Archive for August, 2011

Championing Chimps and Sound editing: Sound editors and Mixers Sound Off on Editing Rise of the Planet of the Apes

August 29th, 2011

This nearly 12-minute video is worth watching to hear how the sound team on the latest Planet of the Apes movie worked to acquire the chimp sounds from Chimp Haven, the national sanctuary for chimpanzees, in Keithville, Louisiana. It’s heartening to hear how the team collaborated with the film’s composer and heartwarming to hear how the supervisor feels when the mix starts to come together. The visuals – which show how computer modeling and camera turn men into apes – provide interesting background pictures and stand apart from the audio.

Sound Works Collection

The video is from SoundWorks Collection, a group of sound editors from LA, the UK, and the SF Bay area who proclaim on their website: “…we are dedicated to profiling the greatest and upcoming sound minds from around the world and highlight [sic] their contributions.”

Check out SoundWorks Collection resources and student rep program by clicking here.

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

Prime Cuts Annual Panel of TV editors

August 22nd, 2011

There have been a lot of worthwhile courses and seminars to announce lately. Here’s another one I recommend and which I’ve attended a couple of times. If you want to understand what worklife is like for editors on reality and fiction TV shows and you’re in the LA area, go! Details below. In previous years I heard editors from Breaking Bad, Grey Gardens, 24, and Top Chef among others.
It’s free! And there’s always a Q & A session at the end. The whole thing is very low key – come as you are – no need to dress up.
Prime Cuts Poster
Date: Saturday, August 27 • 1:00pm – 3:00pm
American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street
Santa Monica, CA

More info = Official announcement
For the fifth consecutive year, we are proud to present this unique seminar that focuses on the art of editing. Prime Cuts is a premiere event where the editors from top television shows discuss their work.

Don’t miss this insider-only discussion with nominated editors from some of this year’s Primetime Emmy® shows.

Moderated by Shawn Ryan
Creator and EP of The Shield, Ride-Along on Fox.
EP on Terriers, The Unit and Lie To Me.

No reservations will be taken. Seating is on a first-come first served basis so arrive early to guarantee admission!
Note: It’s been held in different LA venues and I’ve never seen the event fill up; the Aero is a good sized theatre. So bring people who don’t understand editing or what you do but love TV shows and/or you!

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Television

MW Online Film School

August 19th, 2011

MW Film School Logo

My publisher, MWP (Michael Wiese Productions), is launching an online school with 12 online classes beginning September 6th.

Goals of school

  • To help people become better filmmakers.
  • To empower storytellers and filmmakers to
    inspire millions and evolve a better world.

My fellow MWP authors and I will be teaching everything from writing to pitching your script, from pre-production to post-production, from funding to marketing and distribution.

Click here to view the MWP Film School website. There you will meet each of the teachers and learn about the class they’re presenting.

Right now MWP is offering a $10 discount on all classes.

My editing class
I will be presenting “Inglourious Editors: State of Editors and Editing Today.”
The 2.5 hour course will look at the editor’s role in movies, reality shows, docs, and comedies, today. There will be a special focus on editing practices comparing traditional, Hollywood-style editing and modern, MTV-style editing.

Class attendees will receive a free handout charting the difference between the styles, based on a new section from my upcoming book; the second edition of Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video, due out in 2012.

Date: Thursday, October 13, 2011.

Time: 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. PST.

Course: Inglourious Editors: State of Editors and Editing Today.

Click here to learn more about the class.

Announcements, Editing & screenwriting, Editing practices, Editor’s role

Appraising titles and credits

August 15th, 2011

Emmy StatueI picked movies and mini-series for my judging category for the upcoming 2011 Emmy’s. This is the most time-consuming category to judge since you’re required to watch the entire show but I wanted to see Mildred Pierce and a few other shows that I’d missed. I’ll blog about the show I chose for best editing and why I voted for it in the future but for now, I’d like to riff about titles and credits as I viewed some outstanding ones.

What’s in a title and opening credit?

The opening title and credits can do much more than display a show’s name, players, producers, director, and crew. If created thoughtfully, they serve as an introduction to a movie, kind of like a welcoming committee, greeting you and pulling you in. If created artistically, opening (head) credits can add even more to a picture and stand out on their own. Often, combined with music, they set an emotional tone to the movie, a pace, and an expectation of the type of content to follow i.e. nail-biting thriller, fast-paced comedy, reflective drama, etc.

Credits can be fun (remember the animated ones in the Pink Panther series) or weave in the show’s theme (like Breaking Bad’s periodic table of elements) or thrilling, (like those set to Bernard Hermann’s taut music in North by Northwest) and much more.  Here’s a unique example from Too Big To Fail, one of the Emmy-nominated shows I judged, which inserted the credits into Wall Street’s electronic ticker tape and boards.

  • First example
  • Title
  • Credits 2

Title designers and credits

There are many famous self-described “type geeks” who live and breathe graphics (GFX) and title design. One of them, Kyle Cooper, title designer on Rango, Tron: Legacy, Ironman, and Spider-Man 2, explains, “Type is like actors to me. It takes on characteristics of its own. When I was younger, I used to pick a word from the dictionary and then try to design it so that I could make the word do what it meant…”

Many filmmakers believe credits shouldn’t stand apart from the movie but should blend in and be a part of the story’s exposition. Susan Bradley, title designer on Wall-E, Up, The Motorcycle Diaries, Ratatouille, and An Inconvenient Truth observes that titles, “can do very much or very little; but really shine when they live within the story and reflect an important quality driven by your director.”

