Post-production done!on Jul 11 in Editing, Project ARTICHOKE by Azhur
Post-production on this film has been a test of perseverance! One of the drawbacks of having to postpone our shoot dates meant that our post-production schedule got squeezed from just over a week to five days!
Shooting on RED, the first thing we had to do was convert the footage from the camera into a usable format for Final Cut Pro. Unless you have a souped up machine this process takes a LONG time. So almost like the days of shooting on film we only converted the takes that I was happy with (like ‘printing’ 35mm film!). Even that process took nine hours, which was the majority of our first day of post-production. To pass the time we watched Star Trek,Up and had take away Thai food. It’s a hard life…
But then the hard work did begin. We had to make sure we had a finished cut to send to the sound designer the next day. I always knew that sound design was going to be a hugely important part of the film and giving the designer Anna Bertmark of Attic Sound plenty of time to create the surreal soundscape I wanted.
Myself and editor and co-producer Sahil Gill edited from 9pm till 9am. 12 hours straight through. By the end of it, we were both taking what felt like twenty second naps and having to wake each other up. I’ve done all-nighters before, but after a three day shoot – that was pretty intense!
As the film was heavily storyboarded and the shots were pretty much like jigsaw pieces, the initial rough cut was a fairly easy process. Putting the pieces together essentially. No matter what budget you’re working at, I always believe that having an editor is much, much better than editing yourself. You want someone to see it with a different view point to your own, and find things that I hadn’t thought of – or noticed in the footage we got. This is absolutely invaluable and I would suggest to every director out there who still edits their own work.
The hardest part of editing was getting it down to the running time of 2:20 which was the main stipulation of the competition. Our rough cut came to about three minutes, which doesn’t sound like a huge amount more, but as everything was so inter-connected it was a very tough job of finding what we could cut out. It literally became an issue of frames!
Ultimately we managed to do it – as you’ll see once it goes online, and I’m extremely happy with the finished result.
Next step was the sound design. Once we handed over the locked off cut to Anna, she had a day to herself to start putting the sound together. By the end of that day, she sent over a rough version of which I could give notes to. It’s a really great feeling when you say that you need something surreal happening in the transition sequence for example, but what exactly does that mean? I gave references to Anna of the feeling of waking up from a dream, of how sounds from the real world can seep into your dreams as you slowly wake up. Also the idea that the characters world is falling and crumbling around him. Some of the film references I suggested were Inception, Black Swan, as well as Sunshine which has amazing sound design.
The following day, I spent it down in Brighton at the Attic Sound studios where Anna and myself went through all the final elements. I remember there was one shot that always felt ‘empty’ for me and that’s when Sirhan cocks the gun and we rack focus and reveal the target board. There wasn’t much else happening in the shot and it felt slow watching it back. We didn’t have the time to go back to the edit – nor the option to choose anything else if we did have the time. So the solution came in sound. In the opening shot I’d suggested hearing a train pass. This came purely from seeing the shot in the edit and thinking the girders that are in the frame looked a little like it was a train yard. This helped the narrative too, as you can imagine this secret training area happening somewhere away from the public eye.
I suddenly remembered the scene from the Godfather where Michael Corleone commits his first killing in the restaurant. The camera is tracking into his face, and we hear trains passing the background. It increases the tension of the scene in such a simple way and if you’re going to steal, steal from the best! We placed another train passing sound when Sirhan cocks the gun, and as we rack focus, we hear the train horn blaring. It’s such a subtle thing, but it brings the shot together into the whole sequence and amps up the tension!
I was also really impressed with how Anna interpreted my reference of the character’s world falling apart around him. She used the sound of wood creaking and breaking, like a ship tearing itself apart. Mix that with some distorted metallic groans and I had exactly what I wanted.
The film also needs to played LOUD, so when you get a chance to watch, as soon as it’s up online, don’t forget to turn those speakers up – or use some good headphones!
The final stage of post-production, which we completed tonight, was the grade. Colourist James Willett, whom I’ve worked with before on The Marionette Unit Trailer and The Find has done an amazing job once again. We were very fortunate in having a lot of time to spend on the film, which was a whole day, which is a luxury you wouldn’t get on a feature or TV show – a whole day for 2 minutes 20 seconds.
Now to upload the film to the Virgin Media Shorts website!!