How To Be A DIT Part 7

How To Be A DIT Part 7 – Tips & Tech

What does a DIT do?

This series of How To Be A DIT posts is marching into it’s 7th instalment. Although you don’t have to be a DIT to benefit from the resources and technology shared here, as if you are an editor or colorist you should hopefully learn a useful thing or two, too.

Understanding bit rates, colour bit depth, frame rates and more

Understanding Aspect Ratios

In a quick fire round up of useful information for understanding everything that’s happening inside each frame of your digital footage.

Film editor Vashi Nedomansky has collected together a great catologue of the history of cinematic aspect ratios, starting with Thomas Edison and 1.33 and running all the way to 2.39 with theatrical and blu-ray formats. There is a great free download of 70 aspect ratio crops (psd files) as well as an After Effects template to morph your 16 x 9 footage into anamorphic.

Which GPU should you get for video?: This very useful article from ProMax runs you through all the reasons why you need more GPU’s in your system and what the specs really mean. Get to grips with CUDA cores, VRAM, clock speeds and floating point performance.

In the world of video production and 3D design, much of our data boils down to the color information in a single frame of video. We tweak it, play with the curves, bring detail out of the shadows, etc…but at the (simplified) base level what we’re really doing is taking numbers that represent color information in that frame and multiplying or adding to them to reach a new number. When you can process thousands of those calculations simultaneously instead of 8, things happen much, much faster, and for us that means adding a lot of effects to your timelines and keeping things real time.

Understanding Bit Rates: Larry Jordan recently shared a useful analogy for wrapping your noodle around understanding bit rates and compression. It’s a quick but useful read.

I always recommend exporting projects at the highest quality your project will support, then compressing from that large master file. It’s an extra step, but it always yields better results. And, now you know why.

Demystifying colour bit depth, dynamic range and linear/logarithmic scales: Rich Lackey, a Dubai based filmmaker, explains what happens when film is converted to digital with regards to those three factors.
Click through for tons more resources, plus the best three articles on being a DIT out there

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Ebook: How To Be A Successful Freelance Creative

Forthcoming Ebook For Freelance Creatives

How to be a successful freelance creative

So, I’m writing this book on how to be a successful freelance creative, essentially trying to pack in every useful piece of advice I’ve ever received, lesson I’ve ever learned, mistake I’ve ever made and technique that’s ever helped me in the past 8 years into one really practical, helpful, readable resource.

Basically everything I wish I’d known when I started.

Although I’ve got plenty of ideas and content for the 10 chapters I’ve scribbled out so far, I’ll only be able to write what I think a creative professional needs to know when starting out as a freelancer, so I really need your help to know what YOU think freelancers need to know.

If you’ve got one minute to spare, please fill out this 6 question survey, it really would be a huge help! If you’ve got even more thoughts to share, please do hit the comments section below and let me know what you think a book like this should cover…

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The Art and Craft of Sound Design

Understanding The Craft of Sound Design

Sound design is 60% of any film’s construction. In many ways good sound design is more important than good picture. You might be forgiven for shaky camera work, bad lighting etc but if your audience cannot hear your film you’re in big trouble. Check out these tutorials, insights and resources on creating great sound design.

Just for fun I’ve kicked off this post with a recent animation that I created the sound design for so I hope you enjoy it! Animation by my bro over on animationseven and helping to promote The Pioneers.

Pro Tools Sound Design Lecture

In this almost 2 hour lecture sound designer Brian Smith walks through using Pro Tools to add sound design to a simple single shot which makes for a fantastic beginners guide to both the technical and creative aspects of the craft.

Creating 5.1 Surround Sound Temp Mixes

In this fantastic step by step tutorial editor Evan Schiff shows you, in great detail, how he and the Bad Robot team used Avid Media Composer’s 5.1 surround sound mixing capabilities to create “the most complex temp soundtrack ever contained within 16 mono tracks.” for Star Trek Into Darkness. If you’re cutting on Avid it’s well worth a read.

5.1 Surround Sound Mixes in Avid

If you’re editing in FCPX Dan Allan shows your how to work with Surround sound mixes in this previous post.

Click through for interviews with professional sound designers and tons of more great resources

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The Making of A British Indie Movie – The Last Passenger

Making of The Last Passenger

It’s not often that a British indie film actually looks any good but low budget thriller The Last Passenger, from first time feature director Omid Nooshin, looks quite impressive for what it cost, only £1.5 million ($2.4 million).

I first heard about the film when I saw this article in the Evening Standard about how his £500 pitch trailer won the attention of financiers and allowed him to get the film off the ground. You can check it out for yourself below. (The official online trailer is at the top.)

