Archive for the ‘Editing & life’ Category

Chantal Akerman: Innovator and Influential Director

December 7th, 2015

There are filmmakers who are good, filmmakers who are great, filmmakers who are in film history. And then there are a few filmmakers who change film history.
Nicola Mazzanti, director of the Royal Belgian Film Archive on Chantal Akerman

Chantal AckermanIt was only after her last breath– suicide due to depression following her mother’s death – and an RIP Facebook posting in October by an editor friend that filmmaker Chantal Akerman entered my awareness. I’m not even sure I could sit through one of her films. Yet the clips that I’ve seen and will show here as well as the articles I’ve read about her call out to me to be real in my creations. I’m setting my gleanings down here to motivate you and honor Akerman.

Born in 1950, She worked in film and video in her native Belgium, New York (where she lived from the late 1960s to early 1970s), and in Paris (where she spent the rest of her life). Here’s an interview that serves as an intro to her and her oeuvre:

Akerman on editing
“I was breathing, and then at one point I understood it was the time to cut. It was my breathing that decided the length of my shots.”

Akerman’s Filmmaking Style
She shot at least one film by placing the camera at her height – short. She routinely locked off her camera and let her subjects – trains, subways, actors etc. – enter and exit and disappear for long seconds before reappearing. Her sparse, deliberate, time taking, non-manipulative, often non-linear style from women’s perspectives calls out to all of us to be upfront, real and authentic.

British writer and film critic Adam Roberts described her camera moves – she often captured dolly shots captured form moving cars – in a long essay. “What is extraordinary about Akerman’s travelling shots is that they do not lead to a reveal [a unlike Hollywood her pans shots] never build to climax, or pay off. The movements are very even, without accent, and do not have the feeling of a movement towards or away from anything.”

Here’s an example from Les rendez-vous d’Anna, a short she shot in 1978.

Akerman’s Story
In 1964 at 14, she saw Jean Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou at 14 and decided to be a filmmaker. Beginning at 18, she directed over 40 innovative films (shorts and features) of various genres (fiction, documentary, thriller, comedy, art gallery, etc.) during her 65 years on the planet.

At 25 in 1975, she shot her first feature, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Considered one of her best films, it’s a drama that lacks drama – a fictionalized account of the deadening, daily life of a single mother a with a TRT of three hours and 45 minutes. Here’s the much-remarked upon scene of the Dielman (played by Delphine Seyrig) simply peels potatoes in one long, two and a half minute scene and take.

Auschwitz, which her parents survived and her grandparents did not, shadowed her life though she didn’t deal with it directly in most of her films. Her last film, No Home Movie (2015), consists of recorded conversations between her and her mother (via Skype and digital camera) and was an attempt (unsuccessful) to get her mother to unburden herself about Auschwitz.

Since WWII ended humanity has endured more torture, terrorism, and genocide. The continued murdering of our fellow humans leaves us beyond words with anger and sadness. Making films is one way to take action and move beyond isolation and defeat. So please, keep breathing. Keep making films. Keep furthering the human race. And perhaps someday the peace and world we imagine will materialize.

Editing & life, Editing practices, 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

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


January 19th, 2013

n. hai’eitas (Greek) An unexpected gap.
Encarta dictionary

All good TV shows – well, those that come back for a second season or more – go on hiatus, having delivered the required number of episodes to the network. The time gives everyone a break from the 12+ hour days and 5-7 day weeks.

I began this blog on September 9, 2009. I’ve found that there are a bountiful supply of roads and riffs that lap the topic of editing. I’m not out of subjects now. However, major life events are intervening, primarily the death of my mother in October and my father this month and having to close their estate.

On the bright side, thanks to the books I’ve written on editing and this website, I’ve just signed the Chronicles of Old New York covercontract on a new book about a new subject for a new publisher. Chronicles of Old San Francisco will debut later this year for Museyon publishers. It’s the first western city of a series that chronicles Boston, Las Vegas, New York, Paris, London, Rome, Chicago (debuting soon), and Los Angeles (in 2014).

