Production? Pah... How about Post Production!

Well, I just went from production to post production (and, unsurprisingly, before that I went from pre-production to production) on the first official Popcorn Films short film this weekend.

It looks good. I was acting as Producer (and Executive Producer?) on this piece (not my usual bag, but I've managed software projects... producing a movie isn't that much different, except it happens on shorter timescales and you end up talking on the phone to more people). Next up, I'm working as Editor, and trying to work it into shape from the dailies.

The only bad thing? I may have lost my slate. Hopefully it'll turn up.

During this shoot, I acted as camera operator on some pickup shots, got a short cameo (which I may even edit out depending on how bad I acted in the roughs :-) ), helped with lighting (using a bounce and bounce cards), stopped traffic on a busy street in Seattle's University District[1]and even held up sheets to protect the modesty of a nude actress.

Should be fun.

I'm lucky to have the crew I have though. Miah Hundley, Peter Torr, Cherry Chau, Tracy Reynolds, Steve Freeman and Jim Newman take a bow. (Probably shouldn't be too deep of one for Steve - he got sun stroke on the first day of the shoot by completely overbaking his noggin, and the blood rushing to his head will probably cause an embolism - so please, Steve, take a light bow and we'll worry about the deep ones after your skin has stopped peeling off like paint from on old car). Thanks to Joseph DeLorenzo for putting up with us setting up shots while wearing WAY too much clothing, Beth for coming in to act as an extra, and Dan Walsh for being willing to help out. If there's anyone I missed, I apologize.

The wonderful world of Editing awaits. The process generally goes like this:

1. Capture all of your footage from the source to digital.

2. Arrange all of your shots in story-chronological order, correctly labelled, sorted into bins for each scene.

3. Identify good cut in/cut out points of the shots, good shots, bad shots, and generally figure out what you've got for each bit.

4. Watch all of the pieces in order, repeatedly, to get a good fix on what the shots look like in relation to the script.

5. Go to town, a scene at a time, splicing a piece from here, and a piece from there, at the good edit markers for each clip. This is my rough cut.

6. At this point, you'd start worrying about audio, but given that we only really picked up a little wild sound for foleying in, and are going to see about replacing all of that with a sound track, we probably won't worry too much. Except for the end.

7. Watch the scene again for flow, and repeat from (4) until done.

After I get the rough cut down, I'm going to bring in the director to look at it, and get feedback. We've got a couple of digital composite shots we need to get in, and a few simple opticals, but mostly it looks like a very straightforward process at this point.

But what I do know is this. (Empirically, that is - this is what it has taken me before). You can multiply the amount of footage you have by about 8 to 16 times to get the amount of time it'll take to edit it down to the final edit. Which means I'm in for anywhere between 16 and 32 hours of editing - at the end of which I'll have an about 5 minute long film.

The film then goes off to Drew Batchelor, at which point I ask him real nice to write us (and record us) a musical score. In return, I provide large quantities of beer and cigarettes.

Still, it's all in good fun. All I know for right now is that I'm going to be spending one hell of a lot of time away from my normal social life over the next week or two while I get this assembled.

[1] It's amazing how helpful people are if you're willing to just ask nicely and say "Hey, we're filming just up the street - I'd appreciate it if you could help us out by just waiting here for a few seconds while we get the shot". Thankyou Seattle peeps.

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

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