Saturday, May 28, 2011

Big Yacht Repower - Post Production

This is about a documentary I produced, shot, and edited. The shoot began November 2009, ending in July 2010.  It was aired on Detroit Public Television in 2011. The On-Line version LINK is HERE at YouTube.   The video is embeded below.

I put this in my moral premise blog because I don't have a production blog. It's out of the ordinary post for the others found on this blog because it does not deal with a mainstream feature film. However, Big Yacht Repower does have an imperfect protagonist: An Old 53-foot Hatteras that leaked oil and went slow.  The moral premise could be stated like this:
Old, leaky diesels lead to slow passages and low fuel economy. New, high-tech diesels lead to fast passages and high fuel economy.
Production notes and jacket copy below.

If the video doesn't play here easily, click on the YouTube icon  to watch on my channel at YouTube. 


Producing this took me back to my days of directing technical training video discs for Ford Motor Company. But back then I had great budgets with decent size crews,  Ford's engineering departments to prep props and set pieces, a huge studio just 50' feet down the hall from my cubicle, and often a travel budget. Big Yacht Repower was just the opposite in about every way, with one exception. Back then we were editing on 2-inch wide Quad tape and the best editing equipment available in the world. Each hour of tape in it's aluminum 15-inch diameter reels weighed 20 pounds. Big Yacht Repower was shot on a nearly obsolete SD, tape based camcorder. Each hour of 1/4-inch wide tape was in a tiny plastic case that weighed a few ounces. In the Quad-tape days I needed a study hand-cart, a van, and a strong back to take tapes to an edit facility. With BYR I could stick everything in my pocket, and thanks to Apple's Final Cut Studio suit of applications, edit on my laptop with sophistication I couldn't dream of back then.

Jacket Copy
BIG YACHT RE-POWER is the gritty inspirational documentary about the repowering of a classic Hatteras 53-foot motor yacht with two massive new diesel engines. It's a fast-paced forty-minutes featuring a handful of savvy marine technicians at the Gregory Boat Basin, a 100-year old Detroit marina, who upgrade the engines and technology on the old but beautiful boat, turning it into the faster boat of its kind on the water.

The doc was shot during the winter of 2009-2010 at the Gregory Boat Basin in Detroit. The boat is "Signature One" owned by Scott Gregory. That spring and summer we edited the project. We did it as a marketing piece for the Gregory Service and Restoration Departments. The whole story is told with visuals, music, and superimposed type. Pure visual storytelling.

Production Notes

I shot it on a Panasonic DVX-100A at 24P 16:9 with the help of a wide angle anamorphic lens adapter. (Standard Definition). I shot everything at 24P; but should have shot it at 24PA. The 24P mistake required I remove all the 2:3 pull down elements via Final Cut, and then adjust all the special effect time maps (time lapse) elements.  But in the end I had a true 24 fps timeline. (Note to Stan: Shoot 24PA from now on.) The combination of the small size camera, the low-light sensitivity, and the extra wide angle adapter allowed us to get in spots that even with the Panasonic 200 DVX HD would have been impossible. Lots of fun, a truck load of work, but very satisfying.

After months of editing I showed it to WTVS (Detroit Public TV) thinking it might make a good midnight 40-minute filler. They enjoyed it so much that they offered to use it as prime-time pledge break if we could find a matching sponsor. There were enough companies involved in the project, but no one could afford the matching pledge liability (they must have thought a lot of people would be watching) -- Duh!  So the premiere airing got bumped to March 19, 2011 (a Saturday) at noon and very few watched.

But before airing, I spent weeks color correcting the project (actually more black and peak level adjustments with some additional tweaks at the gamma) and preparing the elements for up-resing from standard definition to HD.  With the competent advice of editor Don Thompson at WTVS I upgraded my Final Cut version, and then recreated all the superimposed type and chapter headings in HD. The SD was up-resed to HD (1080x1240) and imported into a Final Cut HD timeline, into which all the HD type and Photoshop elements were added. That timeline was then rendered to produce the HD end product.

Seeing this on PBS in HD, and being a guest on the pledge-break that aired it, was a rewarding experience.

My thanks to Scott Gregory who bartered years of slip and storage fees for our 41-ft ketch, FAMILY TIES, and support of Dan Miller and his crew who did the expert work and didn't complain when I was in the way or asked them "Can you do that again?" and Scott Gregory, Jr. for piloting the camera boat for the final on-the-water at sunrise shots that cap off the project.

The completed project with a couple of bonus tracks can be ordered on SD DVD HERE.


Matthew K. said...

Great documentary.

Anonymous said...

As a boat owner for the past 50 years, I can say this was the most educational program I have ever seen regarding the entire used boating industry.
Many thanks for an excellent job.

tjonessc said...

Can you list the music pieces used? Fantastic Edit, only one critisum I want to know how they got the genset to fit? #10lbsina#5lazarette

Stanley D. Williams said...

TJonessc: Glad you liked the video. The music is all library music from Final Cut Studio and Soundtrack Pro. They have generic sounding names and no composer is listed. It would take me hours to even do that. There is a finite number of "composed" tracks like those in Final Cut Studio, and I used all the good ones. They were free. : ) The genset they took out (the techs figure) was installed before the floor was installed. But the new one was much smaller and more powerful. It just slid in easily, and I wasn't around to see that effort.