Lesson #14

December 1, 2014

 

This is your last class before the final project is due.

Your project is due at the next class.

 

Assignments for Next Week

Handouts for this Week


Lesson

Very Very Short Films -- Commercials and Music Videos

Tonight we will discuss short form editing -- commercials, music videos, and trailers. These fifteen second to four minute films have a language all of its own, though longer form filmmakers constantly adopt the styles of their shorter form brethren. I doubt that the hand-held, jerky photography of films and television shows (like SE7EN or "Law and Order") could exist without several years of short form experimentation before it.

As different as the language of the short form film is, however, the questions that you ask to decide what types of style to use are all too familiar to us. You still ask yourself the same questions you've been asking all semester: how does one tell a story? Instead of asking how you can sell a particular emotion or understanding of story or character, you are now asking "How does one sell a product?" Instead of asking how you can rope the audience into your film in the first ten minutes you are asking how you can get their interest in the first three seconds?

Each commercial has an analysis, each one uses the tools best suited to that analysis. You can use elements of both in your own films say, during a montage. What do you want to say? What type of emotion and energy do you want the audience to begin with? What type do you want them to leave with? Not very different from what we usually go through, eh?

Kyle MinogueWe will be looking at one or two music videos. The first one is Michel Gondry's video for Kylie Minogue's (yeah, yeah, I know; I'm sorry) "Come Into My World." This video does not have a storyline in the way the next video does, yet it very definitely takes off from the lyrics and then takes its shape from the lyrics. To excerpt from Gondry's treatment for the video, "The fact that Kylie will always come back to the same starting point exchose the hypnotic repetitiveness of the track."

As you look at the video, think of how the piece is shaped -- where are the breaks? There is very definitely a lean-forward moment as the "trick" of the video is revealed to the audience. Then, as we begin to understand what Gondy is up to, we start to look at the surrounding action, the people and activities that inogue walks through. Extras add to extras and we start to examine the very concept of time.

Then, ask yourself, where do these seminals moments come? At what point in the lyrics (since the lyrics are what the script is, in a music video) do these moments land? Then, as you see the shape of the video versus the lyrics you can start to look at how the editing works along with that, and there is editing even though this is a single-shot video.

Staind

Stinad
From Nigel Dick's music video for Staind's FOR YOU.

The next video we will look at, if we have time, tells a story, very much like any short film. As a result, it is instructive both as a music video and as a lesson in how to efficiently tell a story without needing strict continuity.

These compressed storytelling techniques are used in commercials and in music videos. If there's time, we'll take a look at the second music video-- in this case the Nigel Dick directed video for Staind's "For You". Read the handout and check out the lyrics to the song. Then see how Dick breaks down the song into storytelling sections and then check out how he does it in this video. What is the log line for the video? Where are the transition moments?

In addition to the music video we might look at some spots edited by the very talented folks at Avenue Edit.

Look at how each of these thirty second spots try to lead the audience through their own analysis. In the Squirt commercial, the idea is "This drink is fun! SQUIRT! This drink has energy! SQUIRT! You'll feel energetic! Buy SQUIRT!" The second commercial, uses MTV and videogame techniques to make the point that this is a game that sucks you in..

Each commercial has an analysis, each one uses the tools best suited to that analysis. You can use elements of both in your own films -- say, during a montage. What do you want to say? What type of emotion and energy do you want the audience to begin with? What type do you want them to leave with? Not very different from what we usually go through, eh?

And, in the unlikely event that we have any extra time, we're going to be looking at a short film called "True" which started the "Whuzzup?" craze.

We will also try and squeeze in a trailer or two.

A few semesters ago, instead of this short film class, we had a discussion about editing for acting in a film, with Jason Alexander guest speaking. The description of that class can be found by clicking here.


Handouts

Writing The Treatment for Music Videos (PDF File)
Though we won't be watching this video tonight, it still merits talking about. Prolific music video writer/director Nigel Dick talks about how he comes up with treatments for the music videos that he directs/writes. Note that he is dealing with story telling throughout the process. Even music videos which don't appear to tell a story, really are. He talks about the three act structure and how he identifies important moments in the song. Think of beats, and you'll realize that he's talking about the same things that we've been talking about for the last fifteen weeks.
Script and Treatment for Kylie Minogue's "Come Into My World" (PDF File)
This handout includes several things. First are the lyrics for the song. Since this is the basic script for a music video you can look at it for shape and lean forward moments (though that terms makes more sense after listening to the song -- which is essential, of course). Then there is a quote from Gondry about "time" followed by his initial treatment for the video.
How To Edit/Post-Produce An Animated Film (PDF File)
Putting together an animated film has many similarities and many differences to putting together a live-action dramatic film. This interview with two of the people responsible for 2000's RUGRATS IN PARIS talks about the use of music, planning, foley and all of the usual post-production necessities.
The Art Of Cutting Commercials - Two Spots for Office.com (PDF File)
An interview, conducted by AvidUniverse, with Owen Plotkin, a commercials editors who edited three office.com spots, one of which ("Runner") played during the Super Bowl. If you go to the interview on AvidUniverse's web site you can see a QuickTime movie of the spot. If you do, check out the spot "Runner" and notice the use of jump cutting. Plotkin discusses the use of these cuts to compres time and build tension in service of the sense of humor. Notice also the use of the bell sound effect as the running man has his idea. This is the use of a sound effect for humorous effect.
'Fish", "Ladybug" and 'Butterfly': Commercials (PDF File)
Two spots for eve.com, caused editor Einar to throw out the storyboards and create ideas without some of the images that were going to be digitally inserted later.
Script for Stain'd's "For You" music video (PDF File)
I don't know if we'll be getting to it tonight, but the video for Stain'd's "For You" is an example of how to take a song, get inside its lyrics and then plot out a video where (clearly) the director, Nigel Dick, had very limited time with the band. Take a look at the script and see if you can find the beats and moments where "things" might happen.
Editing A Beck Music Video (PDF File)
Emily Denis edited the 2000 Beck video, "Mixed Bizness". In this interview she discusses some of the process of being hired, laying out the video, and working with the director.
CRIMSON TIDE Script Pages (PDF File)
This is the same 17 page PDF file that was handed out last week. Note that this is a early version of the script, so it varies from the footage that you have, which was rewritten on set.
CRIMSON TIDE Additional Material (PDF File)
This is a list of the additional material -- both picture, sound effects, and music that you will be receiving this and next week in order to complete your final CRIMSON TIDE project. Note that one of the things that you will be graded on for this final project is your ability to expertly go from the music that exists in the interstitial scenes you'll get next week, and the music that you'll add from this CD. They don't have to be musically perfect, but they should be editorially sophisticated.
The Psychology of the Cutting Room (PDF File)
The internal dynamics of an editing room are discussed in this article from the ACE magazine by Edgar Burcksen, who sounds like he was a bit too feisty for a long while at the start of his career.

