I had been working as a freelance editor in Chennai, India, for seven years and as an assistant film editor for three years. Recently, I got the opportunity to work with Jeffrey Jonathan, who is the music director and creative head of independent label Theatre 99 Records. After many promotional edits, this was my first music video project with high-end budget.
“Unnale Unnale” is a video of a song that describes the love between two people who spend time together doing things that are out of the ordinary. The original soundtrack was composed by Jeffrey Jonathan.
Principal photography began at Kochin (Kerala, India) along with three assistants and two camera assistants. Since the male and female lead were new to filming, it took more time to get the perfect shots, with several takes per shot.
The video was shot on RED Epic. Shooting completed on the second day of filming.
Once production was over, the director decided to work with an editor in Mumbai, so the footage was sent there. After few days, I got a call from Jeffrey, and he said, “I got a rough cut from Mumbai, and it is not what we were expecting. I have consulted with the director that we will try our best. If it comes out better, we will go ahead with your edit.”
So we immediately started post-production in Chennai. Avid Media Composer was our obvious choice, since I have used it with previous projects, especially Avid Attic, which helps retrieve backup files in case of crashing. I always prefer Avid DNxHD 36, which only requires a low capacity for proxy files and saves many GBs in my hard drive.
To convert the RED footage, we divided our work by working on one iMac and using another for proxy conversion. We really didn’t know how were going to do this in one day. But we did it.
Over the course of one night, we completed the proxy conversion and put all the footage into bins. I believed in myself, and I found that I can present the visual in a different way of storytelling that differed from the Mumbai edit. Jeffrey gave me full support to feel like I was really in my zone.
I planned to use all the shots into the timeline. I didn’t want to lose even a single useful frame from an NG shot. So I put all the footage into the timeline, along with the order of the scenes and lip sync (singing performance).
For a single shot, it took around five to six takes. We watched each and every take and took some useful shots from NG shots. The formation looked something like this:
NG (CU) + OK (ES) + NG (CU) + NG (ES) + NG (CU) + OK (ES)
I made a compilation of six cuts, collecting OK and NG shots. There were several editing challenges, especially the continuity mismatches with the OK and NG shots, plus the lack of time we had to send the rough cut to Mumbai.
I made the first cut within four days. And I had to make sure the emotional part wasn’t cut away, especially given the amount of love and care between the couple that needed to be shown within four minutes and 27 seconds.
With that, we sent the rough cut to Mumbai on fifth day, and the director approved my cut.
While editing, I always prefer not to act like an expert. I prefer to act like an audience, so that I can feel when the audience will get bored and how I can make the audience feel more engaged.
In the most complex of shots, I try to remember this. I will take a coffee or call my mom for few minutes. Then I will come back with a clear mind and watch.
We spent another day for tackling small issues, like a few jump cuts, cutting for beat and taking out mismatched cuts.
Color Grading was handled by Sreejith Sarang.
It was released officially April 8, 2016, on YouTube. You can watch the video here:
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