Name: ashr
Notable Works: Mecurial, Three, Griffin: That's What I'm Sayin'

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, interests, etc.?

Hello there. I'm Ashwath Ravee, also known as Ashr in gaming circles. I'm a 35 year old dude from the city of Chennai, India and a filmmaker / designer by trade. I'm also heavily involved in the Indian esports scenes, particularly Overwatch these days.

Are you self-taught or have you taken formal classes on editing?

Editing would be self taught. It all started with Quake 3 movies of course. I think it was own-age's Cetus movie which floored me as a 15 year old kid. When I saw that I wanted to make something similar and ended up creating this single clip of me doing a bridge to rail jump on dm6, throwing all the effects you can imagine: camera rotations, slow mo, glow and what not. It was obviously really crude, but kid me thought it was the coolest shit, and it spurred me towards editing and video production as a profession eventually. I did go on to study film making in Canada, but I majored in writing and direction. I also ended up directing a bit of animation for feature films and TV shows at one point.

What software do you use?

Quite a bit. I'm fairly comfortable with most editing programs and I worked in a firm that exclusively used Macs at one point so that was all Final Cut. I now run my own studio where we use everything from Premiere, Vegas, Resolve, AE.

When starting a project, what is your approach like? Do you have a specific workflow?

I presume this question is about game movies. Normally, I begin with watching the replays and sorting them into folders like must have / not bad / filler / trash etc. Then I capture all the clips from the must have folder in first person. I like to pick out my music while I'm capturing. Next, I quickly put together a few clips to test look and feel with basic colour, pacing, plugins, frame rate and such. Once I feel good about the approach I want to take, I begin a rough cut exclusively with first person clips set to music. When I have a minute or two laid out, I tend to capture some camera angles for specific clips that I think would benefit from them, and put them on a separate layer directly on top of the first person footage. This makes it really easy to cut back and forth.

What has inspired you in your work? Are there specific movies or movie makers that changed the way you approach your own work?

Yeah for sure. It was own-age's early vids like Annihilation that made me want to make movies myself, and then it was jrb's Tricking IT 2 that inspired me to really try and get better at it. If not for those, I may not be in the field I am.

Which of your own projects are you most proud of? Which do you think were most instrumental in your development as a movie maker?

Probably "Three". When I go back and look at all the videos I made, there are quite a few things I now feel I should have done differently, but not with this one. I made it as practice, really, over a weekend and I remember setting myself some specific rules such as nailing a specific duration of 3:00 minutes and using only stock Vegas filters and Windows fonts. I think the titles in it were all Times New Roman hah. Even now, I feel it's fine as it is and don't feel the urge to change anything about it. I think I achieved what I had set out to do with that one.

If I'm not mistaken, you collaborated with other movie makers on projects. Could you tell us about whether those experiences were positive or not. And whether you'd recommend people to collaborate more often.

I only edited a small chunk of Wussie's Aerodynamic 2. I can't call it a collaboration but rather a cameo edit since I had made the first one. But I was also on IRC every day when the other guys in Shaolin Productions were making some fantastic videos and we were always helping out each other in whatever ways we could. And it was great. Since then, I've worked on a ton of productions with full teams where everything is based on collaboration. It all depends on the project. Sometimes I like editing things all by myself.

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?

I've done both minimal as in the case of "Three" or heavily edited like "Mercurial". I don't prefer one style over the other. It's just what I'm feeling at the moment. I don't know if there's an ideal balance per se... after all, such videos are the result of the creator's artistic expression. I tend not to think too much about what the audience would like and go ahead with what I think feels good. How it is received after that isn't really up to me. If people like it, great. If they don't, that's fine too. Perhaps there's something to learn from it. I remember Mercurial being rather well received at the time, but there were also quite a few viewers who felt it was too similar to all the other shaolin productions videos of the time. At first I didn't get why that would be a bad thing, but eventually, it resulted in me experimenting more with other approaches, so it was a good thing.

"Mecurial" is one of my all-time most watched Quake videos. The video quality was exceptionally high at the time it was released, the color correction was bright/vibrant and matched the tone of the music. I think a contrast can be drawn with "That's What I'm Sayin'", Griffin's frag movie (which I also watched dozens of times), where you used the default Q3 HUD and 30fps, which has a grittier feel. Even though they're both Quake 3 movies, they present the game in different ways. They have different "feels," aesthetically. Was this something you aimed for with each project?

It was actually. Partly because of feedback on Mercurial which said it looked too much like Tricking IT 2, but also because I do tend to get bored of the same thing too many times. Experimenting can be fun, and there's no right or wrong, so I just wanted a different feel with Griffin. It also depends a bit on my free time too. Mercurial was made over many months, and I had time to tweak each clip, go crazy with camera moves, effects and such. Griffin's video was done over a period of two weeks or something when I was in the middle of my film making program.

What do you think the future holds for game movies? Are there new styles/techniques possible?

To be honest, while I'm heavily involved with the Overwatch scene these days, I still haven't made a single Overwatch video because it has nearly no good tools to aid filmmakers. It still doesn't have the ability to share replays, for instance (although it is coming soon). I've also explored some other games for movie making opportunities, even once I don't really play like Fortnite and such, but so far, I haven't found anything that comes close to what Q3MME, and tchouky's tools before that, did for Quake 3 back in the day. I think CS:GO has similar tools, but I'm not familiar with the scene. I might be mistaken, but it seems to have regressed a bit in that sense. New techniques and styles should theoretically be possible as long as people can come up with new ideas, but I'm not sure if the video making tools for games these days allow it.

What advice do you have for new movie makers?

Have fun.

Do you think you might ever make another Quake movie?

I'd love to, but realistically, it might not happen. I'm much older now and I also edit for a living so I don't see myself putting out a full length Quake movie unless I come across a lot of free time and still have the motivation to open an editing program. I sometimes have the urge to fiddle with some unfinished videos from the past - I still have the demos, footage and all the project files from say, Round 3, a Rocket Arena video I was working on 15 years ago. Sometimes I do test out some filters and plugins on game footage though, that I later use for my work. That led me to start a personal Quake 3 frag video rather recently, using demos from back in the day but I got busy and didn't have time to complete it.

Any last comments/shout outs?

Well, you for reaching out to me after all these years :) The old SP gang if they're still around somewhere. I learned a lot from all of them. And every single person who watched the videos I made back in the day. Their feedback and encouragement motivated me to take this seriously and make a living out of editing and video production.

I might finish it but to be honest, I'm really out of touch with the Quake scene and I don't even know if people still play QL or QC or whatever. Would anyone even watch it? I do plan on making at least one Overwatch video though once they finally allow people to share replays in the next patch, just for fun.

Some clips of unfinished videos:

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