Workflow

There is certainly more than one way to skin a cat. I should know, not being a big fan of cats in general. So it goes with post-production workflows. Depending on a production's needs and resources, there are many options to choose from when it comes time to edit the film. This is particularly true with digital formats.

Now, it's probably not the ideal situation to be editing this film myself, but under the circumstances and budget constraints, I'll just have to do. Some parts of the established workflow are familiar to me, while others I am picking up as I go along. From a technical perspective, everything is fairly accessible and easy nowadays. If you think the playing field has been leveled for digital cameras, you better believe that's the case with editing software. With the commonplace high-powered Macs loaded with Apple's own Final Cut Pro, a fully fledged film can be edited moved into the finishing phases. Here's rough plan:

1. Backup everything - We backed up everything to two different locations throughout the shoot. One set of hard drives would live with the camera and production, while another set of drives lived at my apartment. Remember when  I was logging all the footage from the shuttle drives at the end of each shooting day? That was all for redundancy (and I could watch dailies in bed).

2. Redundancy - As we can't afford to do thorough LTO-4 backups, it will have to suffice to simply keep the two sets of two, three terabytes of footage separated from one another and not running them very often.

3. Transcode for editing - Initially, I thought I would cut the film via the Quicktime proxies that the Red One generates in camera. The logic behind this was two-fold: 1) The proxies show the color/contrast settings exactly as they appeared on the monitor on set and exactly as the cameras settings were dictated. I would be able to save time by just jumping right into a presentable edit. 2) The proxies were free. The standard practice is to generate your own Quicktimes that aren't so processor intensive and aren't on the same drive as your precious RAW files. Having the footage transcoded in bulk like this requires a powerful machine and video card which require both time and money.

After testing out both processes and receiving the sudden windfall of a free Mac Pro for two weeks, I elected to transcode all of the footage to ProRes 422. Ryan spearheaded this process and baked all of the Quicktimes while I was in Idaho. All we had to do was pick up another hard drive for our new ProRes footage, and the Raw data can rest for a while. Ultimately, we will conform our edit to reference the original high-resolution files for final output.

4. Sync audio - We recorded sound both directly into the camera and discreetly to our sound mixer's recording deck. The external audio is decidedly better (as you'd imagine) so as we move along in the rough assembly we are syncing the footage for each scene.

5. Edit the Picture - Chomping away at this thing now. I'm approaching the edit much like I did the writing process. The goal is to get to the end with as little self-judgement as possible. It won't be pretty, but it'll be something. Call this the "muscle edit" (see this post for reference). From there, I will refine and add and subtract. Then I'll likely hand it off to someone else for a stab.

6. Shoot two pickup scene! - I still have to film two things. One is minor, the other is major, but neither should be too difficult or stressful. We will likely do that in early September sometime. By then, the edit will be largely done and I will drop in the new scenes. From there, I will aim for a picture-lock by the end of the month (September? October?).

7. Color Correction - I hand the edit over to a brilliant colorist (anyone?) who will sweeten the image, balance out exteriors, and generally make things look pretty.

8. Sound and Music - As I edit, I am thinking about what the music for the film wants to be. I have had some extremely talented offers to compose a score for the film, so I may be taking someone up on the offer. The goal is to get the music in motion soon after I have an initial edit done.

The final sound mix of everything will come last. This is what will "finish" the film for me.  A strong sound design that punctuates and enhances story can really take a film to another level.

So that's the broad strokes of it. There is plenty more to address in the details here and I'll try to be more specific as we're going along with it. For now, I'm pushing through the rough rough rough assembly. Hopefully I can get through within the next couple of weeks. Also need to find a monitor so I can see this damn footage with some dimension!