Feeling The Thrill of the Edit - Day 3 of Antisocial 2

An avalanche of footage landed on my desk in the form of a hard drive containing the last two days of filming. All of that prep work has paid itself off. Immediately I felt the thrill of the edit session as I finally gazed upon what the crew has been capturing so far for Antisocial 2.

First step was transcoding the footage through REDCine-X. As much as I will always have a soft spot for Final Cut, my first editing love, the tedious extra step of transcoding footage before anything will forever leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

Transcoding is an often necessary step at the start of post-production where the raw footage from the cameras is processed into a smaller package. This is done so that the computer doesn't have to work so hard to handle the LARGE video files while editing, therefore allowing the editor to work faster. However it sucks having to wait for it to finish. 

Even with the beastly RED Rocket Card equipped, it took 8 hours to transcode all of the clips to ProRes LT. 


Meanwhile the gents and I took a break and shared some stories from the day. After all, 1am may be the start of my work day but it is the end of theirs. One of the benefits I enjoy most about editing on-site is that I actually feel more like part of the crew. Since I've been away from set this whole time, this is a part of the day I look forward to a lot.

DMT, Producer, Editor and Sound for Antisocial 2.
DMT, Producer, Editor and Sound for Antisocial 2.

But there is still MUCH work to be done and it's time to punch it into overdrive to catch up. Start a pot of coffee and slap the headphones on. Before waiting for every clip to finish transcoding, there is still work I can do in the meantime. I take the clips from both cameras and lay them on a timeline labelled SYNC. This is where I sync up the audio. "But Nick, can't you use PluralEyes to sync up the audio automatically?" I hate PluralEyes. Always have. Always will. We've never gotten along, although I understand it works well for some editors out there. All the power to ya!

My days of editing broadcast videos for OMAFRA on an AVID machine has gotten me very comfortable using the keyboard hotkeys to quickly navigate through an NLE. Ever since those days, syncing up audio in FCP has been a breeze. It may sound funny but I kind of enjoy doing it. It's a very satisfying task for me. And with my fingers flying across the keyboard, it's the closest thing to playing piano that I'll ever get.

Plus it forces me to watch a bit of each clip, which is what an editor should do first and foremost anyways. There isn't always a shotlist with notes on each take for the editor to use (there isn't one on this production anyways) so watching through the footage is important to see all that was captured. Get familiar with each take because that's how you sort them into golden takes, scraps and bloopers.


The clock reads 9:30am. Transcoding has finished, all clips have been synced to audio, and the first scene is roughly edited. Time to say good night, high five the crew as they wake up and head to set, and grab some shut-eye. Not a bad start so far.

Top 6 of Merc's VFX on Versus Valerie

Versus Valerie banner

It's been a bit of a dream working on the visual effects team for Versus Valerie, the amazing spinoff of Sexy Nerd Girl. As the season is coming to a close and the finale episode fast approaches, here's a compiled list of vfx shots Merc had the pleasure of working on for Val's story. In no particular order! I don't pick favourites here. They were just a lot of fun to work on.


Each episode has its own theme borrowed from one popular, geeky universe or another. The inaugural episode that kicked of the series called for an intro sequence in the style of BBC's hit series Sherlock. There's even a breakdown of how the effect was built, if you want to see how it was done. But really it was...elementary.

VFX Completed: Title sequence with a tilt-shift effect.



Episode 4 was the introduction of the Doctor, so of course that meant borrowing elements from Doctor Who. Admittedly I've only ever seen one episode of our good Doctor (but I've been told that it was the best episode, so quit while I'm ahead, yeah?), but am a big fan of the opening sequence. Recreating it was a bit of an experiment in creating a particle system for the tunnel and "piloting" a virtual camera through it.

VFX Completed: Travelling through time-space vortex with 3D text.



Speaking of the introduction of the good Doctor, when he shows up in Val's life when she's down in the alcohol-filled dumps his appearance is most epic.

VFX Completed: Animated 3D text, particle sparks, Michael Bay explosion behind the Doctor with some delicious lightwrap around him for good measure.



When Val and Peter Chao face off in Episode 6, they threw their balls down. A FPS paintball action sequence as Val tore up the battlefield and decimated her opponents. BOOM! Head shot.

VFX Completed: First-person HUD with moving reticule and compass/map; animated splashes of paint off of Val's kills.



Who no like adding blood and guts to the zombies? Very simple, but always fun. In Episode 7, Valerie faced her fears of past relationships and emotional baggage as we all eventually do: they take the form of the walking dead and she kicks some Ash!

VFX Completed: Adding gun blasts / sprays of blood to zombies, ejecting shotgun shells from Val's gun, blood spray hitting boxes behind zombie.



The series made use of a lot of great transitions from scene-to-scene. One of my favourites to work on was the transformation of Lyra from nerdy comic book clerk to Harley Quinn in mid-conversation with Val. Two shots blended into one, tracking and matchmoving the camera and some colour correction made her entrance a surprise.

VFX Completed: Like I said, two shots blended into one...tracking...matchmoving the camera action...colour correction...Surprise!


Phew! That's just to name a few. It's been great working with the vfx team on the show, along with Davin Lengyel and (in later episodes) Xerxes Cortex. And, of course, with director Mike Fly at the helm keeping us on track and guiding us along the way.

The big finale is coming up soon, so be sure to subscribe to Versus Valerie and catch it first when it comes out on August 8th.



Versus Valerie Official Website

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Or Follow Val on Google+ (if that's your kind of thing)


It Ain't Easy Being Chroma Green - Ignite Guelph talk

Nick Montgomery at Ignite Guelph 1

Back in the Spring I had the opportunity to speak at Ignite Guelph (like TED Talks, but much quicker). Here I was joined by other speakers as each of us got 5 minutes on stage to present pretty much anything we wanted to a room full of people ready to be enlightened. Given that at the time there was a lot of hubbub going around about the visual effects industry after what happened at the 2013 Academy Awards and the bankruptcy of several long-standing facilities, I decided to use this chance to inform folks what has befallen the wizards of movie magic and what has caused it. This proved to be incredibly difficult to sum up in just 5 minutes, so it has been immensely simplified. You'd be amazed how quickly those minutes go by when you're in front of a hundred or so people waiting to hear what the next words out of your mouth will be.

On top of all that, Merc Media had sponsored the event and so I was also in charge of filming everybody's speech. So you can now enjoy my talk along with the 14 others up on the Ignite Guelph channel. You'll be amazed at what you'll learn from these talks in such a short amount of time! Go give them a look-see.

Here's mine below. Big thanks to Shane Luis from ReRezTV for helping out with second camera, especially when I was on stage fumbling for words.

Stay tuned for an announcement for the next round of talks by visiting the official Ignite Guelph website.