Promo for Princes Trust 'Young Innovators' programme.

Recently worked on filming and editing for The Princes Trust.  The video is a promotional piece for Princes Trust Young Innovators' programme.

"In 2017, Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out independent research with 18 to 30 year olds who were not in employment, education or training, or who were in a form of insecure under-employment. The report explored attitudes towards innovation and entrepreneurship, and found that:

  • 2 in 5 young people surveyed (35%) have had ideas for products and services they think they could sell
  • 54% would like to run their own company
  • 82% view the business sector as difficult to access
  • Only 8% would describe themselves as entrepreneurial

Finding the country's best young innovators

In response to the report’s findings, Innovate UK launched a campaign in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to find the next generation of innovators because their #IdeasMeanBusiness. 

More than 12,000 people got in touch to find out more about the Young Innovators’ Programme.

150 attended 11 Innovation Live seminars across the UK and online, where they received innovative business advice and guidance on applying for support through the programme.

Twenty-four winners were selected from across the country to receive:

  • Tailored coaching and mentoring from an innovation champion
  • Funding to support developing their business
  • An allowance to cover living costs"

The King and Dai - Elvis film I edited won Best Welsh Documentery

We just won Best Welsh Documentary Film at the Welsh International Film Festival. It's been a long road but finally the documentary is finished. We also did a screening at The Cube Cinema and it went down great.

The King and Dai is a documentary about The Porthcawl Elvis Festival. This is the biggest Elvis festival in the world according to Charles Stone, Elvises 1970s tour producer and manager of Kraig Parker, one of the top ten Elvis tribute acts in the world.

Rather than being about the elvis performers the film behind the scenes and finds tensions that in many way mirror the true story of Elvis’s life and his rocky relationship with his manager and the record industry of his day.

The House That Kids Built

Recently finished cutting a 20 minute documenters 'The Schholhouse Project' about school-kids (from the sage of 7) who built a house.  Kids with power tools, what is there not to like.

The project was the brainchild of Dame Sally Coates (headmistress) and Roderick James (founding Director at The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)) and the film was directed and produced by Nathan Hughes Rough Glory Films.'

"We are extremely pleased to confirm that Burlington Danes Academy is hosting and participating in anexciting social projectmthis year. The innovative 'Schoolhouse Project' involves a team of staff and students working closely together to build a fully-functioning timber house on the academy grounds.

The challenge explores a practical and alternative approach to education, with the participating students gaining a wealth of valuable hands-on experience.The project demands the development and application of a range of important personal attributes, such as communication, confidence, drive and discipline, alongside an array of essential technical skills."  http://burlingtondanes.org/life-school/schoolhouse-project#sthash.kVEtHeXh.dpuf

Notes from a Editor to Camera People

I was recently asked for feedback from a Cameraman from and editors perspective for a job I was editing.  I have also asked other editors for things that help in the edit that camera people can do.  Here are some notes.  Following there should get you better footage and help you get hired again/build a reputation.

A general point is that if you are working with a director it is your joint responsibility IMHO to get cutaways/general views (GVs).  You should always check with the director if you have not been asked for them/got them.  Not having good/appropriate GVs is the main reasons that edits are difficult and time consuming.

Try to think in terms of sequences, this is why it is important for you to know the story that is being told.  What is the beginning (often a wide establishing shot).  What details shots, GVs, actuatiy shots (shots of people doing stuff) will be useful as cutaways during interviews.  Is there something that can be used as an end shot.

This is also important for cutaways.  Short sequences of cutaways work well.  Just a single cutaway to cover a curt normally looks contrived.

The maybe not obvious but very useful.

  • If recording sound film 20-30 seconds in each location when no one is talking (if possible), ideally a minute.  This 'wildtrack' or 'room tone' is extremely useful when editing to allow the interview to breath (i.e. adding short gaps) or under photos or general non interview footage.  This can be combined with shooting a 'portrait' of the contributors that are sometimes useful.
  • This also applies when getting GVs/cutaways.  Always have the microphone on and record sound (be good if audio levels are set but for this auto levels is often OK), 
  • Non sync shots of interview are useful (shots without the mouth in shot).  Be creative.  Detail shots of eyes, wide shots from interesting angles etc.  You can just get the contributes to generally chat after interview (with director) as idealy you don't want to do this during the actual interview.
  • If you are shooting with a DSLR/steeped aperture photo lens changing the aperture during an interview makes the exposure jump and is not usable.  A decent Variable Neutral Density filter solves this problem but don't use a cheap one (is softens focus and introduces colour cast).  LCW ones are great and not expensive.
  • Get an establishing shot of the exterior of the building/where the action (i.e. wide shot) and interview is happening.
  • interview POV (point of view) shots are useful (shot in the direction contributor is looking).
  • This can be tricky (and is a joint responsibility between you band director) but listen to interview and make a list of pick up shots you need (shots of stuff they are referring to).  Generally trying to get these (if they are close) by pointing the camera at them during the interview is a bad idea as you may miss crucial facial expression.
  • Coverage is key.  Get lots of cutaways and each cutaway should be at at least 2 different shot size from same direction. Not having cutaways is the thing that makes and edit difficult.