Post production assistant Cristen Reading posted an insiders view of the film’s post production journey over on the Avid blogs site featuring a couple of pretty interesting behind the scenes EPK films covering the films editing and sound design.

One man VFX Team on The Last Passenger

From the vimeo description on the VFX compilation it sounds like VFX artist Tim Smit really had his work cut out for him:

2,100 man hours. 350 hours of render time. 45 comp layers per shot. 16 processing cores. 3 nights without sleep. 106 completed VFX shots. 1 VFX artist.

Click through for more BTS films from The Last Passenger

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Tips & Tutorials for Adobe Premiere Pro Editors

Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC

If you’ve just made the transition to editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC then this round up tutorials and resources should help make that move a smooth one. There is a lot to like about Premiere Pro, not least the constant updates and bug fixes but the fact that Adobe want to make it easy for you to use their software.

New features in adobe premiere pro

If you’re coming from FCP7 and want to get to work straight away, simply change the keyboard settings to (mostly) match those of FCP7 and you’ll be cutting happily away in no time at all. Premiere Pro > Keyboard Shortcuts > Keyboard Layout Preset

To get started with the very latest features in the October 2013 Premiere Pro 7.1 update check out the video above from the ever helpful showcasing just some of the best new additions.

For a more skimmable tour Rev Up Transmedia has a great top ten list as well. A complete listing of all the new features for Adobe’s video software is available on the official adobe site.

If you’re looking for even more Premiere Pro resources check out the other most recent previous post or the entire tagged category. Also check out Oliver Peter’s bookmark worthy Digital Films blog as he has recently posted several articles on Adobe CC.

Oliver Peter’s on Premiere Pro CC,  on the Creative Cloud Part 1 and Part 2, Offline to Online with CC (& FCPX),

Editing Tips for Premiere Pro Editors

In this short tutorial Jesse Borkowski demonstrates how to copy and paste transitions. In this detailed article editing guru Larry Jordan demonstrates all the various ways to trim inside of Premiere and some of the preferences that you might want to activate to get the best results.

Trimming inside premiere pro

If you are coming from FCP7 then this other excellent video from is definitely worth a watch as it will quickly get you up to speed on some of the most significant differences and similarities between the two programs. Also check out Imagination Creations excellent article on switching from FCP7.

If you’re trying to figure out how to increase the level of Undo/Redo’s in Premiere, this tweet from @postblueTV shows you how…

This timesaving article from Clay Asbury over on Premium Beat will help you both fully understand and correctly set up your user preferences for maximum efficiency.

Setting up premiere pro preferences correctly

As a final note it’s well worth reading this post from Dennis Radeke over on the Adobe blog site, about where Premiere Pro fits in the world of render taxes. Everyone has to pay them so you may as well choose wisely!

Here’s why I think Premiere Pro is awesome at handling the ‘render taxes’ issue: It handles media natively so the huge render tax at the beginning is negated.  During the edit, Premiere Pro provides a unique CPU+GPU solution coupled with user definable playback controls so that you are never waiting for your timeline to render a preview.  Finally, when you’re exporting your finished edit, you do so in the background so that you’re never waiting for your computer so you can begin the creative process again.  In addition, Premiere Pro CC has embraced the idea of smart rendering so that whenever possible, we will minimize any rendering that’s necessary.

Click through for a complete CinemaDNG workflow, over 4 hours of free training and great insights into why professional TV and feature film editors are switching to Premiere Pro CC

Posted in Adobe, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Colour Grading, Compositing, DaVinci Resolve, Editing, Editor's Tools, Speedgrade, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mamba FX – Free Download & Tutorials

Mamba FX – Compositing Tutorials

Mamba FX Tutorials

Mamaba FX is a brand new, high end compositing tool from SGO, makers of Mistika – a colour grading solution. Mamba is a single shot compositing tool with a node based architecture. According to the website it comes with “a wide range of built in effects including high quality keyers, noise patterns, distortions, tracking, titling and painting tools as well as high speed, optical flow based timewarp, denoise and motion blur functions.

If you want to get a solid overview of what Mamba can do and to pick up some compositing tips and tricks check out the 24 minute overview video and 42 minute compositing tutorial on You can even download a free trial too.

Mamba Tutorials

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Is The New Mac Pro Right For You?

Post Production Thoughts on The New Mac Pro

UPDATE: So the new Mac Pro is finally upon us having been profiled this week, with much more information from Apple about their new definition of desk top computing.

