Categories for Logging Footage
We all know how to make charts. I'm not necessarily gonna go through and say how big each column should be. Everyone can kind of organize this in a way that makes sense but here are what I think are the ultimate, kind of essential things that need to go into these log notes. On the left you should have your date. Can we see this? Is that big enough? Let's go a little bit bigger. Go like that. So you wanna have in this a column for a date because that's important. Let me actually start first the folder name is the most important. That's the very first thing you wanna see. That's where it says 1001j, 1003c, whatever it is. Then continuing on, it's the date. Let's just list these and then people can organize it as they like. The date in which that took place because it is helpful at some place to kinda have a reference. You know, oh I know that this happened during this time. I just don't necessarily like to be in the folder. The name of the shooter so that you know who to blame when thin...
gs go wrong, and you know who to ask questions to. You want to then have, you know almost right away, your description. This is super important. Just a nice big column however... Some people like to do this in Google Docs. Some people like to have this just as kind of a running list where it just function as you know, a Word document at the top. How you lay it out is not so important, but a description where you get into things, and I'm gonna write you know, the actions of your characters. Sometimes time of days is really important because your editor will often be like you know we have all of this material but in order to stay kind of, you know not break the continuity it would really be helpful if we just had them like doing all of this stuff that it wasn't dark outside. You know, so it's like sometimes really helpful to say oh you know they're eating a meal, but it's at night time. Or they're walking around and it's daylight or something like that. Actions of your characters, time of day, you know any major events, details that you're seeing because a lot of times you're shooting details because they're really, really good to have in the edit. You might as well tell your editor this is the folder details live. Detail shots are also often very quick, even if you're following my 30 second rule which I really hope you are. 30 seconds of pointing at something when an editor is scrubbing through tons and tons of folders looking for something, might be very easy to skip over. But if you have, you know, details of cat food and you know whatever else it is, it's very helpful to then read through it, even search a document for like oh where is that thing. I knew it was somewhere, then you can search for it. And then, you know I'm gonna put this in all capitals cause I think this is the easiest one to forget to right down, but it can be really helpful is you know, make sure to kind of make note of any metaphor that you might be seeing. Now, one of the most important parts is audio notes. This is an opportunity to do a couple of things. One is that you should say... If you were shooting something, hopefully you were using a lav. It's very important that you say to your editor, there was a lav on this person. There was a lav on that person. So this is where I might say, Jess, cause I always like to just kinda refer to myself, even though this will all be in my kind of section. Jess has a lav on Amy. This is also the opportunity that I would say... Even though I wasn't shooting it, I would say to the editor and to myself, Chris had a lav on Alison. The reason I'm doing this is I might have some incredible footage from my camera, where my camera has a lav on Amy, but I might have some incredible footage of like... You know Amy might take a nap, she might not really be doing anything and all of a sudden this character Alison comes in and whispers over in someone's ear something really important but my shotgun can't hear it, and so it's like well that's probably nothing cause unless we can hear her saying it, you know why bother. It's very helpful for the editor to know that just because we can't hear it in this footage, there actually is a mic on this person. If you go to this other person's camera, that audio lives there. Does that make sense? That it's a way of kind of cross referencing... Listen this stuff gets complicated, but you're gonna wanna have it. Cause the scene where someone comes over and whispers something or someone does something incredible, but I don't have the audio for it, is not that valuable. To all of a sudden realize wait a second, there is audio or there might be audio, go look for it in this other person's footage is very, very helpful. It also means that like if Amy, let's say we know skip down to this person. It's folder name, it's the date, it's the shooters name, description, and audio notes. Let's say now this is my co director Chris' thing. If he... You know, it's quite possible that Amy walks out of my shot altogether, but if he knows, you know, Amy walks into the room. Sorry, not Amy walks into the room. That's in the description he's got, Amy walks into the room. And he says here for himself, he's got a mic on Alison. Chris has mic on Alison. (typing) Jess has mic on Amy. The editor knows right away, oh I should look at Jessica's footage. I should listen to Jessica's footage because they know kind of who was mic'd up. Some situations, there might be this other character, Stephanie. In the description, Stephanie walks in the room, neither of us have a mic on there, the editor also knows I'm not chasing something down that I don't have. I'm not looking for something that's not there. So it's a great way of kind of letting your editor know what you have, what you don't have, and what you appear to not have, but you actually might have and vice versa. I know that gets a little complicated, so are there any questions?
I guess, first of all thank you. It's really helpful to know the things that we should be logging, instead of either trying to do to much or not enough. So starting from the beginning with those methods. This kind of continues on. I wasn't sure if you were gonna talk any further about work flow as well, in terms of what happens in getting these things to your editor.
