Currupt FCPX libraries in Blu-ray

I went nuts when I couldn’t recover my film projects. Thank goodness I still kept a copy in a hard drive.

Blu-ray containing Final Cut Pro X libraries
Archiving is a sensitive thing. And if you work in film it can be an expensive thing. So a long ago I chose optical media. DVDs, originally. Blu-rays, currently. When I am pretty sure I have finished working on a project I burn the original files and library in a disc and delete it from my hard drive. Then I can get it back it if I ever have to  to use the footage, or if a client wants me to do a second version of a finished project. I had never had any problems in the past, when I used video editors like Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas and Final Cut Pro 7.

But this week my alarms have gone off when I couldn’t recover a Final Cut Pro X library from a Blu-ray disc. The Finder showed an “error code -36”. The problem might be related to the fact that FCPX libraries are not single files. They are a bundle, and therefore a container or folder, under the aspect of a file with extension .fcpbundle and a nice icon. But inside such a file/folder there are hundreds or thousands of small files. I bet the Blu-ray filesystem I use to burn my libraries doesn’t like all those little files.

I haven’t checked the actual reason, and I haven’t found anyone in the web with the same problem. For now I’ll solve it compressing the fcpbundle in a zip. Has anyone out there faced the same problem?

Have you Seenit?

Collaborative video makes you powerful. Imagine deploying a film crew at the other side of the globe (or around it) and receiving in near real-time all the footage in your studio. That’s what Seenit does and it’s cool.

I discovered them in the Pride in London last summer, they invited everybody to film their day. With the footage, they were showing compilation videos in Trafalgar square. Barely minutes after they were filmed.

I’ve been working with Seenit for some months now, and in this time we’ve created a wide range of collaborative videos.  From videos of film premieres to the life of professional athletes competing in British Athletics.

Yesterday we were editing the highlights of an event that took place in Singapore. From London. Technology is amazing when used well. And in the one year that Seenit has been around they seem to know how to use it creatively. Well done. It feels good to be a part of it.

The Hobbit premiere: to be or not to be?

On Monday the world premiere of the last Hobbit movie took place in London. I was there… but I wasn’t. Anyways, this is the resulting work.

It’s a short video made using the Seenit platform. Thanks to their online studio, just two people with their smartphones could film and immediately upload the footage they got at Leicester Square. I was a few meters away, actually, attending an event in Covent Garden and editing this video.

Within 3 hours we had it finished, and it was immediately published online.

After that, since I was very close, I walked by Leicester Square and saw with my own eyes how the staff was putting away the barriers. So, to be or not to be? Well, I wasn’t there… but I was.

Shooting a contemporary bird

Filming a dance performance is fun. Specially if you haven’t seen it beforehand and you don’t know the movements. It’s like  shooting a bird (with your camera) performing an erratic flight.

This is Nuno Fado, a gig from portuguese singer and dancer Nuno Silva that I filmed. Of course, before starting, you have to check the space and how much of it the dancer is going to use. As well as the light (not that you can do much about it). Then take care of the audience not blocking your shot (without disturbing them) and make sure you are recording the sound output. I personally use a microphone transmitter directly into my camera, but for this gig I was provided the final sound mix, so I just had to synch it.

After the entire video is done, I show it to the dancer and ask him to highlight the best bits. Why? Because if I have to make a wrap up video I need to know what looks artistically best, and it might be different to what the filmmaker thinks.

The funniest part is putting the transitions from song to song, and make it feel good with the constant change in rhythm and mood.

Good feedback

It’s nice to have good feedback about your work. It raises your moral, rewards you for the hard work you’ve done and sets a challenge for your ego. It’s the applause to the artists that work behind the screens/scenes.

Featured in the newspaper Ara

The video I made for the international campaign “Ara és l’hora”, about Catalonia asking for a referendum, has over 100,000 views in the official YouTube channel. Plus the replicated videos such as the one from this newspaper. Taking into account the potential audience of just over 7 million people, I would say it went viral. This is the problem of making videos for a niche audience; the number of people it reaches is always low. But anyway, I think this is the most seen video I’ve made as a freelancer. And I’ve tracked the feedback in Twitter.

