Archive for July, 2010

Na’vi on the ‘Net

July 30th, 2010

Pandora Landscape

My friend, linguistics expert Paul Frommer, the professor who created the Na’vi language for Avatar, called me last week to catch up and wish me well in my new home in northern CA. He mentioned that he has created a blog and is giving lessons in Na’vi for all levels online.

“I don’t make a dime from this,” Pawl (his Na’vi name) explained, ”but the fans are really demanding it.” So if you’re interested, go to his website, (Na’viteri means “Concerning Na’vi”) which lists other resources, events, and developments of the language.

I’ve blogged about Paul before because he’s a terrifically brilliant and kind person and I find his achievement amazing for several reasons. First, his success exemplifies how there are many paths into filmmaking. I’ve known editors who came from music, physics, literature, etc. There is no one career path for filmmakers. Second, Paul worked long and hard on languages and on Na’vi before it hit the screen. And he still loves it so much he is composing new words and developing the language on his own, keeping it pure and complex linguistically. Third, the language is taking him around the world for lectures and workshops and has led to work on two other movies. Fourth – and this is just my opinion – the Pandoran people carry a lot of Paul’s own life values and values which he’s able to infuse into the language.

So whether you want to learn Na’vi or not (and I don’t), it’s interesting to learn about another aspect of filmmaking and the person behind it.


History and manufacturing process of the Emmy

July 27th, 2010

Emmy Statue

Emmy statue, atop fountain in ATAS plaza in NoHo, (North Hollywood, CA).

While no one is quite sure how Oscar came to stand for the annual motion picture award and statue, Emmy’s lineage is clear. She was named after a camera. Actually “she” was almost a “he.” Syd Cassyd, founder of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS), proposed Ike after the iconoscope but since there was a standing president by that name, this idea was quickly abandoned.
The statue started out as Immy, named after an early image orthicon camera. Immy was changed to Emmy after the statue was designed, to be a more clearly female name.
How did the design evolve?
In 1948, after rejecting 46 design proposals votes, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) members agreed on a design created by engineer Louis McManus who modeled the statue on his wife. In keeping with the times, Emmy holds out an atom, representing science and sports wings, representing art.

Here’s a video (editing is slap-dash) on how the 4¾ lbs statuettes that winners receive, are made today:

Awards, History/research, Television

Judging the Emmys – 2010 Nominations

July 24th, 2010

As a member of the Editor’s peer group for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, (ATAS), every year I vote on the nominations for best editing in all categories as well as for best drama and comedy show. This year I had to forego the fun due to packing and unpacking for my move to northern CA.

Nomination process

Here’s how it works:

  • March – April

Studios nominate shows. Editors and others can nominate their own shows. Eligibility period is any show that broadcast between June 1 and May 31 of the previous year, 2009 for this year.

  • June

Ballots are sent out to full ATAS members. Student and associate members cannot vote (but enjoy most other member privileges). The ballot is endless! It consists of stapled sheaves of nominations in multiple categories. (See some of the cats in list of final editing nominations below.) You vote online or return the ballots by mail to Ernst & Young.

  • July

Nominations are vetted and whittled down to five per category, then announced live from the ATAS theatre in North Hollywood. Then members sign up to judge the winner. We used to take a weekend at a swanky Hilton in Beverly Hills, getting fed lunch, dinner, and two drink tickets for time spent holed up in a room – with other editors in my case – watching tapes of shows and numbering our for the winner. The rule was that you had to watch 30% of each show if it was long form like an MOW or concert. But that was the 90s and the time of ¾” tapes. Just as tapes viewings supplanted film screenings, now all judging takes place at home. You sign an affidavit that on your honor you watched 100% of the shows. For this reason I’ve always pick show short shows like reality or comedy!

  • August

At-home judging ballots are sent to E & Y. Emmys for Creative Arts, e.g. editing, cinematography, hair styling, etc. are awarded on a Saturday night at a hotel, followed by a Ball. Performance awards and best show winners (doc, comedy, drama, sports, news, etc.) are telecast on a Sunday with live hosts and audience and an after-the-show Governors Ball.

