PENTATONIX – Mary Did You Know?
In November 2014, director Laura Merians asked me to edit and color grade a music video. I had a week available in-between projects so I jumped in with both feet. 6 days later I finished post production and we put it on YouTube.
It has over 106 million views and counting. It struck a nerve with people all over the planet and went viral. Here is PENTATONIX’s ‘Mary Did You Know?’
I knew of PENTATONIX from their amazing Daft Punk remix video and am still astonished that they are an a cappella group that use no instruments besides their voices. We went through 14 versions of the video before we locked picture. It’s always amazing to me how the final 5% of adjustments and tweaks make such a big difference in the edit process. The project goes from ‘working well’ and everyone being very happy…to “HOLY SHIT! THIS IS AWESOME!” Luckily for me, the 5 members of the band all gave very specific notes and knew exactly what they wanted for the final vision.
The music video was shot on RED EPIC in 4K and edited natively in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 (8.1) on my trusty 12-core MAC Tower. With 32GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 680 video card, I was able to edit at 1/2 resolution in real-time with no dropped frames or sluggishness. On previous versions of PP CC 2014, only 1/4 resolution real-time playback worked on the same system. Some under-the-hood magic is happening and I’m glad that the additional power has been unleashed! It’s always a benefit in time and storage to not transcode and just start editing. I couldn’t have hit the deadline with an off-line on this project.
The color grade was handled in Davinci Resolve 11. I exported an XML from Premiere Pro and cranked out the grade in one day. It was mostly balancing shots, adjusting saturation and adding vignettes to help guide the eye of the viewer. The location was Bronson Cave in Griffith Park which was used in the original BATMAN TV series in the 1960’s. The candles held by the singers and one HMI light outside the cave were the only illumination used during the 6-hour shoot. Finally, I added several Rampant Design Studio Flares (ProRes files) directly in Davinci Resolve to amplify the existing light.
With such a quick post production turnaround, it’s essential to have open communication and laser-like specificity in addressing all the comments and suggestions from: the director, the band, the record label and the management team. All these people are trying to craft the image, brand and style of the band. It was my job to juggle creative decisions with political decisions and try to keep everyone happy.
I find that to be one component of editing that is often overlooked by other editors. You should always input all your thoughts and share your vision…but always deliver what the director/producers are asking for. If you want to have a long career in editing…you have to learn to bend and not break.
In the last year, I’ve edited 2 feature films, a documentary feature and several music videos. As an editor, I love variety and flexing different creative muscles. With over 8 million views the first week…it’s a wonderful feeling to share the hard work of everyone involved and have such a globally monstrous response. I hope you enjoy the music video and Happy Holidays!
Until next time…