Editing and producing short films – with a cast of thousands


 Editing the short films for college was great fun, and I learned a lot.

Technical specs

(Skip this paragraph, if you are not mechanically minded like me.)

Post production was an entirely positive experience, if you discount the times the Mac computer or Final Cut Pro 10 program crashed. I have written about these issues separately. But it’s worth mentioning that author Michael Jecks, who writes historical fiction, has had similar issues. He says:

“For the last couple of months – perhaps longer – I’ve been suffering from the famous Apple spinning wheel of death. I had my suspicions about the causes, and was pretty sure that it was the amount of data I have stored on the machine’s hard drive.

“It became an issue the more videos I recorded for YouTube. When I loaded iMovie at the same time that iTunes or Photos was open, the computer died. With monotonous regularity. There would be the spinning wheel, and then nothing would happen. The computer had to be turned off and on. Which would fix things – but when this happens four times in rapid succession, you know that there is an issue.

“So I have been trawling through the internet support pages for Apple to seek an answer, and today, at last, I gave up and called them. And lo and behold! a short while later there was an answer. And having done something with my machine (don’t ask me what), the thing is working again. So far.”


Jecks, M. Situation Normal – AFU, Goodreads

Published on April 12, 2019 and read by me the same day.

Pro Tools music editor on the college Mac
Pro Tools music editor on the college Mac

Before reading that post, I had already decided to figure out if there was anything I could do to make the computers work better with my films. I think the stunning compression rates on the CrossTour Action Cam files may be almost too much for the Mac, which would be a few years old. I thought if there wasn’t enough RAM available I might free up some by shutting down and restarting the computer before starting work, and by shutting it down between each film I cut instead of continuing to import files. So, while I don’t know anything about Macs, I asked the computer to tell me about itself. The ones in the college Media Room have:

OS X Yosemite (which explains the picture of the Half Dome on the monitor)

Mac 21.5 inch late 2012 processor 2.7 GHz Intel Core i5

Memory 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3

Graphics NVidia GeForce GT 640M 512 MB

Storage 1TB Sata Disk

Apps 75.43 GB Audio 24.86 GB Movies 7.51 GB Photos 2.33 GB Backups 3.6 MB

Memory 8 GB. Two memory slots, each one accepts a 1600 MHz DDR3 memory module 4GB and 4GB.

Storage 891.22 GB free of 999.35 GB

™ 1983 – 2015 Apple Inc

The Intel processor is powerful, a Win 10 at home runs Intel Core i3, but the i7 is available now.

Some graphics cards have their own memory which is nearer the card than the machine RAM, so faster for gaming (but Macs are not usually gaming machines). NVidia is a good make.

The 8 gig of RAM is the memory involved in the film making and I compared with another Mac elsewhere in the college. 1600 megahertz is a good standard. The other one ran the same OS but had 4GB, 1333 MHz DDR3. The machine had four memory slots but only two were in use and they held two cards each of 2GB. It had a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and instead of NVidia it had a graphics card from AMD Radeon HD 6750M 512 MB, also a good make. Storage was 352.76 GB free of 499.25 GB. The hard drive was 500 GB Sata Disk instead of a terabyte; it also had a superdrive.

So the Macs in the Media Room were significantly more powerful in processing, with twice the random access memory and hard disk of the machines for teaching Photoshop. They got wiped every night. And they were still freezing and crashing.

I decided to use a different machine than the one that lost my file, as advised by my lecturer, in case it had been in use more and something had got a bit loose; when you have opened Google Drive on one computer, you tend to keep using that one, as Google wants to phone you and do two factor authentication if you use another one.

I started turning the machine off and on every time I started work, to release the RAM. I did not open any other files or programs or Google anything using the working machine. I also made sure the FCP drew from library files on my portable terabyte drive and saved work there while in progress. If I saw the program was doing some background work, like importing or saving, I stopped editing and let it settle. This did slow matters down but I had no more crashes. However, the terabyte drive wasn’t the answer to everything, as I was yet to discover.

