Video production and editing.

Editing, a book by Walter Murch

My ongoing training is not limited to software and equipment. I read and re-read books on various subjects. One such book helps me to better understand the problem of “where to make a cut” when editing video.

In the Blink of an Eye is a book on editing by Walter Murch who has won many awards for editing and sound design for films such as: The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather part II and III, Ghost and The English Patient among others.

Blink_600px high

First he asks ‘Why do cuts work?”. Cuts in a film break the flow of the story. Our daily lives are one long take from the time we get up till the time we go to bed, or are they? Without knowing it you have “Cuts” all the time. Every time you blink you make a cut. Your blinks are like punctuation in a sentence. You will not blink in the middle of getting important information. You will blink at the end. When someone enters the room and calls to you you do not turn and look at them without blinking as you turn your head. Your thoughts are diverted from your work to the person seeking your attention. This is a new thought and thus you “blink” to separate the two subjects. This is the exact location of where the cut should be in a film. (Of course we also blink to lubricate our eyes and if there is a bright light shining into them.)

I will make a cut where I would feel comfortable blinking. A good actor blinks at all the right times. and, it is at those exact frames that the editor can make his/her cut.

Walter Murch says that an editor should make a barrier between the shoot and the beginning of the edit session. This will help to separate the emotions of the shoot from the choices in the edit. Something may have felt good on the set but it may not be the best choice in the edit room. The separation should bring your thoughts to something completely different from the project, like a vacation. A fresh look at the footage will help the editor to choose the right footage to tell the story and not the footage that he/she liked on the set.

There are times that a cut is made when the speaker is in the middle of delivering Important information. We may cut to someone’s expression or reaction to the speaker. This is an important element to the emotion of the moment or to the story. This brings me to Murch’s “Rule of six”. These are the 6 most important things to consider when making a cut.

The Rule of Six in order of importance:
1) Emotion, is it true to the emotion of the moment.
2) Story, does it advance the story.
3) Rhythm, is it rhythmically interesting and right.
4) Eye Trace, does it continue with the audiences focus of interest within the frame.
5) Two dimensional plane, does it respect the two dimensions of the screen.
6) 3 dimensional space of action, is it consistent with peoples location within a room.

The first 3, emotion, story and rhythm, are tightly connected says Murch. Most of the time if a cut honors those three you are safe to do it.

If you edit, produce or direct any film or video you can’t afford to not read this book, In The Blink Of An Eye. It’s only $13.95. Murch started his career on the old analog film editing equipment. The conversion to non-linear editing on computers was a difficult challenge for editors of his time. He adds his insights to the advantages and disadvantages of the newer non-linear editing systems that were used at the time of publication. The English Patient was the first movie to win an award for editing that was edited on a computer, a $100,000 machine, in 1996.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

Stupidly Simple Video

Logo SS Title Cards 3000px w“Stupidly Simple” is the slogan used by Vita Coco for their coconut water beverage. It also fits the “Behind the Scenes” video we did for Vita Coco. A few blogs ago I did a 3 part series about how preparation is vital to the success of your video. The script and storyboards are the important guides for production and editing. Well, not so for a documentary style video like this one. There is still a lot of preparation for the equipment to be used but there is no need for a script, just questions for the interview portion of the video.
Arenado interview.Still001Nolan Arenado, The 3rd baseman for the Colorado Rockies, was our celebrity athlete. We loved the creative freedom of grabbing clips on the fly while Chris Sojka of Madwell in New York captured stills for the print ad campaign. Frank Salle and I were the videographers. 2 cameramen operated 6 cameras! We used 3 Canon 5Ds, 2 GoPros for the time lapses and even an iPhone 6 for a few clips.
GoPro interview w cameras.Still0014 lights with diffusion gave general illumination in the studio. 3 Mole Richardson lights were used as props and 3 Kino Flo lights were used on Nolan Arenado. Nolan was loose and relaxed and managed to smile and laugh for the 6 hours it took to complete the photoshoot and the interview. I doubled as the sound guy and recorded the interview with a Zoom audio recorder.

Watch the video here.

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Your Guide to Obtaining a Great Video

Part 3: Editing

Need more motivation to create a company video? In the near future 90% of information will be learned through videos. During the process of creating your video remember that even a feature length movie will evolve/change from the script to the production to the edit room so stay flexible and patient to the end. The on-camera talent can add their own color and the story could morph once again in the edit suite.

