Name: mccormic
Notable Work(s): Celestia, Kleftogiannis

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, interests, etc.?
I'm mccormic, former Quake 3 Arena / Quake Live video editor and player. Currently working at an esport broadcast studio called Beyond the Summit in Los Angeles as Lead Graphics Designer and Broadcast Software Designer. Check out: twitch Beyond The Summit and http://beyondthesummit.tv/

Used to play Defrag and CPMA/CPM mostly. I've started playing Quake 3 when I saw the movie "Promode Movement" and that's what got me intro tricking, CPM and video editing altogether. I've seen other people playing Quake before but I liked how that new kind of physics gave you freedom in movement and fell in love with it.

I've created lots of frag and trick videos in the past but I think Redemption IV, Celestia and Kleftogiannis became the most popular ones. CPM got me into playing some QW aswell but I've never really got into it. With the release of Quake 4 I tried to switch from Q3, even helped developing a mod for it that had trickjumping support, but the game was never successful enough. So I stayed with Quake 3 but also edited videos for Quake Live as it got supported by Q3 mods later.

Are you self-taught or have you taken formal classes on editing?
I've learned everything by myself. At the time I started editing, YouTube tutorials weren't really popular so I opened up random software and played around in them. :) Later on when VC, GSG tutorials became popular I started watching them, even thought I knew most of what I've seen in the videos, but they helped me a lot to understand the software and the process better. Sometimes it's not the software that requires knowledge but the very basics of setting up a project. This greatly improved my editing speed for my last movies.

What software do you use?
For Q3/QL videos I used Sony Vegas and some After Effects at the beginning, later on I've switched to Premiere, After Effects, Cinema4D and Boujou as that package had a great support back and forth together. Right now in my every day work, I expanded my use of software to Blackmagic Fusion and Resolve. They're easy to use and help a lot with a few clicks. :)

When starting a project, what is your approach like? Do you have a specific workflow?
It really depends on what I do. Especially at the beginning, I selected a few nice tracks and randomly started capturing and importing demos from Quake. Tried to match the hard cuts, and when the music was over I considered the movie finished.

As I progressed, I did more planning. Carefully selected tracks I wanted to use, matched the style of the edit to the song I used. I watched every demos over 10s of times to make sure I remember all of them and I can use the appropriate one for every scene I had in mind. If there was an interlude part, I already know what demo I'm going to you with what camera setup.

Later, I started some minimal storyboarding and captured all the demos in a low quality unedited version, so I can do a rough cut, and recapture everything for the final product. Nowadays my videos are mostly capture by real cameras so the process would be different. If I was to make Quake videos again, I'd definitely try to look into the technology (mods, plugins, scripts) available right now first, then do the storyboarding and music selection. I'd also pay attention to the color correction a lot, since over the years I've learned how important that is.

What has inspired you in your work? Are there specific movies or moviemakers that changed the way you approach your own work?
Getting positive feedback from the community was always a great inspiration, probably the biggest. Just seeing the number of downloads and views on my movies, the positive comments, always made me want to get better and do more. Later on I realised I could get a job if I kept doing these videos so that was a huge inspiration too. Getting a job where I do something I like, and I get paid for it! :) That was the dream.

There are a couple of videos and editors that really inspired me, namely: strandtyp with "Badge 2", own-age with "AnnihilatioN", Termi with "4K CS Trailer", Dag & Def with "Dag Def Extreme 2", rEnk with "Edge of the Earth" and obviously Shambler with "Promode Movement". I think those are the most outstanding ones for me, all for different reasons. There are 2 honorable mentions that didn't inspire me back then but later on I realised how amazinge they are, and thats "VirtuositY" by Liquide and "Castor Fiber" by Cristal. I could make a huge list of people that helped inspired me in some way but that would take up too much space :P


Which of your own projects are you most proud of? Which do you think were most instrumental in your development as a moviemaker?
If I have to choose one, I'd say Celestia. That's a project I wanted to be my last one and I edited it to be something that would be a great goodbye video from me. It was chosen as Best Gaming Video of the Year in 2012 by SK-Gaming, so I was super proud. Obviously it wasn't all me, Arcaon, who was performing the tricks was amazing in all the runs and his feedback was also super helpful. I still watch it from time to time for nostalgia and I think it kept up pretty well.

My two other favorites are Redemption IV and Kleftogiannis. With Redemption IV I found my true editing style. That laid back, slowmo style where I can add effects anywhere and make everything pretty. Obviously I had to change things up sometimes so they aren't boring and they don't look the same, but even today, that's the style I'm most comfortable with.

