2. What do you have – what are the elements we have or expect to have to tell this story. It’s no good announcing the arrival of the expensive CGI sequence on the penultimate day, they should know about this before.
3. Know the rushes – not necessarily inside out and back to front but which roll relates to which filming day/interview/location/sequence. You’re a producer and a glorified edit assistant.
4. What don’t you have – what’s missing or might not arrive is as important to know as what you do have. They can then help you with suggestions to overcome the ‘gap’.
5. Bring a plan for the edit – this doesn’t have to be a detailed paper-edit (see below) but an idea of the structure based on what you have and the relative strengths of the elements you shot. Also decide how would you like to work over the coming hours and days or weeks?
6. Get them involved – if you do bring a frame-by-frame paper edit you might as well do it yourself. Editing is, yet another, TV collaboration – your editor is a fresh pair of eyes and ears on your story so their opinion matters. They are not questioning your judgement, they want to make sure they are telling the right story and making it clear enough for the audience. They are also a creative bunch who will improve your work – if you give them the chance to do so.
7. Bring music and plenty of it – saves time and gives them options to try different things.
8. Bring voiceover or the ability to write it – a key skill in the edit is writing commentary to link your sync or sequences together. Pre-empt where it is needed so you have something prepared when your editor needs it. If you’re not the fastest writer, try and write some before the edit starts.
9. Take a break – it’s a marathon not a sprint. Screen breaks and a walk around the block will do your editor and you the world of good. If you achieve what you set out to do on a certain day, go home – you’ll get more out of the following day if you do.
10. The Producers/Editors pact. A bad viewing? Don’t blame the editor and don’t bad mouth them to your Exec or whoever. In that edit you are a team, a double-act, it’s up to you to get the best out of each other and make it work. Follow the above tips and you should be halfway there.
It’s been a real confidence booster to get some positive feedback about my showreel. In this blog post, I thought I’d share how I approached putting it together.
Like writing a CV you get lots of advice, there’s no 100% ‘right’ answer and a few pitfalls to avoid. My template might not be suitable for everyone, but hopefully in the tips below you’ll find something useful.
1. Keep it short. No-one is going to sit through more than 10 minutes and actually I aimed for five.
2. Keep the clips short. This is like an advert for a ‘Now’ compilation album… throw in your well-known hits, get to the hook and get onto the next clip as soon as you can. My clips average around 30 seconds each.
3. Top and tail. My editor made me a nice graphic to echo my website but just something, anything is better than nothing and keeps some info to find you/get hold of you with the actual thing rather than on an easily lost CV/business card/scrap of paper. I wanted to show the variety of what I’ve done, hence the stomping montage at the top.
4. Stay current. If your clips are all from ages ago you’ll look like a has-been. Choose a cut-off date – I’d suggest no more than five years and preferably three. A tell-tale sign is long-dead talent or much younger than their current years. 4:3 aspect ratio pictures are also a give-away and poor quality or grainy pictures are a no-no – whatever their vintage.
5. Get a fresh pair of eyes. Drag a relative stranger in to look at it. Your close friends and colleagues won’t tell you the truth – ask someone in the biz who you don’t know that well but you know of them (and trust their judgement).
6. Get it out there. I was initially embarrassed by my showreel – 5 minutes doesn’t seem much to show for a long and distinguished (!) career. Once over that I put it on my website, sent a link to it to my contacts and had some nice DVDs printed and duplicated by a random bloke in Newcastle I found on ebay. It might look a bit corporate but you’ll look more of a pro than those with hand-scribbled DVD-Rs from PC World.
7. Update it. Just as you will regularly add to your CV and older credits will be removed, do the same with the showreel. To this end, try and keep copies of the project files and media to be able to re-cut easily in future.
Hopefully it goes without saying that you should include your own work – or work that you’ve had a significant role in creating.
If you have any tips for anyone putting together a showreel, let me know.
They are the unsung heroes.
The forgotten men and women.
Their work only gets noticed when something goes wrong.
The poor long-suffering… sound recordist.
In this blog post, I have a few suggestions on getting the best from your sound recordist.
In television we tend to prioritise pictures. Amazing revelation I know. But think for a minute, compare coming back to an edit with dodgy pictures versus dodgy sound .
In all honesty, if I had to choose between the two (and I know the obvious choice is neither), I’d rather have perfect sound and imperfect pictures. Why? Well if you have the sound, you have the story, you have the structure, the skeleton of your programme.
Bad sound tends to be unusable full stop. Bad pictures can be treated, improved or covered/replaced with archive or extra footage. It’s much harder and more expensive to go back and re-take sound.
So keep this in mind when your sound recordist is low down your list of priorities – you need to be able to trust them as much, if not more so, that your camera operator.
The first thing to get your recordist on side is to recognise the facts above. They will think you are the best thing since sliced bread, if not even before that. So treat them as an equal to you camera op… include them in planning sequences, phone them the week before about what you’ll be doing, highlight anything out of the ordinary that might mean thy need to hire extra or specialist kit.
On location, give them time to set things up right and give them the opportunity to record you some wild tracks. The atmosphere from a location – indoor or outdoor adds that extra layer to your edit and your editor will always ask if you have some.
If you have a particularly sound heavy sequence, make sure you tell them about it so they can get the best sound possible… a good example is clean SFX of sizzling etc in food shows.
After the shoot, if they got you a particularly useful/glorious/unusual bit of sound that made it into the final edit – call them, tell them, thank them. It only takes 5 minutes and will bring you a career of eternal credit and goodwill.
I’m sure there is more that would be useful advice, but that’s my top tips. If you have any to add, please get in touch and I’ll post them here.