The video was originally twitted by the official campaign account (fantastic video, it will move you) and was massively retweeted and favourited.

The word people used the most is Goosebumps!Goosebumps and tears seeing this video, more goosebumps… Then adjectives such as good videomoving video, really movingmagnificent, beautiful,  wonderful, FANTASTIC, cool, impressive and no words. Also deep comments like it’ll touch your soul.

Views of the video for Ara és l'hora

Some people twitted in a rush just after seeing it, I guess, and that shows in the language: OK, this video is REALLY NICE, F**K! (I love this one), this moves me… very much, I’m crying… And people urging to watch this video!, and please share it. And others who recommend this video very much.

Of course, a lot of these comments refer to the events the video shows, not the video itself. In other words, I don’t know the importance of my work in the response of the audience. But I like to think that the way the events are presented (the video edit) is of great importance.

After all, it’s me who always says that one thing I do well is turning an already good idea into an awesome idea by presenting it the right way. It’s good to see that people like your baby.

Now now, enough narcissism and get back to work.

A thousand cameras at Mindshare’s Huddle

Last summer I learned about a smartphone app that allowed you to co-create video. I tried it to film as a contributor, and it made me immediately fall in love… I’ll tell you the rest of the love story in the next post. Suffice it to say that I regularly work with Seenit now as a video editor, and yesterday we all co-created video at the Mindshare’s Huddle event.

The Huddle is a day full of collaborative discussion forums about the future of media. Understanding “media” in a broad meaning, as everything that has to do with communicating something through a channel is media. As I saw it, it was about online video, marketing and advertising, apps, collaborative stuff and cool techie things. Really fun.

But the truth is I couldn’t pay much attention because I was helping Seenit make this video (featured at The Drum). This one and 6 more videos that were being shown in the very event in near-real time. How could this be possible? This is the magic behind the platform. It allows everyone with a smartphone to become a crew member and film whatever they want. These are the thousand cameras. The footage is automatically uploaded to the studio, where the video editor in charge (me, in this case) can choose and download the clips.

I want to pay Seenit the attention it deserves, so I’ll write about it again shortly.

Silent demonstrations

Last week a quiet demonstration took place in the Spanish embassy. A group of Catalans asked, yet again, to be allowed to vote in a referendum about the independence of Catalonia from Spain. I was meant to be a very quiet demonstration. Silent, in fact. A few posters, a voting ballot inside a cage… and a single violinist at the end.

So it had to be a very sober film. Uncomplicated. Plain.  Only diegetic sound (ambiance and the violin). Let the action take over. This is how I film actuality. Some would say it’s a pretty fast edit, but I say that videos thought for online consumption must be brief and direct.

The Colours of Thailand

Recently, the Thai embassy organised a weekend event in Westfield shopping centre, London. Under the title of “The Colours of Thailand” visitors could enjoy the shows of Thai music, dance, martial arts, gastronomy and fashion.

I made a video for Bodhi Tea, a company that produces Thai herbal teas and showed them off in this festival. I used the documentary style to present this family company, as the founder gave samples to the visitors and explained about his product. The goal was to create a nice and brief presentation card about Bodhi Tea.

Music selection was an issue. It’s a Thai festival and a Thai company, so should it be Thai music? The fact that it all happens in London made me think of the target audience, which is western, so I abandoned the idea of oriental sounds.

Let me know what you think about it all.

V for Video

I’ve just directed a film that was shot all around the world, without moving from London. I’ve received more than 10 hours of raw footage in 100Gb of data.

The film “La V al món” (The V around the world) shows how thousands of Catalans make public demonstrations in dozens of countries. It’s the prelude to the huge human V that’s going to take place on 11 September in Barcelona, where more than a million people are expected for the Catalan National Day. They claim to be allowed to vote about their independence in a referendum.

SHOOTING

Every local Catalan Assembly was filming their event. It was my job to coordinate the teams, give them guidelines, be in touch with them and ask them to send me the raw footage promptly so that I could start logging, selecting and labelling the good shots.

STRUCTURE

I had outlined how I wanted the story to be told, but it was a mystery what kind of footage I would receive. I know there were a number of film professionals taking care of the shooting in some locations, but my crew was mainly amateurs. So the shape of the story wouldn’t be certain until I had logged all the 10 hours of footage I got. After this, I had in my Final Cut Pro X project organised in 18 keyword collections. It was time to start building the timeline.

