Some Final Touches

In the last weeks running up the final year project presentation I have been making a few final tweaks to the documentary. Things that needed re-fining and touching up included colour grading and the fixing and mastering of audio levels.

Colour Grading

Colour grading was done using the in-house correction tools that were in offer in Final Cut X, the editing platform used for this project. Only a few scenes needed to be graded initially, mainly due to the incorrect white balance that was used in one of the interviews. For example in the interview with Adrian Crowley (which can be seen below), one of the cameras white balance was set to 5600k – a day time setting, where as the other camera was set to 4200k which had a more blue tint to it. This needed some tweaking to get the correct balance between both interviews. Some other cutaways and performances were also corrected and brightened where exposure was a bit low.

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Audio Level Correction/ Mastering

Some other parts that needed looking at and correction included the balancing of audio levels. All interviews where captured using a Zoom H4N connected to a Sennheiser mic so the sound from each interview was top quality however some locations proved issues with background noises. As Sive’s interview was filmed in a park some general wind needed to be reduced, these were fixed using the great new audio filters in Final Cut X. This was fixed using the ‘Rumble Reducer’ filter, levels were also fixed using the ‘Compressor’ filter in the software

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The interview with Conor needed to be adjusted as well to reduce the sounds of people talking in the background at the café the interview was filmed in.


Mid-Semester Presentation Review

So just this week gone we were asked to present all the work we had done so far for our final year projects. Tension was high in the camp as everyone tried to finish of any final touches on the work they had done so far.

Ian my supervisor told me to mainly concentrate on my rough cut in the presentation. We were each given a 7 minute window to present so I prepared a quick 2 minute presentation summing up everything I had done since January leaving the remainder of the time for my rough cut hoping the work would speak for itself. In my presentation I focused on the Interviews I had done so far, my workflow in the editing room and my plans for the last month of the semester.

Password is the subject matter. 5 letters. Come on.

As we only had a 3 hour slot for everyones presentations so the feedback from the panel was short if not nothing. The general response for mine was quite good I think.

Someone mentioned they all looked comfortable and were given great answers which can be the hardest thing to get right in interviews, other comments included fixing audio levels and trying to stick with a particular style for my cutaways and interviews (which I’ve already been discussing with my supervisor the past few weeks).

Over the next few weeks I’m going to begin an Internet social media campaign in support of my documentary through facebook and twitter. Before I do that I need to hone in what I want to call the documentary.

The best and funniest name I’ve thought of so far and friends have recommended  include “luke byrne investigates, a luke into songwriting, songwriting 101 with luke byrne”

Here’s my slides from the presentation:

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Great Reading

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I read this this morning and it went on to gave me a burst of inspiration.

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with the editing of cutting between each interviewee but after reading this I think I’m finding it much easier now.



Editing Workflow

I seen this quote the other week by Philip Seymour Hoffman and it’s pretty magical.

The film is made in the editing room. The shooting of the film is about shopping, almost. It’s like going to get all the ingredients together, and you’ve got to make sure before you leave the store that you got all the ingredients. And then you take those ingredients and you can make a good cake – or not.

I was recommended by my supervisor Ian to first listen to the audio from the interviews separately and take notes or mark whatever parts stick out to me, gathering the gold as they say. Then to next begin looking at the picture and begin to piece stuff together. Ian also reminded me that I should look at editing together this like working on a jigsaw puzzle, each part no matter where it is in the interview can be anywhere in the finished piece. Just because I asked a question first in the interview doesn’t necessarily mean it should be the first answer in the film.

At the moment I’m watching the interviews now in Final Cut X and marking parts I like and giving it a name so I’ll remember what section/question that was.

I have synced up both cameras from each of the 3 interview’s now into multi-cam clips so I can simply cut between both cameras in Final Cut and have added the good zoom audio to the clips so everything is coming together nicely now.

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Ahead and beyond

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I can see some issues ahead with not having enough b-roll to insert between each of the interviews so I’m currently trying to gather together and asking permission to use little bits of existing footage already of my 3 subjects I have spoken to so far.

Anything from studio footage to live performances etc.

Creating a Timeline Structure

A few weeks ago we received a very inspirational talk of Mark Doherty writer and actor of the Irish feature film ‘A film with me in it’ starring Dylan Moran among others.  If you haven’t seen it, would definitely recommend giving it a watch.

Throughout his talk, Mark laid on the class many words of wisdoms he’s picked up over the past few years writing stories, scripts and screenplays for various different productions. A good technique and habit he mentioned of getting into when writing a script or treatment is creating a physical timeline of your story and putting it into your workplace. By creating this physical thing/entity your making it a real story so to speak, its also a way I think anyway of subconsciously sinking your idea into your head.