The headlines for the new Mac Pro are as follows, available in December:

$2,999 =  3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory Dual AMD FirePro D300 with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each. 256GB PCIe-based flash storage.

$3,999 =  3.5GHz Six-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory Dual AMD FirePro D500 with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each. 256GB PCIe-based flash storage.

All configurations ship with 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports, 4 USB 3 ports, dual gigabit ethernet ports and an HDMI 1.4 port.

On top of this you will be able to spec it out to up to 12-cores (2.7GHZ Intel Xeon E5’s), up to 64GB’s of RAM and beefier D700 graphics cards. As the machines aren’t shipping yet, there doesn’t appear to be any figures attached just yet. But you can compare all of the desktop systems side by side.

Update: Post production trainer Larry Jordan shares his thoughts on the new Mac Pro, working his way through each part of the machine in turn. It’s a great read if you really want to get to grips with how best to invest your money when purchasing a new Mac Pro.

Hackinstosh Mac Pro

As a quick aside editor Dylan Reeve has put together an interesting post asking whether you can build a similar system for the same kind of cash but through hackinstosh parts. It is mostly possible, with greater flexibility, but so far without Thunderbolt. Cinematographer Adam Roberts has also built a pretty beefy hackintosh here.

What Can You Do With A New Mac Pro?

On the Mac Pro site (a thing of beauty in itself) you can check out the performance stats supplied by Apple covering numerous creative possibilities, including photography, 3D design and animation, graphic design and layout, audio, and even scientific applications.

Here are the stats for the new version of FCPX (also coming in December) which will be ‘optimised’ to make the most of the 4k capabilities of the new Mac Pro and the performace stats for DaVinci Resolve 10 on the new Mac Pro.

Final Cut Pro X

New Mac Pro and New Final Cut Pro X performance stats

DaVinci Resolve 10

Mac Pro and DaVinci Resolve Performance Stats

Click through for a huge amount of further thought on the new Mac Pro

Posted in Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, AVID, Business, Colour Grading, DaVinci Resolve, Editing, Editor's Tools, FCP-X, Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fighting Sex Trafficking With Filmmaking

Editing With A Cause – Taken Photodocumentary

Taken Photodocumentary Ebook

Taken, a photodocumentary ebook, launched last week and available on iPads everywhere from the ibooks store, is out to help fight sex trafficking through a mix of gripping photography and engaging film content. It’s a tough subject matter, gracefully handled by photojournalist Hazel Thompson, a regular shooter for the New York Times and other national outfits, who has spent the last 11 years returning to Mumbai to expose the horrific true stories of the women and children trapped in prostitution.

Editing the Taken Documentary Films

I had the privilege of working on this great project thanks to a connection through a mutual friend of ours, director Roy Petersen, for whom Hazel shot a quirky short documentary about a 102 year old jazz musician and his young, toy shop owning friend, which I later edited. Hazel liked what I’d done and asked me to cut the three short films for this project, which follow the trajectory of the book.

Due to a scheduling conflict I had to cut Taken in every spare evening and weekend I had going over the summer. Working two jobs was gruelling but it always felt well worth it when I finally collapsed in bed after inching the edit forward each night. There was about 24 hours of raw footage to cut down into three, 3-5 minute short films, and thanks to Hazel’s courageous filming effort, an embarrassment of riches to work with.

As a result of all the great source material, plus Roy’s superb interview with Hazel about the making of the book, I ended up creating eight other short making of films, plus the trailer to help promote the book.

Trying to Make A Difference With My Craft

Taken Ebook

Working on Taken was one of those hard, but satisfying gigs where you get to feel like what you have to offer the world, the skills you use every day, can actually be valuable and help to make a difference where it matters most. So I’m really thankful for the opportunity to have edited the films. If you’ve got an ipad, check out the free sampler on the ibooks store and if you feel motivated, buy the book too. All the profits go to help rescue more and more women and children from a slow death in the hellish streets of Mumbai’s Red Light district.  The work Jubilee Campaign and Bombay Teen Challenge do is incredible and well worth supporting.

Posted in Creativity, Documentaries, Editing, Final Cut Pro, Free download, My Work | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improve Your Edit – Insights on the Craft of Film Editing

Improve Your Edit – Film Editing Fundamentals

Developing your craft as a film editor means taking the time to study and truly understand what make an edit better. Some of editing can be learned by gut feel, but applying yourself to breaking down the film editing techniques at your disposal, especially if you’re just starting out, will really help you improve your work. To that end here is a quick round up of some editing fundamentals.

