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This course is part of a series that looks at Documentary Editing from the point of view of 3 different editors in 3 different editing applications. For more insight on editing documentary projects, take a look at Documentary Editing with Premiere Pro and Documentary Editing with Final Cut Pro X.
- Interpreting a creative brief
- Exploring the documentary postproduction process
- Organizing footage and using searching techniques
- Setting up and using digital transcripts
- Building sequences and scenes to form the rough cut
- Adding effects to repair and enhance footage
- Fine-tuning the sequence to reach picture lock
- Receiving feedback
- Finishing the film with titles, color correction, and professional audio
Skill Level Intermediate
As you've hopefully gathered from the previous chapters, there's a lot of things you need to do before actually tackling the edit. Once you've done them, however, you can begin really looking at what you've got in order to devise exactly how you'd like to organize everything. Now, before the days of file-based workflow, the editor would usually screen all footage out of the editing software and take detailed notes in devising the best way to tackle the capture. And certainly, if you're still working with tape, you'll want to approach it this way. However, in the tapeless environment, you can just bring the footage right into the software and screen from within media composer.
Now again, because we can't provide you with the 430 gigabytes of raw media, we can't include this step in the exercise files. So please just watch this movie for reference and then enjoy the organized footage for your own purposes later on. Okay. So, first of all, I know through my consultation with the production team that this footage was shot as QuickTime movies in 1080p format with a frame rate of 23.976. So, that's how I want to set up my project. I'm just going to navigate to my drive, so I can put my project there, and select New Project.
And under Format, I want to make sure that I am at 1080p/23.976, which I am, and I'm just going to name this Farm to Table, okay. And let's go ahead and Enter. Now I mentioned that we want to basically screen from within media composer, and that's because we have instant access to the files. We don't have to wait for the tapes to capture. And the way that, that is possible is via AMA, or Avid Media Access. Okay. So, if I go into Settings and select AMA, I want to make sure that Volume Mounting > Enable AMA Volume Management is checked. This will allow AMA to work.
And it is by default so that should be good. Then under Bins, I like to create a new bin, and I like to just call it AMA Source Media, okay, and you can see it's not created yet, but it will be created once I bring in those files. Now, I'm bringing in QuickTime movies and the QuickTime AMA plug-in is included with every installation of media composer, so I don't need to do anything extra. But just in case you're working with another type of media, you want to go to Avid's website, avid.com/ama.
And listed at the bottom are all of the native file types that it works with via AMA. So, you'll just need to download the plug-in for the workflow that you use. So again, we are working in QuickTime, we don't need to do that. So, I can just go right in, and get those files. I'm going to choose File > Link to AMA Volume, and I know all of those QuickTime movies are right here in that Footage folder, and go ahead and open. And you can see that this bin, it's called AMA Source Media just like I set up, and here they come in many, many, many files, some are short, some are a little bit longer.
You can see that in general, they're categorically named. A lot of times you'll be bringing in files and all they are in numbers. And this is nice because I can set up some general loose structured bins, so I don't have just one giant bin that I'm going to be screening from. So just wait till these come in and then kind of get a sense of all the different categories that we're going to make bins for, and then I'm going to basically just drag the clips into each of those bins and begin screening. Now, I have a project set up where I have these bins kind of ready to go.
So I'm going to hop over there. So, I had everything in the AMA Source Media bin, but now you can see that, that's empty because I dragged everything into these just general bins. Again, I'm probably going to tweak this in a little bit later. But now, it's time to screen. And this process takes hours, especially when you're going through interviews and lots and lots and lots of B-roll. So, I'm literally going to load each clip, and if it's a general blanket shot, I can go ahead and say name it, and it's ready to go.
But if it's an interview or if it's something a little bit more complicated, I'm going to want to watch it, and then I'm going to want to name intelligently. And if I don't think I'm going to use it, then I'm going to delete it so that it's not cluttering up my project. But most of all, I'm probably going to sub-clip. So, I'm just going to load this into the source monitor, and I've gone through this and he's just basically talking to the videographer here in the beginning. I know I'm not going to use that. And then towards the end here, he's not really talking about too much important that I think I'm going to use, but this middle part is really, really terrific, and I think that him talking about these various herbs is something that I'd really like to use in the documentary.
