Author Archive

The Lumière Brothers and their Fantastic Film Machines – Part 1

July 3rd, 2015

While in France this May I had an experience that truly thrilled me: I visited the Institut Lumière Rue du Premier Film in the Monplaisir district of Lyon. Its grounds, which encompass a museum and a hangar are devoted to the two brothers – Auguste and Louis Lumière – who famously invented, filmed, and exhibited the first motion picture.

Institut Lumiere Staircase inside Institut Lumiere Located on Rue du Premier-Film, the museum is housed in the villa that their father built and the boys renovated to the Arte Moderne style.

The brothers were as thick as twins, having made a pact as children whenCinema Wall at Institut Lumiere they survived a near-drowning. They studied at La Martiniere, Lyon’s biggest technical college, and worked at their father’s photographic factory. He challenged them to invent and Louis came up with the dry plate process, a milestone on the road to creating moving images.

Everyone, including Edison was working on motion picture machines. The brothers patented a number of inventions, including film perforations in 1894. Yep. They put the perfs in celluloid film.

The Breakthrough
The big invention – the Cinematograph – they patented in 1894. “All I wanted to do was reproduce life,” Cinematograph at Institut LumiereLouis explained. Influenced by the Impressionist painter, he took practical input from the foot pedal of the sewing machine in creating the Cinematograph.

What I hadn’t understood previously was that what made the Lumière machine Kinetoscope  at Institut Lumiere unique was that fact that it not only filmed images but it also displayed them. Edison’s Kinetoscope and Herman Casler’s Mutoscope required viewers to peer into scope to enjoy short films as did the Lumières’ kinora which was which was popular in the UK and Ireland during WWI.

What set the Lumières’ Cinematograph apart was that it was a camera and a projector – the first dual machine.

First Movie Exhibition
On March 19, 1895 the frères Lumières turned the hand crank on their Cinematograph to La Sortie des Usine Llumiere shoot “La Sortie des Usines Lumière” (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory). They screened it privately.

Then, on December 28, 1895, it became the first film to be exhibited publicly. First Film Poster  at Institut Lumiere The Lumières ran the silent black and white footage in Paris at the Salon Indien du Grand Café. (To the right, see photo of film poster – the first – for the event.)

“Sortie” was the first of a parade of ten films (38” to 49” each) hand cranked through the Cinematograph. The films included a comic sequence of their gardener directed by Alice Guy – “Arroseur Arrosé” (“The Sprinkler Sprinkled”) – shown here with sound which was of course added much later.

Other everyday sequences sported titles that told the tale: “Baby’s Breakfast,” “Horse Trick Riders,” and “Blacksmiths.”

Thierry Frémaux, director of the Institut Lumière and the Cannes Film Festival believes, “Lumière invented the movie theater. Of course, you can watch films on watches, on iPhones, great. But the movie theater is incomparable.”

But wait! The Lumière brothers invented other film machines and devices and much more. Part 2 of The Lumière Brothers and their Fantastic Film Machines will illuminate these.

History/research, Technical & process

It’s a Rough Cut Life

June 22nd, 2015

One of the great parts of blogging is hearing from readers. When the reader has created a video like Matt Orfalea who sent a bouncy, spot-on comic short, “Rough Cut” the joy is tripled. Watch it and relate, all you editors and producers.

Matt’s Story
How Matt got started creating videos is a wonderful story itself. I’m handing the invisible mouse over to Matt to tell it in his own words. Stay tuned for the punchline.

“When I was in high school, a teacher came to me asking if I wanted to edit his documentary about our school’s community service. I was stuck in boarding school, on crutches at the time, so I wasn’t able to do much else. He gave me a quick intro to iMovie and lent me his laptop and camera (amazing right?). I soon found myself in study hall…having fun! That had never happened before!

The documentary was screened in front of the whole school. Everybody seemed to love it and cheered. Except for the headmaster. Because my doc made fun of our school’s community service effort, and the fact that although the headmaster required all students to fulfill community service hours, he had not contributed a single community service hour himself!

