Real-Time Editing and Immediate Video Release

Adam Wygle and Bryan Zug make up Bootstrapper Studios, a video production company forming part of the new wave of real-time editing and immediate video release. Located in the vibrant tech community of Founders Co-op in Seattle, WA, they work fast and inexpensively to capture the momentum of an event as it’s occurring, and to give participants instant tools for sharing their experience.

Seattle is host to numerous start-up forums and at Startup Weekend Seattle EDU in September, Bootstrapper documented the progress of contestants who built web or mobile applications over the course of a weekend. Throughout the 54 hours Adam would regularly pull someone from each of the 15 teams and ask the questions: What have you done since we last talked? What are you working on now? What’s blocking you?

Adam describes his workflow: “I’d have an H4n Zoom audio recorder, hit Record on that, let it sit there and just run. Then I didn’t have to think about it. Then whenever someone walked up to the camera, I’d hit Record on the camera. When they walked away I’d stop the recording. We’d shoot fifteen different people over the course of 20-30 minutes. We did it really fast because each person only had 30 seconds. At the end of one of those sessions I’d go back to the computer, dump my camera and audio footage, throw it in Premiere, export it so PluralEyes could look at it, render it and I was done.” The cycle was repeated every two to three hours. By Sunday night all footage was synced, assembled, and ready for release as soon as the final pitches occurred and winners were announced.

Adam adds, “Without PluralEyes I would have had to cut audio between each interview. I wouldn’t have been able to just turn the mic on and let it go. We would have had a clapper or have the interviewer do a clap in front of the camera, then I’d have to go back and sync it all up. That would have made the process between sessions a lot more time consuming with fifteen different clips, especially considering that fourteen of them weren’t going to be featured right away. The idea was that we could get the video out right away.”

Adam and Bryan work predominantly as a two-person team and stay effective because all their technology is digital. They reach for a Canon T3i DSLR camera, or a Canon Vixia HF20 camcorder, and use a wireless handheld mic, or a boom or lavaliers to record to the Zoom H4n. Their favorite new acquisition though, is an ATEM 1 M/E Production Switcher from Blackmagic Design. It allows for four SDI inputs, four HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) inputs for cameras or computers, and is used for event streaming and live switching.

“We have the problem first and then we go looking for the solution,” comments Adam. “We used to run a Mac pro tower that had multiple HDMI cards in it and the process was so complicated, there were so many moving parts, there were so many things that could go wrong. When we started using this, the speed at which we could get up and running increased by 50 percent. We went from three to four hours set up time to two hours.”

In the early- to mid-90s Adam remembers how his dad was baffled by all the advertisements that had web addresses in them. Adam predicted a time when URLs would become standard business practice, and his eyes are again on the future where he sees that anyone without video on their websites will soon be left in the dust.

It was an easy decision for him to accept Bryan’s invitation to turn his passion for video production into a business as more and more people began asking for his services. “We’ve got a small studio in the heart of the startup world in Seattle. We’re using gear that would have cost thousands and thousands of dollars a few years back. What would have been an HD television station truck - you know those big semi-trucks - we’ve got that in a box that’s sitting on my desk.”

Adam also experiments with video innovation in his rare free time by creating music videos of local Seattle bands using his All Cameras On approach. With the band’s permission, he asks everyone at the concert to record a few songs using their handheld devices. If the venue has a professional recording facility, he’ll ask if they can turn it on to capture a good quality audio track. Then he collects all the various footage and edits it together for unique, collaboratively generated music videos that reflect the audience’s authentic experience.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s time consuming so I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like to. Each one takes a little bit more time than the last one because I add more complicated things, but I also shave time on some other things, like creating templates. I use this as a way to teach myself the tool of Adobe Premiere … I’m definitely going to be using PluralEyes on these from now on!”

Adam’s enthusiasm for his work and the success of Bootstrapper Studios are a direct reflection of their personal love for the tech and creative community in Seattle. “There are lots of fun, different things we can do with social media. With our clients we’re more partners than we are the help. When we go to some of these events, they’re events that we want to be at. It’s really exiting for us.”

Check out HiveSeattle and IgniteSeattle for more insight into Seattle’s tech community and Bootstrapper’s work. 

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Specialist and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC home.


MoMoVan: Ryan Storgaard on Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango)

In our latest instalment from MoMoVan (Mobile Monday Vancouver), Canada's lead technical evangelist, Ryan Storgaard, talks about Microsoft’s strategy for Windows Phone and the opportunity it offers to mobile app and game developers.