All books in the series are comprised of walking tours and a succinct history of the chosen city centered around its colorful characters. I especially like the character part – it reminds me of editing drama and documentaries. The guidebooks are aimed at all visitors to the cities, whether tourists or locals

Book = Hiatus
I am thrilled to explore, research, and write about the city I returned to in 2010. However, my May deadline leaves no time for other writing. So after 3 1/3 years of continuous blogging, I am awarding myself a hiatus. Please feel free to read previous blogs, explore this website, and make comments as my webmeister will be checking in and I will respond. Also, I will continue the Cut of the Month feature so enjoy the frames and text.

I will return to blogging in June or later this summer.

Announcements, Editing & life, Television

A Head for Comedy and Editing Machines

December 29th, 2012

In 1985 I walked into waiting room – a wide space with chairs in the hallway – of the head of post production’s office at Universal Studios. A dapper 60-something man in a cardigan sat in a chair, patiently waiting for me. He was editor Dann Cahn, my new boss. Thus we began a season together on The New Leave it to Beaver, a show new to both of us, on Ediflex a non-linear, video-tape system new to both of us. Actually “Beaver,” as those of us who worked on it called it non-ironically, was not new to Dann. Executive producer Brian Levant specifically hired Dann because he’d directed and edited on the original series in the 1950s.

Dann with Lucy and Desi Dann with Moviola

Dann and his monster Moviola

at the Hollywood Museum

Dann was a tip top comedy editor, most famous for his time at Desilu, starting with the first episode of I Love Lucy. A lifelong friend of the star couple, Dann created a multi-cam Moviola to match this pioneer sitcom. Dubbed the monster Moviola due to its four heads (three for cutting picture, one for cutting sound), it allowed editors to view all three camera angles of a scene at one time. While the scenes ran, the editor grease penciled cut points for cutting and splicing later.

After meeting in the waiting room
Dann and I received training on our parts of Ediflex: His the editing part and mine the pre- and post- cutting work. While the producers loved how he was putting the shows together, it quickly transpired that he needed help running the editing system. The solution? I operated the system for Dann and an apprentice was hired to do parts of my job. Frankly, I could never learn from watching editors edit; it was boring. But having to anticipate how to execute Dann’s edits on the Ediflex, I not only learned the editor’s side of the system but got into Dann’s head and learned comedy cutting from a master. As things progressed, Dann finessed things so I cut scenes and then shows, getting my first show credit.

This is how things should work in the world of editing (and elsewhere for that matter): The experienced helping the apprentice to learn. Dann earned a reputation before and after me for boosting the careers of many aspiring editors.

Via Facebook, I am in touch with his son, the current president of the Editor’s Guild, who posted that Dann’s final fade out at 89 this November was a smooth transition.

May your transitions in your career as well as to the New Year be as smooth. And may you pay things back as well as forward in your life.

Editing & life, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Jobs

Why you will benefit from sitting through a session of The Sessions

December 19th, 2012

The subject of The Sessions – a paralyzed poet hiring a sex surrogate to lose his virginity – may make you writhe at the thought of a touchy-feely film. Go anyway. While the movie doesn’t have the laughs that Steve Carrell and Katherine Keener served up in The Forty Year Old Virgin, it does deliver a humanness about sex that all of us have felt no matter how abled we are. As I see it, we are all in the dark and isolated, groping for light and connection and hoping for love. And the characters of Mark O’Brien and Cheryl Cohen Greene, played by Robert Hawke and Helen Hunt respectively, are no different.

One on One Movie
The heart of The Sessions throbs with the thoughts and emotions of two people. No one has described cutting such scenes better than Carol Littleton (Body Heat, The SessionsPlaces in the Heart, and The Big Chill and many more): “One-to-one dialogue scenes are difficult because it’s literally about the very thin connection between two people and that connection can’t be violated.  You have to be aware of it all the time.  They may be connecting or not connecting emotionally, but you have to be aware of what’s happening between them the whole time.”

But let’s hear from the editor of The Sessions herself. Lisa Bromwell, A.C.E., wrote in a guest blog in Indiewire on December 5 about the challenge of the movie: “The story of an immobile polio victim living in a big metal box has its own editorial challenges to say the least. For one, it has very little inherent movement. There’s an old editor’s adage that says to make a cut invisible, cut on movement. And I had a main character that could barely move. Big problem.”

