Tips : Montage and launching

Secretlab has been developing montage since 2005. Some of the montage has been launch by  Yang Dipertuan Agung and some by the Prime Minister. Some has been aired in national television, while some has been used in the government event.  Luckily we got that “rare” chances and I think it’s time for me to share some useful tips in Montage Business.

1. Concept

The main idea of doing montage is to have a solid concept. This is the mother of everything. A good concept will reflect a good montage. Usually, the concept will relate between the event and the content of the event.

To get a good concept is to have a lot of references. You must see at least a few types of montage / motion graphic so at least you have something to refer.

It is good also to share the references to the client so at least the client already know what they pay for. But do not over promised to them as if you can replicate exactly the montage. This is super dangerous if you cannot deliver. So always play around with words like “Yes, we can do this but not exactly like this”, or “We can try to get this effect but it will takes times… maybe we can do some short cut etc”.

2. Script
The tricky part is the script. Usually the client will prepare the script. And for client to prepare a script, well, since they are not a full-time scriptwriter, most of the time will be wasted on this phase. Some of the client even will give you a draft script and this is dangerous. If you develop a montage on a draft script then your montage also will be a draft one. There is a possibility for client to change the content in the future.

So, to be safe, get the final script from the client. Make sure the script has been endorsed by the decision maker aka the big boss. If the boss does’t like the script, then better change.

Things that usually make the script bad are :

a. Grammar Error
b. Spelling mistake
c. No continuity between the lines of script
d. The message is not delivered in the script

So, to avoid the mistakes,

a. Refer to a good copywriter to create or check the script at the first place
b. Share with other people the script and see whether they understand it or not
c. Use basic and simple words instead of using bombastic words

3. Storyboard Montage
Moving forward from script, we then create the storyboard. A storyboard is a frame by frame visual to tell the story base on the script. Usually we sketch out the storyboard with pictures from internet. The idea of having storyboard is to lock the visual flow of the montage. The storyboard must have pictures, text for the content and timing. Timing is the exact timeframe in second on every frame.

Again, the storyboard must be endorsed by the client before proceed to next level. If you proceed with a storyboard that has not been endorsed, be prepare to redo the montage again and again.

So what is the format for the storyboard?

There are 2 format. One is in presentation slide. This storyboard is good for presentation to the client, page by page. So client can follow your presentation aka following the montage simultaneously. This is good to keep the surprise at the end of the page.

The second format is in A3 size with at least 8 panel. Maybe you will have a few pages of it and it’s good for presentation with client. Which mean, maybe you can rearrange frame  or the sequence on the spot.

So what is the purpose of having storyboard?

a. So that client will understand and expect what will the montage look like
b. So that the client and the designer will know how  many multimedia element they need to prepare for the montage
c. So that the motion graphic editor will follow the blueprint and deploy the montage

Does storyboard need to be in color?

Depends. If color is needed to make the message of the montage delivered, then use color. Else, black and white is enough.

The best things to deploy when doing a storyboard, is always to have a few pictures to describe the text written.

4. Storyboard Event
Another type of storyboard is the event storyboard. This is the visual storyboard to describe the sue of the event. For example, first the MC will announce to invite the VVIP. Then the VVIP will go upstage. Next there will be usher to give something to VVIP. Then VVIP will launch the event. Last, after the event the montage will appear. And so on…

The event storyboard must be confirm by both parties so that everybody will know what is happening and what will happened at what sequence. So what is the format?

You can have either visual or textual. Visual is good so you know where is where. For example you know where is the launching pad, where is the VVIP be seated and so on.

5. Multimedia Element

If the storyboard is the recipe, then this are the ingredients. You need a complete or sometimes event more than enough ingredients to cook a good dish ( montage ). The types of multimedia elements that need to be taken care are :

a. Image – all those pictures, visual you can get from client. Else, buy it from image library or even worse, you need to do a photography session which is costly. Good to have a high resolution picture so that it will stay in HD quality.

b. Video – all those video that available, any format because nowadays you can convert a format to another format. Get it from Youtube if you have in HD but then please check the copyright issue.

c. Music – buy it from music library or if you have budget, you can get a musician to compose your music specifically base on visual, which is more better than a background music with no specific sound.

d. Sound Effect – the small small sound that enhance a specific movement of the montage. You must have this because it will enhance the montage. Usually the sound effect will appear when a typo moves.

e. Text – this is the most important things of all, having a typographic text in the montage, rather than a straight forward plain arial 12 text

Another thing is you need to have a checklist of multimedia element so that you know what you need from client and what is already with you. This checklist can be shared through google doc so that everybody in the team will be updated.

6. Motion Typography
This is the detailing part where everything or every element in the layout being compose, animatically. The simplest way to describe this is, how will the image came in to the screen, and then followed by the text. How will the text being animated one by one, or flow by flow. The essence is Motion, thus, everything must be in motion.

So how to get a good motion typography?

First rule, nothing will stay static. Which mean, nothing is not being animate. But please, do not over do, which mean everything must be animated, you must know which one is need to be highlighted, which one is important to be animate.

Second, get a good references and copy back the effect / motion. Of course, we are not yet a Motion Guru, we are doing business. So learn by observation. Reverse engineering. Then you will understand fast and better.

