Finally. As promised, the third installment of my series on the making of our Creative Mornings documentary “sweet spots & racing saddles.” In part 1 I talked about the “how and why” of making it. In part 2, I covered the lessons learned from the production process. Now, three key post production lessons.
Lesson #1. On the Web, Format Doesn’t Matter (Usually)
This was a “mutt” of a film. It contains footage from…
- 5 cameras: the Canon c300, 5D Mark II, 7d, T2i and T3i
- 4 codecs: ProRes LT, ProRes Proxy, XDCAM, DV, and H.264
- 6 frame rates: 23.98, 29.97, 30, 29.92, 25 and 15
Except for the obvious YouTube clips used in the Steve Martin section, a viewer will be hard-pressed to distinguish which of the shots were with which camera and which codec.
By the time a video gets compressed for the web, any quality differences you might be able to see will be gone. Heck, even when watching footage on a theatrical screen, some of the most talented and experienced filmmakers from around the world had a hard time figuring out which cameras were which in Zacuto’s latest episode of “Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout.”
This is a testament to the quality of the 5D Mark II, the T2i and the 7D. But just because the end-product is so close, doesn’t discount the huge advantage of the c300. For this particular shoot, having the C300 allowed us to shoot with available light, bump the ISO and have no noise. The bike shop was very dark. Seeing the scenes we shot, all with available light, doesn’t do it justice. If we had to shoot with a T2i, or even the 5D Mark II, we’d either have to deal with ISO noise, or bring in lots of lights (which wasn’t in the budget. Huge thanks go to LensProToGo for sponsoring our high-end equipment.)
Obviously, depending on other post production plans, the format may matter (e.g. will there be a lot of visual effects? Green screen? Etc.). But, in many cases, especially when you’re doing documentary-style shooting like this, where the web is the final distribution channel, if you use the tools according to their strengths, you’ll get a terrific end-product.
Lesson #2. Color Grading Counts
I’m learning more and more how important color grading is to a project. I’ve always done some sort of color grade and/or color correction on my work. Sometimes it’s just the process of adding certain filters and adjusting. But I’m gaining a finer appreciation for the importance of good color grading even if you want a shot to look “normal.”
I tend to shoot with a flat color profile. Shooting in the C300 C-Log mode is kind of the equivalent. Doing so requires some serious color grading action. One of the particular challenges for this piece were the tennis scenes. The court cast a greenish hue on the actors which we had to compensate for in post. See below.
I should go on record as saying I am NOT a professional colorist by any stretch of the imagination. So I have no doubt someone out there could make these scenes look even better. But I used a combination of Final Cut 7′s built-in color correction and brightness-contrast filters along with Red Giant Software’s Colorista II to reduce the green hue, add a little natural color to the skin tone, add contrast, and make the blue pop.
Lesson #3 – Target Audience Matters
Ironically I asked a LOT of people for feedback on this. I normally only select a handful of people for feedback. But I think a part of me just wanted to share it with more colleagues than normal because I was so proud of what we accomplished. One thing I learned is that your target audience matters. Take these three feedback remarks:
- A creative director for a branding agency said, “I absolutely loved it. Its awesome. I didn’t find myself bored or laggin out. The shots were great and engaging and the overall message was awesome. NICE WORK!!!” (For the record, I am NOT referring to Blake Howard of Matchstic who organizes the Atlanta Creative Mornings. Although, Blake really loved it too. :) )
- A well-known event and corporate filmmaker said he loved the content and b-roll, but in the beginning it felt like a seminar (which is funny, because it technically IS a seminar. :) ) Eventually he got over it. He loved the end-credit music. He also pointed out the rolling shutter issues during the bike scenes (isn’t that just like a DSLR filmmaker?).
- An indie filmmaker buddy of mine in Hollywood loved the imagery, but felt the whole thing was kind of slow. Although he couldn’t really figure out what he’d cut. He was also not crazy about outtakes at the end. He is so over outtakes during credits.
The general feedback all around was definitely positive. Most of those came from people specifically in the creative community (for whom the video was made).
A Terrific Experience
All around, the making of this film was a terrific experience. I got to work with a great team, got to know a fascinating creative, and was fed extremely well at the Chick-fil-A headquarters (quite possibly the best part of the whole experience. :) )