Brian C. Janes at Buzine tells Red Giant how ‘PluralEyes is not an option but a requirement’.
If you’re looking for the very latest in film, music, arts and entertainment coverage, Hollywood-based Buzzine gives you all of this and much more. Founded in 1996 as a print magazine, it was recently purchased by the Elfman family and is evolving into a multimedia media network for the very best in culture and entertainment content. On a daily basis the staff at Buzzine create new, exclusive and original interviews, reviews, columns and galleries for global distribution.
Not only do their contributors live in the studio, on the red carpet and behind the velvet rope to get the very hottest exclusives, their style of editing is on a par with the actual films, music and entertainment that they feature. And with scores of new movies, TV shows and albums being released every week in the US alone, the staff and editors at Buzzine have their work cut out to find and feature the best. We caught up with Brian C. Janes, Buzzine’s Director of Production, to find out a bit more about their studios and workflow.
Red Giant: Buzzine.com is a lively looking site and I imagine you have a pretty high turnover of interviews, can you tell us how many videos you produce in a month?
Brian C Janes: Buzzine currently produces weekly original on-camera music and film interviews, so about to 8-10 regular videos per month, plus one-offs and other specials.
RG: Can you tell us about your production suite, how many systems do you have running?
BCJ: We work on multiple edit suites running Final Cut Pro 7 on Intel 15″ MacBook Pros and MacPros and we’re currently evaluating alternative editing applications, but we haven’t made a final decision yet and are holding steady with what we already know works for our immediate needs.
RG: How many production hours go into each video and how much time do you spend on audio syncing and color correction?
BCJ: When we’re shooting a sitdown interview, we tend to have an average of 30-60 minutes with the talent. We usually bring our own lights to a shoot, capture video on two Canon 5d Mark IIs and audio via wireless lavalieres into a Zoom H4N. Between setup, interview and tear down, we can be in and out of a location in about 90 minutes with a crew of 2, and a bit quicker with a crew of 3.
In terms of editing, Buzzine’s film junket interviews, with total run times between 4 and 6 minutes, require 5 to 10 hours to complete. The one-on-one music interviews run between 6 and 8 minutes and average 10 to 15 hours in post.
RG: How long have you been using PluralEyes, how many productions has it been used for?
BCJ: I’ve been using PluralEyes since May 2011 and have used it on more than 70 productions.
RG: What’s your favorite aspect about using PluralEyes (is there a particular challenge it helps you overcome or a particular feature you couldn’t live without?)
BCJ: My favorite aspect about using PluralEyes is the time it saves me in syncing audio. I realize this is an obvious and primary feature of PluralEyes, but having spent a couple of years manually syncing audio to video clips, and then experiencing the automation of PluralEyes, it’s quite dreamy. There have been occasions where I forget to properly set the audio input levels for reference audio on the cameras and have to revert back to manual sync, but when everything is captured correctly on the shoot, I can plan on setting up my timeline, enabling PluralEyes, and letting it do what it does in the background while I focus on being creative and productive.
RG: I noticed the interview sections for the film releases have a film like quality themselves; do you use any VFX software that helps the sequences blend so well?
BCJ: I’ve been using Magic Bullet Looks since the beginning of 2012 for color correction on all of our interview videos. I believe Looks plays a large part in giving the video footage the film-like quality you’re seeing. And inserting movie and trailer clips into the piece only serves to enhance that quality.
Prior to my awareness of the Magic Bullet Suite, I would look at work by other shooter/editors on YouTube that were using similar gear to ours and wondered how their footage appeared to be more polished than mine. No matter how much I tried tweaking the basic color correction settings in Final Cut, I just couldn’t seem to get the polished feel that I wanted. With Magic Bullet Looks, a whole new world of options opened up to me.
I was a still photographer before I started working with video, so the concept of adding filters and adjusting color settings for a photo was already familiar, but I just wasn’t yet aware of the tools that would enable me to do similar adjustments on video until I found Looks. Now, I can easily create a mood for the interview footage, whether by using a template available in the software, or by creating my own from scratch – which is something I’ve been doing more and more often in recent edits.
RG: Could you talk us through your workflow with PluralEyes and Magic Bullet Suite, for your specific needs?
BCJ: Once we have an interview in the can, I batch convert the footage to ProRes and then load it into FCP. I also load the audio into FCP and drop each camera angle and audio file onto its own track in a sequence. I engage PluralEyes to sync everything up. If the reference audio is sufficiently reliable, I usually don’t have to adjust the sync, but once in awhile the reference audio isn’t reliable (e.g. a windy day, variable audio input levels, camera mic disabled, etc.). On rare occasions, I’ll still manually line up some video clips with audio files. Years of working with audio recording software and waveforms has enabled me to accomplish this step in a very short amount of time. If I only ever had 1 video clip and 1 audio file to line up, I’d probably still do it manually, but any time there are multiple video clips, I now know I’ll save time by using PluralEyes.
Once everything is synced up, I create multi-clips for the two camera angles. This is the least efficient part of my pre-editing workflow as it remains a manual process, but it’s the method that I’ve found works the best for our overall production needs and quality. I’ve seen the recommended workaround demonstrated by the PluralEyes team, and while that has its uses in some situations, I haven’t found it to be directly applicable to our workflow.
I edit the piece together without adding any effects in order to maintain a manageable level of performance from the MacBook Pro. If I begin adding effects right away, playback becomes too choppy and editing slowly grinds to a halt.
Once the piece is edited, I go back through with an eye on final polish. I consider the assets included in the piece, the vibe of the artist being interviewed (Is it Rap? Rock? Folk?) along with the shoot location and then build an overall feel for the interview footage using Magic Bullet Looks.
After color correction, I confer with my producer over Skype or email to review, receive notes, and then complete the edit; I render the timeline, export the video, and upload it to Buzzine’s video server, at which point it’s ready to publish.
RG: You’re using both PluralEyes and Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite, what are your thoughts on Red Giant’s acquisition of Singular technology?
BCJ: Red Giant’s acquisition of Singular Technology further positions Red Giant as the one-stop solution for all of an editor’s post-production needs. PluralEyes makes it easy to get started with dual-system or multi-cam editing, and Magic Bullet Suite makes it easy to apply polish and bring the whole piece together as a high-quality and beautiful presentation.
RG: What advice would you give to anyone considering buying PluralEyes along with Magic Bullet Suite?
BCJ: For anyone shooting dual-system audio or shooting any setup in which syncing based on audio will be necessary, PluralEyes is not an option but a requirement. I’ve recommended PluralEyes to numerous editors ranging from amateurs to professionals.
And when it comes to creating a polished and professional look for your videos, Magic Bullet Suite is the place to be. I was pleased to find that the interface is set up in a way that allows beginners to apply presets with great results and a minimal learning curve, while more experienced or adventurous users can either modify presets or spend time building their own looks from scratch.
So there you have it, it’s clear that PluralEyes saves valuable synching time and helps Buzzine get their interviews online in the fastest possible time. And it’s not just Buzzine who’ve recently seen the benefits: PluralEyes was used to sync the audio on Red Giant’s Webby Award winning film Plot Device and Red Giant’s own Director of Communities Aharon Rabinowitz said ‘I could not believe that literally in seconds it did all the syncing for me. It was incredible. It’s just awesome and totally fits in with things that Red Giant are doing with editors who are doing color correction and they’re also syncing audio a lot.’