If you have 15 minutes to spare, please drop by our YT channel and take a look at my Centennial Trailer and Episode One. We’re doing an episode a month for the year 2016. Each episode will highlight a decade of the company's history. The version of Episode One that got published was the 15th version. I expect the others to get approved and launched much more quickly an easily now that the hard stuff has been completed. That hard stuff included working out relationships with content providers, establishing the approval hierarchy, developing the overall production thematic approaches, and auditioning voice talent.
When my graphics person did not deliver any design or storyboards, I had to invent the look and feel for the whole series—on the fly—while assembling this first episode. This look and feel will evolve over the show's run as the decades unfold, new material becomes available, and as I continue to get more comfortable with FCPX.
This is a fun and fascinating process with all the expected stuff: researching hundreds of remarkable historical photographs, sampling hundreds of music clips, trying to design simple yet interesting motion graphics that don’t become affectations, and creating transitions that are contemporaneous without being cliché.
After trying dozens of wipes and digital effects and movements, I decided to use simple cuts on 90% of the material, a few dissolves, and moves that would help set off the three special scenes where a woman's voice depicts an on-the-scene observer. I used ye olde iris wipe because it is simple, elegant and a nice anachronism. And the ol’ spinning newspaper is a classic convention that instantly telegraphs its meaning.
I spent days programming and delicately refining lusciously organic moves and zooms on the still images. They were all slicked up with smooths, eases, and gloriously curved animation paths. Then I was watching "A Chef’s Life" on PBS one evening when Vivian, the star, says, “One of the things I remember being told by all of the chefs I trained with: keep it simple and don’t hide your ingredients under your technique.” Next day I went into FCPX and made two superbly liberating decisions: keep it simple and let the images shine through.
First, I threw out most of the digital moves and transitions and replaced them with simple cuts. Then, on the remaining few moves, I reverted all of the delicate bezier keyframes from smooth to straight.
We will be using historical images form our archives and external sources for at least the next three episodes. In the 60s we start using our archived 16mm film. My own video resources, which I starting shooting in 1978, will begin to appear in episode 6.