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Principles of Sound and Video Production – Fairytale of New York

Fairytale of New York

Tuesday 21st December 2010

The Fairytale of New York Version

What worked and what didn’t – Fairytale of New York

That’s Lucky

Unlike so many previous filming projects we were extremely lucky, we had an excellent and committed team who worked very hard to make sure that we put together a good short film.

People that we had invited to come on the night actually turned up, in fact we got more people to come than had been expected because of the poor weather condition’s.

We were lucky that the Council refused us permission to cycle through the Bournemouth Pier approach as this helped to produce a surprisingly good film sequence of the cyclists dismounting their cycles and carrying them across the Pier Approach Although we were expecting this and had storyboarded them pushing their cycles past the camera the effect was much better than we’d envisaged..

We were also lucky that I’d made the last minute change to have a camera operated from the back of the car as the footage from this camera by far produced the best shots.

We were lucky in my purchase of the Flip camera just the previous weekend with which the final Flag waving sequence was shot as the Z5 footage was too dark.

Finally we were lucky with the weather, it rained continuously right up until just a few hours before filming was to commence and then suddenly it stopped and remained dry throughout filming.

That’s Unlucky

Ok maybe not unlucky as better preparation might have avoided some of these.

The ambient light was less than anticipated along our planned route for the cameras. In particular the GoPro was unable to work with the available light and produced little footage that was useful. This was a particular disappointment as we had the perfect camera position situated at the top of the cars open tailgate giving a very high viewpoint above the cyclists which would have given the opportunity for cutaways in the final sequence.

The Sony Z5’s were equally poor in low light conditions but this footage was able to be enhanced in Post Production although with the loss of some clarity.

The Glow bracelets although visible in the dark conditions they were not as effective as we’d hoped as they really needed darker conditions in order to show up and of course this would have been too dark for the cameras.

What would I change next time?

Whenever I have to film in the dark again some form of artificial lighting will be required, even if its just torches.

More preparation time and in particular more time with the equipment before filming just in order to familiarise yourself with what can and what cannot be done.

Cover the bases – I think this time around we had just enough people in the team but I think in retrospect another pair of hands to operate a camera would have been very useful.

More time – we were running up against a tight deadline throughout the filming and this meant effectively everything had to be done in a single take. With road barriers about to be closed there just was no time to reset the cyclists for another run with cameras located in locations for high angle and side angle shots which we had planned.

Research the market to see what the most popular keywords are being entered into Google’s search relating to Video’s and Music. Having done some research recently on Google’s Trends pages it appears that the highest number of searches are for Comedy Videos, Celebrities and the Economy.

What’s Next for Fairytale of New York?

Marketing, Marketing and yet more Marketing a Viral Video can only be considered a success if in fact it becomes a Viral Video that is shared by people on the Internet and on other forms of Media. Many company’s use some form of paid for Advertising  to promote their Video but this is outside of the brief for this project.

There is a considerable amount of footage including several minutes on the preparation of the cycles and setting up of the cameras etc. and so it is possible to produce a film of the filming off the Video Viral. Of course there are various alternative edits to explore, the adding of effects etc. If you look at my previous Blog entries there are examples of alternatives including a 30 second version and others with effects added. Also the Team members are also working with the footage and developing their own versions which when uploaded will also have the opportunity to become Viral Videos and will also have the benefit of testing the market to see what works best just by comparing the numbers that have viewed the video.

Fairytale of New York – YouTube general licensing allows me to use this music track (non profit) for this project and so in terms of marketing I thought lets try promoting this video as a music video and see how well it performs against the other edits.

This is a video for Google’s search terms for 2010
[youtube.com/watch?v=F0QXB5pw2qE]

Google’s search terms for 2010

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Viral Video – Editing and final touches

Tuesday 30th November 2010

Editing using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5

Opened the project file from the previous rough edit (Produced on a PC) and immediately noticed that the frame rate had changed, which caused the video to playback at 25% of the captured frame rate. Resetting the speed/duration of the individual clips restored the frame rate but unfortunately removed all the previous editing points which meant that I effectively had to start over. Fortunately however I still had the video sequence produced from the first edit to refer to, which assisted in identifying where to cut the video.

While editing the sequence I looked again to see if there was any improvement possible in increasing the light levels for the individual clips but as the image grew brighter the Blacks became more Grey and there was more evidence of pixilation and graininess.

Adding titles and alternative edits.

