In my previous development blog posts, I've covered the process of voice acting and sound recording, followed by story boards and animatics, then filming. This week, we're going to look at editing Playtime Season 2.
The editing process is the single largest part of production for me, so I'm going to split it into 2 sections. The first section involves taking all the footage I've recorded and putting it together into a complete rough cut. The second section involves taking that rough cut and adding the final music and audio mixes (I'll cover this section in a later blog post).
As I've mentioned before, I use Bungie Pro Video Rendering to take all the footage I record and transform it into usable video files. Every clip I record gets uploaded to my File Share, then rendered into 720p WMV files. I do this for a couple reasons:
a) My computer is a piece of junk, and lacks the video processing capabilities to handle most capture devices properly. Bungie Pro on the other hand, produces excellent looking video.
b) By using Bungie Pro Video, I automatically have a backup version of every single video clip I've ever recorded, and they're all available from by Bungie.net profile.
Once I'm done filming, I go to my list of rendered videos on Bungie.net and download every clip. For Playtime Season 2, I recorded over 150 clips, ranging in length from 5 seconds to over 1 minute per shot. On a side note, this means that anyone curious to see what I'm working on can simply go to my Bungie.net profile, click on the "rendered videos" button to see everything I've recorded 😉
For the sake of organization and for my own sanity, I divide these clips into groups, or "scenes". Some scenes will contain only 4 or 5 different clips, other scenes will contain as many as 30 clips. I grab a scene's worth of clips, and load them into Window's Movie Maker. If you remember my earlier blog post, I have already created Animatic Videos using story-board sketches and a rough cut of the dialogue. Using those Animatics as a guide, I cut my newly recorded video files together into a rough cut of the scene.
Because of all the time I spent story-boarding each scene, I already have a very good idea of how to cut every scene together. This means I end up with far less wasted footage. For example, while making Playtime Season 1, I only ended up using about half of the footage I shot. For Season 2, I used every single one of the 150 clips that I filmed, except for 2. On top of that, having the dialog pre-recorded means that I already have a sense of the rhythm and timing of each scene. All of this adds up to a relatively smooth and fast initial editing process.
A couple weeks ago, I posted this clip of one of my animatic sequences:
Now, here's the same scene after filming. You'll notice a few differences in the timing of the different camera angles, but overall it is very similar to the original story-board.
Once I have a rough cut of the scene put together, I'll watch it start-to-finish a few times to make sure I'm happy with the sequence of the different shots and camera angles. I might move a few minor things around, and trim some time off a few shots. Generally speaking, my first cut of a scene is what I call a "long cut", meaning that some of the shots are a little longer than they'll end up being in the finished version. This early in the editing process, it can sometimes be difficult to know for sure if I've got the timing of every single cut just right. If I ever think to myself "maybe I should cut away from that shot a little sooner", I leave it as it is. It will be far easier for me to cut a few seconds of footage out later than it would be for me to add it back in if I change my mind.
From here, it's a matter of repeating the process for every single scene in Playtime Season 2. Once I have a rough cut of every scene, I slap them all together into one giant video. This is another way in which Season 2 differs from Season 1. The first season of Playtime was made as 4 self-contained episodes. Season 2 is being made as 1 continuous story, which will be broken up into episodes at the end of production.
Now that I've put all the different scenes together into a single video, I have a complete rough version of the entire season! The end is close... I can see the light at the end of the tunnel........ almost.
The final major step is the audio editing and music, but there is one more thing to do before I get to that. I take my complete Season 2 rough cut, and watch the crap out of it. I watch it over and over and over again, looking at the flow of each scene, and the progression of the story over the entire season. I'll make lots of little cuts; a half-second off the end of a shot here, a couple seconds off the beginning of a shot there, etc.
I'm also looking for problems with continuity, or anything else that needs fixing. This is my last chance to make any substantial changes to Season 2. Once I move on to the final audio editing, I'll be committed to what I've got. I'll be able to cut little pieces out, but I won't be able to add things or move anything around in any substantial way.
It just so happens that I did find a logistical problem with the continuity of the story. Nothing major, but enough of a problem to annoy me. Luckily, catching the problem at this stage made it fairly simple to fix. A few simple cuts, and the issue was solved!
We're in the home stretch now. Next week, I'll cover the process of recording the music and mixing the final audio!
Playtime Season 2 Development Blog
- Part 1 – Voice Acting and Audio Recording
- Part 2 – Story-boards and Animatics
- Part 3 – Filming
- Part 4 – Video Editing
- Part 5 - Audio Editing and Final Production