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June 17, 2009 at 3:42 AM #37571AnonymousInactive
I regularly produce videos, and they generally come out alright, but it seems too often that the whole project kind of gradually goes south. One thing after another, grainy image, not quite how I remembered the acting, camera bump here and there, humming audio, etc. It compounds on itself. In FCP, once finished importing, things seem to get messy as well, and the project starts not to become enjoyable anymore. I try to stay on top of these things, butI’mnot quite sure what’s going on. Are there any tips out there for me to keep things clean and simple?
June 17, 2009 at 4:21 AM #166582AnonymousInactive
This is one of the few plus sides to having OCD 🙂
My first suggestion is to be far more diligent in the front-end of the production. There’s no surefire way to do this except through practice. At the end of each take, review the clip, and if it’s not right, do it again. It sounds like a lot of work, but it will be easier than trying to get the talent back together after the fact for a re-shoot. Imagine needing to re-shoot even one scene after the fact. Getting everyone together, making sure their hair/makeup/and costume all match the previous shoots. It’s a lot of work.
The other bit of advice I have is to practice redundancy. The more cameras you have rolling, and the more audio feeds you use, the less likely you are to hit a snag in post.
Keep working on it. Tighten your front-end a bit, and you’ll be fine.
June 17, 2009 at 3:55 PM #166583
That’s some solid advice Jim gave. In addition it doesn’t hurt to have some good ‘extra eyes’ involved during the production process to catch things you’ll certainly miss and keeping in mind despite your best laid plains, ‘stupid @#$@!!’ is going to happen. You get around that by looking (and listening) to your ‘daillies’. Unlike working with film, video has taken away having to wait for the film to come back. You should have a monitor or a laptop on hand to look at your shots in the field or on location. If you are working tapeless, you have even less excuse to not view footage. Now, don’t get to the point where immediately after every shot you run to view it. That screws up the flow of shooting, will erode your talent, crew’s and your own confidence. Always have 2 channels of audio with two different mikes. I can’t tell you how many times having that extra channel saved my backside because we had at least one source of audio. If you can have a field mixer and or a dedicated audio recorder on set is even better.
Another thing is to recognize that the post phase is where you take all the crap you shot and turn it into something someone will want to see. The lament of any Editor is also their greatest strength in that they are the one’s who really make the ‘magic’ happen. ‘Silk purses out of Sow’s ears’ should come to mind. Remember that the project is a massive puzzle and you have to wade through it and pull it together. The ‘joy’ you’ll find only comes after the project is completed. Of course there will be cool points when you create a funky new mographic or work your way through a tough scene or hit milestones and deadlines. The rest of the time, you’ll be trying to keep from pulling your hair out. When you’re done, you’ll get a brief ‘moment of happy’ and have some more ‘war stories’ to tell. If you have this stuff in your blood, then the moment will pass and you’ll be waist-deep into another project trying not to pull your hair out.
Production is a ‘messy biz’. You can become quite efficient in your planning and execution, but because people and technology are involved you’re still going to get your hands good and dirty.
June 17, 2009 at 5:18 PM #166584DarylParticipant
Amen on the audioI always find ywo to three sources on the audio is the way to go. If I don’t have a moniter on sight or a lap top i can rewind and look at whayt i just shot on my LCD view finder
June 17, 2009 at 7:17 PM #166585
“If I don’t have a moniter on sight or a lap top i can rewind and look at whayt i just shot on my LCD view finder”
I didn’t mention that because that is the last resort. I’ve seen it (and done it) where in the heat of the shoot you forget to set the tape to a point where you won’t break timecode or overwrite recorded material.
Another thing I forgot to mention, is stay positive. Only the pro’s involved with the project should ever know the BS and PIA that went into getting the product made. Save some of those stories for the ‘making of’ portion on the DVD!
June 17, 2009 at 8:22 PM #166586AnonymousInactive
Brilliant advice so far!
In addition to what I said earlier, I’ll echo the thoughts here that “the field monitor is your friend”.
On most shoots, I’ve actually used my laptop as a field monitor. I’ll use the camera’s DV out to feed into the laptop. While the camera operatori is shooting, I can watch his shot at the PC, and because I’m a freakin’ genius (LOL!), I bring a hard drive with me to capture the footage to as it’s happening. This also saves me from importing that tape later on (though on a multi-cam shoot you’ll either need several laptops/firestore units/solid state media, or you just have to import the other footage later on).
As was mentioned, don’t stop after every shot to review footage. And I know I’m sounding redundant, but redundantly build in redundant redundancies. More cameras, more audio, more power.
I’ll go ahead and mention this, though it can be a bear to pull off. If your audio stinks, but the video seems fine, another option is to overdub the audio tracks. Bring your talent back into your studio, and rerecord their voices while they speak in sync with a monitor showing the footage from the shoot. You’ll want to have a BIG display for this (At least 30″) since the talent is trying to sync up with their lips on the video. You might also want headphones and a mixer where you can give the talent some audio from the original shoot along with their mic feed. You will also need to get some room ambience from the original shoot to fill behind the voices, and foley for the final mix if there are any sound fx needs. This option is a LOT OF WORK, and if you don’t get it exactly right, it can sound awful. For example, I just saw a febreeze commercial a few days ago where they overdubbed the tracks of two of the characters. It was painful to watch. The non-overdubbed voices had a normal room ambience behind them, and the two overdubbed ones were clearly in a studio setting. My eyes see them in a bedroom, but my ears hear them in a sound studio. My brain gets confused, and it caused me distress. I was doing audio for a few years before I owned my first pro camera, and even I would only do this as a last resort. It truly is best to get clean audio at the source if you can.
