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Tutorial: Streamlining SDE Workflow in Grass Valley Edius
Posted Oct 2, 2007 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Same-Day Edits (SDEs) can be a powerful marketing tool for the event videographer. Check out Hal Slifer’s August article, Producing and Promoting Same-Day Edits for the full story on what SDEs are, what they can do for you, and how you can sell them. Most videographers are familiar with SDEs from presentations at weddings, but they can also be a great tool in your portfolio for corporate events.
 The real challenge with SDEs, regardless of the setting, is how to capture and edit quickly and efficiently while still delivering a video that will knock your clients’ socks off—and impress their guests as well, yielding new business for you. Key to any SDE production is forethought and planning, of course, but unless you know your NLE inside and out, you’ll be hard-pressed to produce a polished video with the clock ticking. For this tutorial, we’ll look at how to streamline your SDE production cycle in Grass Valley’s Edius NLE, following my workflow for a typical wedding SDE.
 To see the video tutorial that accompanies this article, click here to go to EventDV-TV, select the Tutorials tab, and scroll down.

Why Edius?
Edius is an ideal editing platform for SDEs because of its real-time playback abilities. This can cut down the turnaround time needed before playback because rendering won't be needed if your editing laptop is capable enough. For standard-definition editing, most mobile computers are sufficient for simple edits, but the new dual-core laptops will really enhance your real-time playback capability and result in even faster turnaround. The new dual-core laptops also present the option of doing high-definition SDEs as well if you are presented with the opportunity. An HD SDE may require a few sections to be rendered if you get ambitious with your filters and transitions.

For this tutorial, we will be working with footage shot in HDV but down-sampled in-camera upon import to make the workflow easy and smooth. When working with SD footage you can easily edit and play back right on the laptop’s system drive as we did for this SDE.

For editing an HD SDE, you will probably want to get an eSATA card for your laptop and use an external eSATA drive for true desktop hard drive speeds.

Step 1: Pre-Production
One of the secrets of successful Same-Day Edits is not doing everything on the same day as the event. At least for the first few you do, making sure certain pre-production elements are in place can save you lots of time later. Once you have done a few SDEs and feel more confident, you can edit on the fly. Being well-organized helps me, so I still maintain my pre-production planning with every SDE.

Like most videographers, I do most SDEs as tightly edited music videos with occasional splashes of ambient audio from the wedding. If you’re taking this approach, the first step in pre-planning, once you’ve selected the song, is getting the shot timing set to the music. To do this I drop my music selection on an audio track and use the timeline marker tool to plan where my shots will be while listening to the music. To set the timeline markers, press the V key whenever you feel a shot should change.

Once the timeline markers are set, I then go through the music again and plan what shots will go at what point in the edit. I try to let the music mood dictate the action, but that is a personal style issue that’s beyond the scope of this tutorial. When I choose a shot to place at a given point, I will put a comment in the Marker window so I know where to put each shot.

I also take this one step further by creating titles for each shot—such as "Groomsmen Flying V" or "First Kiss"—and putting them right on the timeline. I like to have the visual title in front of me as I insert footage later on. I have created a folder of title screens that represent all the shots I typically incorporate into an SDE. For most of my shot selections, these titles do the trick and I don't have to create them each time. I have them stored in a folder called "SDE Titles" and import them all.

I normally insert these titles on a video track a few layers up from where most of my edit files will be. This way I can read the title names when I’m inserting the footage without overwriting them when I insert the video clips. While editing, you can leave these titles on if you want, or you can hide them and just use the title names on the video track.

I set each title’s length based on the timeline markers. I also place transitions in the timeline during pre-production so I can get transition timing down easier during editing. Based on my music selection, I can tell how long a transition should be when it corresponds to a given point in a song.

figure 1
Once I have all my shots planned out, my timeline will typically appear as shown in Figure 1 (above). You can see that I added the titles on tracks 3 and 4 so I can edit on tracks 1 and 2.

Note that many of the transitions are the standard default length, but in a few cases I’ve extended them a little longer for dramatic effect. Setting the transition length in advance will help speed my edit on the day of the event.

Once I have all my shots planned out, I will type up a simple spreadsheet document to carry around with me the day of the shoot to remind me of the shots I need for the SDE, using the same names I’ve chosen for the marked segments in the timeline. I will also write down the timecodes of those shots when I capture them for quick-and-easy capture later on. I will have more than one shot list per shooter, as my second shooter may be uploading footage from one shot list while I am still getting more shots on a different tape.

Invariably, you will capture other footage you may want to swap out with your planned shots, so make sure to write timecodes and names for these unanticipated shots as well.

