peragon RED FCPX

Chris McKechnie dropped us a line with the details of how he made a corporate video for Peragon. Shot on a Red Epic and post produced in Final Cut Pro X and REDCINE-X, we knew it was going to be a good read.

He's been making films since he was 8, owns a Red Epic and of course uses FCPX for post production. We will let Chris take up the story after we have seen the finished production for his client Peragon. (Product not available just yet!)

Video back soon.

Shoot Details:

Crew - Myself and the client :-)  Shot across 2 states. No permits were needed as we were in the middle of nowhere. V/O may be added to the edit in the middle section, still being determined by client.

Captured on Epic - 5K WS, 24p as well as 120fps
Leica R Lenses - 24, 35, 50, 80, 100, 135
Cinevate Atlas FLT - 2 footer - Portable, stable, butter smooth. This is my slider of choice for all travel gigs. It's incredibly lightweight and supports the Epic no problem.
Zolinger Steadicam Rig XT Professional - great and cost effective steadicam rig. I'd much rather hire a steadicam operator for their experience and to conserve my back, but it's fun to get these types of shots for the client and I'm glad I have this tool in my arsenal.
Creative Light Reflectors - what can I say, they travel well.
SmallHD AC7 OLED - Great monitor for focusing as well as a wireless option (Paralinx Arrow) for client to view footage. Used this along with the Paralinx to monitor the camera's comp for all the driving footage. Had this little guy in the front passenger seat. Colors are not accurate, but focus is. :-) I'd take that over color accuracy any day. Hopefully black level control is coming soon.
Paralinx Arrow
Schneider TruMatch Vari ND
Manfrotto Fluid Head Monopod
Zoom H1's
RODE Lavalier Mics
Matthews Car Mount
DJI Phantom Aerial System
MacBook Pro 17" with thunderbolt drives for mobile/on-location editing
Edited in FCPX - Graded in RCX

Project Scope:
I approached Peragon with the idea of creating a new, creative promotional piece for their website. After months of going back and forth about what the objective of the piece would be, cost, etc., they booked, and the creative treatment started. We talked about a few creative ideas. We then decided on a creative scope, then I flushed a storyboard out so I had an idea as to what I wanted/needed to capture when I was there.

Production:
Most shooting days were half days, though there were a few that were 12+ hours. Some shooting details were still getting worked/flushed out the mornings, so I was able to continue the edit while my client got things on their end sorted. Since it was a customer based video, we had to improvise as we went along. We tried to do the best we could diving into that person's life and how & why they use the cover. We were in a run-n-gun style of shooting since there was a lot to shoot given the amount of time we had scheduled, coupled with weather problems. I put myself into an "overshoot" scenario, as I wanted to have plenty to work with when I got to post-land. It wouldn't be cost effective for my client to fly me back out there if we missed something.

Whenever I'm on a production, I always try to keep the camera moving as much as possible, as I hate a static camera. I spent about 50% of the time on steadicam since that was the fastest way to move around, getting cool shots quickly. I also used the monopod rig a lot too, which enabled me to get up high enough. That was a challenging component, trying to capture the truck bed cover at the best angle. All the car driving stuff was done with the Epic on a follow car, or mounted directly to the truck being shot. I resourced my Matthews Car Mount for this and it performed flawlessly. You have to be cautious with how you position it as you could see some vibrations if you're not careful from wind. I also used my aerial rig on occasion, just to get that extra elevated shot. A couple made the final piece. The GoPro Hero 3 was the camera mounted underneath the Phantom, shot at 1080 60p.

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For lighting, I just used reflectors. I didn't bring any lighting since I knew most of this would be shot with natural light. I tried to position the sun to my advantage when I could, but again, with run-n-gun I didn't always have that luxury.

For audio I used Zoom H1's along with RODE Lavalier Mics. On Heath's opening segment, there was no way to monitor audio since I was a good distance from him. So right after that set, I ran up to check the audio. These things have never let me down (knock on wood). I check levels, hit record, put it on hold, then it's off to the races. I ALWAYS check audio right after to verify there was no rustling, clicks, pops and the like. These are far better than wireless devices I feel, because there is NEVER any wireless interference, and you get really good sounding audio for the price. At only $375 out the door for the audio package, you can't beat it.

At the end of the shooting time, we felt like we had captured everything. The Epic performed perfectly (as usual), we were incredibly happy with the imagery and then it was up to the editing to flush out the story.

Click on pictures to see larger versions on flickr.

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Post-Production:

I started post on Day 1. Ingesting, checking footage, etc. I began laying things on the timeline, organizing/labeling (love this in FCPX), comparing my edit to the storyboards (even though some of the boards were still in my head). If we ended at 5pm, I would eat, then dive into editing. I want to maximize my time when I'm away from my family, that way when I get home, more time can be spent with them. I used FCPX to do the edit. I was always a FCP editor, but when I purchased the Epic, Premier Pro was the only R3D native workflow available, so I made the switch. Since the recent addition of R3D support, I switched back to FCPX, and I'm having so much more fun editing. It's a completely different way of editing, and I love it. A good little, and cheap, application to use is Event Manager X, which I'm sure most of you have heard of. It's a little app that will hide all FCPX projects/events that you don't want your ram to cache up on load, this frees up more ram for your specific project.

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I'm so much faster with FCPX, you have ample plugin support, exports & renders are much faster and you have bundle export. Wahoo!! I know Premier and AME are like the same thing, but this seems much easier. I'll probably use Premier Pro again, but for now I'll be sticking with FCPX.

Grading was done in RCX (REDCINE-X). The workflow with FCPX and RCX is very streamlined and fluid. I make changes in RCX and they instantly show up in FCPX. Just make sure that before you import your media into FCPX, you import ALL of your R3D's into a RCX project, then select all the media, right click, and select "save RMD." That way changes will instantly happen when made in RCX. I used RCX because it does have more control over the RAW format than that offered by FCPX. I use DaVinci as well, but I just figure that if I have to go into DaVinci, I should hire a colorist.

Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 2.59.05 PM

 

All-in-all I loved being a part of this project. We had so much fun, kept the environment light-hearted, and just had a blast. Ultimately, my end goal, was to make the client happy, which the video did. We're gonna start talking about the next one soon.

 

We asked for a bit more information on the post part of the story from Chris and he very kindly replied:

With Premier Pro, I don't think I could have gotten the job done as quickly as I did. By the last day of shooting, all I really had to do was drop in the last 30 seconds, then the piece was complete. :-) The FCPX workflow really helped me to keep footage organized, which streamlined my workflow and delivery of the end product. 
 
I worked in a 5K WS timeline, working with the 5K RED Epic files natively. I even put the GoPro footage in that timeline since I wanted to keep as much of my time render free as possible. At the end, I copied and pasted the entire timeline onto a 1920x1080p timeline. All the R3D clips were set to "fit" under special conforming. I did a custom crop via an adjustment later within FCPX, so that way the GoPro footage would be cropped on the top & bottom, essentially making it the same aspect ratio as the RED footage. I love the ultra widescreen look. I then used handbrake to create a custom mp4 file for uploading, since doing the share option within FCPX to Vimeo doesn't generate that custom 1920x808 file. If I shared it directly from FCPX to Vimeo, it would have had bars on the top and bottom, so I wanted to avoid that. :-) 
 
A big thank you to Chris for sharing his story. If we owned one of those trucks, we would have ordered a Peragon cover by now!