Archive for April, 2010

CEO Reveals the Past, Present, and Future of YouTube – Part 2

April 29th, 2010

Today’s post completes my review of the USC event, “An Evening with Chad Hurley, CEO and Co-Founder of YouTube.”

The Future

Here’s how Hurley sees it:

  • Money streams
    Consumers will pay by advertising, renting, or purchasing on site. TV and movies may be premium spaces. Hurley readily admitted that YouTube is not making much money now, even though they’ve added ads. He sees the money opportunities in 5-10 years and said that “Google’s in it for the long term.”

  • HTML5
    When asked if YouTube will now move to HTML5 Hurley hedged a bit, stating that “it’s easier to deal with video today” and “we’re exploring all upload options.” He assured the crowd that “There will faster connection speeds, faster downloads, and ubiquitous connections.”

  • Subscription channels
    An audience member asked about creating a subscription kids’ channel and Hurley responded, “A good idea. Kids will innovate the future of YouTube. But the lawyers are balking.”

Hurley’s predictions

To Hurley’s mind “Everything is connected to the internet. Consumers are going to demand their media everywhere and that’s what we want to support.”

He recognizes that it’s tough for filmmakers to make money. “We’d like to do more to connect the dots between talent and brand. We’d like to reach the demographic for the content they’re creating.”

You Tube He also believes that “With unlimited participation and distribution there’ll be smaller pieces of pie but a bigger pie. There still will be blockbusters but the tools will be in the people’s hands.”

And finally he states, “More and more brands are giving up control and trusting the person who’s creating content. That’s a big opportunity that’s just starting.”


What struck me most was:

1) How Hurley (and others in his line of work) are in a constant head turn; keeping their eyes on the hyper speed development of technology while watching what the public – youth driven consumers – is doing.

2) The contradictory nature of his desires for YouTube: He must have said the word “monetize” twenty times, e.g. “We’re not monetizing all these experiences – Music, TV so they’re not available.”  But in the next breath he’d say, “We’d like to do more to connect the dots between talent and brand. We’d like to reach the demographic for the content they’re creating.”

Hurley realizes that “Not all content can be monetized.” Yet he says, “We want to foster opportunities for everyone to create and have their creations seen by world.”

Soooo, big surprise, the beat goes on: Art and commerce have not fully merged in this new world of “I want it free. I want it fast. Why can’t I earn a living from my films?” And do we really want them to?

Marketing & budgeting

CEO Reveals the Past, Present, and Future of YouTube – Part 1

April 27th, 2010

Recently I attended a USC event billed as “An Evening with Chad Hurley, CEO and Co-Founder of YouTube.” While the evening amounted to an hour, the time was sufficient to cover the past, present, and future of this frontrunner exhibition site. Hurley, in town for the Streamys, the (second) annual awards ceremony honoring the best web videos, was interviewed by Jimm Wiatt, USC grad and former Chairman and CEO of the William Morris Agency.


“Real people don’t watch movies on laptop – only students,” 32 year old Hurley informed the crowd of 100, mostly students. “Hulu has hype but not the views, compared with us.”

Past – A mere five years old
You Tube Hurley birthdates YouTube’s invention to February 14, 2005 when he registered the name from his garage. In launching the site, he and co-founder Steve Chen “were looking for a way to make it easy for ourselves to share videos with friends and family.”  Within months, venture capitalists were sniffing around and Google starting inquiring. In October 2006, Google purchased YouTube for 1.65 billion. “We had 67 people,” Hurley shared. “Google brought machines, money, and people but we have freedom and our own office space. At the end of the day you’re only as good as the team you assemble.”


Google acquisition – merging of cultures – slowed us down but now we’re picking up speed. Chad Hurley

Over 100 million people view 62+ videos/month on YouTube. But, Hurley readily admitted, “Our site’s a mess. We’ve been working on tuning algorithms to help people search. We want to give more of a lean back experience. We’re looking at Twitter, FB, and other sites. We may organize by favorites or have sports section.  He added that they are moving toward a feed – like Twitter and FB – and that they want to “figure out ways to best help people organize their experience.”


Everything is competition to Hurley. “There’s a lot more stuff to do today: FB, TV, iPad, video games, cell phones, etc. Hopefully they choose us to kill their time.”

