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TOPIC: Arcade Fire music video cut in FCPX

Arcade Fire music video cut in FCPX 30 Jun 2014 00:49 #48859

  • TGC
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Here is a music video I recently cut for Arcade Fire using FCPX. The video stars Andrew 'Spider-Man' Garfield and was directed by David Wilson. It caused a bit of a stir on and off the web, but I'll speak to fcp related stuff here.





Below are a few observations on the process I used in X.
(I've talked about my workflow in a previous post so this is just anything new or different which came to mind)


Project Details

Shot on 35mm and Alexa (as well as 8mm and live cochella steams, both of which were not used in the final film.)
Filmed for 2days outside LA and live at Cochella.

The film was developed and delivered to me as ProRes HD with 2K DPX scans sent to the online house for conform later. All other footage was also transcoded to the same format for the offline, but various frame rates.


Organisation

Because this was mostly film (the Cochella scene is the exception), I received long lab rolls with all the shots strung together as lenghty quicktimes.

I started by broadly key wording large sections into their corresponding scenes.

Then to make it easier to view and navigate I rejected all the flash frames between shots. This was doubly helpful. 1, I never had to look at unwanted footage again and 2, long quicktimes were divided helpfully into 'seperate' clips (at least visually in the browser when hiding rejected.)

Both stills below show the same 2 long film clips, with and without rejected bits.


FilmClip.jpeg


FilmClipDivided.jpeg



I then followed my usual work flow. Pouring over the footage, selecting the pieces I liked with favourites, refining those selections before beginning to build the narrative on the timeline.


Working With Music

I started by cutting the middle of the video first. The dance section was always planned for the point in the track. I like to get stuck in on a fun bit right away!

By attaching the music track in the middle I could insert shots and build scenes before this point and it would 'ripple backwards'. Very handy for times when you don't was to work forward. When I'd broadly got each preceding scene in a place/length I wanted, I'd move the connection point to the front of this scene and continue.

Later I worked on the pacing and flow of the shots. Once things are more locked to the music I tend to pop the scene or group of shots out from the Primary (with the 'lift from storyline' shortcut Cmd + Option + Up Arrow), Re cut them and then drop it back in once I'm happy. I seem to prefer this to using the Position tool etc in the primary. I feel like I can be more while also not destroying shots or sync below.

Again because of clip connections, all the sound design I did up front stuck with it's associated sections. If the music ripples back it doesn't matter because everything jumps out they way and I can neaten it all up later. But I don't have to spend my 'creative bursts' worrying about patching, sync or overwriting audio clips like in a track based world.


Sound

Two very quick techniques I discovered and used with sound for the first time.

Reverb. At the end of the track we wanted to have it hard cut on a beat but reverb after the cut to black. When you cut a sound clip any reverb applied obviously ends at this point too. So I cut the clip where I wanted it to end, created a compound clip from it, and then added a gap clip inside the end of the compound clip. When you then apply the reverb to the compound clip it has some 'silent space' at the end for any reverb, or echo, to continue onto. (Not sure I've explained that well). Much better than the Final Cut classic days where I'd have to render out a new bit of sound with silence at the end. Also because it's a compound clip you can keep tweaking the out point and amount of 'silence' till it's perfect.

Pitch Shifted Speed Change. When we transition into the Coachella scene we also wanted to go to the live track. But the initial live recording I had hadn't been mixed and sounded a little empty. So I decided to run the live and studio track together. Obviously they didn't match timing wise, so I used the retime tool to stretch the live track slightly till the wave forms lined up, I even ramped it every now and again in the middle when it slipped. I was really surprised how well it worked with the auto pitch shift. It retimed really well.


StudioMix.jpeg


StudioMixCU.jpeg



I should add that this went off for a professional mix after me. So what you hear isn't what I did. This was purely for offline and it sounded great at the time, but the final mix of the live track totally wipes the floor with it! But it was still great to discover I could do this.


3rd Party Support

- Final Cut Library Manager.
- EDL-X to send the picture to the grade and conform.
- X2Pro to send AAF’s to the sound mix


Feel free to ask any questions. Thanks for reading!
Last Edit: 30 Jun 2014 22:55 by TGC. Reason: Added stills.
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Arcade Fire music video cut in FCPX 30 Jun 2014 01:51 #48862

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Thanks very much for the interesting rundown.

If possible, in most projects I like starting a quarter of the way in - do the meat of the edit, come up with a good finalé in the last quarter and then make the first quarter that sets up the rest of the edit.


I really like that sound tip!

If we London-based Final Cut Pro X users get together, I hope you'll be able to show us more...

@Alex4D
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Arcade Fire music video cut in FCPX 30 Jun 2014 09:56 #48880

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Let me know if you hear of any planned meet up. I'll be there!
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Arcade Fire music video cut in FCPX 30 Jun 2014 22:57 #48963

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Updated with a couple of stills.
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