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Style & form training for editing


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#1 RebreatherDave

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 08:30 PM

I have finally started my Final Cut Pro training, never having done any sort of video editing, not even iMovie.

I just got finished importing all my clips, deleting the lame ones, and naming all the rest by category. I didn't get any topisde footage, no equipment set up and explanation ala expedition documentary, and hardly any land shots at all, and little diver interaction stuff.....I think all that was a mistake.....however, I have tons of really good small to macro footage.....many of which I will smooth out via Apple's Shake program using the smoothcam feature.

But style is another thing...we've all seen tons of documentaries and ocean shows, but when it comes to formatting it all into something coherent, well, that is a different story. Things like dissolve transitions seem best when aiming for that artistic, dreamy stuff....best set to music. I find myself watching Mark Stantons Divers Down cable show to see his editing style.....hard transitions which are good for documentary stuff....

I intend on recording my voice doing descriptive narration, but it is one thing to look at the length of a clip of a particular animal, then figure out what you want to say about that animal within that length of clip, but most documentaries have narratives that overlap clips....and the stuff where their is songs WITH narration, and the volume drops intervallically when the narration goes, then up goes the volume, well, you have to know what part of the music can have the volume lowered, it sure is a ton of stuff to think about.

What resources are available for us to learn all this stuff? As the editing programs are just tools, now I need to learn how to create a style with the tools. I am overwhelmed with trying to get the style part, so I am at the asking stupid questions part right now, lol.....

Edited by RebreatherDave, 16 October 2006 - 08:31 PM.

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#2 mattdiver

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 09:30 PM

There's an excellent book by John Boyle called "A step-by-step guide to underwater video" that covers pretty much anything from shooting to editing UW videos...

See this link:

http://www.sharkbayf...dvds_books.html

#3 CamDiver

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 09:43 PM

Hi Dave,
I pretty much took the bull by the horns a few years ago and started delving into trying to make short films etc. I have had zero training and mainly picked up what I know from forums such as this. I have expanded on that limited knowledge by just playing around with settings and editing styles and also by discussing stuff with individuals with proven production track records etc.

For a short film you should, OK you didn't know this then, try to look at getting a rough draft of a storyline / script together. From that you can work out your shot list and storyboard. After that you need to do the fun bit and go get the footage.

When importing the footage to FCP you can at that time give the clip names and categorize etc to save time in the long run. Those files will then be stored on your assigned scratch disk from where you can then export to your archives storage drive etc.

I normally lay out the final script on the timeline once I have had it recorded either by a well spoken friend or a voice artist commissioned for that project if it is deemed to have enough importance. Luckily for me I have some friends who work as professional voice artists for TV commercials etc so I can ask for paid favors from time to time. Anything is better than using my own voice. Ever heard your own voice on a recording? Sheez, I sound like Mickey Mouse suckin' on helium so thats a big no no if I want to be taken seriously.

Next, and its a labor of love to an extent, make sure you get enough footage to cover all eventualities. That takes planning and rigorous thought process before you don the wetsuit. Once captured, the voice track is left on the audio line and I don't really touch it for the most part. I then start to put the clips together working on different sequences in different sequence timelines before bringing them all together. That way, and its a personal preference, I can output any .mov files for third party plug in work in Motion or Shake before incorporating them directly onto the master timeline.

Once its all done and looks OK just with narration I then clip tuck and nip to make sure all is OK with recorded audio levels transitions, if used (check most serious natural history productions and you'll see few if any transitions). I once had it mentioned to me that a script should be strong enough to justify a scene change from black to white whilst maintaining a good viewer comfort level, then you'll have a good product.

Once that is ready I then choose my musical scores from the small royalty free library I have amassed and lay that down. I'll work around the narrative of the film setting the audio levels but at the same time trying to find music that sets the scene for the image being displayed. Its a relatively easy thing to edit using the music as the reference point but quite difficult to make a movie and then be able to find a suitable track unless of course you got heaps 'o' cash and can commission an incidental soundtrack!!

This is how I do things in my own little way. It seems to work but is a far cry from the workflow considered by many to be the industry norm.

By the end of all this you should have the rough outlines of your opus movie project somewhere on your hard drive. The final touches are up to you. Deciding on color correction requirements etc.