Net neutrality controversy

I hadn’t heard this term. Found out it means that Internet service providers should be neutral – not speed up or slow down the flow of data from the websites you access, for example make Hulu downloads fast than YouTube. I also didn’t know it is a controversial subject. April 6 a federal appeals courts made a major ruling in a Comcast case that has muddied the waters even more. Hurley’s position? “YouTube would like the Internet to remain free and has pulled for everything.”

Copyrighted content

An audience question prompted this response from Hurley: “It’s difficult to protect copyrighted material. YouTube sets community guidelines and policies and has developed tools to ferret out rule breakers out e.g. porn. Every piece of content that is uploaded is copyrighted. We have created a form that allows people to identify unauthorized content.”

Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers Hurley’s view of the future and my takeaways from the discussion.

Marketing & budgeting

Kindle, iPad – What next?

April 20th, 2010

Every book’s a journey. During the writing it takes you places you’d never imagined. Then, once it’s published – it’s afterlife in a way (writer’s perspective) – the book takes on a life of its own, venturing to places and taking you along with it that you never foreseen and in this case, didn’t exist.

So yes, it’s promo time. Just received this from my editor – my publisher’s editor that is, the ever-multi-tasking, all-knowing Ken Lee:

Dear Gael,

It’s a new digital world out there and the “rules” are changing every minute. (Duh!)

Here’s the news:

1) Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video is available on Amazon Kindle (Congrats!)

2) Now, because “There’s an App for That” it’s also available on Apple iPad.

3) For now, your book’s not on the iPad Library. BUT it can be purchased and then VIEWED on an iPad by clicking on:
Kindle for iPad

Editing books & resources

Dede Allen, R.I.P.

April 19th, 2010

Dede AllenTo my generation of editors, Dede Allen was a revered editor par excellence, a queen of the cutting room. She worked endlessly and tirelessly to breathe in the essence of the film’s meaning and make sure it got to screen with the exact number of frames exactly placed – not one more, not one less. She brought a fresh eye, fresh techniques and a new style to American film editing, starting with The Hustler and Bonnie and Clyde.

Cutting her teeth in commercials, Allen incorporated this experience once she hit the big time world of features. Allen broke continuity, pre-lapped sound when starting scenes, freely mixed slo-mo and reg-mo shots. She was known for working her assistants hard, giving them her knowledge and encouraging them to take wing, elevating a great new generation of editors.

One cannot possibly sum up the career or life of such a remarkable pioneer in one blog post so I will merely “show some selects,” to use editor parlance, and say, “Thank you Dede.”

In interviews Allen was always insightful and reflective about that state of editing including approaches to the footage, the effect of MTV and digital systems, cutting room relationships, studio politics, etc. Here are a few of her comments:

The buck stops in the cutting room.

I start every picture thinking that I’ll fail, that I’ll never be able to do it, that I’ll forget how to cut. I won’t know how to do it, I’ll let it down… I still bite my finger nails.

Editing is like writing with shots. And writers are people who change their ideas all the time. Ideas evolve. They’re not bound by a formula.

If you have a great deal of coverage, you really can’t just go plowing through the whole thing, you’d never remember all of it… I make massive notes which I have if I need them, but I memorize the material so thoroughly that I seldom even look at my notes.

I wonder if we’re raising enough people in a generation who are able to sit and look at a scene play out without getting bored if it doesn’t change every two seconds. We talk an awful lot about cutting; we talk very little about not lousing something up by cutting just to make it move faster. I’m afraid that’s the very thing I helped promulgate. . . . It may come to haunt us, because attention spans are short.

Lastly, here’s the scene’s she’s arguably most famous for. She always gives credit to Jerry Greenberg, her assistant, who actually cut it – with her watchful eye.


1. Don’t know why this is out of sync at the beginning when Warren Beatty is talking.

2. This could be retitled “The Two Bites of Eve” as they both take big bites of the apple.

Allen’s films (date and director in parenthesis).

