[GV25 Film Shorts] Editing and the great escape from post-production hell

We had a pretty awesome setup.
We had a pretty awesome setup.

Quick one today! Online voting goes live tomorrow (it was supposed to be today, but stuff happened!) so I’m really nervous about public reception. Here’s how editing for me went. It was sort of, technically, post-production hell since it took place during Seventh Month… right? Am I inviting trouble here? This is not a pantang thing to write, right?

Frame by frame.
Frame by frame.

Rough cut for Golden Village

After shooting “Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore” for the GV25 Film Shorts Competition, it was up to Lee Yan (video editor) to put it together in a coherent fashion. She didn’t have a lot of time to do it, and we were on a tight timeline because we needed to do a workable rough cut for Golden Village to take a look (and make sure we weren’t secretly shooting some incomprehensible art film).

Fortunately, they were approved it quickly – which meant we could proceed to picture lock. Unfortunately, we were…

We had a pretty awesome setup.
We had a pretty awesome setup.

Overrunning

The maximum duration of the short film was 10 minutes. Our rough cut was, however, at 13:59.

At one point while she was editing, I received a warning that it was overrunning at 13 minutes at Scene 7 (out of a total of 11 scenes). Crap.

We had a few round of comments, before we met up to trim it down to 10 minutes proper.

We were editing on 5 September too. Creepy.
We were editing on 5 September too. Creepy.

Editing together on the most inauspicious (or auspicious) day possible

Lee Yan came down to Joyous Learning and we edited in a classroom. So you know how classrooms have projectors, right?

We did a dual monitor setup so we could see how it looked on a projector screen. I’ve never really had the chance to edit on a such a big screen before, and it was one of the many little blessings I’m grateful for (the other being that we had a classroom). Most of the time I’ll see edits on monitors (albeit, large monitors) and the final view on a big screen.

Oddly enough, we edited on 5 September, which was the day that the story takes place in “Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore”. If you’re pantang and you’re very familiar with Chinese culture and you have an almanac… then you’ll know that 5 September is right smack in the middle of the Seventh Month. Although we call the whole month the “Hungry Ghost Festival”, the festival per se is on 5 September (for 2017, it differs from year to year because the dates are derived from a lunar calendar).

I brought snacks. I figured we’d need it. We didn’t finish it though.

But OMG after I think 6 hours of editing together, we finally trimmed it down to 10 minutes. Woo hoo!

The last few minutes are always the worst.
The last few minutes are always the worst.

Graphics

As you can tell from the sneak peek above (or as you might have guessed), there’s a significant animated portion in “Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore”. Desmond (graphics and boom operator) animated this portion despite not having played the game it’s inspired by, which is quite a feat. He turned it around pretty quickly, so every time I sent over a comment and went to sleep, he’d have it ready by the next day.

He also did my opening titles, credits, and some other keyed-on portions which are animated, though not in the “cartoon” sense of animation. Also, my poster too (which I’ll post) (I’m going to post a poster, geddit geddit) – I have a movie poster for this!

Hard at work.
Hard at work.

Colours

So a little background – we had to get the picture lock ready so that Zach (colourist) and Ron (sound editor) could work on it. It was a tight schedule, so they worked on it concurrently so that it would be ready in time for the deadline.

Zach met up with me twice to go through the colours. I’d like to do a before/after comparison to illustrate the difference, but I’m just going to quote one of my crew members who watched it. “Oh it really looks like a movie now”.

I’m not that knowledgeable when it comes to the colouring process, but I inferred that it was pretty labourious because he’d colour each portion of each shot differently, and we had many shots. He also made the backgrounds less flat (since we were shooting on mostly white walls) and gave “Raffles v Utama: Dawn of Singapore” a more cinematic look and feel.

"Do you always use chopsticks with Cheezels?" asked my editor.
“Do you always use chopsticks with Cheezels?” asked my editor.

Sound

I honestly don’t know how to work with sound, but I know it’s important. Just like how I can’t build an air-conditioner but I know it’s important.

