Archive for May, 2012

Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video, 2nd Edition is here!

May 26th, 2012

There’s nothing like the smell (and look and feel) of a new book in the morning
(to steal from that famous phrase in Apocalypse Now).

Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video

For over a year now, I’ve been mentioning why I felt it important and necessary to re-write my first book, Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video and excerpting parts here. Now the result of my year of labor – 477 pages of newly minted book – has arrived on my doorstep and I can share it with you and the world.

Learn all the details about the Cut by Cut 2 here . Or tour the book’s highlights below.

What’s new in Cut by Cut 2:

  • Workflow charts and explanations for film, tape, and file-based shows HD and 3D practices throughout the book.
    • Updated music and sound editing workflows as well as the disk authoring and DI (digital intermediate) workflows.
  • HD and 3-D content and VFX editing process and types of edits.
  • Up-to-date info for finishing on film via DI or traditional negative cut process.
  • An in-depth look at modern, “MTV” style editing vs. traditional, Hollywood style that employs current research and a chart detailing the differences.
  • Advice from 15 experienced editors working in all film genres from comedy to corporate videos to news to music videos to reality shows.

Like the first edition, Cut by Cut 2:

  • Clearly and completely lays out the editing journey from the first frame of the shoot to the final show exhibited on tube, theater, disk, or Web. Editing System
  • Concentrates on the why and what to do next, delineating how editors perform their job on Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and other digital editing systems.
  • Details the post production process from dailies to finishing via online, negative cut, disk authoring, and the DI process.
  • De-mystifies codecs, telecine and reverse telecine, aspect ratio, time code standards, and a multitude of other video, film, and digital editing concepts.
  • Explains how to approach cutting the footage: Make your first edits, deal with mismatches, and conquer action and dialogue scenes and more.
  • Spends two chapters describing how sound and music are designed, recorded, and mixed.
  • Defines and explains the terms, apps, and practices that working picture, sound, and music editors use.

Cut by Cut 2

  • Editing exercises and over 150 tables, charts, photos, and illustrations.
  • A meaty section on how to find an editing job whether you’re starting out or looking for that next job or career move.
  • An extensive glossary and an editor’s resource guide.

I wrote the book for:

  • Editors of all stripes: Indies, students, and professionals.
  • Aspiring editors: Assistant editors, apprentice editors, and career changers.
  • Filmmakers: Directors, producers, writers, and everyone who want to understand editing.
  • Professors and teachers of editing.
  • Prosumers who want to make the leap to professional.

I sincerely hope Cut by Cut 2 helps you with your projects.

Check the book out and let Joy know what you think.

Announcements, Editing & life, Editing practices, Editor’s role, History/research, Jobs, Sound & music editing, Technical & process, Television, Visual FX editing

Joyoffilmediting Website Update

May 25th, 2012

My webmeister – Sherry Green – and I are pleased to announce the upgrading of this website starting today.

Reason for revamp: In anticipation of the launch of my new book: Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video, 2nd Edition.

What’s you’ll discover and where:

Books section on Welcome Page

  • Learn all about Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video, 2nd Edition: Where to get it, what it contains, and what professionals and others say about it.

Free tab

  • Find new freebies for downloading including four budget forms which correspond to the phases of post production.
  • Updated course syllabi for film teachers and professors.
  • Ten Steps to Breaking into Editing (or any job in the film industry)


  • Expanded and refreshed. Includes current and historical film, video, and computer editing terms and processes from both editions of Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video.


  • Contains current books, sites, and links.
  • Note: With the coming and going of sites and links and the dating of materials this feature will date the fastest. So feel free to let Joy know of new resources editors will like as well as broken links and dated entries.  (We keep up as best we can but don’t always catch these) and enlarged the, landing page text.

Your Cutting Room View

Nothing new here. Would love to feature you with a photo of you in your cutting room and info current gig so send ‘em on in via the quick form we’ve provided!

And let us know what you think of the makeover. Site input always welcome.


Is 35mm dead? Projecting the future:
Print vs. digital theatrical projection Part 1

May 19th, 2012

Following on my March two-part series “Digitally yours forever: Where and how is preservation going?” here’s a view into print vs. digital projection.


Smaller, positive carbon rod (left) sparks larger negative carbon rod (right) to create burning arc of flame that light up film frames on reel.

Historically, of course, movie theatres have projected film, primarily 35mm but also 16mm, 70mm, and video. To the left is a photo of yours truly locking the pin on a 6000 foot (1 hour) reel attached to a projector that used two rods of carbon to create an arc of light to illuminate the frames (pictured to right).

But of course that was many moons and millions of feet of film through projectors ago.

I also worked on platter systems which can – and still do – spool an entire movie (12,000 feet of film on average) into a projector that relies on a Xenon bulb instead digi-projector
xenon projector of burning carbon. (See photo to right). Over the past decade digital projection has grown and shows no signs of abating. State-of-the art theatres have installed a server tethered to the projector for ingest files of the movie – referred to as the DCP (Digital Cinema Package) – which can be sparked to life with the selection of a playlist on an iPad (photo on left).

Digi-projector. Photo courtesy of Texas Instruments.

