Archive for October, 2011
My latest concept video won a “Finalist Award” in the Concept Production Category at the WEVA Expo 2011 in the Creative Excellence Awards. I’m excited and humbled to be mentioned amongst the industry heavyweights. Borat Storytime – the PB & J story was a long labor of love and it’s great to be recognized for all the hours of hard work we put into it.
Thank you WEVA for this opportunity and to my talented cast and crew for making this happen!
Where can I start in the story of Patrick and Julia’s (PB&J’s) Concept Video? This is my most ambitious concept production to date, not just simply in terms of a big production, but the fact that it was planned and coordinated from across the country. It was also to be my first “destination” shoot and one that would push the boundaries of my own projects.
Julia had emailed me back in September of 2010 with a complement on one of my concept videos and one simple question: “Would you be open to working in New Jersey?” She told me how she was up late browsing wedding videos on YouTube and came across “Everything I Do”, and knew that this was the kind of video she wanted for her own wedding.
A couple of weeks later, we set up a dinner meeting in Hoboken, New Jersey while I was traveling through New York City. We hit it off instantly! Patrick and Julia are such a fun-loving, kickback couple and my memories of that night are of us sharing stories, trading jokes and just laughing together. We were totally in sync and from there we made the deal. We were going to shoot a little over three months from that date and it was time to get planning!
Pre-production was a true collaboration (actually, the entire production was, really). First of all, I would not be in the area to scout locations, rehearse with the entourage, or do any kind of planning that required my presence. Second of all, there would be NO PICKUP SHOOTS! Here in the SF Bay Area, I have the luxury of knowing that if for some reason we aren’t able to shoot all of the scenes during the production, it’s not going to be too hard to plan for an extra day or night of shooting to complete the film. With PBJ, it took some serious coordination and meticulous planning to make sure we would be able to shoot all of the footage necessary (and more) to avoid the need of a pick-up shoot.
Patrick and Julia were gung-ho in all aspects of planning the production. First, they set up a meeting with their whole entourage and screened “Everything I Do” for them. She let them know that they were going to do the same type of video and each of them were going to be stars in their favorite music videos as well! The invitation to their entourage was a success. Julia was excited to tell me how they all responded with enthusiasm to the whole idea and they left that night jubilantly saying, “we’re all gonna be rock stars”!
While I was finalizing the storyboards and beginning to layout the shotlist for the video, Julia was busy gathering intel on locations and prepping the entourage for the shoot. This included getting sizes for their wardrobes, asking to see what props were available that people already had, and even beginning to learn choreography on their own! She even took the initiative to create “info packets” specifically designed for each member of her entourage that included a breakdown of what to expect in each video.
Before I knew it, the weekend of production was upon us. I brought my cousin and aspiring photographer/cinematographer Ricky Afuang with me and he was second camera, behind-the-scenes photographer and overall camera assistant.
It truly felt like I was in the middle of another 48 hour film project… only this one being 72 hours! We shot over two dozen setups in three separate locations. And as we progressed through each scene, it was a rewarding feeling knowing how every tiny detail we planned out was being carried out. Patrick and Julia are such troopers; they were up as early and stayed up as late as the crew did, just to make sure everything was all in place. Not to mention, all of their entourage were super helpful throughout the shoot, whether it be to help move equipment, set up lights, or even just to remain on standby to make sure we had everything we needed.
As you can imagine, production weekend went by in a flash. When you’re that busy, you don’t have much time to think; it’s all about execution. And when I’m not thinking about the next shot, I’m laughing out loud with the rest of the cast and crew and just enjoying the company. Except for a few slight schedule changes, we nailed every scene down as originally intended, and included some room for spur-of-the-moment takes and improvisations that provided me with PLENTY of strong footage to work with.
After the rush of the weekend, we headed out together in New York City for a celebratory dinner and Times Square visit. It was a beautiful night and a bittersweet end to the production weekend. And just when we thought we were completely wrapped with shoot, Patrick and Julia confessed their one regret: that the crew didn’t get to make a cameo appearance in the film as we half-joked about between takes. Well, I had my camera, all the songs on my iPhone, and we were all there in Times Square. One more take? DONE.
Three months later, Patrick and Julia’s big day had arrived. As you can imagine, the anticipation in the crowd was evident. Before every screening, I get super nervous and excited… pacing back and forth is my usual thing. I know my background in dance (my other love!) has a lot to do with this. All that work creating a video is the dance practice. And the unveiling of the video is the dance performance. I totally feed off of the energy of the crowd!
This was no different. I even surprised PB&J with a little Same-Day Edit in their already epic concept video. Sure, it was a stressful session of speed editing but that’s what I tend to do: push the potential of projects to their maximum, even if it means piling on more work on the plate. I never want to finish a job thinking, “I could have…” if it would give a little more enjoyment for the couple and the audience.
And so I proudly present to you, my latest wedding concept video: Borat Storytime – the PBJ Story!
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I will be revealing some awesome behind the scenes videos. This project is just too big to confine into one post!
When it comes to editing, I love to keep everything organized. Every element has a place in a folder or sub-folder. Simple as it sounds, it does require a lot of time and forethought, before and during post-production. But it pays off dividends, especially when you’re in the heat of a deadline; it allows you to focus on the task at hand rather than pull your hair out trying to find that one element you need to finish your edit.
