Cutting Room Floor

The biohacking video I’ve been making for film class is finished.

Some observations for anyone making a film…

1 — I fully understood the importance of filming cutaways, and filmed lots of them. However, there was a disparity between the kind of footage I filmed (background details, close-ups of equipment) and the footage I actually needed when I was editing (people details, action-related close-ups). So cutaways should be collected as part of a specific vision of how you want the shot to look.

2 — I read online that it’s best to leave colour correction until near the end, but I wish I did it earlier. Many of my clips were heavily fragmented, and although I was able to block paste corrections in, it was a struggle to get consistency across the footage. It was still a major improvement though, a lot of the original lab footage was too dark and too green.

3 — I filmed 180+ minutes and used 12 minutes in the final version. That’s a lot of telescoping, and I found the way to get the ball rolling was to build the intro sequence. This allowed me to experiment with a few different styles. My initial hope had been to build the film around a biology/biopunk aesthetic, where text would almost “grow” onto the screen, plant-like, then shrivel away. However, the mockup looked cheap and powerpointy, so instead I chose a more cyberpunk, hacker aesthetic, with rave music, red dot matrix font, and greyscale transitions. That got me enthusiastic about the film, and from there I was able to quickly build a first draft.

4 — Cutting is painful, especially when you’ve put time into editing something and it just doesn’t work.

5 — There are very different types of feedback, and they’re useful in different ways. The first feedback I had was mainly from people who had been following my progress with the film from the outset. That was great for technical tweaking and ironing out style issues. I then showed it to people familiar with the biology, and they were able to confirm the science was sound. Finally I sought the opinions of people who had no idea what the film was about, and weren’t necessarily experts in molecular biology (ie I showed my family). It was a really rich seam of feedback, they picked up on narrative gaps that other viewers had been able to ignore because of their familiarity with the subject.

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