Why isn’t Team-up finished yet?
Part 1 of 2: What to do During Production to Make Things Easier in Post-Production Team-up was one of Glasgow Film Crew’s first projects, and as Producer it’s my job to make sure the film is completed. However, despite the fact that we wrapped on principal photography in March 2013, the film is not finished yet. We haven’t even finished editing it. I’ll try to explain why, both as an apology to all the people involved, who have shown varying levels of patience, and as advice for other first time filmmakers.
First Time Filmmakers
For the Director, Graeme Cassels, and myself, this was our first attempt at filmmaking. We had both worked on the Glasgow Film Crew short film Rainbow Cups, but Ian and Sarah, the director and producer of that film, had both worked in the media industry for a while, and knew the production process end-to-end. For Cassels and I this was our first time in post-production. And to be frank, we didn’t totally know what we were doing. There are lots of things you can do in production to make post-production go smoother, and we did none of them.
Although we did have a Script Supervisor as part of our crew, we didn’t know that one of the most important jobs of the Script or Continuity Supervisor is to keep a shot log for the editor. Basically, every time the camera or sound recorder is recording, the Script Sup notes down the scene number, shot number, and take number, a description of the shot (wide, close-up, handheld, etc.), the number of the sound file, and then a comment on how the take went (missed line, bad lighting, best take, etc.) This log is important to the editing process, as often the editor isn’t on set, and doesn’t know what has been filmed. Sometimes filmmakers decide on the day of production to deviate from the shot list, either due to time constraints, practical issues, weather, or they just come up with a better way of doing things on the day. The editor needs all this information to be able to work out what shots are supposed to go where, which takes should or shouldn’t be used. It also helps with the audio/video sync if there are any problems with slating/marking the shot with the clapperboard, or where to find a certain file if it hasn’t been sorted properly.
The Data Wrangler is responsible for taking audio and sound files from the camera team or sound recordist, sorting it into folders, and backing it up. To minimise the chance of any data being lost or corrupted, it’s best to do this as soon as possible. Often SD cards are taken to be backed up as soon as they are full, or whenever the crew stop for a meal, a location change, or wrap for the day. The Data Wrangler should never rename any of the files as this can corrupt the data, but information such as shot or scene number can be added into the file’s meta data.
Our first editor was on set for our final two days of shooting, and took on a data wrangler type role, but most of our data was totally unsorted, and it became clear afterwards that going through gigabytes of data to construct the film piece by piece with no blueprints other than the script was not what she signed up for.
One of the awesome things about the Glasgow Film Crew is the network is wide enough that we can put together large crews of people specialising in different roles. All are volunteers and many are novice, but it’s still a better situation that having a few people doing too many roles and missing details.
However, if you don’t have access to a collective like GFC, try to get the Editor themselves on-set to keep the shot log and file and backup data. Then they will be familiar with the footage before they even start syncing.
Audio/ Video Sync
Before editing can begin, the sound files and video files have to be synchronised. This is done by looking for the clap of the clapperboard on the video file, listening for the clap on the sound file, and then moving them on a timeline until they are matched up. In modern film this is usually done by looking for the noticeable spike in the waveform of the sound recorded on the camera, and matching it to the same spike from the sound recorder.
It takes a long time to do this when you have six and a half days of footage, and none of it is logged or sorted. It’s also made more complicated by the fact that sometimes we used more than one camera at once for multiple angles, and sometimes we used more than one sound source when we didn’t know what recording method would work best. There is software that can do this automatically, but we discovered it doesn’t always work perfectly, and it got especially confused by multiple sources. These issues cost us our second editor.
In the next part of this blog post, I’ll talk about what it is that makes the editing process so painfully slow, and tell you the good news about Team-up’s future.
Myke Hall is a screenwriter, producer, and sound recordist with the filmmaking collective Glasgow Film Crew. He also co-hosts the crew’s weekly meetup events. Myke’s background includes music performance and promotion, Internet radio and podcast presenting and producing, and music journalism. Myke has professional skills in social media marketing and IT support.