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Editing a film trailer in 2 hours

So earlier today I saw someone I followed on Twitter, create a really cool video, something better than I would have expected him to have the resources to do. I dropped him a reply to say what an awesome video and he responded by telling how he made it. He told me about the ‘Filmsupply Challenge’ which essentially was a challenge run by a cinematic stock video site, which gave you access to 40 stock videos and 5 stock audio tracks (from Musicbed) and you could win a bunch of prizes. The biggest prize being a 50k workstation!

I decided I would look a little bit into this challenge as it seemed like a really cool thing to do (and you can’t not throw your hat in the ring for that prize pool!). Previously I had not heard of either Filmsupply or Musicbed, but was intrigued to give them a try. After landing on their site I realised it was pretty easy to enter, they’ll send you a starter kit to get you going and you end with a nice ‘may the best edit win’ message. I was up for the challenge.

However, there was one slight caveat before I embarked on this challenge – the closing date for submissions was that evening! Usually, a video edit with all footage pre shot and planned would take me anywhere between 8–20 hours to complete. So in order to complete a video for my submission, I’d need to come up with an idea, plan a brief storyboard, search for clips, select my clips, search for music, select my music, edit, colour grade and render. All by the 8pm submission deadline (it was 6pm).

Here’s how I did it:

Step 1: Picking the clips

I knew I’d have to be really quick to pick an idea and plan a storyboard so I could leave enough time for the edit. As soon as I logged onto Filmsupply I had to choose a theme. Looking through a few pages of stock video, I saw a collection of dark, eery cinematic shots filmed by Chris Laclerc. I thought this would be perfect for a trailer-style video.

Filmsupply has this handy feature where the videographer can upload their clips as a group or collection. For instance, if it had all been shot on the same day, or with a similar style, you could add it to a collection. The collection I chose had 70+ similar clips, from the same shoot, that I thought I could quite easily piece a narrative from. I sifted through these clips and started to bring a storyboard together in my mind. This was then jotted down on my notepad and I got to select the clips. The challenge allowed you to choose up to 40 clips, so I had to have an idea of what I was choosing. I didn’t want to waste my clips. Downloading them as a low res, watermarked version was also an option.

It was easy to download, just popped in the code that Filmsupply offered in the starter-pack and I new option to download was added to each clip. A brand new ‘Filmsupply Challenge’ button.

Once I chose my clips I was onto the next step, picking the audio. I was aware I wouldn’t have much time to do any sort of sound engineering, so I had planned to just use one track to set the tone of my video – it had to be good.

Having never used Musicbed before, I was unsure how easy it would be to find the track that I was after. Oh, how surprised I was – it was an absolute breeze to toggle through different types of audio tracks, by tone, type of audio, lyrical or non-lyrical. I knew the type of style I was after, so popped in the eery toggle and already had a solid array of options. I listened to about 10 and managed to decide on a track pretty quickly. Downloaded it using the code and I was all set.

Step 2: Onto the edit!

Now here is where I thought I was very fortunate; I managed to gather all the video assets within 40 minutes, and this meant I had a solid 1 hour and 20 minutes to edit. I had already planned all the shots I wanted to use so had a good idea of how I was going to compose my timeline.

I laid down the audio track and then started constructing my timeline with my previously selected clips and spliced away. Within about 60 minutes I had a first draft which I was pretty pleased with. I made the final adjustments to make sure my pacing was right and checked I was within the 60-second limit. I knew I would not have any time to add any motion graphics, so I tried to keep the submission as raw as possible, trying to find the best way of telling the story.

Now colour grading a project like this, when all the clips had a similar style straight from stock, was a pretty quick job. Usually, I would spend quite some time fine-tuning my colour, but on this occasion, it wasn’t really worth the time. I found a style I liked and used a few adjustment layers – I was good to go.

Step 3: Final amends and submission

I had a few friends have a look over it to see what they thought, I used to share this and gather their comments (I highly recommend their service, it is very helpful for all filmmakers). After making a few amends based on their thoughts, it was coming close to the 8pm deadline. I exported the final version and submitted it!

I was very pleased I managed to get it finished in the short time frame. It isn’t the greatest work I’ve ever produced, but it is nice to give yourself a challenge like this every now and again, to test your creativity. You can see my final submission below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Final thoughts

I’ve got to say how impressed I was with the challenge that Filmsupply set up. It was a fantastic opportunity for all filmmakers to test their skills against the best, with a truly brilliant prize pool at the end. The ease of use of the service made it an absolute breeze to participate and the fact it did not cost a penny was a bonus.

The quality of submissions were extraordinary, and the winners have now been announced. There really are some talented editors out there, who put a lot of time and effort into the challenge. If you’d like to see the winners of the challenge, see the article below!

The winners:

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