learned how to take something shot at 60fps (frames per second) that is in a 24fps project and give it a smooth natural slow motion.
In Media Composer if you import in a 60fps clip into a 24fps project, the clip will be read as 24fps. And if I wanted to slow-mo it by adding a Timewarp or Trim-to-Fill it’d look jacked because MC would be creating it’s own frames instead of using the frames that were essentially removed when you imported it in. Make sense?
The trick is to create a 60fps project. Import all the footage into it. Then go back to your main project, 24fps or whatever yours is, and open that bin up from the 60fps project. Once you place the clip into the timeline you open up the Motion Effect Editor. Click Promote in the top-right. Then open up the Speed Graph. Change the speed to 100 (it should be at 250 in this example). Go into trim mode and roll the shot out. The result is a beautiful, slow-mo shot.
(I’ll try to grab a screenshot of this in the next couple of days and put it here!)
At this point I’m still waiting for client feedback before making more changes. I figured out the slow-mo shots and I’m ready to add them in but I know more work is coming down the pipe so I’m pretty much just standing by.
Game time! Got feedback back and I’m ready to rock and roll. I received the guidelines for the lower thirds/title cards to create. I also got some painful news… I need to figure out how to cut about 1:45 off of this video that I was already being brutal on. Yikes.
There’s a handful of things I need to fix, I have to create all the graphics, I have to cut down the video by 1:45 and do all the finishing work – cleaning up the audio, color correction, QCing it a few times, etc. And I only have through tomorrow to do it to stay on track. How should I prioritize the two evenings/nights I have to work on it?
I decided the most daunting task seemed to be figuring out how to cut the video down.
This was rough. Srsly.
I went through it a couple times with the equivalent of a scalpel cutting frames here and there. When I realized I only trimmed a few seconds off of it I knew I needed to go in with a battle-axe.
I was brutal. Frames were flying everywhere. Something useful I did was close up run-on sentences. For example, someone was talking away about a topic. I couldn’t just cut it mid-sentence because the inflection was off but the person essentially repeated themself a few words later. I took my editing liberties to trim out the part in the middle and put the beginning and end of the sentence together making it shorter but still keeping the exact same messaging.
Guess what? I got it down to 3:56! Woo!
Alright. When you know you have a ton of work to do, don’t wait until 8:00PM to start doing it after you woke up at 5:20AM. It’s no bueno and it’s exactly what I did.
I spent about two hours getting the titling just right in After Effects. I spit out some PSD Sequences with Alphas on them and imported them into Media Composer.
Once the titles were set in place I went through the video twice before doing any audio editing. I was trimming pieces here and there and if I would have done audio cleaning up already I knew I wouldn’t have the willpower to go back and check to make sure everything sounds okay.
By 10:30PM the video was looking pretty good. All that’s left is the audio cleaning up and color correction. I plugged the headphones in (always do audio editing with headphones on!) and went to work. The first pass through I got everyone’s audio levels to match by adjusting the levels with the Audio Mixer. Leave the Audio Tool up in Media Composer so you have some visual help. The next pass through I added crossfades between the clips so audio doesn’t just pop on and off. I fixed the music, which I had to find a place to mush two copies of it together since it wasn’t long enough. I listened to it one last time and it was ready.
Next was to color correct the video. Thankfully I had solid videographers so the color was pretty spot on. I auto-contrasted most of the clips then went through and manually adjusted the shadows, mid-tones and highlights as needed. For the interview shots I saved the effect to a bin and renamed it to the interviewee’s name and the shot type (CU or WS). Then each time I hit a shot with the interviewee I can throw on the correction I already made. I don’t have to re-do work I already did and it’s consistent.
By 11:15PM my brain was spent. After a couple rounds of QC it was time to export. But since I said I’d post it that night I had to stay up and compress it and upload it to ScreenLight. So I flipped on It’s Always Sunny on Netflix and waited.
12:35AM I stumble half-asleep upstairs. Video has been uploaded, email has been sent and it’s time to pass out.
There’s more to today but I’ll save that for Part IV next week…
Have you been enjoying Over the Editor’s Shoulder? How did I do this past week? Would you have done anything differently? Anything beneficial you were able to take from this? Let me know in the comments!