Lesson #5

September 29, 2014

Added Material

Assignments for Next Week

Handouts for this Week

Lesson for This Week


Music Design

When I was a music editor on such films as SOHPIE'S CHOICE, FAME, THE COTTON CLUB, ROLLOVER and FOUR FRIENDS, I often referred to music as an extra character in a scene, except this character actually represents the emotional connections between the actual characters in the scene. As a filmmaker you'll quickly discover that music is a powerful addition to the tools you have in your editorial tool chest, so long as you always keep in mind that it should always work within the analysis that you have performed on your script and your scenes.

He Got GameUsing the opening title sequence from HE GOT GAME we will look at how music can bring out the underlying emotions in a scene.

Spike Lee's title sequences are often separate movies -- longform commercials --which use imagery that may have nothing to do with the film coming up, to introduce concepts and emotions that DO have something to do with the film. Tonight we will look at the opening sequence from this film about basketball. I will play it scored as it originally was (with music by Aaron Copland) as well as with two alternate musical choices -- I've got a selection that includes a hip hop piece by NWA, a piece by Air, a piece from Brad Mehldau, and a jazzy style score by David Holmes from his score to the movie OUT OF SIGHT. Check in with your gut to see how each one makes you feel. What message(s) is the sequence giving you? How does the contrast between the second piece in each of the versions (an Aaron Copland piece that I didn't change from the way it existed in the actual film) and the opening piece change how you feel about both? How does each different piece unite or separate the disparate images of the main title. Note that I have not changed the picture at all in any of the three cuts. Note that some of the cuts hit the beat and others do not (Lee's original choice hits the cuts the least, by the way). Also note the entrance of sound effects as the story begins. You should be able to recognize the full range of tools that you have working for you.

At a Filmmakers' Symposium on April 20th and 21st, 1998, Jon Kilik, producer of HE GOT GAME, was interviewed. One of the students at the symposium asked him what made him decide on Aaron Copeland for the music. Kilik's response was:

Basketball has today become the classic American sport, and if it's not already more popular than baseball, it is at least giving baseball a run for its money. With the Coney Island backdrop -- representing the fall of an American dream, per se, it seemed like it was a patriotic quality to the music that we wanted to incorporate into these other elements of the American pastime of basketball, and the classic Americana and patriotism that copeland's music symbolizes. You know to me, it brings back a lot of the classic movies with that big strong orchestration like, ON THE WATERFRONT, and there is something about the rite of passage and the coming of age that we felt mixed well with the images.

Going back to the examples we saw in class, you can ask yourself some questions. How do each of the three musical choices contrast or complement the title design? The images? The style of the images? How does each choice affect Kilik's examples of patriotism.

We will also discuss the ways in which the editor and director work with the composer, music editor and music supervisors to craft the music in the film. An interesting series of articles by Christine Luethje on the job of the music editor can be found on the FilmMusicMag site.

High NoonWe'll never have time for it, but it would be nice to look at a short scene from HIGH NOON, the classic 1952 Gary Cooper western, directed by Fred Zinneman. In this scene, Cooper sits down at his desk after every single person in the town has chosen not to join him in his showdown with the notoriously deadly Miller gang, come back to the town seeking revenge on Cooper for putting one of them away years before. The score by Dimitri Tiomkin neatly marks the passage of time as we await the arrival of the remaining group of villains arriving on the train. Note especially the way the music ends -- in pure silence. This scene is discussed in a recent New York Times interview with director Wolfgang Peterson. Note how the use of music ties together the use of parallel cutting between all of the major characters in the story, returning to Cooper periodically in image but constantly in the heroic, but dirge-like, music. The analysis of this scene must surely have been about plot as well as character; Cooper's mission is overtaking his life (he has virtually broken up with Grace Kelly, his new bride, at this point in the story). How does the music tell us about character and the oncoming showdown? How do the choices of entrance and exit points affect that message?

A blow-by-blow plot description of the film appears on the filmsite.org page.

DIUsing our DALLAS exercise, we are also going to be discussing the workflow involved in creating a Digital Intermediate. At its core, the DI (as it is referred to) is a digital copy of your film -- fully colored corrected, including all visual effects and titles. It is called an intermediate because it is used as the copy from which all other "deliverables" are made.

