One of Thomas Grove Carter's recent jobs was cutting the season 6 Game of Thrones trail. He very kindly put together a few tips he used when editing in FCPX and also described why he didn't choose to use Avid.
Game of Thrones is the biggest show on the planet right now, so when I got the opportunity to cut the first teaser trailer for season 6, I leapt at it.
What resulted was a dark and ominous tease which has racked up over 22 million views and set forums and comment threads alight with joy, frustration and wild speculation (as with anything Game of Thrones related).
I worked in Stockholm at Gangsters Postproduction with the director Rûnar Ingi and a producer from HBO. The real challenge of the edit was balancing the mood and atmosphere while building tension across the piece.
My edit also had to fit in with HBO’s existing post pipeline, which meant I had to deliver the final edit as an Avid sequence. But because of it’s speed, flexibility and general excellence I still decided to cut the spot in Final Cut Pro X.
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Once we’d selected, with Favourites as I always do, I began building the visuals, playing with the order and timings of shots. It was really great to have the Magnetic Timeline to be able to quickly re-order and experiment with the structure of shots. Getting a sense of what was working and what wasn’t, before diving in and really finessing the cut.
From there, building up a rich sound bed was key to selling the mood of the film. I know many people have reservations about audio in Final Cut Pro X, but I love it. The speed of building up sound design is unmatched. I love the built in filters, the waveforms, the lack of track/collisions and the ability to time-stretch audio.
Also, having elements connected where I want them is so natural to me now. A great example of Clip Connections’ overwhelming benefit is the final ramp of sound to the end title in this teaser. Because I connected these elements to the end frame, no matter how much I messed with the length of the edit preceding it, this ramp always crescendoed at exactly the right point. Without me having to manage or keep an eye on it all.
Another brilliant little audio trick I used a lot, which you won’t find in the manual, is hold frames on audio*. If you add a hold frame to an audio clip, it just creates silence. But if you have a reverb effect on that clip it’ll echo out into the hold frame. So when we extended and spaced lines of dialogue for dramatic effect this was perfect for making it feel natural, and eerie.
Once the edit was all approved I moved the final sequence across to Avid. This is roughly how…
Before I began cutting I had my rushes delivered as Avid DNxHD36 MXF files, to help the relinking process at the other end. These files worked well, with Final Cut just referencing the MXF’s within the Avid folder structure. It handles these files nicely, skimming was almost as smooth as with ProRes.
When it came to sending across the timeline there were quite a lot of hoops to jump through and settings to get exactly right. But very basically, I exported an XML to Resolve, and an AAF from Resolve to Avid. This bought across the picture (though not any speed ramps).
With audio I tried to send as an AAF to Avid via X2Pro, but it didn’t like it (I suspect mixed sample rates and more than 24 mono tracks was the issue). So I consolidated all the audio files and used a spreadsheet from Producers Best Friend to rebuild the audio manually.
An “Automatic Duck style” translation app would have been handy!**
I wouldn’t particularly recommend this as a workflow, It was a little bit of a pain. But for me it was much nicer cutting in X for 2 weeks and spending half a day sending it to Avid, than spending 2 weeks in Avid.
I’m really pleased with how the final teaser turned out, and it’s really exciting being involved in something which has had such a huge reaction.
As for whether Jon Snow is really dead? Don't ask me, I have no idea.
*credit to Charlie Austin for the hold frame trick (Standby Charlie - more love coming soon! -Editor)
Follow Thomas on Twitter @thomasgcarter
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