Archive for February, 2011

The Social Network wins the Academy Award

February 28th, 2011

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter took home best editing Oscars for The Social Network last night, following their A.C.E. Eddie and BAFTA wins a few weeks ago. Congratulations on your work and well-deserved awards, boys! It shoulda gotten best picture too but oh well! To celebrate the pair and their movie, here’s an updated version of my October post on the movie.

Social Network Editors

No ordinary flick

In keeping with the latest technological trends, the film (guess we should drop that term and call it a digi?) was shot digitally on a RED camera, actually two to three cameras for each scene.

The Social Network is unique because it is driven by dialogue. Unbelievable but true, especially in a male-centered film. The action scenes, such as the crew race, are puffery and lead to the weighty dialogue scenes a reverse of the typical male-oriented films where the dialogue is poor and serves as set-up for the heavy duty action sequence. The scenes are taut, the characters interesting (men only, except for a couple of minor woman characters), and the dialogue and yes, social interactions, step right along.

Angus Wall, left, and Kirk

Baxter after their win for

The Social Network.

Associated Press photo

I always remember what Carol Littleton, A.C.E., (The Other Boleyn Girl, Tuesdays with Morrie, ET and many more), once said: “One-to-one dialogue scenes are difficult because it’s literally about the very thin connection between two people and that connection can’t be violated. You have to be aware of it all the time. They may be connecting or not connecting emotionally, but you have to be aware of what’s happening between them the whole time.”

The eyes have it

I believe the strongest actors show their power in their eyes. Notice the intensity in Jesse Eisenberg’s as he does an extraordinary job of taking on main character, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Angus Wall, half of the pair of editors on The Social Network along with Kirk Baxter, says in an interview by Oliver Peters (who pens Digital Post, a helpful, technical editing blog), “From the start, Kirk and I cut the scenes very tightly, using faster performances and generally keeping the pace of the film high. When the first assembly was completed, we were at a length of 1 hour 55 minutes – actually a minute shorter than the final version. Unlike most films, we were able to relax the pace and put some air back into the performances during the fine cut.”

However, in reading Peters’ interview, I found out there was more to creating the movie than being deft at dialogue and story.


Yes. According to Baxter, who edited The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, “there are about 1000 effects in The Social Network.” Two major characters, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, are identical twins played by two different actors. Baxter reports that the movie “has a lot of digital matte paintings, but there is also face replacement much like in Button…there are two characters who are twins, but in fact the actors aren’t, so a similar process was used to turn one of the actors into the twin of the other. Although the story isn’t driven by the same sort of visual effect, like the aging technique that was a dramatic device in Benjamin Button, it still has a lot of effects work.”

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Editor as magician

Did you notice the room switch? Baxter reveals that The Social Network, “was very well scripted and directed, so not a lot of storytelling issues had to be resolved in the edit. In fact, there were a number of scenes that were great fun to put together. For example, there’s an early scene about some of the legal depositions. It takes place in two different boardrooms at different times and locations, but the scene is intercut as if it is one continuous conversation. David [Fincher, the director] gave us lots of coverage, so it was a real joy to solve the puzzle, matching eyelines and so on.”

Editors’ POV

Wall gives his and Baxter’s point of view: “This is a movie about the birth of a major online power, but what happens on the computer is a very minor part. For us, it was more important to concentrate on the drama and emotions of the characters, and that’s what makes this a timeless story. It’s utterly contemporary…but a little bit Shakespearean, too. It’s about people participating in something that’s bigger than themselves, something that will change all of their lives in one way or another.”

Way to go, Angus and Kirk! Enjoy your award and night of partying. We look forward to seeing what you do next.

Awards, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process, Visual FX editing

Association Video Series – Get your videos on editing on the Web

February 28th, 2011

Sometimes you met the nicest people on the Net. Gordon Burkel, founder of Art of the Guillotine, is one of them. He sent me this announcement about the Association Video Series. “It places videos up for free from associations for editing from around the world,” he wrote, adding, “This includes ACE, CCE and ASE.” “The money from the ads,” he explained, “goes back to the associations to help them continue to do more events.”

See what you think.

Announcements, Joy views your film

Il Dolce Libro

February 20th, 2011

Visions of lira and gelato are dancing in my head.

Publisher Gremese Editore will bring out my second book, Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know in Italian in the next 6-12 months. It will beat the Mandarin Chinese edition by a few months. Editing pictures speaks a universal language and I am proud of all of us editors/editores for that.

Reality: Italy doles out Euros, not liras these days but I’ll enjoy my next Italian dessert anyway. Some days you can have your translation and your pastry too. Thanks you Michael Wiese Productions once again!


