So You Want To Make a Web Series – Step 10
by Bri Castellini
My friends, you’re in the home stretch, but don’t lose steam on me now, because there are still plenty of things to do. However, take pride in your accomplishments — you’ve completed filming a project you wrote! Timing becomes a lot less important now because everything you need to assemble a web series is in the can. You can and should set deadlines for rough cuts and the eventual release dates, but there’s a little bit less pressure. A little bit.
Good reasons to get through editing quickly:
1. It ensures your cast and crew stay excited about the project instead of moving on to other things.
2. If reshoots or ADR (additional dialog recording) sessions are needed, a quicker edit ensures a higher likelihood your cast and crew are still available and motivated to work.
3. It reassures cast and crew that all their (likely unpaid) efforts weren’t in vain.
4. It keeps the momentum from your crowdfunding campaign going.
Good reasons to take your time:
1. Editing is an incredibly tricky and time-consuming process, and the quality difference between taking a day or taking a week to edit a scene can be monumental.
2. It gives your cast and crew time to start working on other projects that might bring more attention to yours when it’s finally completed (i.e. an actor gets a guest part on a major TV show and you can piggyback on that success).
If you’re handing the series off to someone else to edit, make sure you lay out clear deadlines and goals beforehand, otherwise you can’t blame them for taking their sweet time. Try to actually be there while they edit, otherwise meet once or twice a week to review what they’ve done. As always, communication is key.
Will your project need music? For copyright-free songs, check out sites like the YouTube Audio Library or BenSound. In some cases, you’ll need to give credit to the composer, and in other cases, you’re free to do what you like with the music.
If you’re not finding what you need on the myriad of royalty-free music sites online, however, you might need to bring in a composer. Stareable actually already has a great post about how to find and work with composers even if they’re out of state. In general, though, make sure you have a final cut of the scene you want music for (so the composer can get an idea of the rhythm and pacing) and find inspiration tracks for them to base their composition off of.
When you or your editor has a “fine cut” of the series, meaning a mostly-polished version, screen it for fellow crew members so they can provide comments and insight you might have overlooked. If you want, break your crew into two teams, one team who sees an earlier cut of the series, and one that sees a later version so you always have fresh eyes. Don’t show it to the cast yet — with very few exceptions, cast shouldn’t see the product until it’s final.
Once you’ve locked the edit, it’s time to consider what goes at the end of each individual episode. Will you have a full credits sequence, just a list of cast, or will you put credits in the description box of the videos instead? Will you have a preview of the previous and next episodes?
If you’re planning on uploading it to YouTube, you have end screens[a][b][c][d] to contend with, and (at least at the time of writing this column) they have very specific rules: they can only happen in the last twenty seconds of the video, they can’t be shorter than ten seconds, and you can only have four “elements” on the screen at once.
Those elements can be individual videos, playlists, a subscribe button, or a link to an approved third-party website (usually an official site or merchandise store). All of these end-of-episode considerations need to be consistent across all of your videos, and they need to be decided on (and possibly tested out) ahead of your release date.
Once you’ve locked each episode, or put the finishing touches on them, make sure you have copies in multiple places, just in case something crazy happens. I like to pre-upload them to the YouTube channel as private or unlisted videos, but you can also upload the finished files directly to cloud-based storage systems like Google Drive or Dropbox. I prefer online back-ups because if a computer or a hard drive crashes, you won’t lose access.
You might think, at this point, that you’re almost rid of me and my weekly column. Not yet, my friends. We’re close, but we’ve still got a few adventures to navigate together. Next week, we move on to the basics of marketing and social media promotion.
Did I just hear somebody say, “Yikes!?”
Bri Castellini is an award-winning filmmaker as well as the Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. Check out www.stareable.com to find and read reviews of thousands of web series, all in one place. For more great articles about the craft of web series, visit the Stareable blog.