Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Levering_2pp

Making the Episode

88 posts in this topic

VU1UzJLB_gLjchm2iLVNo1OAw3Z5bhIuA2OEClbGIG6CemidUItK-IwGppSci5BNYageZHJFImlTTlJBNumBu9-gAoLB3DijEcsT4RemzLGBX5Tzqo4

Working on the Double Fine Adventure is different from any of our previous projects, and we wanted to share with you guys some of the process behind how an episode comes together. There are a lot of significant challenges we face every day as we tackle our largest film endeavor yet; producing a monthly episodic series along with additional supplemental content. Hopefully this can help to answer some questions about how we're handling the Adventure.

One of the biggest differences is the fact we’re split up for the first time since we started working together. The 2PP home base is in Portland Oregon, and when initially planning the project (the 400k budget project) we figured we would drive/fly down to San Francisco for a week every month to shoot at the studio. This plan went out the window after 3 million dollars and a substantial increase in the games dev time, so we split the work force in two and aimed to increase the amount of content we would produce.

XW4wewAK_U9UuGfMPDZT_Ywo2fY1LF8UIXWYStlhTuS7APQ2pbH-AMezOCM-MotyNZuVj1qceBeJI78i2eHMAORlWtnkr7gvXKVH362DgdZuNBHmVsI

I can stay in San Francisco at relatively little expense, and Double Fine has provided us with a work space in the office. I’m here every day roughly from 9-6, which allows me to capture some of the more spontaneous events and day to day meetings that take place. I have two interns that share a split week schedule, one coming in Monday-Wednesday and the other Wednesday-Friday. They help with setups, shooting, and preparing footage for editing.

Production

Themes for every episode are determined by looking at the development schedule and trying to decide how best to represent each phase of the production. Since the episodes are monthly we need to find a main theme to focus on that all the events can be hung around. Things are loosely planned several months in advance but we allow ourselves flexibility to go wherever events at the studio may lead.

qX86eld89g5QqjDuGLYhfVLklOMP-nnFiqY9zv_Ugv-JZJ5j_0vTghqEneXC3qfiDvZVRsllCSh0qC4-1q5YGfMXG8OdafzN-xQo66zpgmyLerIkQgA

Every day the Reds team has a “Stand Up” meeting at 11am to talk about what they did the previous day and what they plan to do today. These are called stand up meetings because they are meant to be quick; everyone stands in a semi-circle and takes turns sharing the status of their development with the rest of the team. We try to shoot these almost every day to get a general idea of how things are progressing. Even if the footage isn’t terribly useful in the doc it keeps us in the loop and gives an idea of what to focus on.

9fIPBxxiU4B9obikAsSxyRGoLN1qpXxFZuGeuJKRPKbOlfbcaTmTVWI_rSOIVi50CTLXVbIJmhuFiucl7k87Ong2Zyh0yiROA6axIXMPMiYm3hXdMm4

Every Monday at 2pm the entire studio gathers for the company meeting. Here Tim will go over the previous week’s events and check in with all the team leaders for progress reports. Again, material like this works as good exposition but since the meeting is about all company projects, Reds may only receive 5 minutes of time at the most.

uvE5P7voB-IEhIVY87veDUh-TIwK67vSXo3HU8xl1QY5M_f0QXSpIZCad_9J0CBSwSWgDnwkOY1S6bAPXFipNrTN170kmCdD4bcOERQhU9rBKTtFI6k

Once a week or so we stop by the desks of all the Reds team members for quick 10 minute interviews about what they are working on. These further help to keep us in the loop and make for a more personal focus on the individual members outside of the meeting environments. We also get some incidental interactions as team members talk over issues with each other, but these are some of the hardest moments to capture.

Throughout the week meetings will take place between different members or even the entire Reds team. These meetings can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and cover topics such as production, scheduling, art, animation, programming, budget, writing, and personnel. Depending on the number of attendees they could take place in any of Double Fine's conference rooms; each of which poses unique challenges for filming. Every month the Reds team will also get together to have a milestone meeting and examine the progress of the game as part of the bigger picture.

