Editing for Watchout

A pretty good percentage of the projects I do are for business meetings or large conferences. For example, every year my company (Edit Creations) edits most of the videos that are played at the annual International Lions Club Convention. This summer it’s in Bangkok Thailand.

For playback on site, sometimes there is one large screen and other times there are 3 screens. The screens can be all be the same size, or they can be a mix (usually a large screen in the center and smaller side screens that are matched).

In the past when editing shows like this the budget would dictate if we were going to edit one program and just play it on all 3, or create 3 different masters that would be rolled in sync. Obviously the later is a lot more work but the payoff can be amazing when you see it all together.

Well this year we were thrown a bit of a challenge by the staging company that also supplies the AV setup. They want to use what’s called a Watchout system. I won’t get into all of the specifics (you can watch their informative demo on their website) other then to say it involves taking several screens and blending them to make one giant screen. The result is one seamless, beautiful presentation.

How big of a screen are we talking? Well, after our first pre-production meeting yesterday I found out that the native resolution is 3358 x 768. So if standard definition is 720×486, and HD can be up to 1920 x 1080, where does this screen fall into the mix? It doesn’t, and that’s where the challenge is.

Although I’m still skilled enough on the Avid Media Composer (maybe a bit rusty), my main tool of choice is Final Cut Pro. Final Cut is great in that it can handle many different resolutions. Technically I can even create a sequence that handles this jumbo size screen, but just try to play it back in real time.

So here are some of the issues I’m dealing with.

What is the best way to edit these videos? We want to deliver in the native resolution, but have a mix of both SD and HD materials.

How do we handle all of the SD and even HD elements to some degree since neither are even close to the native resolution, thus will need to be sized up at least some. How much can you get away with before it looks bad?

We’re shooting some green screen elements to incorporate. I don’t think we need to do anything different here other then to maximize the resolution by shooting HD.

Although there are 7 full videos to deliver (ranging from 4 minutes to about 45 minutes) we probably don’t have the budget to deliver ALL of them fully formatted and edited in this format. So, how do we still make use of this awesome canvas without breaking the bank on every video?

What about render times? Every video will largely be created using AfterEffects. Doing a few graphics is one thing, rendering out an entire video in larger than HD resolution is something entirely different (we’re looking into network rendering).

And maybe my biggest concern, what about time in general? Much of what we’re doing will not be editing in real time as we’re used to. We have more videos then years past, and the deadline is a month sooner then usual. All of the videos need to be complete and ready for review by the staging company no later then the end of May. That might sound like a lot of time from now, but having gone through this process for over 10 years now I can tell you it’s not. Especially when you consider that this is just one project in the mix of many other projects, with many other clients.

Today I did a few short test videos in the native resolution that are 10 seconds each. I’ll post the results in the next few days for download.

One thing I’m sure of is this one will be a challenge. But I say, bring it on.

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