Post production

Film editing has been great fun from the start. At first we edited material supplied; then we edited footage from our phones. I had never had a film camera before and had only taken one or two film clips with my phone camera so I was really learning the process from scratch. I read (recommended by lecturer Kenny Leigh) Walter Murch’s book In The Blink Of An Eye which is not so much a guide to editing as a guide to how to think about editing. Like Mike Figgis’s book Digital Film Making the account spans the years and equipment used from analogue to digital, so I got an understanding of what editing had been about for films and was going to be about in the future. Two memorable points are that film producers ask about a prospective editor, “how fast does he / she work?” as post-production days equal money; and that digitising allows wires to be erased, so stunt wires which used to be almost invisible are now brightly coloured for easier removal.

No stunts in my footage. We might get to that next year. We might also get to more post-production special effects like green screen and split screen, which I would have liked to try. I could have, except that I ran out of time at the end of semester.

I started out by cutting the longer film and went back and forward between the long and short ones, finishing with the longer, so I’ll separate out the work for this article. I mostly did one at a time but some days I did both as they were both using the same sets of footage. Obviously, if they were using completely different footage sets, I would have wasted time by rummaging around in piles of video files, so I would keep separate films separate and shut down the computer between each one. I did insert some clips I had taken during the preceding months for practice in Dublin, so having backed those up was very helpful. I didn’t need to go out and film them again.


Longer short film – Access For All: Dublin to London


This film is the story of our quest to have a nice trip to the tourist spots of London despite our requirement for accessible transport and locations, as my husband Allan now has a mobility issue.

My storyboard for this film would originally have looked like a running series of interviews each morning in the hotel followed by footage of what we did each day. I filmed a little clip in the Stansted Express and one in Liverpool Street Station too. But I was experimenting with the Crosstour and learning, and I later decided the light quality indoors was very variable, plus one only needs to see so many hotel curtains.

Brent Geese at Bull Island, Dublin Bay
Brent Geese at Bull Island, Dublin Bay

So one weekend when I needed to get some photography for my course anyway, Allan and I went out in my van. I photographed some shore birds at Bull Island UNESCO World Biodiversity Reserve and drove to St Anne’s Park in Raheny where Allan sat comfortably on a stone bench near the duck pond and I set up the Crosstour on a tripod. I had written out the series of questions I wanted to ask Allan during an interview. I filmed this interview, also recording with my phone lying on the bench beside Allan, but it turned out the sound from that was no better and slightly fainter. Then I did a nice pan around the duck pond, told Allan to watch the ducks, and took the photos of Allan for a feature article. I had forgotten I had not switched off the Crosstour, and it actually captured me taking some photos with my Olympus camera, so I used this clip right at the end of my film.

After talking to lecturer Kenny Leigh about the photos I took that day, which he said were a little overexposed, I can now see that the footage of Allan is similarly slightly too bright on his face. There was no direct sunlight that day and I had made sure I wasn’t filming into the light, but it shows that you can’t see – especially on a two-inch screen – how your shot will look until you get it to a monitor.

Back in college I used this ten-minute interview as the basis for my film story. I discarded some material that wasn’t relevant, then intercut and superimposed the clips of our trip to London. The sound on this footage is the weakest part as the wind is blowing, crows are cawing and the odd passer-by is coughing. But it’s a natural, unrehearsed interview in natural surroundings. A better audio would be gained if we each had a proper mic. We did it all in one take as it was a chilly day and Allan didn’t want to be sitting out any longer than needed. He was very obliging. I spotted that his eyes would travel up to me when I spoke, then down to the camera when he spoke, as I didn’t have anywhere to sit, so I was taller. We might bring a folding stool to eliminate that issue next time. Because I know Allan I can tell he’s actually smiling more than it appears on the footage.

Allan sitting in the park
Allan sitting in the park

Ethical issues

While filming this look at disability access, I had opportunity to film some other people with disabilities, for instance in a motorized wheelchair or walking with a white cane. I did not want to be intrusive and did not look like I was filming them. Even though this film is about humanism, I decided it would be unethical to make a film on disability access and include some people with disabilities, without getting their permission and signed release forms. They might not welcome being shown if I put the film on YouTube. At one point in my book trailer film, we see a man with a white cane, walking smartly with two friends. He is obviously well integrated into society and well regarded, and he has no problems at that moment. So, I chose to leave him in shot as he indicates that my books often feature people with various disabilities.