Once a month Paul and Asif will drive down from Portland, which amounts to about a 10 hour trip. They drive down to save a little money and to avoid having to check any of our equipment for a flight. The less that stuff gets jostled around the better. During their visit which lasts for around a week we do the lion’s share of content shooting for the episodes, including the major interviews. The major interviews are more carefully lit and can last for upwards of an hour and a half. During these we’ll use all the information that was gathered through shorter interviews and observations to ask specifically targeted questions.

u1szFcsrdhSM22sF9YE-sZToo851OD0xpfFTrYtx0JjtWThfOqrFkukD7dYqz58e_7KyyPass3A5w8wdEBxU-T-7Q0jsl_NofY4wfNV4T3HvUf2Z0fM

Asif acts as our primary camera operator during interviews while I talk to the subject. The wide angle won’t need much attention over the course of the shoot, but the close up will require constant monitoring to be sure the subject doesn't move out of the very narrow focal plane. Paul Owens will monitor the audio and keep track of the interviews progress, while also posing questions along with Asif that I hadn't thought of.

Interview setups consist of two cameras, one getting a wide shot (17mm-25mm lenses) and the other a close up (50mm lens)*. Having a wide and a close shot gives you more editing flexibility; say to go wide when a subject is making hand gestures or jump in close when they say something poignant. You can also hide cuts that remove content or stumbles in dialog by cutting between the two angles.

*Technical note- The AF100 is a micro four-thirds camera system. The MFT system doubles the focal length of any lens put on it, effectively making a 17mm more like a 34mm, and a 50mm more like a 100mm.

FdXfPcsCeZiaypMT1gWlMC_pqCzMxqok08EifYRasistRbI0OHsmFHd3KEQfn5uLff1GU6hmFqRhPYZxJ00PnrczBsxobDFmvou5BZI0qFU-Qju-vJo

As much as we like shooting on the Panasonic AF100, they are difficult to use hand held and thus bulkier from the necessity of tripods. Most of our lenses don’t feature any internal shake reduction, which reduces the shaking caused by walking, breathing, or natural trembling in the hands. This makes capturing events around the office on the sly very difficult. As much as you may want to walk around the office shooting off the cuff, it doesn't result in the best looking or sounding footage.

dAjeuKl2v4yS2Y-6LM420A7BRBYbWe4Jdv6rM4pIUI2J6mem-103Ms0dbd063CXZ8yNqENUoB3ydPrdhJ_mehPEnQ4Ya4Uw13JtpsBQmSOqhE48HQW8

A major problem we face is sound recording. Recording sound on the camera from a mounted mic is never the best choice, cameras tend to have poor audio performance and your distance from the subject means sound will be washed out and unfocused. The only way we’ve been able to get usable sound is through wireless lavalier directly on the subject or an overhead boom microphone recording directly to a dedicated portable audio system. Booming is precarious due to the low ceilings and close proximity of the desks, and wireless lavs are impractical for most anything outside of planned events because they take time to wire to a subject and burn through batteries very fast. Even then, we only have enough kits to support the recording of 4 people simultaneously.

JN2mct3o8N6wH8XeZ_o3MiEMUuONjaxWMsW9V44acRUVhoPraHnoS9xDhNxb1Mo9uPTP2mHi15Td0LOdKRxG_rJXJ3bCGWgLPcykKtATAuWqxUnMrvw

Sound is recorded on a Roland R-44 portable recorder. The R-44 allows up to 4 channels of sound to be recorded simultaneously, but we typically use it for one or two. A wireless lav mic is attached to the subject for the interview, which is often backed up by a shotgun mic positioned on an overhead boom stand. The lavs will be getting the best sound, but the boom is there in case there are any problems like cellular interference or battery failure.

In the interest of keeping our interviews from feeling over-lit, we tend to keep our setups relatively minimal. A 300 Watt Lowel Tota fitted with a diffuser umbrella acts as our Key Light, the subject's primary source of light from the front. From behind, a 150 Watt Arri provides the Backlight, giving the head and shoulders a bit of edge lighting to make them pop out against the background. On rare occasions, we will use a 300 Watt Arri or a 150 Watt clamp light to illuminate objects or walls in the far background to give the composition a more dynamic feel.