IMG_2043.JPG

PARALLEL EDITING

I’m good making good ideas look awesome. I knew I had to show the emotional dimension about the issue, so I had a pretty clear idea of the editing structure. I wanted to show it as a common story, which it is. The same event happening in 100 different cities in 5 continents, at different times. I would alternate all the scenes for the audience to perceive it as a common story happening simultaneously.

I achieved this by alternating the resources I had: interviews, B-roll, aerial shots, stills… First we show where we are. Then we say where we are. We show people arriving. Then some interviews explain the reason of these demonstrations, show the atmosphere, some more interviews of non-Catalan people to show the support of the world, then people preparing, taking positions. And finally the actual human Vs, shown of course in an uplifting sequence. First the stills, the small Vs, the quiet ones, slowly growing up in movement and cheers and then the spectacular drone shots, the massive ones.

And to end the film, what I call the final fireworks. A last succession of the best images we’ve seen, plus some tiny interviews that serve as a brief, and the last super-fast arrangement of the finest shots combined with the animation and the music at its peak, leading to the final logo and slogan, staying there for a while after the big climax. And credits roll.

MUSIC

Music is very important in my films. It is paramount in order achieve the emotional response I look for. I was very lucky that I bumped into Jordi Guillem. He composed some very powerful songs for the Catalan Assembly and kindly gave them to me. He insisted that I should use his sung version as well as the instrumentals bits. I wasn’t too keen, but it ended up being a key part of the montage.

For the final chapter of the film, the one where the culmination of the Vs, I needed a powerful music. Again, I used Jordi’s outstanding song “Ara és l’hora”, specially composed for the Catalan cause. I needed a longer piece, though. So he kindly sent me every single track so I could make my own mix. And it worked great.

Although music is part of my life, I hadn’t mixed music for a long time. I had a great time experimenting with the tracks, the balance, the effects, and putting them together to make it sound good. No melody when we hear someone speaking in the video, a bit more drums here, louder pad, lower guitar… It’s been a privilege to be able to adapt an awesome song and put it in sync with the video exactly the way I needed.

COLLABORATIVE PROJECT

This is a massive project. 8,000 people attended the events around the globe. 86 people are credited as camera operators but many many more contributed to make it. From the beginning I wanted to make it collaborative as well in the edition stage. I set up a Dropbox folder to share the library files and the original media, so that other filmmakers using Final Cut Pro X could help me sort out and catalogue the raw footage. Finally it didn’t work out as I intended, so I ended up doing most of the work myself. Not all of it, though.

I have to thank Ona Estapé for the gorgeous colour correction and transcription of the interviews. And David Fiz for the motion graphics. And of course Jordi Guillem for the music. I think I like it even more than my beloved Josh Woodward. And of course my friend Alex.

DISTRIBUTION

We published the film on Monday afternoon. Its purpose is to lift the spirits just 3 days before the huge V takes place in Barcelona on Thursday, where it’s going to be screened. So far “La V al món” has over 28,000 views in the first 48 hours.

Cameo and collaborative video

Last weekend I used Cameo to create a video that got 3000 views in 24 hours. On Saturday a public demonstration took place in Greenwich, London. Lots of Catalans formed a huge human V asking for democracy, to show that they want to vote to be independent from Spain.

This was a great opportunity to use Cameo for the first time. I love Vimeo, and wanted to try this for a long time. But since I don’t make home videos I couldn’t find an excuse.

3 people made this video together. I like the collaborative dimension Cameo gives to instant video creation. The cons are that you’ve got to have a good internet connection in your smartphone. When you record a shot (of up to 6 seconds) it is instantly uploaded, so any further editing is done at the server.

I’m busy with another project and I didn’t have time to edit at my studio, so I chose the “pre-made” option. Cameo lets you choose a title, a song and a theme. You only have to shoot, put the clips in the right order (yours and those your contributors filmed) and tap “share”. Your phone is your studio.

With that, we had a nice video a few minutes after the event ended. The result is not bad. What do you think?

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