Instead, if Allan wasn’t in shot, I tried to show how some place either was or was not accessible. I showed lengthy escalators and stairs, I showed myself handling a row of flint axes which would be good for vision impaired folks, I showed museum displays at low level and with lots of room to manoeuvre, and walked up to an automatic door which opened towards me.

I also needed to address the ethics of buying a film camera and travelling to London, in order to make student films. Kenny had cameras to borrow, but I wouldn’t bring a borrowed camera to London. He had said that he didn’t encourage students to buy expensive equipment they would not use after college, but the Crosstour option was very affordable.  This camera is also very light on materials, packaging and carbon involved in delivery. I will get lots of use out of it in future years, including for the remainder of my course. The SD cards are re-usable and do not involve processing chemicals. The batteries are rechargeable. When electronic devices reach end of life, I recycle them correctly. I was not replacing an outdated camera.

Travelling does involve carbon use, especially by air. My husband and I decided that this would be our annual short break abroad and for the rest of the year we would drive around Ireland if we wanted a break. I offset carbon every day of the year and plant a tree every week as well as other carbon saving efforts such as protecting rainforest, through Carbon.org and Care2.com. Our luggage was kept to a minimum, since the filming equipment was so small. While in UK / London we used public transport. In this fashion we minimised our carbon emissions.

If I were to ask a graphic artist to make book trailers for me, I would have no guarantee that any less carbon would be spent to get a satisfactory result. And by using the college computers for this process I did not have to buy a separate computer in addition to our Windows ones, so this was an environmentally economical way to make the trailers.

I can also hope that the books, which provide entertainment with an environmental, economic and sociological message, will have a positive effect if they reach a wider readership. The film on disability access we are making at the same time may help people who need accessible venues and transport. I also blog most weeks on disability access and the trip allowed me to check out venues.

On balance, and given we live a low-carbon, low-waste lifestyle and offset carbon, using our annual holiday in this fashion seems to contain at least as many benefits as disadvantages.


Editing meant that I was able to mix scenes around in order, so they didn’t necessarily happen exactly as shown. This is where it was very helpful to have lots of footage. I had listened carefully to media lecturer Dragana Jurisic and she had told us things like how to pan slowly, hold the camera close to the body to reduce shake, the advantage of taking lots of little cutaway clips, and how to make good use of natural light. Her advice on filming was invaluable as I might take a clip of a minute or so and end up using a few seconds. If you run a lot of five second clips together you can get a nice film, but you need an awful lot of clips. I was also learning this from interacting with the other students who were making their films. Either something should be happening or there should be a voiceover or both. Music is good but the screen has to keep changing to keep attention. And rather than sit waiting, in a documentary, we should be shown the purpose of the filming.

Walking stick
Walking stick

I considered the viewer will accept filming from an odd angle or viewpoint if they are told early in the film that it is coming up, and why. So, I mentioned early in my script that I filmed some lower level shots to give the point of view of a person in a wheelchair, and superimposed just such a shot of grey trouser legs on a Tube platform. During the story I used a couple of seconds of the same legs to remind viewers of why they were seeing low level before shifting to another low level shot.

I included contrast like indoor and outdoor, close up and big view, to add richness and keep the viewer interested.


The Shard, London
The Shard, London by Clare O’Beara

From early in my work I knew I would finish on the scene of Allan having tea in the Skygarden. It’s a lovely cheerful, detailed scene with beautiful light, and shows that he did gain a nice trip from walking through all those stairs and escalators. Even though this is a documentary, a film needs to tell a story, and this is a winning moment in our quest to have a nice break in London, despite the transport system not being set up for people with disabilities. So, this shot is out of chronological order, but it made the best finish for a film looking at humanism. We get enough depressing news.