YVZiccO-ZHt_d30qOXZlS2yrBJZrOdJOl_jclTFJ-_zCbyTLI5Gmrz0qOOXFqahCHKSAV0qhu5OOGRO1nD9ZCRWpxL_8tIsI_4E8c220jbUEi7KDEaU

Post-Production

At the end of every day I transfer the footage from the cameras and the audio from the recorder to our RAID drive in the office. A RAID is a network of hard drives linked together to increase access speed, data redundancy, or in some cases a mix of both. In an event that the footage is valuable for the episode Paul Owens is editing back in Portland it can be uploaded to the Double Fine ftp server for Paul to pull down and use. All the contents of the video files are kept in a google doc that is shared with all of 2PP so we can easily see what events are taking place. The doc lists the day the footage was shot, the size of the data file, the memory card that was used to record it, a brief description of the events, and it’s given numerical designation.

wxFXYOV5dvJ_8w01uW5qlyFMgQ6C_uP8iLC6GEgJUtbffmiRZ7uaDAzKH_Z3ZgOYJFkGXbgN0NJQcRZaLb311WtAo8_mcY9N6X_Fl5ekPt30f-7jUGU

Back in Portland we have a dedicated Drobo storage RAID with 12tb of space, this is used to backup the compressed master versions of the memory cards we shoot on. This drive is only used for storage to best preserve it’s drive integrity. Every time a card is backed up its entire file structure is copied over. Before footage can actually be used it needs to be decompressed, and this process expands the file sizes to nearly 5x their original size. Decompressed footage that is used to edit the episodes is stored on ultra-fast Thunderbolt RAID drives with each holding about 10tb of storage*.

*The Drobo uses a proprietary system called BeyondRAID, the Thunderbolt uses RAID5.

Paul Owens edits the episodes on an iMac with Final Cut Pro 7. Asif works on graphics, animations, coloring, and sidequest videos also using FCP7 on a similar Mac setup. Here at the Double Fine office I work on any promotional vids DF may need done, as well as the occasional sidequest. I’m using Final Cut Pro X, which significantly changed the workflow of 7 and has been a learning experience we’re slowly adapting to.

1kutw-H8-ZWnezMoHXeC2Q9xtEjJ_W15InPdHFU21ytidYI1S-af6xhoWC98qu1iejQMpieYqLHuL3N9pOs7SniNABF3rfgg-ytvlE7lv7qyw2Vci6U

The first major milestone of the edit is the rough cut, and this means that basically all the major content and structure of the video is in place. This version will usually lack music tracks, color correction, generated titles, and a lot of b-roll, which is supplemental footage that is placed in the film like scenery shots. For example, shots of the Reds team drinking at the Chinatown bars while one of them is providing a voice-over. Once a rough cut of an edit is established it’s sent to Tim and Greg for approval. Double Fine reviews the footage to be sure we’re not leaking sensitive information (spoilers) about the game or any other projects that may be under publisher control.

The music featured in the series is produced by Terence Lee (aka Lifeformed), who works remotely from Australia under contract. Just before the Kickstarter campaign launched, Asif emailed us a link to Terence's soundtrack for the Hitbox game "Dustforce." Although he didn't have much experience scoring for film/video, we were impressed by the the lush, atmospheric quality of his work and thought having him write for this format would yield some interesting results. A few weeks later, we offered him the gig and sealed the deal in person at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

This is our first time collaborating with a composer on a project with such a quick turnaround so our process has evolved from episode to episode. Traditionally, the episode would be cut, sent away for scoring, and then receive a final audio mix. Since we don't have that kind of time, the music is conceptualized and written while the episode is coming together.

Owens will identify which scenes from the previous week's shoot will serve as the narrative framework and then discuss the major emotional beats with Asif. Asif will then translate those needs to Terence in musical terms so that he can begin writing more general themes for "Bar Crawl Night" or "Kickstarter Funded! Celebration." For episode 04, we began sending over select screenshots and very short, rough video sequences to better communicate the mood of a scene or physical space. The finished pieces are delivered during the final week of editing so that we have time to fine-tune the scene transitions and montage sequences, allowing them to gel into something greater than the sum of its parts.

After approval the rough cut will have more b-roll added to better illustrate points and add visual diversity. Some minor content changes may also take place, but often nothing more than a few seconds here and there, which can actually make a big difference in the final product. Music will be layered in, and then the footage will be color corrected and text titles will be put into place. Once we’re sure everything is at 100%, the final step is having the audio sent off for mixing.