The priest who had approved the screening told me afterwards that he almost got fired for it. Yep. My very first film almost got a priest fired!!! That was my introduction to the power of cinema.”

Where is Matt Today?
Matt Orfalea
Again, in his words,
“After graduating from Santa Fe University of Art & Design, I moved to LA to work in postproduction. All those editing gigs were the inspiration for “Rough Cut.” I still do freelance work and many many rough cuts.

I’ve been making YouTube videos for years now and have managed to gather a small following. The ultimate goal would be to just focus on that. Of course making a sustainable career out of YouTube is a total long shot… So I figure if YouTube doesn’t work out I can always be a rapper.”

Check out his videos on YouTube.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Fun & games, History/research, Technical & process, Visual FX editing

Cannes Film Festival

June 11th, 2015

Cannes Poster
I was lucky enough to be invited to France this May and dropped into 68th Cannes BeachCannes Film Festival as a spectator, not a participant. The seaside town in France’s southern Cote d’Azur exhibited a film feeding frenzy with red carpets, lines of people pining for entrée to screenings at les Palais des Festivals, glitzy automobiles cruising the boulevard, and cafes overflowing with cineastes (filmmakers).
Cannes sports car

“The Festival de Cannes is a celebration of cinematographic art. We exist to showcase Cannes venuethe new writing, new genres and new visual innovations of our time. Every year in May, Cannes gives a sort of snapshot – both ephemeral and lasting, when one adds up the years – of what constitutes the art of cinema.”
Pierre Lescure, President, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, April 1, addressing the French National Assembly’s Commission for Cultural Affairs

The 12-day invitation-only Cannes Festival encompasses a rich array of film Cannes Official 2015 Poster activities. In addition to providing screenings of current and classic films, Cannes is a Marché du Film (a film market) which attracts over 10,000 buyers and sellers from around the globe each year. Indeed in a town nearby the next day at a balcony restaurant I met Michael Shoel, President-CEO of Ariztical Entertainment who was traveling around France after scouring Cannes for LGBTQ films.

Official 2015 Poster

Le Festival de Cannes also includes “Leçons du Cinema, de musique, d’actrice, et d’acteur” – master classes on directing, composing, and acting taught by famous professionals such as Gena Rowlands, Lalo Shifrin, and Sydney Pollack. The non-profit festival also features beaucoup de interviews of current and esteemed directors and actors and cast and crew of the current year’s films.

There are also many special events such as Diversity Day – “because all stories matter” – as the flyer read that a teenager handed me. He was one of the fourteen aspiring filmmakers that Dana Glover brought to the festival. Glover, a stranger pointed the way to the parking garage’s elusive entrance and we chatted. He told me that he wears two hats: Director at Midian Films and Executive Director of the pro-diversity Cinema du Cannes Project (and yes, he’s Danny Glover’s cousin).

The festival’s Board of Directors selects over 300 artists from all over thePalme d’Or world based on their work and peer recognition to serve on juries which determine who wins in each category.

They award prizes for best film, best actor, best actress, best director, and best script as well as a special jury prize. They select films and filmmakers from around the world as 2015’s awards attest.

Cannes also recognizes student and seasoned cineastes, short films and long and is considered a showcase for European and international films. Editors, cinematographers, sound designers and the rest are omitted in this high octane review and recognition of filmmakers.

The Palme d’Or (golden palm frond), the biggest prize of all, is awarded the last day. The Prize Un Certain Regard is for students and comes with 30,000 euros. This year the Palme d’Honneur (honorary prize) went to Agnes Varda (pictured below).
Agnes Varda

Short History
First Cannes Film Festival PosterThe first Cannes Film Festival was planned for 1939 with Louis Lumière as President. It never happened due to WWII. The festival debuted in 1946. The attendance of big stars such as Sophia Loren, Kirk Douglas, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, and Cary Grant in the 1950s popularized the festival.

