Archive for January, 2011

SF SuperMeet – Part I

January 31st, 2011

Friday January 28 saw approximately 600 filmmakers from San Francisco’s Bay Area show up for the SuperMeetFCPUG and SF Cutters tenth annual SuperMeet. Having relocated from LA to the North Bay last July, yours truly was on hand to glean the latest for her update of book #1 Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video and meet some area filmmakers.

FCP users groups started 10 years ago when the system was in V 1.0 to share tips and techniques since Apple provided no teaching or opps to get together as other systems like Avid have routintely done (with nice hors d’oeuvres too).  For someone who started on FCP V 1.0  as a trainer (having previously trained a lot of people on Lightworks and a few on Avid) it’s been amazing to see this former Seabiscuit of systems now be the top dog with lots of enthusiastic editors and regular raffles at these get-togethers.

Here’s my rundown of the events:


  • Canon DSLR workshops = hot ticket
    • Every session filled, unlike any other workshop.
    • Skipped workshop as I’d explored DSLRs awhile ago – see May 20-June 2 blogs.
  • Sign of the times: “Avid for FCP users workshop.”
  • Adobe Premiere Pro workshop
    • A tough crowd of FCP’ers faced demoer Karl Lee Soule and co-presenter Kevin Monahan, an FCP expert. Would they meet the challenge?
    • I had worked on PP on its original PC platform so was interested to see how it worked on Mac.
    • With Soule driving, they showed how Premiere Pro makes it easy to bring files in and actually edit straight from a P2 card.
    • Also, PP makes it easy to edit different formats on the same timeline, due to its frameblending, providing you have time code.
    • You can import a timeline from FCP, work on it in PP and then export if back to FCP.
    • The other highlight for me was seeing how you could render one project and edit on another with Adobe Media Encode, if you had enough processor power, meaning sufficient RAM and GPUs.
    • Lastly Soule played a promotional piece featuring the director and the assistant editor of The Social Network that demonstrated how Adobe After Effects integrates with Premiere Pro.
    • …Conclusion: Yes, the audience was impressed. We’ll see if anyone makes the switch.

      Part II

      More in the next post about the Blackmagic design workshop on their DaVinci Resolve color grader. And highlights of the evening meeting which brought everyone together in an auditorium for talks, a music video, and demoes, not to mention the raffle of prizes totalling ___K. So stay tuned!

      Editing practices, Technical & process, User groups & meetings

Made in Dagenham – Some days there are victories!

January 27th, 2011

This movie called to me for several reasons: good reviews, director, topic, headlining Scene from Made in Dagenham 1actress Sally Hawkins, and supporting cast including Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson. The movie dramatizes the 1968 strike by 187 female machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham, UK. They fought to be re-classified as skilled labor which led to…well, go see the movie!

The editing on the movie is refreshingly traditional: Invisible edits, no quick cutting, odd or repeated angles, discontinuity, fancy VFX, in-your-face edits, or music video-type montage sequences. In fact, there are no montage sequences at all and I didn’t miss them. The editing matched the story, as it should, regardless of style. Just as modern style editing plays a vital role in making The Black Swan a strong, edgy movie so traditional style serves Made in Dagenham.

The movie is linear with mini-subplots that provided short bursts of the characters’ home lives, Scene from Made in Dagenham 2 then propelled them to take action, neatly and quickly sending the action forward and back into the main story. The short interludes of period music served to pep up the story and also drive it forward. The traditional editing style included wide shots of the workers’ blockitechture housing and the factory and framed the band of women against the larger forces at work against them: the monolithic Ford company, autoworkers’ union, and British government.

Why is it always a small, skinny woman who stands on something above the factory floor to get her Scene from Made in Dagenham 3co-workers’ attention and foment a strike? This is one place where the movie’s a bit too Norma Rae – but it’s underplayed and perhaps an obvious bit of homage. That said, Sally Hawkins is a reason to see any movie. Also, the ever-excellent Miranda Richardson adds a steely verve as an MP dismissive of the sheeple who work for her and determined to meet the strikers.

Made in Dagenham is a feel good movie about workers and women’s rights worth seeing for all the reasons mentioned above. If you see it, report back on the editing and how you feel it serves or doesn’t serve the picture.

Note: After I wrote this, A.C.E. nominated Made in Dagenham for an Eddie for best editing of a musical or comedy feature. Good luck to editor Michael Parker!

Awards, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Joy goes to the movies

Scavenger hunt: Calling for your photos and reports

January 21st, 2011

As I’ve mentioned I am writing my first book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video. I need to update a bunch of the photos.  It’s been hit and miss with manufacturers – and some of their photos are unusable because they’re for marketing, not illustrating. I would love to get your photos. If you give your permission to use the photos I will give you photo credit.

Here are the requirements:

Photo specs: Tiff preferably (or jpg) file that is 300 dpi (or better).