Bromwell adds, “Beyond that, there was the tricky issue of getting the tone right. We wanted the audience to be moved by Mark’s journey and touched by the fullness of his life without falling into melodrama. That meant we needed the humor in the script to work without betraying the reality of his disability.”

How did Bromwell solve the problems? She worked with director Ben Lewin, himself a polio victim, moving and eliminating fantasy Mark’s fantasy sequences, adding a VO of him reciting his poetry at the beginning, and making other structuring changes. Regarding structure Bromwell relates, “Ben used time ellipses in the script – right in the middle of an embarrassingly awkward moment with the sex surrogate, we would cut to Mark describing his feelings to his mortified but intrigued priest [played by William Macy]. We realized we could use this device both sooner and more often. As long as we were advancing the story, we could flash forward or back without confusion.”

When female editors are often called for
Steven Spielberg hired in 1982 Carol Littleton to cut E.T. because he believed a Women and Hollywood logofemale editor would bring more humanity to the E.T. character. Things haven’t changed much in 30 years a Lewin also deliberately set out to hire a female editor, Bromwell reports, because he “felt a woman would be more sensitive to the emotionality of the story.” Bromwell reflects, “I don’t know if that’s true – I like a good gunfight as much as any guy. But right or wrong, I think women are perceived as being more nurturing.”

Editors as chefs
Bromwell gives clear insight into a good editor-director relationship when she writes, “Whatever their gender, the editor sees everything – that means all the mistakes as well as every flash of genius. There needs to be a level of security between director and editor so neither censors their thoughts before speaking. It’s often the crazy bad idea that turns out to be brilliant.”

To illustrate her point, Bromwell recounts her experience cooking Chicken Mole Negro one day during her time off: “The multi-page recipe called for nuts and dried fruits and all sorts of fabulous things including peppers so hot you had to handle them with gloves. Finally, after hours of work, the last item you add is chocolate. This sounds like a terrible idea that will ruin the entire thing. But it doesn’t — it’s the key. Just like editing, every little bit counts and sometimes the most unlikely ingredient turns out to be the thing that makes magic.”

Editing & life, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Joy goes to the movies

Letterman Countdown: Part 2:
10 Popular Beliefs about What Editors Do that are Just Plain Wrong

September 27th, 2012

Today’s post concludes the Letterman-style countdown designed to counteract the misconceptions held by way too many people.

5. Putting footage together is a no brainer.
Au contraire. I, and filmmakers far greater than me, believe that editing is what set filmmaking apart from other arts. Editing mimics thought. It accomplishes this with the selection of shots – close-ups, wide shots, POVs, etc. – and their juxtaposition. Editing uses flashcuts, flashbacks, flashforwards, short and long cuts, close-ups and manipulates the “real” filmed time to do this. Editing imitates the brain and it takes brain to do it. To quote John Huston who directed Chinatown, The African Queen, The Maltese Falcon and many more, “Film is like thought. It’s the closest to the thought process of any art.”
editor poster
4. Editors leave actors on the cutting room floor.
In reality, the editor is the actor’s best friend whom they rarely get to meet. Editors coordinate actors’ timings and reactions so that each performance is consistent and attains its dramatic purpose and builds the character’s arc. Sometimes this means holding a beat on an actor to expand the emotion and time. Sometimes it means cutting tight to sustain a performance and keep a taut pace. Always, it means molding the best performance to fit the character and the scene.

3. “We’ll save it in post.”

While postproduction (editing) has rescued many a project from doom, it cannot resuscitate a poorly conceived or written story, abominably lit scenery, or sound that is distorted or otherwise poorly recorded. Again plan. Or ignore post at the peril of your pocketbook and the look and sound of your show.

2. Editing is a craft, not particularly creative, and not nearly as important as screenwriting, directing, acting, or cinematography.

