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Producer’s Cut

Audience Appeal and Production Values

As with many processes, the very end can feel as though it takes the longest.

This course may feel like running a marathon. Toward the end, you’d really like to be finished, but there’s still more to do. Every video that has ever been made for this course would have been dramatically improved if the students had been able to have just a little more time. What they don’t have time for is the part of the real world process where versions of a film, the kind you see in the Regal or on TV, are shown to various audiences. Then the producers, directors, and editors make adustments in order to:

  • increase the quality of the video
  • increase the marketing potential of the video

This part of the process can take months, even years, and be the difference between an OK movie and a blockbuster Academy Award winner. The Wikipedia calls it a test screening:

For early edits of a film, informal test screenings are shown to small target audiences to judge if a film will require editing, reshooting or rewriting. At this stage the film may be incomplete, with missing or unfinished special effects shots or sound effects, or dialogue not yet rerecorded. Audience responses are usually recorded informally. Test audiences may be required not to discuss the film. A film may go through several test screenings.

For purposes of this course, we are going to compress this part of the process with a little shock therapy. In late November, we are going to view your finished video in the Lecture Hall and I am going to make specific suggestions to replace this part of post-production that precedes final distribution.

My suggestions are going to focus on two areas, production values and audience appeal.

  • The production values that will need the most attention will be the audio and the special effects. Can we hear the dialogue? Is there music? Should there be more / different music? I will also address the open titles and closing credits.
  • For audience appeal, I will be especially concerned with the audience’s understanding of what you’re trying to do and
    how changing the music and voice overs and on-screen text might help them understand better.
Matteo Ricci (1552 – 1610)

Matteo Ricci
(1552 – 1610)

Please note that I may well suggest changes that you don’t like. As every professional director and script writer will tell you, welcome to the club. The Man (in this case, the teacher) always gets what he wants.

Fred Kaufman, the executive producer of the WNET Thirteen series “Nature” on PBS, wrote recently in the New York Times:

Typically, for every hour of finished film for our “Nature” series, there are 80 hours of footage shot, sometimes double that. A year’s worth of observation and video documentation in the field are screened, cataloged and edited. A script and music score are created and reviewed. After six months of putting the film together, a team of executives sit in a screening room and watch the final version, eyes glued to the screen like air traffic controllers. Final suggestions are made, and shots are literally trimmed by half a second. Why all the fuss? We’re maniacal about holding your interest and trying to do justice to the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

However, this is the age of the Internet, so The Man is losing his grip. There is nothing to stop you from posting to YouTube any version of your video that you want. Do what I want for purposes of the course, and afterwards, if you don’t like it, delete it and leave your director’s cut for the world to see.

completed videos

We have a channel just for this course at YouTube. I named it after Matteo Ricci (right), an Italian Jesuit priest went to China as a missionary in the late 1500’s. He spent the rest of his life there.

By Tuesday, December 11, 2012, you should upload to our channel at YouTube one .wmv or .mov or .mpg file, that is, one playable video. Our channel name is matteoricci and the password is santa13. After you log on, click on one of the “upload video” buttons. You may well go to another screen that asks for another password. Use santa0713. That will take you to a screen where you are asked some questions about your video: Title, Description, Video Category (genre), and Tags. Tags are keywords used to help people find your video.

Note also that there are limits to your upload: fifteen minutes of video and one gigabyte of file size.

I will demonstrate this process in class. More details to follow.

You will also be able to visit this channel in a year or so to see how many views your video has had and when and where in the world those viewers were when they asked to see your video.