I picked a graceful title format called Ribbon. As I get more familiar with FCP I learn how to speed up the work, for instance when you know the name of the title format desired, you can type it in a little low-down search box and you will be shown any that match. There are quite a lot of formats and it’s important to pick one that’s appropriate for the style of film. To unify the work I used the same format at start and end. I didn’t put any music at the start because there would be too great a contrast with Allan sitting still.

Red bus on a London street
Red bus on a London street


I wanted cheerful music and searched YouTube for cheerful summer music; I got a nice free modern tune and followed that with a tune of happy bagpipes which is perfect for Allan’s accent. Both musicians, Kevin MacLeod and Declan DP, said anyone was welcome to use the music in films.

(Hi lads! Thanks!) Using their formatting:

“Happy Scottish Bagpipes Background Instrumental | Royalty Free Music


You’re free to use this song and monetize your video, but you must include the following in your video description: Fiddles McGinty by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…) Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Declan DP – Coffee [No Copyright Music]


You are free to use this song in any of your videos, but you MUST credit the artist in your video description by copying the following: ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ Music: Coffee by Declan DP https://soundcloud.com/declandp Video Link: https://youtu.be/pv1Nr31aShM License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…    “

One other thing I was looking for was relatively new or not much seen music, as I did not want to use music which everyone else had put in their videos. I was very pleased with these two. I did not want more than two as that would be potentially annoying. I used the same one first and last; in between, I used the alternative one without a change. This gave continuity. The Scots music was meant to focus mostly on Allan but the summer one was just as much focused on me. Dragana also helped me during editing by suggesting  I should fade music in and out.

Unused options

What I would do differently if I produced this again, is that to make the film more accessible to those with reduced hearing, and to help anyone who has trouble understanding Allan’s Scottish accent, I would look at how to insert subtitles. I don’t suppose it’s all that difficult but it would be time consuming and annoying for me. The text would have to coincide with the speech and I’d have to colour it according to who was speaking. I don’t think the FCP program would have as good a spill chucker* as Word, and the print in the typing window is tiny. Maybe there is a way to prepare a script in a word processor and insert it. I would invent something like that if I worked in the industry, for translations too. The text might also overlay on top of some lovely shots and spoil them or obscure the point of them. This might make editing more tricky. I didn’t have time this semester to look at subtitling but I could look at that next year if we make more films. I would also like to learn split screen and green screen work for documentaries as this would be invaluable for journalism around Dublin.

* Spill chucker is an author’s technical term for a spell checker.

Climate change protests in Dublin
Climate change protests in Dublin

Making the master file

When I had finally finished my 16 minute film I made a master file, having very carefully followed my notebook through the title screen, settings set to the compression format H264, which for some reason is not at the top of the list although it is the most useful, and sat back to wait for it to work. On Da Vinci Resolve this process is called rendering. The file was supposed to be being saved onto the portable hard disk but fell over at 50% and a message said Error 27. Final Cut Pro designers, this is no help. How am I supposed to know what error codes mean? Let alone 27 or more of them? I felt the disk and it was warm, so I moved it to a cooler part of the desk and asked for another master file. Slowly it worked and fell over at 50%. Error 27. I was last one in the room by then and this was our last class. Well, you know the definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. So I asked for the master file to be saved to the desktop. This time it worked bravely and took 30 minutes to produce.

Next, I found that the master file would not go into the terabyte drive. There was room for it, but the message I got was that the format of the drive would not support such a large file. Clearly this was what Error 27 was about. I realised that DOS is a very old operating system and when it was invented, we didn’t have giant media software files. We didn’t have colour monitors. Either Apple OS or MS OS on the drive would handle it but the drive was all DOS.

My only option was to put the file up on the cloud. I had been reading the news on a different computer while I waited, so as not to stress out the working Mac, and now I summoned up the magic of Google Cloud, to which we’d had to raise our subscription again with all the media storage, and sat back again to wait. The film took 50 minutes to upload. I was so glad when it went up. Google Cloud obviously compresses the file as it gets it, because it looked like 2GB up there, but next day at home I downloaded it to my own computer for safe backup storage and it occupied 8GB. 8GB is the total RAM available to that Mac. A media file is going to use an awful lot more RAM at once than a flat text file.

