With the recent completion of the Retro Video Game Project
I was planning to post a journal entry about how the project went from a technical and administrative view. I figured it might be more interesting to make a post... as it’s more likely to be read and may be of some interest to others who have coordinated projects, or those who are curious about all the things involved.
NES/RVG were both designed to be modular. The video order is not set at all until the end. This has advantages and disadvantages over projects like DDR.
1) Drop outs only affect one thing: The credits.
2) The project length can be changed if necessary for con showings.
3) Easy to insert extras... like NES commercials.
1) Credits have to be made after track order is determined (and all videos are done... tough task to complete at the last minute... two years in a row
2) Consistency goes out the window. Even with documented and blatant requirements... not knowing the exact frames of the audio to export from/to ... inevitably means someone will pick something odd. (ie 15 frames of black... nooo how about 4 seconds worth so the audience gets confused)
NOTE: By not being the DDR project, RVG fell victim to editor preference. Editors will flock to DDR... but can't take any time for RVG
(haha this is by no means a serious comment... OR IS IT?)
The Retro Video Game Project went very well this year. There were some issues that arose... but I will save those until later. First off, the project was the natural successor to the NES Project 2003.
NES Project idea: Take some video game footage and match it with an anime... however you can.
Shouldn’t be too hard right? Not exactly...
So now I present... Lessons learned from the NES Project:
1) "Title Safe" isn’t some made up concept to keep your titles safe from thieves. (unless the thieves are the edges of a television) This not only affected the mtv-style title cards, but game sprites etc.
2) Make it very clear what the expected final revisions of videos should be. Random lengths of black space before/after videos... or strange encodes... field order etc. certainly don't make for a consistent project.
3) Editors don't like to communicate. If you expect them to do it of their own free will... you are dead wrong. (haha) While this isn't always true... you definitely need to maintain regular contact. I spent the final 2 months iming/emailing in a frenzy of "are you done yet" messages.
4) If you have expectations for the editing quality of a video... make them clear.
For RVG we took the lessons we learned from NES and applied them. When I say "we" I mean the coordinators of the project. Unlike last year, (and MJ admits this) I wasn't working alone. Let me introduce the coordinators and explain their main role.
- Producer: Final word on decisions. It's nice to have someone who just declares a decision. Fortunately we didn't really have any arguments... persuasion was the key on most matters
- Editor Coordinator(and The Voice): Castor Troy played the all important role of the lead in communication. Whether it was monthly whippings for updates or quick responses to questions on the yahoo group... Castor was the man.
- Director: Me? I didn't do a thing.
My main responsibility was compiling and verifying the project. (tv testing.. track order.. commercials.. etc.)
While most of the lessons learned really did improve the process of the project... problems still came up.
Lessons learned from the RVG Project:
1) Assume nothing when it comes to who will be doing what. Even if they tell you it will be done... don't believe it until you see it. I think we had about 20 people drop from the project (probably a high estimate...)
2) Make quality of footage requirements blatantly clear.
3) Near deadlines be sure you can spend a lot of time at your computer iming with 15+ people. Castor and I lived at our computers from friday to sunday last week.
4) Be prepared for the worst. We ran into a number of last-minute issues that were not expected at all. Fortunately we were able to deal with them in a timely manner. With AWA near I am planning to take the mpeg2s on a DVD in case the project is magically lost... I figure "better safe than sorry."
5) Complete any administrative/organization tasks well before the deadline. (ie. prepare anything that does not require other's project submissions)
The project was a real joy to work on... at the end. I must admit that my own passion for editing (like many others) was almost dead from October 2003 - June 2004. This isn't to say that I did not edit at all, but nowhere near as passionately as last year. The biggest problem I had with motivation was not seeing progress made around the project (other editors). For many months Castor Troy(and later myself) was the only editor with a completed video.
For a couple months I felt that this may well be the last project that I would work on for some time. Now the exact opposite is true. I am quite excited for the project continuation next year. I have to thank the editors who pulled through in the last few months and literally "Rose from Their Grave" to submit greatness to the project.
Last weekend I sat at my computer staring at an ftp server waiting for upload %'s to reach 100. I took the responsibility of TV testing the entire project video by video as they arrived. Dying power supplies and field order issues only made the weekend more interesting. What else can you expect when you are two days past the DEATHLINE of the project?
But now all the stress is over. The project plays on my tv without shaking. (haha) The project has been shipped to Quu... (2nd day air as of today) Now I await the verdict as he tells me that all the fields are wrong and the project will only play backwards on a PAL VCR.
I'd like to think that the coordination for the project was pretty good. A lot of various expertise and hard workers.
So here's some Nightowl
- Last year a highly active editor, this year the champion of lashings. I think MJ and I were afraid he might lecture us out of the project for not being done with a video when he was finished with his second!
Castor has a great amount of initiative and dedication. (dvd work, credits vid, etc.) He's hard working and willing to get the job done right.
- Mr. Stress-Causer himself. "you guys shipping in 20 mins? I'll finish this vid... right after this football game on tv.... oh and a couple games of madden." Actually MJ did a lot of great editing work, even under the pressure of a deadline. Along with his dedication to editing he's a great producer because he doesn't back down on the important things. "The video is too short, make it two mins at least." ...hahaha (great stress... forced me to battle with extending a video)
Extra thanks to Machine and Castor Troy on their work on the NES/RVG DVDs.
Special Thanks to folks external to the project:
- Big thanks for the opportunity to show the project at AWA10. (and especially the NES project at AWA9) We were very lucky to have a prime showtime last year (and con exposure for the premiere) on the first night of the con.
- Thanks for the tech help and letting us slide on the submission date.
- Thanks for handling my occasional tech questions.
... and now to maintain an inside joke: WARP AHEAD