Obvious to most people but mentioning for the not so experienced

  • Use a tripod whenever possible for interviews and static general shots.  Does not have to be a heavy or expensive tripod (if you are travelling light) for static locked off stuff.  If not shoot slightly wide (i.e. 5-10%) so the shots can be stabilised in the editing software and framing maintained.
  • If you are hand holding (especially with heavy kit) there is a tendency to point the camera down (to rest your arms) as soon as contributor has finished speaking.  Wait at least 3 seconds (preferably 5).  You may get useful facial expressions and having a few seconds after talking is very useful (if not essential) for pacing in edit.
  • Re-framing when possible can be very useful.  Either do it quickly when there is an opportunity or slowly if there is not (slow zooming can be used in vision).  Bigger shot sizes as interview gets more intense are good but generally changing shot size during interview will make it easier to add cuts without using cutaways.
  • If you are not working with a sound recordist get away from where people are talking and record general wildtrack if you have time.  This can be combines with getting very wide shots but does not even need a useful image.
  • Getting nod shots/listening shots of interviewer and interviewee is useful (with just them in shot from same angle). Can be very useful.
  • Tuck microphone cable inside clothing.
  • Other details shots (hands/stuff they are talking about) is useful.  Avoid the groin! believe me I haver see this actually used (badly) in broadcast.
  • General shots with people in them are very useful, again ideally on a tripod.

Beginners guide to Digital Cinema Packages (DCP)

DCPs are how Digital Cinema Servers play films. a DCP is the digital equivalent of a 35mm film print. They are actually a directory/folder with a number of files in them. They are generally loaded onto the server (a process called ingesting) by plugging in a Hard Drive (USB2 or a faster CRU drive).

I offer a very affordable Digital Cinema Package (DCP) Mastering/Creation service as it is very time consuming and prone to errors (DCP problems are the main reasons film festivals have problems playing films).  If you want to create your own DCP-o-Matic is a great free piece of software but allow yourself a lot of time (several days) and find a cinema you can test your DCP in.

The DCP actually contained a JPEG 2000 for each frame and a uncompressed WAV file for each audio channel.  JPEG 2000 holds a better quality image than standard JPEG but is very processor intensive to create.  Even on a fairly powerful computer (Quad core 3Ghz) it can take over 15 hours to create the 70 minute DCP.  DCPs contain a lot of data and gives a extremely high quality image.  A typical feature length film is over 150 gigabytes.  There is a quality setting in a lot of the software.  a 'bandwidth' of 50 gives quality similar to blu-ray and a 175 is roughly what feature films use.  It is no quicker to produce a DCP of a lower quality but the files are smaller (the bandwidth is Mbps so a 175 bandwidth gives a DCP more that 3 times larger).  50 does have the advantage that a feature length film can be distributed on a large memory stick.

INPUT FORMATS

To create a DCP you start with a video file (either with the audio tracks included or separate audio files or files).  Below the various video and audio formats are discussed.

VIDEO

DCP creation software can generally accept a variety of formats.  The format you should use depends on the source material the film was shot on.  For very high quality source (shot on Red or Arri Alexa) it is worth starting with 10 bit uncompressed 'YUV' video.  For other top end cameras (including Canon C300) prores 422 HQ or Avid DNxHD 180 are appropriate.  It is possible (but not ideal) to use H.264 (.mp4) but you should use a very high bitrate. 

AUDIO

Again DCP software can generally accept most popular audio formats but as they use the below format it is a good idea to start with it:

Format: Waveform Audio (WAV)
Audio codec: Uncompressed
Sample Rate: 48000 Hz
Channels: stereo (or 5.1, in which case a file for each channel can be provided)

Sample size: 24 bit

It is best to supply a audio files mixed to -12 Db or even a little lower.  If the audio level is too high you will get pooping (where the audio breaks up and crackles).  The Dolby audio decoders tend to have a 'fader' level ranging from 0-10.  If your mix is too low (even by a few Db) it will not be possible to play loud enough.  It can be tricky to get it right as -18 will probably give you a far too low level even at a fader level of 10.  If your mix does not peek between -12 and -13 some DCP authoring software can adjust the level but you need to know accurately what Db the mix peeks at.

