Project: Arbiter – Production
Motel 6 Petaluma was my home for the last 6 days. I was “on set” performing data drops, transcoding, and light editing of Project: Arbiter footage.
Project: Arbiter is a short independent film written and directed by Michael Chance. I met Mike during the 72-Hour International Shoot-Out back in December; he was the producer of our team. He called me a few months later and told me about his own project that he’d been working on the past two years: a Sci-Fi/WWII film titled “Project Arbiter”. He gave me a brief synopsis, told me he liked how I worked on the shoot-out and asked if I would be interested in coming aboard as Editor for the film.
I didn’t fully realize the potential for the film until I saw the trailer.
I was excited to be asked to be a part of his production. It’s probably the most ambitious production I’ve been involved with to date. For one thing, it is to be shot on the RED One, and I’ve never edited RED footage before, so I know I would be learning a lot.
In fact, the first couple of days was spent testing different methods of transcoding the RED footage with various programs. Jesse Boots, our VFX artist, taught me how to use Red Rushes to quickly set up batch transcodes for the dailies. It would take the entire night, sometimes into the next day, just to transcode the raw footage into workable ProRes files that Final Cut cut handle without any lag.
And that was part of the challenge: the whole point of me being there was to try to get some kind of rough cut going so that Mike could see the direction the edit was going in. That way, any pickups needed could be taken care of by a second unit. But because of how long transcoding took, it wasn’t until that Friday that I had some kind of rough cut for the “battle sequence” that Mike could look at.
I had an awesome editing setup in my room. Jacob Rangel (Director of Raton and KnuckleBerry) brought over his desk and Jason Burton (DP of Raton and KnuckleBerry) brought in the “Beast” (a fully-maxed out ‘Hackintosh’) to churn out the transcodes way faster than my Macbook ever could. It made it possible to be able to get in some kind of editing time because of the speed it was cranking out the ProRes files.
You’ll notice that I like to edit standing up; film geeks always refer to editing master Walter Murch, but I actually picked up the idea from my dad. And after reading Walter Murch’s book “In the Blink of an Eye”, I learned that it is his preference to do the same! I’ll have to get more into what I’ve learned reading his book in another blog.
Though I didn’t get to actually edit as much as I hoped, it still worked out, and we were able to determine more inserts that we could shoot with second unit that next-to-last day of shooting to help fully piece the sequence together!
The footage alone is incredible. I could see first-hand the result of two years of planning, and it just got me more excited for the opportunity to piece the whole puzzle together. This is going to be one of the biggest editing projects of my career, and I can’t wait to slice away!
More post-production updates to come as they develop.