Lazarus Brewing Breakdown - Part 3 - Post Production
No good project happens alone.
I'm very thankful for the great collaborators I get to work with on projects. Early in my career I had a hard time letting go of anything, partially due to lack of resources (no money) and partially due to creative control. As time goes on though I find myself looking more and more to release parts of projects to people who are better at their job than I am. I periodically still end up making simple titles or running sound on shoots - but any time I can outsource those things - I do.
Scoring was a very important part of the project. The client had some very strong feelings about music, so I wanted to make sure we ended up with something they were happy with. Since we were balancing a fine line of fun but elegant I knew that the only way we'd end up with something everyone loved was if we custom scored the piece - existing songs just wouldn't cut it. I sent Ben a first cut of the video as soon as we had it roughed in, and he sent me this initial sketch for the score, which I honestly really liked, but the client wanted something a little more modern and active. Ben took the feedback amazingly well and came back with what ended up being our final score, which the client absolutely loves.
The composer for this project was Ben Winwood, and I briefly interviewed on his experience making our a custom score.
What made you want to work on the Lazarus project?
I was initially drawn to the Lazarus project from the stills that I had seen from Evan. He’s a great cinematographer, I find that I easily find inspiration for scoring in the colors and composition of his images. Evan told me about the ethos of the brand, and what they were looking to achieve in the community and I was very happy to take the project on.
What kind of direction were you given, and what inspiration did you pull from yourself?
Initially we went for a folk/earthy acoustic direction with the score, to convey a sense of heritage, community & the value of artisan craft. After a few revisions we agreed with the client that a more contemporary/classical approach to the music would suite the client’s portrayal of their brand in a more refined manor. We crafted a new score from the new direction from client, referencing The Penguin Café Orchestra.
What was the hardest thing about scoring this piece?
I guess the hardest component to scoring this piece, was the change of direction mid project. It’s always a challenge to find the same drive you have in the beginning of the project when you are asked to take a fresh approach to the score. I felt we found that same drive though, and actually scored a stronger piece as a result. Evan was very encouraging throughout the project, which was an invaluable asset to me in maintaining a strong approach to scoring, and turning round the project in a short time frame.
For people who haven’t worked with a composer before, what’s the best way to communicate direction?
For me references are always the most helpful way to communicate idea/concepts, also emotions are very helpful - even though they can be subjective; how you’d like to feel when hearing the music with your film is a key element that I use in constructing a score. Terminology can sometimes mean something different between two different people; for instance the word ‘inspirational’ could mean enlightening and uplifting to me, but could mean epic and dramatic to another person. Using reference material from other music artists is really helpful to help smooth out any terminological contrast/differences.
Is there something that people tend to do that isn’t helpful?
The way that I work, is to write closely with the director, drawing on their communication to me - I’m highly collaborative in my approach. I think of my role as crafting the score with a director, as they guide the direction of the score along side me. I suppose the biggest thing that would be unhelpful to me, is to assume I know what a director wants with little communication of ideas from them ‘could you make me something happy’ for instance, happy might mean a lot of different things to the director, and I’d need to know how they were thinking. I think of my work as an artisan service, hand crafted and unique to the film and director I’m working with.
You can reach out to Ben to license his existing music or custom score one of your pieces at http://benwinwood.com
Right after the score, one of the most important things to nail during post-production is your titles and motion graphics. For this edit we needed "lower thirds" type name plates for our talent, transitional animations for the "Share X" sections, and a closing animation with the client logo. I reached out to Phillip Elgie to work on those for us, and he did a fantastic job. We once again had some strong feelings from the client which led to a few font changes before landing on something everyone liked, but overall the look and feel stayed the same from his first sketch onward.
Here's a video where he talks about the process of creating the motion graphics for this job.
The VFX Shot
Going into this project I never expected to do any significant VFX, and to be honest I've always been a little scared at the premise of doing VFX work - I'm no after-effects wizard.
In the days leading up to me receiving the prototype patron saint glasses we came to realize that there was a bit of an issue - the process for making the prototypes was slightly different than the process for making the main 350, and they wouldn't be able to put the gold leaf onto the prototypes.
We went back and forth about how to solve that, and eventually decided we'd just film the glasses with no gold on them. I believe it was Friday that I received the two glasses, and I planned on shooting them Saturday. On a whim I decided to call Matt Workman and ask him how hard it would be to create a 3D glass with the gold on it - thinking I could shoot tight shots of the practical glass and then go 3D on the wide - he said it wouldn't be that hard, and referred me to post-production mastermind Brandon Clements of Glass Hand Films.
Brandon was super down and was confident he could make it work, so he sent me all the information on how to properly shoot VFX plates without the glass in them so that he could track it in properly. Unfortunately on the day of the shoot we ran out of time and I never got to shoot anything without the glass in the shot! I reached out to Brandon and asked if it would be possible to just composite the gold onto the practical glass, and he said he could take a look at it. He then proceeded to blow my mind.
He can explain what he did a whole lot better than I can, and he actually did a 3 video series breaking down exactly how he did it! Click through to his channel to see all 3 parts!
I honestly think this single shot was one of the keys to really taking the project to the next level. It definitely made a huge difference to the client, who was absolutely in love with how it came out.
As far as the rest of the edit goes, it was a pretty simple process. Original assembly was super fast because we had a pretty solid script and I was just trimming down interviews and dropping b-roll on top. Over the next week or two I would get back score revisions, title changes, and then the VFX work. Once we had a rough show of everything I sent that off to client, and then we went through a few rounds of revisions to get things dialed in.
All the really old footage came from the Prelinger Archives, a database of old videos which are often in public domain.
Color grading was done in Lumetri - Basically the same LUT on everything and then some tiny luminance and color tweaks, with a slightly different set of tweaks for the FS7 footage. I bounced the opening and closing shots of Christian to Davinci Resolve for a little noise reduction, as they were about a half stop underexposed.
For the sequence with the glass reveal I added some Legacy overlays by Lens Distortions. This helped add to the existing flares and just create some extra dynamic to those shots.
Overall post-production happened relatively quickly - it was 9 days after we shot the final footage with the glasses that we wrapped the edit, and most of that time was just sending revision notes on a title or a piece of the score and then waiting a day to hear back and repeat the process with something else.
This project was a lot of fun, and breaking it down was honestly just as fun. I'm looking forward to doing this more with future projects. Thank you for taking the time to check it out! If you liked it please take a second to share it with a friend. If you want to know more about the business of production you can check out my Patreon - $15 a month gives you access to all kinds of information on how I run my business.