I’ll leave the last word to one of France’s pre-eminent cineastes:

“The Festival is an apolitical no-man’s land,

a microcosm of what the world would be like

if people could make direct contact with one another

and speak the same language”

Jean Cocteau

Awards, History/research

At Last, a Modern Book on the History of Editing

April 6th, 2015

A good book like a well-edited film just flows along and carries you in its merrily rolling stream. Such is the case with Twilight for the Gods written by Jack Tucker, ACE.

Twilight for the Gods book coverHe has created the most up-to-date, thorough, readable history on editing that I’ve encountered. He packs its 116 pages with facts and concepts and works in anecdotes and true tales from the editing room that, like any good cut, push the story along and make it zing.

In my October 13, 2011 post I opined that “A good history of editing has yet to be written.” Tucker has now done that from the viewpoint of a Hollywood editor.

I crossed paths with Jack twelve years ago when I was teaching Final Cut Pro and writing my first book on editing. He kindly opened his garage where a KEM resided and patiently posed for Jack Tucker at KEMphotos for the first edition of Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video. Then he met me and my photog at a now defunct film lab where he had a film cutting room and taught students about film.

In addition, Jack exuberantly blurbed both editions of Cut by Cut Jack Tucker cutting film(“Finally we have a comprehensive text on the subject. It is what God and DeMille intended.”) I have quoted him in my books and to my classes: “Editing is not a technical process. It’s an artistic process. It’s about story telling. What editors do, is the final rewrite of the script.” So I am happy to repay him and happier still to state emphatically that Twilight for the Gods is a fun, worthwhile read for all who want to understand the process, politics, and evolving technologies on the decades-long road from patchers (the original film cutters) to digital film editors.

Thus Spake Tucker
“It is twilight for the gods of time and space … Now electronic editing has erased the mysticism that long protected them and their craft. The editor’s power over time and space is being usurped … Sitting behind him are the director, the Twilight for the Gods book coverproducer, the executive producer, and the lead actor all eagerly helping him or her edit, and all covetous of the power of the gods. Collaborative art has gotten confused with mob rule.”

Thus Tucker begins his book by explaining its title – which both pays homage to editors past and lays out a challenge to editors present and future. He hopes that the latter “… will love the craft as I have and learn from it. It is magic, and we are the gods of time and space.”

Tucker Enters the Cutting Room
Tucker started his editing career as an airman at Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1964 when he was assigned to the editorial department of the 1369th Photo Squadron. Cinema Editor Magazine coverFrom this assignment he became infected with what he terms “‘the holy disease,’ the love of filmmaking—and particularly of film editing.”

Eventually, Tucker landed in Hollywood where he worked on features and TV shows and founded and served as editor on “Cinemeditor,” the ACE magazine. He toiled on many of the same movie studio lots I did. So I got a kick out of his description of Washington Row – two stories of editing rooms at MGM (now Sony) that back up to Washington Blvd. in Culver City – which he likens to “a tenement in a New York slum.”

Tucker on Editing
There will never be another time like this first cut. It is a solitary moment between creator and creation. The editor knows that it is only his skill and instincts that are shaping the film at this point. It is a love affair, a first love, between editor and footage, with no outsiders involved.”

While this is not a “how to” book but rather a “how it’s done” book, Tucker drills beneath the surface to delineate editing systemthe editing process starting with organizing and viewing dailies, proceeding to facing the footage and making your first edit and on to facing the director with the completed first cut of the show to re-cutting. He covers today’s digital editing room as well as yesterday’s film cutting room, bridging them with his deep knowledge and passion for the art of editing, a testimony to art triumphing over whatever technology evolves in the future.

Tucker On Working with Directors
Tucker devotes a chapter to the relationship between director and editor, making many astute observations. He believes that editors are the “real assistant directors” whereas the ADs on the set are function editor and director more as production managers. He recalls talking with Director-Editor Robert Wise who cut for Orson Welles who recounts how directors used to view cuts only in the screening room and never entered the editing room. When the director is in the room, Tucker believes that the editor will work to please the director (or other power-that-be) rather than experiment with the footage to possibly bring out the film better. Just as the editor is the impartial artist removed from what happens on the production set, the director should be the impartial viewer in the theatre, removed from what happens in the editing room. Of course with digital systems this is no longer the case, with everyone thinking they can edit the movie if they just learn the tool but good films and editor-director collaborations can and do occur daily, Tucker notes.

