The client is always right, except when they’re wrong!
An interesting conundrum recently, I received an SD card with 90 minutes of HD footage shot on a consumer video camera, the client, a professional in their own right, wanted 2 short programmes for YouTube from it. I transcoded the AVCHD to ProRes, popped it into Final Cut as one long section, exported to a self contained movie and then into Compressor as the client wanted a burnt in timecode DVD to produce an edit decision list - so far so good. The short sections of footage that I actually watched were passable but certainly not professional standard, the camera wasn’t level, the presenter (the client) had no ‘headroom’ and the head moved well outside the ‘action safe’ zone, there was loud aircraft noise over some of the dialogue and on pieces to camera, the presenter walked towards the camera to turn it off while still speaking.
Around a week later I received an EDL, I’d been expecting short full sections explaining single points that would have then been covered between sections by a transition or fade to black…..
Wrong, the client had produced the EDL by cutting different sections of clips together talking to camera including taking out pauses in the dialogue and cutting small sections of clips together from different shoots (but same location) even the clips with the aircraft noise were in the edit list, it appeared the edit was to be based on the dialogue which, using normal video editing techniques could easily be covered by cutaways but, in this case I had no cutaways or demonstration footage of the points being made, no possibility of using graphics and no chance of a reshoot!
I edited as per the EDL, the edits made presenter jump around the screen like a string puppet, even 5 frame dissolves between the cuts looked wrong so I sent the DVD (again with BITC) back and then spent several hours drafting an email explaining all problems with the footage and the edit and what a cutaway was, I didn’t go down well!
The client phoned and said the edit looked exactly how they envisaged it, I tried to explain that once on YouTube it would look very amateurish and it was certainly not an edit I wanted my name associated with. I tried to explain that if I’d gone to them for professional services I’d expect them to advise and deliver that service and that I was only doing the same by giving my advice and experience of 25 years of video editing!
After a few raised voices a compromise was established, the client would contact a video professional known to us both for advice. The following day I received an email saying I was to continue with the project, a revised EDL would be made and, wherever possible taking into account my comments. A couple of further emails both ways making suggestions on how to improve what to be honest, was a bit of a dog’s breakfast and it looks as though we’ll produce something usable although for only the second time ever in over 25 years, I’ve asked that my name is never associated with it if asked!
I’m very grateful to a fellow video industry professional who I know reads my occasional ramblings for mediating a successful outcome!