Archive for April, 2011

Your Cutting Room View

April 29th, 2011
  • Misha Tenenbaum

Misha Tenenbaum, editor, FCP trainer, editing teacher. Burbank, CA.

Misha cuts films and TV shows. His latest gig was a day on the Conan O’Brien show. Here’s a clip:

Recently Misha presented a webinar for which you can view here:

For the webinar Misha used footage from Handicapped John, a short comedy he co- created & edited as examples in the webinar. You can see it here:

Misha’s latest venture is selling the dailies from Handicapped John for $30. He thinks students and editors-in-training could get good editing practice from cutting the film the same one he demos in the webinar. “They could also use the finished cut for their reels,” he wrote me. Contact Misha if interested at the e-address below.

This past fall Misha was hired as an additional editor on Sofia a feature with Christian Slater, Donald Sutherland, and Timothy Spall which he edited at Nu Boyana studio in Bulgaria. Here are a couple of photos he took.

/Bulgarian Film Studio Signs
/Bulgarian Film Studio Building

Contact Misha at:

Your cutting room view

The sound and music of story

April 25th, 2011

As I’ve mentioned, I am updating my first book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video for a 2012 – exact pub date, TBD by Michael Wiese Productions, my publisher. Presently, I am in the thick of the two chapters on sound and music editing. In them, I discuss the details of designing, editing, and mixing sound and music.

I also look at how sound and music affect the story on any type of show, a subject I warm up to endlessly. I love hearing sound and music editors and composers philosophize about what they do. So I came up with the chart below, which translates story to its sound and music equivalents. What do you think? I always like to hear from you with your insights and ideas.

Translating story to sound and music

Story Sound Music
screenplay sound design score
screenwriter sound designer composer
director sound supervisor conductor
actors Foley artists, ADR creators,
loop group
character hard SFX instrument
DP sound editors music editor
theme repeated hard and background SFX song or melody
era (time) background sound/ambience diegetic and non-diegetic sound musical period e.g. romantic, baroque
setting (place) background sound/ambience

diegetic and non-diegetic sound

style e.g. jazz, hip hop
dialogue cleaned & filled dialogue & ADR tracks lyric
pace sonic pacing tempo
beat targeted sound cues meter
exposition introductory sounds/worldizing overture/form/
title (theme) music
arc of scene building up sound over scene crescendo
conflict counter sounds e.g. overlaps, shrill pitches, sudden loud noises dissonance
scene/sequence sound mix verse or form/sequence

Editing & screenwriting, Sound & music editing

Shoot out: Avid vs. FCP

April 20th, 2011

See who the winner is in this 30” mock commercial.

Final Cut Pro VS Avid from Jill DiBiase on Vimeo.

Fun & games

Foley, African style

April 15th, 2011

Videographer Thomas Roebers dedicates the video below that made with his brother Floris Leeuwenberg to the people of Baro and writes:

Life has a rhythm, it’s constantly moving.
The word for rhythm, used by the Malinke tribes, is FOLI.
It is a word that encompasses so much more than drumming, dancing or sound.
It’s found in every part of daily life.

I sure hope the women have their own song and dance with the men playing but somehow doubt it. Still the video is worthy watching for any editor who has ever cut to music, which means all of us. Roebers further writes – and I agree:

In this film you not only hear and feel rhythm but you see it.
It’s an extraordinary blend of image and sound that feeds the senses and reminds us all how essential it [rhythm] is.

Editing & life, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Sound & music editing


April 11th, 2011

NAB logo
For all you (like me) who can’t be among the 90,000 people attending the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual extravaganza in Las Vegas from today through Thursday this week, follow the editing buzz put up by Larry Jordan:

Here’s the official NAB link:

If you are there, feel free to report back on your own experiences.

Who is Larry Jordan and why you can trust him

Larry’s a Final Cut Pro guru with a site chock full of great info about FCP, digital media, and editing in general along with fee and free tutorials. He also has a blog and a free newsletter you can sign up for. A couple of months ago Larry saw the future – a demo of FCP v.8 due to be released later this year. While sworn to secrecy along with others, he has given it a thumbs up and will surely be reporting on it as soon as it hits the streets. Check Larry out at:

Marketing & budgeting, Technical & process

Trouble in Paradise – A study in life, comedy, and editing

April 5th, 2011

I had always heard about this movie and the Lubitsch touch and finally caught it in on Netflix. Trouble in Paradise PosterIf you haven’t seen it, do it! If you have, re-view it. This 1932 movie shows what an ingenious director can do in the face of technical challenges. It was shot at the beginning of the “talkie” era when sound recording equipment famously “chained the camera” because it was too bulky and noisy to move.

