If you have ever worked with material shot on RED, you know it can be a hassle to work with it. The RED camera records uncompressed high resolution footage that results in huge files with a lot of information, but that doesn’t necessarily have to affect your editing process. Most people are familiar with offline/online editing, but there are many ways to do it. Therefore, I would like to share an easy workflow that will make it easier to edit RED footage even on slow computers. It will also make it easier to present edits of your draft to clients.
First of all, you need to have Redcine-X installed on your computer. It’s a free software that is built solely for handling RED footage. You can easily view your raw footage, see information regarding each individual clip, balance the color in your clips and most importantly for this article – create offline rushes.
The next thing you should is get rid of useless footage, i.e. footage you know you’re not going to use. A lot of filmmakers are taught that it’s better to have too much footage than too little, but as an editor it’s important to have an overview, and therefore it can be nice to filter out some material. It will also help your computer work faster.
Now it’s time to create a project in Redcine-X. This project should be easily accessible and preferably in the same folder structure as the rest of your project. The biggest lie you’re going to tell yourself is that you’ll remember where you saved your project files, so make sure you have a designated folder for projects in each software.
When you’re importing your clips to Redcine, and you want to create offline rushes, it’s a good idea to import a full folder instead of one clip at the time. This way you’ll be able to export all your clips at the same time. As these are just your reference material, I suggest you to not start tweaking your images in Redcine just yet.
The first dialogue window you’ll see is this one:
The only settings I change in this window is the file format. I set it to QuickTime. QuickTime is the only video file format in the dropdown menu. To the right you’ll see a button labeled “Setup…”. When you press it, this window appears.
You’ll want to set the compression type to H.264 as it will create nice and small clips for you. You set the FPS to the same as the FPS you’ve recorded your clips with. It’s a good idea, but not essential to divide your clips in folders depending on what FPS you have. For example, if you’ve shot some footage in 50 FPS and some in 25, you put them in two different folders inside Redcine. The data rate is up for you to decide. If you feel your system can handle heavier files without affecting its performance, you can just go crazy with the kbytes/sec. It will never affect your system nearly as much as the original RED file would. Myself I like to keep it low, and my clips rarely exceed 100 mb, unless they are very long clips.
The audio is just there for reference as well, so I usually just set it to a format that is compatible with QuickTime, in most cases AAC.
Right next to the format tab you have a tabe called “Burn In”. Clicking it will open this window:
As an editor, I find it so much easier to work with clients and especially other people on the same project when your offline clips are labeled with the clip name and the timecode. To do this you just choose ‘clip name’ and ‘preferred timecode’ in one of the four drop down menus at the bottom. You also have the alternative to add two more, and it really depends on the project. If you’ve footage from two separate cameras, it’s a good idea to label the clip with the camera name (‘camera’). You have lots of other alternatives, such as FPS, frame number and reel ID.
It’s highly customizable, and you can change things like font, font color and location of your text.
Also, make sure you have checked the “Enabled” box, to enable clip labeling.
The next thing you want to do is simply clicking export, and choose your destination folder.
When you’re done, your offline rush should look something like this:
Compared to the original footage:
You’ve now created offline rushes to make your editing with RED material a lot smoother!
/ Jonathan Duek
Today I just wanted to share some inspirational photos by a talented woman from Russia.
Her name is Elena Shumilova and she takes extraordinary photos of children and animals using natural lightning and environments.
I’ll just stop here and let you watch the photos and get inspired.
I don’t have permission to share the photos on the blog so I’ll give you links to the best photos.
It’s Friday and sunny today and I got some energy to make a color grading tutorial for you guys on how to create a similar look to what you can see in A Very Long Engagement.
It’s a warm, golden look that gives a very luxury feeling and I thought it would be a good grade to teach you how to achieve.
The tutorial is all inside of Adobe Premiere Pro since that’s the software that most people seemed to choose when I asked this in a group last week.
Hope you’ll enjoy the tutorial and let me know your thoughts!
I got a pretty good question yesterday I wanted to share with you, it was about what title I refer myself as in filmmaking.
This was the question:
“Hey David, just wanted your opinion on how you title yourself as a filmmaker. I see that you go as colorist, but when you were doing stuff on your own where you directed, edited, color corrected, vfx… etc did you refer to yourself as just a filmmaker?”
