Matthew McAllister

The Wog Wog Experiment

Posted on March 16, 2011 by

Last summer I had the privilege to travel to Australia to film a documentary on how habitat fragmentation is affecting the beetle populations in the area. The documentary is titled, “The Wog Wog Experiment” after that section of the Australian National Forest called Wog Wog. I was given this opportunity after placing first in the film festival that my Climate and Film class had hosted my junior year.

During my filming time in Australia I logged over 50 hours of footage including interviews with the two graduate students I was traveling with, tons of B roll, and a significant number of stills as well. In terms of file organization everything was logged by the date it was shot. After that these folders were brought into final cut and every single clip was renamed and sorted into bins. An example name would be, “piner_int_ty3″ or “harvester_cut4_good.” In the first example I would first know the location was in the pines on the day it was raining, the second part tells me it was an interview, the third part tells me it was with Ty and it was the third take in that interview. Similarly for a cut away shot I’d put the subject first, say it was a cut and which one, and would occasionally add an endnote if it was a good take that I wanted to be sure to include.

The editing process for me always works in sections. In the first draft I had upwards of 10 sequences open at once for the different individuals featured in the piece. These would usually have their entire interviews so that they could be cut up and the extra sections could be deleted. These sequences were versioned in the project so that I could go back and grab an older clip that I had discarded. I also had sequences for various parts of the film, there was an intro sequence, a cup pulling sequence, a harvester sequence and so on. Gradually I stared building compilation sequences labeled as build 1, build 2 and so on. Build versions represented significant changes between drafts since I was also versioning the Final Cut file itself. The final product ended up being the version titled, “wog21_build10″, so there were a lot of steps in between.

I really wanted to push myself with this project and do some of the work in Motion, to get a handle on 3D camera movements. I figured the introductory sequence and custom lower thirds would help achieve this. Since the theme of the video is fragmentation, I wanted the various elements to be loosely associated in groups while also showing clear divides between all of the floating elements. The title sequence alone had a 4 hour export time because of all of the additional elements.

Toward the end of the process was when I decided to convert all of the H.264 footage that my Canon 7D encodes in, to Apple Pro Res 422. I was considering doing this before the editing process began but because the final product was only going to be around 15 minutes long and there was over 50 hours of footage, it made more sense to edit the majority of it in a compressed format and then use Media Manager in Final Cut to convert the sequence with handles into 422 for color correction. Color correction and sound balancing were done simultaneously, and then music was added in afterward by Dustin Rumsey.

The final piece is definitely something I’m very proud of and represents the work of a lot of folks from the lab to a couple of late nights working on music with Dustin. I hope you enjoy it:

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Matthew McAllister

Matthew McAllister is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is passionate about politics and the positive impact it can have on people. He is also very interested in marketing and multimedia production. Email