SO PSA ;30 Hi-five.Still002For the Special Olympics PSA we recorded the voice over, and edited the :30 spot, in English and Spanish. A composer produced the music to direct the viewers’ emotions.

1. Provide the editor with all assets before editing begins. This may include logos, graphics, photos, music, text and/or existing footage. All of the above should be in the highest resolution possible. We will down-res the files for the video format. Music should not be in the MP3 format as it is a low quality. Use AIF or WAV. Provide names and titles of employees appearing in the video for lower thirds captions.
2. The editing may have three sessions:
A. The rough cut with timecode so that you can make precise comments to the editor as to changes. This is usually in a small    standard Def form.
B. Second stage with edit changes plus the audio mix for Dialogue and music.
C. Final with finishing touches which include Color correction and color grading plus audio enhancement for maximum impact. I’ve strengthened my skills for recording and editing sound with the Sound Advice Class. It’s a good compliment to my 35 years experience in commercial photography.

3. Be careful not to oversaturate your audience. Constant dialogue and text on screen for the duration or your video can be too much for your audience to ingest.
4. Audio, how we influence the viewer:
A. Dialogue tells the story
B. Music tells them how they should feel at that moment in the video.
5. Output: Where will your video be seen? Will it be for broadcast, Vimeo, YouTube or a set frame size for your web site.
6. Backup: Do you require a separate backup to keep on your premises? We back up all projects on two different raided drives for a period of 5 years.
7. Analytics: We can provide simple analytics as to the number of views and from which countries if the video is hosted on our Vimeo site.

Call me for a meeting and you will be on your way to obtaining a great video.

John Trotto 480 759-6500

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Your guide to Obtaining a Great Video

Part 2: Production Day

Part 1, the previous post, blends seamlessly into part 2, Production day, where we record most of the media. Items 1 – 5 are done before production begins.
1. Are we filming employees or hired talent and who approves of the hired talent? Will they talk on camera and do we need a teleprompter? A makeup stylist is important. They make you look your best which is important if this is where your clients meet some of your staff. Your CEO could do an intro for the video. If the script is to be read as a voice over we can record the VO at our studio. We will determine how many cameras are needed for this production. Most interviews require 2 cameras.
2. Organize the cast and approve their wardrobe. Check that all props are ready (product, laptops, etc.)
3. Prepare the rooms where we will be filming. Prepare for optimum lighting and sound recording. Minimize distractions and interruptions such as visitors or deliveries if filming in the lobby or warehouse.
4 Allow sufficient time to set up additional equipment such as dollies and camera cranes.
5. On camera talent should rehearse their lines. The interviewer directs the interviewees as to short, concise answers or comments.
6. We normally plan to record about 4-5 times the amount of footage than the length of the final video.
7. What makes your video look good? My 35 years as a commercial photographer and 8 years in video production as a director of photography (DP) will assure you that your video will look great. I continually train on the latest color grading software for post production enhancement.
8. What makes your video sound good? I have 8 years of experience as a sound recorder and an audio mixer for post. I recently took the Sound Advice class and read the book on audio recording by the presenter, Mark Lewis. We own professional mics and recorders for every situation including windy days. Or, if they say, “fix it in post”, well I am experienced at removing distracting sounds like A/C vents or clicks or beeps common to your office environment.

Sound Advice Certificate 600w9. I am dedicated to training on the latest software and testing equipment and software before I step on the set. This is even more important in the edit session as you will see in part 3 of Your guide to Obtaining a great Video to be posted soon.

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Your Guide to Obtaining a Great Video

Part 1: Prepare and Organize

Video is the number one tool for marketing and informing. “It is a critical component of business” (Forbes). “Since video appeals to both sight and sound in a quick burst of stimulation, it captures the attention of the viewer immediately and makes a lasting impression.  The messaging is concise and easy to understand, reaching people of all demographics” (Forbes). Corporate videos bring more people to your web site and keep them there longer than just text or photos. Videos are complex to assemble. Here are some things to consider to help me produce your perfect video.

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Masimo Motor national TV spot. Click here to view video.

