Reflecting on the video editing process of Paddling for Happiness
The Possibilities of Remote Video Editing in 2020 by Michael Durban
When I first heard Martin’s story down in Cornwall at Jaxons Surfboards, I knew I wanted to meet Martin himself and hopefully discuss the possibility of sharing his story with the online surfing community, and perhaps beyond. Fast forward to our 5 minute cut with an online release which generated world-wide features with the likes of MagicSeaweed, Zigzag Mag and Surfer Magazine to name a few.
As a director I could not have been more happy with how Paddling for Happiness was received within the surfing community as a whole which included world re-known Kelly Slater, who shared PFH on his personal Instagram page. With 12 film festival selections and multiple features world-wide, I still felt I had some unfinished business. Having looked at what we as a team had shot and
generated along the way I decided to bring Paddling for Happiness back into production to achieve a 20+ minute cut of the documentary. Having limited time working on multiple documentaries during this period, I decided to work with Ocean Driven Media, a production company I had worked with for many years in Durban, South Africa.
Having worked with Ocean Driven Media before with the likes of Mathew Swart, I was confident with what we could achieve. However, with myself working all the way in England, specifically Newcastle upon Tyne and the video editing team in Durban, South Africa, this certainly posed a few challenges ahead of us. The biggest challenge I faced as director was not being physically present during the video editing process, as I like to be physically present to witness the development of the final project.
What this meant was that I had to fully trust ODM with the editing process. Barry Hampe notes the importance of choosing a video editor in the quote below*. Being able to trust ODM with the editing process was a huge weight off my shoulders which meant I could work on multiple projects and not be overwhelmed or sacrifice quality between productions. We were able to do this by making use of Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime.
However, we ensured a balanced level of communication during the video editing process.By doing this I felt we showed a level of respect and trust for each others craft and subsequently our editing process and schedule through out the project went as smoothly as it could. By staying in contact for weekly updates we were able to ensure the 20 minute cut of the documentary transformed into something we are quite proud of today.
“As with every other phrase of the documentary process, you will have to face the question of who is going to edit your program…Your editor lives in the world of concrete images. All he or she has to work with is what has been recorded on the film or videotape. Good intentions no longer count. Footage is everything. And a good creative editor can help you understand exactly what you have, and what you don’t have, and how to use it.”Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos | Barry Hampe
and Some words from Mathew Swart | Ocean Driven Media
“Remote working is the new buzz word of 2020 so I thought it is a good time to reflect on how we have done this before without even realising it. Michael Durban, a good friend of mine who had worked with me before moving to the UK a few years ago, got hold of me suggesting he has enough footage to turn the 5minute documentary into a longer 20minute story. I couldn’t resist the chance to be part of telling a great
story. Once we had a vision for the production the next step was transferring well over 100GB of footage to us here at OD Media in South Africa. Thankfully broadband and fibre access has developed in all the major cities in SA because a couple years back, as Mike can probably remember when he was still in SA, that downloading so much footage could take weeks on snail
paced ADSL internet. The solution we found was super simple, using Adobe Creative Cloud we shared and synced footage back and forth. We even shared the Premiere project files so if either of us opened the latest file, the footage could link locally on our systems and we could see any work done on previous edits.”
“I would always keep a copy of the edit with me on a hard drive because sometimes an idea comes to mind one day you want to work into the story, then it was just a matter of finding an hour to edit the idea in. Editing on a plane is a great way to make use of the time when the creative juices are flowing. Especially when you get bumped to business class. What did we learn the most through our remote working setup?
I would definitely say that we learned communication and expectations are key. It was a long time before I could actually show
Mike anything that resembled progress. I would attempt to explain my ideas of how I saw the edit unfolding from the direction he had given me without him being able to look at anything substantial. Once we got the first few drafts reviewed the process got easier and we fell into our groove, sending drafts back and forth. Mike would sit and make time-coded notes of changes for me, then we would chat about ideas and discuss our thoughts. It also took a lot of trust from Mike to give me the direction, and then step back to let us make it happen
with our own unique input. Having an open mind from both of us made this easier too, we were happy to hear each other’s ideas. Finally we got to the point when it was all done, we could put the film online and share the longer story with the world. Hopefully the story is inspiring and shows how the mental and physical challenges life can throw at us can both be just as tough, but a little bit of surfing could be just what the doctor ordered.
CLICK HERE to read Matt’s full contribution in his blog post!
my conclusions as a director and video editor
After writing this blog post and comparing notes with ODM, the one thing we agreed on the most was the online communication aspect of our production. Without this dynamic, I feel we would have battled significantly during the video editing process.
Therefore my opinion in working across continents with other creatives/video editors/directors to name but a few, is extremely possible if you apply good communication. With Covid-19 completely changing the landscape of the media industry this skill in itself may become even more valuable in society today.
Am I suggesting that we all start collaborating with post production houses all over the word? Yes and no, because it should first come down to the needs of the production, schedule and your clients. For Paddling for Happiness’s 20 minute cut, my restrictions in availability at the time was very limited, therefore I was able to justify the use of branching out and use a group of creatives that I trusted to handle my expectations and ambitions. This gave me as the director/producer, the freedom to focus on my various local projects in the United Kingdom at the same time.
When would I say no? If you do not have 100% trust in the ability of the editor you are handing your work over to, then I would say you are heading down a tricky road. If this is the case then you would be better off seeking a local editor you are familiar with. This is arguably one of the reasons why networking today is so important, especially with technology as advanced as it is today. So to conclude, the options are limitless to how you can achieve a successful video production. As long as you have a team in place which you can communicate, trust and respect, then I would say that you are heading towards a successful post production process.