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Old September 11th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #1
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Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

How are people managing very large timelines and moving timeline sections that contain multiple clips?

I am editing a full length documentary which after the first rough assembly stands at almost three hours (culled from around 20 hours of interviews). I need to cut it to something nearer an hour and a half, possibly even shorter, but I am struggling with the organisational aspect of managing such a large timeline, with around 1000 individual clips.

The documentary is about an RAF aerobatics team from the 1950s and it is structured historically from the formation of the team to its last days in 1960. At various points on the timeline I want to place 'breakout' topics that go into a little detail about a particular aspect of the story, for example 'what makes a good formation aerobatics pilot', 'was it dangerous', 'display techniques', recruiting new team members', etc - i.e. topics that don't necessarily fit into a specific point in the history of the team.

At the moment I'm in the rough cut stage with all clips now sitting on a single track. I have a loose idea of the structure, but I want to a) experiment by moving the breakout topics to different points in the historical timeline to see if they sit better and b) I want to move selected clips to other locations where they make more sense or build the story better.

I've just been through the timeline and established about 50 regions. I've grouped all the clips in each region.

What is frustrating is that when I move a group of clips, the region markers don't move as well and I am having to drag the regions around. I've got into a bit of a mess as a result, with region start and end points all over the timeline!

Should I be using regions in the first place? Is there a better way? Should I be using different tracks for each topic? I'd like to avoid this if possible as even when minimised, 50 tracks means constant scrolling! Fussy, I know ;-)

How are other people moving groups of clips around in a lengthy timeline and still being able to identify what the group contains?

Any thoughts welcomed. Cheers.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #2
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

First Ian, I cannot imagine a project of the scope of yours, sounds like a migraine in the making.

Anyway, I can only offer that it would seem it might be sensible for you to come up with at least a tad bit more structure or plan, and then maybe divide things up into those groups and spread them out over three or four separate projects. I personally don't use nested veg files. But I'll take a four hour project, put the clips for the beginning in one project, middle in another, the intro in another, etc. or some variation of that.

If you took this approach, maybe it would aid into making the project more manageable as well. I cannot help with the regions, haven't used them, sorry.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 06:03 PM   #3
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Thanks Jeff.

Yes it's quite a challenge! I'm mainly used to 5 minute business to business videos so this has been a real eye opener. Luckily the subject is riveting (for me, anyway!). Aside from this issue I have other challenges ahead, not least of which is sifting through and selecting from the seven hours of archive, three hours of contemporary footage and more than 1500 still images that will support the interviews!

To be honest, the structure is roughly in place, certainly the historical part, which accounts for about 40% of the material, but I'm wanting to experiment with the breakout topics, just to see if they work better elsewhere. I may not change anything, but I want to tinker. Until I've finalised the sequence of topics I don't want to cut any more clips. I'm down to three hours of very good material, all of which drives the story forward in one way or another. I want to go through the 'killing the children' process very carefully, making sure that I don't delete clips that might be more usable in other topics. That's why I want to get the structure completely locked first.

Like you I've never been a big region user, nor a user of nested vegs. I can see the practical uses for them, but it just doesn't fit in with my way of working. I would also be nervous of nesting up to 50 projects!

If only regions could be 'pinned' to a group of clips so that when that whole region is selected, cut and pasted, the region moved with it. That would be the simple answer to my immediate problem (I think).

If you're interested there's a trailer here: The Story of the Black Arrows - In Their Own Words - YouTube. It's a bit out of date and was put together when I had only shot three interviews (out of a total of 20 in the end) but it gives you an idea.

