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asif2pp

Making the Episode: Peter Chan's Island (extended cut)

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Hey Backers,

This week, we thought we'd try something a little different by posting the original cut of the San Juan Island sequence and breaking down why we removed a third of it for the final cut of episode 4. Considering how much love there was for Peter in the forums, we figured you wouldn't mind a little more Chan time. Traditionally, Paul Owens edits the show and I help out with the odd montage here and there and the end credit sequences. Since this episode was twice as long as usual, it was necessary for me to shoulder more of the workload and edit the three artists' studio tours so that Owens could focus on the art jam. Here's the initial 11.5 minute sequence I put together before it was incorporated into the rest of the piece (Note: this is missing most of the color correction and all of the music and sound mixing).

[vimeo]48128350[/vimeo]

After watching all of the raw footage (the full studio tour was about an hour long), I broke it down into individual, roughly edited "chapters" based on the topic of discussion and gave each one a shorthand "title."

epQi7.jpg?1The track of purple boxes at the top of the timeline represents the title cards used to organize the footage (blue boxes on the tracks below). Keeping them on one track makes it easy to toggle them off once the final cut is assembled without having to delete them.

I personally find it easier to visualize structure on paper (or .txt file) instead of a timeline so I wrote down all the titles and then rearranged them in an order that seemed to flow the best. Once I felt comfortable with that, I went back into Final Cut and rearranged the titled chapters accordingly. With these in place, I moved on to the second pass of finer editing.

2ZE6k.jpg?2

There were several key points that emerged as the backbone of the sequence: The Island, Its Effect on Peter, His History at LucasArts, His Definition of a Concept Artist, His Workflow, Personal Connection to Tim, His Work for Reds. Anything that wasn't on that list or supported something on that list in some way was cut. For example, there were some cute stories about Tim teaching Peter's young kids to put potato chips on peanut butter & jelly sandwiches or instructing them to yell out, "don't touch my epidermis!" but the photo album segment was a more relevant reinforcement of "Personal Connection to Tim" because it tied back to Grim Fandango and Reds (Tim obviously = original Hipster Lumberjack). Given our runtime constraints, I went with the strongest link.

Some other things that ended up on the cutting room floor:

:38 - Thought this was an interesting little determining factor that dated the time period in which they moved to the island and just how remote it was. It would also tie into a later thread about how most of his professional communication is done online now.

1:26 - I really loved these shots of this rocky beach because they gave the island a little more of that magical character, but it was actually Tim that said it took something away from the moment where he walks up to the beach during the final shots of the island. I agreed and think it works better now without that repetition.

2:13 - The shot of the Stormtrooper was moved here to make his transition from the filing cabinet back to his desk a little less jarring. As much as I liked the original detail about how he admired the character's design (2:58), it felt a little out of place in that moment and made for a subpar transition.

3:12 - You'll see that a lot of the details of Peter's workflow were eventually trimmed down. Part of this was for time, but we also wanted to make sure that those details felt unique to Peter's process in some way. This segment here is an example of the former. I thought it really spoke to the strength of his ideas and his technical ability to show that he was able to accomplish and communicate so much with very basic, inexpensive tools that just about anyone had access to. Unfortunately, this was mostly cut to keep the runtime down but there's still a fragment of it left over when he says that he still does everything on paper and you can see that he's just using regular pencils.

3:47 - This, on the other hand, was cut because it didn't feel unique enough to Peter. There's a similar moment in Scott Campbell's segment where you see his workspace surrounded by reference material and there was something about that shot that expressed the idea in a more visually interesting way so this was scrapped in favor of that.

4:04 - The "Morgue File" was kind of a combination of the previous two points. It was interesting and very unique to Peter (especially compared to Scott and Bagel), but was just eating up time that we needed to spend moving on to the next point.

5:36 - This segment took Peter's workflow from His Brain -> Double Fine to its chronological end, but wasn't contributing enough meat to justify the amount of time it was taking.

7:27 - Just an example of where fat can be trimmed without losing the point he's making. It's not necessary to point out which books are his and which came from the library. We can see that he's surrounded by books in 75% of the shots.