Credits and story

Additionally, credits can clue the audience into the film’s plot, location, time period, style, and characters. The split screen credits at the start of 127 Hours give insights into the film’s risk-taking hero as he determinedly drives through the night to escape the city and set off on his fateful desert hike.

Head Credit

Head credit from 127 Hours.

End credits are usually more utilitarian. Networks routinely cram them to one side of the TV screen to make room for promos, a practiced referred to as the “squeeze and tease.” But sometimes they can be entertaining and extend the movie such as those tailing Ratatouille or Spider-Man 2.

Tail Credit

Tail credit from Spider-Man 2.

Just plain credits

Budget, as with any factor in a film, plays a role in determining how fancy credits will be. Some directors stick to plain credits, even though they could pay for more: Think Woody Allen’s standard white on black credits.

So think about credits the next time you place them in a show you’re editing or view them on tube and screen and clue Joy in on your conclusions.

Awards, Editing practices, Editor’s role, Television

The Future of Story Conference in downtown LA on August 27

August 10th, 2011

Future of Story Logo
Passing this on to any of you who would like to tell your own stories, instead of/in addition to editing others’ stories. This conference – cheap at $65 – is being put on by my publisher, Michael Wiese Productions (MWP), and features its authors and their books. One thing I can tell you is that all of us want to help others – that’s why we write and teach – and are very approachable. So if you go, let Joy know how it works out for you as I will not be there.

Click here for the full details. I’ve listed the major details from the press kit below.

Led by some of the best-selling screenwriting authors/teachers in the industry, this dynamic conference will help you take an objective look at both yourself and your professional skill sets as you polish and target your stories for film, television, and print. With over 30 MWP authors attending this conference, you’ll have an opportunity to network one-on-one with experts on screenwriting, pitching, and various aspects of filmmaking.

Who should attend
Screenwriters, television writers, novelists, non-fiction writers, graphic novelists, and all those interested in emerging trends in narrative.

Key speakers
Pilar Alessandra, The Coffee Break Screenwriter
Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey (now in its third edition)
Pen Densham, Riding the Alligator

Featured panelists
Jennifer Grisanti, Ken Rotcop, Pamela Jaye Smith, Ross Brown, Catherine Ann Jones, Paul Chitlik, Christopher Riley, Ellen Besen, Pam Douglas, Troy DeVolld, and Kathie Fong Yoneda.

Screening of doc on Bali
Talking with Spirits Film

At the end of the day, there will be a screening of Michael Wiese’s latest film, Talking with Spirits: Journeys into Balinese Spirit Worlds. My experience is that Michael’s films, stick with you if you stick with them. They illuminate outer and inner worlds, provoke contemplation, and are professionally and sparingly shot. He’s spent a lot of time in Bali, starting in 1970 when lived in a village there. This documentary illustrates his connectedness to the Balinese people as he captures a never before filmed spirit ceremony. Here’s a glimpse:


Summertime and time for some levity about bad editing

August 3rd, 2011

These are thanks to an anonymous editor who watched all the 197 episodes Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), a comedy series from Minnesota’s twin cities that ran from 1988-1999 mostly on Comedy Central and is now available on DVD.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

The editor’s comments are on the first line in purple as he (I’m assuming) watches the episode. The second line references the character’s name and the episode title. The editor writes,“As a film editor I feel it is my duty to list here all the MST3K bad editing riffs.”

I guess the editor got called out of the room a lot.
(as the film quickly goes back & forth from Melissa to Jody with horrible timing)

Crow, Touch of Satan
Let’s get in the shot before the jump cut occurs.
Mike, The Screaming Skull

Speaking of deep cuts, does this scene really need to be in the movie?
(after Natalie says to Paul: “That’s not a scratch, it’s a deep cut.”)

Crow, Werewolf

At least its poor editing covers how badly it was shot.
Crow, Devil Fish

So when you edit it, it will look like I stabbed him right?
(after Jean-Claude Gosh Darn stabs pure air instead of the dinosaur he’s “aiming” for)

Mike, Future War

I think I just broke my neck in that jump cut.
Mike, Red Zone Cuba

Cut to 2! Cut to camera 2!
(during a 5 hour shot of Hamlet yakking to the ghost…whom we never see)

Mike, Hamlet
Cut to the ghost! Cut to the ghost!
(during a 5 hour shot of Hamlet yakking to the ghost…whom we never see)

Servo, Hamlet

Just because you can edit doesn’t mean you should.
Servo, Devil Fish
These 3 riffs are after my most favorite bad editing shot when Buz suddenly appears
sitting in the booth when he was not there seconds before:

I’m back!
Servo, Girl in Gold Boots

Anybody notice that I’m here now?
Mike, Girl in Gold Boots

C’mon! I just teleported here! It’s impressive!
Crow, Girl in Gold Boots

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Fun & games, Television