Third, is timing. If you animate it too fast then the audience could be not understanding what is the story all about.Too slow it will make audience bored. So timing is important when is when and how long it should be.

7. Online Editing
This is  the stage where all clips are edited and combined into final clip. This is the major task for the editor. This is the last man standing. Music and sound effect is also combined at this time. Sometimes the motion designer itself is the editor, so depends.

8. Render
There are 2 type of render. One, if you use 3D element then you need to render it using the 3D software. Second, the term render is referring to the process of finalizing the edited clips, or, the process to stitch  everything into one movie. This is the phase of “Export As…. MOV / AVI”.

Things to anticipate is the time that being use to render. If you used a low end machine then most probably you need a few days to render. If your machine is powerful enough then it may takes a few minutes.

Render is the best excuse to avoid last minute changes from the client. Let say the dateline is tomorrow then always avoid to change the content because you might not have enough time to render.

Always render in high quality with no compression so that the master file will be in HD format. It will then automatically reduced while burning into DVD so don’t compromise with quality at the first time.

9. Final Output
Always burn the final output in DVD format. Avoid CD format because the quality of the visual is low end. Why DVD? well I’ll tell you after this. Always burn into a few copies, which is Final for launching day, then another 2 copy for backup. In case the DVD is missing on the launching day, then you have backup. Its good also to have backup in thumb drive.

10. Blank / Black Screen

Please make sure you have at least 10 second blank screen / black screen before you start the DVD content. This is for launching purpose where you can pause the content at specific time. If the DVD start immediately, then you don’t have enough time to pause. This is danger because the content might start before the time it should start. Do you like premature ejaculation? I don’t.

11. Rehearsal
This is the day to test your montage in the DVD. It is also the day to test everything.

12. Launching Venue
You must anticipate the launching venue in term of few  things. First, the traffic situation. This is important to know the traffic on the venue so that you will not caught in the traffic jam. It is good to have a few route from the map so that in case of emergency, you know which route to follow.

You also need to know where to park you car so that the distance is not to far, in case you have something big or technical to move. Some venue need a written permission so prepare all documents so that you can get inside.

You also need to check on the P.A System ( sound system ) and Lighting.

13. Floor Plan
Floor plan is another most important things to know in term of launching something. You must know
a. where is VVIP is seated
b. where is VVIP will deliver speech
c. where is the launching pad
d. where is the launching thing
e. where is the screen ( some place have 2 screen side by side, but usually only one in centre)
f. where is the PA System

14. Que 
Every event should have Que Document. The Que document is the  important for everybody to know the detail of the event. Usually, Que Document will have timing, time, who’s responsible and what is happened at that time. SO everybody will know what is going on.

If you don’t have the Que document, you will be scared to death waiting the exact time to launch the video montage. So better to have one so you can prepare.

15. Person in charge of the P.A System
Always get to know and keep in touch with the person in charge of the P.A System. Get his phone number or even sync your walkie talkie with him. Better for you to have a communication channel on the day. In case of anything happened, you know whose to contact.

16. Sound System
The things that you must know is how to have a good ear that can hear / identify sound from the montage / DVD. Listen carefully to any glitch of sound, or sometime the level of arrangement of the sound. Make sure the sound is equally played in a standard loudness, make sure no part sounds louder than other.

If you identify any of the above item, the you need to adjust back the sound in the editing part.

17. DVD Player
DVD player is to play your DVD / montage. Make sure you have the remote also. Avoid launching montage using laptop or computers. This is because  sometimes the computer can be hang while playing your montage and seriously you don’t want this to happened.

The safest things is to just pause and play the DVD. Back to basic then you are safe!

18. DVD
Test your DVD with the DVD player. Sometimes shit happened, you cannot play your DVD to the DVD player. This is mystery. For a backup, get your own DVD player that has been tested with the DVD before in the office. Again, prepare a copy of the DVD and don’t put every DVD in one place. Give the copy to client, to the PA guy and one with you.

19. Switcher
Switcher is important to switch between laptop and DVD player. Usually the PA guy will have this cable. Or else, get your own Switcher. Sometime before launching the montage, you need to switch between the digital backdrop that projected from a laptop. So do not miss this.

20. Walkie Talkie
You must have this. This is important to communicate between your team and maybe client. Make sure you charge the battery a day before the launching day.

Alternatively, nowadays you can download a walkie talkie apps to you iPhone but then make sure that the walkie talkie apps use radio frequency instead of using wifi. This is because you must have access to the wifi in order to use the walkie talkie apps.

21. Lighting
Sometimes the lighting is already in the venue, and sometimes its install later. The only thing that matter on lighting is to shut off the lights when you play the montage. Next, to switch on the light after the montage played. In case it involves with launching something, you must make sure that the spot light focus on the launching things, after the launching pad.

Also check whether the lighting mode such as disco, candle light or what ever.

22. Launching Day
Last, the launching day. Sleep early, think positive and do what you have to do. Get your breakfast and let everything goes with the flows.

23. After the launching day
Make sure you give the DVD copy to your client. Prepare a few format of movie clip in case the client wanted to put the montage in the web, so you need to prepare the low res movie clip. Other than that, do a post moterm to improve your team from designing to the launching.

Lastly, after you settle everything, get a good sleep and enjoy watching a movie. GOOD LUCK!

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