Anyway, Ron (sound editor) cleaned up the sound and removed all the background noises and weird sounding bits. The rough cut had wildly inconsistent levels of audio (we took different sets of sound, and we went with whichever sounded better) so it needed to be… I think the word is “mixed”. Sorry sound friends. I really should be more technically proficient.

He also helped me source for free music. I cannot emphasise this enough. No budget already. No budget for music for sure. Luckily free soundtracks exist, or… I think it wouldn’t be as funny if we lacked music.

So Ron and Zach would send me new cuts almost every night, and I’d watch/listen to each cut twice each time they sent it, so I was watching it around four times a night at one point. I think I lost some sense of perspective at one point, and I was just watching out for minute details rather than seeing if the product worked as a whole.

But we did it! Thank goodness. Everything was settled and sent over to Lee Yan a few days before the deadline.

Bribed editor with snacks.
Bribed editor with snacks.

Order of credits

One last hurdle was the order of credits.

Firstly, we had an insanely tiny amount of time for credits. If we did roller credits, they’d look ridiculous since they’d be flying upwards at illegible speeds. So we went for slideshow style credits instead, but Desmond managed to incorporate a roller credits look into it.

Secondly, there are multiple formats for credits. And they’re all legit. And I kept sorting and re-sorting the order of the credits until I gave up and just went with semi-chronological order of involvement.

10 minutes at last!
10 minutes at last!

The birth of SG

We kept the project on two hard disks, Raffles and Utama (what else would I name them right)?

Then I learnt that we ran out of space.

%)*&#@)*$&#*(**(U%#$

So I had to buy a third hard disk with a very specific capacity (not too large or it’d be unreadable, and not too small for obvious reasons) to continue work on it.

And since Raffles and Utama were both unable to hold the project on their own, it resulted in the birth (metaphorically) or dawn (yes, I’m forcing the metaphor) of a new hard disk – named SG.

Which was the final HDD given to Golden Village for the submission.

In the mean time, Raffles and Utama hold incomplete work. Sigh.

Finally!
Finally!

Exporting woes (woah)

Exporting was such a pain.

It took 6 hours to export according to the specifications given. I always thought rendering and exporting would take, at most, an hour.

I was so, so wrong.

So that’s how editing went! It was a tough month because I had to be back by a certain time every night to watch all the new cuts and provide comments.

In my next post, I’ll write about the graphics and animation. Since it’s a bit of a surprise, I’d like to wait until it’s out before I talk about the process.

Voting starts on 10 October, so please vote for me (and keep a lookout for it!). I am so terribly nervous about it.


Follow my GV25 Film Shorts Competition Journey!

[GV25 Film Shorts] So I’m in a short film competition…

[GV25 Film Shorts] I met my mentors (Tree Potatoes)! Rewriting in progress

[GV25 Film Shorts] I found all my cast! Plus more help appeared

[GV25 Film Shorts] Equipment check and feelings of inadequacy (not that kind of inadequacy)

[GV25 Film Shorts] Secretly kancheong during that nobody would laugh during the script read

[GV25 Film Shorts] Prep before the big day and whining about carrying equipment

[GV25 Film Shorts] The very, very, very long shoot days that we pulled through [Part 1 of 2]

[GV25 Film Shorts] The very, very, very long shoot days that we pulled through [Part 2 of 2]

[GV25 Film Shorts] Editing and the great escape from post-production hell

[GV25 Film Shorts] Animating 16-bit Final Fantasy games and mysterious photo shoots for posters

And my hashtag is #RafflesVUtama if you want to check it out on Instagram!


Follow Marcus Goh (me lah) on Facebook and Instagram for more (presumably) good updates!

I’m a Singapore television scriptwriter who’s written for Crimewatch, Police & Thief, Incredible Tales, and Point of Entry. I’m also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find me on social media as Optimarcus and on my site.

Send me an email if you want to get in touch!

 

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