Although Allan had said I was welcome to do as I wished with the footage, I showed it to him before submitting the assignment. He wasn’t used to seeing himself being interviewed. Having viewed it a couple of times, he says he likes the film a lot. He’s already saying that if we do something similar next year, he’ll try to smile more – maybe I could bring photos of the cats to the park – and he’ll try to act like he’s one of the semi-professional vloggers on YouTube because he realises now that the interviewee should not be making any tiny movements. So he is getting interested too and I can see us doing more filming with the Crosstour over summer. This is a positive outcome for our family.

Book trailers


I analysed the existing YouTube SF book trailers to get a feel for the length they should be and what they should contain. Some trailers are still images superimposed on fancy or moving backgrounds, some models of spaceships and art of future soldiers, and others are action. Most contain book covers but that isn’t required once the title is supplied and viewers understand they can find the book on Amazon.

Many people don’t watch four book trailers back to back. But SF readers might, if they enjoy the first one. So I would provide the individual trailers and series trailer. As these are original films, the content won’t be found elsewhere.

Tower of London and modern buildings
Tower of London and modern buildings


Having seen the trailer for the first book, my first solo short film, Dragana wanted some narration to convey more background to the story but I knew that this wasn’t going to work, so I explained that book trailers are for readers and just contain text.  She thought that viewers might not understand what space mines are or what Pluto going underground means. In general, I tend to think SF readers have a store of background knowledge from SF media and would pick up on this quickly, but of course, Young Adults won’t have read as much, and other viewers might become interested only after viewing a good trailer. So I could see her point and I added a few screens of story setup at the start. Dragana wondered if a flashback would help but in a minute of film there would be no time, and I wanted to keep a forward momentum.

Dragana also wanted some kind of beginning and resolution; given I can’t provide the end of the stories, because book trailers encourage readers to buy the book to find out the end, I thought of another option. I posed a question – “Is it possible to create a believable vision of the future – with aliens? Let’s ask some experts.” Then, each book of the series (four in all) has a different review quote after it, and I added a final review quote which I was lucky and honoured to have gained very recently. Author Jemima Pett who writes The Princelings Of The East fantasy series and science fiction, and who is a Londoner, had written this on Goodreads. I am hoping that by giving an answer from five authors through the trailer, I will have answered the question posed at the outset.

Jemima Pett’s Reviews > Dining Out with the Gas Giants, Feb 17 2019, Goodreads. Read by me Feb 18.


Imagery and editing

I had taken advice from Dragana about my storyboard: I showed City buildings a few scenes in and she suggested I put them at the start because I had just mentioned giant corporations. She was right because the London landmarks like 30 St Mary Axe, known as the Gherkin, makes for a big, eyecatching opening shot. I wasn’t allowed to film this scene with a tripod in the Skygarden so it shakes a little, but with luck people will mainly notice that the wide-angle lens I used has curved the tall buildings slightly. This should add to the impression that the world depicted is not quite the world they know. The building on the left is still being built taller so we can see these firms are prospering. I am sure editing software could reduce the shake but I’ve more learning time ahead of me. A newsflash runs onto the screen telling us that British Space Mines is Hiring!

And then we cut to a street level scene, traffic halted, with a red bus and builder’s truck as shoppers walk. The famous Nelson’s Column is lined up in the centre, framed by a road sign that points to the City and with a yellow – attention grabbing – poster about road closure for St Patrick’s Day. This poster represents the Irish community and protagonist, we see the ordinary people now, and I chose not to show moving traffic because I want the viewer to focus on what matters, which is the newsflash about a Mine Shuttle Accident. This is the engine driving my character’s actions, providing his background and giving him motivation.


In general, I wanted every scene to be in motion. Five reasons.

  • Filming is a requirement of my module. If it’s a film, it can darn well move.
  • Motion distinguishes the trailer from those made with photos or models and art.
  • Each book is packed with purposeful motion; people walking, getting Tube trains, riding on RIBs across the Thames estuary, shuttles taking off and landing.
  • Science fiction is about action: the future is fast-moving.
  • Motion is emotion, as critic Mark Cousins says in Widescreen (2008, Wallflower Press).

