In this article film author, producer und cutter Goran Maršalek writes about his passion for documentary films – and working with EDIUS. On Easter Sunday 2021 the national Croatian TV channel “HTV” aired Goran Maršalek’s documentary film “Storm of the Soul“ at prime time. Working on the documentary is also covered in this text.
By Goran Maršalek (www.media53.hr)
Stability – this is the most important feature, that a professional editor expects from the tool he is working with in the process of creating a project. My video editing story started 15 years ago. Before I had been working on recording and editing radio shows for almost 10 years, so I know what a stable and reliable software means for production. Although I didn’t have much experience in video editing and postproduction at the time, just some theoretical knowledge and a great desire to learn, I knew I wanted a stable software hoping not to waste time any more in trying to recover crashed projects.
I had never heard of EDIUS before
That was my basic wish and then I got to know EDIUS. If I remember correctly, it was EDIUS version 4. I got the installation disc from a friend who worked at a local TV station. I had never heard of EDIUS before. But when I started EDIUS for the very first time, I felt that everything was transparent and intuitive. From then until today, I have tried out all the main NLEs in the market. But as you might have guessed, I stayed with EDIUS. There are many good reasons for this like Intuitiveness. The ability to natively work with any kind of codec and file format. The professional approach. The wide choice of preview quality options leveraging the speed of editing and real time playback… I could go on with this list of my favorite features all day. But all this would be nothing without the most important one – stability!
My main business: TV content
My main task is to produce and post-produce video content, mainly for TV. This includes documentaries of various formats, music videos, TV commercials and other video content primarily for TV broadcast as well as for distribution via DVD and BD. I had been doing weddings for a while, but for the last seven or eight years I have focused on my main business: TV content. Concerning corporate films, the most famous brand, I have worked for, is Coca-Cola. For the Croatian and regional Coca-Cola branch, together with my team I have shot and produced more than 30 reports and documentaries including one of the most important corporate films Coca-Cola has ever made in Croatia and the surrounding region since its presence in that market since the early 1970s. All were edited with EDIUS and EDIUS compatible plugins. So EDIUS is therefore my most important everyday tool reliably supporting me as a filmmaker to make a living.
Stability and reliability are equally important
The description of my job shows that the stability of the NLE is crucial, as these are big projects. Some of them are TV series that I have been working on for years. All these projects were edited and post-produced in EDIUS, some in combination with photo editing solutions. In my business, stability and reliability are equally important. Everyone working on a project for a longer time period will know what I mean. And I could really name a lot of cases when the reliability of EDIUS was crucial and saved me from great trouble. I would not trust other NLEs to behave in such a reliable manner, given that they have crashed on much less demanding occasions. And that is one of the reasons why I stayed with EDIUS.
To give you an example: With EDIUS I am never in doubt, whether I will be able to open and work on a project I have not touched in years, edited with an older EDIUS version. A few months ago, a client asked me to reopen one of his projects that I had already finished 6 years ago. He asked me to redo the project in another language and for a different customer. This was an American educational project called “The Art of Marriage”.
“The Art of Marriage” edited with EDIUS 6.5 and continued with EDIUS 8
The project has a total duration of 5 hours and is about 1 terabyte large. 6 years ago, I edited and finished the project with EDIUS 6.5 (32-bit native) with tons of graphics and titles. After finishing the project, I had moved all the material, over the years, from disk to disk and it finally ended up on one external drive.
The ultimate stress test for EDIUS was yet to come
So, after 6 years it was time to open the project again. And guess what? Everything worked fantastic, just as if I had I closed it yesterday! No matter what, everything opened fine and ran smoothly now with EDIUS 8 (64-bit native), even complex nested sequences. It is simply a great feeling when I can fully trust my NLE.
However, the ultimate stress test for EDIUS was yet to come. This happened in 2016, when I started working on my new documentary “Storm of the Soul” (original Croatian title “BURA DUŠE”), a documentary about Croatian war veterans.
Timeline of “Storm of the Soul”
I edited the film entirely with EDIUS 8 WG. The still pictures were edited with Affinity Photo and Affinity Design software. The premiere of the documentary took place in 2019 in Croatia’s most famous cinema “Kino Europa” in Zagreb.
Within this project I have used numberless plugins and tools for color correction and grading, working on still pictures, applying sound effects and lots of blends and track mattes in EDIUS. I used a lot of motion tracking and EDIUS did a perfect with this the tracking as well. The project was truly “heavy weight” with more than 25.000 clips of various formats and framerates ranging from 23.97 up to 100 fps and resolutions from 640 x 480 resolution up to 4K.
A real nightmare for post-production
Nine different types of cameras were used in total with an even greater variety of lenses. Among them was a Sony broadcast camera PMW 300 as well as a DJI Phantom 2 drone, a handheld Canon XA 30 and DSLRs like the Canon range from 5D to 7D, a Canon 750D, Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 and a GH2.
Storm of the Soul: Mix and Match on one Timeline
Different phases of the film were shot with different cameras, a real nightmare for post-production! But we were always smiling and in the mood. We had our goal, and we were going towards it.
There was only minimal transcoding or pre-rendering needed, mostly because the native files would be loaded with other heavy additions such as NEAT video or RED Giant plugin filters, many times even in combination. There were lots of nested interconnected sequences. I had all possible combinations, and all was mixed with everything else... Whenever you have limited financial resources and limited recording equipment, you then put to work whatever is available and comes in handy.