June 17, 2009 at 10:52 PM #166587AnonymousInactive
I would also like to say, If you can afford to do so, get a close friend whom you trust to run the camera. Meanwhile, get a small LCD screen and some big studio headphones. Be the director and during the course of shooting focus only on that screen. I am very guilty of trying to do too many jobs at once and by doing this I have saved many headaches.
June 18, 2009 at 1:51 AM #166588
“I am very guilty of trying to do too many jobs at once and by doing this I have saved many headaches.”
These days you better be able to do more than one job and still stay focused. I do agree in that when possible, fill the different production positions with skilled/talented people you can feel comfortable to do a good job. Even when I have a full crew and am directing, I still work as DP and will have on headphones despite having a sound designer on hand. I don’t do their job for them or second guess them. It’s just more condusive to hear the performance as it is going into the camera. I’ve done straight directing but I don’t like it as it doesn’t feel like I’m ‘working’. On the plus side, when the crew sees me working in the ‘dirt’ with them nobody gets the idea I’m just standing there ‘officiating’. I can push them because they see me pushing myself. Working on a project with a small to medium crew is much harder, but to my mind it’s much more fun.
You’re dead right about the amount of work needed for overdubbing. However, if you shoot with overdubbing and foley work in mind it will make your job easier when it comes to doing it. I’ve done voiceovers and worked a foley soundstage and I can’t believe you can actually get paid to do that. Too much fun. Hard work though and you get zero props for it when it’s done well (can anyone tell me how many Oscars were given out for foley work?)
Amen to the complaints about ‘overdubbing’. In an ideal world, you want clean usable audio tracks in the field and use overdubbing as a last resort. Hollywood and Madison Ave. do it bassackwards (to quote EarlC on another post) in that they only use the field audio as reference and overdub and ‘sweeten’ audio in the studio. It works out for the most part, but when done poorly as you described it’s just sad. What I don’t get is, mainstream commercials cost way too much money for someone to produce a half-buttocked piece with unmatched or unsynced audio. Most likely what happened was the suits who bankrolled the project got ticked at the original production co. and got someone else to finish it ergo the mismatched audio.
The first commandment of Field to Studio Audio is; ‘Thou shalt collect clean room tone/ambient sound onsite prior to shooting and use the exact same mic’s for overdubbing as thou useth in the field.’ The second is; ‘Shouldsth thou needeth to overdub, then thou shalt overdub all who hath lines in order to keepeth audio continuity.’ Any onscreen talent who vocalizes but doesn’t have lines (laughs, screams, etc.) can be dubbed using canned sound fx. Spend your time and money on overdubbing your primary talent only.
I’ve used the ‘PC as monitor’ on a regular basis. I still keep a copy of ‘DV Rack’ (before Adobe renamed it On-Location) on a laptop. Worth every penny. The only drawback is it is purely a studio tool as you are limited by the length of your firewire cable. However (there’s always one of those) you can extend your ‘reach’ by using firewire extention cables. If the cables don’t carry power or you need to exceed 70ft you’ll have to have a firewire repeater. The drawback of that option is you absolutely have to have a crew to help keep those cables clear during shooting so no connections get broken during filming.
June 18, 2009 at 4:59 AM #166589AnonymousInactive
Hey, I wanted toapologizefor not writing back sooner. Thank you all for your helpful input. The thing I am seeing here is to have redundancy in recording things, as well as to look over footage and re-do if it is not right. I’m thinking this would be good during a break or something. I’ve alsonoticedwhen I am operating the camera, there are more issues because I am more focused on the viewfinder than the talent. I’m thinking it would bebeneficialto use a camera operator whenever possible and to be really carefull otherwise.
June 18, 2009 at 4:58 PM #166590AnonymousInactive
Sounds like you’re picking up on ideas Evan. As far as your viewfinder goes, try to think of it as a “window” rather than a “painting”. That is, you look AT paintings, and THROUGH windows. Your viewfinder will show you what’s going on, but at the same time, you need to see beyond that, to ensure that your talent is doing what they’re supposed to, and you’re getting the audio and video you need. If you’re also mastering the audio while you’re recording, wear headphones. They do help.
Keep on keepin’ on. You’ll get the hang of it.
June 18, 2009 at 5:09 PM #166591
“As far as your viewfinder goes, try to think of it as a “window” rather
than a “painting”. That is, you look AT paintings, and THROUGH windows.
Your viewfinder will show you what’s going on, but at the same time,
you need to see beyond that, to ensure that your talent is doing what
they’re supposed to, and you’re getting the audio and video you need.”
Thus endeth the lesson. I’m totally hijacking that for my next lecture.
June 18, 2009 at 8:34 PM #166592AnonymousInactive
lol, it’s all yours. Just be sure that if you refer to me you use phrases like “complete genius” or “Jedi-like skills” 😀
June 20, 2009 at 3:33 AM #166593
“… be sure that if you refer to me you use phrases like “complete genius” or “Jedi-like skills”
To get that kind of praise I offer you the same challenge I gave ‘Jedichick’ a while back. Lift my X-Wing out of the mud and you’ve got a deal.
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