  • The Hustler (1961 – Rossen)
  • America, America (1963 – Kazan)
  • Bonnie & Clyde (1967 – Penn)
  • Rachel, Rachel (1968 – Newman)
  • Alice’s Restaurant (1969 – Penn)
  • Little Big Man (1970 – Penn)
  • Serpico (1973 – Lumet)
  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975 – Lumet)
  • Night Moves (1975 – Penn)
  • The Missouri Breaks (1976 – Penn)
  • Reds (1981 – Beatty)
  • The Breakfast Club (1985 – Hughes)
  • Henry & June (1990 – Kaufman)
  • The Addams Family (1991 – Sonnenfeld)
  • Wonder Boys (2000 – Hanson)
  • Have Dreams, Will Travel(2007 – Isaacs)

Editing practices, Editor’s role, History/research

Your Cutting Room View

April 15th, 2010

Sandip Mahal

Sandip Mahal, London, UK, working on a playout for the executives.

Sandip writes, “The person in the monitor’s story is being trapped and isolated from civilisation… i can relate…”

Latest project: “i am about to embark on a totally independent crazy shooting spree filming myself and my friend as we hit all the open mic venues and create an improvisational story based on two guys who beg borrow and steal stage time…”

Contact Sandip via his website at:

Your cutting room view

Book announcement and giveaway

April 12th, 2010

Cut by Cut: How to Edit Your Film or Video I have signed on to re-write my first book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video. This is a major re-write as there’s a lot that’s new since the first editing came out: Luts, render farms, and the final demise of editing on film, to name a few. The post process has gotten more complex than ever as there are four formats to finish on and so many ways – workflow variations – to take to get there.

So I am calling on the experts – YOU – for help. From time to time in this blog, I will throw out some questions and ask for your experience and input. To begin, I have created a couple of tables (see below) to get people started down the postproduction path.

Please give me your feedback:

  • What formats or info needs to be added to each table? Changed?
  • What other recommendations do you have?

Keep in mind that Cut by Cut is aimed at students, independent filmmakers, and professionals wanting to understand how the post-production process works.

For your review: Updated book material

Determining your Finishing Format

To decide which format your project will finish on, ask yourself: Where will the audience view my show?

To answer this question, look at Table 1.1. It outlines the five scenarios for where an audience could view your show. Read the scenarios to find out which one fits your project and note the finishing format. You may pick more than one scenario; for instance your audience may see your show in a movie theatre and then on TV. This means your project could have three finishing formats: tape, file, or film.

Table 1.1

Determine your Finishing Format

Where audience will view your show

Finishing Formats

Behind the scenes:

How your show will be screened

Movie Theatre



Your show will be projected from a reel of film running through a projector or a digital file downloaded from a server.




Your show will be broadcast on tape or from a file uploaded from the network’s disk server.

Home Entertainment System




Viewer will pop a tape or disk into a deck or drive to see your show. If they’ve wired a computer to their home entertainment system they may screen directly from the internet or from a download.




Viewers will watch your show directly or via a download from the internet or from a disk inserted into a drive e.g. DVD.

Film festival

Tape, Disk, File, Film

Initially, you’ll send a tape, file, or disk. If you make into the round, some festivals will require a film print. (See Chapter 12 for how to do this.) Know the festival requirements before shooting so you put your best film forward!

Now that you know your show’s general finishing format(s) – film, tape, file, or disk – it’s time to familiarize yourself with the specific formats you’ll be dealing with, Table 1.2 identifies the formats used for shooting, editing, and finishing. We will add and explain more parameters such as frame rate, resolution, and codecs as they come into play.

Table 1.2

Film and video formats:

How shows are shot, input into digital editing system, and finished



16mm, super 16mm, 35mm (3- and 4-perf), super 35mm, 70mm (rare). Transferred to tape and digitized. 16mm, super 16mm, 35mm (4-perf), super 35mm, 70mm, IMAX (a special type of 70mm).


DV (DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVPRO50, DVCPRO P, DVCPRO HD), HDV, 24p SD or HD, 60i, 60p SD or HD, BetaSX, BetaSP, DigiBeta, MPEG IMX, HDCAM, or HDCAM SR. Captured. D1-D9, 24p SD or HD, DV HD, DVPRO, DVPRO 50, DVCAM, DigiBeta.


Memory card (a.k.a. flash card) e.g. SD, P2. Imported. Disk (DVD or Blu-ray), *film, *tape, Web.

*See Finish Formats above for all possible formats.


Hard disk or optical disk e.g. DVD, PFD. Imported.

GIVEAWAY: If you would like to help more, I will send a free copy of the current book to the first three people that agree to read it and give me feedback. You will be listed in the acknowledgments and I may check in with you from time to time during the writing of the book.

