Weekend Warlords – Week 1

The first stage of post-production is organizing and importing all the footage into our editing machine, a Dual 2.5 Ghz Mac G5 with Final Cut Pro. It took nearly a whole week, importing a couple hours a night, to import all the footage from 12 MiniDV tapes. That’s 12 hours worth of video, stored nicely on its own 250GB external drive. At the end, there is still about 128 GB left to play around with. And that space will be needed for the render files as the editing progresses.

Because of the sheer volume, I didn’t watch much of the video as it imported. I pull down 20 minutes at a time, which means if there is an import error, I don’t lose more than 20 minutes of time. When you’re out on the field, jostling the camera around in the woods, there are bound to be some breaks in timecode. Overall, I found about a dozen glitches with the footage shot on the Canon GL1 that stopped the process. The XL1 footage came through without a hitch. 

Still, 12 tapes for a weekend shoot is a huge volume for this relatively small project. By comparison, all the footage shot for Rock Paper Scissors – a full-length feature shot over 3 months and coming in at about 81 minutes – filled only 8 MiniDV tapes. Part of that is due to the documentary nature of Weekend Warlords. Since you never know when something worthy is going to happen, you have to keep rolling most of the time. Plus, we had a lot of interviews. Still, from what I saw, we probably didn’t need to shoot so much. You never know this stuff until after it’s done.

I only mention this because I am a huge believer in shooting little more than is absolutely necessary. Of course, this is easier on a planned shoot – when you’re shooting from a script. You shoot the main scenes from your planned angles a few times, then at least a few bits from other angles to cover yourself in case you need it. Then you shoot some random closeups to help with the editing. Too much footage overwhelms — might seem like a good idea at the time (tape is cheap, after all), but it’s exponentially more difficult to wade through all that crap just to find the good shots. 

Couple that with my philosophy that limits actually encourage creativity. You’ll see I’m not really looking forward to week 2, which involves sorting out all this footage – separating it into shots and labeling each one. But alas, the show must go on, and we now enter the second week. Welcome to the late nights. Stay tuned…

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