Director Ernst Lubitsch had a superb cast and script (written by Samson Raphaelson) and knew what to do with the camera. In the dialogue scenes it stays put but he cuts away frequently to break things up, shoots from all angles, and cheat actions. Watch this seminal scene below. It not only sets up the characters but engages us so much that when it cuts away to the door and then the curtain, we don’t notice that Gaston Montescu (played by Herbert Marshall) doesn’t close the curtains – they close themselves – after which he re-enters the scene to be with Lily (the extremely talented Miriam Hopkins).

Natural born thieves, natural editing Modern editing

The editing for this 83 minute movie is as sly and sophisticated as its amoral characters, professional thieves by trade and choice. And even sexier. The cutting intimates intimacy – Gaston sleeping with two gorgeous women – which scored its being banned after three years under the Hays code and not seen in the U.S. from 1935-1968. Even better, the women and the men, both rich and scheming, are not stereotyped, but seen as equals in their sexual desires, silliness, and attitudes toward money.
Trouble in Paradise scene

Wealthy widow and perfume company owner Mariette Colet (Kay Francis, terrific as always) employs the thieves.

Trouble in Paradise is superb study in editing for its comic timing and economy of edits. It is no stale, slow moving classic movie. Although the camera pauses for the dialogue scenes, they are well-written and timed and Lubitsch kept the camera or actors active when words don’t need to be recorded. The director also employs sound effects along with deft picture cuts to move the movie along.

As with the best of comedy, the cuts and the plot points they move to counter to expectations. The opening scene counters clichés by showing a Venice gondolier poling a bag of garbage along the canal. Nothings is conventional about this movie as it counters are expectations time and time again. Lubitsch also creates some clever scene transitions. One uses a series of deco clocks to show the advance of an affair; another has the Eiffel tower broadcasting frequency waves like the RKO logo to signal the thief couple’s move from Venice to Paris.

Trouble in Paradise scene We enjoy spending time with this couple as do the uber-rich people they swindle, though we know we’d have to watch our wallets and jewelry around them I also enjoyed seeing character actor Edward Everett Horton – younger and rounder than I’d ever seen him before.

Finally, this movie sets a high standard for romance, comedy, and editing because goes beyond  the glitzy world of its characters to look at how to accept of life in the face of the sometimes gritty, soul-challenging business of living it.

Rival suitors played by Charles Ruggles (l) and Edward Everett Horton (r).

Lubitsch himself

Like many Jewish director-producers in the 1920’s, Lubitsch escaped the hard lives of his parents in Europe and crossed over to the U.S. to create Hollywood and its movies. For a premiere look at this subject, check out Neal Gabler’s award-winning, highly readable book, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.)

The Lubitsch touch

Many of have tried to describe the spin Lubitsch puts on his movies. One of them, director Billy Wilder, Trouble in Paradise Poster another Jewish European escapee, had a sign in his studio office that said, “How would Lubitsch do it?” Many more have appreciated the Lubitsch touch, as I suggest you do, simply by experiencing his films (filmography below). Biographer Scott Eyeman, expresses the touch this way:

With few exceptions Lubitsch’s movies take place neither in Europe nor America but in Lubitschland, a place of metaphor, benign grace, rueful wisdom…To the unsophisticated eye, Lubitsch’s work can appear dated, simply because his characters belong to a world of formal sexual protocol. But his approach to film, to comedy, and to life was not so much ahead of its time as it was singular, and totally out of any time.

The Lubitsch touch apparently extended to women in his personal life. He died at 55 in 1947 of a heart attack, purportedly while entwined with an aspiring actress. How’s that for a Lubitsch ending?

Lubitsch Filmography (U.S.)

The Shop Around the Corner (also prod.) 1940  Remade in 1998 as You’ve got Mail.
That Uncertain Feeling (also prod.) 1941
To Be or Not to Be (also co-prod. co-story) 1942
Heaven Can Wait (also prod.) 1943
A Royal Scandal (prod. only) 1945
Cluny Brown (also prod.) 1946
That Lady in Ermine (completed by Otto Preminger post humous) 1948

Paramount on Parade (co-dir. with 10 others) 1930
Monte Carlo 1930
The Smiling Lieutenant (also co-sc.) 1931
The Man I Killed/Broken Lullaby 1932
One Hour With You 1932
Trouble in Paradise (also prod.) 1932
Design for Living 1933
The Merry Widow 1934
Desire (prod. only) 1936
Angel (also prod.) 1937
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (also prod.) 1938
Ninotchka 1939

Rosita 1923
The Marriage Circle 1924
Three Women (also co-story) 1924
Forbidden Paradise 1924
Kiss Me Again 1925
Lady Windermere’s Fan 1925
So This Is Paris 1926
The Student Prince/The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg 1927
The Patriot 1928
Eternal Love 1929
The Love Parade 1929

Editing practices, Editor’s role, History/research, Joy goes to the movies, Sound & music editing