1. What is the purpose of your video? Is it for sales, training or to inform? Do you need a PSA or commercial for broadcast, or is it for the web? Who is your target market?
2. Can you repurpose any of the footage for other projects? Is there footage or photos from a previous project that could be used in this new video?
3. Preparation: This is the key to a great video. Get input from staff as to the message and content. Set a deadline.
4. Script: If a staff member cannot write the script we have script writers who can help. Be concise, attention spans are short these days. If there is a lot of information consider doing 2 or 3 short videos.
5. Storyboard: This does not have to be sophisticated. We may use stock photos, snapshots or sketches.
6. Video Professional: This is where you bring in a video producer. We have produced 50 videos including one PSA. We review the script, scout the location(s) and schedule the production. We assess the location for lighting and sound recording issues. We hire the cast and crew, assemble or rent equipment. If the production is a full day we will schedule a separate day to capture B-roll footage.
7. Will you include testimonials from your clients or partners? Will you record the interview at their location or have them come to your office?
8. A sales video should end with a call to action. How do they order your product or services? Include links, web sites and phone numbers.

Your Guide to Obtaining a Great Video, Part 2, Production Day coming soon.

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Improved Audio for Video

The Sound Advice Tour is an eleven hour class well worth the investment. Frank Serafine and Mark Lewis combined their years of experience to elevate the quality of sound in features, commercials and corporate videos.

What does this mean for my videos?

I own some of the best mics for recording audio in different situations whether it be indoors with air conditioners humming or outside on a windy day. Now I can get maximum benefit out of the equipment. The Sennheiser wireless  system for both lavaliere and boom mics has performed flawlessly for many years. I learned better mic placement and the versatility of the omnidirectional mics. It’s also called a lapel mic because it records voices better on the lapel than under the chin where it looses the higher sounds of consonants. The Rode NTG2 mic is a super cardioid mic with a heart shaped pickup pattern extending out in front of the mic and not to the sides. Use caution as it also picks up sound behind the mic so don’t use it on a boom beneath an air vent. When the wind picks up outside I can add the blimp and the fuzzy rat (that’s what it looks like) over the Rode mic to remove wind noise. The high frequencies can be brought back in the edit. The Sure SM 58 Is a rugged, workhorse mic used in the recording industry. I use it mostly for Voice over recording. Get close to this mic for strong, deep vocals.

Zoom H6_72dpiZoom H6 MS mic_72dpi

Audio Recorders:
We have used the Zoom H4n for years. I purchased the Zoom H6 (pictured above) after the Sound Advice class. It has 6 independently controlled inputs. The stereo pair from the built in XY mic and 4 XLR inputs. We use the stereo MS mic for incredible stereo sound for the left and right speakers with it’s own volume control to enhance the stereo effect independent from the voice/sound in the center.

I can’t begin to explain all the techniques in this blog but you will hear the improvement in future videos. I learned the roles that dialogue, sound effects and music have in a production for communicating the story, directing the focus or influencing the emotions of the viewer. I learned that no 2 sounds should occupy the same space. I must either change the frequency or send it to a different speaker. Therefore I will be using the EQ and 5:1 Surround sound to enhance and separate the different sounds of dialogue, sound effects and music. Surprisingly it even sounds better with just a pair of stereo speakers or headphones! This is the future of web videos.

I am reading Mark Lewis’ book, Live Audio Alchemy, and I will continue my education with equipment and software. As Mark Lewis says, “Improve with each step”.

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Video: Secondary color correction using SpeedGrade

I had fun creating this video. I wanted to select the skin tones on my face and change the color to match the words.
Changing colors NORMAL 600wAs I talk about the diverse climates in Arizona my face changes color. Here I have normal skin tones. Snow created in After Effects.

Changing colors BLUE 600wNow I am talking about floods in the desert that make you feel “Blue”.

Changing colors RED 600 w“But most of the time here in the desert it’s just plain hot.”

What does this mean for your video? Any color that is not right can be changed. Or, you might just want to tweak the contrast, saturation, or tint of one area in a clip. It is easy to tweak these characteristics globally which is the “Primary color correction”. “Secondary color correction using SpeedGrade” is more difficult as the color to be changed must be carefully selected using hue, contrast and saturation sliders to finely adjust the area (color) to be changed. Making a good selection is the key here just as making good selections is important to be proficient in Photoshop. Then, different sets of sliders (controls) are used to improve the hue, contrast and saturation.

