Specialist Project – Post Production

post production

Editing Decisions

Post production isn’t only about the editing tools used, but also about the look and flow of the final piece. It’s also the time to make decisions on the content, narrative and the visual look of the documentary. For example the questions asked in the documentary and therefore the answers to those questions maybe work better in a different sequence? For my final edit the I have changed the order, grouping answers so that they follow each other in a more cohesive manner. A simple change can have a dramatic effect on the final documentary, even though the answers are the same, the sequence can change the context and narrative.

The editing process can also change the pace of the documentary. Rapid and I mean by this short cuts say of 1-2 seconds increase the pace, whereas decreasing the number of cuts say of 5-10 seconds slow the pace of the documentary. For my project I feel the pace should be slow and so there are fewer cuts. I did create an edit with lots of cuts and it just did not work for this subject.

Premiere Pro CS5 – Post Production

My tool of choice is still Premiere Pro CS5 for editing my videos even though we have access to CS6 at University. I use CS5 mainly as I believe they got it right with this version and subsequent updates have added little, except for some changes to functionality, which are annoying rather than of benefit and the move to a Cloud based option, which is a bad idea when considering the poor access speed I have to the internet at home.

Post Production – WorkflowPremier Pro CS5 screenshot

Note the use of Colour Balance in the above screenshot (see below for description)

This is my workflow process and may not be what is recommended or the best but it works for me.

First step is to copy all the footage to a directory which I call Video Projects then create sub directories for the each stage of the FIlming schedule so for example the Interview footage goes into the Interview sub-folder, rehearsal footage in the Technical Rehearsal sub folder, repeat this for each filming session of stage in the documentary process.

The 2nd step is to create ‘Bins’ for my media files in Premiere Pro that directly relate to the project for example the ‘Interview Footage’ is dragged into the ‘Interview Bin’. The footage taken during the productions ‘Technical Rehearsal’ dragged into a Bin of the same name. Music into aother Bin and so on.

The 3rd step is to review each of the movie clips against the shot list and confirm which ones to use. I usually drag them into the Preview window and make rough edits for in and out and make a note of the sequence and a short description relating to the clip number.

The order that I use these clips, dragging them onto the Timeline is per-determined by the shot list which for this project ran in sequential order.

Premier Pro CS5 screenshot 2

4th Step:- I should mention the B-roll, this is the clips I would use keep the viewer interested as there is only so long you can have video of talking heads before the viewer loses interest. You need to film interesting images or add photographs relevant to the documentary for example I filmed close ups of hand movements, extracts from the performance, close ups of just the eyes of the interviewee.

5th Step: Time to add some music and check those volume levels. I’ve learn’t that you need to playback the sound from your edits through a number of audio sources. What I mean by this, is that the sound you hear from the speakers built into the Mac may be different when played back through headphones and different again when played back through a home cinema system. Watch out for those Bass settings in particular they can be non-existant on the Mac but overpowering on the Home Cinema System with its built in Sub Woofer.

6th Step: Colour grading – this is something I will do if required sometimes the video as shot is what I intended to see on screen but sometimes it is necessary to get the visuals you want for example video from 2 cameras may not match. But for this project I decided that purely for aesthetics I wanted to reduce the mid and high red tones and enhance the blues and greens. I used the colour balance option there are others you can use for example curves but I like to see the number settings so that I can make notes of what setting works best. Having  created this colour balance setting I saved it in Presets so that I could access it for other projects.

7th Step: This is optional but I planned to create 3 edits in total so I needed to create 2 New Sequences and then repeat the previous steps to create the other edits in the same way.

Post Production – Alternative Edits and Experimentation

The screenshot above is taken from an experimental edit I put together from the videos taken of the same dance routine but at different times and using different cameras – the Black and White sequence was shot using an iPad 3 and the Colour sequence shot on a Canon 60D DSLR. I then overlayed one on top of the other adjusting the Opacity of the overlayed video to just 45%. I then attempted to matched the visuals as closely as possible but not too closely to get this Ghosting effect.

View the Rushes

It makes sense to put together some rough edits initially and get people to watch these for feedback purposes. My 1st edits for this project were not received that well, the feedback was the music levels were too high, the clips I’d used for transitions were distracting rather than enhancing. On a positive note they liked the subject and the visuals particularly my use of colour grading. This is very useful feedback when creating the final edits.

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Specialist Project – Research

specialist project research

Specialist Project Research – Researching the Documentary

I began researching Documentary methods and styles at the end of the second year at Uni as I knew this was something that I would be interested in developing for my BA 3rd year projects.

Video Links




The Book List

A list of books that I have read and/or purchased to help me develop my skills and knowledge as a Documentary Filmmaker.