Now that your pre-planning is done, you are ready for the big day. Shot list in hand and nerves under control, you can get rolling.

Step 2: Capturing and Cataloging Shots
Naturally, the next step in any event video production is to shoot the event. I’m going to assume that you know how to shoot a wedding and move right on to capture, which is the point at which the SDE really starts to change your wedding-day workflow. As for the SDE’s impact on how you shoot the day, just think of it as a particular kind of "shooting for the edit"—keeping in mind that the SDE isn’t the only edit you’re going to do from this event.

Also keep in mind that you might need to start capturing sooner earlier than you’d think. My second shooter will often capture her prep footage while I am still shooting other prep stuff; we save upload time this way. Use every minute you can to upload your footage, and it will cut down the time needed to spend on capture after the ceremony. Even if you have to set up the system to upload prep stuff while you are shooting the ceremony, it is one less thing you have to upload later. You can use your timecodes to find the shot you have planned from your shot list.

Because this is an advanced tutorial rather than a general introduction to Edius’s features and functionality, I won’t go into detail about how to capture footage in Edius. Since we're down-sampling our HDV footage to DV in camera, this process is identical from Edius’s perspective to capturing DV footage from a DV camera.

figure 1

After capturing your footage, it is helpful to name your clips with either the same name as your shot list or similar names to make the clip-finding process easier during edit, as shown in Figure 2, above. In the real world you may not be able to adhere strictly to this practice, but it will make the edit easier if you stay close to the plan.

Once all your footage has been captured it is time to get serious and do some editing.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Screen Layout
For laptop editing I use a single-monitor interface so I can save my precious screen real estate. You can set this up by clicking on the View menu and selecting Single Mode (Figure 3, below). I have saved a few different screen layouts for different types of edits I perform. Most work on my laptop is done in the mode you see here.

figure 1

I also like to turn off the audio from clips before dropping them on the timeline, since most of my footage will not have natural audio included. You can do this by clicking on the A icon above the timeline or, in Edius 4.5, the Audio icon.

Step 4: Quick Video Clip Edits
To compile the SDE, I start working my way through the timeline based on the shots I have planned, locating and trimming each shot to find the best portion of the clip. Select a clip by double-clicking on its icon in the bin, and it will appear in the preview monitor. Scrub through the clip and find the portion of the clip you want to use for the final product, and set in and out points. When you’re satisfied with your in and out points, drag the clip from the preview monitor to the timeline.

I like to use slow motion on many of my highlight clips and will set the speed once the clip is on the timeline. I use the Alt+E shortcut for quick access, but you can also right-click the clip and choose Speed from the pop-up menu. I usually use a speed of 50% or 33%, depending on how much raw footage I want to use (Figure 4, below). Note that when you’re trimming clips for placement, the snap-to feature of Edius should make this task easier.

figure 1

Step 5: Adding and Customizing Transitions
Now that we have a few clips on the timeline, we can add transitions. This portion of the edit has some transitions that are default length and some that are longer as you can see in the preplanning title track above the edit track (see Figure 1).

When adding transitions to a long portion of the timeline, I highlight the all the clips and just drag my dissolve to the shots (Figure 5, below) and all of them get the transition applied to the default length (in my case, one second). I will then go to the shots that need a longer dissolve and adjust the length based on my preplanned dissolves.

figure 1

On the last clip, I’ll drop a dissolve on the keyer track and Edius will automatically create a fade to black. You can also use the transparency rubber bands, but the rubber band method can be time-consuming and with SDEs we need to save all the time we can.

Step 6: Adding Filters in Real Time
Keeping in mind that the SDE is far from being a rushed or rough-cut version of the wedding—in fact, it’s the best chance I’ll have to showcase my polished work before an audience of 200 or more—I want to add a little extra beauty to the edit. To do so, I will apply a few filters. With Edius and a capable laptop, you can still do this with real-time output.

On the last clip, I’ll add a filter that blurs the footage and blows out the whites as it fades to black. The reason I like this filter on this shot is because there is so much white in the scene and the combination of a fade to black and keyframing the "blown-out" whites causes portions of the image to appear burned onto the screen as it fades to black. I have created a custom user preset for this "blown-out blur," called Shine Out. (Click here to read a tutorial on how this preset was created.)
figure 1

To locate my custom Blend filters, I select Blend from the Filters menu, and choose the Shine Out preset. After dropping the preset on the clip, I’ll need to set the keyframes to time the blur with the transition. To do this, I place my timeline cursor on at the very beginning of the fade to black transition, and then open up the Properties dialog the preset in my Information palette (Figure 6, above). With the Information window for the preset open, I move the keyframe nub to align with the red bar representing the timeline cursor. Depending on the length of the clip and the fade, I may tweak the keyframing arc a little for dramatic effect.

