Continued from Part 1 back in November 2016
Work has been slightly less tiring of late, but I have not increased my writing output significantly. Even the act of setting aside time for writing is difficult to commit to.
I’ve been writing a lot about the process behind the videos. I talked about it briefly in the Golden Axe Preview, and I said I was going to write a follow-up post back in November, but I got distracted. And sometimes it can be hard to decide whether to write about something, or to just do it. I’m in the writing mood at the moment, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing.
Looking back at that previous post, I had covered most of my process, but I’m going to run through things in more detail.
Play the game, and record gameplay!
It’s kind of important that you actually play the game to find out what it’s all about, and what you’ve got to work with. Often I’ll be familiar with the material and already have ideas for a few of the comic relief bits, but you can always pick up plenty by playing the game to death.
While you’re playing the game, make sure to keep notes, or take notes at the time you’re rewatching footage. If it’s possible, display the timecode of the clip while you’re watching so you know exactly where to find that hilarious gem. Writing or recording audio works well for this.
Find out some trivia and important facts about the game, including release dates, development history, and other interesting bits and pieces. It’s good to be familiar with your source material – it may even give you more ideas for areas to explore in more detail.
Write the script!
Combining the notes and the information gathered at the research stage, I try to put together a (barely) coherent script. The story is usually basic, beginning with an opening gag then some background into the title, and into the game itself. The script is split into live action and voiceover through use of typeface or physically dividing the two into different documents.
Shoot the script!
No! Not with bullets, with a camera. Though I have contemplated it at times. I try and shoot as much of the live action segments in one sitting as possible for continuity purposes.
I’m using a Samson Go Mic with a pop filter as my current recording setup, but you don’t have to spend much if you’re on a budget. I recorded voiceover for a few of the early episodes with my mobile phone – the sound wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty decent, and could be cleaned up using Audacity. I normally record VO using my laptop and Audacity, a great free tool for sound engineering. If there’s too much background noise, you can use the noise reduction tool to clean it up. And this is the time to cut out all of the terrible takes, and believe me, I have many terrible terrible takes. It doesn’t help that I can’t remember the lines I’ve writtten.
Gather any other clips and media!
Now is the time to go hunting for any funny video clips or references you need, or screen recordings of websites. YouTube is a great media source for this purpose, though the quality of videos varies significantly.
Edit that bad boy!
Now is the time to bring it all together. You’re taking media from many different sources and combining it into one coherent package. This is by far the most time consuming step, but worth doing properly. I normally edit videos with Adobe Premiere Pro, but you could get the same results with free packages such as HitFilm 4 Express. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you for this step is to be organised. Name and organise your video and audio clips, and titles, and it will save you a lot of time in the long run.
If you have any other special effects work, this is the time to do it. I use Adobe After Effects for anything slightly complicated – Premiere Pro handles most of the basic stuff. It’s also time to colour correct (and grade, if you feel like it) footage, and make sure everything looks nice.
Output and publishing!
I normally output using a Vimeo HD preset on Premiere Pro, at 1080p resolution, with a bitrate of 10 Mbps for publishing online. Then I upload the video simultaneously to YouTube, Vimeo, and either upload to Facebook or post a link once uploaded to the other platforms. While the videos are uploading, I write the blurb, and design a custom thumbnail to make them stand out from the others on YouTube.
And that’s about it. The process in a nutshell. After that, I sometimes write an accompanying blog post as it tends to generate some more traffic and interest, and hope someone actually watches the video. And repeat for a new game. It’s a time consuming process, but having the finished product is always worthwhile. I’m currently (slowly) working on a Golden Axe video, so stay tuned for updates. Thanks for reading!