By Norman C. Berns
As more productions turn to video, in-line editing is becoming part of the standard tool kit. On-the-run editing can save retakes, resolve continuity questions and even end the shooting day with a fully cut sequence.
The process is relatively simple for studiobound shoots, but what about location filming? Companies on the move need a mobile unit that travels as easily as a grip truck and will be ready for footage as soon as the camera rolls. Fortunately, it exists.
Confidence Bay of Austin, Texas, has tricked out a 35-foot RV, turning it into a pair of fully-equipped Final Cut Pro editing suites and a mobile editing bay for HD/SD video production. With terabytes of storage, a large gas tank and a generator to juice its batteries, power can keep running for three days, keeping images clean and interference free, even while the van is on the move.
With slide out floors and top-quality fittings, the remote unit looks and feels much like any A-list edit house. Set up with Final Cut Pro on Macs, the suite can be reconfigured to Avid and PCs to meet specific client requirements. It comes with two quad-core 2.5 GHz Power PC G5s and 3.5 TB of storage. It can import any video format, up to 880 Mb/s dual-stream HD-SDI.
There are three 24-inch flat-panel, high-resolution monitors. Beyond FCP with Motion, software includes Live Type, Soundtrack Pro and DVD Studio Pro. A digital projector can screen dailies in private or project them on an outside 50-inch x 30-inch “media window.” There’s also a small mix panel for rough cut audio.
Utilizing all available space, the RV also functions as a support vehicle with 300 square feet of office space, a bathroom, potable water tank, AC outlets, sofa, desks and — if making movies isn’t good enough — a 19-inch color TV with antenna booster.
Support is generally a two- or three-person team. Sam Crutsinger, staff editor and computer guru, oversees the integration of the RV and the production feed. Michael David is the facility engineer.
For concerts, the need for a remote edit bay is clear. Confidence Bay has traveled from the Sasquatch! Music Festival in Washington state to the Newport Jazz Festival, making sure the entire job was done and cut even as the final curtain fell.
On a feature, editing in real time, can save time on set and prevent reshoots. Productions can wrap more quickly. And a rough cut can be delivered in something close to real time.
Book price for the RV is $2,000 per day plus labor (about $800 for the two-man crew for eight to 10 hours) and $1 per mile for travel. Add fuel, of course, and you’ll certainly want your own editor too.
No minor expense, for sure, but a remote edit bay can save a lot of post-shoot editing. And the dread of reshoot. When your delivery date is critical, this is a no-brainer. It’s a tougher call on a more casual shoot. You decide the price for peace of mind and an early wrap.
Written by Norman Berns