Email me at: Let me know your expertise and experiences  in postproduction and the types of projects you work on so I can direct the appropriate questions your way.

Editing practices, History/research, Technical & process, Television

A Look at 3D Movies and Editing – Part 2

April 8th, 2010

Today’s post concludes my exploration of the world of 3D, answers which 3D movie I liked and why – Alice in Wonderland or The Secret of Kells, and dares to predict the future of 3D.

What editors say about 3D

Cutting 3D is a boon to editors because they get to participate more in the creating of the whole picture – its look, characters, their lines and the story – over a longer period, beginning with storyboarding in pre-production.

JC Bond, Additional Editor on Alice in Wonderland: “… you get used to the fact that you’re looking at something in stereo. And then you just cut it like a regular movie. There’s no major difference beyond that. There are minor considerations. You can do some cheats in 2D where you may cross the line, and things like that that are a bit more jarring in stereo. But from a creative standpoint, you should try to avoid those things – even in regular 2D.”

Joyce Arrastia, Monsters vs. Aliens: “For me, it’s been a revelation.  We were able to use it to emphasize key story points and a character’s emotional arc simply by adding it or lessening it.  A lot of filmmakers maybe don’t realize that 3D really is just another tool that helps you tell a more compelling story–just like the choice you make in camera composition, or using color or music or pacing to help set a tone and a style.”


I’ve believe that 3D, like HD is here to stay. Unlike HD, 3D is not for every movie, due to cost. But it is not a gimmick employed to make a creature leap off the screen and terrorize you. And I predict that it will be used in TV when costs are more reasonable, perhaps just for special event show or boosting up old wonders.

3D is another aid to storytelling that can further immerse you in a show and make it more of a felt experience. If the story’s good, well done 3D will enhance it. If the story’s NG, no amount of 3D or HD will help – it just gets a plain old D.

Alice in Wonderland had no magical moments for me except for her fall down into “Underland.”  Even the valiant efforts of all the actors couldn’t make me recommend the movie. Save your money and spend it on…The Secret of Kells.

“I have seen suffering in the darkness, yet I have seen beauty thrive in the most fragile of places.”

Opening line, Brendan, junior monk and main character in The Secret of Kells.

Secret of KellsThe Secret of Kells grabbed me from the first vibrant frame to the last. Its rapturous images are gorgeous in color, framing, movement and design. The rather ordinary, non-proselytizing story kept me going so that I could enjoy being in the medieval world. The movie was like being in a medieval painting crossed with a sylvan fairy tale.

In the words of director Tomm Moore, “…the medieval world is really flat with false perspective and lots of color like medieval art. That was the majority of the movie. And then for the dream sequences, we went even flatter and simpler. We tried to do something like Monty Python. And then when there was danger, we’d go into 3D like the Viking attack.”

I look forward to being transported by image and story to more imaginary worlds in future 3D shows. Bring ’em on! 

To learn more about 3D and view the sources of these two posts, go to these links:

Editing practices, Joy goes to the movies, Technical & process, Visual FX editing

A Look at 3D Movies and Editing – Part 1

April 5th, 2010

Like everyone else, I’ve viewed more 3D movies in the past few months than I’ve seen in years. Afterwards I’ve wondered two things:

1)    Is 3D a money-making fad or here to stay?

2)    How exactly is 3D edited?

One of the interesting things about being an editor is that there are so many types of projects that no one can understand them all. Animation editors don’t understand exactly what commercial editors do who don’t understand the world of documentary editing who know little about comedy editing and so on. So this blog allows me to see things and explore the editing behind them. And today I’m looking at 3D.

2D to 3D: Alice in Wonderland and The Secret of Kells

Alice In Wonderland Secret of KellsWith the unbound success of Avatar in 3D, there’s been a huge clamor to boost 2D movies up to 3D. Both Alice in Wonderland and The Secret of Kells were upped to 3D, with different degrees of success. The looks of both features are drawn – literally in the case of Kells whose images are mostly hand drawn – from the periods they depict, Victorian England and 800CE Ireland respectively.

One film I loved, the other, not so much.

I had high expectations of Alice because I’d read the book, enjoyed the Disney animated version as a kid, loved the Jefferson Airplane song as a teenager (had the white light white rabbit poster) and looked forward to re-visiting it all with Tim Burton. Conversely, I was wary of Kells, due to not being a Christian, but propelled by a strong review and by having seen the actual book in Dublin. So which one did I like? Well, let’s look at how these movies are edited and then I’ll get back to you.