Our audio is mixed by Morgan Tucker at monobomb studios in San Francisco. Having the audio finalized usually involves a few iterations to be sure dialog and music levels are where we want them to be. We try to keep our audio levels consistent during recording but there are always adjustments to be made in post, especially when an episode features multiple locations.

hzIK00LWMekHrBU2k7FaX870Pd9POH0_QEteHuCRv8Dd_OVJviuKjrR_ACzwZPF4yuMTWR2ntAfrrLZDAaeJKynnQf7wBG6mYtIhVimL8HZgza6XbfI

When the final audio is mixed, the video is sent through the Compressor application with the best settings for Vimeo hosting at 720p resolution. This strikes a balance between file size, bit rate, and image quality to hopefully produce a video that looks good and loads fast. We also found that using Vimeo’s recommended settings results in the quickest and most reliable uploads. When 1080p versions of the videos are released to backers at the end of production on the series we’ll recompress all the videos to favor quality over file size.

Finalized Videos are then uploaded to Vimeo with special privacy embed settings that only allow them to appear on Kickstarter or the Double Fine forums. Main episodes in the series are released simultaneously on the Double Fine forums and Kickstarter page along with a re-cap of the month's events.

It's very likely that this document will pose as many questions as it answers, so feel free to ask us anything in the comments. As we answer you we'll continue to update the document and add more content to fill in the gaps we may have missed. It's difficult to judge just how much knowledge readers may have going into this, so if we over simplified some things and you want to know more please let us know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2PP is on a weird schedule right now, with Paul Owens working all night and sleeping all day, handing things off to Asif in the morning when he goes to bed. This allows us to essentially work around the clock since there are some things that Owens and Asif can't work on simultaneously. If you have a question for a specific person we'll do our best to get back to you as soon as we can, just keep in mind our schedules make us unavailable at certain times.

There will also be some more photo examples coming later on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't expect to see a behind the scenes of making a behind the scenes series. Very informative and enjoyable to read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So why does it take that long? :)

Thanks for the update, I'm sure it will help address most of the concerns that were raised recently by some very loud people. I agree it's very insightful and nice to know the process behind the episodes.

Nice picture, looks like Tim is saying "take on the world":

9fIPBxxiU4B9obikAsSxyRGoLN1qpXxFZuGeuJKRPKbOlfbcaTmTVWI_rSOIVi50CTLXVbIJmhuFiucl7k87Ong2Zyh0yiROA6axIXMPMiYm3hXdMm4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Concidering you're split up across the country I'm impressed you're able to deliver so quickly. Looking forward to the next episode!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great update! 2PP I think you are doing an awesome job documenting thus far. It really shows how much effort u guys put into it. When I'm reading through the forums I tend to get a bit tired of some of the whiney comments about episodes being not on time. To me it doesn't really matter if a documentary episode gets a bit of delay when it clearly pays of in the end.

Also nice to see I'm not the only one going through those night shifts :P 3.30 am.... sleepy....ZZZZ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a media production major, all of this is extremely fascinating to me. Thanks for the very informative post.

It's very obvious that you guys shoot A LOT of footage, but the episodes are only around 30 minutes long (not including side quests.) I realize that you guys only pick the best of the best footage for the episodes, and you edit them to perfection, which is amazing, but have you guys ever considered releasing the extra footage you shoot? For example, releasing an unedited compilation of all of the 10-minute interviews that you do over the course of a week? I understand that this makes absolutely no sense cinematographically (it's a word, don't look it up,) as you guys produce absolutely astonishing videos, but for someone like me that wants as much insight into the developmental process of Reds as possible, seeing even amateurish behind the scenes videos interests me.

I also realize that this would pose a few issues. Most obviously, spoilers would probably be an issue, so these compilations would HAVE to be edited, which, in-turn, would make you guys have to work even harder, which I'm sure isn't even possible. Then, authorization to post the videos would be required, putting even more work and stress on Tim and Greg's heads. WELP, LOOKS LIKE I ANSWERED MY OWN QUESTION, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

I think it would be amazing to get an episode, or at least a side quest, dedicated to 2 Player Productions. It would basically be this post in video form, but seeing you guys in action would be insightful. You guys could show us that you work just as hard as Double Fine during the production of Reds. An overview of all your equipment would be awesome too.

Thanks for all the great work, guys. Looking forward to episode 4.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good read!

Have you looked into some sort of cloud storage/backup to automize some of the upload/download work?

When the episodes have specific themes, does this mean that some of the content will appear randomly in the series?

i.e. something recorded back in march being more suited to a later episode.

When you are closing in towards the end of the doc and pretty much have all the content recorded, are there any plans of reorganizing the footage into something more like a long doc?