I may not be creating a short-film or story but I still need to make some sort of Narrative out of everything I film for the overall documentary. So by doing this, I’m hoping with this and many other cork-boards (just this little one for now) to piece together all my different plans and ideas so I can see it physically and begin to tie all different stuff together and really see if things fit with each other. A good tip Mark said aswel, is to just use as many add on’s as possible – Post it’s, string, whatever! In this messy narrative stage its good to experiment and just see what sort of stuff you come out with.


I’m still in the testing stages of the documentary, over the past two weekends I’ve been taking 3-4 hours to catch up with two local songwriters experimenting with filming styles, interviewing techniques and trying to think of ideas visually how songwriters go through the process of writing.


This weekend I spoke to Oisín Leahy Furlong, a local young songwriter who’s currently in his 2nd year of studying music and songwriting at BIMM Dublin college, a branch of DIT. Oisín has been writing since he first picked up a guitar, from an early age Oisin was exposed to great songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Elliott Smith and many more from his parents vast music collection. Both his parents are Art teachers and this creativity side has definitely sinked into his music. He made for a very good interviewee with some very interesting views and answers on the art of songwriting . I’m hoping to maybe include him in the real documentary, at the moment I’m hoping to maybe speak to two international acts and two local acts making for a nice contrast.

I’ll put up a tester of his video as soon as I get it done,

Until then.

Testing Formats, Segment Ideas, Final Cut X and Getting Feedback.

This weekend I started testing some format ideas I’ve been thinking about for my documentary. It’s a little frustrating making a documentary in comparison to making a short-film as at least with a short you can script out different ideas and things that come to your head. So I thought as a good way of giving people a better understanding of what I’ve been doing was to just go out and start getting stuck in to some filming.

I interviewed my friend Stevin King this week. He’s in his mid twenties and has been writing songs since a very early age and writes around 10 songs on average every week. I thought this kind of songwriter would be a very interesting character to interview as a ‘Test run’ to see what kind of stuff I ended up with. I’ll probably be the only one going out when filming so I also wanted to start practicing my interviewing skills as this is something I’ve never really done before too.

Last week I put up different format ideas I was thinking for the documentary.

1) Putting them inside a box

2) Loosey Goosey

3) and Mr.Formal

For my experiment this week I went with Loosey Goosey as this was the one I felt more comfortable with for first testing.

FINAL CUT X is actually great

This was also a test for me trying out Final Cut X. I was always planning on editing my documentary in Final Cut Pro 7 but after some really good convincing by Ian Cudmore I said to myself I’d give it a go, and you know what “I really kinda like it”. I use a Panasonic GH1 DLSR camera for filming and this offers some trouble for getting clips into FCP 7 as it’s not a native editing format. This usually involves encoding the files to the native Apple Pro Res (LT) format which is not only a longer process but also an increase in file size too but in FCP X they have resolved all these issues and it now recognises AVCHD which is the panasonic format. Not only am I speeding up my workflow but I’m also decreasing my file sizes too. This is very awesome, so these are the reasons I bit the bullet and started testing.


I put the video up ‘Unlisted’ on YouTube so only people with a link can view it. I sent it to a view people to get some feedback and was really happy with some of the thoughts and constructive criticism I received. This is something I really want to do so I won’t get tunnel vision in what I’m doing and also by doing this I can get peoples thoughts on what kind of things they’d like to see covered in a documentary on this particular topic.

Graham Smithers:

That’s class, just like a nice little chat.

Doesn’t look forced, could watch shit like that all day like, really interesting.


Donancha Coffey

Its a solid piece, could be excellent with a few tweaks. (ill be overly critical here, take what you want from it but in the end its only one dudes opinion)

A) Its one of my pet peeves to have musicians interviewed holding their instrument, we know what they do, having it there is at best a prop, and at worst a barrier between you and them.

B)B) Im sure youll have realised in editing this you gotta stay as silent as possible during films, in conversation we always say “yeah” and “Um” to show were listening, when that shows up in Docs its super distracting.

C) Its a little still, the most interesting part is where he is rummaging around his notebooks and theres a clatter of tapes. Maybe if you interview him again interview on the move (if its at all possible) If you watch a Louie Theroux documentary he never really sits down with them they’re always doing their job, making a sandwich whatever, the distraction gets them out of their head lets down their guard a bit.

D) Its hard to tell what the full shape of the thing will be, but if you’re just focusing on this guy you have to remember then the audience will only like the documentary if they like him. If they don’t like him, and people can pick loads of arbitrary reasons not to like someone, they wont like the doc.

So those are my thoughts, take em as you will, I’m focusing on the negatives, but I think its a solid piece and with a few tweaks it could be great.

Sara Rothwell

I love the shot where he’s walking towards the shed/house and the audio is him flicking through his notebooks. The clatter sounds like his footsteps which is great. Did you record his footsteps as well? It’s little things like that which I love.

Stephen Allen

You definitely need more than one camera next time, better sound of him playing too and also consider a nicer more like famous place like whelans for filming

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