Oh by the way, after this you should also have a suicidal wife, insomnia, a runaway dog, shares in pro plus and a very heavy pair of eyelids !!!!

Cheers,
Mark.

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#4 RebreatherDave

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 10:59 PM

I have a DVD titled "Your Guide to Creating Underwater Video" which has some really basic editing stuff, but doesn't even get into transitions, music, audio, voice over, nada.....it is primarily about the equipment and the use of the equipment and just a little on telling a story.
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#5 wagsy

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 11:49 PM

Mark you are in typing mode over there, the last few days... ;)

And just to confuse you even more Dave.

We cut them up to fit the the music tracks we have, then Kelly sits down and watches it and writes up the text.

Then we play the timeline and she talks straight into the computer and onto the timeline as it plays. Then we go over and cut the narration to make sure it fits in correctly. Yep our Ningaloo one she spoke for 70 mins straight. :wub: and yes we did it many times before we nailed it.... :)

One problem you can have is that if you do the narration in bits, it can somethimes be very hard to match each one as the voice can be abit different, hence just do it in one go if ya can.

But each to their own....

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#6 CamDiver

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 12:53 AM

[quote name='wagsy' date='Oct 17 2006, 05:49 PM' post='105417']
Mark you are in typing mode over there, the last few days... :)

Nah Wagsy,
Just had a time consuming render on the boiler for the past day and a half. I like to baby sit when larger items are going thru the mill so I have time to sit down and write.

What you guys up to these days?
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#7 skawdiver

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 02:58 AM

Then we play the timeline and she talks straight into the computer and onto the timeline as it plays.

What kind of microphone do you use ? Don't you find it difficult to get a "noice-free" recording through the computers soundcard ?

I have given up on that, and now I record to my PD-170 with a Røde mic, and then simply import that, and put it in the timeline as sound only.

Edited by skawdiver, 17 October 2006 - 02:58 AM.

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#8 wagsy

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 04:09 AM

Yes you are indeed correct although we did have success using a Sennheiser MKE 300 with a wind sock on it and then used some filters in Premiere.

But talking to camera does give a better result and we have started using that method for our Video Lives clips into the A1. Have yet to try it with Edius and the new sound card port on the motherboard.

Mark, what are you working/rendering on?

What are we up to....well October is horrible here, lots of swell and wind for diving, but been busy orgainising our leasess as we are now landlords of two buidlings. Infact it looks like we will be taking over one at this month to set up shop. Will make a post all about it soon.

We are also slowly working on out next Ningaloo DVD, sold out of all the others and people are ringing for copies to sell ;) ...buts we are having to many distrations.

Cut up some footage for Amphibico to play at Wildscreen and Dema...

Also some more web work and a review on Edius, see the new post soon.

O and getting stuff together....getting married on Nov 18 on Rotto.... :)
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#9 Mary Lynn

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 05:46 AM

Dave, this is a great topic! There are so many different ways to approach editing and creating videos, and I learn something from everyone's different techniques and methods.

For me, the approach I use depends on the kind of video I want to do. If it's a music-driven video, I often lay down the music track first, and that helps me determine the images that will work best and how the editing should go (pacing, motion, rhythm). If it's an image-driven video, it all depends. I may lay down music first to give me a sense of the feeling and rhythm before adding the images, or do an assembly edit of the image clips first and then drop in the music to begin fine-tuning the edits.

If the video is more narrative story or interview-driven, I'll often lay down the interview track(s) first, then lay down the cutaway images to illustrate what's being talked about in the interviews. If the interview includes video, I'll lay down the video portion as well so I can occasionally show the speaker between cutaways. By placing the interview video on Track 1, I can place the cutaway images on track 2 and move those around to get the timing right. Initially, the clips will be laid out roughly in an assembly edit (assembling clips in the approximate order to tell the story). Then I'll move things around, add or subtract clips and trim them, and gradually the rough cut takes shape. And then slowly start to tighten up the edits and work on the rhythm until the piece begins to work.

When I do "trip videos" my approach is often more chronological, but I may also combine events or montage images to give a feel for how the trip progressed.

While the best approach is to start with a "shot list" before every trip or dive to have a good idea of the shots needed or wanted, often the subject of a possible video will present itself unexpectedly. In cases like that, it's helpful to me to be able to fall back on simple guidelines for good shooting: vary the shots, try to get wide, medium and tight close-ups of important shots, be thinking about transition shots (tight close-ups can work well for this) and shots that might be needed to "tell the story" visually.

