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Old October 6th, 2010, 05:19 AM   #1
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Survey for Doc Makers - Managing your time

Hey Guys,

Here is a bit of a survey for all the doc makers out there that I thought might be cool to get some opinions/insight on, particularly those of you that edit for broadcast. Obviously answers to these questions are highly subjective to what types of productions you are working on.

When shooting, how much footage do you normally capture as opposed to whats actually used in your production?
Do you tend to over shoot, under shoot or plan it meticulously and get just the right amount of footage and shots?
Does your allotted time for any given shoot often go over and why?
How much planning do you put in prior to any given shoot, do you often wing it or is it a bit of both?
How much time do you spend in post production editing per final minute of video?
If you have say a 30 min doc, how many hours do you estimate you spend in the editing room before the production is complete and broadcast ready with color correction and all the bells and whistles?
Is there an industry standard for hours of editing per minute of final video?
Do you share post production work with other editors?
Do you work to a schedule or timetable?

I ask these questions as folks on my own team often discuss better ways of improving work flow as we always seem to be behind schedule!
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Old October 6th, 2010, 07:11 AM   #2
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I freelance produce for a magazine-style public TV series about education. The program is 30 minutes long and consists of 4 documentary-style stories (plus interstitials, etc.). I can't speak necessarily to my co-producers methods but since here's how I approach each 5 minute segment.

SHOOTING: The nature of program (visiting a school) and the budget (public tv!) usually dictates that we'll have 1 day of shooting for the story. I try to cram as much shooting into that day as possible. Typically we'll tape 3-4 hours of footage and interviews to produce a 5 minute package. Personally, I tend to overshoot. If we're taping an event or performance, I'll usually tape the entire thing even though I know only a small bit will end up in the final segment. Same for interviews, I talk to way more people than I know I can use in the story to give myself the most options.

PLANNING: I usually spend about a day planning for the shoot. This includes scheduling the interviews, talking with the story contact to get background, doing research on the story, and writing interview questions. I always write questions ahead of time when possible (which doesn't mean I don't come up with some on the spot too!). I also try to have an outline of the finished story to help me plan. Nothing complex, a simple outline that covers the main points of the story. The outline helps me write my questions and decide who to ask what. I always walk into a shoot with a taping agenda that includes what and where I'm taping at any given moment and includes set-up time for each taping spot.

POST: Again, the format and budget of the show dictate a lot, but for a 5 min doc, I typically spend 1 day of time logging/transcribing footage, 1-2 days to get to a fine cut, and then 1 day adding music, titles, supers, mixing and color correcting. In out broadcast setting, the segment producers all submit our packages to an online editor. We work in Avid, so we turn in final sequences, source tapes, and any imported files (graphics, photos, etc.). He spends about 3 days putting the show together, tweaking graphics, color, sound, adding credits, opens, interstitials, etc. I'm not sure if this includes time for closed-captioning but I think it does.

SCHEDULE: It's a bit of both schedule and timeframe. Our shoots are definitely scheduled far ahead of time. For the producer cuts, we work on our own time, but in broadcast there's always a defined deadline to get the program to air on time. The online is strictly scheduled because of the demand on the facilities, the air date, and time for review by the exec producer, station, etc.

So I guess to summarize it takes us about 30 days to make a 30 minute show (4 producers x 5 days per segment) + 5 days of online + approx. 5 days of review/revision. Of course there's probably a whole slew of pre-production time that the show runners spend finding the stories for each episode that I'm not accounting for.
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Old October 7th, 2010, 05:43 AM   #3
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Thanks so much for the very detailed account of your time during production! - We are trying to refine our workflow and it's great to hear about how other folks are puting their shows together. We are a very small team of 4. Our bottleneck is, I am the only editor for offline/online.

We have completed perhaps 20 to 25 location shoots and mabey 8 studio (chroma Key) interview shoots so far this year, for about 10/12 shows.

Here is how I have broken down my time based upon a 30 min show with a run time of approx 22 min. I am focusing on Post work here because this is where we often get in to trouble.


* Logging / encoding to intermediate and backups 16 Hours
* Narrative (voice over recording) 4 Hours
* Rough Cuts 16 Hours
* Bumpers / sequence stingers 5 Hours
* Music / titles / lower thirds 8 Hours
* Revisions / Final cut 16 Hours
* Color grading and mastering 8 Hours

Grand total is 73 hours for post production, which of course is somewhat of an estimate (not including scripts, planning or filming) which seems like a lot! but I guess its about what it takes for the type of show we are producing with lots of cuts and mutiple fast paced bumper style edits.

I would also be really interested to hear of other folks workflow, particulary hours spent in post.
Cheers - Rich
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