Try it. You‘ll see. Here’s what Francis Ford Coppola has to say, “The essence of cinema is editing. It’s the combination of what can be extraordinary images of people during emotional moments, or images in a general sense, put together in a kind of alchemy.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

1. Editors just take out the bad bits.
The show is mere footage until editor sculpts it. Or, to put it crassly, the show on arrival at the editor’s cutting room is merely a hunk of meat (or raw carrot for you veggies). It may be filet mignon but it’s not a meal until the editor makes it into a meal. Or as director Angle Lee puts it more eloquently: “Shooting is like buying groceries and the real cooking is at the editing table.”

Just as house selling comes down to “location, location, location” for editing comes down to “story, story, story.” Each cut that an editor lays down must be motivated to move the story forward. It must give more information, up the conflict, drama, or emotion – or do all of the above. As the 2-10 above show, editing is far more than a taking out. Rather, it’s a joining of frames taken from shots to make a whole. We’ll leave the last word to Walter Murch, the reigning editor-guru who cuts picture and sound on such film as Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, and On Cold Mountain. “Editing is not so much a putting together as it is the discovery of a path.”

Editing & life, Editing & screenwriting, Editing practices, Editor’s role

Letterman Countdown:
10 Popular Beliefs about What Editors Do that are Just Plain Wrong

September 18th, 2012

In talking about my upcoming editing course debuting in October, friends suggested that I write down the most serious misconceptions about editing. So here’s the list – a Letterman-style countdown – to combat the delusions and set down the realities of editing today.

editor poster

10. Editing requires no planning
You need to backward engineer your show. In other words, to know where you’re going when you’re planning and designing a project, you must know the end result: Where your audience will view your show, what your show’s final forma(s) will be (file, ape, disc or film), and what its delivery requirements are e.g. what Film Festival rules stipulate as to show length, format, etc. But only think about these and other postproduction issues if you want your show to be efficient in terms of cost, time, process, and effort.

9. Editing is easy with digital equipment. Anyone can do it.
Yeah. Look at the all the teen videos on YouTube. How many nanoseconds did it take you to click away from it? Digital editing systems are complex: you don’t learn all the features overnight – and, due to the type of show you’re working on, you may never use some features e.g. reverse telecine tool. You will need to know how to choose the correct codec for your project, upload, download, troubleshoot when system goes down or won’t talk to another device and use all the tools: VFX, sound, color correction, V scopes, etc. But knowing an editing device doesn’t make you an editor anymore than being able to chop celery makes you a chef. It’s a tool, albeit an incredibly multi-faceted and powerful one, but not a decision maker.

8. Music videos are no brainers to cut: Just lay down the music and fill in the pictures – like paint by numbers.

Granted, they’re often mindless, repetitively using the same footage in ways that don’t tell any kind of story or achieve the purpose – to sell the music. BUT they can be quite creative. In essence, music videos are documentaries – non-scripted shows where the editor commonly gets a lot of footage and an outline but there is no clear story as with scripted shows.  So the editor can have a big hand in creating the story and the final show more than on many scripted shows. Dean Gonzalez, editor of Green Day: Heart like a Hand Grenade among other music, relates, “On a music video you get a treatment that the crew didn’t completely shoot. So you have to be very creative with the footage. I find it exciting and daunting to create something without all the elements – to make a story out footage that isn’t always there. I love storytelling.”

7. Editing doesn’t take very much time.

Editing takes a lot longer than the uninitiated ever know. It takes time to log and organize footage, ingest the footage, then comb through it to find the right shot for the right time in a show. And then there’s rendering which can render you hairless while you wait. Not to mention the time required to review what you’ve edited to make sure a scene and a show hang together, that there are no audio drop outs or other things that distract from seeing the show as a whole. And yes, as with all creativity, in addition to execution time there’s time to cogitate and consider, experiment, make mistakes, and start over. No show, no matter how superbly acted or shot, goes together without time and thought.


6. Editing is more of an assembly job: If the director does his/her job the footage cuts like butter.

I’ll let a few directors take this one:

“As [the great Japanese director] Kurosawa used to say, ‘The only reason you write and direct is to get material to edit.’ And that’s exactly true. Editing is where you make the film. It’s a very beautiful thing… I shoot to cut”

Alexander Payne, The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt, Election

“There is a brotherhood in filmmaking…between the film editor and the film director.  It’s a brotherhood of trust and interdependence, and it is a sanctuary.  It is for me where the filmmaking really gets started, and it’s where I feel most comfortable.”