Tucker Covers the Waterfront of Film Editing History
Poster of Edison's invention Tucker does a great job of discussing the familiar as well as lesser known figures, events, and entities in film and editing history including Edison, Muybridge, and his zoopraxiscope, Zoetrope, Eastman and celluloid film, Fred Ott’s Sneeze (1889, first film shot in the U.S.), the Lumiere Brothers, George Melies, Edwin S. Porter, Mabel Clark, patchers, DW Griffith, The Trust, and Margaret Booth, the French New Wave, split screens, and Donn Cambern and the cutting of Easy Rider.

Original Moviola He also details the technological inventions that affected art and craft of editing. He pays tribute to Iwan Serrurier who invented the Moviola and reveals how it got its name.

Tucker looks at the beginnings of TV, including the history of Dann Cahn and the “Monster Moviola” as well as the inception of the Cinerama technique. Who knew Cinerama was originally developed from an Cinerama Dome Air Force gunnery training tool? And that it “was a bitch to edit” Tucker asserts. In his always clear and accessible way he explains how the addition of color and sound on film affected the medium. And he documents the technical developments of video tape, demystifying 3:2 pulldown, telecine, linear editing, and generation loss along the way.

The Long Goodbye
He documents the long fade out from cutting on film that began with the appearance of nonlinear tape based systems in the 1980s and finished in the millennium after digital systems began proving themselves in the 1990s. The last chapter ends with Tucker detailing the current Hollywood editing landscape with Digital Intermediates, the demise of film labs, digital archiving issues, and dailies shot on Red Cameras and Alexas.
Wild Bunch Poster

Looking at the horizon, he concludes philosophically with a line from Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch: “It ain’t like the old days, but it’ll do.”

Editing & life, Editing practices, Editor’s role, History/research, Technical & process, Television

Take 2 – Film Editing: Making an Invisible Art Visible

March 30th, 2015

I’m repeating the class I taught at the Marin Community Center for Media in downtown San Rafael, CA this spring. I’m looking forward to another great group of students.
Community Media Center of Marin Class

The feedback from the last class was strongly positive and helpful, I’m glad to report. As a result, I’ve expanded the course from four sessions to five. This will allow more time for documentary and re-viewing scenes that superbly illustrate different editing genres and types of cuts. I’ve also expanded the documentary section and added animation and book trailers, and increased the resources and handouts.

Learn more and sign up for the class here.

Here’s a promo the Media Center made for the class edited by  Alejandro Palacios, Communications & Development Manager.

I’m excited once again to show scenes and discuss the current state of editing and some of my favorite subjects: What does an editor contribute? Why does an editor make a cut? How important are sound and music? How has MTV affected cutting styles? What does academic research show about the evolution of editing?

Here’s the info:

What: Film Editing: Making an Invisible Art Visible

Dates: Wednesdays, April 8, 15, 22, 29, and May 1.

Time: 6-9 p.m.

Where: Community Media Center of Marin
819 A Street, San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 721-0636

Hope to see you in class.


Guest Blog: Why Editing Can Make or Break
Your Corporate Video

January 28th, 2015

On this site and in my books I’ve written on this subject but I thought it would be good for editors, producers, and other filmmakers to hear it from a company of professionals. I welcome guest bloggers with informative articles so here’s one submitted by One Inch Punch Pro, a Toronto based video production company that creates corporate videos, music videos, short films, reality television and more.

Why Editing and a Good Editor Matter
If you are tasked with creating a corporate video, you should be aware One Inch Punch Pro Video Production companythat the mere production won’t be the end of the road. There is another critical step that can make or break your video and that is the editing process. Some mistakenly brush off editing as a final touch up that doesn’t significantly alter the content of the production. The truth is that editing really does matter and it has the potential to make a video a hit or a dud.

