Basic editing and on-line publishing

What to do after you have put your memory card with HD-footage in your computer?

To set the scene with an "establishing shoot", lets recall what equipment I use for the Digital Secrets exercises.

I'm often using a Sony HDR-CX740 videocamera and it's storing AVCHD-files on some fast Lexar SDHC-cards in different sizes. I also carry some extra spare batteries with me. The camera have a protective UV-filter on the lens and the lensshade is always attached.

The computer is a a new but basic 13" MacBook Pro equipped with an external Thunderbolt disk from LaCie. The program I use for video editing is the latest version of Final Cut Pro X and in the end, I'm publishing the final videos on Vimeo.

Then back to the basic flow for editing and on-line publishing. 

The first step is to import the footage from memorycards to the computer, using the import function in Final Cut. Every time there is something new, I create a new event. The namingconvention I use is to have a sequence index, a title and month & year for each shooting session. (One card could contain several session and one session could span several cards, so there is not always a one-to one relation).

All events are stored on the external disk due to three reasons. The first is performance oriented. An external Thunderbolt disk is fast, even faster than internal spinning hard disks. Second, internal storage is somehow limited in laptops, especially if you are using internal SSD-disks. Third, using an external disk makes it easier to transfer the events and projects to other computers for further editing.

One of the benefits with new applications are the possibility to add keyword and other information to each shot/event. So far, I'm only using date and timestamps, camera attribute (name of SD-card) and GPS information from the camera. When filming agility, sometimes I also add the person and dog as a note. I'm neither using find people in import dialogue or the collections.

The second step is to make an assembly edit. I start to create a project in FCP/X with a logical title for a video I would like to view at home on my AppleTV or publish on-line at Vimeo. If I share this initial edit on-line I add (assembly edit) after the title. 

After that, I add the good events to the storyline in the sequence I would like to have for the final cut. If this version is shared with participants in the film, I add a title and end credits. There is no other text, any transisions, additional sound or music is this stage.

The third step is to make a final cut for home use or for on-line publishing the exercises. If it's a short project, i.e. a few minutes of film, I do the final cut on the laptop. Otherwise I continue some of the work at a later stage on the iMac at home.

What I trying to do is to take away those frames without activity, those that bring the story forward and those that are not good enough. If I  have taken the same shot twice or more, I choose the best one for the edit. Without a written story is it more of cutting frames without activity and remove scenes with blur or unwanted motion.

I'm listening to the sound in a pair of Sony monitor headphones when doing the editing so that I don' make cuts and trims in the middle of the dialogue. So far, I'm not adding any extra soundtracks to the storyline. What I have done so far is to move sound from one clip to another clip. If necessary, I adjust the sound level a few decibels down. Sometimes I add some extra text to a scene when the viewer needs to be familiar with the new conditions in the story.

The it's time to make simple transitions when changing subjects in the film. My basic idea is to make it as simple as possible, only using band transitions for new scenes and a lens flare to switch to credits.

When the final cut is ready, I share the video to an AppleTV 720p device. The transcoding is a lengthy process and could take several hours depending on on number of transitions and other effects. By the way, I limit the resolution to 720p due to size and bandwidth limitations for on-line publishing.

Publishing to Vimeo is done via the browser instead of via Final Cut. the reason of this is that I get more control of additional information, tags and other means of categorising the content. It's also possible to replace the published film with a newer edit, while still retaining all information and stats about the video. Currently, I use a 30 Mbit mobile connection without datacap for the instead of a slow ADSL-line at home. Hopefully will it get faster when we get 100 Mbit broadband in both directions at home this fall.

So feel free to view the one of the first shortfilms from chapter seven, shoot a movie a day for sixty days.