Dear Zombies – Post Production Shamble

This is a followup to John’s post last week regarding the 2011 Asbury Park Zombie Walk and filming possible Dear Zombies candidates.  After he returned, we downloaded all the clips onto a backup drive for safekeeping until we were ready to use them.

When we originally decided to start subtitling zombie groans, we figured we’d just groan and come up with the subtitles later; however, we later discovered that if we wrote a basic script we could groan with gestures and facial expressions which worked better with the subtitles. 

So, around mid-December, he and I sat down with several bottles of our favorite liquid inspiration, and started coming up with the questions our participants were groaning as well as our responses.  I know – it’s hard work drinking beer and giggling, but by golly, someone has to do it.

Following our “writing session” we set up a green screen in one of the satellite For Zombies sound stages, aka my basement, and filmed our responses.  In the time-honored tradition of low-budget filmmakers everywhere, we also shot our A Very Zombie Christmas episode and some additional footage for other Dear Zombies episodes while we were at it.

For Zombies in Costumes

For Zombies Without Costumes

A few weeks ago we decided it was time for the Zombie Walk questions to come to life.  We did some post-production work – digitally blurring out unwanted signs and things like that, as well as selecting silly backgrounds for the green screen segments.  It’s a good thing that John is also an accomplished photographer as we have a veritable cornucopia of images to choose from when we need backgrounds.

Paradise Without Zombies

One aspect of our post-production work occasionally involves noise removal.  In cases where we have filmed at conventions or spots with a lot of background noise, it becomes difficult to hear the subjects speaking (or in this case groaning). 

For the future, we’ve picked up a boom for our mic which will make a big difference as we’ll be able to position the mic closer to our subjects.  This doesn’t help much with old footage we shot before we knew what we were doing (and I only say that in the loosest possible way).

Typically, when I decide to do noise removal, I separate the audio and video tracks using PowerDirector and then scrub the audio using Audacity’s noise removal feature.  I then take the scrubbed audio, add it as a new track, mute the original audio and reproduce the clip. 

It’s not 100% bulletproof. We have had cases where we’re unable to clean up the audio for the clips but for the majority of our cases this has worked quite well.

Doctor Zombies Unscrubbed (click to hear unprocessed clip)

Doctor Zombies Scrubbed (click to hear processed clip)

Once the audio was cleaned up, it was now a matter of editing the material, adding subtitles, producing an opening sequence and then putting it all together.

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