EDIT: Ha, forgot I have a website for it as well! www.classicmachinefilms.com Hope this isn't viewed as product marketing.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 06:19 PM   #4
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

every doco's different, so it's hard to be specific, but....

i always rough cut my material down to about a 2:1 ratio.

i use bins, lots of bins. depending on need i also use the trimmer quite extensively creating regions (usually in interviews), and sub-clips for cutaways, etc.,

prior to all of this i have a comprehensively mapped out script so i know where we're going (obviously subject to change, but not dramatically so).

if the subject is suitable i often sectionalise my tl, so an hour doco might well be made up of 4+ sections - which will be combined for final cc'ing, fx, titling, etc.,
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Old September 12th, 2011, 07:32 AM   #5
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Ian, I'd consider using nested projects. Let each "section" be a different project. Then you can move these separate projects around on a new timeline.
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Old September 12th, 2011, 07:46 AM   #6
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Thanks Leslie and Edward.

I think I have made extra work for myself by not transcribing all the interview material in the first place (well, the useful stuff, not all twenty hours of it!).

I have relied on building the story up 'by eye', which works perfectly for me in my five minute case studies but is clearly not a sensible basis for such a large project. Live and learn, eh?

What I have done for the time being is to group all the clips in each topic and (reluctantly) moved them to separate tracks (thanks to Excalibur for helping me to select all within a region). Fortunately there are only 15 breakout topics - the remaining regions are historical and obviously the order will remain fixed. That means the number of tracks is more managable than I first thought. I have created big holes in the timeline where I know that one or other of these topics should go. At the moment I am moving the grouped clips around at will, seeing what works best and where. It seems to be going OK, even without having the advantage of regions for identification.

I see that nested projects would have worked well here, and I wish I'd given it a go earlier in the project. I think I might be a bit too far down the line now, though. Maybe for the sequel (I have enough material for about five follow ups!).

For the time being, though, I have to drop the documentary work and concentrate on some tutorial creation for the good folk at NewBlue!

Thanks again for the suggestions.
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Old September 12th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #7
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

As a veteran of 3-hour, 5-hour, and even 6-hour projects, I can't stress enough the importance of figuring out your edit from start to finish before you start. :)

For vignettes (what may be comparable to your "breakout sessions"), I generally use rendered clips instead of nested projects. On balance, I find it less time-consuming and more responsive on the timeline.

As for moving regions, it's much quicker just to create a new one at the new location than to try to move the old one.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 01:25 AM   #8
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

So, if you are too far down the road to change, what is it you want? Is it a way to nail a Region to a spot on the Timeline? Is that it?

Grazie
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Old September 13th, 2011, 02:29 AM   #9
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Bernard View Post
So, if you are too far down the road to change, what is it you want? Is it a way to nail a Region to a spot on the Timeline? Is that it?

Grazie
That comment was in the context of Edward's suggestion about nested projects. I would have thought that I am probably too far down the line to change my existing single project into up to 50 nested projects, then to have to build a master project to house them. The other point was that I wanted to easily move individual clips from one segment to another if required, to see if they worked better elsewhere. Nesting would require multiple copies of Vegas to be open to do this (certainly more than two) and I question whether this is practical in such a complex project. I'm quite happy to change my workflow to a better method but I think that such a major change at this stage of development is not a good idea.

Going back to what I was originally asking for, it was advice on how people are moving large groups of clips around the timeline in a complex project, nothing to do with nailing regions on the timeline. Not sure where that idea came from as it's quite the opposite thing I'm looking for! I was bemoaning the fact that you can't create a region and nail it to a group of clips so that the region moves with the clips (for identification purposes). It's the fact that regions ARE nailed to the timeline that sparked this thread in the first place!

Clearly nesting is a good way to do what I wanted to do (assuming Vegas can handle 50 nested projects comfortably, and leaving aside the issue of moving individual clips around multiple nested projects). However, this is something I should have considered right at the start of the project rather than now. As I said before, live and learn, eh?

Hope that clears it up.

In fact, since that last post I have managed to get to a point where I'm happy with the structure and have done a first pass thinning to get the length down. Everything is now back on a single track again, marked up in regions and the order of events is now locked. I have become quite adept at moving, shortening and deleting regions (in fact, as per David's post, many times I have simply deleted and recreated the regions elsewhere). I'm now working on other projects for a couple of days before going in for a second round of whittling down.