2010 Emmy Nominations

Here are this year’s nominees for best editing: What do you think?

One thing has changed: There used to be separate categories for single- and multiple-cam comedy; now they’re combined. Also, notice Steve Rasch, whom I just blogged about, was nominated for Curb Your Enthusiasm.

1) Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series

Breaking Bad • No Mas • AMC • Sony Pictures Television
Skip MacDonald, Edited by

Dexter • The Getaway • Showtime • Showtime Presents, John Goldwyn
Productions, The Colleton Company, Clyde Phillips Productions
Matthew V. Colonna, Edited by

Lost • The End • ABC • Grass Skirts Productions, LLC in association with ABC Network and Studios
Stephen Semel, Editor
Mark J. Goldman, Editor
Christopher Nelson, Editor
Henk Van Eeghan, Editor

Mad Men • The Gypsy And The Hobo • AMC • Lionsgate Television
Pattye Rogers, Edited by
Christopher Nelson, Edited by

Mad Men • Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency • AMC • Lionsgate Television
Tom Wilson, Edited by

2) Outstanding Picture Editing For A Comedy Series (Single Or Multi-Camera)

Curb Your Enthusiasm • The Table Read • HBO • HBO Entertainment
Roger Nygard, Editor
Jonathan Corn, A.C.E., Editor

Curb Your Enthusiasm • The Bare Midriff • HBO • HBO Entertainment
Steve Rasch, A.C.E., Editor

Modern Family • Pilot • ABC • Twentieth Century Fox Television
Ryan Case, Editor

Modern Family • Family Portrait • ABC • Twentieth Century Fox Television
Jonathan Maxwell Schwartz, Editor

30 Rock • Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001 • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Media Studio
Ken Eluto, A.C.E., Editor

3) Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Miniseries Or A Movie

The Pacific • Part 5 • HBO • Playtone and Dreamworks in association with HBO Miniseries
Edward A. Warschilka, Editor

The Pacific • Part 9 • HBO • Playtone and Dreamworks in association with HBO Miniseries
Alan Cody, A.C.E., Editor
Marta Evry, A.C.E., Editor

The Pacific Part 8 • HBO • Playtone and Dreamworks in association with HBO Miniseries
Alan Cody, A.C.E., Editor

Temple Grandin • HBO • A Ruby Films, Gerson Saines Production in association with HBO Films
Leo Trombetta, A.C.E., Editor

You Don’t Know Jack • HBO • Bee Holder, Cine Mosaic and Levinson/Fontana Productions in association with HBO Films
Aaron Yanes, Editor

4) Outstanding Short-Form Picture Editing

82nd Annual Academy Awards • John Hughes Tribute • ABC • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Dakota Solt, Editor

82nd Annual Academy Awards • Horror Tribute • ABC • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Jon Bloom, Editor
Bayard Stryker, Editor

American Idol • Dream (Episode 924/925A) • FOX • FremantleMedia N.A., Inc. & 19TV Ltd.
Oren Castro, Editor

Jimmy Kimmel Live • The Handsome Men’s Club (Episode 10-1330) • ABC • Jackhole Industries in association with ABC Studios
Brian Marsh, Editor

Jimmy Kimmel Live • The Late Night Wars (Episode 10-1304) • ABC • Jackhole Industries in association with ABC Studios
Kevin McCullough, Editor

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon • 6-Bee (Episode 226) • NBC • Universal Media Studios and Broadway Video
Christopher Tartaro, Editor

5) Outstanding Picture Editing For A Special (Single Or Multi-Camera)

Kathy Griffin: Balls Of Steel • Bravo • A Rick Mill Production in association with Donut Run and Bravo Media
David Foster, Edited by

The Kennedy Center Honors • CBS • A George Stevens Jr. Presentation, Kennedy Center Television Productions, Inc.
Michael Polito, Editor

Robin Williams: Weapons Of Self Destruction • HBO • Fiat Risus, MBST / CKX, and Funny Business in Association with HBO Entertainment
Michael D. Schultz, Editor

