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Going HD Part 4: Beginning Post

Putting it all together takes some serious horsepower By David Basulto

The movie making process is filled with emotions. After many long hours on the set, the many battles fought, and the intense screaming at each other, itís finally time for post. As the crew and talent work long hard hours, it is often amazing they all meet at the end for the ceremonial wrap party. Since we were low budget, the 5 star restaurants with the DJ booming tunes and free drinks at the bar wasnít happening for the workers of Fiesta Grand. Our excellent executive producer did however treat us all to a great meal with drinks.

Now is the time to create a work of wonder from all the pieces of the puzzle. No longer can on-the-spot decisions be made. The movie is done and the footage is in the can, or should I say in the little cassette cases and hard drives. Did we get all the footage we needed? We will soon find out.

Putting the pieces together
Before I edit my features, the first thing I do is take a few days off after the shoot. For weeks all I have done was live, eat, and breathe this picture. I need to clear my head and come into my edit with a fresh brain. I highly recommend this.

Hopefully your assistant editor put together an assembly of your movie (assembly is putting together the movie, scene by scene in a very rough fashion). Most will do this as the picture is being shot. This is extremely easier to do now that we are in this wonderful digital age. I remember producing films just seven years ago and having to wait a few days to even see the rushes. Now, especially if you are recording to a hard drive, the footage can be imported into your favorite NLE right on location. What a wonderful world.

Walter Murch's In the Blink of an Eye is an essential read for any aspiring filmmaker.

Editing guru Walter Murch always takes stills of his edit and places them on a board in the room for reviewing. This way he can see the changes and make decisions. I tried this and it works tremendously. On my first film I used Post-It notes stating the scene number and a quick note on what was going on. This works too.

Choosing an NLE
There are some truly powerful non-linear editing programs out there. On my first film Death Clique I cut the whole movie on Sonyís Vegas program. We shot that in SD, on the Panasonic DVX100a. It worked great.

I used Premiere Pro to cut Fiesta Grand

For Fiesta Grand I really wanted to do the whole film in the Adobe Production Studio. After all it had my favorite program, After Effects in it. I used Cineform Prospect 2k as my digital intermediary to capture all my footage. Using the JVC HD100 and shooting in 24p, I wanted a smooth workflow. Although Aja and Blackmagic Design have some fantastic products, my old Dell PC (a 3GHz Pentium 4 with 2GB RAM) had only an AGP slot available. Cineform Prospect 2k needs no hardware and itís a simple download and install. I am happy to say Cineform Prospect 2k worked extremely well and provided me with an extremely high quality 12 bit image to work with, and their tech support is fantastic.

I found using Premiere Pro to cut the movie together very easy yet powerful. I had my first pass done within 10 days. Ok so I had no life at that time but I was closer to finishing another movie. I have to say having solid notes from the script supervisor is worth its weight in gold. The only real trouble I faced was with my old Dell computer, as it wasnít up to the task of rendering out the HD footage.  It simply didnít have the horsepower to work with my HD footage when it came time to render. Any time I wanted to render a QuickTime or AVI of my entire movie it would crash midway through the render.

Here comes the Mac Pro
I never thought the day would happen but it did. After being a PC user my entire life, I could not pass up the power of the new Mac Pros. My wife dragged me kicking and screaming into the Apple Store to see how the Macintosh would help my workflow. After pacing back and forth, feeling like I was cheating on my loved one, I bit the bullet and bought my first Mac. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The Mac Pro is my newest speed machine.

I loaded this beautiful machine with 8GB of super fast Kingston memory. I continuously stick with Kingston after using their great memory during my PC reign. The memory never caused problems or let me down.

What really sold me on the Mac was the fact that I would be able to use Windows on it as well via Bootcamp, giving me the best of both worlds on a single computer.

After loading the new Mac Pro with my software, I was off to the races. I could now render anything my heart desired. Scrubbing the timeline no longer locked up and RAM previews rendered extremely quickly. Previously, I didnít enjoy telling my executive producer that I couldnít send him a QuickTime to view because my machine crashed. That nightmare is over.

Whatís next
The first phase of post is done. I have edited a cut I like and I can render any format for reviewing. In Part 5 I discuss some great color correction and mastering tips I received from friends Stu Maschwitz (DV Rebels Guide) and Mark Christiansen (Adobe After Effects Studio Techniques) that were instrumental to my color correcting process. Until next time go out and make your movie.

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David Basulto is an independent filmmaker in Los Angeles. After 17 plus years, David is well versed in all aspects of filmmaking from development to distribution. He produces, directs, edits, and now is addicted to motion graphics and 3d. His last film, Death Clique is in Blockbusters nationwide. David is also the host of the www.filmmakingcentral.com. In his spare time David is an avid gamer and can be found slaying monsters in the world of Vanguard. For more info visit www.davidbasulto.com
Related Keywords:HD video, HD post production, filmmaking, independent filmmaking

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