Editing Questions for Pre-Production

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the December, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Tim McDermot writes:

Anyway I’m getting ready to edit my first paying short film job and have a question for you. I was wondering if you had any advice or notes that I should give the production team before they shoot. Ha-ha notes that would make my life easier as an Editor. Things you’ve come across over the years that you wish the production would just do for you.

Larry replies: Tim, books have been written on this subject. In fact, check out the new edition of Norman Hollyn’s The Film Editing Room Handbook, which goes into depth on this issue.

Keep in mind that not all HD formats are easy to edit. In fact, there are currently cameras shipping that generate a video format that can’t be edited at all.

For me, it’s making sure you can work with the footage they are shooting. So, get some test footage you can practice editing on. Things to learn:

1. What EXACT video format are they shooting — codec, frame size, frame rate…?
2. Determine how they want dailies and reviews — what do they want to see and when?
3. Confirm the EXACT deliverable – format, specs, deadlines, everything.

Then, get them to shoot some test footage (traffic is perfect) and make sure you can:

1. Import / transcode it
2. Burn timecode into it – for reviews
3. Edit it.
4. Export it
5. Convert it with the quality you need for final distribution.

You’ll be amazed at how many problems crop up during this test. Better to spend time learning this now, and discovering how to fix it, when you have the time, than with everyone screaming at you.


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2 Responses to Editing Questions for Pre-Production

  1. Marc Lougee says:

    Thanks for sharing Tim’s query above, and thanks so much for the great insight following in reply. I do so hope this finds it’s way along to many who wrestle with the obliques inherent in the pre-pro to post workflow…

    Seems my mantra over the last few years has become “educate eh Client”, and with very good reason. In the end, with the production crew knowing what you need from the start, there’s a glimmer of hope things will be less painful when the Big Ball of Troubles rolls into town.

    Great stuff, as is always the case with your tutorials, posts, and articles. Keep up the brilliant work, sir!

  2. Larry Jordan says:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Nothing beats testing for solving problems – it isn’t the sexiest part of editing, but is reduces the screaming and stress a lot!


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