When I get a call from director Joseph Greco (Canvas, 2007) about a project, I always say yes. He is a true gentleman who has great respect for each person's role in a production. I've recently cut a music video for him and had a great experience, so when he offered me the next one, I was in.
The music video features Lisbeth Scott singing the title song from her new album, "Hope Is A Thing." Very timely…
She's been a featured vocalist in the Passion of the Christ, Narnia, Shrek 2, Transformers, and Munich. Her songs have been chosen for both HBO's True Blood (a collaboration with composer Nathan Barr) and ABC's Brothers and Sisters.
To further up the ante, Joseph enlisted the services of two time Academy Award-winning cinematographer, Hakell Wexler.
Pre-production: Panasonic generously donated the use of their newest P2 camera, the 2700. They were also going to use a 1700 and a Cannon 5D Mark II. The P2 was going to be shot at 23.98 and the Cannon only does 30p (for now). The last video I did with Joe had a similar mixing of frame rates and I had already done my testing for that one. My solution is to import the 5D footage into FCP and do a batch export to the correct frame size and frame rate. For such a brute force approach, the footage comes out looking quite well. You can see for yourself on the last video that we did at:
Production: The one-day shoot took place in an old warehouse in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles. The on-set data technician, Wendy Walker, did a great job of managing all the media and making sure there were plenty of P2 cards for the day. Ah, modern production, tapeless — with it's joys and challenges.
Post: Here's where I start doing the heavy lifting. I got an external Firewire drive with all the footage on it. The first thing I did was to transcode the 5D footage to match the rest of the P2 media. That took a few hours on my trusty first generation black Macbook. I then logged and transferred the P2 media using the log and transfer function in FCP. Once all the media was prepped and in the project, I started syncing all the takes. Eric, our sound man, added a three-ping tone countdown to the on-set playback. I was able to quickly match up the full takes, or partial takes from the beginning of the song. The fun part is syncing up the pick-up takes which all are matched to the waveform of the final song mix.
I like to lay out all the tracks of the performance in sync on the timeline and go section-by-section, verse-by-verse and choose the best performance for each bit. I then watch each sequence to make sure the cut works and move forward down the timeline until I'm all the way through the song. I then play the entire timeline to get a feel for the piece and start making adjustments to the cut. Only when I'm happy with the cut, will I then post my first cut for the director to view and get notes.
Next up: Part Two, going from rough cut to final approval.