Steven Spielberg,

“Editing is the voice of the film, and also a deeply collaborative art…Out of all processes I love editing the most.”

James Cameron

The next post will continue the countdown to numero uno.

Editing & life, Editing & screenwriting, Editing practices, Editor’s role

A Veteran Sound Editor Sounds Off and
Imparts a Terabyte of Filmmaking Knowledge from Development to the Mix

August 6th, 2012

Sound editor Vickie Sampson was the featured speaker at LAFPUG* recently which has posted her edited talk. This 34-minute video is a must see for anyone entering the biz, wishing to make their own film, or wanting to learn more about planning for sound and editing it. Vickie is a long time sound editor on many illustrious films, starting with New York, New York and continuing through both Sex in the City movies. (How’s that for getting caught between the moon and NYC!)

What Vickie knows about sound and filmmaking is worth listening to.

She’s human, entertaining, and instructional as she’s done it all: Directed and written her own films, commercials, and shorts in addition to her sound work. She also is a consummate teacher, giving regular sources at Video Symphony in Burbank. But this lecture is free. And worth your time.

The last thing I want to say before turning you over to the video: Vickie has been a long time friend and resource for both editions of Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video books. She kindly wrote the Foreword to the current (second) edition.

So I am very happy to introduce you the intrepid, inimitable Vickie!

*Los Angeles Final Cut Pro Users Group

Editing & life, Editing & screenwriting, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Sound & music editing, User groups & meetings, Visual FX editing

Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video, 2nd Edition is here!

May 26th, 2012

There’s nothing like the smell (and look and feel) of a new book in the morning
(to steal from that famous phrase in Apocalypse Now).

Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video

For over a year now, I’ve been mentioning why I felt it important and necessary to re-write my first book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video and excerpting parts here. Now the result of my year of labor – 477 pages of newly minted book – has arrived on my doorstep and I can share it with you and the world.

Learn all the details about the Cut by Cut 2 here . Or tour the book’s highlights below.

What’s new in Cut by Cut 2:

  • Workflow charts and explanations for film, tape, and file-based shows HD and 3D practices throughout the book.
    • Updated music and sound editing workflows as well as the disk authoring and DI (digital intermediate) workflows.
  • HD and 3-D content and VFX editing process and types of edits.
  • Up-to-date info for finishing on film via DI or traditional negative cut process.
  • An in-depth look at modern, “MTV” style editing vs. traditional, Hollywood style that employs current research and a chart detailing the differences.
  • Advice from 15 experienced editors working in all film genres from comedy to corporate videos to news to music videos to reality shows.

Like the first edition, Cut by Cut 2:

  • Clearly and completely lays out the editing journey from the first frame of the shoot to the final show exhibited on tube, theater, disk, or Web. Editing System
  • Concentrates on the why and what to do next, delineating how editors perform their job on Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and other digital editing systems.
  • Details the post production process from dailies to finishing via online, negative cut, disk authoring, and the DI process.
  • De-mystifies codecs, telecine and reverse telecine, aspect ratio, time code standards, and a multitude of other video, film, and digital editing concepts.
  • Explains how to approach cutting the footage: Make your first edits, deal with mismatches, and conquer action and dialogue scenes and more.
  • Spends two chapters describing how sound and music are designed, recorded, and mixed.
  • Defines and explains the terms, apps, and practices that working picture, sound, and music editors use.

Cut by Cut 2

  • Editing exercises and over 150 tables, charts, photos, and illustrations.
  • A meaty section on how to find an editing job whether you’re starting out or looking for that next job or career move.
  • An extensive glossary and an editor’s resource guide.

I wrote the book for:

  • Editors of all stripes: Indies, students, and professionals.
  • Aspiring editors: Assistant editors, apprentice editors, and career changers.
  • Filmmakers: Directors, producers, writers, and everyone who want to understand editing.
  • Professors and teachers of editing.
  • Prosumers who want to make the leap to professional.

I sincerely hope Cut by Cut 2 helps you with your projects.

Check the book out and let Joy know what you think.

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