FRONTLINE: Revolution in Cairo


FRONTLINE dispatches teams to Cairo, going inside the youth movement that helped light the fire on the streets. We follow the “April 6th” group, which two years ago began making a bold use of the Internet for their underground resistance-tactics that led to jail and torture for many of their leaders. Now, starting with the “Day of Rage,” we witness those same leaders plot strategy and head into “Liberation Square” to try to bring down President Mubarak. Also in this hour, veteran Middle East correspondent Charles Sennott of GlobalPost lands in Cairo for FRONTLINE to take a hard look at Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-the most well-organized and powerful of the country’s opposition groups-as a new fight for power in Egypt begins to takes shape.


Our recently finished project was a very challenging one to complete.  It is featured in a blog on the Avid Community:

Here is an article on Avid’s website describing the edit.


Describing the editing challenges in a discussion on the Avid Community forum I say:

Hi everyone, thank you for the praise for this project.  It was a very challenging undertaking and required a team effort, frequently around the clock.  Our Post Supervisor, Chris Fournelle is working on a detailed account of the workflow to be shared with Avid & the community.  Also, I believe they’re going to have Chris do a presentation at NAB and have some of our sequences and media on-hand to demonstrate.

I’ll try to address some of the questions that I’ve seen thus far in the discussion.  Media type: We cut the whole thing in DNX-145 and its PAL equivalent.  PAL media was imported / captured into a PAL project then moved over to the offline project.  All four of the offline editors worked in the same Avid project, splitting our bins into folders.

I didn’t do the pictures in After Effects this time.  In the first segment we had the larger aesthetic issue of contending with the shaky, rough footage acquired in Cairo.  We usually aspire for a very smooth, classy feel to our pictures, interviews, etc.  Things made in that style looked very strange when placed in the verite-style footage though.  So I made a ‘handheld’ effect using the ‘Shake’ effect from Sapphire.  I put this effect on all our interviews and most still images.  On interviews I also added a push using the resize effect.  I felt that this gave the interviews a similar feeling to the rest of the footage.  For the stills I just imported them at DNX-145 and animated them with understated moves using the 3D Warp.

Because of the fast timetable, with each choice I wanted to weigh the potential issues I might cause down the line so I tried to keep everything as ‘within the box’ as much as possible.  In other words I didn’t want to have to answer questions about missing pan & zoom pictures in the middle of the night.

Other assorted details: the Canon f footage required us to buy the camera to capture.  Most footage was file-based so the greatest technical challenge of the whole project was to was to copy over the footage (which was hastily put onto a drive in the middle of the chaos over there), keeping it in a coherent system so we could tell what it was and when it was filmed.

But the most challenging issue for me was that, once all of this happened and it was in the project on the unity… it was still in arabic…  So for any sound-ups between interviews, people chanting, etc. I would have to call a translator into the room and make sure that they were actually saying something relevant, finishing thoughts, etc.

Anyway, hopefully this answers some of the questions and provides a little more insight into the process/workflow.  When Fournelle has the more thorough explanation I will forward along.  Otherwise, I will keep an eye on this board and answer anything else to the best of my ability.


Here is the full program.