The newsflashes provide added motion as well as richer content.


I analysed recent music videos on YouTube and noticed that jumps are getting closer together and you can make sense of a scene two seconds long. This gave me confidence to shorten scenes, keep motion in each scene and add newsflashes to most of them. Not all; sometimes there is enough going on and I don’t want a distraction, or the scene is too short.


Rapid contrast is another way I added richness. Indoor follows outdoor, framing through a window follows a landmark view, a big structure is succeeded by or replaces faces in a crowd.


Some scenes are particularly beautiful and interesting, and I leave them for two newsflashes. For instance, we are introduced to migrant workers by a scene of Chinatown near Leicester Square, with a variety of different-looking people walking through shot. Another instance is in a later book when we see a boat heading away from camera along the Thames. The viewer has time to settle in and notice the Shard on the right, a bridge in centre, Tower Bridge distantly ahead.  The viewer gets two newsflashes and they may think they are waiting for the boat to pass under a bridge, which it does; actually they are waiting for the plane to fly over the Shard.

Dual purpose

Every scene has to serve at least two purposes because they are condensing so much content. A book in one minute. So, the London Eye, which appears in each book trailer, represents London, time, and motion, but also London’s Eye the news zine. This is an ideally striking and recognisable image. The prettiest one is the view from the South Bank Centre; I was quite proud of myself to film almost into the sun and capture a camera flare or reflection too.

Individuals and diversity

People are also worth a look; I chose the few seconds of the Royal Opera House that we see because a distinguished gentleman of colour is just leaving. I got another great image of a street in the City where a larger gentleman is walking up to and past a smaller one, and this suggests a power struggle or imbalance. Each of these matched perfectly with a headline I had in mind. As in the books I tried to provide a good balance and diversity of people.


I chose a deliberately soft focus scene of a park with flowers because of the romantic headline; also this meeting takes place in a park and the character turns out not to be so pleasant, so I did not want any walker to be identified with her.

Children protest climate change in Dublin
Children protest climate change in Dublin


I include a tree trunk; this is very recognisably a London Plane tree for anyone who knows trees. The books all have an environmental theme, and this is picked up in the two clips of a climate change protest march. “A cast of thousands,” I commented to Dragana when she viewed it. This is one of my Dublin shots.


I don’t believe I use the same bit of footage twice, either in this film or between the two films, because: I made sure to film landmarks from different viewpoints; any time I use two parts of the same clip there is a different part on show each time (watch the details); and there is a degree of repetition in the start and end matter so I wanted to avoid other repetition. I needed to show three to eight minutes of original footage and I have easily complied.


The word punctum was coined by French philosopher and critic Roland Barthes. He uses the term to describe small details about people or scenes that may be noticed in a photograph and ‘puncture’ the scene or the viewer’s gaze. By filming ordinary people in London instead of actors, I captured details like a woman pushing up her sleeves as she walks, children with bright pink accessories, a person in red, or with blue hair, or drinking a bottle of water in a crowd, a man with a white cane walking smartly, the individuals mentioned earlier and the notice about St Patrick’s Day.

These items make the scene more eye-grabbing and rich, so the viewer may feel they have taken in a great deal of content in a short space of time. I really enjoyed looking through clips for the best details to feature in my scenes. Again, this was possible because I had taken a great deal of footage.


No dialogue in this film, but I have plenty of narration in the longer film. I needed music that suggested SF and was fast-paced. The intensity had to strengthen within a minute. I listened to quite a few.

Dragana had told us to pick music that had ‘no copyright’ or ‘free to use’ on it on YouTube and I found two themes fit the bill. Using their formatting:

“Ansia Orchestra – Hack The Planet [Epic/Cinematic/Orchestral][MFY – No Copyright Music]

You can to use and monetized this track by copying the following information into your description▼: ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼ Music: Ansia Orchestra – Hack The Planet Link: https://youtu.be/fthcBrJY5eg Music provided by: MFY – No Copyright ▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

The Runner – Instrumental sci-fi Synth music. Royalty free music.


