Alex started the process very early. Every time we came back to campus with some material, he was quick to have it on the timeline. Due to the fragmented nature of the shooting, the editing was equally as fragmented. There was never a point throughout the editing process where anything felt wholesome, including the rough cut we created.
If truth be told if you were to total all of the hours spent editing it wouldn’t add up to a great deal. Due to the nature of the film there was no dialogue to sync with the images so once they were on the timeline, at most, they would be needed to be moved later on. We gave ourselves 12 minutes on the time line and mapped out a structure on paper – placing footage in the estimated place in the film. The edit would be made up of so many fragmented sections that it seemed impossible to make progress. I would come in with Alex for a few hours here and there and just try and make as much headway as possible. It didn’t take long to assemble the archive and filled the first section of the film with photo’s and footage that was relevant to what Kay would be narrating. This was the easy part and we were twiddling our thumbs for a while.
The first notable advancement was after we returned from the dance shoot. After a day of rest I gave Alex the footage and he preceded to arrange it. Rather than sit with him we decided that it might be useful to let him have a play and see what he could come up with. We met the next day and the results were amazing! The first assembly of the dance sequence was almost exactly as I wanted but there were a few issues to overcome. We shot using GH4 and Black Magic so the footage didn’t match. The Black Magic was more raw whilst the GH4 had more saturated colours. On top of this, some of the takes from the Black Magic set ups were not focused as much as we’d like but the ones that were featured inferior performances of the routine by the dancers. The GH4 gave us a get out clause but we would have to hope that we could match the colours in the grade. For now, we cut the sequence using only the Black Magic and awaited feedback.
ABOVE: A plot diagram to assist Alex with the edit
After we finally had all of the components (aside from a few exterior shots), it was really a case of slotting them into the holes that were left. We took segments of Kay’s freshly recorded narration and spaced them out into the relevant sections – tweaking the pacing of the visuals to suit. As we had recorded narration that was rewritten from Kay’s original interview we had options. The editing process in general went very smoothly. There were no major issues and our biggest problem was deciding which takes form our coverage of the dance sequence to use. This was a nice problem to have. In the end, we ended up brushing up the performance of the routine by cutting between the GH4 and the Black Magic. Instantly the routine had a better flow and this offset the initial worry about colour.
ABOVE: More plotting for Alex and I.
The colour grade took us 1 full day. I have zero technical affluence with regards to the colour grading process and can only suggest what I want it to look like. Sam had done a good job with framing, white balance, lighting and exposure – so half the job was done. Also, as the film relies of the use of archive footage and videos, there was a decent amount that didn’t need touching. The main job was lifting the colours from the flat image the camera gives, and making the aesthetic of the frame suit the tome of the narration. We made the image more dull and flat when Kay dresses the dark periods in his life and we lifted the brightness and saturation when more positive. We did have to match the GH4 – B.Magic footage and after consultation with Ana Barsukova and a quick tutorial, we managed to get them pretty much spot on.
The final elements were sound mixing, credits and music. We got Kay into the animation suite to create the main credits using his own handwriting in photoshop. It should have been easy but Kay made particularly hard work of it. Kay being Kay, was unhappy with any of his attempts and wanted ‘direction’ of which style to write! At this stage of the process I was not about to direct someones handwriting (as if the film wasn’t embellished enough)!. With my tongue firmly bitten, I politely asked him to, swiftly, write as naturally as he could – then left the room. My brother had composed the Swan Lake ballerina box chime in advance and the the rest of the music that appears in the film – all of which, are subtle interpretations of Swan Lake where the notes are mixed to create a sense of familiarity without necessarily being able to identify them as such. Pete did the sound mix for us and it was really a case of polishing and changing levels. I can’t take any credit for the quality of the sound. It was all recorded by Emily and mixed by Pete. I did have final say but when in the company of an expert such as Pete – it’s often best to ask there advice and run with it. Pete gets a good grasp of the project pretty quickly and is good at understanding what is required. In total we spent about 7 hours on the mix. If I had more time I would have done more (recorded my own effects etc.) , but the outcome is distinctly better than the rough cut.
The whole post production process was pretty smooth. This is due to two factors: Having the write team and doing the pre prod/production correctly. This is mainly down to Emily’s organisation of the project before production and Jess’s during. Alex likes to be hands on in the edit and didn’t just rely on me telling him what I wanted. He embraced the project and put his own stamp on it. The efficiency of the dance sequence and the pacing of the film as a whole is as much him as me. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be hunting Alex when it comes to my next project for editing.