So you are going to go through, you are going to make these decisions, you are going to sub-clip. So I've marked my in and my out, I'm just going to drag this into the bin, and I've sub-clipped it, and I'm going to name this intelligently. So, Jonathan talking about herbs, and so now this becomes a usable clip that I can use in my documentary, and this becomes searchable. I'm going to add further qualitative data to this clip a little bit later on as we'll see in future movies. But this is what you need to do for every single clip.
So, this again takes hours, you need to make sure that you have great care during this phase. I have here a bin where I've kind of gone through all of the interviews and sub clipped everything that I think is of use to me. So, this big Interview Bin, some of it is just not really going to be useful. But this here is kind of the subset of the stuff that I'm really excited about. Okay. So again, this is a meticulous and arduous process as you go through each clip in every single one of your bins, but don't skimp here.
You'll be glad you did all the leg work upfront as you go through the documentary post-production process. All right, so I can begin working with it. This is still AMA. You can see that the icon for AMA is kind of half clip, half chain-link. Once you bring it into sub-clips, it's just general sub-clip icon, and I can just work with this the entire time. However, I should note that for this project, what I had to do was to transcode the media, so that it would be a workable size for the exercise files. So, if you want to do that, if you want to transcode your media and turn it into the native file type of NXF, which is again Avid's native file type, one, it does optimize the workflow, so it usually works best with NXF.
However, it should work fine with QuickTime AMA as well. You can optimize it or if you need to transcode it to make them smaller files like I did in this case, you want to do one more step. And if you want to just click on one or if you wanted to click on all of them to obviously do them in batch, I would just right-click, and then choose Consolidate/Transcode. Then I am going to chose Transcode, I want to chose the drive that I want it to go to. Handle Length, it's going to basically default to about 2 seconds to the left and the right of each of these sub-clips.
But I'm fairly confident in where I marked these. So I'm just going to put that to 0. And then you want to put in your target video resolution here. Now, for these exercise files, what I had to do was actually transcode it to a standard definition codec. But you see that none of those are available here. So, what I had to do, and you might have to do this too if you want to create smaller proxy files is I click on Format, and just change it from the HD flavor to standard definition flavor.
So now, when I select all of these clips and right-click and choose Consolidate/Transcode, Transcode, I'm going to adjust 0 frames. You can see that now I have a bunch of standard definition flavors to choose from, and I had to compress these quite a bit so that you can work with them, some are 14:1, some are 28:1, obviously not ideal. But again, this is a documentary with lots and lots of footage, and we had to fit more than 430 gigabytes into about 4 gigabytes.
So, a lot of compression going on here, but you want to choose the drive and then you can go ahead and transcode. Now, you can see--I'm going to cancel this out--that I've gone through, and this is what you'll see through the duration of this project. But I've gone through, and I've organized my footage, you can see kind of in this Assets folder, Audio, Graphics, here's my Interviews, here's all of my B-roll, everything has been named, everything has been transcoded, and it's ready to go for you to work with.
I'm just going to close some of these bins so that we can reduce the clutter. And you can see that when I open up one of these bins, everything is named. These all used to be sub-clips. So I went in and I sub-clipped everything, but when I performed the transcode, it converted everything into master clips. And here it is, and this is a very low resolution file, but you'll still be able to work with it, and it's still for the most part looks okay.
All right, so that is a very quick crash course on organizing your project when you are setting up a documentary. Again, you want to bring it in AMA, then you want to divvy it into bins, and then you'll want to sub-clip everything out, and make sure that you're only using the stuff that you know is of use to you. You can work with that as is in the AMA format for as long as you want to, or if you should need to transcode it to another codec, then you're just going to right-click Transcode, choose your options there, and then you have everything kind of contained within the Avid Media Files folder.
So, I'll show you right here on my drive, once I've gone through, and I transcoded everything, everything is residing right inside here, and as I told you before, Avid's native file type is NXF. So I have basically changed all these QuickTime movies into NXF, and I'm ready to go. So that's how you'll be working throughout the rest of the course. Everything is organized fairly well for you. So, you can enjoy the organizing process and have everything already named and eventually begin editing. So, good luck.