Lee Tucker designed an excellent opening image for the opening titles of the video and I put together the end title pages listing the credits for the video. We also discussed with Jason other possible videos that we could produce from all the additional footage. I agreed to look at a sub 30 second version that would include all the key elements of the film mainly the cycle tricks and close up shots. Lee would look at trying to include some of the footage taken with the GoPro camera combining it with unseen footage from the Sony Z5 cameras where possible matching the low light levels.

I plan to suggest to the other team member’s Euan and Michael that they look at producing their own versions as well.

Uploading to YouTube, adding Tags and Keywords (Viral Marketing)

Exported the media from Premiere Pro using the QuickTime option with 720p 25fps Pal format in preparation for uploading to YouTube.

One of the key elements to completing the assignment is to market the Viral Video as effectively as possible in order to achieve the highest number of viewers. It should be possible to identify the most searched for keywords/tags for this type of video and ensuring that these are incorporated into the description and tag location on the Video upload page. We should then look at direct marketing making sure that all the participants in the video are distributed with the video location and ask them in turn to pass on this information to their friends and other interested people. We should also upload links to the video on our Facebook, Twitter and MySpace pages, forwarding onto friends and subscribers.

This Viral marketing option will be enacted upon once all the research on Tags and Keywords has been completed and a marketing strategy agreed, until then I’ve uploaded the video temporarily with no Tags and without a full  description or keywords – although I have made the video public so that it can be embedded into Blogs etc.

The final Viral Video

After a lengthy upload 4 hours over night I discovered that the video conversion process used by YouTube and the original QuickTime file format had resulted in a video that was only 480p instead of the 720p HD format that was expected. I decided to look at alternative formats for exporting the Premiere Pro edit. After discussions with both Liam and other team member’s I settled on MPEG2 as a possible format having checked on YouTube’s website and forums for the best format for uploading video’s onto the site.

I noticed an immediate difference and benefit in selecting MPEG2 as the resulting file size was only 480MB as compared with the QuickTime file which was 1.46GB this also created upload benefits as the file uploaded and was processed by YouTube in just 20 minutes. A quick check after processing confirmed that the video was available in 720p HD format – success!

Please feel free to comment

[youtube.com/watch?v=lJ6J5G4FJkI]
Final version in 720p HD

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Viral Video – First Edit in Premiere Pro

Tuesday 23rd November 2010

Deciding what footage to use

Reviewing the initial experimentation (See previous Blog) using Premiere Pro it soon became obvious that we were in the lucky position of having almost too much footage for a Viral Video. I decided to approach the next trial with the aim of keeping the total run time of the video to be around 3.30 minutes to a maximum of 5 minutes. Looking through all the footage taken and thought that there was in fact two possible productions that could be produced. One concentrating on the actual cycling footage and the other could be effectively the making of a Viral Video.

The soundtrack

[youtube.com/watch?v=qlBSFHiyLkU]

I experimented with several possible soundtracks and in fact spent an additional evening with the iPod running on Shuffle Mode and making notes of suitable tracks that I had not originally considered. Surprisingly although the original soundtrack I had thought of, that is ‘Saint Saéns  – Carnival of the Animals still remained a strong choice, but several other music tracks also became possibilities. In fact the choice of soundtrack totally changed the feel of the video and also the target audience.

My new choice of soundtrack chosen both for it’s pace and it’s slightly aggressive tone was ‘Hash Pipe’ by Weezer, with a run time of just over 3 minutes seemed to fill the requirement very well and this also gave me a target for editing the video footage.

Putting it together

The first edit came together more easily once the time constraints were in place. It all came down to what could be kept using a runtime of the soundtrack of 3 minutes as a guide, it soon became clear  that it would difficult to keep all the footage that I thought was important to the film in and yet still stay within the runtime. After hours in fact the best part of the day I had a rough edit and could then turn my attention to improving the quality of video footage. Due to the necessity of filming at night using available light it was necessary to look at improving the brightness. A mixture of Lighting Effects and adjusting the overall brightness and contrast worked the best, slightly degrading the image quality but a good balance.

What Next?

I’ve had several ideas for adding additional visual effects which will need further investigation and research. One was to insert still images  depicting a sequence in the film but looking like photographs complete with  white borders turning each still a few degrees with the whole sequence moving through 30 degrees. Another was to attempt a sort of time lapse on flag carrier at one point looking like multiple images coming together into one.

to be continued:-

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