Need Help Becoming a Post-Production Master - Resources?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Ahheck01, May 26, 2011.

  1. Ahheck01 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I'm currently using Final Cut Pro 7, and although I've been using it for a couple years now and have taught myself the basics, I have a LOT to learn about post production.

    I'm a one man show video production manager at the company I work for. Just purchased a maxed out i7 27" iMac (upgraded to 16gig RAM aftermarket), and will be going with Final Cut Pro X when it comes out.

    The thing is, I'm almost 100% self taught. I want to be fast, efficient, but most importantly, I want the finished product to make it clear to both the untrained and the trained eye that I know what I'm doing. I want to do a great job for the company I work for.

    Since no tutorials etc are out yet for FCPX, I figure I should wait on app specific learning. What can I learn in the meantime - what resources should I tap into? Preferably free, but this is my profession, so small investments are just that - investments.

    Many thanks!
     
  2. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

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    #2
    You should never base a career off what software you use. Instead, learn about what it takes to be a good editor and study the edits of classic movies and documentaries. Ask yourself why they are so good. Read a good book or two on editing. Watch a documentary or two about the edit process. There are a bunch of good ones out there.

    Software comes and goes, but a great editor uses it only as a tool. That being said, FCX is not even out yet and I imagine it will take a good year or two before it becomes a standard in the pipelines of high end facilities... if ever. In the meantime, there is Avid Media Composer, Flame, Inferno, etc., etc. Pick your tool. A decent editor will know the work flow of several packages. An excellent editor knows all the tricks of the trade, knows how to select and cut, and as for software, knows it inside and out (including all the keyboard shortcuts) plus is technically proficient about codecs, bitrates, formats, and all the other technical terminology. Can you explain the difference between 4.4.4, 4.2.2, 4.1.1, 4.2.0 color spaces? Progressive vs Interlaced? Broadcast color vs web? The list goes on... hopefully you get the idea.
     
  3. Ahheck01 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Well, it sounds like the books and documentaries you mentioned are where I need to start. Any specific recommendations? That would help tremendously.
     
  4. Richardthe4th macrumors regular

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    #4
    Start with Film Art by Bordwell/Thompson

    Golden oldie with good tips: On Film Editing by Dmytryk
    Nice to read: In The Blink Of An Eye by Walter Murch
     
  5. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #5
    Post?

    I could be wrong but Post Production wouldnt that include dealings with different Media Output? Just wondering cause Ive many hats here and in my experience, post isnt just finishing its getting it to the right media for the client :) I dont mind being corrected like I said many hats ;)
     
  6. smokescreen76 macrumors member

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    #6
    I think you're approaching it from the wrong angle. Being an editor and being a master of Post Production are two different things. I know many top editors who know almost nothing about video formats and delivery requirements. But they know everything there is to know about telling a story and editing together a TV show or film. And I also know a few great post production technicians who wouldn't know the difference a ripple edit and an overwrite.

    You can learn a lot through books and internet forums but you can't beat being in a environment surrounded by people with more experience than yourself. People you can ask questions and watch. If your the smartest person in the room... who are you going to learn from?
     
  7. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #7
    So true. In my experience, Ive been humbled and ridiculed from the best and it didn't stifle my abilities, I learned more that way.
    Making mistakes is almost the best thing you can do in this business.
    I myself had the displeasure of working in a local Gov run television station for a year :p
    I also teach FCP at local college in the evenings and you wouldn't believe the stories I hear from the trenches.
    Experience is where you get the brunt of mastering Post Production.
     
  8. THX1139 macrumors 68000

    THX1139

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    #8
    Big thumbs up for Film Art! That was the chosen textbook for a media aesthetics class I took in college. The book was so interesting that I found myself reading past the required chapters. Any book that references Bladerunner, Citizen Kane, Collateral, Star Trek, Mad Max, Silence of the Lambs, Top Hat, and many of the golden oldies, can't be bad.
     
  9. gameface macrumors 6502

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  10. Ahheck01 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Well, I appreciate all the replies.

    The fact remains - I work from home, and am alone. I don't have anyone that I can turn around and ask for critiques. I am the smartest person in the room unfortunately (unless there's something my cat Maximus hasn't told me).

    So I'm left to my own experience/time as gameface mentioned. That said, I'll look at getting the mentioned books. What online resources would you all recommend?

    As for editor vs post production, in my role, I must do both. I'm literally the script writer, the director at our shoots, occassionally one of the camera men, I take the raw footage and put it into final cut to edit, I cut it all up and put it all in order, create transitions and correct color balance. I then put together an attractive DVD menu, and burn a master DVD to get shipped off and duplicated.

    So I suppose I'm open to anything that would help. If I've been told I have a strength, it's how I absorb information. I'm a very quick learner, and my retention is very high, especially if I immediately apply it, which I have the luxury of being able to do since I'm in charge of most of this process.
     
  11. gameface macrumors 6502

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    #11
    LOL, that's a lot more than post. Post is everything after it is shot. You are pre, production and post. That's a hell of a load, no wonder your head is spinning.
     
  12. Ahheck01 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Yeah, I realize that, but I feel like post is where I could benefit most from learning right now.

    You spin me right round, baby. Right round.

    Like a record, baby. Right round, round, round.

    :(
     
  13. Ahheck01 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    I just ordered film art ($0.50+$6.99 for express shipping) and Blink of an eye ($5+$3shipping) FYI. Thanks for those recommendations - open to more.
     
  14. gameface macrumors 6502

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    #14
    The Filmmaker's Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age
    by Steven Ascher

    I read it back in 2001 as part of my course curriculum but it was updated in 2008. It was a great book then so I assume it is even better with the current updates. It's been out since 1984 so make sure you get the current version.
     
