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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 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

Art of the Film Score

October 17th, 2015

Vertigo posterDid you ever want to… Know the relationship between Pinocchio and the music in Close Encounters of the Third Kind? … Appreciate the genius of Bernard Herrmann, the composer for Vertigo and other memorable Hitchcock films? … Understand what goes into creating the music for films that so enraptures us?

Marcia BaumanFilm composer, professor, and friend Marcia Bauman will delve into the world of cinema music in the Art of the Film Score. It’s a four-week workshop that starts November 7 at CMCM (Center for Media in the County of Marin). Here’s the musically enticing trailer that Marcia and CMCM created for the class.

Marcia helped me on my latest film book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video 2nd Edition and I’ve been wanting to take one of her classes for a long time. I will be there and hope to see you.

Time: 1-4 PM
Dates: Saturdays, November 7-28
Place: 819 A St. San Rafael, CA (CMCM)

Click here for more info about the class and its registration page.

Announcements, History/research, Sound & music editing, User groups & meetings

The Lumière Brothers and their Fantastic Film Machines – Part 2

July 15th, 2015

Lumiere BrothersAfter Louis and Auguste Lumière introduced their Cinematograph to the world and turned its hand crank to run the world’s first film in December 1895, they had many offers to buy the dual camera-projection machine. But the brothers Lumière refused all offers. In 1896 they took their Cinématograph show on the road, opening theatres in London, Brussels, and New York and projecting their short, celluloid films.

film strip

That year they also shot over 40 “Actualités” – short films about daily life in Lyon and environs. Additionally, they filmed the first newsreel, (of the French Photographic Society conference) and the first documentary (on Lyon’s Fire Department).

First Cinema Auteurs
Next the Lumières and trained a team of operators to use the Cinematograph and to shoot scenes that were screened as “Lumière shots.” monitors at Lumiere Museum The team fanned out from Lyon to capture everyday life and events all over the world from China to Turkey to the U.S. They filmed in a particular style developed by the Lumières which dictated where to place the camera, and basic film grammar, rendering the brothers the first auteurs, according to film historians. All in all, the operators created 1428 shots, many of which run continuously at the museum. (See photo of monitors to right.)

“There’s something extremely cinematographic in the films that Louis Lumière and his cameramen made … He is “the last of the inventors but he’s the first of the filmmakers.”
Thierry Frémaux, director of the Institut Lumière and the Cannes Film Festival

The Photorama
In 1900 the Lumières came up the first surround theatre with the invention of the Photorama. At the museum which photoramaI visited in Lyon, you could stand inside the system and watch a street scene of horse drawn carriages and people negotiating the streets of Marseilles. The Photorama used 50mm and 70mm film placed in 12 cameras to shoot the scene. To project it the Photorama employed 12 lenses attached to a circular plate rotating 3X/second that swept past the film in a circular motion, encircling the audience.

Moving on
As vaudeville theatres began adding the novelty of movies to their repertoire and filmmaking became a business with directors, actors, etc. the Lumières lost interest. “We stopped filming to leave it to the artists,” Louis stated. After 1914 the French influence declined and Hollywood took the reins.

But the Lumières dedication to image making didn’t stop there.

In 1903, after two years of work, Louis came up with what he considered the greatest invention of his life.Ad for Lumiere film He developed the autochrome plate, the first color photography process. Dubbed the “blue label” due to the color of the boxes the film came in, the invention allowed people to take photographs by themselves, without depending on a photographer. The process lasted over 30 years and made the Lumières very rich.

Other Lumière Inventions

The brother continued to create photographic materials andLumiere Truck invented a precursor to the hologram but they also ventured into other areas. Louis invented a mechanical hand to replace those amputated on WWI soldiers. August came up devised a non-adhesive dressing – the Tulle Gras – that was used for decades to help burn victims. He also founded pharmaceutical laboratories and the medical review. The Frères Lumières patented over 200 inventions before Louis died in 1948 and Auguste died in 1954.

And the last word goes to …

Louis Lumiere Plaque… Thierry Frémaux: “Lumière invented the movie theater. Of course, you can watch films on watches, on iPhones, great. But the movie theater is incomparable.”

History/research, Technical & process

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.

Beginnings
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.

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

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).

Awards
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