After completing the final day of filming last week, I’ve finally had a chance to edit the material. I’ve completed the first crucial step, which is to assemble the best clips together in the timeline. When I made the first episode last year that was pretty much my only step, and then I added a “color grade”. I put that in quotations because I have a few shots in episode 1 that are completely blue because I couldn’t figure out how to change them back to a normal color. Also, I’m pretty sure the entire episode still only plays out of the left speaker.
At this point there are many steps, but each one becomes more rewarding than the last. I get to see my shots come to life as the saturation increases and the skin tones increase in warmth. The audio transforms from an uncontrolled mess of garbled rumbles into a valley of emphasized pitches. And adding music to any scene is like adding alcohol to a romantic situation – it’s not necessary but it sure gets things moving.
I’ve divided the episode into 5 major sequences based on the day the scene was shot. There are subsequences within those days as well. One of the major challenges during Episode 4 – which had a run time of 22 minutes – was the processing burden it placed on my computer during the edit. The file size becomes massive when you have hundreds of 2-3 seconds clips that feature a colorgrade, audio effects, and a mask or two. Sometimes it becomes necessary to stack video clips atop each other which multiplies the amount of information premiere pro has to remember.
Once I complete the edit for each 4-6 minute sequence, I will export the scene and load it into ableton live. Here I can compose the background music so that it is in sync with the scene. I can also add some reverb and eq to the scene, but so far I’ve found premiere pro is better suited for dialogue and general film editing. Once I have the song composed and leveled I will export each instrument to a different stem and work with the scene back in premiere pro. After I have the audio mixed and completed I will begin work on the colors.
I don’t want to get as in depth with the coloring as I did the last episode. One of the major challenges of working with a small budget is that I am unable to apply wallpaper or paint many of the walls that I am shooting in front of. The reason why this matters is that the white walls in any home take on a soft orange hue from sunlight. A simple method way of enhancing the skin tones of your actors is to have them contrast with their background.
Orange and teal are known as complimentary colors as they are on opposite sides of the color wheel. When the background is teal and skin tone is orange, it looks good. I mention the walls because whenever background objects are the same tone as the actors’ skin it becomes more difficult to accentuate that contrast. You can still do it with a mask, or by using the rotobrush in after effects, but that results in more layers of video – which puts more stress on your processor.
If I had a real budget for a legitimate production, I could control the set and design the background for the ideal color balance. If color schemes in film interests you, I encourage you to watch a Wes Anderson film. He is the master of artistic framing and balance, in my opinion. If you want to see a heavy orange and teal effect, watch a Michael Bay Film.
I know this has been a technical heavy post that was essentially written for noone, but that’s where my mind is at. Perhaps you can see why I retain my stubborn belief that marketing and creativity are born from diametrically opposed regions of the brain. Ideally I could do both at the same time, but I have always felt I am only capable of thinking one way or another.
It’s wild how much I have learned over the past year about the technical aspects of filmmaking. The irony is that I’ve become faster at each part of the process but the amount of steps before completion feels as though it is infinite. One final ramble I have to get out is that I never can make up my mind about whether to mix this film in 5.1 surround sound. I feel that I am capable, but I would need to purchase Adobe Audition, a 5.1 sound card, and a set of surround sound speakers. Youtube does not support surround sound and neither do 95% of the viewers who will eventually be watching my short film. I have decided to purchase a DVD writer so that I can encode the finished product to a DVD and offer it as an incentive during my kickstarter campaign. In this digital age, however, I am more than certain that most supporters will prefer access to the file online. A lot of homes do not even feature a DVD player.
If you read to the end of this post, congratulations, I am certain you are one of the few. This entire post was comprised of godawful technobabble and the aimless ponderings of a man’s compulsive desire to speak the language of cinema. Enjoy the day and the lessons it teaches you.