Changing Colors green screen 600wThe original footage recorded with green screen. Camera; Canon 5D mkII.

The applications used for this short video:
Premiere Pro too create the timeline and key out the green screen.
Audition to clean up the audio as I used modeling lamps on studio strobes to light the set. Each of the 4 heads has a loud fan. I made a noise print of this sound and removed it from the audio track without altering to pitch of my voice (a sore throat made my voice a bit raspy that day).
After Effects to create the snowflakes using the particle emitter and changing 8-10 parameters.
SpeedGrade for secondary color adjustments.

SpeedGrade is a great program to improve the look of any video. We use different scopes for making these changes. Primary tonal adjustments are made first to each clip globally to bottom out the blacks and adjust the mid tones and highlights to give the image more pop. Once the tones of each clip are improved the color can be adjusted using the RGB Parade scope. If there is a color cast the Paraade scope makes it easy to balance the red, green and blue channels.

I have included stills but the video is not yet loaded to my Vimeo site. When I do a link will appear.

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Better Color and Audio in Your Videos

Does your video lack that little extra punch to the image? Is the audio clean and clear?

At Trotto Photography we have decades of experience color balancing cameras so your footage looks good from the start. Then, in the edit we can tweak the tonal range and boost the impact of color for maximum impact. Adobe SpeedGrade 2014 makes it easier to “round trip” a project from Premiere Pro to SpeedGrade and back. You get richer blacks, better tonal range and accurate color with rich saturation. Proper values for blacks and gamma are essential before you adjust color.

SpeedGrade color wheelsVarious analysis tools such as the Vectorscope and the RGB Parade are essential for color grading. While viewing these scopes we use the 3 color wheels to adjust luminace, contrast and color for the whole image or just in the shadows, midtones or highlights.

Secondary color corrections affect a selected area or part of the image. Secondary color corrections make it possible to improve tonal range and color for clips that were recorded in an uncontrolled environment like we have faced with the GoPro camera in high contrast settings. These secondary corrections are beyond the scope of the three way color corrector in Premiere Pro.

We record the best possible sound into a separate audio recorder by selecting the best mic for the situation. (This audio is then synced with the video clips in the edit.) Outdoors we run into many sounds that are out of our control. We can use a blimp or fuzzy rat over the boom mic to reduce wind noise but we can’t control cars, planes, dogs, birds and many other things that make sound recording difficult on location. Even in an office we encounter sounds that will detract from the speakers voice. Poor audio ruins a video. Your audience will not struggle to hear the speaker over the “noise” in your video. They will stop playback and redirect their browser. Using Adobe Audition 2014 we are able to remove many of the unwanted sounds like pops, clicks, barks and phones ringing with a simple tool that removes the spike in the waveform and fills the dead space with the sounds around it.

Audition 600 W with circleClapping sounds in this clip are easy to “see” and remove with the healing brush tool (area highlighted in blue circle). It’s a visual way to improve sound.

Air conditioner vents create a low hum. In most offices they cannot be turned off. We make a “Noise Print” of the sound and remove only that frequency from the audio track. In every situation so far the noise was at a different frequency from the speaker’s voice so the pitch of the spoken words was not altered. Even the volume of loud machinery in a manufacturing plant can be reduced so that your audience knows that the equipment is running but it is not annoying to the ear during the video.

So, for better color and audio in your videos hire the the pros with experience.

2017-05-19T23:56:11+00:00DSLR Video, Multimedia, Video|

How to use your GoPro like a Pro

GoPro with PanasonicI have used the Hero3 Black edition camera for 2 commercials and a few videos and it always receives a “Wow” response from clients. Action photos are from the Massimo Motor spot. It’s versatility is limited only by your imagination.  It is waterproof and dust proof and can handle quite a lot of vibration. It fits almost anywhere and can be mounted to almost anything (the photo below shows the non-GoPro mount used to record the front suspension).
Superclamp and suspensionClips edited next to those shot with a Canon 5D MkII look great. One small drawback is that I found it necessary to use SpeedGrade for color correction, but this is only because the GoPro was recording under difficult conditions like shooting into the sun or under the chassis of a vehicle where contrast can be a problem. SpeedGrade made it easy to color correct using secondary controls. If you are not an advanced editor don’t worry. Most of the footage looks great using AUTO exposure and AUTO White balance; settings that pros seldom use.
GoPro splash 2 upSetup: First in the settings menu (the wrench) turn on “Protune”. Set the format to 1080. I used 30 fps because I prefer it when I am shooting action, and, I used the Canon 5D MkII for the commercials and I wanted to limit the amount of rolling shutter or strobing effect that can happen with the Canon’s CMOS sensor and a frame rate of 24. For slow motion you can set the frame rate to 60 (1080P 60) and process the clips in GoPro Studio 2 for a 30 fps timeline and your video will play smoothly at half speed. Then you can slow it down further Premiere Pro or whatever editing software you may be using. For very slow motion you can choose 720 P 120. At 120 frames per second your footage will play back at 1/4 speed with the option to slow it down further in post.