Platters holding film (on left) feeds a projector lit by a Xenon bulb (on right).

film can
hard drive

No longer does a film arrive in a projection booth in a couple of back-shattering battered cans that look like they went through WWII, lugged up by a manager (due to union rules). Today a hard drive with the DCP arrives in a sleek, lightweight, plastic suitcase and the manager or IT person – often the projectionist and invariably non-union – easily ferries it upstairs.

The battle between print and digi projection

In an article titled “Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling” April 12 in LA Weekly reporter Gendy Alimurung writes, “There is a war raging in Hollywood: a war between formats. In one corner…are defenders of 35mm film. Elegant in its economy, for more than 100 years film has been the dominant medium with which movies are shot, edited and viewed. In the other corner are backers of digital technology — a cheaper, faster, democratizing medium, a boon to both creator and distributor.”

At $150, a DCP costs 10% of film print which runs $1500. IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service reports that “This year, for the first time in history, celluloid ceases to be the world’s prevailing movie-projector technology.” The company predicts, according to Alimurung that in “2013, film will slip to niche status, shown in only a third of theaters. By 2015, used in a paltry 17 percent of global cinemas, venerable old 35 mm film will be mostly gone.”

The question

Once again it comes down to Hollywood being in the entertainment business. Digital is perceived as cheaper and it certainly appears to be in the short run. Digi-films do not deteriorate like print film does and can be shipped quickly, making screenings of certain indie films and theatrical events like sport matches possible. However, the digital equipment theatre equipment is expensive (70K to 150K/screen). Although the studios are offsetting this by offering to pay theater owners a “virtual-print fee” for ten years for each new release exhibited via DCP, the big question looms: How will digital stack up against print in the future?

Part 2 will focus on this.

History/research, Technical & process

Mash-up Trailers

May 13th, 2012

Editors and other filmmakers are taking old and new movie previews, a.k.a. trailers and turning them every which way in their digital systems to create entirely new promos and mini-features and send them off to the Internet. You can take images from other films, add new graphics, VO, music, VFX, SFX – your imagination and time is the limit. To see examples organized by categories, go to the trailer mash

Here’s my favorite so far: The Shining re-imagined as a Rom-com.

But is it legal?
“A trailer is studio’s prayer, one that is answered on opening weekend. And everyone wants the answer to be yes.” Marshall Sella, NY Times Magazine, 2002.

Yes. Studios hunger for these spoofs as they help promote their movies. Some productions companies, notably Lucasfilms and Lionsgate, have even held contests and given out computers, tickets, and other awards to the winners. Curt Marvis, president of digital media for Lionsgate, explains it this way, “The worst thing that can happen (for a studio) is to have no one talking about your film. With millions of people viewing trailers and Twittering and chatting about movies online, it’s important to take that huge group and use them as an army of valid spokespeople and promoters of our content.”

Can a mash-up help your career?

It may get you any money but “Working on these projects is an absolute résumé builder if you’re looking to break into an editing, creative or marketing field,” contends Kelly Reeves, managing editor of, an Internet humor blog.

So go ahead! Create one yourself and springboard your career. And let Joy know how it goes. I’ll definitely consider posting it.

Awards, Editing practices, Jobs

Being Caesar and other creatures by performance capture-actor Andy Serkis

May 7th, 2012

I came across an article based on an interview by Noelene Clark from the LA Times Hero Complex section on performance capture and acting. Since performance capture relies heavily on post production processes and the pairing represents once again the crossing of lines between production and post, I thought this was worthy of a Joy post.

Andy Serkis is performance capture pioneer who created Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and more recently, Caesar, the chimpanzee in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

To get an idea of what Serkis does, watch this clip of him creating Caesar: (scroll down to see the video)

Serkis on Performance Capture and Acting

Actors regularly ask Serkis “Are we going to be replaced by digital characters?” He does not differentiate between live-action acting and performance capture acting which he sees simply as technology – a liberating tool. “I am quite evangelical about it to other actors because I think…it’s a magic suit you put on that allows you to play anything regardless of your size, your sex, your color, whatever you are. As long as you have the acting chops and the desire to get inside a character, you can play anything. So I long for it to be accepted by the acting profession so that it can proliferate.”

Creating Caesar
Andy Serkis

Serkis spent time studying primate behavior for Caesar as well as for portraying King Kong in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of the same name, to establish their characters. As any actor would, Serkis thought about Caesar and pondered, “…what’s he going through? What’s he feeling? What’s he thinking?…You start to combine physicality with an emotional journey that you’re creating.”

Acting nomination and Awards

Serkis received a Critic’s Choice supporting actor nomination for creating Caesar and the movie’s main star, James Franco, campaigned for an Oscar nomination. (It failed to materialize.) This all brought on a slew of question Serkis has heard over the years regarding how to categorize performance capture acting for awards: “Should there be separate categories for live acting and digital acting? Should there be a hybrid award?”

Serkis thinks there should be one category – acting – because “My part in it, what I do, as say the authorship of the role, the creation, the emotional content of the role, the physicality up until the point of delivering that for the director, it is acting.”

He believes, “Getting that nomination for the Critics’ Choice is a significant leap, really, in understanding. Again, this is not taking anything away from the post-production process and what all of those incredibly talented people do, whether they be animators or visual effects artists…What was great about getting a supporting actor nomination is that it clearly shows, it defines an understanding within the industry that it is acting.”

Awards, Technical & process, Visual FX editing