9:01 - Pulling out Tim's spec document was meant to transition into explaining Peter's design responsibilities moving forward, but it felt like we were suddenly jumping too far ahead since this whole shoot occurred after the art jam was over and we still had to go back to it in the episode. The chronology of the three artist segments in general was kind of tricky to figure out and I'm still not sure we ever got it down perfectly. Scott and Bagel's segments were actually shot several weeks before the art jam began (hence the continuity issue of how their hair is magically longer), but there was something about the flow of Peter working alone at the Double Fine Studio > San Juan Island > Scott > Bagel > Tim Discussing How Bagel's Art Style would define the look of the game that made a lot of sense when you just looked at that slice of it. In the broader context of the entire episode? Harder to say. It would be good to hear from Owens on this actually.

9:33 - Again, really interesting stuff here about designing environments with puzzles in mind, but maybe that discussion would better serve an episode further down the road about laying out and designing the puzzles themselves. I'd consider this idea shelved temporarily. It's also a bit long and kind of meanders off the main path now that the spec document section is taken out.

11:00 - I'll just quote Tim's feedback email here: "It felt forced to me when Peter said "let's go to the beach" before you actually go to the beach…almost felt like in a reality show where they force soundbites to tie things together. I totally know you guys didn't do that, but I think it might seem forced to people who don't know you as well as I do. :) Maybe it's just the last part where he specifically says "the beach" that takes it too far." -- Good call, sir.

That about wraps up the major differences between the two cuts. If you'd like to read more of these show notes on extended cuts (for sequences that are worth showing extended cuts of), let us know. Additionally, you can read more about the new equipment we used to shoot this scene and what kinds of challenges it presented over on this page.

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I’d really like to see more of these. Though this one in particular was very interesting simply because it was more Peter Chan, it definitely adds a perceptive to the editing process.

Also, probably unintentionally we got some extra information about the game, which is great.

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Peter Chan is a good example of why only using the internet for your knowledge of things is wrong.

Do a search for him... go on...

I'll wait.

You find sweet FA about him. Yeah, you can find info on IMDB, you can find a few pieces of art by him, but by and large he has ZERO presence online.

And yet he's been constantly working, on big movies and games.

If you just went on what you could find online you may be forgiven for thinking he's not very successful, but obviously he's pretty in demand and wanted.

It's a pity, as I really wanted to browse his work in high quality to look at the detail in it.

Alas!

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I liked seeing the uncut version of the segment you should maybe do it with more segments in the future

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Great video. Peter is one of the best people.

Peter Chan is a good example of why only using the internet for your knowledge of things is wrong.

Do a search for him... go on...

I'll wait.

You find sweet FA about him. Yeah, you can find info on IMDB, you can find a few pieces of art by him, but by and large he has ZERO presence online.

And yet he's been constantly working, on big movies and games.

If you just went on what you could find online you may be forgiven for thinking he's not very successful, but obviously he's pretty in demand and wanted.

It's a pity, as I really wanted to browse his work in high quality to look at the detail in it.

Alas!

But...

This video is on the internet. You are saying that the internet lacks info that you saw in a video on the internet. I can see what your getting at (I guess until about 3 weeks ago he was pretty unknown) but your statement is still funny in that it's a bit contradictory.

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Great update, Asif! You guys at 2PP are doing a fantastic job with these videos, and it's interesting to hear about the editing process that goes into making them. I imagine it's got to be tough to take things out when there's probably so much interesting anecdotal and tangential information in all the recordings! Peter's an amazing guy!

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Thank you. Can't wait to get off the train to get a more stable connection.. I'm sure it's worth the wait!

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This is a really interesting feature. Thanks for the insights into your production process and the decisions behind the cuts you made. I'd love to see more rough cuts of segments, particularly if a lot of things were removed. It was great to get more of a look at Peter's work and process, now I want to see extended cuts of all of the artists featured in that episode.

Hell I think I just want more of everything... :lol:

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Thanks for that! It's fascinating for me to see how the pieces of your work come together. I especially enjoyed all the nature shots that were nice here and amazing in the final cut. I guess that means these particular pieces fit perfectly in the story and the moment.

