The Skids Live – Multi-Clip Editing in FCP

Steve Sander on December 1, 2010

original source article
Thanks to KAMDude for posting.
Richard Jobson’s film of The Skids performing at the Alhambra theatre in Dunfermline was an excellent opportunity to utilise the capabilities of the Canon 5D MkII camera with Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7 software. I was tasked with editing 6 cameras into one seamless record of the live gig, capturing the energy of The Skids’ live performance.

The Canon cameras lent themselves beautifully to capturing stunning images in low light without distracting the band with bulky equipment, cables and additional lighting. Indeed Richard commented that while performing he completely forgot the cameras where even there. It was also beneficial for the audience whose attention stayed on the band.
The cameramen shot long takes focusing on specific aspects of the performance. One camera followed Richard, another the lead guitarist and another the base player. A static camera was trained on the drummer.
My task in the edit suite was to transcode the footage and then sync the cameras to each song as a multi-camera clip. I transcoded the footage using the free software download, MPEG Streamclip, which quickly converted the H.264 files into Apple ProRes files. I believe that there is nothing to be gained in transcoding to the ProRes HQ codec from the 5D, although some professional colourists tell me that HQ would be better. From all the tests I’ve done, I haven’t personally found a generational loss of image quality when conducting any reasonable amount of colour correcting. The H.264 codec is already heavily compressed and transcoding to an intermediate codec like ProRes HQ will not provide a boost in quality. The only benefit I can see is if you are combining 5D footage with graphics and animation work encoded at a higher data rate. It was also apparent in the case of The Skids edit that when editing multiple clips in the timeline, smaller file sizes and data rates were going to be more convenient.

Setting up multi-clips in FCP was easy. I marked the same ‘in’ point for each camera angle of a particular song and then made a multi-clip from all of the angles (syncing the clips to the ‘in’ point). I then opened the new muliti-clip in the viewing window and edited in real time, making sure to take the audio from just one camera.

Editing in real time was a joy as it enabled me to quickly put a rough edit of the track together, reacting to the music as if doing a live mix. This enabled me initially to react to the performances rather than going for a more clinical assembly. I was then able to go back and fine tune my rough edit selecting alternative angles where necessary or indeed alternative moments from different parts of the song, like a crowd reaction. In this way the live music sections from the film were edited together quickly over two days and retained, I hope, the energy from the original live performance.

There is no doubt that shooting with the Canon 5D MkII and doing a multi-clip edit streamlined the whole process and from an editorial point of view enabled me to react creatively and instinctively to the material.