Hello Everyone. Sorry i’ve been really busy this November but hey, a promise is a promise. Lets talk about organizing a project for editing. We will particularly learn with Room315. Thats the point of making the film anyway. But if you have any specific questions, i will answer in the comments. I decided not to make a video with this one but if any part needs more clarification, i’ll make a video. Please note: This tutorial assumes you’ve had some knowledge of editing. Some of the images might look small on your phone or pC so right click and “open image in new tab”
I was fortunate to have some background in Television production. I used to be the editor for a christian show called Hosanna Hour in the mid 2000s and i was handling all the content for the now defunct Minaj Broadcast network. The first thing you learn when doing TV is deadlines, delivery speed and the ability to think many things at once. Now we had two main problems then; we were always running on generators and the systems weren’t powerful enough to handle long timelines with multiple tracks. To make things worse, my boss, Arthur Chukwuma was a no-nonsense person and he really didn’t care about your excuse. he would even blame you if the generator stopped working lol. The tense environment made me a very fast editor and helped me think about how to structure my project for optimal efficiency. So what do you do once you have been handed over a hard drive for editing.
- BACK UP THE HARD DRIVE AND FORMAT FOR CROSS PLATFORM COMPATIBILITY: I never collect a project from a client if i haven’t confirmed they have it backed up. If it your personal project, find a hard drive and back it up too. Its the first thing you should do. Ideally, the guy on set who does all the file transfers should have formatted the drive so it can be opened on a windows PC or a Mac. this is a common problem. If you are that guy on set, format as EXFAT so any system can open it. If they give you a drive that is formatted for just one operation system, format the backup drive and use that one. NTFS doesn’t run as smooth as EXFAT on a Mac and a Mac drive wont open on a windows PC. You might need to install apps for that but na stress abeg.
- CREATE A PROPER FILE STRUCTURE FOR THE FOOTAGES: Sometimes the guy who captures on the set is daft and won’t organize footages properly and once the shoot is done and they’ve collected their money, they run away. Directors and producers should never let this happen but if it does, think about structuring your files. first give the project a name say ROOM315 and make that a folder. We shot in one day but with three cards so inside that folder, i’ll create three folders, CARD 1, CARD 2, CARD 3. In each of the CARD folders, I will then create SCENE folders and an AUDIO folder. If however you shot in days, create DAY 1, DAY 2 etc folders on your root folder, then in each day create difference SCENE folders and an AUDIO folder. this is the system we use here at Anthill STudios and its very effective. It ensures that if we decide to move the edit from one system to another, the files will link properly. Also, a different editor can come finish a job and his life will be easy. It also makes your project neat and easy searchable.
If you use a high end audio system like we did, the audio files will have metadata. What this means is that you can know which scene an audio file is because its named like that. Ask the audio guy to do that while on set. Its also important that a clapperboard is used on set, if you do not see it in the footage, curse the clapperboard guy and throw a tantrum….yep…thats what i’ll do.
- DECIDE WHAT FILE FORMAT YOU WANT TO EDIT WITH: Now this choice will largely be dependent on the editing application you use and the power of your system to run an edit timeline playback in real time. In 2012, I saved a client a lot of hassle and money by telling him i could edit a RED scarlet footage natively on Adobe premiere pro with my powerful macbook pro. Prior to that, he had editors covert to PRORES before the edit. it cost money and of course the editors took advantage of him. However not all RED footage will edit natively on adobe premiere pro. you can check the list here. This was the first problem we encountered with ROOM 315. we shot 4k and 5k on the RED weapon. I wanted the resolution and the camera’s sensor but forgot to check with my editing software. Ofcourse we got the camera free but then i lost the ability to edit the RAW on premiere pro cos i wanted to use CS6. I could easily edit in Davinci Resolve with supports RED files but i had promised all the tutorials will be in Premiere Pro So what to do? i went into RED Cine X pro which is free for download. With this software, you can batch render (convert) all your files into another format but two things were critical. First, i had to convert the gamma to RED LogFilm (this is good for colour grading), I also had to do some quick colour correction (particularly whitebalancing) on each file.
The next thing is to select my media files and export them. for the edit. For this I choose APPLE ProRES 4444. This ensures the image is at its maximum quality but the downside is that the files are heavy. So my plan is to delete all the RED files once i have my export done. For those of you using windows, you can use the AVID DNX file option at 444. Apple isn’t supporting windows with the prores except you have the recent Creative Cloud version. (Apple is such a bully).
Now that we’ve converted all the RED files into proRES, we can delete the original RED files to make for some space. I was able to get away with this because room315 is a short film, If its a feature, Make sure the format you are shooting with is compatible with your editing package. But even then sometimes, resolution and high bit depth can be a bitch so even if we had shot with the ARRI Alexa at 4k, we might still need to do something for a hassle free edit. But if you system can handle it, go on…else..
- IF YOUR SYSTEM CAN’T HANDLE THE HI-RES FILES, EDIT WITH PROXIES: A proxy is simply a very low resolution version of your footages. you create it so you can edit smoothly and when you are done editing, you re-link it back to the original high RES files for final output. We have very powerful computers here in the studio so i hardly use proxies but room315 had very high bitdepth and resolution. Even the PRORES 4444 file wasn’t playing smoothly, I had to resort to proxies. To do that, i used Adobe media encoder and rendered 720p on PRORES 422 LT or 422 proxy. you can even go lower if you want. Its just to guide your edit. you will link back to the proper thing later on. Make sure to check that your frame rate stays the same.
Now for the most important part.
- THINK OF YOUR PROJECT AS A SEQUENCE OF SEQUENCES: Let me tell you something for free. your project will crash. If your small, computer village coupled system doesn’t crash it, NEPA will crash it. Even when you use a UPS, it will sha crash. the evil spirits will crash it. I have had a lot of people lament because of a common problem. They edited their entire film as one long sequence and it crashed. This is a dumb way to work especially with our Power problems in Nigeria. Its also not a smart way to work. Take a look at this timeline below
I know editors do this to impress but its silly. What happens if this project gets damaged. Also what if the director or a client comes around and quickly wants to see a scene, how do you go through all this chaos. A film is made up of scenes. edit your films by treating each scene as an edit project. save a project by its scene name and organize them accordingly. If your film has 72 scenes, you should have 72 projects which also means 72 sequences. Take a look at the edit folder for my film FALLING. Even the ones without scene numbers are created separately.
Once this is done, I will then create a Master timeline i usually call MAIN or just the name of the film and bring in all the different scenes/sequence inside and arrange them sequentially. The advantage of this is that If anything happens to you main file, you, only need to bring back all the scenes together again. More importantly, the timeline flows almost like the script. I can easily go to any scene and watch with my director. Even more,if i want to make any changes, I can just enter that particular scene and make the corrections. even when a scene had many layers of video and audio, the master or main timeline just has one. This way i can focus on adding music and foleys on separate tracks and have a clean look. Take a look at the main timeline for ROOM315, Isn’t it beautiful?. But in each scene we have layered and clustered timelines. Like an Apple product, don’t let anyone see the complexity.
I am hoping this can become a standard in how we all approach our editing. This is one of our secrets in Anthill Studios. Its why we never disappoint our customers, why we’ve won many awards and why we are seen as fast and reliable….Its why we are the best.