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December 2014
Issue: March 1, 2008

THE REALITY OF EDITING REALITY TV

By: Randi Altman
Realty TV is challenging from many perspectives: no script, tons of footage, tight deadlines, less-than-perfect audio. So you might think that David Basulto, owner of South Pasadena, CA’s Clarity Pictures is crazy. He recently shot and cut four episodes of Vintage Vanessa, a reality show he is producing with Valerie McCaffrey of Blue Raven Films. At press time, they were preparing to pitch the networks.

It’s a 30-minute “makeover” show hosted by up-and-coming singer/songwriter Vanessa Monarch, an “ultra-hip” 19-year-old who wears vintage clothing and shops economically at stores that don’t resemble mainstream clothing outlets. For each episode, Monarch gives a makeover to someone she chooses from submitted video clips. She visits their home and then takes them over to LA’s American Vintage shop and has at them.

Basulto shot the show with two Canon HG10 AVCHD hard disk camcorders. They captured via Blackmagic Intensity Pro to Final Cut Pro. “We used the Blackmagic preset in FCP for Pro Res 1080i 60i and the capture was seamless,” he says. Basulto, a frequent reviewer for Post, is editing on Final Cut Pro; his assistant Ryan Carty logs the footage.

Basulto, who works on feature films and documentaries, didn’t get overwhelmed with all the footage. “The beauty of the Canon HG10 is it has a 40GB hard drive,” he says. “That’s about 11 hours of footage. I’m a micromanager and always do a shot list. At most I am getting two hours of footage for each 21-minute show.”

And what about capturing audio in less-than-ideal conditions? “I have a sound man capture straight into Digidesign Pro Tools with a boom,” he explains. “Although the audio in-camera has been quite nice with the added Rode Video Mic.”

The thing that surprised Basulto the most about his experience was how inexpensive it is to shoot high quality media. “For under a grand you can get an HD camera shooting 24p and 1080i,” he says. “For a couple of grand you can get a MacBook Pro to edit on. Now you are mobile and shooting in high def. It allows content makers to experiment. You can come up with a good storyline, go out and make it — it’s not cost prohibitive anymore.”

And that is exactly what Basulto and his producing partner did after hearing the networks were looking for reality shows geared toward 18 to 25 year olds. After brainstorming one night he and McCaffrey came up with the “story” and put it all into Mindjet MindManager software. “It allows me to just throw any and all ideas on the screen and make sense of it all. We came up with the concept and were literally shooting two weeks later. I love this new age don’t you?“