Published on Mar 21, 2017

For license information and more Royalty free music: https://soundtrackuniverse.com

Free Download: https://soundcloud.com/ansiaorchestra…

Soundtrackuniverse.com – Royalty free instrumental music to use in your games and videos. ”

Respect, guys!

I also found another tune I would like to use and cut a demo for practice, but it was unclear if this was free to use, so I requested clarity but have not heard anything. I was hoping, but as two months have elapsed and it’s time to submit the assignment, I’m giving up on it. All part of the learning process.

I made a series trailer using the free songs, two of each song, alternating. I will be happy to credit everyone, provide their links and any copyright or creative commons notices whenever the trailer goes up on YouTube, and I would happily link to the originally posted tracks too.

My lecturer James Mackin was kind enough to check that I knew a music artist might not want me to use their song if I publish a film, and I explained the situation at that time. I’m also in the extremely fortunate position of having a webmaster who would make such checks as a matter of course, but it’s still my responsibility.

Making the master file

This was a matter of getting each section right, or as close as I could, then putting them together and adding anything else needed. I am a detail freak and kept trying to improve the file before finishing. Still haven’t got it perfect, since there’s one thing FCP just refused to do for me, and probably more besides, but to err is human. Each short section had mastered easily and was stored, so I was not going to lose much if I did have a crash. The chapter method seems very practical and this meant the final file was not nerve-wracking. This one went onto the terabyte drive no problem. I had this film finished before completing the longer film, which repeatedly gave more trouble.

This has been entirely a college project to date and only my lecturers and husband have seen it, but they seem to like the film. I did put in a lot of extra hours, but the semester was short and I had no prior experience.

Final thoughts

Never having had a film camera before, I am delighted with the Crosstour.  I can see while editing and in the finished product which scenes were shot with that and which with the phone camera. I love the clarity and depth of field of the Crosstour. I was also able to film in places where you might not get footage with a big film camera, and as it’s so small people behaved normally around it. Allan did tell me that he spotted some people staring at me filming with a tiny camera and pink mini tripod. I guess even in London they haven’t seen many of these yet.

Roman villa at the Museum of London
Roman villa at the Museum of London

The streets I filmed and edited were in both films reflecting how I felt about that street. The steps were obstacles, not a way to make progress, for a person with mobility issues. The City or Chinatown streets featured scenes in my head from my books. This reflects the theory of another French thinker, Alexandre Anstruc. He called his concept le camera-stylo saying that the camera was like a pen to express the thoughts of the photographer or film maker. I have to agree that these two short films are very personal expressions of how I felt about those streets, and surprisingly, they are quite different in tone. I was concerned on Allan’s behalf when the effort of getting around was outweighing the advantages. I was thrilled to be giving a new medium to my book stories. Both in the same trip.

Maybe because I’m new to film production, I gained great value from having another set of eyes or ears on my work in progress. Another person would spot a tiny detail to correct or make a constructive suggestion, and I was determined I would be open to all advice. In turn I tried to help fellow students if they needed a fresh set of eyes. Authors often have an editor or proofreader for this exact reason. In Save The Cat (2005, Michael Wiese Productions) screenwriter Blake Snyder advocates getting fresh thoughts from people not involved in a project. This is reiterated in The Guerilla Film-Maker’s Pocketbook by Chris Jones, Genevieve Joliffe and Andres Zinnes (2010, Bloomsbury Academic), which I once more heartily recommend.


At this point I wish to thank everyone who participated in preparation, filming and post-production with me. Whether they were in shot or gave advice or helped with technical stuff or just laid eyes on my films, I gained immeasurably from listening to their words or observing their reactions. Thanks again to the artists who make music available to students for free, and thanks to vloggers who demonstrate how to use cameras. Mostly I need to thank my lecturers and my husband, so take a bow, folks, and let me throw some flowers at you. I’ll be back for more next year.

Foxgloves in the National Botanic Gardens, Wales
Foxgloves in the National Botanic Gardens, Wales

All photos (c) Clare O’Beara.

You may also be interested in:

Filming in London

Short film project

Producing my short films with the help of YouTube

2 thoughts on “Editing and producing short films – with a cast of thousands

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