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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 Avid Media Composer and Documentary Editing with Final Cut Pro X.
- Interpreting a creative brief
- Logging interviews and other footage
- Pulling selects and presenting ideas
- Building sequences and scenes
- Creating title graphics
- Animating images
- Adjusting b-roll shots
- Tightening clip timing
- Compressing and exporting multiple files
Skill Level Intermediate
It's time to start our finishing process, and I wanted to quickly go over what are the steps included in this part of the process. First is the online edit or conform, and we don't actually need to do one of these in this case. Online edits only take place when you've edited at a lower resolution, and now you have to conform to the actual resolution of the piece. This is happening less and less frequently, but it absolutely is a necessary step in finishing if that is your workflow.
Audio mix is probably--no not probably-- definitely the most important step here. There is just nothing more distracting than when you can't hear what someone saying in a video. Color correction really should be done on all video pieces, if nothing else then to just smooth out the differences between different cameras or lighting conditions and shooting on different days. It's subtle, but good color correction can lend a cohesiveness to your whole piece. There's also pieces that get creative color correction and dream sequence or something along those lines, but that's less frequent in documentary.
And then we want to take a final look at all of our graphics. In this case, all of our graphics are built, but we want to look at them again, and in particular, look at them at full quality to see if there are any small improvements to the actual composite. One more thing about finishing before we really get into it. Sometimes these jobs get farmed out to specialists in audio, color correction, and motion graphics, and sometimes usually dependent on budget and schedule, one person does this work inside Adobe Premiere Pro.
In this case, I'm going to take the latter approach, and I'm going to do this work inside Premiere Pro. That's what's fitting for this project. Okay, let's take a look at the piece and evaluate it for finishing against these specific steps. Here we are in the piece, and we watch a lot during this course. So I'll let you watch the whole thing down, and then we'll talk about some things that I noticed. Okay, are you done watching? I watched, too, and I want to show you some of the things that I want to highlight during the finishing process.
Certainly, there are some clear opportunities for mix. We know that it's going to be a priority to mix the voice so that it doesn't interfere with the music. So places like here where we introduce our chef in the restaurant, listen for a second. (male speaker: It makes you want to cry with how dedicated he is--) So there and throughout the piece, certainly we have to mix music against voice so that voice can always be heard, but that's a typical part of mixing.
A little more interesting are some areas that I consider natural sound opportunities. We've already spent some time on the nice bird noises here, and I would say the goal at the beginning is just to get this all to work together when we transitioned into the music and into BD's first bite. So listen not so much to the bird noises, but to the audio transition, and that's something that we'll spend some time working on. (video playing) (male speaker: My name is BD Dautch, and I--) Just the very beginning of the piece, and I want to make sure all that audio hits just perfectly.
Somewhat similar are other opportunities where that sound helps drive the content and the story forward. Here is an example with the truck noise. At moments like this, I want you to really hear that natural sound. It's creating texture, and in this case, a moment of transition as we move from the farm to the market, and the audio helps with this along with the visual. So I want to pump this moment up. (video playing) So those are some of my audio goals, and there's a few other of those natural sound places, including the Farmers Market where I really like that textural sound.
When I look at color correction, my goals are similar: I just want some balance here. So we've already noticed that this shot at the beginning, although we liked it aesthetically, is awfully rich in color, almost feels fake in a way, and I want it to seem real and then a lot of times it's just transitions from shot to shot. So a good example would be later on at the Farmers Market, you can see some different lighting conditions as I go through these shots, and when I transition here from where BD is in the shade to where Owen is in the sunlight, I want to cut down on that jarring feeling of, oh, that looks like a different place and time.
Watch how it's looking now, and then we'll work on it. (male speaker: We're serving our local customers our local product--) So that's one thing color correction can do is just cut down on that jarring edit between different lighting conditions. And finally, we want to look at graphics, in particular our animations. We've already programmed these, and I just want to take a final close look at them. I want to look at them in full resolution and possibly actually look at them in a compressed output just to see if this noise in the photo, when it's moving is it holding up okay in the final analysis? Sometimes these things sort of fall apart during the process, and we want to make sure that it looks crisp.
And similarly, the title we've worked on quite a bit, but I think there's room at least to play with the composite, that is exactly how the text elements lay on top of the video. We won't do this until after we color correct the video, but then I want to take one more look playing with things like Opacity and Transfer mode on the title on top of the image. Last thing on my mind is just to check, do we need any other graphics in the piece? And there's something to consider which is lower-third graphics, that's traditionally how we would identify everyone who speaks in the video, so we could identify BD, but probably not until he actually appears, which is here for the first time, and then certainly we can identify John Downey, and then we have a couple people who speak at the Farmers Market.
As I watch the piece, considering lower-thirds, I came to the conclusion that they're just not necessary in this piece. We have two main characters, but they're clearly introduced, that's BD and Downey. Then we have these two chefs that just appear for a moment, and the style of interview is so quick that as a viewer we're not asking, who is that? So my judgment call--and of course, I'll run this past the client--is that identification in a lower-third style is just not necessary in this piece.
So there's our evaluation, and it really pays to take the time to look at the piece carefully and decide, what are my goals during finishing? In this case, graphics work is very light, color corrections pretty light, but we have some interesting audio goals. It will be different in your pieces, but taking this moment will really pay off later when you're in the trenches.