Editing takes experience, technical knowledge and an eye for what looks, sounds and feels good. Lean on the expertise of a corporate video production company if you have any concerns over the editing process. The editor you hire will know all the ins and outs of the editing process including motion graphics, soundtracks, compression formats and more.

Plan the Editing Process: Getting Started
CalendarWhether or not you proceed with the help of a professional video editor, you should establish a plan for the editing of your footage. Take a few minutes to plan out how you’d like your final production to appear. Think about your target audience and your motivation to create the video in the first place. Then think about how you’d like to supplement your video content with things like animations, text and graphics. Re-watch your footage and take notes about what you’d like to improve and how you’ll go about doing it. Once you’ve established a vision, it is time to start editing.

Convey a Story
A story is the foundation of just about every video production. It is imperative that storyboardyou keep this in mind during the editing process. An editor has the power to make subtle changes that will shore up a story and connect events in a manner that engages the audience with the plot. The editor should be able to determine which parts of the script don’t carry over well onto the screen and then re-craft your video to fill in the gaps to help reinforce the plot.

Establish the Pace
The pace at which your video proceeds can make a big impact on the audience. Use the editing process to focus on the length of time that shots are held. Pay attention to how quickly you cut from scene to scene and how much time you let the camera hold certain images. This is a delicate balance that can be refined during the editing process. Be careful to not linger very long on one image or scene as it might serve to turn off the audience and cause their minds to wander. Over cutting or rapid cutting between shots can leave audiences confused and feeling as though they are watching a video that is rushed. Just because a video has a lot of cuts doesn’t mean it is good. Part of an editor’s job is to find the emotion in a scene, and sometimes holding on one shot is the best cut of all.

One key area where corporate editors exerts control is the music. While editors don’t always choose a video’s full score, they often have a say in the style of music, where it is implemented and for how long. Music really does make a monumental impact on the quality of the final production.

music scoreWhen you think of the typical corporate video’s soundtrack, you likely think of extremely cheesy music that sounds generic and flat out bad. It’s the type of music that doesn’t hold a viewer’s attention. This is exactly what you want to avoid and where the editing process can play a key role. When editing, ask yourself, “Does this music make the viewer want to stay tuned in?” The proper music has the potential to do even more than that. Ideally, the audio will actually pull viewers in and spur them to pay closer attention to your video’s story.

When editing, be sure to fit the music to distinct parts of the video as appropriate. For instance, if you have an intense segment that transitions into a hopeful scene and further evolves into a humorous ending, select different music for each part. The right music will establish a foundation for the actions, words and animations that occur on the screen.

Problem Solving: An Important Role of Editing
The editing process is in place to make a video production “work.” While the editing suitedirector/cameraperson invests plenty of time and effort filming all sorts of shots, the editor is there to piece it all together into a cohesive production. This is extremely challenging; many editors actually fail to solve all of the problems in an artful manner. Sometimes there is a missing segment of the script because actors weren’t available on certain days. Other times, there are problems with audio, images and animations. The editing process is key to ironing out these issues and building a final product that is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a bit like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process

Beyond Gunsmoke: Practice Footage for Serious Editors

January 21st, 2015

Are you a beginning editor who desperately want some practice cutting footage Turf War framebefore striking out in the world? A film student or a college looking for footage beyond the tired all scenes (such as the scene from Gunsmoke which I and others taught over the decades)? Misha Tenenbaum, an editor whom I met a few years ago at a LAFPUG* meeting, has created Editstock for you. Editstock has carefully selected contemporary scenes from different genres – comedy, drama, commercial, music video – for you to practice with. The scenes – and there’s a short film too – are rated for beginner, intermediate, or expert. So whatever level you are, you can ratchet up your chops.
*Los Angeles Final Cut Pro Users Group