An editor by any other name…

February 16th, 2011

Hope you enjoyed the quiz. Here is the answer key:

1. düzenleyici j. Turkish
2. editor de cinema g. Portuguese
3. editore e. Italian
4. edytor f. Polish
5. filmredacteur a. Dutch
6. montador i. Spanish
7. montage b. French
8. montor h. Romanian
9. schnitt c. German
10. vago d. Hungarian

Fun & games

A film editor by any other name…

February 14th, 2011

Heart graphic
Happy Valentine’s day! I’ve made a special quiz for you. Look at each word in the left column and pick the correct word in the right column. Jot down you answers and see how you did tomorrow.

1. düzenleyici a. Dutch
2. editor de cinema b. French
3. editore c. German
4. edytor d. Hungarian
5. filmredacteur e. Italian
6. montador f. Polish
7. montage g. Portuguese
8. montor h. Romanian
9. schnitt i. Spanish
10. vago j. Turkish

Fun & games

“I the ProRes Maker,” an Assistant Editor’s Ode

February 10th, 2011

One last goody from the SF SuperMeet of editors and  FCP users on January 28th. Two assistants made this rap video, “I the Pro Res Maker” about their work lives. “We’re always making SD, rarely HD,” they lamented.  And this video is no exception. Feel their pain.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process, User groups & meetings

SF SuperMeet Part III

February 7th, 2011

The Blackmagic Design workshop

DaVinci Resolve

Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve

Blackmagic purchased DaVinci a few years back and have kept this premiere color grading and telecine system alive and well, as evidenced in the demo of the current DaVinci Resolve. The workshop was a delight also due to enthusiastic colorist and demo artist Rich Montez of LA’s Whipping Post Services. Rich’s love of grading, expertise, and respect for shows was evident. You want this guy to grade your show or teach you how to grade it yourself, which was part of the point of the workshop. While many build color correction by their post house into their workflow, more editors are being asked to do their own color correction.

“Grant Petty, owner of Blackmagic Design, prides himself on making tools for the average person,” Montez stated. Big post houses will require more robust systems to grade 2K and 3D shows but the company has software to fit lower budget shows too.

Four menu bars on the bottom of the screen summed up the four steps to grading:

  1. Configure the system for your project.
  2. Browse for you editing material.
  3. Conform = create timeline
  4. Color

What I liked best was Montez’s attitude toward shows: “The meat and potatoes of what a colorist does is to make stuff cut” he believes. He elaborated, ““Color changes the story and how you feel about it. So you want to make the color flow from shot to shot and scene to scene.”

The colorist’s job is to bring a consistency to scenes and the show so the viewer is not distracted and the lighting and color blend. He lamented wryly, “If the color is bad or you have to match to badly lit or colored shots with no room for change, at least it’s all bad.”

Editing practices, Technical & process

SF SuperMeet Part II

February 3rd, 2011

SuperMeetIt was a gloomy day in SF and I dragged myself over the GG bridge but I was glad I did.

Cost of the SuperMeet: $11.34

Parking: $24 or $0 if you walked 2 long blocks and were lucky find a space like me.

Value: Up to you, but most would say, “Yeah, totally worth it.” And if you won anything in the $50K raffle, even more worth it.

Evening program

After welcoming FCP User’s groups from across the country – Boston, LA, and DC, SF Cutters prez Claudia Trask intro’d The New Up, a B & W music video shot on the muni and streets of SF.
editing process
Next up was Tony Cacciarelli, Product Marketing Manager from AJA. “Pronounce it A-J-A, Ahjah or any way you like but call us” was his message. He went over the company’s KiPro ($3995) but concentrated on six months old more affordable KiPro mini ($1995). It’s a mini-field recorder that attaches to a video camera and helps create edit-ready video because it records Apple ProRes 422 QuickTime files on industry standard Compact Flash (CF) media. The audience appreciate this speeding up of an Apple tapeless workflow as it allows recording to be quickly imported, no log and capture necessary.

Attention students = those with .edu in their email

An Autodesk rep spoke next and he said that students can use Smoke free for 36 months by going to The rest of us can have 30-day free trial at

Voda Studios Voda Digital and Voda Studios from Seattle took the stage next, proclaiming that in the future tablets will outpace TV as stats show that more people are now online than are watching TV. Hmmm. How many are on both as the same time? They cited other stats – 96% growth in Smart phones over the past year and 20% of internet traffic during peak time in U.S. on Netflix – to underscore their point that the world of media and how we think of it is a-changing.

Don’t be ashamed of autofocus

My favorite speaker came last. Michael Blieden, DP on the Jimmy Fallon show, talked about experimenting with new cameras. “Part of the artistry [of cinematography] is being in charge of the focus,” he began. So it went against his grain to use auto-focus on last year’s opening skit of the Emmys. Blieden did a superb job of showing how he experimented with Canon’s XF305 which employs face recognition, a fairly new technique that doesn’t always maintain focus. I’ll let the results speak for themselves. Here his footage from the opening of last September’s 2010 Emmys:

All this before the 8:30 break! After which I took off, handing over my raffle tickets to a new friend who said he’d call if we won. Still waiting!

Awards, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Marketing & budgeting, Technical & process, Television, User groups & meetings, Visual FX editing