All these books can be found in the AUCB Library but they are in demand so I purchased them for future reference.

Book 1: The Documentary Moviemaking Course: The Starter Guide to Documentary Filmmaking (Professional Media Practice. Author Kevin J. Lindermuth.

Book Description (source Amazon.co.uk Accessed 16/10/2012)

Publication Date: 2 Aug 2010 | ISBN-10: 1408128586 | ISBN-13: 978-1408128589
More filmmakers are employed in making documentary films than any other genre. Thanks to the user-friendly equipment available today, it is no longer an area that requires a film-school background to get started. This book shows how you can begin making your first documentary movies – from researching and defining your theme, style, and the treatment that will drive your film, to organising the production and, ultimately, getting it seen by a wider audience. Following the simple practical advice, tips and easy steps in this book will get you started today. * Learn how to choose your subject and decide on your storytelling style * Create an outline/structure for your documentary and research and plan your material * Find out the essential equipment you will need to buy or rent in order to shoot and edit * Discover cinematic and editing skills to pull all your material together. * Understand how to budget and finance your project * Find out the logistics of shooting interviews, footage and other source materials * Create a trailer and get your work seen through festivals and publicity * Learn about the wider world of distribution.
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Drama (2 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408128586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408128589
Book 2: Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen (Michael Wiese Productions). Author Steven D. Katz

Book Description (source Amazon.co.uk Accessed 16/10/2012)

Publication Date: 1 July 1991 | Series: Michael Wiese Productions

A complete catalogue of motion picture techniques for filmmakers. It concentrates on the ‘storytelling’ school of filmmaking, utilizing the work of the great stylists who established the versatile vocabulary of technique that has dominated the movies
since 1915. This graphic approach includes comparisons of style by interpreting a ‘model script’, created for the book, in storyboard form.

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (1 July 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0941188108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0941188104

Book 3: Introduction to Documentary. Author Bill Nichols

Book Description (source Amazon.co.uk Accessed 16/10/2012)

Publication Date: 1 Jan 2002 | ISBN-10: 0253214696 | ISBN-13: 978-0253214690
“Introduction to Documentary” provides a one-of-a-kind overview of the most important topics and issues in documentary history and criticism. Designed for students in any field that makes use of visual evidence and persuasive strategies, from the law to anthropology, and from history to journalism, this book spells out the distinguishing qualities of documentary. A wide-ranging and freewheeling form of film making, documentary has not yet received a proper, written introduction to its public, or its future makers.”Introduction to Documentary” is not organized as a history of the form although its examples span a century of film making. Instead, this book offers suggestive answers to basic issues that have stood at the center of all debate on documentary from its very beginnings to today. Each chapter takes up a distinct question from ‘How did documentary film making get started?’ to ‘Why are ethical issues central to documentary?’ These questions move through issues of ethics, form, modes, voice, history and politics, among others. A final chapter addresses the question of how to write about documentary in a clear, convincing manner. “Introduction to Documentary” provides the foundational key to further explorations in this exceptionally vital area of center making today.
  • Paperback: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (1 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253214696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253214690

Book 4: The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook

UK 3rd Edition

Since it’s first edition in the mid 90’s, The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook has become THE DEFINITIVE handbook used and referred to by both emerging filmmakers and experienced filmmakers alike. It’s format is simple Q and A – the authors ask an expert in every field of film making process, from conception through to completion (and beyond), the ten questions any bright new film maker would ask if they had half an hour to chat over a coffee. And as the authors are three times feature filmmakers and veterans of the business, their questions are incisive, illuminating and to the point. There’s no film historian or lecture style discussion that could be irrelevant or distracting, just what a new filmmaker needs to know, how to do it, how long it will take, how much it will cost, the variables, and what pitfalls they should avoid. Augmenting the experts are the filmmakers case studies, where filmmakers explain just how they got their films made, what really happened (opposed to what the press said), and what they learned from their own journeys.

The book now contains over 150 expert interviews, runs for 768 pages and is near a million words of vital information. It’s lavishly illustrated from start to end, with diagrams, flow charts and photos. Industry expert interviews are contrasted by The Guerilla Film Makers Box Out Hot Tips, where the authors distil what it all means to the new film maker, and add their own money and time saving techniques. And of course HD and digital film making is now covered.

The authors also tell their story of how they made three low-budget feature films, worked with Oscar-nominated actors and Harrison Ford’s brother, received a royal audience at the Palace, became a target for Turkish terrorists and ended up in a police cell – yet lived to tell the tale!

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.; 3rd Revised edition edition (25 Jan 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082647988X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826479884

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