Note that the Shine Out preset is a combination of multiple filters that can be pretty taxing on your system, and if your system has a slower processor or is short on RAM, you may need to render this section before playback time. This is true of most blended filters.

Step 7: Adding Vows as Voiceovers
A "wow" factor in wedding SDEs that will hit people emotionally is if you can include at least part of the vows from the ceremony as a voiceover at some point. For the SDE project described here we included the vows during an instrumental portion of the music. Our planned flow for the SDE was to have the vows start and then begin doing cutaways to the bride's grand entrance. I placed a wide shot during the vows at the beginning; since you couldn't see lips moving no one would know it wasn't perfectly synced. To get the audio right between the minister and the bride and groom, I dropped the footage from my camera, which had the minister's mic, on the audio track somewhere after the edit ended. Next I dropped the audio from the vows recreation below the minister's audio. I used the Cut function (keyboard shortcut C) to cut the minister's audio into the usual phrases. I then intercut the bride and groom’s vows in the appropriate spots.

Once I have the bride and groom’s audio cut into the required pieces, I inserted them into the gaps in the minister's audio as shown in Figure 7, below. Once they are all in place, you can drag the clips around to get the timing to sound right. Use your judgement regarding how it should be timed.

figure 1
When I got the audio clips cut together I saved the short vows sections into individual WAV files so I wouldn't have to select, drag, and drop all the small sections. It was just easier for me, but I could have moved all the audio pieces by highlighting them all and dragging them in place. To save the sections, set an in point using the I key and an out point using the O key. Use the Print to File function to save the sections to a WAV file. Name each section after the bride and groom so you know whose file you’re working with at a given time.

In the SDE timeline shown in Figure 7, you can see where I have designated the vows to be placed denoted in the titles in video track 3. You can also see on the waveforms from my music track that I have used the rubber bands to reduce the volume so the vows can be easily heard.

The next step is to drop them in the right spot. As I did in this SDE, you’ll want to place them strategically in sync with changes in the music; for example, I dropped the groom’s first to start where the music fades down, and the bride’s where the ending phrase will align with the fade up of the music. I added a fade-to-black transition on the end of the phrase.

Step 8: Exporting and Delivering Your SDE
Now that we have our live audio built in, the remainder of the edit flows with the same techniques for adding clips, filters, and transitions.

The entire edit flows with the same techniques for adding clips, filters, and transitions. I usually will build my entire timeline with basic clips and transitions, and if time allows I will go back and tweak color correction if needed on some clips. Figure 8, below shows my completed timeline for this SDE. A couple of things you will notice: I have turned off or hidden the title track so it doesn't appear in my finished video. You will also see a few extra audio tracks where I inserted voiceovers and vows. I only plan these extra features if I am confident the customer has provided enough time to do the extra editing.

figure 1

When the entire edit is completed you can play back your SDE right from the timeline without rendering anything if your editing system is up to par. Even though my system is capable 95% of the time, flawless playback is essential, so I will set an in and an out point for my entire video edit and export to an AVI file if time allows. This is strictly for my own peace of mind, though with a dual-core laptop my edit should play with no issues—but why take a chance?

Once the entire SDE is exported to a new file, I will save my entire project with a new name, remove all the edit markers, and drop in the single AVI file for playback. Again, if time is short and you trust your laptop to deliver real-time playback without rendering, you can skip this step.

You can also lay your SDE off to tape and play it back from your camera, or you could burn to DVD for playback if you have time. I prefer to play off the timeline by connecting a camera to the FireWire port and using it as a pass-through digital-to-analog converter, with my projector plugged into my camera. Once all hookups are done, just hit the space bar, find a spot on the side of the room, and listen to the crowds gasp and sigh as they are overwhelmed by your work.

I hope this tutorial has given you a glimpse into how powerful an NLE Edius is for executing an SDE. Because time is of the essence with any SDE, no matter how smoothly things go, the beauty of Edius for producing and playing back an SDE is the speed of the editing interface and the real-time playback capability. You can literally edit the video and play it back immediately. I know one Edius-based SDE producer who will drop shots in the timeline of the cake-cutting, plug into the projector, and play back the video. Guests are then seeing fully edited footage that was shot 10 minutes earlier.

To see the video tutorial that accompanies this article, click here to go to EventDV-TV, choose the Tutorials tab, and scroll down.

Philip Hinkle (philip at frogmanproductions.com) is an award-winning videographer based in the Madison, Wisconsin area. Co-founder and president of the Wisconsin Digital Media Group, he presented a seminar at Video 07 and was a regional champion in the 4EVER Group's Iron Videographer competition.

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