Kleftogiannis was technically super challenging. I had to merge Quake 3 and Quake Live seemlessly, using the same effects, same colors, textures everywhere. And this is where I did motion tracking, some greenscreen and such as a practise. So these are the 3 I'm most proud of. Kleftogiannis' technical side actually helped me to land a job later.

There is a range of game movies in terms of editing styles and structure. Some you could call some "old school" (minimal editing) and then there are very elaborate projects with significant amounts of editing. Where do you think your movies fall? In your opinion, is there an ideal balance between editing and content?
There are surely tons of movies with all different style. I think Redemption IV was overedited but not too much. I like to keep my videos low on effects and cuts but add a few interlude parts where I could show what I can do. I didn't do the "Strenx 2011" movie but I did the interlude parts there. That's exeactly how I'd do if I was to do a project like that. So I think I fall inbetween those lines, sometimes going towards the significant abount of editing.

I don't think there's an ideal balance. Everything depends on how it feels and what the final outcome is. If you look at "Freeform" by mrks or "Cattuthaj Jhana" by LSD, they're simple movies with minimal editing yet they feel great. "Tricking IT 2" by JRB has lots of editing yet doesn't feel too much. If you look at "Clockwork 4" by NikkyyHD that feels overedited for someone like me, yet I appreciate all that technical knowledge behind the project. So I don't think there's a balance, everything depends on how the final movie feels for the viewer.

What do you think the future holds for game movies? Are there new styles/techniques possible?
Hard to tell. Gaming movies are still very popular and there are some amazing edits and ideas happening. If you look at Team fortress 2, CS:GO or Dota2 videos, they're often incredible. I think all the old video editors who grew up and are still in the industry for some reason, they've learned a lot and became more creative over the time. You can often see movies done by people who also edit / shoot videos as their full time job. These are usually superb.

There are always new styles and techniques possible and developers will also keep delivering tools like Source Filmmaker. Now we're slowly merging towards Virtual Reality, maybe we'll see some videos soon entirely shot for VR. I just hope there will always be new video editor generations in the gaming industry who'll keep delivering.

VR movies for Quake sound insane! :) Quake seems to be more dynamic compared to other games. You can have players flying around at high speeds and different angles/ranges. Maybe from an editing perspective it requires some unique camerawork to make scenes understandable to the audience. Do you have any tricks you use in these situations? Or is it more trial and error?
I'm unsure where q3mme or Wolfcam is at the moment when it comes to VR or 360 degree capturing. In Source Filmmaker such thing is already possible with some knowledge an proper editing. There are already YouTube VR/360 clips where people are experimenting with it. I myself tried it too and I see great opportunities especiall in S2FM.

Quake is a lot faster than other games, one of the reasons why the video file sizes are bigger than usual, you have to encode on a much higher bitrate to avoid artifacting. I found a few solutions for complicated scenes like that.

1) Slow motion. Just use your footage and camera as is, and slow it down to about 25% if it's really fast, or if there's a super hard and confusing part, you can go down to 10%.

2) Replay. Some tricks are hard to understand even in slow motion. If you play something in third person first, then show the same thing in first person, that explains a lot to the viewer. Especially when combined with slow-motion.

3) "Explanation camera". This is my personal favorite, got this idea from the Prince of Persia games and the new Sherlock Holmes movies combined. Basically you show every single thing happening one by one, some if too fast should be in slow motion. ie: Somebody jumps down shoots a rocket. You go behind the rocket with the camera, show where it's going, then show where the player is. Player lands and does a Horizontal OB. Put camera on player, slow down when he arrives, maybe add a speed meter UI and show what a boost he got. And so on. You can simply show every part of the trick and for the greater effect you show it in first person or a different third person camera after. This usually does the trick for even the most complicated tricks.

What advice do you have for new moviemakers?
My biggest advice is to keep learning and doing it, watch lots of tutorials but don't copy them. Copying a tutorial 1:1 is great for practise but you should never release a movie that includes a full tutorial shot from VC or GSG. Everyone will notice. Watching movies in cinemas inspired lots of my videos a lot so just keep your eyes out for new ideas.


Any last comments/shoutouts?
Thank you for this interview, it's always great to talk about where I came from and where it all started. Editing Quake videos and playing the game was one of the most important parts of my life as it had a great impact on my future. I met lots of people, made new friends, so it was an incredible journey. I still open up ESR or look at Reddit for new videos and I enjoy watching them. Sometimes I still come up with ideas that would be great to do in a Quake movie but I always give up as my time won't let me do them. I hope to see more of these amazing videos from the new generation, and maybe I'll work with them in the future. You never know :)

Huge shoutout goes to Beyond the Summit, all my old DF buddies (sry list is too long to only name a few) and everyone that keeps doing gaming videos. Hope to work with some of you in the future!
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