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This is part 3 of a 3 part series on the “Exit 18″ project…
The media headache I experienced was covered in a previous post on Mixing P2, Canon 5D, and 7D Video, so I won’t go into that again. Once all the media was converted and organized within Final Cut, sitting down and finding a storyline through the material was really difficult. There was nothing inherently dramatic in the months I had spent with the band to use as a natural focal point. Having it build up to the EP’s release was an option, but for a variety of reasons, the EP was quite a few months out and the doc had to be complete before it, so I had to start making some progress. “Rifle Girl” being the first single, it was likely the performance at Copperfield’s would prove to be a useful segment to have around, so I cut a teaser of that first. Having had the idea of using Joe’s party bus and Greg’s photos as an ending, I assembled that next and set it to The Killers song.
From there, the quantity of footage and lack of “aha” moments were paralyzing. It probably took a good 1-2 months of on and off thinking before I sat down and forced myself to start cutting again. An idea I arrived at was to make the doc profile driven, a vignette of sorts for each member, with musical interludes alongside, to highlight Veneer’s songs and archive footage, so I started cutting a sequence for each member. The other key decision point was to build up to the “Rifle Girl” performance by using some Copperfield’s footage as a segue between the interviews and interludes, exiting from one character and introducing the next.
This first assembly ended up being 20 minutes long, completed in August, 2010.
The first assembly flowed well, but it needed tightening. In the process of soliciting feedback, 2 major changes came out. Most people loved the ending, but the band didn’t want the doc to end on The Killers song, worried it would prevent them from selling their CD/DVD package. The other section requiring change was the beginning. I had overlaid an interview sound-bite on some Copperfield’s footage of the band setting up, but a couple people found it confusing and unclear.
The moment I reworked the beginning, to what you see today, the doc started to speak to me. There was something about the stadium, Mike wanting success, climbing the stairs, the shades, the reflection in his glasses, exhausted, etc. It helped set a tone that was missing for me, one that helped the doc hold better. It allowed me to start seeing the extraneous sections, cutting the doc down by 5 minutes. Replacing The Killers song in the end though, with one of Veneer’s, wasn’t going to be easy. Joe’s party bus stop-motion sequence worked for a song like “When You Were Young” since it had a fast beat, but the closest Veneer had to that was “Rifle Girl”, which was already being highlighted in the doc as a live performance. The only option I saw was to blend the “Rifle Girl” Copperfield’s performance with a version of Greg’s photo montage. So as much as I had come to like Joe’s party bus segment, it had to go to allow for a new, and ultimately better, ending.
This final cut was completed in November, 2010, with a running time of 15 minutes.
The last stage was finishing the film with titles, a sound mix, and color grade. Titles were made in Apple’s Motion, the colors playing off the Veneer logo at the beginning. Most songs are the actual studio mixes, so I didn’t spend a lot of time on those. Most of the audio time was spent on pops, hisses, fades, and level adjustments to balance out the music vs. dialogue vs. sound effect levels.
Color was another story. Having shot with an HVX and a 5D/7D, the footage (not surprisingly) looked noticeably different. Getting the footage to match for certain segments, depending how much HVX to 5D/7D clips were being used, took some time. The general approach I used was to apply some grain based grades to the 5D/7D shots, and add some diffusion based grades to the HVX shots. It’s far from perfect, but it made a significant difference in keeping the visuals in certain segments looking reasonably consistent.
Aside from this, there was the usual white balancing, black and white leveling, and exploring different looks to differentiate the interviews, interludes, archive material, and B-roll from one another. I opted to give the doc a slightly saturated and contrasty look, with the intent of giving it some pop and grunge feel. 90% of the color was done using Apple’s Color, with some Magic Bullet Looks for minor, last minute tweaks like vignettes and such. Here are a few before and after comparisons, the first pair being a Panasonic HVX frame grab, and the others being Canon 5D grabs.