COLOURSPACE/GAMMA

The colourspace refers to how many colours (and what colours) are used for the video.  Computer monitors normal use sRGB but broadcast monitors use Rec.709 (or even P2 for high end cinema).   Gamma refers to the brightness of the image (this is a oversimplification as it uses curves but it gives the general idea).  If set up properly a Gamma of 2.2 is generally used for computer monitors and Rec.709 also often also uses 2.2.  Digital Cinema uses Rec.709 but has a Gamma of 2.6. The DCP creation software will convert to Rec.709/2.6 but it is important to know what the source material is so the software can be set up.  If you made the video yourself on a computer monitor sRGB/2.2 is best to use.  If the video was properly graded the person doing the grading should be able to tell you.

FRAME RATE

24 is the best framerate for Digital Cinema but 25 is also an option (see Framerate section of Delivery Options Below).  The DCP software should be able to do frame rate conversion for you and this should work well. This is done a lot for broadcast TV (i.e. most films are converted from 24 to 25fps) and you will not notice.  Ideally you should shoot in the same framerate as you edit and create the DCP in but simple conversion is very rarely noticeable (and only for films with a lot of fast movement such as action films).   The best option is to export the video file in the framerate you want the DCP to be so you can view the film at the new framerate and make sure there are no issues.

Lastly if different files are delivered for video and audio they must be exactly the same length (i.e. if they are lain down in a editing system they should be the exactly the same length).  It is a lot safer to start with a single file with audio and video. If the sound mix was done in a separate program than the video was edited it is easy to accidentally to get slightly different length files (partly as video works in frames and audio in time).

DELIVERY OPTIONS

There are two types of DCP, the original interop and a newer SMPTE.  interop only suportes 24fps but only newer DCP servers support SMPTE (which can support other framerates such as 25/30).

What type of DCP you create will depend on where you are distributing it and the framerate of your edit. If it is for a specific case you should ask them what server they use and if it supports 25fps (if your source is 25)  and create a SMPTE.  24fps Interlop is the best if you are delivering to multiple unknown venues but if your source material is 25fps SMPTE 25fps is probably the best option if you can confirm the venue support it. It is possible to put two versions on the same drive so for 25fps material a 25fps SMPTE and a 24fps Interlop is a good idea.  It will mean 2 DCPs need to be created so it may cost twice as much as it takes doubled the processing time.

ENCRYPTION(KDM KEYS)

It is possible to have encrypted DCPs but these will require a key to be sent to each venue which unlocks the DCP for a specified number of days (The process also requires the venues to send the ‘certificate’ for their server to you).   There will geenraly be a cost for creating eatch certificate (£10-£20).

A much simpler option is to not encrypt the DCP and this is probably the best option unless you are doing a full cinema release. Some independent cinema releases are distributed uncompressed as it is very difficult to turn them into a format that can be played without a full digital cinema setup (costing over £20,00).  Some film festivals will only accept uncompressed DCPs.

MEDIA

There are a number of options here:

  • USB stick - This is best for short films
  • Portable USB Drive - This is a good budget option for longer films.  Portable (2.5") drives are populer as they are smaller so cheaper to post.
  • CRU Drives - These drives allow material to be ingested into the server quickly but are more expensive.

As a side note all DCP servers can read Linux formates drives  (although some can read Windows NFS drives).  These have to be specially formatted to a specific Linux type.  USB sticks are generality windows formatted (vFAT/FAT32) as should be able to be read on all servers.

Formatting Linux drives requires running Linux and is covered half way down http://www.knuterikevensen.com/?p=437

Converting DCPs to MP4 (Making MP4 from DCP) BAT file

It is possible to convert unencrypted DCPs to H.264 MP4 (or other types of video files).  This guide is for windows.

To do this you first need to run cmd.exe.  You will be in your users home directory (e.g. c:\Users to start a windows shell). When started you need to create some directories

mkdir work

cd work

mkdir mov

cd mod

mkdir jpg

You then need to create a file called dcp2mp4.bat in the work directory you just created wit hthe following content.

del mov\sound.wav
del mov\movie.mp4
del /Q mov\jpg\*.*

@echo off

echo video file = %1
echo audio file = %2
echo FPS        = %3

pause

ffmpeg -lowres 0 -i %1 -q:v 2 mov\jpg\/image%%06d.jpg
ffmpeg -i %2 -y mov/sound.wav
ffmpeg -r %3 -i mov/jpg/image%%06d.jpg -i mov/sound.wav -ac 2 -ab 256k -crf 18 -y mov/movie.mp4

You also need to put ffmpeg.exe in this directory.  It is downloaded from http://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/. You need to
download the 'static' version.  It consists of 7z archive which has 'bin' directory that had the exe.

