Satirical media giant, The Onion requested Coat of Arms’ post-production services for two web series entitled Onion Talks and Porkin’ Across America. With only six weeks to perform the post services for the two shows, Coat of Arms compiled a team of two editors, an assistant editor, two post-producers, two sound engineers, two colorists, and a composer to bring thirteen episodes of Onion Talks and eight episodes of Porkin’ Across America to those of us hungry for some good ole’ Onion humor.
Directed by Geoff Haggerty, Onion Talks pokes fun at the educational lecture series Ted Talks. This parody includes topics ranging from the ramblings of a self-described social media expert to a woman who brags about finding the biggest rock on Earth.
Porkin’ Across America, directed by Sam West, parodies the multitude of cooking shows that air on nearly every television station. Porkin’ Across America’s fictional host, Jim Haggerty, meets trial and tribulation as he travels across America in search of PORK.
Giggling like little schoolgirls throughout the editing process, Jonathan Lacocque and Jeff McHale passed the twenty-one episodes back and forth as they honed each video of both series. Whittling them into what Haggerty, West, and the writers envisioned, Lacocque and McHale made roughly 155 rounds of revisions to cut the episodes down, ranging from three to seven minutes of running time.
A project of this magnitude can easily get cumbersome and unwieldy; therefore, the Coat of Arms team implemented a process that kept the project moving at a rapid but productive pace. An assistant editor helped bin and organize all the material initially while ensuring that each episode’s footage corresponded with the data logs received from the on-set DIT and with the sound notes from the production sound engineer. Meanwhile, post-producer Clara Lehmann worked with composer Miles Hankins to create theme music for each series and to select complimentary tracks for use throughout the Porkin’ Across America series.
Hankins composed a pompous piece for Onion Talks to mimic the reverence of Ted Talks’ show open. His song entitled “Glorious Genius” certainly meets that expectation. For Porkin’ Across America, Director West sought something similar to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations but with a country pickin’ vibe that could be worthy of a back yard pork-roast. Hankins cleverly composed “Hog Heaven.”
After theme and series music were finalized, Lacocque and McHale were able to focus on fine-tuning each episode. As you’ll see in the episodes, they used minimal transitional effects. A transitional effect that they used in Onion Talks and sparingly in Porkin’ Across America was Nattress’ “G Film Flash” video transition. See the examples below.
A few “Cross Zoom” and “Whip Pan” transitions were used, along with an “editorially created” punch in. The punch in consists of cutting in (or out) using scale and position as needed. In the example to the right, the editors zoomed out from the Porkin’ Across America truck. Starting at 130%, they jumped back 5-10% every frame or two until they reached 100%. Lacocque and McHale used a hit in the music for additional dramatic effect.
While Lacocque finalized revisions, McHale completed the compositing required for the Onion Talks series. He color corrected the slides and placed them within a border for proper framing on the stage’s screen to ensure consistency throughout each speaker’s presentation.
Meanwhile, Robert J. Williams created several color looks for each of the shows, which we locked before finalizing the edit in order to move the project along more quickly.
For Onion Talks, Director Haggerty wanted a cold look — one that made it seem as though the large presentation screen provided a significant amount of the lighting on the stage. You can see some of the looks below.
From the raw image, Williams initially comped the green carpet under the speaker to pop more, and then gave the overall image a cooler balance. The b-roll footage of the audience, which was all shot together, was color corrected to match each episode.
For Porkin’ Across America, the color treatment is intended to match the average reality TV show. Williams achieved well-balanced tones without getting too stylized, and he gave the introductions and conversational parts of the show a warmer look.
For Porkin’ Across America’s montage sequences that summarized the host’s adventures, Director West wanted a slightly more stylized look. Therefore, we pushed the colors, made the vignettes more dramatic, and added some blurring to the outer edges.
Simultaneous to color correction, Dave Kaduk worked on the sound design and mix of Onion Talks while Paul Grajek worked on the sound design and mix for Porkin’ Across America. They sound designed from each locked episode rather than waiting for the completion of an entire series.
Upon receiving the sound (.wav) from Kaduk and the color (.mov) from Williams, Lacocque paired them using Quicktime 7 for speed. This process avoids the extra step of having to use an editing program. To sync using this method, open the color and audio export with Quicktime 7. Press Apple[Command]+J and delete any audio.
Open the audio file, “select all” then “copy” the media. Next open the color file to choose in and out markers. Finally, select “Add to Movie.” You’ll see the new audio track when you select Apple[Command]+J.
The final episodes are airing on The Onion’s You Tube channel. It was a pleasure working with the folks at The Onion and with our Coat of Arms team. We hope the effort and the hours are worth the laughs.