I also make thorough use of the Final Cut Pro Bin by completing nearly every field (for bigger projects) and even adding my own fields for such things like: SS Notes, Editor’s Notes, Director’s Notes, and the usual Cam, Scene, Take, Description, etc. And FCP markers, I’m all about it. In fact I can probably write a pretty lengthy blog on how markers in FCP can be greatly improved!
But I wanted to talk about a new tool that doesn’t require any clicking or typing… or even electricity. What I’m talking about of course is Post-Its.
I started an editing job at Intuit with my good friend Ryan Sarmiento. After piecing together a rough cut, he asked me create a sticky note for each major clip that had the main idea written on it. We would then put them on a whiteboard, which we could then use to move around and essentially ‘edit’ right there.
To be honest I was skeptical at first, but after seeing how convenient it is to read the edit as a whole, it made total sense.
He even showed me some simple techniques, like if a clip is no longer as important and may get cut, it gets tilted at an angle. If there are redundant messages in a clip, those simply get moved to the side in it’s own column. As long as you’re familiar with the cut, it makes it really easy to see how it will play out without having to sit through and listen to it.
I’ve always heard this being done with storyboards during pre-production, but it is just as handy to use in post! In fact, I think this would be an awesome feature to incorporate into an editing program itself. Aside from markers, I haven’t seen anything like this in any of the Final Cut Pro versions. How cool would it be to tag clips in your Timeline with text that pops up visually and “sticks” to the clip as you move it? Those thumbnails displayed on each clip never really give enough info, especially when dialogue editing.
Of course, I wouldn’t use this on every project, but it’s such a useful technique for projects that have a lot of concepts to get across (and a ton of footage) and for projects that require collaboration in post-production (editor and director/producer).
Bulk Post-Its added to my Costco list. Thanks Ryan!
Here are some instructional videos I create for Carmichael Salon in San Francisco, CA.
I was brought on board again by Aaron Lee Films to edit a series of videos for LYFE Kitchen.
Editing two videos for their events a month ago allowed me to become familiar with the company and their philosophy. But editing the footage that Aaron shot and the moments he captured allowed me to witness more of their passion for this venture and I tried to emphasize that in the edit.
This was my first time at an SFCutters meeting, and I was especially excited to hear from Robert Dalva, A.C.E. This guy is a veteran in the industry, having first edited on the Moviola! It’s no surprise that I have a particular fondness for editing so it was great to hear from a working professional, especially someone as experienced as him who is still cranking out superb edits (he most recently finished cutting Captain America).
Robert showed select scenes from October Sky and Hidalgo. It was very informative because he broke down almost every cut and explained the motivation behind them. What’s interesting is not all cuts were purely by choice for storytelling purposes; some of them were meant to hide continuity errors! It’s nice to relate to a seasoned editor cutting Hollywood blockbusters who still has to find ways to “fix it in post”.
There were some interesting things to note that night:
“What’s a rough cut”?
As someone who started editing film on the Moviola, he learned how to “cut something right the first time”. He explained that with every cut of film, you are deteriorating the physical quality of the film itself. So every single cut is thoroughly planned out before execution to limit this wear and tear. He carries this approach to non-linear editing. In fact, he still finds the term “rough cut” a little strange because he is trained to cut a film right the first time around.
“Editing is all about RHYTHM”
Robert said that a movie with good rhythm will sometimes get your foot tapping, as if you’re tapping to a song. But that doesn’t mean to edit to the music! In fact, he made some strong points about how the rise of MTV paved the way to bad editing techniques; editors got in the habit of editing only to the beat of the music. Simple test: turn off the sound when watching a music video. Usually, the cuts only work when you hear the music with it.
With that said, he mentioned that he sometimes he will turn off the sound when reviewing a cut to see if it flows visually, without any sound. Of course, it is dependent on the kind scene you are editing too.
“Working with Composers”
This was something I was always curious about when it came to working with professional composers. I notice how sometimes there is perfect use of music for a cut. Does the composer see the cut before it’s locked? Does the editor get at least some of the music for the edit?
Generally, as I assumed, the picture is completely locked before it goes to the composer. But to help give the composer some direction in the edit, what Robert does is he gathers all the previous work of composer that is signed on for current movie he’s editing and uses that in the edit. This way, the style is already familiar and furthermore, good composers will pick up on great cuts and score the music to complement it.
“A note to directors: unless it is designed as a one-take scene, don’t shoot the master shot too many times… it barely gets used!”
This is something I’ve learned in my experience as an editor as well as shooting my own projects. Too many times, a scene is covered wide first, until “perfect”, at which point actors and crew are exhausted moving in for close-ups, which of course is more important visually. This reminds me it’s best to cover the wide for safety and focus more on capturing intimate moments that reveal the emotion of the scene.
“Always be a half a step ahead of the audience. You want to keep your audience guessing, ‘what’s going to happen next’?”
A classic approach to editing any story. As simple as it sounds, it really takes focus and effort (and sometimes a long break and fresh eyes) to be able to do this successfully. Because once you lose the attention of a viewer, and they are taken back into their reality, it’s difficult to bring them back.
Overall, it was an educational and entertaining night. It’s fun to be in a room full of editors. Robert would sometimes crack jokes only editors would understand and appreciate! Which is fresh because it’s all too common for crew to dismiss the editor as a critical component to telling the story. I met some great people and am happy to know that I’ve expanded my network of editor contacts.
I look forward to more meetings and networking events with the SFCutters and continuing to refine my skills as an editor.