To convert the DCP from the work directory run dcp2mp4.bat with the following command line paramaters:

  1. Full path of the ...video.xmf
  2. Full path to ...audio.xmf
  3. Frames Per Second

The first two are in the DCP file system.  If you drag and drop them from file manager to the command line it will put add the path and file to the command line.

Encoding for Prores on windows and AVC-Intra

Been using Premiere Pro on Windows and one thing that is missing is Prores.  There are alternatives (such as Avid  DNxHD) but they tend to be handled as 32bit in Premiere.  Another good alternative is XDCAM using the AVC-Intra codec which is excellent quality and handled well in Premiere (Choose XDCAM preset you want and change the codec).

Prores is very popular and often asked for as a high quality delivery format for final output. The good news is it is now possible to encode it in windows using an Open Source utility called FFMPEG.  There is even a GUI front end for this, AnotherGUI.  This is obviously not supported by apple but Legally it may well be fine as reverse engendering Prores may not be a problem. 

I dont want to get into trouble by saying it is 9or is not) legal, there is a discussion at www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/kgqdd/apple_prores_codec_reverse_engineered/ if you want to learn more.

FFMPEG can be downloaded from ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/.
AnotherGUI can be downloaded from www.stuudio.ee/anothergui/.

How to export video fast from FCP 7 for roughcut or final product

OK, this may be a bit late in the day as FCP 7 is on its way out but I recently did a conference where I had to export multiple videos for showing in the evening.  I have also been very frustrated that is it not possible to export a roughcut quickly. 

The answer is to export a reference file and use MPEG Streamclips to do the encoding.  A reference file is a small quicktime file (.mov) which simply points to the original media without having to render anything, it is generally quite small. As it is pointing to the media files can only be used on the computer it was created on.  MPEG Streamclips is an excellent piece of free software that can encode video quickly.  It can Q up a number of files in a 'batch' and even process multiple files simultaneously.  Below I will go over the steps necessary.

To create a reference movie.

  1. Load up the sequence you want to export and mark In and Out points.
  2. Select file->Export->Quicktime Movie... (or simply type CMD+E).
  3. in the window  that comes up make sure 'Make Movie Self-Contained' is not selected and click on OK.
  4. You will then select where you want to put the file, creating it will take between a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the length of your video.

Encode the video using MPEG Streemclips (single files at once)

  1. Downloading and installing MPEG Streamclips is easy, just go to http://www.squared5.com and install the program.
  2. Once installed run MPEG Screanclips and drag the file created above into the main window.
  3. To export file select File->'Export to MPEG-4...' (or 'Export to  AVI...' or whatever option you want, MPEG-4 is a good format to use, AVI will work on older computers).
  4. You will get a window pop up, the defaults are generally good. If you want to create small high quality files you may want to use the 'Limit to Data-rate' option.  For HD-720 2000 is a good data-rate, for HD-1080 3000 is what you should use (if you are using AVI not MPEG-4 add 50% to the data-rate).
  5. Click on 'Make MP4' (or AVI) and select file.
  6. It will encode files significantly quicker than FCP 7 and you will probably be able to continue editing (depending on how powerful your computer is).

Encode the video using MPEG Streemclips (multiple at once)

  1. Downloading and installing MPEG Streamclips is easy, just go to http://www.squared5.com and install the program.
  2. Once installed run MPEG Streamclips and select List->'Batch List' (or CMD+B) to get the batch list window.
  3. Click on 'Add Files...' and select the files you wish to compress (if you have all the reference movies in the same folder you can easily select them all.
  4. Click on the 'To Batch' button to add files to list.
  5. You will get a pop up to select what format to encode to.
  6. Select 'Export to MPEG-4...' (or 'Export to  AVI...' or whatever option you want, MPEG-4 is a good format to use, AVI will work on older computers).
  7. Click on OK.
  8. Select folder you wish to put the output files (generally it is a good idea to use a different file from the reference movies'.
  9. Click on Select button.
  10. You will get a window pop up, the defaults are generally good. If you want to create small high quality files you may want to use the 'Limit to Data-rate' option.  For HD-720 2000 is a good data-rate, for HD-1080 3000 is what you should use (if you are using AVI not MPEG-4 add 50% to the data-rate).
  11. Click on 'To Batch' button and Q file.  The files will be added to the Batch Q.
  12. To start processing click on Go button.
  13. There is a drop down that 'Simultaneous Tasks' which allows you to select how many to process at once.  On a modern laptop you should be able to do 2/3.  Experiment, watch the CPU usage in 'Activity Monitor' and as you add tasks both should go up until you reach 100% CPU or the maximum disk throughput.
  14. It will encode files significantly quicker than FCP 7 and you may be able to continue editing (depending on how powerful your computer is).