Sure. So in my situation and the way that we've been shooting, this is a very, kind of, basic set up. In part because we ProRes as we shoot and we dump those files directly into our series folders, 1001j, 1002j, they're really kind of ready to go. And that's kind of the beauty of using something like Atomos which is that it's kind of, it's set up, it's ready to go and I can hand that drive over, even just a week or two into the process and say start working on this stuff now. If I wasn't using that, the first thing I would do is either get those... Download my material, get the drives off to an editor or to an assistant editor so that they can start to ProRes or if I know how to do it either through Final Cut Pro or through something like a program called Compressor, I might start ProResing my own files. So that when the editor is ready, they're ready to go. But if there's... If Final Cut 7 is the editing software, that is the step that would need to happen. If the editor is working in Premier, ProRes or not ProRes, it doesn't really matter, they can start editing right away with the footage directly as it comes out of camera. So some of the work flow is about your editor. It's great to try, even if your editor won't start... Let's say it's June, you're gonna shoot until September and you know that your editor's not gonna start until you're done, it's great to start having early conversations and say, listen by the time we're done we wanna hand this material to you in a way that's ready to go, how do you like your stuff organized? Do you wanna see everything just from one shooter and then another? Sometimes editors like to watch... If it's a two camera shoot they like to watch both things kind of back to back, so they can see how the material was integrating, and interacting with each other. Some really wanna watch it separately and wanna just watch one shooter and the other. The great thing is, is that, if you kind of start these conversations early, you can be set up and be ready to go, and not waste any time once the edit starts with getting things organized and moved around. You can start kind of prepping the materials. Which is not only helpful in terms of the timeline, but also editors are expensive. Editing is the most expensive part of any of this, and so the more time your editor is like going through your notes, and going through your files and trying to figure out your organizational system, the more time you're just spending money on them getting their heads around how you did this. Yeah.
So I noticed you haven't talked about file names yet. I mean if you've got a days worth of hitting record and stopping, you got tons of files. Do you do anything with that.
That's a great question. I don't, every kind of camera uses a slightly different system. I don't love the way the Atomos does file naming. The one thing I would say is that in the same way that you want to have folders that always have different names, you wanna make sure that somehow, either in your folder, in your file naming system that's internal in your camera, that somehow you're just doing something so that you guys don't end up with file names that are the same. Cause again, anytime there's something where you've got two different copies with the same name, it's a real possibility for error. Either in the part of your computer where it thinks one thing is another or you think you're backing something up and instead you're deleting something and copying it. I don't really change any file names, I just make sure that somehow me and my co director have it set up so that we're doing something different, whether it's an initial that's added to the front or back end of the name or something that will just separate it out. And then I just kind of leave it alone.
Okay, a couple more questions about kind of what we've been talking about. This is from Danielle Socha who said do you and or the director, so your co director, create shot list before you go to a shoot? And does that sort of dereference that with regard to how you're setting up your work flow?
It's a great question. I think part of the reason I really enjoy kind of logging footage at the end of the night is that it does help me think about, not just what I've done that day, but it kind of helps me prepare for what's coming up. So, you know if I'm reading through those log notes and I'm saying that things are starting to kind of get a little tense at Amy's house, and I'm noticing that, you know I don't say right away that things erupt into an argument. I'm like it's starting to get tense. I'm not quite making a shot list and I certainly can't make actions happen, but I'm starting to kinda say to myself the thing that I need tomorrow... I don't need Amy brushing her teeth tomorrow. I don't need Amy walking the dog tomorrow. I don't need... What I need tomorrow is to see is this gonna continue down this path. I start to think about like alright, I've got the whole kind of world of this person open and available to me, what should I start to kinda train my eye on? Cause it is a process of like, at first you're just collecting everything. You're like I wanna see everything, and the story develops, you say okay this doesn't matter and this doesn't matter. I don't need this, I don't need that, I need this thing. This is where I think the story's really going. This is what it's really about. So you start to make... I never like write down a shot list, but I'm making a mental shot list where I'm saying these are the things I need to see. And if I don't get them, I need to make sure I'm somehow getting to them.
This question had come up earlier but just kind of continuing the conversation we're just having now, and with working with editors. So the actual question was how much pre-planning or storyboarding do you do with the editor before they start cutting your footage? Are you ever sitting side-by-side or do they have a lot of leeway when it comes to seeing your footage and where it can be used?
