NAB Show: Pro Advice for Filmmaking and Videography

By Michael Rosa

With daily crowds of 100,000+ tech lovers, the National Association of Broadcasters Show (aka the NAB Show) was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center last week.

nabshow-730
The NAB Show exhibit floor is always the main attraction at NAB’s Vegas mega-show.

While attendees strolled the NAB Show exhibit floor, one of the biggest and most popular programs was the “Post|Production World,” where speakers taught, gave presentations and discussed the software and hardware they use to make professional film and video content.

“And the Oscar Goes To…”

In the Post|Production World keynote, Academy Award winner Robert Legato (Titanic, Hugo) and the team behind this year’s comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot discussed their creative process.

Legato also worked as visual effects supervisor on films like Avatar, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and his most recent box office hit, Disney’s The Jungle Book!

“Films that use animation have the fidelity of live action now,” he said, praising the quality of today’s special effects before alluding to virtual reality as the future of filmmaking, saying, “It’s gonna get even better with VR – really close to live action film.”


Robert Legato took the keynote audience behind the scenes of the Martin Scorsese films Hugo and The Departed, and offered a sneak peak of The Jungle Book, his latest project.

GREAT ADVICE

At the end of the presentation, Legato took questions from the audience, so I joined the line forming at the microphone and asked: “What piece of advice would you give a young student who’s interested in filmmaking and special effects?”

“I would say, ‘See The Jungle Book a couple of times,'” he joked, causing a quick uproar of audience laughter. “No, what I would really say, obviously, is practice, practice, practice. If you have any camera, any piece of editing equipment, anything that you get your hands on, download color-correction programs (some of them are free), do all that stuff.

“The more you know, the better. Every element you understand, makes you better at the other jobs. I’m a better cameraman or director if I know how to view a story editorially, so all of those things will make you good. You don’t necessarily have to be the best at any of those disciplines, but whatever discipline you pick, having knowledge in the other ones really rounds you out.

Go out there and make a movie. Then make another movie. And so on…and that’s my advice!
– Academy Award winner Robert Legato

“You can shoot a movie with your iPhone…hate it…don’t let anyone see it…make your next one, which is a little bit better…and your next one gets a little bit better. Because all a ‘pro’ is, is someone with a lot of experience. They’re no better than anyone else. They just have a lot of experience and a lot of opportunities based on that experience.

“So the first time you get your break, then you’re a pro. You already know how to do it, and you’ll shine when you do it. So go out there and make a movie. Then make another movie. And so on…and that’s my advice!”

Actual Pros Using Final Cut Pro

WTF-NAB-Panel-730
The Whiskey Tango Foxtrot team discussed topics like why they used Final Cut Pro to make their film.

After Legato’s presentation, the team behind war-comedy Whisky Tango Foxtrot (starring Tina Fey and Alfred Molina) took the stage. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, editor Jan Kovac, assistant editor Kevin Bailey, and VFX supervisor John Weckworth shared their unique perspectives on the directing and editing process while using Final Cut Pro.

“Making a movie is all about fresh eyes,” said Requa. The team’s work often overlapped, with the director editing clips alongside Kovac, Bailey and Weckworth. This allowed for an incredibly quick turnaround for the film’s final production, which was shot in just 47 days!

WTF-NABShow-730
Kovac and Bailey gave a tutorial on how useful Final Cut Pro was to their editing process.

“Final Cut throws out the film paradigm, especially with workflows. It literally saves days and weeks of time, and that’s what drew us to it” said Ficarra. “If you’re creating a low-budget film or TV show or pilot – you can do it all – you’d be doing yourself a great service by using Final Cut Pro.”

Glenn-Ficarra-NAB-730
Fun Fact, Beard Edition: The beard that Alfred Molina’s character has in the film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was inspired by the one director Glenn Ficarra (left) started growing while on set!

The list of films edited using Final Cut Pro is fairly short, but Ficarra and Kovac were early adopters, using it on their 2014 film, Focus, starring Will Smith.

Run-And-Gun Filmmaking, The Emmy Award Technique

Throughout the week, Emmy Award winner Eduardo Angel (Best of the Bronx) offered pro-tip presentations on run-and-gun production when you’re operating as a one-person crew. These sessions were smaller and more intimate, so you could really interface with Angel.

Eduardo-Angel-NAB-730
Thumbs up! Emmy Award winner Eduardo Angel (right) presented on the joys and challenges of being a one-man-filmmaking-crew at the NAB Show’s Post|Production World.

Many of Angel’s presentations discussed “hybrid assignments,” where one person takes on multiple roles like director, producer, cameraman and editor.

“If I parachute into the middle of a remote location, I should have all the essential tools I need to capture and edit my work,” Angel said. “And ideally, if there’s internet, be able to deliver the product when I’m finished.”

Angel uses Lightroom for digital photography projects and Premiere Pro for visual effects on his film productions. His incredible array of work experience led him to be chosen as an official beta tester for both programs!

Summer Filmmaking Like The Pros!

Digital Media Academy provides incredible filmmaking courses every summer, and offers the same type of hardware and software that real industry professionals – like the ones we got to meet at the NAB Show – use to make award-winning movies and television shows.

Make this the summer you finally take those filmmaking & visual effects courses you’ve been dreaming about!