The Guidestones: The Web Series Post Production or Behind the Scenes at Editing Little Bits of Media.

I just finished watching the Guidestones web series. It such a great interactive journey that I won't try to describe. They explain it better than me...

GUIDESTONES EPK from Thom Smalley.


Last year, I was brought on board of a project from one of my old filmmaking friends, Jay Ferguson.We have worked on many projects over the years and our relationship goes back to film school. (now that is a long time!)

Jay had already consulted with me about technical issues surrounding the production when it was in the pre-production phase. So, when he invited me on the project, I knew that this project seemed to be rather unique. I was busy at the time but I accepted to get involved because he always  seems to work on those "out of the box" projects that I enjoy working on. I was brought on with about one third of the project was already in the "can" and Jay was busy shooting around the world, literally (United States & India). 

So, my job on this one was to put the narrative storyline, pace and tone of the episodes together. Pretty basic stuff, or so I thought. Besides the challenge of packing in a story in 3 minutes, it became apparent that the story had an online element that branched off into various media that had alternate cuts. My first impression was "what great high end production value of footage for a webisodic". Also, the acting and story were ambitious and complex and I could see how the active interaction with the web searches would add to experience of watching the series.

Dug up some early cuts of concept stuff that I worked on as I was setting up the feel and pace. Here is a Prologue that I cut that ended up on the cutting room floor but you can still echoe's of it in the opening of episode 1.


On the technical side, rarely was a scene that didn't have more than 2 cameras rolling and the episodes ranged from 3- 1 min which has it's own challenges because the scenes were cinematic, intense and had to be watched in short span of time and convey a puzzle piece of a narrative nugget. So, most of the time you had to edit 2 or more angles that were not coverage angle in a standard shot counter-shot but used as a filmmaking device. Jay explained to me that it should have a feel like they are always being watched, so I used lots of partially abstructed and odd camera angles as possible, coupled with a lot of cuts. When you sign up to watch it you'll appreciate the scope.

Here is another version of the Prologue from the cutting room floor.


We ran into many speedbumps like media management (Multiple editors in remote locations), multicam sync or various camera formats, back up data and general workflow sync as episodes finalized. In hinesight, I see now that most of the solutions were right out of the Making of Cold Mountain book with some modern fixes that are unique to Final Cut Pro Studio 2.

Basically, Guidestones is made up of over 50 episodes which the running time exeeds a feature length and has all the added problems of the online environment. One of the more subtle challenges was making sure that the web nest eggs were in place and all the media was managed to not leave out any elements. We used some master documents and some very key members of the post crew glued the project together and aided me in getting my part done. (Thom Smalley, Jenna McMillan, Sam Thomson and many more after I did my part) 

ep.1.4 Rough Cut Guidestones.



I only worked on the project in its infancy when I look at the final project it is has "graduated University"; but the skeleton is still intact of my contribution (which is interesting to see). Moreover, the visual polish, soundtrack, sound mix, motion effects and graphics are motion picture quality. So don't expect a handycam, low budget or Youtube cat movie experience. I found some interesting rough cut ideas that we worked through, interesting to compare with the final episode.

It is true hard to describe the experience of watching the episodes but I highly recommended it since it is for the active viewer. I just finished watching the episodes in the push format via email as it was intended to be seen. Very engaging.


So, have a coffee and watch the first few episodes and let me know what you think.