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Video Tutorial on Cuts and Transitions

March 29th, 2016

Here’s a well-executed tutorial to watch and enjoy – and learn from. Using examples from a potpourri of popular movies including Misery, the Matrix, and Easy Rider it explains basic cuts such as match cuts and jump cuts and basic transitions both video and audio. The tutorial is an ode to editing and the joy of filmwatching and filmmaking that flies by, belying the thought and effort beneath the cuts. Click on the “cc” button on the lower right to see which movies the cuts are from.

Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know For more categories, descriptions, and discussion of basic and complex cuts, transitions, and VFX read my book Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know

To see more tutorials on post and editing as well as directing, cinematography, costumes, screenwriting, and more filmic arts, check out Rocket Jump Film School. It’s less a school than a website dedicated to the film community no matter your level of experience serving up a bevy of free podcasts, videos, events, tips, forums, etc.

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

The Art of Editing a Montage – Part 3

January 16th, 2016

Having explained the purpose of montage, its history, and the guidelines for cutting a montage, this last post details the types of montages and then has some fun looking at how some montages have become clichés and been parodied.

Types of Montages
Montage scenes have many themes – dramatic, comic, news – to list a few primary categories. The following table charts the major categories types of montages and gives examples.

Type of Montage Example
DRAMATIC
Grief or recovery The character walks the old, familiar path on the beach or in the city, stares out the window on a rainy day, or lies in bed unable to move. After the montage, the character returns to life by taking a first step or making a choice of some kind.
Love The lovers enjoy sunsets, romantic dinners, rolls in the hay, etc. before emerging from their cocoon and addressing the realities lurking around the corner.
War A soldier goes through the travails of boot camp, acquires helmet and weapon, and sets out for the field of battle. The montage sets the scene for battle and the testing of the soldier.
Success A rock band plays for the local Elks club and by the end of the montage is headlining at Madison Square Garden.
Learning and training A student studies for the test. A skier practices for the Olympics.
COMIC
Job A college grad is interviewed by a series of bizarre employers.
Dating A woman goes out with a string of loser dates.
Clothing A man tries on a succession of ridiculous ties.
INFORMATION
History Immigrants arrive in Manhattan and erect the city.
Process A reporter travels to different holy sites, seeking enlightenment.
Search A man tries on a succession of ridiculous ties.

Some well-known examples of movie montage can be seen in: Rocky (the training sequence ending with his runs to the top of the steps), Scarface (rise to power montage cut to Push it to the Limit song), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (visiting the museum montage), Clueless (makeover montage) and Lord of the Rings – Return of the King (lighting of the torches in different lands montage). Even animated movies contain great montages such as Toy Story II (Jessie’s backstory), the expositional opening, and Cars (see below).

cars

In Cars a montage with voiceover takes the audience on a trip down memory

lane to the glory days of the hamlet of Radiator Springs.

Spoofs of Montages

The hours approaching, just give it your best
You’ve got to reach your prime.
That’s when you need to put yourself to the test
And show us a passage of time.
We’re gonna need a montage (montage)
Oh it takes a montage (montage).
Song for montage scene in Team America and in South Park, Episode 3 Season 6

A few montage themes have reached cliché status and become parody material such as the “Getting over the loss of a love” montage, the “Getting fit” montage, and the “Preparing for the big event or showdown” montage. So you can have fun creating montages that make fun of other montages or scenes from movies. The Montage song and scene in Team America by the producers of South Park who repeated the song with different images in South Park, Episode 3 Season 6 is one example of this. Here’s another.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Jump cuts, a sunset, and a roll in the waves spoof clichéd lovemaking scenes in this

montage from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. (Selected cuts)

Final word: Have fun pulling pictures, sounds and music together to assemble a montage – and make sure it counts toward moving your show’s story forward.

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

The Art of Editing a Montage – Part 2

January 16th, 2016

The last post introduced montage and talked about the purpose montage serves in fiction and non-fiction pieces. Today’s post summarizes the history of montage and goes over the important rules to keep in mind when you’re actually cutting a montage.

A Brief History of Montage
To best understand montage it’s important to know its history which evolved through three distinct definitions and theories in three different countries during three different time periods.

