On Monday me and Tom met up and started with the edit. We were working closely with the log sheet and it proved an absolute time-saver. We had ended up with almost two hours of footage, but since it was all well noted down, we only had to quickly glimpse on the log sheet and confirm with the relevant clips so we knew what material we had.
We decided to start the edit as quickly as possible, and to work closely with the script. It was a case of choosing the right take for each section, to add the cutaways and trim down the beginning and the end of each clip. We were taking turns during the rough cut stage, taking regular breaks and trying to keep in good mood throughout the day. Team morale was important.
The first problem we encountered was unwanted noise from the wireless microphone. This surprised us a lot, as the noise was very audible and you would expect the audio operator on the day to say if something wasn’t right. We had set the audio levels for them and we were recording in camera, so their only role was to wear headphones and to monitor the sound, and let us know in case there was a problem – but maybe they didn’t notice this unwanted noise. This was the same person that had shown low engagement at the start of the project, and now they had confirmed our initial concerns. Thankfully, the issue was only audible in some of the takes (some good takes though!) so even though we had to scrap a few clips, the majority of the footage was still usable. I was happy I had put in fresh batteries in the microphone, otherwise we may have ended up with no sound and no one to warn us. It was very disappointing, and, to be honest, quite sad to find out there was someone in the team with such low engagement and interest in their involvement. We had thought our communication in the team had been relatively good, but after we found out this problem we weren’t that sure anymore.
I learned two very important things from this:
1. In order for a team to work well, you need a similar level and style of communication and attitude between the team members. So if the team leaders are very vocal and extrovert (as I believe that’s how the combination between me and Tom worked), the other team members need to have a similar attitude so they can match this in their communication style. Otherwise, if a team member is too quiet, while everyone else is extroverted, they may end up feeling intimidated and not being able to express their concerns and ideas. Similarly, if the team leaders are more quiet, an aggressive team member is not a good fit. I’ve been in both situations and now I have a better understanding that sometimes you need to change your attitude a bit so it matches the communication style in the team.
2. I regret we didn’t act more confidently to insist and take the person out of the team at the first symptoms of low engagement / mismatch. I know it may sound harsh, but our task was to make the video and team work, and I think in this case it would have made more sense to have less people but all having the same style of work.
Back to the edit, we tried to put together a rough cut as quickly and efficiently as possible, so we’d know if we need to reshoot / film additional bits or what we had was enough. Another issue we encountered were some continuity problems. Since the second actor wasn’t that experienced (and didn’t have enough experience with media equipment), he had been struggling to follow the script and as result, in some shots the camera he’s demonstrating had its display on, while in others off. Thankfully, these were static shots so we ended up layering in a freeze frame from another take on top of the blank display. Another note I can make here is the screen capture footage – we had left it to the person to decide what footage to use in his example, and he was using a video remix from a previous project – which, while a very good project, wasn’t the type of visuals we’d use in a training video. We were expecting some generic test footage from a park, around town or similar, but we had ended up with something else. Again, in some of the clips we ended up layering different screen grabs – since the original ones were very distracting and would have made the training video less impactful.
It was also in the editing stage that we realised just how good Dale (our first actor) was. He had been taking notice and keeping track of continuity, so when we re-set the camera angle he is still in the same body position as the previous clip. This proved invaluable in the edit, as it allowed us to cut smoothly between the shots without them looking unnatural. We did take note though that the shots weren’t planned well enough in the script and shot list, for example we needed more cutaways to cover cuts and changed camera angles. The video still worked as it was, but on a technical note that was something we’d take on to improve the quality of future projects.
The next stage of the editing process required us to colour correct and grade the clips. When uploading some test footage from the rough cut, even YouTube’s automatic tools had pointed out the footage was dark, so that was the first issue we had to deal with. To be honest, it was good that the footage was dark – it’s always better to underexpose than to overexpose. You can still light up to less lit areas with colour correction, but if the image was overexposed, you lose information that you can’t recover. So the grading went quite well, and it did make a huge difference to the final product.
I think it’s also worth noting that it’s better to use the same white balance, aperture settings and sound levels throughout the production stage, even if at some point the crew wants to change them a bit. It is always easier to quickly fix the exposure of one clip and copy the same settings in the edit, than to try and correct each clip individually.
Next we worked on the sound mix of the video. To be honest, putting the rough draft together was the least time consuming part – the sound mix is always a process that takes more time than expected, but it is absolutely vital in post production. We had to make sure that when cutting between takes the different clips were flowing smoothly, adding some fades and transitions, and adding a wild track of the generic humming noise in the room wherever there were pauses in the audio. While Tom had been working on a particular part of the video, I had sourced royalty-free music from the Vimeo Music Store, so I edited it to fit the video and added it to the sound track. Even though it is very quiet (so that the viewer can hear the speakers and not miss information), it still works well and I think it adds interest to the video at times when the visuals or the explanations may be a bit boring. It is always important to make a video interesting enough so the viewer stays with it till the end, and I think we managed to do that.
Then it was time for the graphics. Gov had already made the basic design, Spencer had been creating templates while we were in production, so it was a matter of writing up the content itself. That task we gave to Dean, who wasn’t with us on the production day and I thought since he was the main writer anyway it was best for him to do it.
We ended up with a video that was delivered on time, had high technical quality and was informative. Unfortunately I can’t show the finished product here as it is intended for internal use only, but from what we’ve heard the client seemed happy with the result, and even though you can’t really learn how to make videos from a 7-minute training (we’re on a three year course to do that and we’ve still got tons to learn), I think after watching the video even the most inexperienced camera user would gain better understanding of the process, and will at least know what questions to ask.