Could you please tell us more one day about your cooperation with Tim in making the documentary? I'm curious how independent are you, how much of the ideas come from you and how much from DF. Are they usually asking you to go here and film that or is it mostly your initiative? Do you agree on the contents of each episode ahead of filming? Did you plan the whole production time?

I see the feedback email you quoted is quite detailed, Is Tim always checking every scene and every line? How many iterations you need?

Finally, how you decide which information should be classified? Did you get any general rules at the beginning (like "don't look in our screens unless you hear the safeword") or is Tim sitting over each scene with a magnifying glass looking for the reflections of the code lines in the door handles? Because we sure do ;]

Thanks again for the post, looking forward for the next episode!

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Peter's workflow is inspiring in that he takes the time to research things slowly. Instead of googling stuff super fast until you get all the references you were already expecting to find, reading the books actually lets you discover things you weren't looking for in a narrow search query. It also lets you absorb the material more deeply due to the time you have to take to review it.

As for the editing of the sequence, I love your attention to detail. I'm finding myself excited about the documentary as well as the game. I have very high expectations and am sure you will put in the hard work to make it get there, just as you have put the work in so far.

Good job.

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Thanks for the extended cut, I always enjoy watching the videos on areas I don't know a lot about or not very good at and the art of the game falls under both categories for me.

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Anyone from now on who complains that 2PP are being slack in their delivery of content should be made to come here (and possibly to the Making of an Episode thread), and read it. And print it out. And eat the print out.

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Once again, very interesting, but for me it's more that it's interesting to see the process of someone who works very differently and draws inspiration from different things to what I do. I'm a moderately introverted person, but nevertheless I find myself drawing energy and inspiration from cities, and I guess also from technology and science. Not that I hate nature or anything, but I don't think I could work most effectively in Chan-land, that'd be where I go if I needed a break from work or other people. I think I'd go crazy.

I loved seeing this in the context of the wider documentary that then moved on to Scott C and Bagel, who seem to be less ordered, more impulsive in their approach in a way that definitely resonated with me more. But this was a fascinating look at a completely different way of working. I can see why it got the most attention, just because it does seem so different and rare to find people who work in this way.

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Great stuff - I'm interested to know you have time runtime constraints at all on this project, though?

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Great stuff - I'm interested to know you have time runtime constraints at all on this project, though?

Well, they need to think about how much can eventually be fit on DVDs/BluRay. There are also considerations of how much they can be reasonably expected to edit in any given month, how much music can be made, etc. Also I suppose episode flow is a factor, if all of this had been in the final doc, it seems like it would have been a disproportionately Peter Chan-heavy episode, unless they also boosted everything else (compounding edit-times again). So I guess those are the sorts of reasons why they've chosen a 20 minute run time for a standard length episode.

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it would have been a disproportionately Peter Chan-heavy episode

I don't see anything wrong with that!

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I want to see Tim visit SJ Island and chop some wood again. For science.

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Thank you to share all of this with us. This is valuable (is this proper english ?)

well Thank you.

Peter Chan is inspiring at multiples layers.

I don't know if you've got such material from Scott or Bagel or Lee but it sure be full of interest too.

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I want to see Tim visit SJ Island and chop some wood again. For science.

Totally agree.. And record it with ultra high frame rate super duper HD cameras.. For science... And group work place coffee breaks viewing :P

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This was really nice, and hopefully it also it's a great opportunity to suggest Peter to show more of his inspiring work online, Thank guys!!!

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This is great. Now I'd really like to see extended cuts for every episode!

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Super awesome. When it comes time to make a physical DVD, maybe you could have some "deleted scenes" where the more interesting stuff that didn't fit into the overall episode could be shown (like I'd love to hear the story about Tim and Peter's kids). Anyway, I just want to say that you guys are doing a great job. When I backed this project, I expected to gain insight into how commercial games are developed. I did NOT expect to learn how documentaries are made too! That's an awesome bonus.

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This was great to see. Thanks for sharing the extra footage and for showing how you cut and refine your content. Keep these coming!

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