1) Soviet Union – 1920s
To revolutionary Soviet filmmakers, montage was synonymous with editing and meant the
Vsevolod Pudovkin,the filmmaker and film professor who greatly influenced this generation of Soviet filmmakers, saw montage as the linking of ideas through the linking of one shot to another. His student, pioneer filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, viewed montage as the conflict of ideas derived from the opposition of one shot to another. Eisenstein wrote: “The general course of the montage was an uninterrupted interweaving of diverse themes into one unified movement. Each montage-piece had a double responsibility to build the total line as well as to continue the movement within each of the contributory themes.”

2) France – 1950s
The French New Wave filmmakers and theoreticians including Andre Bazin, Agnes Varda, Francois Truffaut, and Jean-Luc Godard rejected Eisenstein’s montage theories for their own theories of “realism” which they implemented in shooting and editing their films. Realism reflected the social and political movements of the day due to its transparent visual, narrative, and editorial approach. It anticipated today’s reality shows with its rapid, documentary style pf shooting, hand held shots, jump cuts, defiance of the 180° rule, improvised dialogue, and breakdown of the fourth wall between actor and audience. Montage in the credits of a French movie means editing and stands for the editor; son montage is the sound editor.

3) United States – today
Montage has come to be defined as a sequence of images used to convey facts, feelings, or thoughts that functions as a transition in time, knowledge, or place. Montage is a way to succinctly deliver or sum up a lot of information and can be used to inform, entice, amuse, and always, to advance the story.

Montage Editing Rules
The rules for editing a montage are the same as for editing anything else: Each cut should be motivated (have a purpose) and advance the story you’re telling. How you cut a montage scene is similar to how you cut an action scene in some ways. In both types of scenes the visuals drive the action, flow, and storytelling. Sound (music, voiceover, and sound effects) underscore the scene’s action.

However cutting a montage differs from cutting action in three major ways. First, action scenes tell a story linearly with shots from the same time and place. Conversely montage scenes can pull footage from any place (cities, countries, planets) or time (prehistoric, modern, future, fictional). Second, action scenes normally use straight cuts to drive the action. The shots in montage scenes are usually separated by dissolves, wipes, or other types of transitional cuts. Third, montage scenes are rarely silent; most are set to music and/or involve wild sound recorded at the scene or deliberate, recurring manufactured sounds. Narration habitually replace dialogue in montage scenes. Often you’ll cut the montage to music. But just as often you’ll create the montage and add the music later.
src=”http://joyoffilmediting.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/fahrenheit-300×65.jpg” alt=”fahrenheit” width=”300″ height=”65″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-5595″ />

Fahrenheit 911

In Fahrenheit 911 Michael Moore rejected music and narration in this montage, employing

only ambient sound to document everyday life in pre-war Baghdad. (Selected cuts)

Putting a Montage Together
Composing a montage is freeing and rewarding as you work to assemble a cohesive whole and stumble across random connections. You may put shots together from a variety of sources (dailies, news reel footage, YouTube, TV shows, archival sources, etc.) as well as variety of locations, eras, and angles. The juxtaposed shots will delight you and lead you down cutting paths you never imagined. Accidentally, you’ll insert a shot at the wrong place and be happily surprised by the result.

Some montages are a blend of images that are marvelous, soothing, gorgeous to behold such as a bevy of images of our national parks. Other montages serve up a collision of images where shots clash, disorient, or disturb viewers, e.g. a montage of exposing the pristine and poisoned lakes of our land. Either way, make sure that the audience will make the desired connections from your scene.

To get off to a good start cutting your montage, clearly organize, label, and describe your shots. This way you can ensure that they fit what you’re trying to say and show – and you can quickly grab them and throw them on your timeline as you’re immersed in the process of creating the montage.
Here are some specific DOs and DON’Ts for constructing a montage:

  • DO pay attention to pacing. Choose shot content, focal length, and duration to maximize information, engagement, and the story you’re telling.
  • DON’T make every cut the same duration. Choose each shot’s length – frames – to seconds – by how much information it needs to convey. Once the shot’s played out (is no longer engaging), cut away to something new. Often you’ll notice that the cuts tend to get shorter as the montage progresses.
  • DO freeze shots, speed them up, or slo mo them to communicate their content the most effectively.
  • DO feel free to use multiple visuals such as split screens, supers, layered shots to increase the information and pace of your montage.
  • DON’T use every type of wipe or dissolve in your digital editing machine’s toolbox. Unless you want to look amateur or are making a parody montage.
  • DO make sure that the sound you use – music, sound effects, and/or words – supports your montage.
  • DON’T cut on every beat of every of the music. Borrrring.
  • DO use color correction to adjust shots from different time periods, places, or sources for readability and aesthetics.

