Pingry School Video Project - Part 2 - Post Production

Originally posted on InspirED School Marketers

This post is part 2 of a series. If you haven't already read Part 1, then I suggest you do that first.

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 4.16.59 PM.png

In an age where things are measured in bits and bytes I think it might be best to explain how much video footage we captured over 4 and half days of shooting in data speak. We recorded and downloaded over 500 gigabytes (GB) of video footage. This isn't even 4k footage. We were shooting in 1920x1080 HD with the exception of the aerial footage, which was shot in 4k to allow room for movements in post of necessary. While that's nowhere near the amount of data that a large commercial production or movie might create, it's still a lot of information to organize and to sort through.

Organizing Assets

The image above is just one small leg of the organization structure in my post production software. We had 4 cameras in total that we used and multiple subjects where we shot with more than one camera across 2 separate campuses. Not only did we have 2 separate campuses, but it made sense to try to organize all footage into lower, middle, or upper schools. Organization of all of this information was crucial. Our organization structure looked like this:

Subject > Campus > Class/Location > Camera > Video File

Once we had everything organized in a logical way, I started going through all 9 hours of video footage and pulling the best shots to be included in the edits.

Beginning The Edit

I began with the edit for Honor & Character, followed by Diversity & Inclusion because I knew these two videos would be the most difficult to pull meaningful clips for. I wanted to make sure that we were using original footage in each video so I decided to use clips that related to diversity and to the honor code exclusively in these 2 videos. When starting an edit, I have a basic vision of how everything should fit together. I start with the voice over and adjust the pacing of the narrator's voice. I edit the narration so that it feels authentic, with natural pauses throughout. I then start layering music options onto the timeline and experiment with different genres and moods until I have a music bed that amplifies the kind of emotion I want to convey. 

Building the Rough Cut

Once I have the narration and music bed in place, I start building the rough cut. The rough cut is really fun to work on because it's the first time you get to see all of your work being put together to form a cohesive story. While I'm building this I'm looking for shots that complement the narration and flow with the music. I do a lot of mixing, cutting and re-organizing during this stage. I try a wide variety of clips until I get the structure that I like.

A view of the rough cut of Honor & Character. It looks chaotic because I've quickly been mixing and matching clips trying to find the right position. I don't move clips to one line until I get the next round of feedback. 

Client Review

Once I had the rough cut built for each video I would send it over to Pingry for feedback. Typically, I plan for 3 rounds of notes/revisions per video. This gives the client plenty of options for making changes to the video without giving an unlimited number of revisions. I've found that unlimited revision options without any additional charge delays the delivery date and adversely affects the final video. It's basic human nature to want to contribute, but unfortunately most people like to wait to give their 2 cents until the final version is ready to be shared. It's at this point that criticism can get a little nit-picky. I don't like the color of that shirt. Or, that student doesn't look happy enough. It's these kind of changes that need to be stated early on if they are really a problem. By limiting the number of revisions, it forces the client and myself to be more thoughtful about each version. Each edit takes time after all, and time is money. For those on a set budget, keeping your edits concise, thoughtful and detailed is the best way to watch your bottom line. Fortunately, the communications team at Pingry had a clear vision and knew what kinds of visuals they needed to avoid. They were aware from the very beginning that these videos needed to show a broad view of what the school was like and they were very clear in communicating that with me through each version.

Establishing Deadlines

Before we began post production, I set up a shared google calendar with deadlines for my delivery dates along with deadlines for feedback from Pingry. This allowed all of us to be on the same page and to have a clear picture of the timeline for delivery. My first deadline for Honor & Character was May 18th. Most times, we would have a week between my delivery date and when feedback/notes were due from Pingry. For 5 videos, the post production took the better part of the summer with all 5 final videos being delivered on August 23rd.

Final Delivery

The final version is where all edits and changes to the timeline have been made and each individual video clip has been color graded. It's also where all audio is mixed for optimal sound quality. Each video is then rendered (which can take up to an hour depending on color adjustments made) and encoded (another 1 - 2 hours depending on length) for web delivery. This is the final video. It's the deliverable where all the planning, money, creative energy, time and hard work come together into a tangible product. It's why I do what I do and hopefully will encourage prospective students and their parents to take a closer look at the Pingry School.