A few months ago I would have called myself a filmmaker since that’s the general term, but nowadays I don’t think that’s as accurate anymore. I think filmmaker is a correct title if you’re the director of the film OR shot the film, maybe directed it as well, and finally edit and graded the whole film, but when you’ve just been touching the visuals like if you’ve been the colorist/visual effects artist/online artist/editor/ I don’t think it’s that correct to call you the filmmaker. On the other side you’ve had much control over the design of the visuals the film in some way and that’s why I’ve now decided to call myself a Visual Designer.
This is a typical message I get when signing up for a new job:
“We want you to make this film look better, just do whatever you think would benefit the look, it can be changing the colors, adding particles, changing the sky etc. Well do your magic.”
This means I will jump around in a number of titles like colorist, visual effects artist (vfx), online artist and sometimes even screenwriter (!). I mention the title screenwriter because sometimes I will change the look of the film/scene so dramatically after doing some grading + visual effects & online stuff (sky replacements, retouching, particles) that it now looks completely different.
That’s why I think Visual Designer is really an accurate description of what I do and I both think and hope that title will become more common from now, ’cause it’s very common nowadays that you’ll get the task “make the scene/visuals look better” and then filmmaker is not the correct title and it’s not effective to mention all the different roles you have like:
“Well I was the colorist, added some particles to increase the cinematic feeling, added some clouds to make it less happy as well as some mist, added some grain as well to make it look better on the cinema screens etc.”
Not an effective way of expressing your profession/title…
If you say you was the Visual Designer I think you cover the fact that you’ve had control over the visuals of the film and that you’ve designed both the colors as well as some other vfx things to make it look good. The truth is that today it’s not common to just do the colors and stop there, it’s more about adding whatever optimizes the look of the visuals whether it’s about adding color, grain, removing grain, adding particles, adding objects, removing objects, yeah you get it. It’s more like being the colorist + visual effects artist + online artist + screenwriter, which I think we should from now on call = Visual Designer.
You don’t have to agree with me but I think this is a title that will ease things up and only benefit the industry.
Tonight I’m very excited to share the trailer for my upcoming product Paerticles!
As many of you know I’m in love with having particles in some form in almost all of my projects. Many of my jobs are in fact people who ask me to only add particles in any of their scenes, and now it’s going to be easier than ever. You will now be able to do what I do without sitting with particle generators in 3d softwares or after effects and tweaking all the different settings, but best of all you’ll probably get paid by clients for doing it for them as well!
I won’t go in too much in detail right now but to make it short, it’s going to be some really high quality 4K stock footage that you can easily apply on any of your scenes. No matter if you want particles like snowflakes falling in different paces and/or amounts, or if you just want some nice detailed particles floating around in the air it will all be possible when using the pack.
I will let the trailer speak for itself but I tell you, if you’re having this package you will probably use it in every of your project. As the title says, it’s going to be revolutionary.
I’m very excited to start writing on this site with someone as talented as David, and I hope great things will come from it. As David mentioned I mainly focus on editing and grading, and I thought some basic tips for dialogue editing would be appropriate for my first post.
This is not as much a technical guide as it is a way of thinking when you’re editing dialogue. I will not cover the technical details like syncing your material, match clips and that sort of things.
Know your material
Before you start editing, it’s important that you know your material very well. Sometimes you work with a director who wants a lot of takes, and sometimes someone who may even just have one or two for each angle. No matter the amount of takes, it’s your job to know what you have and what you’re working with. You can always ask a director to filter out takes that were interrupted, or those he knows he’ll never want to use. It could also be beneficial to sit down and talk about the material with the director and/or producer. You may have noticed something in a take that they didn’t see, and a good director should appreciate your input, so don’t be afraid to point out things you’ve seen while watching your material. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you think. Great things can come from disagreements, but be humble. You don’t want to be hard to work with. And remember that you’re the editor, and not very often does the editor have the final say in a movie.
