Pulling Off the One-Man Show (Pt. IV) – Post-Production
Mike Smith is President, CEO and Co-Founder of Zephyr Entertainment , a LA-based production company dedicated to reinventing classic cinema in the new media era and fostering a community of forward-thinking creatives.
Check out the other posts in this series: Pulling Off the One-Man Show – The Basics, Pulling Off the One-Man Show (Pt. II) – Pre-Production, and Pulling Off the One-Man Show (Pt. III) –Production.
MAKE OR BREAK TIME
Time to take a deep breath – you made it! This respite is necessary not because you’ve reached the end, but because you’ve reached the point of no return. This part of the process will absolutely be the most tedious and time-consuming, but it’s important not to rush, especially if there are no expectations of a post-production timeline. Mr. Shan post-production took us roughly 8 months, which was well beyond our expected turnaround. However, if you aren’t taking on all of post-production yourself/between your team, don’t expect immediate results, especially if you are hiring others on a limited budget. But don’t stress, your patience will pay off.
This is where the sausage gets made, but if you’re an editor like me, this is the most exciting part of the process. I recommend using the Adobe Create Cloud Suite for most of your post-production needs and specifically Premiere Pro CC for editing. Go with your personal preference, of course, but I find Premiere to be most intuitive for the work that needs to be done and Adobe CC makes transferring the project between programs a cinch. I’m going to gloss over the basics of editing for now (though maybe that’ll be my next blog series?) so we can focus on how to execute the production techniques outlined in my last post. Let’s start with the easy stuff…
For any shots that are single coverage or over-the-shoulder (OTS) coverage, just place them on the timeline in order like you would when editing any other video or film. If shot correctly, you’ll find that these shots flow together seamlessly and create the illusion of multiple characters interacting in the same space. For additional organization, you can label these clips as they correspond to each character. We needed this when editing Mr. Shan as we had a bunch of characters to keep track of in a given scene. To do this, right click the designated clip and go to “Label” to select your color (i.e. Mr. Shan is green , Mr. Wang is yellow ). I also like to keep clips of the same character (or “color”) on the same video track (V1, V2, V3, etc.). You’ll have to flatten this timeline (or compressing your clips to as few video tracks as possible) later on in the process, but for now, this is the best way for you and/or others on your team to keep track of everything.
For split screens, take all of the clips that consist of your split screen shot and stack them on top of each other in the timeline (V1, V2, V3, etc.). In the shot above, we only needed two clips to make this shot (one for Shan and one for Juice). Once we stacked them in the timeline, we added the Crop Effect to the clip in V2 and cropped it roughly 50% (or wherever you can create a clear dividing line without making it obvious) from the left/right. From there, we made sure that the action lined up, the clips were the same length, and we couldn’t see the C-Stand stand-in that Eddie had to make out with. Now, the dividing line you created might be visible, but that can be cleaned up in VFX.
All VFX work will be done in Adobe After Effects, as it is already included in Adobe CC and works seamlessly with other programs in the Adobe CC Suite. The amount of VFX work required greatly depends on the scale and scope of your one-man web series. For Mr. Shan , that amount of work even varied from episode to episode. It ranged from 100 Bucks , where we only had smooth out 3 split screens with a tilt down, to Boba War , which contained over dozens of muzzle flares, boba bullets and explosions. What you can do all depends on your/your VFX artist’s skill level, but if you’re willing to put the time in to learn, the possibilities are endless.
VFX is also the time you can bring together your green screen shots. Going back to our Shan choir shot from last week’s post, this was accomplished using three layers. The two Shans in the background were layered in Premiere using the split screen method (with roughly a 50% crop). From there, we placed the foreground clip of Mr. Shan in front of green screen on the top layer (V3), and the three layers to After Effects as a composition. Once in After Effects, we applied the Color Difference Key effect to the layer we wanted to make partially transparent (the one with the green screen). Here are step-by-step instructions for using this tool, though you should do some trial and error with the individual settings until the green screen is no longer visible. Take your time with this, as a visible green screen is an easy way to take your audience right out of the show.
For the most part, the rest of post-production (color, sound, music and titles) plays out exactly the same way as it would for another project. Color and titles can all be done in Premiere, though if you want to take your color game to the next level, I highly recommend using DaVinci Resolve, especially if you’re using a Blackmagic camera system. If you’re not a musician using Logic to compose the music for your series, you can search for Royalty Free music using the Creative Commons search engine or sites like Incompetech. And finally, for sound, Adobe Audition or Pro Tools are your friends, as is the YouTube Audio Library for sound effects (and music too!).
If you end up needing ADR for your series, it might end up looking a little like this…
That’s all for now! Tune in next week where I will be discussing Distribution and Marketing tips & tricks for your next One-Man Web Series.
If you’d like to see the first season of Mr. Shan , you can stream it for free with your Amazon Prime Subscription. Don’t have Prime? Mr. Shan is now available on Kino!