I have not used the 4K or 1440 formats however I did use the 2.7K format because, in the timeline, I can crop the video or do a slow zoom in while the clip is playing. First I adjusted the size to fit full frame, then I did the slow zoom in, enlarging about 30%. With the 1080 format you are limited to about a 10% enlargement of the footage before it starts to lose quality.

GoPro mounted on a mic boom pole to capture these images.

GoPro mounted on a mic boom pole to capture these images.

Wi-Fi: If you can’t afford a camera crane? No problem. To get high overhead shots put the GoPro on a mic boom pole. Use the free App on your iPhone or iPad to see what the camera sees and start recording right from the handheld device. This Wi-Fi enabled camera makes it easy to start and stop recording from the remote control or from a hand held device. It is also much easier and faster to navigate the menu on your iPhone or iPad instead of using the 2 button menu on the camera.

Playback while on location: You can use the LCD Touch BacPac on the camera or, as I prefer, use a portable, battery powered monitor to review your footage while out in the field. I use a Marshal 5″ monitor. You will have to open the waterproof housing to connect the micro HDMI cable or you can use the Skeleton Housing. More on this housing in “Audio”.

With the remote and battery BackPack we could control the recordings on the ascent.

With the remote and battery BackPack we could control the recordings during the long ascent from another UTV.

Audio: The GoPro was not made to record sound however, the Skeleton housing enabled me to record adequate sound for personal videos (bicycling). you will get wind noise even at 15mph. GoPro recommends using the Standard housing when mounted on vehicles going over 100mph. I have the 3.5mm Mic Adapter to connect an external mic but have not used it yet.

Software: The GoPo Studio software is easy to use but I will not get into it in this blog. There is a training video on their site. I use Version 2.* which has an easy check box to remove fisheye which I highly recommend using. I process all clips with this easy to use software and then import the “converted” files into Premiere Pro.

If you really want to know how to use your GoPro like a pro just go out and play with it. The newer Hero3+ Black is better in low light situations and has other improvements. Read more on

Watch the national Massimo Motor spot here. Special thanks to Frank Salle for great footage and technical input and to the producer/director, Jodi Deros of Atom Design; not to mention some great off road driving from the Massimo staff.


Big Production – Small Crew

The Massimo Motor TV Spot

As the director of photography I would prefer to use a large crew and a lot of equipment when filming a commercial. Due to the remote locations for this project we were limited to a crew of 2 and could only take 5 camera bags and 2 tripods. We filmed for 5 days at beautiful locations in Sedona and Flagstaff. Most of the filming was on Schnebley Hill Road, a rough winding dirt road not friendly to most vehicles.

Rough road 600pxls.Still003Frank Salle and I did all the filming with 2 Canon 5D MkII cameras and 2 GoPro’s. For some clips we had a boom mic operator to record the sound of the engines. The equipment traveled in the back dump-bed of one of the UTVs covered with a tarp which did little to keep out the fine dust particles.

With no room for a camera crane we mounted a Wi-Fi enabled GoPro on a 20′ boom pole. We monitored and controlled the GoPro image from an iPad as the vehicles flew down trails. The drivers that Massimo Motors provided did an excellent job of controlling the ATVs at high speeds on rough terrain and, luckily, none of the flying rocks did any damage to us or the lenses. We filmed 2 or 3 takes at each location, played back all the clips on a portable monitor for the director, Jodi Deros, then packed up and bounced off to the next location.

Rough terraine 600pxlsThis was an incredible experience with a great cast and crew. Watch the :30 spot here.

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