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Music video post


October 11, 2012

A few weeks ago I wrote about my adventures of heading up to Scranton, PA and filming a music video for a friend’s local band, The Great Party. I finished the video yesterday and so this week I wanted to take you behind the scenes on the post-production process. A warning for the faint of heart, this is about to get real nerdy and technical.

My good buddy and very talented director of photography, David Jacobson, shot this video on a Canon C300 camera. People don’t shoot on film anymore; people don’t even shoot on tape. The footage is recorded onto cards, and as they are shot, those cards are downloaded onto a hard drive. The footage then gets trans-coded from the raw files that came off the cards to a codec (file format) that is more easily edited.

In this case, we trans-coded the footage to Apple ProRes. Backing up files is very important because the cards are cycled through, wiped and then new footage is shot onto them. This is nerve wracking and instills a constant fear that you are losing footage by wiping cards that haven’t been downloaded.

ProRes works well with Final Cut Pro, which is the software I currently use for editing. The other industry standard is Avid. It is very similar in process but uses different codecs.

I asked my assistant editor, Nikita, to edit the video. It was important to me that I work with an editor rather than editing the piece myself. I work as an editor with directors all the time and wanted to see the process from the flip side.

Editing is such a fascinating process. I felt the video come alive between cuts two and three. We really found the energy and feel of the video. Then it was on to tweaks, tweaks and more tweaks.

This is a small video with no one to answer to—no label, no manager, just the band and me. At times, it was a little tricky to navigate as the excitement of the shoot faded and we started getting into the nitty-gritty of making tough decisions about the edit. It was, for the most part, a resoundingly positive experience and I definitely got to make the video that I wanted to make. (Unfortunately, this is not always the case.)

It’s kind of a heartbreaking process of acceptance as you sit there, literally watching the choices you made a few weeks ago play out. Of course, now you have hindsight, and with it, many other ideas. You see the things you should have done things differently, and they seem so simple, so easy. You want to reach into the screen to your past self and shake him, screaming, “Just get a close up!”