Archive for January, 2012

What film job do you qualify for?

January 28th, 2012

Need to decide what film job best suits you? Here’s a wry career guide to deciphering your true calling. Tired of explaining what a best boy does and other film jobs to friends, family, and strangers? This chart also deciphers the myriad of job titles that show up in the credits. Except best boy. Now you can send ‘em to Google.
Film Job Flow Diagram

Fun & games, Jobs

New website by and for professionals

January 25th, 2012

Herb Dow and post associates of his have launched a new site: Pot Production Pro, er, don’t leave out the “s” as I almost did. That’s Post Production Pro. In its infancy, the site aims at creating community among editors by allowing you to set up your own page, look for jobs, and post positions, announce events, post photos, etc. It’s Facebook and Craig’s list for editorial folks.

Post Production Pro Logo
I’ve known Herb since Ediflex revolutionized editing – making tape nonlinear – in the mid-80s. A former editor who began on film, he’s worked for Avid, Lightworks, then Avid again and a host of other Hollywood post production companies and hosted a weekly editor’s salon at a restaurant in Tinsel town for decades. Herb connects people and has always got his finger on the pulse. So I will be interested to see how the site takes off and grows.

Try it out and let me and PPP know what you think.

Announcements, Jobs

Deconstructing a Dragon, Edit by Edit

January 12th, 2012

New York Times slide showThe December 18, 2011 edition of The New York Times Magazine focused on the thought process of the editing duo Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo along with that of the film’s director, David Fincher. The article focused on a scene which you can see as a slide show.

Examining an Editor’s Head

Writer Gavin Edwards did an intelligent job of getting inside the mind of an editor, explaining how we make editing decisions, observe rhythm, keep aware of the audience’s focus will be, compress time, and consider continuity.

Edwards also touched on crossing the line and modern style editing, with a great joke from Fincher about split screens. The director joked that he wanted to install a klaxon in the cutting room to “Stop them before they split again!”

I grew up on the NY Times and still get the Sunday edition with the weekly magazine section so was gratified to see an in-depth examination of how editors approach scenes and the whole. Admittedly, the article reminded me of my book, Film Editing 101: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know where I pierce the veil on nearly 50 types of cuts editors make, including time compression (as well as expansion) and crossing the line and look at why an editor would make a certain type of cut and how it affects the audience.


Ease the Software Blues

January 7th, 2012

Need to select the right editing software for your project and not sure what fits the bill and how much you need to spend? Find the Best, has a free, online comparison tool for you.

Find the Best Editing System objectively compares no cost systems (Blender, Lightworks) to low Find the Best graphiccost systems (FORScene, FCP X) to high end babies (FCP, Premiere Pro, Avid). In addition to list price, you can compare operating systems by nine easily clickable, filterable, and sortable criteria including category, (consumer, prosumer, professional, or high end movie production), features (VFX, 3-D, color correction, storyboarding, etc.), and hard drive space required.

James Resetco, in business development for Find The Best, emailed me regarding their new tool: “All of our information is completely objective and human-curated to ensure accuracy as well as relevance.” Their writer, Thomas Samph added, “Between the brand name big hitters and the lesser known software sets, you’ll need to decide what features are best for your needs. With video editing software, quantity doesn’t always mean quality: expensive doesn’t always mean better.“

Find the Best graphic Find the Best also offers other free comparison tools – all in the form of database charts – for sound editing systems, digital cameras, cloud computing, and more.

Check out their tools and tell them and/or Joy what you think. FYI: This is not a paid advertisement. If Joy ever decides to takemoney for advertising, you’ll be the first to know.

Sound & music editing, Technical & process, Visual FX editing

Facing the Footage and the New Year

January 2nd, 2012

A substantial article I wrote on how not be daunted by dailies is running in the current issue of MovieMaker magazine. Since it sheds light on how to face the material you’re given to edit, I thought it would be a good way to face the new year. So here’s the first part of the article.

Moviemaker magazine coverFacing the Footage: How to avoid frustration and wasted time by editing confidently from the first frame

It makes no difference if you’re cutting digitally, directly on film, or on whatever format arises in the future: Whenever you edit a piece, you must confront the shot material.  Doc, drama, music video, promo, comedy – no matter the genre – you must carve out a meaningful story from the footage you receive. As the editor you must be the magician that delivers the rabbit from the hat in a way that absorbs the audience and fulfills the director’s vision. So where do you start?

To begin

But you gotta know the territory.
Charlie, a salesman, The Music Man

To begin, you’ve got to know your raw material in order to have an idea of how you’re going to edit it. View the footage for the scene and make mental and/or written notes about shots, lines, angles, or editing ideas. Keep field logs handy and know where each scene’s clips and bins are so you can quickly locate shots and not lose your train of thought during the heat of editing. Review any notes you took when screening dailies or that you received from the director. The late Dede Allen, editor of Bonnie and Clyde, The Breakfast Club, and other memorable features explained that: “If you have a great deal of coverage, you really can’t just go plowing through the whole thing; you’d never remember all of it… I make massive notes which I have if I need them, but I memorize the material so thoroughly that I seldom even look at my notes.”

Read the script or outline
Scripted show
You’ve already read the script but now you have the real, filmed version of a scene along. You also have the “lined pages” (set notes and shot descriptions) for the scene that the script supervisor labored over for your benefit. Familiarize yourself with both.

As you approach cutting the scene, you want to be familiar with it as well as the scenes before and after it. Since you usually edit a show out of sequence, it’s important to be clear on what the scene is about. Ask yourself: What led to this scene? What does this scene lead to?

Documentary, reality, or other non-scripted show
Review the paper cut and keep it and your logs of the shots handy as you edit. Since a non-scripted show typically has fewer guidelines than a scripted show, your editing will have a major impact on its content and structure. Initially you will be the one who decides what the audience sees and learns and when they see it and learn it, so you want to know your shots and laser in on the story you’re creating from them.

Know your audience, purpose, and motivation
Before starting to edit, you need to know the purpose of the project you’re editing and who will be seeing it. Is it a training film for navy recruits or a cereal commercial aimed at kids? Is it a muckraking documentary on the food industry or a drama about Navaho code talkers in World War II? You get the idea.
Motivating a cut

Just as you must be clear of the purpose for each scene, so you must be clear of the purpose for each cut. “Each cut should be motivated” is an oft-repeated caveat in editing. Each cut should advance the story, the action, the flow, the thought process of your show. Don’t put a shot in solely because it looks nice, seems cool, or is arty. A cut should link to the cut before and after it, knitting the story together, cut by cut.

Editing practices, Editor’s role, Technical & process