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In the First Length, (Awesome insight about how audio can completely change the tone), I noticed the music track is pretty prevalent and almost or at the same level as the character’s audio. Is the music too loud on that video? Is there a formula for background music to character audio levels? Is there a set of “Guidelines” for audio polishing?
You also mentioned your white balance was all over the place in your rough cut; what’s the “go-to” ninja move for universally color correcting, fixing levels, temperature, and white balance? Is it nesting the whole piece when it’s almost complete and then adjusting these things?
I don’t think there is a rule of thumb as far as how loud the music is vs. how loud the person speaking is. I usually let the setting of the playback determine the audio mix. For that example video that I showed in the first video, I had it professionally mixed by my composer/sound mixer specifically for that church’s Sunday auditoriums. He and I worked together at that church so he knows exactly how things sound in the sanctuary, so he mixes those videos specifically for how he knows the sound will be played back live from their sound system.
Audio mixing is not my forte – I almost always hire someone to do the final mix, but I do know that everyone’s audio playback experience is going to be different. If you go back and play that example video on a laptop, and then your desktop w/ speakers, and then your iphone, and then your ipad with earbuds in, you’ll likely hear 4 very different sounding sound mixes. If you know that your video’s main distribution is going to be in your sanctuary on Sunday, it’s best to collaborate with the Sunday sound guy to determine how loud your music vs. people talking levels should be & then keep that in mind for all future videos. If the main playback is for web I feel like there’s two schools of thought: Mix your audio levels so they sound perfect when you have a great set of headphones on – that way the true audiophiles will have the best experience possible and everyone else is stuck with whatever they listen on. Or, face the facts that most people will just be watching your video on their iphone when they’re laying in bed or taking a break at work, and turn the volume on the music up a little louder than your normally would knowing that the phone speakers aren’t good enough to accurately play the fullness of your music track, so you may have to make up for it in volume.
Again, I’m not a sound guy at all, but those are my experiences.
As for the white balance, etc. if it’s all over the place like it was in that video (to be clear, I had my white balance manually set, so the settings weren’t changing, just the actual color temperature of the light coming in was changing because clouds kept rolling through and then going away) I would edit the whole piece and then add b-roll and then do the color correction last. For example in that testimonial I showed in the first video, their story was about 1:45 long, but by the time I added B-Roll you probably only saw about 30-40 seconds of on camera interviews at the max. By that point so much would be covered up that you wouldn’t be dealing with big chunks, so I’d probably look at whatever is the biggest chunk (shade or sunny) and do my whole color grade based on that. So say my biggest chunk of on-camera interview was a 9 second clip when the sun was out, I’d tweak that color correction to where I like it, and then go clip by clip trying to get all of the other clips to look close to that one. And it’s totally OK if you can’t get them all to look the exact same, because if one interview clip is sunny and then you cut to a couple of shots of b-roll and then come back to the interview and it’s not as sunny, no one will remember. Us humans have very short term memory – especially if the story is good – you’d be surprised at what people don’t notice.
When you do a double interview, do you prefer to interview the couple separately? You did in your example and I am curious as to your motivation for that.
Do you do an opening prayer with ALL interviewees? How do you stop someone who rolls off with non-stop talking in a narrative fashion?
Hey Mark, Yes, yes yes! Whenever possible I try to separate couples and do their interviews separately. I do this mainly for two reasons: The first being that I find the couples won’t be nearly as candid when their spouse is sitting right next to them, even if their relationship is great, I find that they’re more self-conscious about what they say and don’t say. The second being that when you film them at the same time only one person is going to be talking at a time (for the most part) which means that 50% of your image is going to be someone just sitting there doing nothing (I’ve found that men are the worst at this – they may be paying close attention to their wife and what she’s saying, but when their looking down fiddling with their hands it looks like just the opposite). On the occasions where I have to film the couple together I always try to have a 2nd camera that is focusing on only getting close-up angles of whoever is talking so we can “hide” the other person whenever we want to in the edit.
As for an opening prayer I usually play it by ear. Typically my preference is to NOT open in prayer. I find that it puts a halt to whatever flow/chemistry I have created up to that point with the person and it breaks things out of a comfortable, casual conversation and turns it into something “official”. Usually I like to pray with the person after we’re done, because after the interview I know what’s going on in their life and have very specific things to pray about and encourage them with. That being said, I’d guess that 25% of the people I interview say “I want to pray first”, so it’s always a case by case basis.
Hi Mark, on the topic of prayer, I try to go to each assignment already having spent time in prayer about it. Even though it’s not praying with that person or team, God knows it and that’s what counts.
Awesome lesson again. I really like seeing how other guys do their editing, so I’m glad you gave us a glimpse into that haha. Picked up on a lot of little tips there, like how ruthless your cuts are as well as the “and, so, but, church name” stuff. I find that I am an interview “hoarder”, in that I get way too attached to things the talent says and I have a hard time giving those things up. So your tips will really help me let go of those things and save time! I also find that I do similar things as you already. For instance, I start with my interview first, and then select the parts I think are gold. And the music, I do the same exact thing! I need something in the background to help put some spirit back into the project. Thanks Chris.
Great to hear John! Thanks.
It just dawned on me. Random question. You know when you are filming someone who is better with narrative information, you tend to ask them introspective questions to balance things out. Well, would you do something similar in a story with someone who has a very relaxed and plain personality, for instance, would you try to “liven up” their edit to balance out their plain personality?
What do you mean by “liven up” the edit?
Faster pace, music, and cutting.
Ok gotcha. Yea I would definitely try to bend it that direction, but if the main person isn’t that compelling on camera there’s only so much you can do before you get to the point where you’re mis-representing the person. I can think of one testimonial I did a few years ago that was similar to this. In that instance I ended up interview 2 other people to supplement his interview and tried to use as much b-roll as possible to liven things up. However, if the person is super relaxed and that’s part of their story, you could also go the other way and play to that strength – focus on a slower pace in the edit, shoot b-roll that feels relaxed and peaceful, etc. I guess it really depends on the goal of the edit and whether that person’s temperament/personality is consistent with the story or is in contrast to the story.
I have another question (Is this a stupid question? I’ll probably think so in a year) – What is your go-to-move when creating a new project? I’ve noticed I can create a new project and then just import and drag that footage right to the timeline and it auto-creates a new sequence but you can also go and make a new sequence and choose your settings. It’s a little overwhelming. Can you tell me the run-of-mill settings you use as a standard?
Also, I use Media Encoder and have basically resorted to using the Vimeo 1080P as my go to filter for exporting. Is this good, bad, or ugly?
By project do you mean sequence? Personally, I create a new project file, then drag and drop all of my files (video, audio, graphics, etc.) into the project bin & then create my sequence by dragging one of my clips down to the new sequence icon and it automatically creates a sequence with the proper settings for that clip. For exporting I have my own .mp4 preset that I use for exporting for the web. I don’t have it handy, but it’s basically the Vimeo 1080p setting, but bump up the bit rate to 30 for the target and 40 for the max.
I never thought of the grammar of a particular person, how it could affect the story, or could distract away from the topic that we are covering. Great Lesson!!
(Just grammar checked my own sentence.)