Backfired: The Briefing
July 8, 2016 2:34 PM   Subscribe

I watched this Clinton ad today that used footage from James Comey's testimony to Congress yesterday. How long did this take to make? There aren't many edits, or anything, but it's professionally put together and very concisely argued. I'm just curious, from conception to completion, how many person hours would something like this take?
posted by OmieWise to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is all conjecture because I have no professional video editing or campain experience, but...

The Clinton team likely already had a rough "narrative" put together, based on the statement and press conference from Tuesday. None of the pull quotes here were things that weren't either explicit, or easily impliable from the official statement

They likely also had staffers in the hearing room armed with, at the very least watches, taking notes on any timestamp when Comey said something that fit the narrative. I would be they also had checklists of phrases to listen for.

Then there's the general rule of thumb of 1 minute of finished video takes 1 hour of editing (at least, that was the rule when we were editing high school yearbook videos from camcorder tape -- maybe life is easier now in the digital age).

So, I'd say, post hearing, maybe an hour or two? Not sure what the pre-hearing prep would entail though.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2016

Best answer: It only takes a good editor a few hours to put together a short piece like a commercial.

The hardest part is probably going through the raw footage to find exactly what you want, but other Clinton staffers may have done that part in advance. Especially if they have people watching Comey's proceedings and taking notes on choice quotes, monitoring C-SPAN and noting time codes of nice soundbites, etc. So it's nowhere near as difficult as if they were making something like this from hearings that happened years ago and weren't considered significant at the time.

The actual video editing hours are trivial. A day's work? Less?
posted by Sara C. at 3:01 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is nothing. A few hours once they've got the transcript in hand. I mean, the hard work was probably the back and forth among the media team -- producers, writers, whoever's got to sign off on the exact script (I don't know how campaigns work, but I know how TV/films are made) -- but once that script was decided it's trivial to put it together.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:39 PM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Modern video editing software, in the hands of someone who knows how to use it to its maximum potential, makes producing this a trivial undertaking. Once they know what clips they want, splicing it together is extremely quick. It takes longer to add effects and create text, graphics etc to go with, but talented designers can turn that around quickly as well.

Side note: my uncle used to work in TV news as a sports videographer. I'd seen him on more than one occasion come in after the 10 pm news had started from an evening of shooting high school football, and he would have the entire set of highlights for the sports segment (not just what he shot, every bit of video the sportscast used) in time for that to come on shortly after 10:20. This was on Betamax equipment and they were FAST cutting that stuff. Using Premiere or Final Cut Pro to cut an ad when you've got a day or more to do it? Not a problem at all.
posted by azpenguin at 10:35 PM on July 8, 2016

Best answer: I am a career video editor/compositor and I will offer a guess as to how this was turned around quickly. By "guess," I mean how I would likely approach the job.

Background: In most feature and sophisticated commercial shoots these days there is a person on set called a DIT, a Digital Imaging Technician, that, among other things, wrangles the footage as it is shot, separating takes, breaking takes into footage "bins," logging, collecting and organizing meta-data and associating it with takes, backing up and even doing rough cuts as the production progresses. This process effectively blends the production and post-production phases and allows the post-production editor to streamline the cutting by being able to ingest a highly organized set of footage bins that have a lot of associated meta-data and notes from the Director, DP and other production VIPs.

My guess: A DIT or the editor acted in a hybrid role and captured and built a master spot, or several rough versions, right as the hearings were conducted so that, when the hearings concluded what was left to do was quickly select a rough-cut(s) and then pare down the footage until what remained was the essence of the finished spot. I'd guess that several versions of the untitled, non-color-graded spot were largely complete within minutes of the end of the hearings.

From there the "selects" were cleaned up, color-graded and then returned to edit for finishing, layering the camera angles into side-by-sides, adding the titles and graphics. Simultaneously, the audio was sweetened, effects or voice-over added, etc. and the project "put in the can." Again, because there were/are several layers of approval, it would not surprise me if there were not several versions of the spot taken to finished form and sent out for approval. On approval the final is ready to go or very close.

The whole thing was probably finalized and ready-to-air 2-4 hours after the end of the hearings. Some extra time may have been spent creating HD and standard-definition versions but probably not.

Think about how fast live awards shows are able to air highly-polished montages of things that happened earlier in the show—they are literally editing-as-they-go.
posted by bz at 12:44 PM on July 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

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