The 25th Anniversary Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Concert • HBO • Playtone, Tenth Planet Productions and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in association with HBO Entertainment
Bill DeRonde, Supervising Editor
John Zimmer, Editor
Mark Stepp, Editor
Michael Polito, Editor

6) Outstanding Picture Editing For Nonfiction Programming

America: The Story Of Us • Division • HISTORY • Produced by Nutopia for History
Matt Lowe, Editor

By The People: The Election Of Barack Obama • HBO • Green Film Company, Citi Productions, Class 5 Films and GOOD in association with HBO Documentary Films
Sam Pollard, Editor
Geeta Gandbhir, Editor
Arielle Amsalem, Editor

Deadliest Catch • No Second Chances • Discovery Channel • Produced by Original Productions, LLC for Discovery Communications
Kelly Coskran, Supervising Editor
Josh Earl, Editor

Life • Challenges Of Life • Discovery Channel • A BBC/Discovery Channel/SKAI Co-Production in association with RTI Spa
Martin Ellsbury, Editor
Sharon Gillooly, Editor

Whale Wars • The Stuff Of Nightmares • Animal Planet • Produced by Lizard Trading Company, LLC, for Animal Planet
Eric Myerson, Lead Editor
Andy Schrader, Editor
Joseph McCasland, Editor

7) Outstanding Picture Editing For Reality Programming

The Amazing Race • I Think We’re Fighting The Germans, Right? • CBS • World Race Productions Inc.
Eric Goldfarb, Editor
Julian Gomez, Editor
Andrew Kozar, Editor
Paul C. Nielsen, Editor
Michael Bolanowski, Editor
Jennifer Nelson, Editor
Jacob Parsons, Editor
Rich Remis, Editor

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition • Extreme Makeover: The Muppet Edition • ABC • Endemol USA
Steve Mellon, Supervising Editor
Wes Paster, Supervising Editor
Matt Deitrich, Supervising Editor
Tenna Guthrie, Lead Editor
Arek Hope, Editor
Karin Hoving, Editor
Phil Stuben, Editor
Hilary Scratch, Editor

Intervention • Robby • A&E • Produced by GRB Entertainment for A&E Network
Erik Christensen, Editor

Survivor • Tonight, We Make Our Move • CBS • SEG Inc.
Michael Greer, Supervising Editor
Tim Atzinger, Editor
Chad Bertalotto, Editor
Andrew Bolhuis, Editor
Eric Gardner, Editor
Evan Mediuch, Editor
Joubin Mortazavi, Editor

Top Chef • Vivre Las Vegas • Bravo • Magical Elves, Bravo
Adrienne Salisbury, Edited by
Matt Reynolds, Edited by
Jamie Pedroza, Edited by
LaRonda Morris, Editor
Steve Lichtenstein, Editor
Kevin Kearney, Editor
Katherine Griffin, Editor

Awards, Television

Cutting the cut-ups: Comedy editor Steve Rasch, ACE

July 19th, 2010

Part 2 of a continuing series of editor interviews

Similar to the one-man band corporate editor I interviewed, comedy editor Steve Rasch, ACE, whose current show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, has been running six years now, finds he’s doing more than ever before as an editor. “It seems like there are no rules now,” he told me over lunch in Brentwood at Chin Chin. “Every show is different.” Steve, like most TV editors, creates green screens and other VFX and puts in SFX. Additionally, few years ago he took over editing the music so he makes extra money filling that position.


He edits on an Avid which is still the most used system in Hollywood on mainstream, higher budget shows. (Final Cut Pro continues to make inroads and is used on low budget shows.) Steve receives a transcript of the show and a hard drive with low rez HD dailies which he views in a quad split (channel that shows all four cameras on one screen). Once the show is locked, an online editor is hired to do the finishing work, including up-rezzing the show and making it network-ready.

Comedy today

Curb is a single cam show created in the mockumentary style which Rasch traces to Rob Reiner’s 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally. Steve maintains that “The written joke is no longer funny to viewers. They don’t want to hear it. They are more interested in story and character-based comedy.” Also, the show does not use a laff track, which, he reports, most single cam comedies avoid.