These deliverables can include a 35mm film print, H.264 Quicktimes for web delivery, DCP digital files for theatrical distribution, tapes and digital files for television, NTSC, PAL and SECAM tapes for standard definition television deliveries, Quicktimes for Vimeo, Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, etc. (note that there will certainly be at least one separate file format for each of these companies, but that some companies might require multiple formats), HDCam and HD-SR tapes, alternate files and tapes with foreign languages or subtitles on them (or without subtitles -- this is called a textless background, and is a requirement for all theatrical deliveries).

A list of deliverables, circa 2009, can be found here. Another one, slightly more recent, can be found on Yahoo Voices.


(The following handouts will be given out this week. Click on the blue highlighted terms to get to the actual handouts.)

DALLAS Editor's Dailies Notes Pages
Before every dailies screening, the assistant editor puts together a list of every take that we'll be seeing in the order of the screening (sometimes this is a different order than shot order, at other times it is the same -- I generally ask my director what order he/she prefers). This is the list for the material you are editing this week.
FLEx and ALE files for DALLAS editing exercise
The FLEx file is especially important, as the intermediary between the telecine house and the NLE you are editing on. You will convert the FLEx file to the ALE that Avid can use. When you are done, it should look like the ALE file that I've suppled in the Zip file. These two files are combined into one Zip file.The file should also be on a CD in your class locker.
Sample EDL
This is a theoretical sample EDL. There are many types of EDLs and many settings. You should always make sure you have the right one. This one is sorted in A-mode, meaning in the order that it appears in the final project. Note also the naming convention for the sequence name.
Avid Cut Lists
Here are some full-length samples, from Magic Filmworks (a premier neg cutting service in Burbank). They are the Pull List, the Assemble List, the Optical Pull List, and the Optical List. Their website also features a number of other lists, some of which we will see later on this semester, on their download page.
Digital Intermediate Handouts
These three handouts are all about possible Digital Intermediate workflows. One is a simplified chart of how DIs are created and used. A second one is an article from Film and Video Magazine called "A DI Workflow for Indie Film." (pretty exciting title, eh?). The third gives two workflows involving file-based capture, in this case the RED Camera.
Midterm Evaluation
At this point every semester I like to get a sense on how the class is going. Pleased take a few minutes to fill this out and bring it to class.
What Does Everyone DO in Film Music? (PDF file)
On a big feature film there are an array of people who guide the creation of the score -- apart from the director, producer and studio. This handout attempts to sort through some of the categories on a typical film.
Clearing Music For A Film (PDF file)
Do you know the difference between synch licenses and master licenses? You'll need both if you're going to use a song or some pre-existing music in a film. Can you use three notes of "Happy Birthday" and get away with it? This handout will help you get through this.
Film Scoring - Technical and Aesthetic Considerations (PDF file)
A short mini-course by a film composer, downloaded from his web site. You can access this and a few other items, by going to Mark Slater's Geocities site, which is still in an early stage of creation.
How Does A Composer Think and Work? (PDF File)
This 1997 interview with Danny Elfman talks about getting into the heads of the directors he works with, his use of "leitmotif", the fish tank scene in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and his work with Tim Burton. An excerpt of the interview, originally published in Film Score Monthly, was handed out in class. The complete interview, along with many other articles on film music, is available in the Film Score Monthly site.
Richie Marks talks about editing RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS (PDF file)
There is some discussion about things that we have been talking about in class -- maintaining style and tone, and how to create a relationship with a director.
Editing For Story (PDF File)
In this interview, Mark Goldblatt discusses keeping your eye on a trim, well-constructed story, while reworking your movie during cut after cut after cut after cut.
Richie Marks talks about "You've Got Mail" (PDF File)
This handout, just a little out of date, will give you a sense of what you should be asking as you sit there in your editing room.
101 Reasons To Insist On An Assistant (PDF File)
This pretty much details what an Avid assitant needs to do on a day-to-day basis.
Pulldown Explained (PDF File)
You're going to be working with video, so you might as well get used to the fact that it's at 30 frames per second rather than 24 frames that film is shot in. This chart explains how video is derived from film.