I.e the credits could be cut out from the majority of the episodes on the Blu-Ray/DVD to save space and add flow.

Or something at some point in the future something can happen that would actually add to the theme of a previous episode, and it would be sad if that would just be left and forgotten, because of the episodes being locked down. (I guess these things could also be included as bonus features...)

Again awesome stuff! =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Didn't expect to see a behind the scenes of making a behind the scenes series. Very informative and enjoyable to read.
So now I'm curious about the process of putting this post together...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As a media production major, all of this is extremely fascinating to me. Thanks for the very informative post.

It's very obvious that you guys shoot A LOT of footage, but the episodes are only around 30 minutes long (not including side quests.) I realize that you guys only pick the best of the best footage for the episodes, and you edit them to perfection, which is amazing, but have you guys ever considered releasing the extra footage you shoot? For example, releasing an unedited compilation of all of the 10-minute interviews that you do over the course of a week? I understand that this makes absolutely no sense cinematographically (it's a word, don't look it up,) as you guys produce absolutely astonishing videos, but for someone like me that wants as much insight into the developmental process of Reds as possible, seeing even amateurish behind the scenes videos interests me.

I also realize that this would pose a few issues. Most obviously, spoilers would probably be an issue, so these compilations would HAVE to be edited, which, in-turn, would make you guys have to work even harder, which I'm sure isn't even possible. Then, authorization to post the videos would be required, putting even more work and stress on Tim and Greg's heads. WELP, LOOKS LIKE I ANSWERED MY OWN QUESTION, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

I think it would be amazing to get an episode, or at least a side quest, dedicated to 2 Player Productions. It would basically be this post in video form, but seeing you guys in action would be insightful. You guys could show us that you work just as hard as Double Fine during the production of Reds. An overview of all your equipment would be awesome too.

Thanks for all the great work, guys. Looking forward to episode 4.

Maybe at the end of all this they can do that haha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was great. I'm really interested in this whole thing.

I didn't realize that video needed to be approved. I can understand the want for secrecy but is there going to be a time where it's too hard to be spoiler free? I actually thought that spoilers was part of the documentary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This was great. I'm really interested in this whole thing.

I didn't realize that video needed to be approved. I can understand the want for secrecy but is there going to be a time where it's too hard to be spoiler free? I actually thought that spoilers was part of the documentary.

Actually, if you watch this video: http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/6843/

Tim explains how it is important to be as transparent as possible, but to not spoil the story. That way, people that want to watch / be a part of the developmental process can also enjoy the story and puzzles fully when the game is released.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detailed post! Great read.

I hope that will shut the malcontents but probably it's just wishful thinking :] After all we all know even kids in kindergarten can operate a camera in a telephone, right? :]

Questions:

Do you plan to take any holidays during the filming or will you keep this pace and work organisation until the end?

What about the interns helping you? Did you assign them with numbers or maybe they have some names? Are they staying here for all the development or just until shooting the scenes with the explosives for the next episode? :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm curious, 2PP--what brand of tripod do you guys use?

Is there a particular brand you like?

I'd like to do some videography at some point, so I thought I'd ask.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good read. Thanks.

Although it does appear to be the (very good) reason for the Minecraft Documentary being delayed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This was great. I'm really interested in this whole thing.

I didn't realize that video needed to be approved. I can understand the want for secrecy but is there going to be a time where it's too hard to be spoiler free? I actually thought that spoilers was part of the documentary.

The problem might not be spoilers for REDS but due to where a camera is or what is over heard some of the projects which Double Fine haven't announced could accidentally end up being recorded. That might be more major consideration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just finished reading the update post. Wow, really great stuff. Appreciate you guys sharing all that.

I had no idea how much post-production went into all of this. Pretty impressive for the size of team you have. More than that, I can tell you guys have some really high standards (which is reflected in the quality of the episodes so far).

Terence Lee (aka Lifeformed) was a great choice for the soundtrack, and it's probably a cool opportunity for him, too. I didn't know he was in Australia!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

nice. i didnt expect you to do something like that, but its great that you did! so thanks!

also what keith said. those 10 minute interviews might be interesting, but it would be understandable if tim & greg had time to only view one or two. this is basically what we were talking about in the forums. maybe we just have to see them to not dig 'em :).

btw, why do you use such a narrow focal plane? ive noticed that it has become extremely popular for modern documentaries to do that. indie game: the movie did just that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0