A video of an acoustic performance of Ava B singing ‘Youth Back’ that I directed, filmed and edited six months ago has at last been uploaded to Youtube. You can watch it here:
Ava B is a talented singer with her own distinctive sounding voice and it was really exciting that she agreed to be filmed. My friend Bernard is in the music scene and he approached her (It’s nice to have extrovert friends when you are an introvert). It was great to work with Ava as It’s always a pleasure to work with talented people as you really feel that you’re part of something special.
My close friend and collaborator Mariusz put the music to her lyrics and they met up two weekends before the recording date to work on the arrangement and to rehearse. Then on the day that we hired out Maurizio Panella’s studio (Humber Studios) they recorded and mastered the song in the morning. And then we came to film in the afternoon.
It was shot in half a day with three camera people including myself, Sarah Hewer and Bernard. We shot it on video DSLRs (1 x Canon 5D Mark 2, 1 x Canon 7D and my Canon 550D (Rebel 2ti)) It was done in seven takes with Ava singing over her pre-recorded track. At the start of each take Maurizio would play the song which had a countdown at the start from his mixing desk 5 metres away and then they would sing and play the guitar over the top. The audio that you hear on the Youtube clip is the pre recorded track that I replaced the live audio with. That’s why you can hear Ava B’s phantom back up vocals at certain points. We also have a cheap dolly which was basically a flight case on wheels and some plastic train tracks that we pushed backwards and forwards throughout the takes.
Once we recorded it and returned the equipment in a state of exhaustion I went back to work and copied all the SD card media to the Final Cut Pro computer hard drive and converted it overnight to ‘Apple ProRes HQ’ via Compressor which comes with Final Cut Studio.
Then it was just a case of importing all the clips into Final Cut Pro 7 and marking an ‘in-point’ on Mariusz first guitar strum on each clip. Then I highlighted the 21 different clips (seven takes with three cameras) and right-clicked ‘make multiclip’ from ‘in-point’. A multi-clip with 21 different camera angles was created.
The above clip only shows 16 camera angles as showing 20 would make them too small for this picture.
Then I placed the pre recorded and mastered audio track (finished a couple of days after the shoot) onto the timeline and of course marked an in-point on the first guitar strum. The multi-clip was then assemble edited onto the video track over the top. Playing the multi-clip I could see that each take was roughly in sync with the mastered audio as you would expect if they were singing over the top of it. There were variations of course with one or the other coming in late but I new that I could sync each clip once I had a rough edit down.
Editing multi-cam is really easy once you get past the fact that you’re looking at 20 camera angles at once! I actually found that the computer couldn’t handle 20 streams of HD all in one go so I had to media manage (convert) everything to Apple ProRes Proxy (a smaller file sized codec made for this very problem). Another 6 hours! It’s always best to spend time before the edit synching up and converting files as once the edit starts or is booked the clock starts to tick as hire costs begin and stress rises when you have a client next to you; you’re stumbling around, the computer has ‘the beach ball of death’ and they’re looking at their watch.
Anyway you play the multi-clip in your timeline, setting your viewer window to ‘open’ as opposed to ‘sync’ or ‘gang’, and as it plays you click on each of your favourite shots in the viewer window. This lays down markers which when you stop the playback, turn into your camera angle cuts. So you can edit a 5 minute song in 5 minutes! If you don’t make multiclips then you have to watch each clip individually which a: takes an age and b: means that you don’t see all your shots next to each other for cross reference. It’s a style of editing which owes a lot to vision mixing.
I would always recommend using multicam for everything you shoot. Using numerous cameras means that you’re more likely to ‘get the shot’ and less likely to start a mutiny by doing endless takes trying to ‘get that shot’. When you aren’t paying anyone for their time: always go for more cameras than more time. People will give up one day at the weekend readily but not often both days.
And in the editing process always use multi-clips as it might be a bit daunting before you start but once you’ve done your first multicam edit you’ll never go back. It’s just so quick.
Just remember to do a hand clap for easy synching up (Or have a drum so that you can sync to the drum beat).
Here’s a good tutorial on synching up for multicam editing in Final Cut Pro 7.
And here’s one for the multicam editing process:
Ps: Multicam editing impresses the hell out of clients. Everyone wants an impressed client before you’ve even started…
PPs: Enjoy Ava B’s performance