And probably the most important thing for me has just been practice, practice, practice. Read stuff, watch videos and films of others to learn from them. Go out and shoot, and then put something together. And just keep at it! One of the greatest feelings to me is that of creating a little film that evokes something of the experience of actually being there. Welcome to the world of editing!

Mary Lynn

#10 RebreatherDave

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 10:37 PM

I am reading every bit of this all from all of you, it is much appreciated......this all got me to thinking.....I had a great discussion going in this forum related to the etymology of the scientific names given to the critters we see...it was a fascinating thread to start and get great input on....but I am not sure if my edited DVD viewers are going to be appreciative or bored if I were to get into the finer debate points of whether the Periclimenes in P Brevicarpalis means honeysuckle or Periclymenus for Greek Mythology when narrating about the different animals.....I did find some reasources that discussed some interesting odd facts about some of the animals, and our Leslie the worm girl came up with some interesting stuff about the manner in which animals like salps of which I have hidef footage of reprodeuce and colonialize...maybe if I had just a little bit occassionally that made for variety without too much of one thing.....

I also got to thinking when I was a kid......when "The UnderSea World of Jaques Cousteu" was on, we call such shows "specials"...I vaguely recall that often Jacques narrated in a sort of poetry when discussing non-technical things....I didn't recognize it as such back then, now it woudl be really interesting to listen to the narrations.

I have a reasonable grasp of just narrating over clips describing the animal being observed, as well as no narration, just new age style music set to clips that have slower transition disolves that lend itself to the new age style instrumental music for that sorta dreamy thing....but unless you have music scored to the scenes, I think narrating over music and knowing when to reduce the volume of the music to make room for the narration without reducing volume on the wrong part of the song, and without it being out of synch with the visual portion, man, for a noob that's too many chess moves in advance for my pea brain......lol


I did find this:

http://edcommunity.a...p...on=0&page=4

Edited by RebreatherDave, 18 October 2006 - 02:41 PM.

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#11 DeanB

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 12:58 PM

I watched a programme on the BBC friday night called 'Johnny Kingdom, a year on exmoor'

I think he is going to be the U.K's answer to the late Steve Irwin but all in Lamens terms. The opening scene is this, well, country bumpkin driving his jeep with 'As seen on TV' written on the side, finding a roadkill badger dragging it to the side of the road, throwing some leaves on it and saying "Bless him my babby" poor old bill badger" crossing himself and driving off.. :D

He's a amatuer wildlife cameraman, a bit eccentric but full of personality. Spending most of his last 30 years filming the wildlife around Exmoor. Believe me he's no Attenborough but he's brilliant fun. My favourite was him stalking a stag deer in full camouflage, balaclava & Canon XL2, saying "Theres my beauty, hes a lovely boy, I'll get some good shots for you lovely people back home"

He's got six 30 min primetime shows on BBC2. All wobbley cameras and non scientific narration. Then later on BBC2 was 'Galapogo's' the blue chip production..You could'nt get much more of a difference in programming. But all entertaining

Just trying to say.."there's room for all of us somewhere" :) :)

My personel filming view is..Keep the Narration in short bursts. Not to scientific, though that might impress the pro's. Build sequences to the flow of your backing soundtrack (highs and lows). Like any good story have a start middle and end. With a build up of tension to keep your audience from falling asleep. Have a narrative ending that conveys the overall feeling of your film. Keep the shots between 5-7 secs long. Unless there is something that is amazing.
When I came back from Yap in 2002 I had a shot of a Manta gliding towards me, going over head and soaring of into the distance. All in all, 16secs long. I thought it was so good I couldn't cut anything out. Now i'd put in cutaways of the looks of emotion on divers faces with maybe reflective shots of the Manta in divers masks, just to break it up..