When you know what you’re going to work with, you can take another look at it. Each clip take by take, and try to memorize small things from every scene. Write a short note for each clip with things you found appealing, and sometimes even things you didn’t like. I’m not saying you should memorize every blink an actor makes in a scene, but just a short sentence like “Good smile at 00:00:31:76″ or “I like the glance George gives her at 00:00:17:34″. As I said, try to write something down for each scene. If you didn’t find anything interesting in a scene, try looking at it again. Pay attention to the actor’s face and look for expressions or even sounds he makes that you think is good, like a quiet scoff or a deep breath. If you still can’t find anything you like, then most likely the audience won’t either and you shouldn’t include that take in your final scene.
Start off by making it bad
Anyone who has ever edited anything knows the first draft is never good. You don’t have to intentionally make it bad, but rather try not to think so much about your first few cuts. This applies to any type of editing really, but I’ve found it extra helpful when editing dialogue. At this point you should know your material well, and already have some favorite takes you want to use. Try to get them down on your timeline and just chop them up. Follow the script and edit the dialogue in a way that you can listen to it and find ways to improve it, and start working from there. I find it easier to improve something bad rather than creating something amazing from nothing.
Make it sound authentic
One of the most important aspects in a dialogue scene is how authentic it sounds. It doesn’t necessarily have to sound like a normal everyday conversation, but it has to fit universe you’ve created for your movie. So when you’re editing, try to put yourself in a viewer’s perspective. You’re not part of the converstion, you’re the listener.
Something that helps you make it sound more authentic is to know your characters well. The character is something the director, writer and actor have created together, and the truth is that you don’t have as much say in the matter as they do. It’s important that you talk to the them and find out what the characters are like. Try to edit each character with a separate mindset for each one, based on their character, the situation they are in and their mood. You may think “How do I edit in a way that makes my character seem angry?” and usually you don’t have to. The greater part of that job has already been done by the director, actor and even the technical roles like lightning and cinematography, but it can be benefical to not have a calm and smooth type of editing when someone is exploding with anger.
When I watch dialogue scenes that are bad, they often have one thing in common (among others). They often tend to cut to a character who is speaking. Every time. In the instane someone opens his mouth, the camera is already there to show every motion his lips make. In reality, when we’re sitting around a table and talk to people, we don’t know who the next speaker is going to be, not even in a two man conversation. So when someone starts speaking we’re not already focused on his face, and we don’t turn our heads the second he starts speaking. Therefore, when it’s suitable (which it is more often than not) try to hang on to a frame showing the previous speaker (or even someone who hasn’t said anything) a second or so when another character is starting to talk. It also helps to make your cut smoother.
Also don’t forget to let your characters breath. It’s in your power to decide the tempo of the conversation, and instead of just slamming sentences on top of each other, try to give your characters time to think or perform an action. Even in the most intense dialogue scenes.
When you start closing in on your final draft of a scene, close your eyes (or shut down your monitor) and just listen to the dialogue. Think of it as overhearing a conversation on the subway. This will help you hear if it sounds like a real conversation. If you feel the dialogue isn’t quite right, but you can’t really find any errors, then try re-editing it a little bit and listen to it again. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
It’s not always the words
A dialogue scene is not just what the characters are saying to each other. Just like in a real conversation, we can tell a lot about what someone is feeling by looking at things like body language, sounds he/she makes and even distance to a person they are talking to. I will give you an example of a scene that mixes all the elements of a conversation really well, to tell us as much as possible about the goals and personalities of the two characters in it.
The “Wolf of Wall Street Hum”
(It’s okay to watch even if you haven’t seen the movie, it doesn’t contain any spoilers)
Leonardo DiCaprio is not actually saying very much in this scene, but you can still tell that he’s uncomfortable in the situation. If the editor wouldn’t have included shots of Leo looking over his shoulders, and kind of shrinking a bit in his chair, we wouldn’t have known that he was uncomfortable, even if most people would be while drumming on their chest and humming in a public space. You can never assume that the audience knows your characters like you do, because they haven’t looked at all the material, talked to people working on the film and read the script. They see what you allow them to see, and it’s your job that they see what the director and writer intended them to see. In this scene, we now know that Leo is not comfortable in the situation, and that told us something about his character.
So try to include glances, sounds, eye rolls, the way they are standing/sitting, what they are doing with their hands and anything that tells us something about the character in that particular scene.
