Preparation is Everything

Preparation is Everything

We recently wrapped up filming this year’s annual Health IT Leadership Summit at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a great event and a lot of fun to film! Our steadicam really came in handy while we were there; you can’t beat it when it comes to filming b-roll. I think we need a bit more practice getting the exact weighting right; some shots were a bit too wobbly, especially when we had to reach up to adjust exposure levels or focus parameters. But overall it was a great success, and we were honored to be apart of it.

As I sat down in my chair in front of the editing bay, memories of editing video we filmed at the Big Data Week tech event this year floated through my mind. Unfortunately, they weren’t very pleasant. However, I think it would be fair to say I learned a lot from my Big Data Week editing experiences, and this time around, I felt more prepared.

So.Much.Footage. There is always an immense amount of footage uploaded to my humble machine after an event, (I say “humble” in the least serious sense of the word…the thing is a beast). This is, in some ways, intentional. The theory is that, since event films are unscripted, and the story must be concocted in the editing bay, the resulting ratio of usable shots to unusable (at least as far as b-roll is concerned) is fairly one-sided in favor of the unusable. So we always film way more than we know we will end up using.

In any case, my goal was to create a 3 minute highlight reel in 3 days from an amassed total of 100 gigs of footage, including custom graphics for intro, outro and lower-thirds, and color correction, all with zero script and very little knowledge of the subject matter. Again, thoughts of Big Data floated through my head…

Big Data wasn’t bad. In fact, it was a great success for everyone involved: the client loved it, a lot of people linked to it, and it helped my entire company grow, not just the video department. However, that being said, it was a nightmare to edit. A pure, unadulterated lack of organization predominated the entire operation; add to that a 1 day deadline (which was, not surprisingly, quickly broken), and my naivety when it came to handling render times, and it made getting that highlight reel wrapped up become a massive source of stress.

So, this time around, I knew something would have to change. I admit, I was partially resigned to the fact that I might re-live that stress-filled experience, but, at the same time, I was eager to figure out how to avoid it. Turns out, and here’s the shocker (again, least serious sense of the word) everything lies in preparation. Instead of taking large chunks of footage and putting them into one sequence, then cutting and cutting and undoing and recutting until I achieved something watchable, I broke everything down into separate, far-more manageable pieces, with clear labels and organized in bins in a way that made sense. I then went through each of these sequences methodically, “trimming the fat”, and making sure the shots were tight and and dialogue was clear. From there it was just a matter of creating a timeline and finding dialogue that fit somewhere inside it, and viola! All that was left was decorating.

Which reminds me… I can’t believe Christmas is almost here.

By: John

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