Monday, 7 July 2014

Fixing Fencing: the postproduction of Fencing - colour correction and technical concerns

I also liked the extra layer of degradation that is added to the visuals of Founders Hall due to the camera’s inability to white balance against the lighting. The orange tinge and the anachronistic surroundings of flounders hall presents the iconography of the fencers in a completely un-stereotypical and pristine-elitist light – exactly what the documentary explores!

Fencing is a short documentary and reflective wiki that I co-created with my colleague, Thomas Wiltshire, for our final year BA (Hons) documentary project. The project was orchestrated between October 2012 to April 2013. For a more detailed overview see Fencing: an examination of the sport and an exploration of the documentary medium.

Presented here are 2 pages from the wiki that deal with the colour correction technical concerns we experienced.


Colour Correction, or lack of...

Pete's Reasoning:


As the documentary is about challenging the dominant perceptions of fencing as an elitist sport one of the visuals I felt we had to get away from was the highly polished and pristine look of fencing, as demonstrated in the video below:



Being the outsider to the subject of fencing, one of the first things I noticed while filming the documentary was the sheer amount of physical assertion that fencing requires. As a result of this fencing generates a great deal of sweat and grit – a realist element that the pristine look often avoids.

It is also interesting to note our filming locations; the STV is brand new and typical of the pristine fencing look.

Whereas Flounders Hall is falling apart and typical of the realities of fencing.



Detailed here are the reasons for why Pete and Tom elected not to perform any colour correction for the final cuts of the documentary and trailer.


Due to the NX5’s inability to manually white balance against the lighting in Flounder’s Hall, the initial plan was to fix it in post. However, as the editing progressed Tom and Pete developed artistic reasons for wanting to retain the original un-colour corrected footage.


Tom’s Reasoning:

20/2/2013

As editing begins I'm becoming more and more aware of the advantages the difference in lighting yields.

It can - and most likely will - be employed to both emphasise and enhance certain scenes which bare association with a deep, warm colour palette.

Making the contrast in pigmentation - developed between the Founders Hall and the STV - provide a potentially dramatic and captivating dialogue between visuals and interviews in the editing choices.

In light of this thinking, I also liked the extra layer of degradation that is added to the visuals of Founders Hall due to the camera’s inability to white balance against the lighting. The orange tinge and the anachronistic surroundings of flounders hall presents the iconography of the fencers in a completely un-stereotypical and pristine-elitist light – exactly what the documentary explores!

Therefore, this is my reasoning for not wanting to colour correct the footage. It’s an instance in the process of filmmaking where an unintentionally/avoidable formalist element has added to the impression of a realist/honest/un-stereotypical presentation of a subject – in this case the diversity of fencing.



Technical Problems

White Balancing in Flounders Hall



The NX5 struggles to white balance in the Flounders Hall filming location, even with the manual white balance programming.


Final Cut 7 and 10 compatibilities

Due to Final Cut 10 being a complete overhaul of the Final Cut operating system Tom has experience problems with using Pete's Final Cut 7 project files on his Final Cut 10.

However, Tom has found a program that allows you to convert Final Cut 7 project files into the Final Cut 10 format.


Importing footage from the NX5

Tom has experienced more problems with this than Pete, as the Final Cut 10 import process differs somewhat with Final Cut 7. Pete's importing problems have been due more to lack of hard drive space.


File Sizes

As the NX5 shoots in 1080p the file sizes of the footage are vastly bigger than they would be with footage files created from a mini DV tape. This has taken both Tom and Pete by surprise and has created some problems with finding enough space to store the footage files. Tom didn't have much space on his Mac book or external hard drive and Pete couldn't store it on his hard drive because of its format settings which do not allow it to except files bigger than 4GB. As well as this he struggled to find enough space on the macs in the bottom room of the Gatehouse because they still have student work on them from two years ago.

Pete and Tom have both invested in new external hard drives to store the project files. In addition to this Pete has managed to clean some space up on one of the Macs so it can be used to back-up all of the footage files.


Timecode on the footage

Some of the footage had the time and date rendered onto the lower half of the frame.



This was later identified as a setting on the NX5 which was turned off to eliminate the camera from doing this in future.


All the footage that has been affected will be re-cropped in post-production.


Importing footage from Mini DV Tape

As Tom had captured some of the footage from Shoot 6 on the PD 175 it meant we had to log and capture the tape. However, we experienced problems due to various timecode breaks. It wouldn't even import via a live capture.

Danny showed us how to do it through iMovie.


Gain

Some of the footage from Shoot 4 has the gain setting on and these pieces of footage have a grainy image as a result. This was done in error and can not be fixed.


One channel sound

Due to an error, all of the sound captured from all the shoots had only been recorded on one of the NX5’s channels and this meant that this native sound was only playing in the left channel. While this is a little irritating, it is not a huge problem to fix, you just centralise the sound in Final Cut so that it plays out of both the left and right channels. In addition to balancing the sound field, this enables the narrative sound to play much louder in relation to the other sound elements, which in our case is the music track.

Fixing this problem in Final Cut 7 is very straightforward; however, we couldn't work out how to do it in Final Cut 10. Therefore, we ended up doing a bit of back and forth exporting and importing between Final Cut 7 and 10.


If you want to view a slightly different look at the making of the documentary and the shaping of my POV on fencing, then have a look at the photopgraphs I captured...

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