Archive for November, 2009

iEdit iWish

November 30th, 2009

iPhone app If you could have an editing-related app on your iPhone (Blackberry, etc.), what would it be? Would you wish for Avid or Final Cut Pro help or tips? Technical info? Sound editing info? Software – for what?

Let me know and we’ll see what we can get cooking.

Technical & process

In honor of Thanksgiving, here’s a three-course video feast.

November 25th, 2009

1)    Composer George Winston caresses the ivories, setting an introspective mood.  Reflect on whatever you feel like reflecting on.

2)    A stop-motion animation ode to turkeys and pumpkin pie

3)    Classic Tex Avery cartoon from 1945 that sends up WWII, the depression, and American conventions and represents its time with an Indian stereotype (brief) and no football on TV.

Fun & games

Video and Learning/Teaching Adults and Children: Editor as Storyteller

November 20th, 2009

In a general session of the Learning 2009 conference I attended last week, Elliot Masie, the guru/organizer of this annual event, introduced Ben Coyte, a videographer for CNN. CNN has given cameras to all its field producers and begun requiring them to shoot and edit video (and not rely on camera ops and editors). Coyte’s job is to train them.

CNN Videos have become an important part of the training and education field. Training videos often lack quality because learning professionals are often untrained in video production and editing. Coyte’s mission at the conference was to teach six learning professionals. Here’s what he told them: “You are a storyteller. Let the camera be a window to what you see. Use multiple shots and don’t move the camera. Then use editing to tell your story.”

Sound familiar?

It cannot be reiterated too often: As editors we don’t just remove the bad bits. We connect people to the material by telling a story. Whether cutting a feature, corporate video, commercial, infomercial, an editor is a story teller, the final one on every project, so we need to get it right

Editing practices, Editor’s role

Learning, Video, Fun, and Behavior Change

November 18th, 2009

At the Learning 2009 conference I went to last week in Orlando, there were several video workshops as well as a multitude of seminars on all types of subjects: eLearning, virtual classrooms, global learning & collaboration, learning via mobile devices, to name but a few of my faves. Speakers and participants were from all facets of learning life: Corporate, non-profit, academia, government,  technology, and non-governmental organizations.

In one seminar, education professor Stanton Wortham, U of Penn, discussed the behavior theory of learning which boils down to this:

Learning = a change in behavior

What is changing in your neighborhood? What can you change?

Here’s a great video (not fancy in the editing or shooting) that shows how behavior can be changed and thus becomes part of the change itself.  Maybe a few people will be trimmer for it. Maybe it will inspire you to create simple yet powerful videos for change that advance greener, healthier, more cooperative ways of living.

Editing & life, Editing practices

Breaking in, Segueing, Reinventing, Tacking: Your Life Plan and the Job Market

November 16th, 2009

Learning 2009 In addition to writing books on editing and blogging, I also create training materials and sporadically edit videos for a major insurance company. Last week this company sent me to Orlando for Learning2009, a conference on learning in these uncertain times.

I feel very fortunate to have gone to the conference – more about it in future blogs. And to have a job in these tough economic times.

But how is it for all of you in your twenties trying to break into film work? It has always been a challenge to break into Hollywood and maintain a career, not to mention a life.
I went to a seminar titled, “The Unemployed College Graduates: A Perspective from the Class of 2009.” Due to their dismal prospects, this gen is now being called the Lost Generation. This is the second gen to receive this chary title. The first Lost Gen came of age in the 1920s after WWI and is the great-grandparents to the second.

2009 grads I know and what they’re up to:

1) Lief, Computer Science grad from UCLA, had two well-paying job offers 10 months before he graduated. He’s loving working for Citrix in Sales and flying all over the country.

Sarah americorps 2) Sarah, a biology major at Wheaton, is delaying grad school and other options, and doing a year with AmeriCorps in Nevada.

She’s writing a poetic and brilliantly insightful daily blog and developing her photography skills. (Photo on left is hers.)


3) Casey, a music major at SUNY, Purchase, is working for J.Crew while waiting for his girlfriend to graduate and has formed his own band, Galapaghost  

He plans to move to Texas to join its independent music scene next year with his gf.

How is it for those of you trying to break in? Are you where you want to be like Lief? Volunteering like Sarah or in grad school? Tacking with a McJob and doing your thing on the side a la Casey? Comment here and perhaps I or a reader can help.

Editing & life, Jobs

Your Cutting Room View

November 13th, 2009

Vickie Rose Sampson

Vickie Sampson, Supervising Sound Editor, Director, Writer, Shadow Hills, CA, with dog Pinky.

Latest projects: Supervising ADR editor on Wes Craven’s 25/8.

Winner of Harley-Davidson’s 2009 “Bikes, Camera, Action!” film contest for her short, Her Need for Speed, which she wrote and directed.

Contact Vickie at:

Your cutting room view

Crossing the Line

November 11th, 2009

Crossing the line is an extension of screen direction and one of the most challenging shooting and editing concepts to remember.  I like the idea of crossing the line metaphorically in terms of living one’s life. Visually crossing the line is becoming more acceptable and more frequently seen on screen and tube. So will I be writing more about it, but first let’s look at the rules so we know when and how to break them!