Hopefully this is useful, any questions just ask,
Ben

Interview with Berle Cherney on using Still Photographs in Video

The below are notes from an interview I did with Berle Cherney who spent over 20 years creating stills sequences in film and video, working with many people including Ken Burnes.  This seems to be a dying art and his work is fantastic, so I thought it was with sharing his insight.

Compose shots bountifully and Don’t just use straight lines. ‘If you see a nicely shot film one of the things you will notice is that every frame,.. 99% of those frames will be beautifully composed. So the cameras following the action or the actions following the camera, one or the other and the camera person is trying to make every frame have key information in... So if you want to do a move from point A to point B and there’s a curve in what you want to see, ... maybe you’d want to start some-one's face and maybe come across and down them because I might have a cane in the hands and go to their feet and there’s a dog down there and stop on the dog. Some people would start at point A and make a straight line to point B without caring where they cut some-body's neck or they’ve got a little bit of someone nose in their shot. It’s straight line and it doesn’t follow the thing, so you should be carefully following with your brain....I would let the image direct as to how the move is going to be made and more likely there would be a curve and it some-place it would not be a straight line.

See stills as a scene not a photograph. I think there’s two ways of thinking of the stills especially if they are photographs, documents can be the same thing, one-way of thinking of them is that you’re looking at a photograph. When you’re looking at its photograph it’s quite different then if you’re looking at the still as a scene in the film. it’s either a scene or an object...leave the black stripes at the edges then looking at photographs... if the camera is always inside the photograph you’re looking at a scene, it’s almost as if the cameras there taking pictures of the real scene and if you’re panning around doing it wisely and sensitively you want the audience to feel like they are there. its guiding through the picture saying look at this look at that and that’s one thing that film-making does it guides the viewer to what the creator of the film want them to look at. It should be done in a sensitive way that kind of seamless, the audience shouldn’t think about it, it should Just happen and it should make the communication clear.

Zooming in works well. As a general rule unless something really great to discover by zooming out I think zooms in are more productive because it focuses the audiences attention on what you want them to look at. With zooms out good as going away from person unless you want to see the atmosphere in the room they are in if that adds some information to the film can be very effective....if you watch really well done feature films you would be surprised how often there is a very very slow zoom going on, if you don’t notice it that’s good because you’re not supposed to be noticing it you’re supposed to be being drawn into the film and only thinking about the story that is being told. You almost have to watch the edge of the frame to notice it...I think that technique works very very well and even if someone is being interviewed doing a very very slow zoom into the face and every once in a while of course you have to backup up.

More pans than zooms. If you’re on a set and you are directing the camera movement you would have very few zooms, you would be mostly panning from one thing to another or may be a slow zoom in on something.

Keep It Moving. Just small little things to keep it moving to keep the audience attention. There’s almost always something going, like maybe waterwheel, if the camera is static there will be almost always something moving in the scene and if there is nothing moving in the scene the camera will be moving maybe only slightly. This for me is good film-making

Don’t stop/start from nothing, cut in on a move. II do not like starting with the static shot doing the move and ending with a static shot, I don’t think that well crafted stuff although it’s absolutely appropriate time for the most part I would prefer to cut it while it’s moving and or leave it while it’s moving. I think that people get into patterns of thoughtless patterns. it should be a combination of things and it should be dictate by the content and what’s proceeds the shot and what the next shot is going to be.

Fill negative space. If you have one shot with the interest on the left hand of this frame the neck shot could have the interest on the right-hand side is frame so you’re filling in the negative space, the next shot fills in the negative space of the previous shot. If you want the most flexibility the move should be fairly slow.

The energy can be in the editing not speed of moves. If somebody wants a fast piece (or a) quick section it is not so much the speed of the moves than the speed and energy of the editing. (it would be better to do in the cutting than to inject the the pace with the speed of cutting) yes, that’s what I think. Of course you can mix slow and fast moves in there but that’s not the main ingredient to make a fast-paced sequence.

Variety is the spice of life. One thing that was good about your pieces was a lot of variety in what you did. ( rotating is very interesting because something you don’t normally see in films but it does look cinematic) where actually you do see it quite a lot in films.’ Berle Cherney