Expert Feedback
Creative feedback frameBut wait! It gets better. Re-cutting and learning how to take notes from clients, directors, and producers are important skills every professional editor must develop. Even if you’re working on your own projects you’ll want to get feedback from members of your target audience. Editstock also provides feedback on scenes from Misha and from no less that the likes of Norman Hollyn, a film editing veteran, author and the resident editing guru (an Associate Professor) at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Building the Bomb frame frameEditstock believes “that any individual, regardless of their access to film school, should be able to get practice materials that are as ambitious as their own career dreams.” If you read this blog you know that I rarely go commercial or give endorsements but I recommend Misha and his team. We’ve all been there, waiting, hoping, anxious to get that first job or that next job and to be confident that we have the experience to handle it. Misha’s dreamed up an invaluable service to help beginners, intermediates, and those growing rusty waiting for that next job or wanting to retain their proficiency on an editing system they’ve just learned.

Let Joy know what you think of Editstock if you use it.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process

100 years of Rotoscoping

January 16th, 2015

Confession: I’ve watched “Glee” since its first episode in May 2009. I like the message of the show – acceptance – seeing GBLT characters as well as hetero-and metrosexual characters, and its often non-formulaic plots, issues, and nuances not to mention its musical numbers. As a member of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (the TV equivalent of the Motion Picture Academy where you get to vote on the Emmys) I enjoyed a Glee cast and crew night (Cory Monteith, RIP, was more good looking in person). However, last season (#5) I thought the show died with Monteith, unfortunately.

So I tuned in this week for the beginning of Season 6, the final season, as creator Ryan Murphy has announced, ready for the show to end. I was elated to see new directors and a reboot of the show. I loved this number on Episode 2, “Homecoming.”

It is a scene designed to be completed in post and a nice homage to a particular type of animation, still used and appreciated today. Can you guess the two filming techniques the filmmakers used?

Dissecting the Scene
If you guessed green screen and rotoscoping, you are correct. This energetic scene, uniquely combines green screen (the frame the characters hold and characters jump through) and rotoscoping (the B & W animated part of the scene).

Rotoscoping is where you draw an outline over live action to create animation. This technique was patented in 1915 by its creator, Max Fleischer who put the Bop in Betty and animated Superman, Popeye, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and more.

The more you know and understand about film techniques, the more creative you can be. Enjoy this succinct tutorial

on how you can rotoscope your own films today as well as brief history of Fleischer and his rotoscope machine.

Editing practices, History/research, Technical & process, Television, Visual FX editing

Editing a Book Trailer – Part 2

December 11th, 2014

My caveat for PictureYourBook’s  second book trailer was that my partner Jay and I create a trailer with free music (thank you YouTube) and no VO. My reason? I wanted to show authors how a lower budget video can still be a highly effective, engaging trailer. Here’s Jay’s experience meeting that and other challenges that the trailer presented.

Cut By Cut – Editing Your Film or Video, 2nd Edition 1:02 from Jay on Vimeo.

Editing the trailer for the book Cut by Cut, Editing your Film or Video by Jay Scherberth

Challenge: Multiple Assets and a Multi-Step Process
The main challenge in planning and editing this trailer was to keep track of the many steps involved and required tools used so that future modifications could be accomplished as efficiently as possible.
After reviewing Gael’s storyboard, I quickly realized that organization was going to be extremely important. With over 160 individual assets, I needed to start with a directory structure that would allow me to break down and categorize each element for easy retrieval.

Solution: Organization
I created a parent folder on my project hard drive hard drive called ‘Assets’ under which I would create sub-folders for each asset type; e.g. images, SFX, music, VO, photos, EFX and so on. The idea is to create ‘bins’ (folders) in the edit project that mirror the physical external storage allowing for easy, organized import.

It’s very important to place your initial assets in a location that isn’t going to change until the end of the project. Not doing so causes the dreaded “Media Off-Line” or “Media Can’t be found” messages when opening your editing project.