A car is traveling down a street and you shoot two angles, one from each side of the street. Perfectly valid angles but if cut together, the car appears to be going the opposite direction.  Why? Because there is an invisible line in every camera set up that bisects the scene horizontally at 180 degrees.

The 180 Degree Rule: How to observe it

If two people – pawns in the diagram below – face each other, the 180 degree line runs across their heads. When editing, if you cut to the angle behind them, the person on the left now appears to jump to the right and your audience may become disoriented.

Crossing the LineThe Rule
When shooting and editing, Person A should be looking Left to Right and Person B should be looking Right to Left.

Sports events are shot from one side of the field only. This way there is no chance to cut to the other side of the field and make the soccer players appear to be running toward the wrong goal.

To learn more about the rule and the line, read Chapter 1 of my book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video.

The Invisible Cut
For a superb dissection of a complex scene from Twelve Angry Men where director Sidney Lumet fastidiously observed 180 degree rule in order to avoid throwing off the audience and puncturing the drama, turn to Chapter 8, Knowing the Camera in NY writer-editor Bobbie’s Osteen’s 2009 book, The Invisible Cut: How Editors Make Movie Magic.

In the future…

…I will have more to say about crossing the line but for now, consider yourself introduced. And please report back here: How often do you notice a show crossing the line? Does it bother you? Does it have symbolic or metaphorical meaning? Why do you think the filmmaker crossed the line?

Editing & life, Editing practices, Technical & process

Movie map

November 9th, 2009

Follow this metro map to movieland! Or print it out for your wall!

Movie Map

Fun & games

Screenwriting for Editing

November 5th, 2009

The Writers Store e-Zine just published my article, “Writing for Editing”. To read the full article go to the November issue and page down to the second article.

Here’s an excerpt:

Editor’s role

The buck stops with the editor.

Dede Allen, A.C.E. Edited Dog Day Afternoon, The Breakfast Club, Reds, Henry & June and many others.

Editors are often called the last re-writers of the show. Another way to put this is that the editor is the architect of the show. Our blueprint is the script (or outline on a nonfiction show). Our building materials are the footage: long shots, wide shots, medium shots, close ups, over-the shoulders, inserts, raking shots, reverses, master shots, and two-shots. From these we design the show with sound, dialogue, music, and the placement and duration of the shots. Just as a bridge transports travelers from bank to bank with good design and construction, so good editing conveys viewers from the beginning of the show to the end by giving them what they need to see, hear, and experience along the way to get there.


There’s the picture that’s written, the picture that’s shot and the picture’s that’s edited.

So why not write for editing?

How do I do this, you ask. Here are a few suggestions:

Write visually

Editors write not in words but with images and sound. So mentally run your script in your head. This will also help sell your script and guide the director in shooting it.

Make sure your story is strong and clear

I remember working on an MOW where the lead editor and I took the project but found the story murky as written. The producer and well-known director loved the script and the story and were awed by all the research that the writer had done on the subject. During shooting, they realized the story wasn’t making sense or paying off. They called the writer, asking for some re-writes. The writer was affronted. The calls became increasingly unproductive and antagonistic. During post, the writer loved the show as shot and edited but it made no sense to anyone else. Some VO was added, there were extra screenings, and editing ran two weeks over but the movie was not saved. And the writer substituted a familiar roman a clef for their actual name in the credits.

To read more, go to the November issue of the Writer’s Store E-Zine.

Editing & screenwriting

The Hurt Locker: An Ode to Sound Design and Truth Telling

November 3rd, 2009

Hurt LockerI’ve written about sound editing a bit lately and I have just scratched the surface. Sound editing simply makes this movie deemed “easily the best film to come out of the Iraq war” so far by film reviewer Anthony Quinn in The Independent.

Without its virtuoso sound editing, the shots of the desert, the exchanges between the U.S. soldiers, their British allies, and their Iraqi enemies would lack tension and belief. And I’m not talking about the nervewracking explosions as the bomb defusal squad unravel wires in the sand or fire on sinipers in the distance.

Hurt_LockerRather, I refer to the composition of the during the night scene where you can hardly see anything on the screen: It’s the darting sound effects, the background sounds, and the occasional human utterances that make the drama and the movie.

Drugs and War

War is a drug

Opening text of The Hurt Locker

I am always most impressed by unvarnished movies – those that appear to tell it like it is, unsparingly, without judgment or the usual movie clichés – to create the most truthful, powerful picture of their subjects. In this category I would put these two anti-drug movies:

  1. Drugstore Cowboys, (Gus Van Sant’s movie about white 20-somethings whose lives revolve around drugs).
  2. The Corner (Charles S. Dutton’s riveting mini-series based on the tale of a real black family caught up in the Baltimore drug scene).

The Hurt Locker does the same thing for war – makes an incredible case for the scarring dehumanizing effects it has on soldiers and peripherally, civilians.  It spends little or no capital on heroism, buddies, victories, defeats, or whores but lasers in on daily and long term survival of the U.S. soldiers.

What movies have affected you this way? Feel free to comment here.

Joy goes to the movies, Sound & music editing, Television