Join Amy DeLouise for an in-depth discussion in this video Taking useful field notes for editing with Google Docs and continuous field notes, part of Video Editing: Moving from Production to Post.
- Taking useful field notes is the best thing you can do for your editor when you're a producer. So let's look at a couple of different techniques you can use. Google Docs can be really useful for taking field notes. Here's a scene breakdown for our DEF company video and I've got the segments here that we're going to be shooting over a two day period at their corporate headquarters. And you can see that there's a notes column so I can easily jump in and put a note, so I can put, you know, whatever take I thought was really the best take.
If I'm the production assistant who's taking notes on the set, usually I'm too busy to take notes because I'm trying to direct, but somebody's got to be taking those notes. But occasionally, you have to jot a few notes to yourself and then you can just go back to this document later and clean it up. So you might want to put the take numbers next to all the different scenes that you're shooting and that's very helpful for your editor. The other thing you can do is make some other notes, for example, here we're going to shoot all this workplace montage and I think after the end of the day we realized we probably only got three out of the five scenes that we wanted for that.
So I'm going to say, "May need to use legacy footage" Which means I'm going to get some footage from the client because they've shot a whole bunch of stuff with their employees so I don't need to waste time doing it, but I need to sort of tip off my editor that that might be happening so that they know there's more assets to come. Now over here I've got a note that somebody else put in, "Lines changed on set" Boy doesn't that happen all the time. So Amanda and Sheila have some dialog and apparently the dialog is not going to match the script so we need to make a note of that and that's probably the kind of thing that's significant enough that I'm going to actually make that note directly into what I call the editing script.
So we're going to talk about that next. So let's move over here, and we can pull up our editing script. This is the same script that we used before as our shooting script and in a perfect world, the shooting script and the editing script are exactly the same, but we don't live in the perfect world so we know that they're probably not the same. So probably somethings have happened on the shoot. So for example, one of the things that happens to me all the time is that a client might change a line on the set, or an executive producer will change a line right when we're shooting. So for example, right here at the very beginning, throughout DEF Company, you are working hard every day to deliver on our brand promise, and maybe they want to say something else like they just decided that instead of being DEF Company they're going to be called DEF Worldwde or DEF Global let's call it.
So we're going to change that to DEF Global. So one of the things I want to do is I want to make sure my editor notices that so put a note in here and I'm going to say "Change all graphics to DEF Global. "See new brand guide!" So I want to make sure everyone on the project knows because this is like a big, big note. This is got to make sure that it filters all the way through graphics, through editing, anybody who said DEF Company instead of DEF Global, we're going to have to revoice those things so I want to make sure that everybody knows that change.
In fact I think I'm going to even highlight it here. So I'm just going to make it bold so we're sure that everybody knows. So you can go in and you can make comments and then other people's comments can show up and you can even share this document with your editor on through Google Docs, which is very convenient, so you can save it to your Google Drive and everybody can have access to it. So let's just do that and let's share it with another person. So it's already shared with a couple of people on the team and I'm going to share it with one more person. So I'm going to share it with Hillary, she's going to be helping us out on the edits so I want to make sure that she gets a copy and so I'm just going to send that and if I were nice I would have sent a note but I'm busy because I'm on the set.
So this is just one of the great tools that you have for taking notes on the set while you're working on a shoot. Now there's another tool that I like to use which is just plain old fashioned writing down the continuity notes. Especially if I'm doing something where I'm directing somebody to camera and they've got to deliver a lot of lines. I'm not going to maybe have the time to look over at a laptop, I don't want to be typing and if I'm close to the set. So this is a tradition that's tried and true, it's what we used to use in feature films and still do and it's a note taking tool and I'll show you want it looks like.
Okay so here's the way you do it. It's very simple. You draw with a pencil, always with a pencil because you always want to make a change. You circle your takes, one, two, three, four, five, however many, 20 million. And you just draw a line down, you put an X whenever anything gets busted, that's a busted take. You drag a squiggle when there's any kind of interference, whether the person had a cough, whether there's a car that drives by, if it's something really significant you might want to write it in. And you just draw the line until the take ends. So if they end right here you know that's where that take ends and you don't have that material anymore.
And if there's some problem, you know sometimes I'll write good, best. There's two values to this, number one you know you have coverage, because a lot of times when you've got somebody on camera, delivering a lot of material and you can't remember whether you have more than just one version of everything. So you want to make sure you have at least two lines, go through every single paragraph. So right here, we've got two lines until right here and then for some reason we don't have two lines of the most important things that he talks about the graphics are going to be coming in but we're still going to need that.
So wouldn't it be bad if one of these had some kind of glitch and we didn't have a backup. So it's nice to know that when you just quickly at a glance, you can see and take another take in the field. And then the other thing you can do is you can then go back and make sure your editor knows okay, I've got all the best takes marked. You can, in a perfect world, you might take that information and put that on that same Google Doc that we looked at before and put that take information but if things are moving quickly you can just hand this document and your editor can very quickly glance down and say, "Okay, I'm going to take the top of take three.
"Then I'm going to go to take four. "Then I'm going to go back to take five. "And then I'm going to jump over to take seven "and take take seven takes me all the way "to graph eight." So you want to be sure that since you might be part of lots of creative meetings that you're editor might not be part of, that you put any changes and any new information that might be part of the edit on a piece of paper, that goes on a document in one form or another, so that they've got it for reference.
Amy DeLouise reviews production planning, on-set strategies for effective media management, and tips for creating transcripts, editing scripts, and asset lists for editors. During post-production kickoff, she talks about managing your client's expectations: balancing their needs with the realities of production. With any luck, you can reconcile the two in post, using Amy's instructions for setting up Final Cut and Premiere Pro projects for success. The final chapter includes bonus post-production strategies for future-proofing and exporting projects.
- Building a creative brief and concept boards before the shoot
- Determining the technical requirements for the shoot
- Taking good field notes
- Using slates
- Managing media effectively on set
- Backing up source footage
- Preparing interview transcripts, editing lists, and asset lists
- Reviewing your post-production plan
- Setting up Final Cut Pro projects
- Setting up Premiere Pro projects
- Syncing dual sound and multicamera media
- Exporting files for audio post and color grading