That's a great question. I mean I think everyone works very differently, and every editor likes to work differently, and every director likes to work differently. In our experience, we let the editor kinda watch everything, so that in some ways she could form her own impressions, she could get her own sense of what was standing out and strong in the material without our influence and without us kind of looking over her shoulder. And then coming together and starting to talk about things, it was in that moment that like these log notes become very helpful. Because we would say, well we really think the story is here and she would kind of concur or disagree, but we could start to kind of look through the notes and say is that true? Cause sometimes also you might see something and think you shot it. And be like, I remember that conversation, right? We saw that conversation, that conversation happened. It's like, well you might of been there for the conversation but it happened when you guys were just all hanging out, having dinner. And so the log notes become kind of this way of referencing back, like oh is that something we shot or is that just something I remember knowing about? Once we get further along and we all are kind of on the same page, then it's really, you know, great to kind of be working very closely together cause you can help kind of guide, not only the story, but the feeling of the story, but everyone's very different. A couple of like other optional categories in this logging sheet, that people can you know, take or leave depending on their level of how detail oriented and how much this would be a little bit of a like help and security blanket to have these things written down, and how much it would be a distraction. Some people like to write down the first and last clip, so that there's just some where a reference of like in this folder, it should start here and end here. Like three months down the road, if that's not there you've got a problem or like you should look for it somewhere else because I know when I copied this stuff down, it was there. So it's a time for you to say like oh this should be there, is there any problem? Another thing that people write down is card or folder size. This is kind of another version of like checking is everything there. If you write down, once you've copied it, this folder had 82 gigs of material, then you know later on when you're editing and you say, well it feels like this one's incomplete. Maybe when you did a transfer, one of those folders didn't copy over completely. Maybe something got unplugged and you didn't realize it. Maybe it's lost, it could be just gone. That could happen. But maybe you wrote it down that it was 82 gigs on this drive that you're using it's only 75, maybe it didn't fully transfer over. Maybe there was some problem and the other drive has it. This is a great opportunity to kind of say, well I know that when we did it, rather than saying is that a mistake or is that not a mistake? It's gonna be very hard for you to remember all of those months later. So, some people find that very helpful. And the last place is location, not of the shoot cause that should be in your description. We were in Seattle, we were here, but like the hard drive location, we can call this. So, you have one project, it's on one drive. You've got a back up, that's one thing. You've worked on something for three years, how do I know where the 5000 series is? Is that on this drive or that drive? Where do I even find this thing? So that's when it's very helpful to say this is on the drive that... I tend to just name 'em like this through 5000 series drive. That's a good way of knowing like oh, where does the 3000 folder live? Chances are it's on the folder that has the 1000 to 5000 series on it, or on the drive that has that. So these are some kind of optional things you can do, but also it's more stuff to do at the end of your night. It's more kind of things for you to be thinking about, and the idea is really that when you're done with your shoot, you're doing this. Every night, every single time you're done. And so the more things you've gotta kinda write down and go through, the more you're unlikely to do it. So that's why I like to kinda limit it to these things here, audio notes, description, who did it, when it happened, what the name was. Okay. If there aren't any other questions, I think we'll wrap up with this and come back and talk about other people's work, kind of do some recapping of the whole class. Is there a question?
Have a question.
I actually do. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about project end of life.
You're done, now you've gotta bunch of stuff on drives. What do you keep? What do you toss? Where do you keep it? How do you store it? Some of that sort of stuff.
That's a great question. So project end of life, you know I would say you keep everything. You never know what you're gonna need, even if you're done cutting a film and you've got all the stuff that never made it into the film, you never know it my DVD extras. You've might of cut one short film, but realized that there's some crazy follow up or something and it would be very helpful. So you just keep everything. Again, in the same way that you did it during the course of shooting, you should try to think about it this way moving forward. It's two sets, those sets are not in the same closet. Hopefully, they're not even in the same building. If they're in the same building, they're not in the same location at the same building. You know, they're not all sitting in boxes in that one basement that's right near the furnace that's gonna, you know, erupt and there goes all your thing. You try to separate them out. Can you and a co director keep them? Can you and your editor each have a copy? If you're working on it on your own, do your parents have a closet that you... My parents have copies of my drives. You know, I hope they don't like put moth balls on top of them, and throw sweaters and all types of dusting things, but at very least if anything were to ever happen to my apartment, there's another place where they live. So, you try to do it like that. You should remember with hard drives, especially with spinning, you know, you have to turn hard drives on and get them to kinda boot up and spin because they will dry out and not work. You know they say you should be doing that once a month, once every few months. (chuckles) You're making a face. I've gone back and been like here's my back up hard drive. I'm just gonna turn it on to kind of give it a spin, and sometimes I've done that and they don't go on. Often that's a fixable mistake. It's not like you've dropped it and scratched it, but you know sending those drives in, having their motors or whatever makes that thing spin replaced just cause it was just sitting there is not inexpensive and it's not, not stressful. So it's good to just remember that even if your project is kind over, that you still need to like be giving it some oxygen every now and then, so that you don't lose it forever.