When Benjamin Von Wong approached me to make a video for him I thought to myself that it would be like any other project. It was not. This one had an added twist; We have to deliver and showcase a full product before we left the location. This meant that we’d have six days of filming, and on the seventh day, we need to present the video of our work at the Nexus Global International Youth Summit.
A project like this sounds impossible on paper. Even more so when I realized that some of the days would be 40-hours long filming days. (That’s right, 40 hours, on your feet, filming). However, with
a little a lot of planning and organization, you can succeed in delivering such a challenging product on time, and to the best of your abilities. Here are my top tips for succeeding in delivering a finished two-minutes video after a six-day construction project, with less than 24 hours for editing:
Develop your script, understand the vibe
Writing a script is more than just writing the text. You need to understand what kind of tone your script is carrying. Even if you are “only” the videographer/editor of the shoot, being a part of the script-writing team has a ton of value. It gives you the understanding of what message exactly the team is trying to deliver. This will make editing easier, and it will eliminate a lot of the uncertainty of what shots you should take. The more effort you put into understanding the tone of your video the smarter you will shoot. You’d be able to keep an open eye for key shots transforming your film to a higher level.
Find your music
If you are using a soundtrack in your video, and you already have the script ready, find the music! This cuts down on important minutes, hours, or even days searching for that tune that gives your video the right flow. In addition, having the music in the back of your head can sometimes inspire you to do certain kinds of tricks and use the music to your advantage. For me, the last sequence of the discount signs was something I thought of when I heard the end of the track. A little pre-production goes a long way!
Always be on top of the schedule
Being on top of your schedule means understanding what happens when and why. This shoot required me to be awake for extended periods of time, we even had a couple of 30-40 hours shooting days. Planning out my day meant understanding how long any shot/location is going to take, figuring out if its worth the investment, and deciding what is the best way to invest my time.
Here is an example of the thought process:
There are three huge steel frames in the closet structure.
- I have a timelapse running from a single place for the whole day running, so I know I will have a time-lapse all of them being built for sure.
- after filming the built of one of the frames, I know how long it takes, I know the build-process, and I know what I can get from it. I also know that the final clip will only be two minutes long.
- I can safely assume that I will not need all three frame-constructions for the final video. This is why I chose to shoot some key points of the first and second frames and to do a dolly hyperlapse for the third.
- Because these are long periods of time, I can rest in between or prepare for the next shot.
For most projects, there is a schedule, and it’s usually divided into blocks. If you know this schedule to its core, you can plan when you need to work, and when you need to save your strength.
Work with proxies
I work with a pretty decent mobile workstation – an HP Omen 4k 17inch with 32gb ram and an RX580 video card. I feel comfortable saying my box is well above the average box. Even with that beast, I still create proxies. Proxies are basically low rez mirrored files of your original files, and fun fact, it has never been easier to use them. Creating them can be done in 3 clicks once they are in Premiere. Once you have rendered and attached your proxies enabling them in your program monitor allows you to breeze effortlessly through your footage, and greatly increases your editing speed. Just remember the more you shoot the longer the proxies take, if you are really short on time, here are a couple tips.
- Have a separate computer run them
- Film on two cards and interchange between the cards so one card is shooting and the other one is generting proxies
- Render them while you sleep!
- Render only problematic files (like drones, gopros, or other heavily encoded IPB)
- Render long files (interviews, speeches, or things that need to be cut)
Divide, do-able work into separate days
If you have the luxury, sit down and get SOMETHING done. I only managed to filter through two days out of the six while shooting. Yet, completing those two small tasks saved me a lot of time when I came in to edit the final piece. If you can do small tasks in between the heavy workload, you are objectively taking work-load off what you would have to do eventually anyway.
Have the text, or script ready
As mentioned before, having the script ready will make your life easier in more than one way. You don’t always get a script tough. Or you may get a partial script while other things are being done on the go. If that is the case, something is better than nothing. Even if it’s just you and the client, or the director; its best to align expectation, have a pre-shoot chat and make sure everyone is aligned on the final goal. Understanding the vision is key in choosing the final shots
Be in a comfortable space
If you’re at home, clear your desk, make sure you’re not working in clutter, and have everything you need ready. Everything means, everything! Some things i like to prepare ahead of time for long editing shifts are:
- Task list
If you’re on the road, having all the peripherals you need will ensure that you’re desktop experience is with you on the road as well. Here are a few things I like to have with me:
- Small Speaker (I have a UE Boom and a Boss Soundlink Mini)
- Wired mouse
- Long USB 3 cable (I don’t like having cables around me)
- External Card Reader (even if you have in your computer, its best to take one with you)
- External Monitor (I use an ultralight portable USB C monitor)
Manage your backups
Having a back-up of everything goes without saying (not gonna cover backs-up here). But, having a backup can also help you speed things up.
Having multiple hard disks allows you to split work between, editors, or computers. It can also help you speed up transfers if you have enough ports on your computer and you’re really pressed for time!
Don’t get lazy with it. Transfer and back up each day. Let the computer work when you are sleeping. It’s a terrible waste of time to spend the morning in transfers. One of the things that ended up slowing me down sometimes, is the fact that didn’t have the energies to do the transfers the night before. It’s not always possible to do all cameras though. We had six cameras running every day for this project. Some of them easily filling up 64Gb cards throughout the day.
- Start with the small transfers and cards. Maybe a drone shot, or short timelapse, or a camera with just a little video
- Put the big ones before going to sleep, or any other time where you will be away for longer than the estimated transfer time
- You can also try using software, such as Carbon Copy for Mac, to get reliable copies of your work when you’re done transferring to a harddrive
- Bonus pro-tip: Set your auto-save time in Premiere Pro to four minutes – it seems like overkill, but I’ve noticed premiere doesn’t actually save in this interval, it saves whenever it wants usually, so better safe than sorry! Anyway, the saving process usually takes between 5-15 seconds, a small price to pay when you’re on a tight deadline- roughly 1 minute of saving time per hour, you’ll manage!
Ask for resources to help you
We work in an industry that is full of people who are looking to collaborate and help out! Use that to your advantage, if you can borrow a laptop, ask for one- if you have a friend who does music, ask him to master your narration and music! If you have a friend that can color correct, ask! It never hurts to ask for help, and in a profession where we tend to be a “Jack of All Trades”, sometimes bringing in a “Master of One” can not only save you time, but up your production value, whilst creating professional ties that are high value!
First things first, the First draft!
Don’t be stressed to put out a video on the first go, we need revisions and feedback. It’s extremely rare, to send the first draft and receive an email saying says: “Great, we have no comments”. Working on a first draft to turn in to your client allows you to collect input while continuing with your work. The other option is finishing off everything and then waiting for a response, which is essentially wasting time. Lots of that feedback – you could have collected earlier. A first draft doesn’t have to be complete, sometimes just showing pieces of the video with black in between is enough for the client to understand you’re on the right path to finishing the video.
These are my suggestions for creating a project as quick as possible! I hope you enjoy and use these tips to create your next video, and blow your client out of the water with the speedy turnaround!
About the Author
Adam Frimer is a cinematographer based in Israel. You can see more of his work at foxcandv.com