Friday, October 23, 2009

math, graphs, and process crap part II

More process stuff from the re-assembling of my stats sheets that look to have been lost when Keystone went out of service.

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This is a graph showing the average number of seconds per video element (spc, seconds per clip) for the SH videos up through SH110. There isn't as much interesting about it mathematically as the one on process time above, but let's see if there's anything else that can be gotten from it. Open the graph up full size if you want to follow along; this one's more squintable, but it's still easier to look at 110 data points when the bars have more than a pixel each.

The first look shows that there's a lot of variation in the sample space, but that spc generally tracks better with time than with video style. The second is that in that regard, there is a pretty uniform falloff in spc from about SH034 to SH054, and another, less notable, drop in average in the early 90s. The second one is easy to explain; I switched editing environments and was more able to employ shorter cuts, since I wasn't restricted to using only clips longer than 15 frames/0.5 sec, or using exactly the clip as cut, modulo any crossfading with the next one in sequence. The first drop might be attributable to re-joining the .org, around SH043, and picking up more pressure to cut closer and make internal synch secondary, but the trendline does go back a couple months even before that. The .org may have contributed to this trend and pushed it forward, but I was already doing the things that resulted in a dropping average spc even before I got my delusions of competence reset.

The video that this trend starts on may provide a clue as to why it started. SH034 sucks. It sucks hard, and I became aware of it doing so soon after the video finished. In reaction to a video that was a pretty good idea coming out like absolute garbage, I did a deep and thorough re-examination of everything about my process to determine where I went wrong, and what I'd need to do to improve and avoid this kind of situation in the future. One potential solution path was to change editing environments, but the trial for Adobe Premiere fucked up my capture board and kind of put itself permanently off-limits. I still have a Verbot against using Adobe editing products as a result of this. The other solution path -- since, as noted in the video entry, many of the problems came from a lack of source and cocommittant overuse of filler -- was to:
a) be more aggressive in gathering source, and conscientious in tracking source volume
b) be more proactive in editing long songs
c) be more willing to cancel videos in progress, especially for source availability reasons

All these things contributed to a falling average spc. Part b) probably the least, but a song that's 30 seconds shorter because a repeated chorus got cut out has 30 fewer seconds that need to be papered over with 4-second filler cuts. Part c) kind of disappears in the results, but there was a Linkin Park video after SH035 also using Yumede and a Nevermore video after SH061 also using WHR that never saw the light of day because they were burning through the few remaining good cuts at a rate too fast to be sustainable.

Part a) was really the most significant, though, and though I was still working from subtitled sources for nearly everything after SH034, the focus really became on getting all of the frames that I would need, and nothing else, in each clip taken rather than "let's just grab every continuous extent without subtitles on it that MovieStar will accept". Of course, I was still taking everything, but in that flensing process, naturally grabbing more smaller cuts that I might have neglected before. The more one-second interrupted-action cuts available, the fewer six-second pans need to end up in the final product. These changes necessarily took a while to accumulate, but over that six-month, 20-video stretch, a lot of effort and introspection was put into continuously improving the process, which paid dividends further down the line; dropping the average spc into the minimum possible range for AMV with MovieStar was pretty much a side effect, but it makes for a nice trailing indicator. Your videos won't get better if you just deliberately reduce your spc, but as you improve, your spc will trend down towards the minimum compatible with your style and your editing gear.

Stuff like this shows the reward of keeping stats on process; you never know when you're going to have a statistically-significant sample space on your hands, and at that point it becomes interesting to look at the numbers and see what you didn't notice happening while you were making all those videos. These are the only tools I have that are of real use; only total number of video elements is tracked in addition to these, and that's just (spc x however long the song is), which is a bad indicator for what kinds of projects are under survey and useless for everything else. If there's some other tool that you think would suit your process development to track, invent it and track it.

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