Making The RNOH Appeal Film

Neil Patience, Editor & Producer on the film, shares his thoughts about the project and also talks of his philosophy behind the editing as well as his workflow.

My own journey with the RNOH began in June 2004 when I was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. If it was not for Professor Tim Briggs and his staff I would not be here today. I literally owe them my life.

During one of my regular check ups in early 2011, Professor Briggs asked me if I would be willing to make an appeal film for the then upcoming RNOH redevelopment appeal. Of course I agreed without hesitation.

Behind the scenes photograph of the filming of the appeal film. Photographer Edmond Terakopian, Rosie Stolarski (head of fundraising), Editor Neil Patience and ex-patient Phil Packer. RNOH, Stanmore. Photo: Nicola Taylor

I had been an admirer of Edmond Terakopian’s work for some time and we had already briefly worked on a couple of minor projects and camera tests with the Red One together.

I knew his skill with a 5DMKII and journalistic instincts would be perfect for a project.

From our first meeting with the RNOH it was clear that the brief was a little complex as the film was to serve several purposes.

It needed to illustrate the ground breaking world class work that is carried out at RNOH but at the same time reflect the run down infrastructure of the hospital (the reason behind the fundraising appeal).

Patients and their families invariably spoke very highly of the staff at all levels and unsurprisingly had nothing but praise for the often life changing or indeed life saving treatment. Their feelings about the surroundings where that treatment was delivered was another story. So it was somewhat of a paradox that had to be addressed in making the film.

Edmond and I along with Professor Briggs and Rosie Stolarski, head of the hospital charity, decided to make the film in a documentary style to be able to intertwine patients stories, the work the hospital does. the new building projects and the reasons behind the appeal.

With the help of the hospital we selected seven patients who’s conditions, ages and treatments reflected the range of RNOH’s work. They, like me, all agreed to take part without any persuasion.

Tim Briggs was going to be the backbone of the film, his interview was key to providing the  information about the hospital, the appeal, and the aims of the redevelopment.

The patients would tell their own stories, and the GV’s around the hospital grounds and wards spoke for themselves.

So essentially we went into the edit with broadly 3 elements, Tim’s Interview, the patient interviews and the shots of the hospital both interiors and exterior.

We have both Avid and FCP editing options but I decided to edit the film using Final Cut Pro as I wanted the option to use Apple Color to grade and that gives me the easiest workflow.

I used the basic FCP Log and Transfer tool to transcode all the rushes to ProRes HQ (and made a back-up of all the media.)

Editing the fund raising video for RNOH at New Day Pictures' Final Cut Pro editing suite in Surrey. Assistant Nicola Taylor and video editor Neil Patience at work, discussing the interview transcripts. November 08, 2011. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Initially I had to sync up all the audio recorded on the Zoom H4n with the 2 Canon 5D MKII cameras. I was going to use PluralEyes for this but quickly realised that the audio recordings for each interview were continuous and the cameras only stopped recording two or three times during each interview (due to limitations set in video length on DSLRs).

So it was very easy and quick to lay the pictures against the Zoom sound manually, matching the waveforms, and creating a multicam sequence for each interview.

Once all were assembled we had them transcribed (by UK Transcription in Brighton) which made editing them much easier.

First I made several long assembles of all the sync interviews that we wanted to include from Tim Briggs and each patient, editing and re-editing to get the most powerful comments as they each told their stories and spoke of their experiences at RNOH. Having two cameras meant that it was much easier to cut down without worrying about finding cutaways or having to re-order shots to get cuts. It gave me a lot of flexibility.

Once I had a long assembly I was happy with Edmond and photographer Nicola Taylor, who had been our assistant though-out, to join me in the edit suite.

We spent 2 more days cutting and recutting, slowly getting the duration down, selecting cutaways and GV’s. We revisited the transcriptions many times adding and replacing shots, interview segments and selecting music until we had our film.

I had intended to grade the whole film using Color but the rushes looked fabulous and needed less work than I had imagined at the outset. Instead I decided to use a combination of Color on some shots that required several secondary corrections and mask layers to get sky and foreground nicely graded and Gen Arts Sapphire plug-ins on other shots, namely the interviews and to provide some subtle vignettes here and there.

Sapphire Film Effect provided a lovely gamma curve while adding a very subtle softness to the shots. It also allows for some colour balancing and the trusty FCP 3 way colour corrector also played a part here and there.

The audio mix was quite straight forward as it was essentially sync sound, atmos and music. I mixed the audio directly in FCP. The suite at New Day Pictures has broadcast monitoring for both audio and video (Leader rasterizer and PPM’s) so everything was completed to UK HD broadcast spec.

We made Bluray DVD’s using Adobe Encore and standard def DVD’s using DVD Studio Pro. Transcodes were completed using a combination of Compressor, MPEG Streamclip and Telestream Episode.

By Neil Patience

Stay tuned as we launch the film on the TAPTV website and more behind the scenes posts, right here.

One response to “Making The RNOH Appeal Film

  1. Edmond, you look better in the color too. B&W for newspaper’s is understandable but, for showing your work professionally in other than newspaper media color is the way to go. The people, the foreground, the background, everything looks better also meaning, they, look REAL. Stan

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