Editing for Rhythm and Pace

In this video lecture Kurt Lancaster shares his thoughts on editing for pace and rhythm through comparing two documentary films about free climbers. Great insights into the entire filmmaking process and the stylistic differences of a news or poetic aesthetic.

Cutting Rhythms - The Craft of Film EditingFor a book all about the intricacies of the rhythmic side of editing grab a copy of Karen Pearlman’s in-depth investigation of the subject Cutting Rhythms, originally her Phd thesis.

I’ve thumbed through the copy on my shelf and it looks like a fascinating read for any film editor serious about understanding the elements at play in the heart of their craft. It’s also a rare opportunity to read about a side of film editing, which is covered much less often than the technical ‘how-to’ side of being a film editor.

Buy it on |

Working With Temp Music

In this brilliant interview snippet director Christopher Nolan and Director Richard Donner share their thoughts on working with Temp music. I’ve also blogged about how to avoid the temp music trap over on Premium Beat.

Editing Action Sequences

Editor Vashi Nedomansky shares some great tips for creating action sequences on a low budget through some smart editing tricks. Check out the video above and the supporting blog post on his site. For another perspective on editing action sequences check out these great video lectures from Jim Emerson breaking down The Dark Knight, Salt and The French Connection.

Click through for even more film editing tips

Posted in AVID, Craft, Creativity, Editing, Editor's Tools, Interview, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Making of Gravity

Behind The Scenes on Gravity

buy gravity on amazon

Director Alfonso Cuarón’s heart stopping Gravity is causing critics to say that they’re finally seeing a film where 3D is no longer a gimmick and that the best way to experience this film is in immersive IMAX 3D. This round up of production, post and visual effects behind the scenes insights will take you into the film’s gripping world.

For a simple 5 minute tour of the film’s production and post production you could simply watch this EPK before jumping into some of the more detailed articles.

Update: The DVD and Blu-ray of Gravity has now been released. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards and winner of 7, if you’ve not yet seen the film – seriously, what are you waiting for?!   Buy on Buy on


Light Box during making of Gravity

With a movie like Gravity it’s hard to define exactly where pre-production, production and post production delineate and so the ways in which I’ve split all these resources up, might feel a little arbitrary.

Update: For an enjoyably anecdote laden write up on the making of Gravity this excellent article from DazedDigital is a great read.

To simulate free floating space cadets, Cuarón enlisted the help of automobile manufacturing technology. These robots usually deal in autos, which meant toting around a 5 foot 7 Sandra Bullock was effortless. They also have the precision of movement (hence the pre-vis and pre-programming) that even the steadiest grip couldn’t replicate for camerawork. “The night before we started shooting, nothing was working. The night before, we had a dummy there doing a test and the robot just went through the head like paow!”

This post from The Wrap offers some good quotes and insights into the making of the film which stretched over 4 and a half years and pushed the available technology to the limit, while the team wrestled with just how to achieve Cuarón’s ambitious vision.

They also constructed something called the “light box.” The 10 foot by 10 foot space was outfitted with more than 4,000 LED lightbulbs and functioned as a giant television screen. It allowed the effects team to play any computer graphics image they wanted in order to get the light from the sun, the stars and other celestial adornments just right. Roughly 60 percent of the film was shot in the box.

how they shot gravity

Cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, ASC, AMC is interviewed on his ground-breaking work on the film in this short but meaty American Society of Cinematographers article. Extensive coverage of Gravity is available in the November edition of the ASC magazine which you can read here. Including an excellent breakdown of the file based workflow.

“On Gravity, a big part of my collaboration was to do the virtual lighting,” says Chivo. “I was lucky to be included in the movie that way. And virtual lighting is not more or less than the more conventional light we have always done. But it is every bit as important. And I think we are going to be doing more and more virtual lighting.”

For some great behind the scenes photographs check out this collection from and for an long read on the inside story of the films production sit back and enjoy this superb article from Variety.

In the end, those behind the scenes agreed that the technology and prep succeeded in one crucial respect: It let the filmmakers — and the movie — zero in on Bullock’s performance, which is already being buzzed about.

“The shoot for me was those Eureka moments,” says Cuaron, recalling one particularly absorbing closeup of Bullock as Stone when the character is talking about her daughter. “You’re cool that the light actually worked this time?” he asked Lubezki. “Was everything in sync?” he queried Webber.

“The two of them said, ‘Of course. Forget about that. Do you see what just happened?’ Suddenly, with all that weight of technology, we were capturing a great performance. … It was those moments in which everything came together for what was the point of this film, the experience of a human up there.”

Behind the scenes on Gravity Click through for tons more behind the scenes insights

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