Setting up the Project
Whenever possible, I prefer to create my editing projects and do all visual effects and final output in one NLE tool – Adobe Premiere. However, due to the large amount of assets and the desired design concept, I needed to spread the workload between the CC 2014 versions of Premier, Photoshop, After Effects, Audition and Media Encoder. This workflow created more steps but enabled me to have access to a larger array of effects and flexibility for making changes. It’s easy to paint yourself into a corner without a thoughtful approach to the challenges of a complicated project.

Workflow and Software Tools
I combined visual elements into composite Photoshop images. These resources were imported into After Effects allowing for layer level manipulation. While working in After Effects, I created several compositions and sub-compositions that were imported directly into Premier. The Premiere NLE was used mainly as a way to assemble all the After Effects imports and to add music, titles, and sound effects. I employed Adobe Media encoder to accomplish the final encoding and delivery.

Final Note
The ability to directly edit and import / export visual material between Adobe tools greatly simplifies the overall workflow process when multiple tools are required to finish a project. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial – I don’t get a dime from Adobe – it’s just an editor’s truth.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Marketing & budgeting, Technical & process, Visual FX editing

Editing a Book Trailer – Part 1

December 1st, 2014

Jay Scherberth is my partner in PictureYourBook, a book trailer company. I do the writing, storyboarding, and marketing to authors, Jay does the editing and designed our website. We both review the cuts and interface with the authors.

We met each other in a cutting room in 1986 when I was his assistant editor. Jay has been on the cutting edge of editing storytelling and technical skills, having pioneered computer editing on All in the Family and other Norman Lear show and cut MTV’s first “Video Album” (Blondie’s, “Eat to the Beat.”) Jay has edited popular shows such as Columbo, MacGyver, Full House, and Scrubs.
Most recently he cut the independent film short El Doctor.

I am lucky to have him as a partner and a friend.

I asked Jay to write up his approach to and process for his first foray into this new form of promo – book trailers. Here’s his first post.

Chronicles of Old San Francisco – 1:49 from Jay on Vimeo.

Editing the Book Trailer for Chronicles of Old San Francisco by Jay Scherberth

My overriding goal was to assemble an effective, quality trailer while keeping the costs as low as possible. To accomplish this, I limited the number of tools needed to complete the project. I decided to create a trailer that could be done entirely using my NLE editor, Adobe Premier CC 2014. Today’s professional NLE products allow for titling, motion control, sound editing and many styles of image manipulation. There are no less than 9 tracks of picture and sound running in the timeline, yet I was able to maintain complete control over all these elements, without sacrificing flexibility or quality.

Budget and the Importance of Planning
The trick of bringing a project in on time and at or under budget is to know how the final product will turn out before any actual editing takes place. With notes, sketches and storyboards, I was able to anticipate problems before they occurred. Planning is an integral part of editing and the more you think about what you want to end up with, the closer you will come to that goal.

The Challenge of Mixed Media
Another challenge in doing this project was working with mixed media. That’s not to say that Premiere can’t handle image assets of different file types, resolutions and codecs. It does an amazing job of including just about anything you can throw at it. But there are limits to what media is usable and practical. For example, in working with historical material, you’re sometimes faced with the dilemma of using material that may be sized below the resolution of the editing project itself.

Choosing the Right Resolution
I decided to go with 720p which is 1280 x 720 resolution in this project. Going any higher would be a waste of storage and bandwidth given the preponderance of small mobile devices the trailer is likely to be played on. Any image or video assets that were at or above the 720p resolution were OK to use. But unfortunately, some of the supplied material was significantly below 720p and presented a challenge in terms of maintaining image quality and clarity.

Accommodating Multiple Viewing Platforms
Because of the many viewing platforms ranging from smart phones to tables to desktops, delivery can be the final challenge. The editor needs to make sure that small screen users have a satisfactory viewing experience. For example, make sure that all title are within the safe title boundaries and that the smallest font size used is still readable.

This first trailer experience was a good one. The icing on the cake was finding Marcia Bauman who composed music that fit our trailer perfectly.

Editing & life, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Marketing & budgeting, Technical & process, Television