When you finished editing the montage, you’ll find you’ve created a scene that is much bigger than the sum of its cuts.

levees

The long montage which Spike Lee inserted at the beginning of When the Levees Broke:

A Requiem in Four Acts serves as an elegy to the city of New Orleans. (Selected cuts).

Coming Up
In final blog on the art of editing montage, we’ll look at the types of montages and how in some cases they’ve become so clichéd that great spoof montages have been created.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process

The Art of Editing a Montage – Part 1

January 16th, 2016

December’s issue of MovieMaker Magazine consists of its annual guide to making movies and once again contains an article I wrote, “The Myriad Uses of Montage.” You can buy the hard copy and read the article now or view it online in a few weeks. It’s a case of the editor being edited: My article was cut down a bit and retitled. To get the full benefit of my effort, I am running the entire article here over three posts. Today’s post reveals how a montage is conceived along with the purpose of a montage.

Intro

Show a lot of things happening at once.
Remind everyone of what’s going on.
And with every shot you show a little improvement
To show it all would take too long.
That’s called a montage (montage).
Oh we want montage (montage).
Song for montage scene in Team America and in South Park, Episode 3 Season 6

Montage. The word glides off the tongue of many a filmmaker, but what exactly does it mean? Derived from the French word “to mount,” a film montage is a succinct, self-contained sequence of images designed to convey or recap facts, feelings, or thoughts.

A montage arises from the script on a fiction show or the outline on a non-fiction show. Typically the script or outline will call for a montage with a line like these:

  • A series of shots as Jack and Jill go up the hill.
  • A progression of newspaper headlines revealing the murder.
  • Archive footage of tornadoes in the Midwest.

A montage can also be dreamt up after the shoot by the director or editor such as opening teaser montage showing what your doc will be about. Most opening credit sequences on TV shows are montage scenes.

frames from Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris starts with an dreamy montage of the city accompanied

by a drowsy jazz tune that sets up the movie. (Selected cuts.)

Purpose of a Montage
Documentaries, commercials, infomercials, news shows, dramas, and comedies – all types of shows – incorporate montages to get across information and move along the story that they’re telling. Montage scenes are self-contained and frequently serve as bridges between dialogue or action scenes. Most often a montage functions like a musical interlude as it bridges time, place, or knowledge with its evolving collage of images.

Montages are commonly relied upon to deliver exposition, flashback, or flashforward scenes. You can also employ a montage to stretch time or show a character’s interior thoughts. In the example below, we see where a desperate character’s mind goes when he’s immobilized in a canyon due to a boulder pinning his arm.

frames from 127 Hours

In this montage from 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle employs split screen shots to

deliver James Franco’s character thoughts of his family. (Selected cuts.)

Montage scenes invariably show and tell a lot of information in a short amount of time. Most often montages compress time, showing a week, a lifetime, or an era in a minute or two.

into-wild

In Into the Wild director Sean Penn compressed time in this montage via postcard-like

text and music to show the main character’s journey to Alaska. (Selected cuts)

Coming Next
Part 2 of The Art of Editing Montage will give a brief history of the montage along and cover the rules for cutting montage including specific DOs and DON’T’S.

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

Happy Holidays from MPEG

December 31st, 2015

iatseThe Motion Picture Editors Guild – Local 700 of IATSE –
sent its members this droll vintage video of what it takes to be an editor. You can also find it on YouTube.

Click here to learn more about the guild and its history.

Joy wishes you a wonderful 2016 that brings you joy and satisfaction in the pursuit and achievement of your filmmaking goals.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Fun & games, History/research

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

Free Feedback Workshop for Filmmakers

August 24th, 2015

Announcement of CMCM workshopIf you live near San Rafael and have a film in progress, starting September 2, I’ll be leading a feedback group, “Work-in-Progress Wednesdays” at CMCM (Center for Media, County of Marin).