Choose your style and stick to it
Any good movie has its style and tone and so should your editing. Different scenes require different styles of editing, but when the ending credits roll, the people watching have to feel they have been watching the same movie throughout the entire time they’ve been looking at it. Most departments working on a movie have their style set out for them when they are starting to work on a movie. Make sure you do as well.
Set out a way you edit your dialogue scene. Determine tempo, what type of framing you include, if you use face shots more than you use shots that cover a bigger area. That sort of things.
Kill your darlings.
This is a very used expression, but it can never be stressed enough. A lot of bad short films I’ve seen are often longer than they need to be. Just because you like something in a take or scene, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that it’s important. Be sure to re-edit and delete a lot through the process, sometimes even just to see if something would work.
If you get stuck with a scene you know you need but you feel is not working, try looking at it again but closer. Be honest to yourself and throw away things that don’t help you tell the story. You may have a beautiful shot of one character playing with his spoon while having coffee and talking to a friend, but unless that spoonplaying is necessary, then throw it away. Most likely, you’ll have enough beautiful shots in your movie as it is, and if you don’t, then one shot won’t carry the movie anyway.
When you’re editing dialogue it’s essential not to trick the audience as well. They may think that spoon will play a role later in the movie, or later in the scene, and you don’t want that unless it actually is important for the movie. That’s the type of things that will leave your crowd feeling your movie is unfinished. Now, the spoon may not have been the best example but this applies to any type of action or hint in a scene. Both big and small.
Another tip for unsticking yourself in a scene that you feel is not working, is taking something you really like about it and take it away. Try to make the scene work without that specific clip, facial expression or sentence that you like so much. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t. Maybe in the end you won’t even end up putting the thing you liked about the scene back, and sometimes you’ll realise that you actually did like the scene like it was before.
I hope you will take your time to read this and find something that helps you make your dialogue editing better.
Today I’m very excited to present a new author of the blog! Due to a high amount of work I don’t not always have time to post interesting articles for you here, but since I still want you to keep getting motivated, keep learning and keep getting inspiration I’ve now selected an author I think will be a perfect colleague on this blog.
Let me introduce you to Jonathan Duek, a guy with a very wide knowledge in filmmaking. He has experience in the majority of the film production processes but is focusing mainly on editing and grading.
I’m very happy to have him in my team and I’m sure he will provide you with great, useful articles in the future!
If you want to contact Jonathan you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you’re having questions about filmmaking and am about to email me I would recommend you to email both me and Jonathan since that will increase the chances of you getting an answer.
Take a look at this beautiful music video he worked on as the editor!
If you have one minute left today, take a look at this amazing film for Lacoste directed by Seb Edwards.
There isn’t too much to say about this except it’s one of the coolest visual I’ve ever seen, just watch and enjoy!
Just wanted to share this inspirational little piece of breakdown of the vfx in Gravity.
I really liked the film and watching it in 3d in a big theater was just amazing! Finally a great and well balanced use of the stereoscopic/3d effect! Not too much so that you thought it was cheesy or annoying as you can feel when watching movies like Transformers, but just perfect.
The story maybe had a bit lack of quality. Some conversations in the film was way to “set-up” and forced, just to send required knowledge to the audience. For example, when they were hanging out in space and Clooney asked Bullock where she came from before she went up to space. I get that the director had to include this conversation so that the audience should be aware of her history but come on, if they both are in space and have been there together for a couple of days, that question would probably have been like the first questions they asked each other.
So yeah, I get annoyed by small things like that. But if you think about it, in this case I’m right
But yeah, impressive movie…
A couple of weeks ago I bought the new Black Magic Pocket Camera to use in a new commercial I was shooting. I was so excited about this camera and to see the quality of Black Magic’s raw-format, and yes it was great but I’m going to explain why I think a 5DMK3 is way better than both the Pocket Camera but also their 2.5k Cinema Camera.
Here are a few stills from the shooting with the BMPC:
First of all I’m going to mention the upsides of the Pocket Camera. The first thing that is truly amazing is the size of the camera. It is really a “pocket” camera and you can basically bring it wherever you want as long as you have a small pocket. Yes, the size CAN be a problem sometimes as well, especially when it comes to working with new people/actors and you want them to feel like it’s a serious production. The tiny little thing on that tripod is not going to bring professionalism into the atmosphere, that’s for sure. Some people might think it’s cool that it’s so small and that the technology has gone so far that we can achieve this physical compression, but most of the times people are going to get disappointed and be in need of an explanation that the camera actually is good.