Sorry all, now I'm rambling... :D

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#12 Steve Douglas

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Posted 18 October 2006 - 04:25 PM

Congratulations on finishing your FCP course. You don't say what version of FCP you are using and with each version there are more tools to help you and your workflow. They are up to 5.1.2 now and even this last little version added several fliters and generators to 5.1 as well as some workflow improvements. Also, not sure what level class you took but the good thing about FC is that you will probably never outgrow it. Mark touched briefly on a couple of important things. While several editors capture an entire tape, I would advice against that. Capture just the ins and outs you want and be sure to name each one. In the long run it will say you much time and frustration looking for certain clips. It will also save you much room on your hard drive. Remember that you do not need to capture audio if you will not use it. Why waste HD space for a million breathing sounds. While FC does have a stop/start finder which will break a very large capture into its many segments, those segments will not be named. I personally hate log and capturing and just finished a month long job log and capturing, naming and seperating by species a couple of hundred tapes for a footage company. It got me very organized but my back will never be the same and I am now severely behind in a few reviews.
For underwater documentaries I really try to leave out fancy effects and filters. Transitions are best when they are cuts and cross dissolves so that the viewer is watching a film you produced and not a film about fancy transitions. I save the fancy stuff for the opening and closing credits but, even then, they need to be relevant and tasteful.
Like Mary Lynn said, every artist has their own workflow and preferences so find what fits you well and fits your vision. From that will come your own 'style'.
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#13 RebreatherDave

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 10:55 PM

I just STARTED my Final Cut Pro training. I am up to a whopping 2 lessons under my belt.

I purchased Apple's ProCare for $99. This gives me 52 one on one lessons at any Apple Store by a software certified expert, 1 hour long session a week for the year for a measley $99.

I bought Final Cut Studio, the latest, and am running FCP 5.1.2. I just downloaded a free Mac OSX storyboard software called StoryBoard Pro. They have an online video tutorial in Quicktime with step by step instruction. Looks really easy.

They also have a primer for editing techniques: http://www.atomiclea...lingindex.shtml

I agree with you on the fancy effects. I have a buddy who dove with me in Micronesia and he took some 3 chip footage. Took him 6 months to edit it all. He was really schooled in using all the fancy video effects of pictures squeezing out, footage rolling in, footage exploding away in pieces, you name it.

I asked some friends what they thought, and they loved the footage, but said sometimes it seemed like the editor was more intent on displaying their obvious mastery of the programs fancy stuff rather than concentrating on telling a story. I'd like to say it was a lesson learned, but I am sure glad I don't have to learn on that complicated effects stuff! lol.

I roughly plan on showing some panoramic reef footage with some semi-dramatic narration over it, pausing mid sentence, then switching to a more artistic reef shot, then the title of the film is actually the end of the previously stopped sentence.

Next is some footage about the basis for the ecosystem, the coral itself with some narration about how coral builds reefs...then into the ecosystem it supports, then into the odd inhabitants, then a narration about what area we'll be going, foot age of bangka boat travel, then the area of the island, then get into the waster and start showing the footage.

At that point is is basic story telling along chronological lines, and I will narrate informative stuff over shots of the interesting stuff.

Edited by RebreatherDave, 21 October 2006 - 06:25 AM.

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#14 wagsy

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 01:30 AM

Go Dave.
We look forward to seeing your stuff.
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#15 peacedog

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 04:50 PM

I just STARTED my Final Cut Pro training. I am up to a whopping 2 lessons under my belt.

I purchased Apple's ProCare for $99. This gives me 52 one on one lessons at any Apple Store by a software certified expert, 1 hour long session a week for the year for a measley $99.

Dave, this is the best 99 bucks you could spend. I actually teach some of those classes at Mac locations up in the Northeast and three years ago I got my start in FCP taking them as well.

Editing is such a subjective thing. Having worked on everything from fundraiser documentaries to live concert DVDs, I think the one thing I learned is that if you know your general audience and edit accordingly, that's the best style. If you're big on your own technique or style showing through (like I am), don't sweat it - it will. just be sensitive to your core viewers.

Also - and it's just my opinion - but anyone who thinks transitions and effects are key to underwater video shouldn't be doing it, and don't let them tell you different. Otherwise we wouldn't have lengthy debates about white balance, focal length and proper lighting. It's the shot - not the clever dissolve or wipe - that makes or breaks a video.
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#16 Steve Douglas

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 05:00 PM

Hear, hear Peace dog.....well said. Mary Lynn Price and I started using FCP together when version 1.0 came out. It was much harder to learn then because there were no classes or materials around. Now its like Xmas with there being so much out there.
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