The workshop is free and will meet every other month.

If you’re working on an 8–10 minute short piece, you can show your entire piece. If you’re editing a long form project, you can run up to 20 minutes of your cut.

Time: 6:30-8:30 PM
Date: Wednesday, September 2
Place: 819 A St. San Rafael, CA (CMCM)

In a safe, collegial space, you’ll hear feedback from fellow filmmakers as well as from me. I will enforce stated guidelines that will allow you to hear comments in a supportive atmosphere. Think of it as a free focus group.

To enter a clip, email a brief description of your project no later than Wednesday, August 26 to jill@cmcm.tv. Otherwise, just show up and learn from watching others’ work and giving feedback. Learn more here.

Now look at this promo for “Work-in-Progress Wednesdays.” It gives you the information but it could use some feedback itself!

Announcements, Editing practices, User groups & meetings

Testing a Media Assets Site: Does Motion Array Meet a Freelance Editor’s Needs?

August 8th, 2015

When you have a website you get numerous unsolicited offers to improve your SEO. These emails go straight to my Block Senders and junk mail folder. Once in a blue moon – and July 31st there was a stupendous one – you get a request that is a win- win. Kaila Williams from Motion Array emailed me asking, “In an effort to increase our membership, I was wondering if you would be willing to write up a review of the services that Motion Array has to offer. We’d like to extend a free month of full membership (NOT the trial membership) in exchange for your honest review of Motion Array.com. You would have access to all of the After Effects templates, stock video, stock music, and animations that we offer, in addition to the phenomenal customer service that we pride ourselves on.”

I immediately put Jay Scherberth editor extraordinaire and my partner in Picture Your Book on the case. Jay tried out the software and reported that “There really weren’t any significant negative aspects to the site or service.” Neither he nor I get remuneration of any kind from writing and posting this except for the quid pro quo stated above. Here’s his full review:

Jay on Motion Array
Motion Array logo Like most freelance Editors and Web Designers, I often have multiple projects going on, each with a looming deadline. If I don’t have the time or the skill set to create certain media assets, I’ll look to the web for a solution. There are plenty of stock footage sites out there like iStock, Getty Images and Shutterstock which do a decent job at providing the basics like photos, illustrations, and some music. However, often times I’m looking for something more, like unique motion graphics and fresh new After Effects templates.

Motion Array graphicRecently, I tested a media asset site that provided everything I needed for a project at a very reasonable cost. That site is MotionArray.com and on it I found just the right stock music and an easy to modify After Effects template with a tutorial. To finish it all off, I grabbed a great stock motion background piece.

Motion Array categorizes all media assets and they are easily searchable. This is important because I would rather spend time creating than searching. All stock motion graphics come in QuickTime format and are encoded in popular video codecs, making them compatible with most all popular editing software like Adobe Premiere, my NLE of choice. The video resolutions, codecs, and frame rates are all listed on the individual product pages.

Motion Array previewThe folks at MotionArray.com have done a fine job at creating a well-organized, minimally designed (remember- less is more!) website that comes up fast. I especially like the previewing options that are built into all sections of the website. If you want just a quick look or listen, simply click the asset thumbnail and it plays almost instantly. If you discover a piece of music or an After Effect template that looks promising, click the asset name and you’re presented with a detailed product page, listing format, resolution, frame rate, etc. and a large player. I especially appreciate the “Related Products” suggestions that appear just below the asset you’re examining. This helps you to zero in on just the right piece by suggesting alternative versions.

MotionArray.com is constantly adding new material which has become an almost daily ritual for me. It’s fun to discover the new, cutting edge material they’re coming up with. The amount of motion effect flares, fractals, shimmering light streaks and swirling particles seem endless but the number and quality of their animated text effects is equally impressive.

And finally, downloading and using the material is painless due to the built-in product tutorials packaged with each asset. While browsing the website, be sure to examine their extensive library of tutorials and free downloads. There is plenty to like here, especially Motion Array’s no long-term contracts policy. Check it out!

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

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.

Matt
“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

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