The design in the interface is great. Clean and easy to understand. Almost too little buttons and functions to play with.
But that’s kind of where the upsides ends.
So let’s compare it with a 5DMK3. First of all, in my opinion the size of the 5D is better and more optimal than the MBPC even though it’s a little bit bigger and a little bit heavier. But it’s still small, and it’s still light compared to other cameras while it keeps some of the professional look by not being too small. It’s easier to hold when shooting handheld compared to the MBPC which is basically impossible to hold stable if you’re not using a cage.
But it’s not just the size that’s better with the 5D. If you’ve not hacked your 5D with magic lantern, then I wouldn’t say it’s a better camera than MBPC but if you have hacked it and enabled the option to shoot in raw, then it’s a killer! First of all, somehow I felt that the raw 1920×1080 footage from the 5D is sharper and more rich in details than the 1920×1080 raw format from the MBPC. I don’t know if that’s true but that was something I felt when comparing the footage. But even if that’s not true and let’s say the sharpness is the same, then we’ll jump into color bit depth which is a main factor when it comes to color grading. Without getting too deep into the technical specifics you can say the higher bit depth the more nuances are your image going to contain. The more nuances your image contains the easier will it be to make keys and isolation (keying skin tones for example).
What you get out from the BMPC is 12-bit color depth while from a hacked 5DMK3 you’ll get 14-bit. That’s crazy! Maybe you don’t think that’s very much, a RED Epic shoots in 16-bit.
Maybe you think that 2-bit difference isn’t that much, but compare the quality and file size of a native 8-bit image vs a native 10-bit image. It’s a big difference!
But this isn’t the only thing that makes me think the 5D is better. The fact that you can’t shoot anything higher than 30 fps with the BMPC OR even the BMCC 2.5k is so incredibly silly. First of all, if you’re in this budget (1.000-4.000$) you probably shoot commercials, short films or music videos, and then you are most likely more in need of a slow motion function than a freaking 2.5k resolution. Most of these productions destination is Youtube or Vimeo, right? That means it will end up in a compression from both your editing software after making your final edit, but also it will get a compression when uploading it to Youtube/Vimeo, and in my opinion the difference if you’ve uploaded a 2.5k file vs a 1920×1080 file is NOT going to visible. Maybe you say, yeah but I like shooting in 2.5k to being able to frame the shot in post without scaling and loosing resolution. Yeah but learn how to frame if that’s the case.
Ok, so then I thought the new camera from Black Magic would most likely have the option to shoot in slow motion, but instead it’s basically the same camera only it can shoot in 4k now. WTF, seriously? 4k is great if your film will end up on a cinema screen, but I can guarantee once again that in this camera budget 90% of the films are going to end up on Youtube/Vimeo because they are commercials/short films/music videos, and if that’s the case I can assure you once again that your need of a slow motion function will be far more greater than the option to shoot in 4k for the possibility to frame the shots in post after the shoot (if you’re not having a crappy photographer of course).
So to sum my point. Yeah maybe a 5Dmk3 is a little bit more expensive (cheaper than the BMCC 4k) you’ll at least get:
- Better color grading possibilities (14-bit depth instead of 12-bit depth)
- Slow motion (60 fps instead of 30 fps)
- Better physical size than the pocket camera (BMCC’s size is great)
- A GREAT photography camera with 22,3 mexapixels (Black Magic cameras can’t even shoot photos)
- Magic Lantern, a free but priceless firmware that constantly upgrades and comes with new amazing functions.
You don’t have to share my opinion but these are things that I think are really important to a filmmaker, and for me this means the 5DMK3 is a way better camera for a filmmaker than the Black Magic Cameras.
Thanks for reading!
- RED Offline/Online workflow April 21, 2014
- Russian mother taking exceptional photos of children and animals April 15, 2014
- NEW Tutorial: Gold Cinematic Film Look April 11, 2014
- What’s your Title in Filmmaking? – Visual Designer April 4, 2014