Additional Editing Workflow Ideas…


As I get close to the end of editing a piece, my practice has been to begin burning DVD’s of the film with time code, (basically a digital clock that is visible on the screen and that tracks the elapsed time of the film). I burn these DVD’s so that I can see a decent size image with all video effects fully rendered. I can can then sit down and view the production in full-motion without any stuttering, and at full resolution. I burn the DVD directly from the timeline of the film, which Sony Vegas Pro 11 allows for, and then grab take a yellow pad, press play, and stop the playback to take notes on the fixes/changes I want to make in the production. Then back up to the edit room to make the changes. I must “burn” through 20 or more DVD’s per production as I comb through and refine the film.

Yesterday, though a minor evolution/breakthrough just seemed to happen all by itself. I needed to render a 1280×720 draft version of the film so that my film subject, Mira Gill could view the progress of the production. I went to spot-check the rendered file to check for problems before uploading it to my video account. I opened the production on top of my Sony Vegas window as seen below.



The rendered video is the upper left window and the editor sits below it.That’s Mira on the left, concert pianist extraordinaire, with her brilliant student Sonam, (wait till you see her play in the finished film!)

I started checking the rendered film and happened to spot a change I knew I wanted to make. So I just toggled my screen to my editor and made it immediately. I put my studio headphones on and made a sound tweak. Then I just kept going. I made another fix, then another. It occurred to me, hey, I’m looking at my film now at twice the resolution that would have been burnt to standard DVD, (720×480). I found this a pleasurable visual experience as well. The picture, so sharp, creamy and three-dimensional. All of this sounds so obvious in hindsight, but when you’re used to doing things a certain way, habit often prevails, even when a better approach is staring you right in the face…I think if my yellow pad had been in front of me I would have logged the fix in, burnt the DVD, and continued trudging along the old well-worn path.

When I had worked my way through the rendered film, making changes in my editor as I went, I re-rendered the film, but this time stopped myself at a quick spot-check. I’ve found that at a certain point of viewing and reviewing a piece, I no longer can see it objectively. I think to myself, my eyes are starting to bleed, I need to do something else, like go walk the dog, clean the grout in the shower – anything but edit. Later on, I come back to it with fresh eyes and recharged motivation.

So, this is just a chronicle of a small change that can evolve in one’s workflow that can have a big impact in productivity – and actual enjoyment of the process… I like the instant feedback and the instant correction that this method makes possible. And I don’t have to decipher the hieroglyphics scrawled on my yellow pad later. I’m sure other editors have been doing this all along, but for some reason I never picked it up…

This little victory is a reminder to me that not all one’s creativity occurs in the storytelling…

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