What everybody tells you NEVER to do
Due to the growing size of the project and to also achieve the desired editing speed, at one point in post-production, I was forced to transfer all material from the HDD and older SSDs to several new SSDs. At the same time, due to the age of the components, I was forced to change core elements of my editing PC like the motherboard, processor, memory, and cooling. Having to do this in the middle of a project is exactly what everybody tells you NEVER to do. Usually such an update would result in a disaster. Something bad would always happen, get lost or go wrong. But… after switching and reconnecting all the new hardware parts EDIUS did not have one problem! Everything worked like a charm and much quicker, far beyond expectations. After a short but unavoidable hardware update intermission I was therefore good to go and able to continue editing my project, faster and even more joyful than before.
Since I was also the director and editor of this documentary, the ability to manage notes in the sequence marker was extremely helpful for my workflow. I wished EDIUS 8 already had the colored markers that are standard with EDIUS now.
Just edit and play
When the editing was complete, I could draw the line and enthusiastically conclude the following: EDIUS did the job FANTASTICALLY. There were no crashes, no projects lost and no lost files. And therefore, there never was no panic, no fear at all. Like someone said: Just edit and play. Background rendering – as it is available now with EDIUS X – could have further enhanced and accelerated the entire post-production process, but I could not complain at all. Everything went smoothly and painlessly. Of course, some denoised NEAT files as well as some clips with Red Giant filters applied needed rendering (CTRL + G), but that was no big deal. EDIUS did this quickly, too. When I was in a hurry, I would simply reduce the preview quality for a real time playback instead of rendering and the matter would be resolved.
All could be done just with EDIUS
The documentary was co-funded by the Croatian Ministry of Veterans Affairs. Their jury, consisting of six film professionals from various film agencies and companies, concluded, that among fifty documentaries about the war in Croatia made in the past twenty years, our film was the absolute best. They said the film had the looks of a high budget movie; way more expensive than the cost really was. We were happy and pleased and at the same time surprised by such a reaction. Because we knew what compromises we had to make which are inevitable when dealing with very limited financial resources.
After the premiere showing, some movie professionals expressed their congratulations on behalf of my excellent use of After Effects… Now this point goes completely to EDIUS because there was no After Effects involved at all. I had to explain to them that I only used three software solutions: Grass Valley EDIUS (8WG) as the solution for editing, color correction and for export. Affinity Photo for still pictures and Pro Tools for audio, and that I have nothing installed from Adobe on my PC at all. They were surprised because they would not have thought, all this could be done with EDIUS and plugins for EDIUS.
Korean version of “Stom of the Soul”
English version of “Storm of the Soul”
A few months later, we received requests to translate our documentary into several foreign languages including Korean, Czech, Ukrainian, English, Italian, Bulgarian and more.
Enjoy your work while you work
Some people say that it doesn't matter what program you're working with if it's able to do the job properly. And on one hand, they might be right. The main thing is to get your work done. However, I would still go a step further and say, that there is something even more important than doing just the job. And this is, to be able to enjoy your work while you work. To me, EDIUS provides just that, enjoyment while I work.
And this not only me. My son is 17 years old and has been editing his YouTube videos for several years with EDIUS 7. My wife worked as a TV journalist until 5 years ago, often editing her own TV news reports with EDIUS. Today, she works at an elementary school and teaches Croatian. As a part of school activities, she teaches media literacy having children editing school projects, also using EDIUS!
Goran Maršalek together with his wife Daniela Maršalek at the film premiere in Zagreb
Every serious and long-term EDIUS user wants certain improvement related to the creative part, such as improvements in the audio section, new and modern video effects, and transitions. So did I. And after quite a while Grass Valley even delivered on that. With EDIUS X they included new “Seamless Transitions”, advanced audio tools and – the biggest improvement for my workflow – background rendering and background file export options.
Actually, the former lack of modern and professional transition effects and the limited set of audio options had been my only real criticism about EDIUS before. Now with EDIUS X this is no issue anymore.
However, what sets EDIUS apart from other NLEs is all that I have described above. Because all options mean nothing if I do not have the confidence and certainty that the program will quickly and efficiently do what I ask of it, under all conditions. My long-time practice and experience proofed this well.
Love and trust with EDIUS have been around for a very long time and in many different situations, so my wife has nicely concluded, that EDIUS is no longer just a tool for us. In some way EDIUS has become a member of our family.
MEDIA 53, www.media53.hr
The film is available to view for free with English subtitles on this website: https://en.filmburaduse.com/
Goran informed us that he is currently working on two new documentaries. He writes:
I edit and post-produce make both films in EDIUS X. Both films are still in the production phase. Post-production should start in April this year.
One is about foreign volunteers who fought in the Croatian army during the war in Croatia in 1991. It is a long-awaited documentary in Croatia, because even 30 years after the war ended no one had made a film about these people. Goran was already able to send us a link to the trailer of his new film “1991 - Who's your neighbor?”: https://youtu.be/to2OjxdRrVc
Addition: On 17th November 2023 the film "1991 - Who's your neighbor?" won not less than three awards at the renowned 8 & HalFilm Awards: Best Editing, Best European Director and Best Documentary Director.
The second documentary cover a religious topic and is called “Delusions about Jesus”. The film is about the modern perception and often misconception of Jesus.
This trailer is in English language. https://youtu.be/04zcfXGYjEY