Assignment for Next Time

dallas sceneRead and line the DALLAS script
If you haven't done it already, line the script for the DALLAS scene.
Watch and take dailies notes
We talked today about how to look at dailies. Make your dailies notes sheets and do notes on all of the takes.
Decide how you're going to edit the scene
This will involve discussion between the both editors. It will also involve a discussion of what has changed between your original analysis of the script and what the footage actually tells you.

Added Material

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Glossary of Terms Used In Film Music
This is a list of tons of terms that people use in film music, in particular in licensing music for film, that I compiled for a Web site that I'm doing for the Universal Music Publishing Group.
Film Music Articles on filmsound.org
A list of intellectual articles, useful links, and other assorted Web sites on film music. Excellent.
What Does A Scoring Session Look Like?
The first picture on this page, borrowed from trumpet player Jon Lewis' web site (which is a sort of scrapbook about the Los Angeles music recording scene) shows the set-up of the big music recording stage on the old MTM lot. The second shows David Newman conducting his score for GALAXY QUEST.
Wolfgang Peterson Talks About "High Noon"
In this interview from the New York Times Peterson talks about the influence that this 1952 Fred Zinneman had a young boy in post-war Germany. Along the way he talks about the use of music in the film, especially the use of silence combined with music.
Filmmusic Magazine
A series of links from the rather thorough and interesting Filmmusic Magazine, including an article on what everyone in the film music industry actually does.
Music Editing On "Return To Me"
Michael Jay, the music editor on Bonnie Hunt's film, talks about how he confronted two complicated music editing problems, relating to using old songs in the soundtrack and recording music to a pre-existing track with a variable tempo.
Sundance/Slamdance directors talk about using music in their films
What most of them discuss is creating an atmosphere for communication between themselves and their composers.
Interview with Michael Small and Carter Burwell (PDF File)
The half that I want you to look at is an interview with two composer's -- Michael Small and Carter Burwell -- who have some interesting things to say about how to look at filmed music. Note that this is rather large PDF download and will require that you have Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Interview with Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker (PDF file)
This is one of a series of articles which I write for the Editors Guild magazine, in which I interview editors (and, in this case, the director) about how a particular scene came to be edited. Over the next few weeks I will be linking to a number of them, in the hope that we can further our understanding of the storytelling of a scene.
24 vs 30 seconds explained
This page, from Digiconform, explains some of what we've been talking about in terms of pulldown, in a little more detail.
Edward Dmytryk's Rules Of Editing
This handout, from the Chicago Mediaworks documentary editing class, lists a number of rules that the late editor, writer and director (and former USC teacher, I believe) sets out in his book On Film Editing. There are a few rules that I would disagree with but, all in all, it's a pretty good encapsulation of many of the issues that we are talking about in this class. I repeat here his wonderful advice about cutting for value. In it he says that when a choice comes between editing for a match cut and for dramatic values:
Ignore the mismatch. If a cut from wide shot to CU should be made for dramatic value, the audience will ignore the mismatch. The important thing is to know where the viewer will be looking. Dramatic requirements must always takes precedence over the mere aesthetics of editing.
Forest Lawn Grave Sites
For the more morbid among you, this is a site that lists all of the famous names buried in that famous Hollywood cemetery -- Forest Lawn. It is part of a larger site devoted to graveyards across the world. Frankly, I'm not sure why I'm giving you this link, but as I was doing research on Edward Dmytryk, whose link (two above this) seems to have coincidentally expired, I ran across it. No big point I'm trying to make with this. It's just fun.
Delivery Requirements
Different networks and distributors ask for different things. Here are the requirements for a small company called Hearfilm. Here is one for Film Australia. Here is a very thorough one for the BBC 4 family. The German film and television industry is notoriously complex in its delivery requirements and here is one network's contract to prove it. And here is a great one showing how complex foreign delivery is for a commercial. An article on Film Threat about delivering of materials also provides background.

Though I've tried to accomodate other browsers THIS SITE IS DESIGNED FOR BEST USE WITH IE for the PC, SAFARI for the Mac, and FIREFOX for both the PC and the Mac. It also looks reasonably good on the iPhone. Lucked out on that!

All material, except where noted, ©1999-2013 by Norman Hollyn. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an e-mail at my office
Last Modified - October 15, 2013