Ryota Nakanishi in Hollywood, 2011 where he
attended EditFest at Universal Studios
Photo courtesy of Ryota Nakanishi
I am delighted to share what Ryota Nakanishi, an enthusiastic reader of my books and this blog wrote me. He attends graduate school of Tokyo University of the Arts is editing Rakugoeiga, a theatrical feature shot in Japan, and completed Moxina, a horror short, shot in Japan and Taiwan) in 2012. He cuts with Final Cut Pro 7 and Avid Media Composer 5 and 6.
Below he compares editing in his native Japan and Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China (where he studied for five years) with editing the U.S., which he has visited and where he intends to move once he’s through grad school. I’m sure he could use some help transitioning to Hollywood so if you’d like to help, contact him at email@example.com.
Editing in Asia
Here’s what Nakanishi reports (with a few small copy edits by me):
First of all, I need to explain the main differences of Editing system between Asia (Japan and Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, etc.) and US to understand my enthusiasm on reforming Asian editorial methodology.
1) Although U.S. editors have master shots and coverage, Asian (in Japan, Taiwan, etc.) editors don’t get these shot varieties. Most directors just shoot what is on the storyboards, so all we can do is to edit in the order of the storyboard description with little or no coverage. This is very mechanical, not artistic or organic. (Akira Kurosawa followed U.S. standardized film editing system. And he was correct. Others, like John Woo, also work this way. But they are the exceptions and work out of the reach of the usual bureaucracy.)
2) In U.S. and most English-speaking countries, the directors and the cinematographers work in the double system (A and B cameras, etc. and a sound recordist), but in most Asian countries, they don’t follow this universal standard. They use the single system (only one camera and a sound recordist) as their traditional system. Sometime we receive only one long take.
3) In U.S. editors make the editor’s cut, director’s cuts, producer’s cuts, studio cuts and network cuts. Asian filmmakers work in the director’s system, so there are only directors’ cuts: Directors sit next to the editors to order the cutting from the beginning to the end of the editorial phase.
These are main differences, and also are difficulties for Asians. My main purpose is to study and adapt the universal (U.S.) standard (this has nothing to do with any nationality) of the film editing system in Asia to improve our entire film production quality. To achieve this goal, I read your books to study the universal standard = Hollywood standard of film editing. This is my big challenge on film editing work in Asia. My resolution for improving editing is to use the three-act structure to write scripts, the double system to shoot scenes, and continuity cutting for editing the materials.
If we can learn and master the universal standard (U.S. system) and make it our own national standard, we will get rid of many cultural limitations in Asian societies. Then Asian filmmaking can be more diversified and Asian countries can become venues for international filmmaking, meaning, American and European filmmakers would shoot here. This is my idealistic perspective of our efforts and what I am trying to do at university. Luckily, many of my colleagues agree.
Joy’s last word: I will keep in touch with Nakanishi and report back on his progress in changing the system.
Editing practices, Technical & process