List of photos:

Note: If people in picture I need their permission

  • Photos of you cutting in your editing room: Need to know the type of project.
  • Adobe Premiere system photo with latest software.
  • ProTools system photo with latest software
  • ECS 90 or other linear tape-editing system.
  • Color grading set up – 4K if possible
  • Online bay
  • CU-Online system and monitors
  • Machine room with decks, etc. at online house.
  • DSLR – current model of EOS 5 or 7.
  • Creating a title  – on FCP, Avid, or Adobe Premiere
  • Creating a motion graphic – on FCP, Avid, or Adobe Premiere
  • Trim mode with usable shots on viewers – on FCP, Avid, or Adobe Premiere
  • Screen shot of stereo pairs of audio tracks with video tracks above

Thanks a lot!

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A Study in Spareness

January 16th, 2011

Thanks to Netflix, I finally caught Lars and the Real Girl and I am glad that I did. It’s a spare, sweet movie that carries viewers along due to its exquisite directing, cinematography, writing, editing (thank you Tatiana S. Riegel), and acting. Set in the gloomy-lit, chill of winter in the northeast, this contemporary drama is a perfect study of the subtleties of human growth. The frames literally frame characters – in doorways, hallways, rooms, etc – allowing the audience to delve into their world.
Lars' Doctor and GF

Framing Lars’ doctor (the ever-superb Patricia Clarkson) in her office with his

gf in the bg on the examining table.

Lars (Ryan Gosling) suffers from an initially unexplained trauma and cannot bear to be touched. A shy, earnest woman at his job (Kelli Garner) gently pursues him but he chooses to remedy his ailment by ordering a blow up sex doll and treating her as his girlfriend, minus the sex. Lucky for him, the real girl as well as his family, community, co-workers, and friends embrace him and his gf with acceptance and understanding, allowing him to heal in his own way and time.

The movie frequently juxtaposes horizontal and vertical images to underscore its characters’ reflections and actions. The pair of shots below illustrates this.

  • Lars scene 1
  • Lars scene 2

Vertical icicles contrast with a horizontal shot of Lars in bed with his doll gf.

As winter thaws to spring, Lars begins to realize that he has outgrown his doll-friend and reaches toward the real girl. Lars is the quintessential anti-intervention movie, showing how tenderness, not tough love, can be the correct cure for a person who creates a fantasy in order to survive.

Study this movie to learn about lighting, setting up and framing shots, and editing to create and sustain the ever-tenous membrane of connection between characters,

Lars and the Real Girl ©2007 Twentieth Century Fox, All Rights Reserved.

The author acknowledges the copyright owner of the above motion picture from which single frames have been used for purposes of commentary, criticism, and scholarship under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Editor’s role, Joy goes to the movies

Lies we live by

January 10th, 2011

Courtesy of Shane Ross from Little Frog in High Def:

Little Frog in High Def Banner his website and blog, subtitled

“High definition editing from the trenches.”


10. It’s just a preview glitch…
9. It’s out of the safe area, you’ll never see that on the air…
8. It won’t really look like that…
7. I’ll fill out the paperwork tomorrow…
6. Why no, I don’t mind working on Saturday…
5. Oh, don’t go by THAT monitor…
4. It works better as a cut…
3. That glitch is on the source tape…
2. I’ll have all your changes done by the end of the day…
1. No, I agree. It’s much better that way.

10. It’s pretty simple. It should only take an hour…
9. Budget? Don’t worry about it…
8. Feel free to be creative with this…
7. I only need a couple dubs…
6. The network will love it. They won’t make any changes…
5. I’m positive we’ve got that shot on another tape…
4. I’ve never had this problem anywhere else I have edited…
3. Could I see it just one more time?
2. I thought you’d be able to just paint it out…
1. How hard could it be?

(when they pick up the second half of a session)
10. It’ll only take about an hour to render…
9. I’ve pre-built all of the chyron…
8. It should only go a couple of more hours…
7. I’ll be at home. Call me if you have any questions…
6. The producer has been really organized so far…
5. All of the decks are working perfectly…
4. The list has been working great…
3. I’ve had no problems with this Avid…
2. Don’t worry, the credit roll is short…
1. I’ve already done the hardest parts…

5. Kick me off if you need the station.
4. You don’t have to log everything.
3. We’ll finish early today.
2. I organized the files really well already.
1. An hour of footage a day, tops.

1. “I’ll be home soon.”

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Fun & games

Chinese New Year

January 5th, 2011

“Gong xi, gong xi” (yay, congrats) as my Taiwan-born friend wrote me.

Michael Wiese Productions, my publisher, has informed me that, after months of negotiating, Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know will be translated into Mandarin. In the next 12-18 months I will have the translation in my hot little hands.

It is the first translation of my books so needless to say, I am thrilled. So far, the books have been a labor of love because the money has been small. But now, millions of yuan will be rolling my way (insert haha, lol, lmao, rofl or your favorite internet speak for “Yeah, right!” here).

Announcements, Marketing & budgeting