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Maybe I’m just seeing things, but check out this Janelle Monae video!  They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Could it be there’s a distinct homage to Yeasayer’s Ambling Alp, directed by Radical Friend and edited by yours truly?!?  You be the judge.

(Note: JUST AN EXCUSE to publish this awesome Janelle Monae video.  You know what I can’t do?  Dance like the people in this video.  Although I wish I could.)

WOW!

About six months ago I was introduced by my friend to the awesome directing duo Radical Friend to talk about some projects they were working on and about possibly helping them out as their editor. We got through one as-yet-unreleased project and then set forth on their biggest project to date: a music video for Yeasayer‘s song “Ambling Alp.” The job was nothing close to simple, due to an accelerated schedule and incredible creative and technical needs on the part of the crew. I can’t say enough about how everyone was to work with.

The project was shot with the RED camera and I managed the complete workflow through editing and into coloring and VFX. After production wrapped, we transcoded our almost nine hours of footage using RedRushes into Quarter-Res Debayer ProRes HQ Quicktimes at 1080p. In retrospect, the right thing to do here would’ve been to encode to 720p quicktimes, because for some reason Final Cut Pro doesn’t play nicely with 1080p on external monitors.

I then copied our offline media to two separate external FW800 drives and gave both the same name.  Radical Friend then received one drive and I retained one for myself, setting forth on the editing process. After logging, syncing, and grouping were completed, RF and I both took a stab at creating our own videos. We would email each other cuts back and forth, exchanging ideas fluidly by simply exchanging FCP project files that linked to the media on each of our computers. Because the file path to the media on each computer was the same, we never had to relink any media, or as Scott Simmons calls it, “the reconnection dance“.

With our deadline fast approaching, we sent our locked offline sequence on a path to be uprez’d. We had to relink our media to our original RED QT proxies to be able to recreate a full-debayer 1080p sequence, so we exported an XML of the sequence and, using Clipfinder, conformed the sequence to the Full-Quality (_”F”) QT Proxies in the R3D folders. We then reimported that XML in FCP and sent that to Apple Color for the expressed purpose of creating high-rez quicktime files of our source media.  Once that finished, I sent that sequence back to Final Cut Pro and voilà, I had my full-raster 1080p sequence for coloring.

Here were the tricky parts, though.  Three things snagged us because of the workflow we were following.

The first was a simple problem: spanned RED files in FCP.  To solve that, I easily ran the ColorFixer program on my Color project file.  This is a must before you do any work in Color.

The second was the aspect ratio sizes.  Because we cut our offline sequence with all 1080p media, we never had to deal with the different aspect ratios that are delivered with the RED.  The camera/build we used delivered us 4k, 3k, and 2k media.  That meant that the relative geometry of our clips were all over the place because we had everything scaled to 100% of their image size, due to all our offline media clips being 100% and uniform in their aspect ratios. Therefore, once I sent the sequence to Color, I went into the geometry room and had to manually re-enter the correct image size adjustments to make sure each image rendered at full-frame.

The last problem was the way Color reads RED files.  For obvious reasons, rendering out handles on the media created all the handles at the tail of the shot, but none at the head.  This was extremely troublesome and I can’t wait until they fix that.  Once I sent the sequence back to Final Cut Pro, I had to slip each shot by hand to make sure it matched the offline edit.  Needless to say, it shouldn’t be designed this way.

Fortunately, though it wall worked out in the end.  Thanks to everyone’s hard work and the incredible guidance and creativity of Radical Friend, this video has had the most amazing response. I just heard from RF that the video has been counted as one of the Top 20 Music Videos of 2009 by Spin Magazine!!! I even found it on Kanye West‘s blog.

Isn’t the internet amazing?

UPDATE:
We screened our film at The Hammer Museum in Westwood on December 17th.  Michel Gondry debuted his latest music video with Mia Doi Todd and even played drums in her concert after the screening.  Totally awesome! Check out this link to see all the videos screened!

UPDATE #2:
Radical Friend is interviewed by Pitchfork for their Director’s Cut series!