To David, yes, I have learned the lesson about having a clear edit strategy from the start! As I think I mentioned, I am used to editing 5 minute corporates where I pretty much know every minute of the material and I can assemble 'by eye'. This feature length game is a whole different beast and it has been a fantastic learning experience - still is - I haven't started on the archive material and stills yet! I will almost certainly render all the individual regions (historic and vignettes - much better word, by the way) when I get to that point. I only plan to use straight cuts within any segment so chopping bits out will be easy. Thanks for the advice.
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Old September 13th, 2011, 08:32 AM   #10
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Am I the only person who's had trouble with nesting projects, in that

a) the master project takes *substantially* (several times) longer to render than it would if the clips from the nested sequence were on the master timeline, and

b) not all the video and audio from the nested project make it over to the master even though I've checked to make sure there's nothing muted etc

I'd love to make more use of nesting but it just seems troublesome in my experience.

Not that that helps in this particular query but I thought I'd throw it in...

Regards
Dave
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Old September 13th, 2011, 10:51 AM   #11
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

David, those are among the chief reasons I use rendered clips instead of nested projects. Nested projects are a great idea in theory but don't quite live up to it in practice.
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Old September 14th, 2011, 02:22 AM   #12
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

This was a concern for me as well. I love the idea of nested projects but I've read of other people's issues and with a requirement for up to 50 nested projects in my case I was not convinced it was robust enough.

I certainly will give it a go sometime as it would come in useful for reusable project elements.
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Old September 15th, 2011, 01:41 AM   #13
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Re nesting,
Is it normal to have to save as a new name, then replace in the bin to update changes?
I'll clarify,
You have a nested comp on the timeline,
You decide that one of your takes/cams in that nested project needs a bit of zoom,
so, you open up the original Veg in another instance of Vegas and make changes,
Then change back to your nested comp, this is where it goes south, the changes should be there shouldnt they??
I find they are not, unless you save the original veg with a new name and then Replace your veg in the bin with the new version. Therefore forcing Vegas to write a new sfap0 file.
Am I doing something wrong. I know when nesting with Premiere Pro they update instantly.
I havent seen media going missing yet, and hope I dont. :)
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Old September 15th, 2011, 02:18 AM   #14
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

I suspect you'll have to create a system of edits or clips that you can quickly access, together with a simple means of organising your material. As you progress things can get more complex because you may need make new adjustments and possibly change the order of sequences..

Here's a link to a tutorial to a Lightworks video tutorial that give a sense of how it stores material: What are bins, racks and rooms for? This NLE is designed for large productions with lots of material, but you can get a sense of how you'll have to organise Vegas for your film. The terms are different, but it give you a means of visualising what you need to do - it's basically a system of directories with sub directories.

What people are describing sounds rather complex, at least when they start compressing it into short posts, but what they generally are suggesting are means of doing this in Vegas.

Having everything scripted and planned in advance will really help.
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Old September 15th, 2011, 02:33 AM   #15
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Re: Managing lengthy timelines and moving sections around

Thanks Brian, I'll check that out.

I did want to clarify one point. I suspect people may have got the impression from my posts that I started out on this project with no clear idea of how I wanted it to turn out. While I certainly didn't have a clip by clip script I had a defined running order which runs to 14 pages, including notes. The running order was essentially an historical timeline showing events that happened in the life of the team, interspersed with the vignettes that I mentioned (the breakout topics).

I adopted the technique of using post-it notes with a different topic/sub-topic on each and using those to lay things out on the dining table in a linear fashion. That helped, but it wasn't until I actually saw things in place that I could clearly understand what was and wasn't working.

Having assembled a rough cut (twice as long as my target duration) I could see that certain segments didn't work well in particular spots on the history timeline so this is why I was looking for more effective ways to manipulate chunks of clips. I also could see that certain individual clips or groups of clips worked better in other vignettes.

I've never been a big user of bins, preferring to see everything on different tracks on the timeline and whittling away from there. I realise that's fine for a five minute corporate but it's a different kettle of poisson for a feature length doco!
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