Tuesday 19 October 2010

Root Hill meets the Digital Scissors

If you've never done any serious film/video editing, then you're missing out on something which can sometimes be gripping, fascinating, and even downright addictive, yet at other times can bore a mere mortal out of its little skull.

Well, I've been doing it for years.  I've tried out... *takes a moment to count* between 6 and 11 different editing programs, depending how you count them, of which my current favourite (if you want the detail) is Sony Vegas.

And right now, I've got five or six hours' worth of footage from Root Hill 2010 under my virtual scalpel, and I'm trying to reduce this rambling mass of frequently-disjointed material into a half-hour compilation of all the best stuff, that will (I hope) flow nicely and have some sense of internal logic, if not actual narrative.  Compared to the scripted-drama editing I was doing earlier in the year, it's a lot harder cutting verite footage, because there's no script to tell you what you're doing.  You just have to take whatever you've got, and try to trim and reshuffle it all into a form that makes some sort of sense.

Last time I did the RH video was in 2008 - I took a break from it last year because of my dissertation work, and left it in the hands of Josh Watson, better known for his short and zany YouTube sketches (see http://www.youtube.com/teabagnose).  In the 2008 video, I took a strictly chronological approach to the editing, which saved some decision-making, but in retrospect I think it might have let the finished product down a bit.  This time, I'm taking a more thematic approach, grouping footage together by place and activity, instead of laboriously chewing through one day at a time.

Sometimes, if you've got the right footage, some bits can be really easy.  E.g. the clip where Sam B claims that he's getting his shoes cleaned during the evening talk, but doesn't have a clue why - which then feeds in very conveniently to the footage of (guess what) Sam B getting his shoes cleaned during the evening talk, with an explanation by the talker.  (BTW, if you weren't there at RH, then you'll have to remain ignorant as to what was wrong with Sam B's shoes, as it'd take ages to explain, and I really can't be bothered to type it all up.  Sorry about that.)

Other times, it's just a mess, and the editing experience starts to resemble what it must feel like trying to disentangle a vast cauldron full of extra-long spaghetti.  With tomato sauce on it.

Of course, the fun bits are the ones where I get to play around with video FX filters, and that sort of thing.  There's a distinct lack of said bits in this project, as it's supposed to be fairly realistic, and I'm not allowed to go off on one and produce some massively arty-farty piece of surrealist film.  Un Chien Surreyou this project is not.  But there is the odd little piece, e.g. the glow-in-the-dark passball footage.  Yes, I filmed the glow-in-the-dark passball game.  And you know what?  It worked.  I've run a little filter on the footage to emphasise the glowy bits, but it basically worked, and so for the first time in its 4-year history, the RH glow-ball game gets featured on the official video.

There will also (hopefully) be some graphical intertitles to announce the beginning of each new thematic section, and designing and making these is a nice little something which I'm saving for later on.  It'll serve as Workflow Pudding, after the endless brussels sprouts of the main editing process.


After typing the previous paragraph, I briefly considered removing the phrase Workflow Pudding, and trademarking it before typing it anywhere again.  But then I decided that this would be churlish, so I'll release it to the public domain instead.  The public domain has given me many wonderful things (the GNU Image Manipulation Program, Audacity, OpenSong, etc...), so it can have my little phrase in return.

*Returns to the main point*

Anyway... for those of you who were at RH, the following should make sense to you: so far I've cut together all my footage from Glowball, LaserQuest (all 1 clip of it), Dorking Leisure Centre, the fire, and Littlehampton, plus some from Crawley (not all of it though).  Haven't got any Box Hill or Concert clips in yet.  If you weren't at RH, then you'll just have to take it on trust that that lot makes some sense.

I may or may not get round to editing a little preview and posting it on YouTube - if anyone has requests ("please can I be in the trailer?", "please can I not be in the trailer?", "I want to see some glowball footage", whatever) then I'm open to considering them.

So... ramblings over.  Back to Vegas 8]

- The Colclough


  1. oooh!!! *jumps in seat in excitement* can't wait! Is a request of just a general trailer enough? :)

  2. well, that makes the vote 1-0 in favour of a trailer. i'm glad you didn't request to not be in it, as that would have eliminated a large chunk of my footage options! :]