Microsoft’s latest release is Windows Phone 7.5 (coded named "Mango"), which continues to garner rave reviews from customers and critics as it edges its way into a crowded and complicated mobile marketplace. With 40,000 apps now in the marketplace, a significant global partnership with Nokia, and integration with Xbox Live and Microsoft Office, there is no doubt Microsoft is making a deep commitment to Windows Phone. With its innovative approach to weaving apps, tasks and experiences together into Live Tiles and Hubs, Windows Phone is aiming to differentiate itself as a fresh and exciting platform for consumers and developers.

We also hear from Miles Donald of Nokia's Partnering Team, who is also based in Vancouver. Miles brings us up to date on Nokia's upcoming Windows Phone devices including the Lumia 800, and explores the opportunities for Nokia developers afforded by the partnership with Microsoft.

(We had some problems with the lapel mic for this recording, so our apologies for the intermittent bursts of static).


Automatic Sync Gives Editor a Week of His Life Back

What do you do if you're starting post-production and realize you have to organize hundreds of audio files with no timecode, useful metadata or even names? Todd Batstone is the lead editor of an independent feature film called Dreadful Sorry, which he’s making with friends from his days as an actor and theatre producer in New York. As part of a grant from the South Carolina Film Commission, the production became a teaching project for students at the University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences.

Dreadful Sorry - Behind the Scenes - Video 4 - "The Future"

The footage was beautifully shot by veteran cinematographer Dan Kneece who used the new ARRI ALEXA camera, but when Todd opened the files to begin preparing them for editing, he found the students on set had named none of them. He was looking at three gigabytes of wave files with no indication of their corresponding scene or take.

Todd edits in Avid in his professional life, but was cutting Dreadful Sorry in Final Cut Pro because of the file format. Without an assistant, he faced weeks of manually searching for and synchronizing hundreds of files. It wasn’t until two days into the workload that he remembered the PluralEyes plugin for synchronization, and verified that it also works with FCP.

Todd recalls, “That was the lifesaver. I'd still be sitting here probably automatically lining these clips up and syncing them, and more than that, playing each one of them down to discover which tape it corresponded to, and there's several hundred files. I really put it to the test.

“I literally pulled almost every single clip, put them in a sequence, then dragged every single audio file into that sequence. Then let PluralEyes run. And it's magic ... you're looking at maybe 180 or 190 sound files and it matches them up with the wave form from the reference audio, and suddenly, magically you have this sequence with synced audio.”

Todd was so relieved with the solution that he wrote to Singular Software. “I just had to tell these people what this is doing in the real world, what the field experience is from somebody who really appreciates it and is having a very real world experience of the power of the application. I'd say it gave me a week, probably seven to eight actual working days of my life, of my editing life back.”

Dreadful Sorry is a suspense thriller seen through the eyes of a ten year-old girl who returns to her father at the family's plantation house after being sent away for seven years during the Civil War. Far beyond just synching clips, Todd is intrinsically valuable as a creative editor who collaborates with his director to write the final version of the story.

He explains, “There's just something about having been a performer and knowing what it's like to be in a scene with somebody, and having to listen to them, that lends itself to understanding the importance of creating a good rhythm in the editing room and creating a good rhythm with their performance.”

Todd first learned about PluralEyes as a member of the editing team on the new scripted MTV series called Death Valley, produced by Liquid Theory. Death Valley was shot in Los Angeles on the RED digital camera and edited in Avid. For the first week of shooting there was a problem with the jam synch so the time code on the audio and video files didn’t match up. Finally someone researched synchronization solutions and discovered the PluralEyes plugin.

Death Valley trailer for MTV

Todd recounts, “It saved our ass for a week until our production got back on track. That was my introduction to it, and the timesaving nature of it. If we hadn't had it we’d wind up syncing these things by hand, like the old days on a Moviola where you’re moving your film along on these plates, and moving the sound along until you get to the marker. We did that for a day or so because we didn't want to fall behind. It's an unreasonable, and tedious, and horrible process.”

Todd balances freelance work with his projects at Liquid Theory in L.A. Dreadful Sorry is sparking ideas for more independent collaborations with like-minded creative friends. “We have this pool of talent to pull from to begin to develop and create our own stuff … Conversations have been about what's the next project going to be for all of us, the people in our network who have known each other for all of these years, who've spent that time training, working for other people, and working in film and TV and theater. Now, we’re ready to pull all of those resources together and present something to the world.”

Follow Dreadful Sorry's progress through their production blog and FaceBook page, and catch Death Valley Monday nights on MTV - and keep an ear to the ground for Todd Batstone’s next creative revelation.

Comic Con Sizzle Reel edited by Todd Batstone

Writer Sara McIntyre is a Communications Consultant and Filmmaker who calls Vancouver, BC home.