  15. Ahheck01 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Just bought that too.
     
  16. Richardthe4th macrumors regular

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    Enjoy reading.

    For background information about FCS and some more, read KenStone's tips. Very well documented.

    http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/fcp_homepage_index.html

    After that, you can go tho the Creative COW, but for now you have enough. Start with reading you're books and Ken Stone.

    One last tip: be organized. It seems the opposite of creative, but if you are not organized, you will drown in disaster. Organize you're projects on harddisk in seperate folders. Organize you're clips in bins/sequenses etc. When doing production, have a system about you're shotlists, document the result of every take etc. When I did production of a 105 min drama, we ended up with hundreds of pages about the takes. But we really needed them in post (well, everybody will tell you that).

    Good luck
     
  17. Gator24765 macrumors 6502a

    Gator24765

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    #17
    Sorry to highjack this thread a bit.. but I am in the same boat, I have only learned the basics. I am looking for some resources that will be beneficial to me as well as ahheck01.

    Can anyone recommend and great resources for all of the technical stuff (i.e. codecs, exporting, color correction, basically how to make it look real good)

    Second, resources on learning after effects. AE is a requirements for almost 85% of the jobs I am applying for.
     
  18. Ahheck01 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Well it's not hijacked too much - these are all things I'd like to know as well :) Welcome to the thread! Lots of helpful people here so far, let's see what they have to say!
     
  19. gameface macrumors 6502

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    #19
    For anything Adobe I like the "Classroom in a book" series. They take you step by step from beginner ideas further to more advanced concepts that build upon what you learned previously. I haven't used them since 2002 or so but again, I assume they only got better.

    After Effects is an extremely broad application with a very large tool set. Best way there is to learn the basics and figure out as you go how to use those techniques. I have used it professionally for ~10 years and still consider myself an intermediate/professional user compared to many.

    Sometimes on the job you have to learn as you go. I have never told a client I couldn't do something. I always said yes to get the job and taught myself unfamiliar concepts by working on their projects. I keep getting plenty of work so this hasn't failed me yet and I see many other freelancers doing the same. Asking questions is an important part of this business. no one knows everything about every aspect. ;) But you do absolutely have to have working knowledge of it to pull that kind of stuff off and I think the classroom in a book will give you a great jumping off point.
     
  20. Babybandit macrumors regular

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    #20
    I'm a student myself, and I think there's nowhere better to start than watching Cutting Edge. Buy it. Watch it as many times as you want. You'll always get something out of it. Trust me. And Personally, I think another great place to start is looking at what other's have done. One good source is Peter Jackson, who have stuffed the Lord of the Rings DVD with basically everything you need from Pre-production to Post-production. Watching him do it is very refreshing, and I've learnt a lot (Hopefully, you will too.).

    What's most important however, is evaluating your work and workflow after watching theirs. What do you think you can improve on etc.
     
  21. gameface macrumors 6502

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    #21
    ^Probably the worst advice in this thread. You learn by doing, not watching. You know I saw the goodfellas reverse-tracking shot a bunch of times (Irmin Roberts Vertigo shot). I read about how to do it. I tried it 15 times and didn't get it right until the last take. Just because you see/hear/read how to do something, you don't know how to do it until you do it.

    And that movie is *****. Really, it is 100% *****. It's not a training video and was never billed as such. Entertaining? Partially, but reading something educational for 1.5 hours will be a hell of a lot more helpful than watching that.
     
  22. Babybandit macrumors regular

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    #22
    I might not have explicitly stated it. However, I didn't mean that you just watch with no practical work. Obviously what make things work is to do some actual work, but I'm speaking from personal experience.

    - Sometimes, having seen someone work professionally can help you consciously and subconsciously apply those to make your own work better. That is most true with the Lord of the Ring's features on sound. Because it was so detailed in how everything was done, I was able to draw on some of those ideas when I worked on my own projects.

    - I agree that Cutting Edge isn't a 'step 1, step 2' instruction manual. But like above, some directors and editors are able to explain things so well, that you are able to learn the trade and compare their method to yours for critical evaluation and improvements. A key in all creative work. Evaluate, Improve.

    Obviously, I expected that he will continuously work from Pre-Production to Post Production. Hence, I didn't specifically mention that. Rather, I believe that watching these will help him evaluate his methods and understand what he does well and what he could improve on. Which I'm assuming is what he desires.
     
  23. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #23
    Inspiration does help. When I got into SFX at first (eons ago) I had no clue other than what Ive read in magazines and this was way before Ive heard of Cinefex. Then Jurassic Park came out and I got to see the inner workings with Steve "Spaz" Williams during an TV doc on it. After watching the clips then digging up more clips of other pros out there as well as practical learning while in the field, it really helped me move past the head scratching "now how the heck did they do that?" moments ;)
    You cant beat being thrown into the deep end on your own and expected to get out. Trust me those are the projects I really learned to cut my teeth in ;)
    Just dont lose focus and find the little inspirations time to time.
    Since I was first an animator, watching docs and reading up on the old Disney's nine old men re-kindles me ;)
     
  24. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #24
    Learn After Effects.

    I wish I had spent more time learning After Effects and less time learning FCP + Premiere.
     
  25. mBox macrumors 68020

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    #25
    Never too late to learning anything :) I started with a few 3D apps, then motion design along with nle. But the ops question is mostly video post production.
    most of my "post" work is burning BD/DVD. I havent made a digital cut to tape in years. so that aspect is gone and maybe burried for good.
     

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