Editing 3D

Here’s what I’ve gleaned:

1)    3D takes longer to edit due to:

a.    Large amount of footage.

b.    VFX (Visual effects) such as green screen and computer-generated backgrounds.

c.    Technology: Usually you’re cutting in 2D and then viewing in 3D.

d.    Multiple versions: 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D.

2)    3D is costly but will come down as processes and technology evolve.

3)    Master shots are cut longer than usual so viewers can take in the action and world being created. Camera movement must be well-defined because fast paced, blurry camera moves are too much for viewers to take in.

4)    Collaboration and organization are key because there are many editors:  picture, VFX, sound, assistant editors, etc.

Here’s an editor’s eye view of 3D on Avid:
Editor's View of 3D

Photo credit: Editors Guild Magazine

The editor can view a stereo frame (left) or select “Over/Under” mode to see a horizontal split frame that splits each eye view.

Next post will conclude my stereo series on 3D.

Editing practices, Joy goes to the movies, Technical & process, Visual FX editing

Old Hollywood Style editing vs. MTV Style Editing or Silver screen vs. Computer Screen – Part 2

April 2nd, 2010

My previous post talked about the history and the cons of the MTV effect on modern editing; today I’ll continue the history and look at the pros and where we are now.

Look what they done to my cuts, Ma

They’ve multiplied them and sped them up; they’re backed by green screen, racked with titillating effects and tracking multiple stories and all while pulsing to the beat, beat, beat. While a lot of MTV runs as mindless background visuals lacking story to be peered at when your companions or sports running on the TV above the bar fail to engage you, the effect of MTV filmmaking has changed the landscape on the silver screen and computer as well as TV screen. I deplore this Muzak-type use of video as much as electronic billboards and all annoying, anti-environment promotions.

Roots are showing

MTV didn’t spring out of nowhere in the 1980s. It germinated from 1950s French new Wave filmmaking style, 1960s music culture, movies like Help, Easy Rider, and Flashdance, the TV series Miami Vice, and the “break out from the clutter” world of commercials. As movies evolved from theatres to TV screens in bars and computers screens at home and everywhere, the modern style grew in cuts and effects.

Editors' Guild MagazineWriter Debra Kaufman asks: “Video Spawned the Editing Star: What Hath MTV Wrought?” in her 2005 Editor’s Guild Magazine article.

Doug Ibold, A.C.E. responds that MTV has had “a huge impact on how people treat the storytelling process. If anyone doubts that, just look at how many episodic TV shows now end the episode with a dramatic song rather than the score. And observe how a very important part of a feature film release is to have a soundtrack to go with it. In most cases, it’ll include songs from the movie that are included, not the score.”

What are the new, MTV-influenced editing values? Here are the main ones:

  • In your face editing: Audience aware of cuts and that they’re watching a show.
  • Faster paced with short shot durations in every type of scene.
  • Non linear structure frequently. Often takes effort to follow timeline due to asynchronous events.
  • Multiple plotlines, commonly.
  • Music drives story or songs vital to show and may end show.
  • Continuity – whatever! Often observed but not THE WAY.
  • Jump cuts embraced.
  • Crazy-free use of visual effects. Audience aware of all types of dazzling wipes and other transitions.

Brief resolution

“That [MTV] revolution pushed us into an evolution that’s still going on. When MTV appeared, it seeped into mass consciousness and now is part of everyday life–like Starbucks.”
Mark Goldblatt, A.C.E., in Video Spawned the Editing Star: What Hath MTV Wrought?

Modern editing makes the viewer much more aware of the cuts and pacing. I appreciate seeing how different scenes and characters breathe in different rhythms – like music with its staccatos, allegros and rests – and like life with its times of stress, tranquility, and convergence.

I don’t appreciate the mindless cuts and effects that idle, diminish, or chop up the story. I love to relax into a B & W 1930s movie on TV and just let the present go.  And, I also love the stimulation of seeing where a millennium movie is going to take me in the present and into the future.

I recognize that “constant change is here to stay” as the old adage says. So I am staying tuned to what’s next.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, History/research, Sound & music editing, Visual FX editing