Over the past couple of days I have been at a studio in South London shooting content for a conference. The material consists of three actors playing five parts. It will be displayed over the duration of the conference on three screens, two portrait 9:16 ones to the left and right of the stage, and a middle one behind which is normal landscape 16:9
The actors are working off scripts, but almost every script has an alternative version we had to record. Added to that, the actors are moving between the screens ie they walk out camera right on the left screen and then walk in camera left on the right screen. In total there are just shy of 150 clips to be delivered. We eventually ended up with just over 330 discreet video files at around 500GB as we were shooting 4K.
On the second day, instead of using a traditional clapperboard, we decided to try Movieslate running on an iPad Pro. The Movieslate was synced to the sound recordists Timecode Systems timecode generator, which was also feeding the camera.
We set Movieslate up so that the Title field was part of the script we were working on. i.e “my story - start”, “my story - middle” “my story - end” and things like “into break” and “out of break”.
Using Movieslates snippets meant it was a) quick to change and b) there was consistency across all the clips. We used data fields for Character name, Actor and which screen we were shooting for. We also had a “Alt script field” which we turned on and off as needed and a few clips were MOS.
Whats great about Movieslate is that you can customise pretty much how you want it and were quickly able to set it so title, character, actor and screen would come up before the board, giving the editor a very quick and easy to read description of what they were looking at. We also made sure file names matched across the board, camera and audio recorder.
They day actually went so long that by the end of it the AC was very adept at switching the info on the slate.
After we finished filming, I simply exported the shot log out of Movieslate and hey presto, there it all was: All the information you could need to work out what is what neatly arranged in a PDF.
But I had something else I wanted to try..
One Movieslate’s export options is FCP X, and even though I am not editing this project I was curious to see just how well the process of getting the slate info into FCP X worked.
Well it just does. And its amazing and truly revolutionary…
The workflow is really simple:
Export the Movieslate history to your computer (either directly or via an email).
Ingest the footage into FCP X
Once all the footage is ingested, export an XML out of FCP X.
Import both the Movieslate history file and the XML into Movieslates free Keyclips app.
Keyclips then matches the clips from the XML with the entries from Movieslate. It does this matching timecode, date and frame number if its selected.
After the matching process you click on export an XML which brings up various export options - these are quite impressive and extensive so its worth going back onto Movieslate and understanding all the options depending on your production.
The last stage is to export the XML from Keyclips and import it back into FCP X.
After a moment or two, as if by magic all the information logged on set appears next to the clips in the browser. Keyclips creates a new event which contains all the keywords from the information selected with notes appearing as markers within clips.
In my case the new event contained keywords for each actors name, each character name, script title, circled takes and which screen (L, R, M). So within a matter of minutes the logging process of the edit is done, no more sorting clips into bins or adding note information.
Using FCP X’s smart collection facility it would then be really quick to set up collections based on Character X, Screen L, Circled takes.
And thats it. Half the battle of the edit is done and you are just looking at the good takes.
If I was editing this I’d be laughing by now as all the leg work done by an assistant editor is done.
Now I know FCP X isn’t everyones cup of tea, but this kind of functionality is so incredibly powerful that I cannot understand for a project like this why you wouldn’t use it. I sent a screen grab of the FCP X browser screen to the producer so we shall see what they say.
I know Movieslate been around for ages ,but for various reasons I never managed to exhaustively test it like this before but I am so glad I did. I am lined up to shoot quite a few big projects like this over the next few months and Movieslate is now firmly on the kit list.
Just a note on why we didn’t use scene numbers: The AC had been taught the British way which is not to Slate numbers as scene numbers. Personally I prefer the US way but we were into the shoot before I noticed.