On being an editor

Over fortune cookies I asked Steve how he felt after years of editing comedy and drama. “I do not like to be barked at, considered a button pusher. I like it when they value me.” He added, “Editors are always working for some one. Editors are compliant. Editors are in it because they like the craft.”

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process, Television

Preditor: Being a one-stop shop editor

July 16th, 2010

After a over a decade of working for Disney in various capacities (actor, editor, and producer), Les Perkins went solo, creating an editing suite in a set-off part of his home in Glendale, CA. His advice on setting up a system, “Make sure it’s comfortable and ergonomically sound – your butt’s going to spend long hours in that seat.”

Due to his contacts and the economy (Hollywood studios let staff editors go and were looking to save money at big post houses on many projects), one project has led to another and Les’s business has thrived.

Over a lunch at a veggie place in the (San Fernando) Valley, he told me, “I love problem solving – finding editorial solutions for production problems so the client doesn’t have to re-shoot.”

His system

Les has a tricked out Final Cut Pro system and has just installed version 7, the latest FCP version. He provides basic editing, sound work, and does all kinds of effects work on all types of corporate projects. He produces many of the projects as well as editing them, hence is called a preditor. I featured Les in Your Cutting Room View which has his contact info but here it is again:

Fix it in post – Not!

This is a less desirable approach than ever, Les believes. “Before you shoot a pixel or a frame, you have to plan your post production workflow all the way through delivery.” He rattled off many issues to be figured out including: determining the codecs in the camera, the editing system, how sound will be recorded, and how color will be graded (corrected). “Post has to be part of preproduction,” he insisted, in order to achieve the most efficient workflow

Getting work and keeping up

Les checks out many websites for jobs including: (good for entry level) and He also attends the LA FCP Users group ( Even if you do not live in the LA area there’s lots of useful info on the site and there’s probably an ug near you.) each month and asks technical questions from his circle of tech gurus.

Finally I asked Les how he feels about editing after all these years. He responded enthusiastically, “I look at editing as being a great big jigsaw puzzle and you’re the one who pulls all the pieces into one nice, big cohesive story.”

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Jobs, Technical & process

Interviewing editors: Then and now

July 13th, 2010

Why do you want to move to LA and become an editor? You’ll just be stuck behind a Moviola in a dark room.”

A fellow grip said this to me when I was working as a local hire on a movie in northern California and told him of my desire to relocate to Hollywood. Kinda dates me, huh?

Anyway, I interviewed the editor and assistant who were working away in a motel. I also talked to everyone on the three-week shoot and got their contact info. This gave me confidence to move south and start seeking editing work. Three weeks after moving I got a job as an assistant sound recordist at a hole-in-the-wall sound transfer house. Assistant editors dropped off ¼” dailies which we transferred to 35mm for editing. I took some freebie jobs to learn to sync and the rudiments of the 1979 cutting room. In 1980 I landed my first paid assistant job on That’s Incredible! for Alan Landsburg Productions.

Flash forward to 2010. I am re-writing my first book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video. Before leaving LA I was madly interviewing editors of all types: assistants, comedy, reality, feature, TV, sound, online etc. I have found that each type of editing requires special skills and brings different as well as similar perspectives on our calling. So follow along as I relate their observations and particular challenges, and feel free, as always, to make your own comments.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Jobs

Transitioning or where have I been?

July 12th, 2010

This blog suffered for a month while I packed up and left LA after 31 years. It was hard to leave friends, family, neighbors, and my LA life but time for the third act of my life. I have returned to northern California to a different county than I left 31 years ago and with a spouse. Now we’re unpacking to a new life in a grove of CA oaks and seeing longtime friends.

A feature editor and commercial producer bought our house. The house is registered as an historic home. (Only in LA is something considered historic after 65 yearsJ.)  They’re gaga over it and will take great care of it which helps take the sting out of leaving it. We connected to the point of inviting them over for dinner and I still hear from them.

So I am back now and will be posting regularly again. Talk soon.

Editing & life