Assignments

Cut Scene 83 and 86/87 from CRIMSON TIDE
This is a new scene for our final project. In fact, it is the final scene in the sequence that you will be editing. As such, it is the culmination of the tension that has been unfolding between our two lead players -- Bear (Gene Hackman) and Hunter (Denzel Washington). Next week, in addition to a new scene, you will also be receiving all of the interstitial scenes, precut as they exist in the finished film. You will need to use only the music from the folder that I gave you last week. You will need to start working the effects into the scene in a more thorough way than in past weeks. Give thought to how they will shape the audience reaction to the Lean Forward Moments you've created, and also the way in which they begin and end. Note that some of the music cues are quite long.You will also get the insert shots that we spoke about last week.
Complete and final CRIMSON TIDE sequence
Oveer the last few weeks, you have been adding to your sequence, scene by scene. This is exactly the way I would work in the real world -- where scenes come in out of order and I need to gradually build an entire film. This week you will be adding the interstitial scenes into your sequence. These scenes, which are already pre-edited, and come directly from the final film, come with a completely mixed soundtrack, including music and sound. When you are done you will have one complete sequence which runs from Scene 79 (which is supplied to you already edited), all the way through Sc. 113. (made up of your cuts and the rest of the interstitial scenes).
You need not use my notes from last week and this week to create your sequence if you feel they don't work. This week is all about your choices. I do expect you to integrate the insert shots you received last week. I also expect you to shape the music and sound effects that you received as well as integrating the music from the interstitial scenes in seamlessly. This exercise should test pretty much everything that you've learned in this class -- overlapping, rule of threes, emphasis, and most importantly -- scene analysis. You should make sure that every cut that you make fulfills your analysis. Make sure that you work your cuts professionally - smooth out the dialogue and sound, match cuts when it makes sense but don't slavishly match your cuts. If you can get away with a mismatch then do it (and remember the tricks that we've talked about to help you over those issues).
In addition, make sure that you have put a slate, bars and tone and a slate at the top of your final cut.
CRIMSON TIDE Logline
Each partnership will need to submit, along with the finished sequence, a two or three sentence logline of this CRIMSON TIDE sequence. It should lay out for me, as we've been doing the entire semester, just what your arc is for the piece. Whose sequence is it? What were you trying to show?
One Final Question
I'd like each of you to bring in to class one thing that you wish we had discussed or done in class, but we did not. I compile these and use them to make improvements in the class every semester.

Added Material

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Writings On Avant-Garde Film
Fred Camper, who compiled the Stan Brakhage Sites On The Web below, has a number of his writings on various Avant Garde filmmakers on the web. They are all in reference to particular filmmakers, but are fascinating nonetheless. There are also links to the webring for avant garde filmmaking. Webrings are collections of web sites devoted to the same topic -- in this case avant garde film -- that are all linked together.
Stan Brakhage on Criterion
The Criterion Company, who make the most amazing DVDs of new, old and specialized films (and made the Stan Brakhage college from which we watch the film tonight) have collected some fantastic resources on Brakhage, including much of the interviews that make up the backbone of the documentaries on Brakhage on the DVD.
Stan Brakhage Biography
This bio, from the Senses of Cinema web site, gives a historical context to Brakhage's place in avant garde cinema, coming out of the films of Maya Deren and the painters who Brakhage admired.
Senses of Cinema
This web site, decribing itself as "an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema," has some wonderful pieces on a wide variety of filmmakers and their films. It includes a number of fascinating Top Ten lists from film critics, who list films by directors as diverse as John Ford, Ingmar Bergman, Ermanno Olmi, Satyajit Ray, and Wong Kar-Wai.
Filmsite's List Of Musical and Dance Films
Filmsite, as the last page of a three-page survey of film musicals put together this list of influential and worth musical and dance films. This is part of a larger site with surveys divided into 25 major genres (very well divided up, if I may say so). They also have accumulated a number of Greatest lists, including the Greatest Films, Greatest Directors (and their films), Greatest Film Moments (they include for instance, the subjective point-of-view camera angles in the stalking of Jamie Lee Curtis in HALLOWEEN, and the sequence of the ticking clocks in HIGH NOON that we looked at several weeks ago), and my personal favorite -- the 100 Most Influential People In The History Of Movies (number one is WK Laurie Dickson, the inventor of the Kinetophonograph, called the true "Father" of film). Their list of favorite scenes from recent films, 1970s-1990s, includes some wonderful choices.
Short Diary of Making A Short Film
Back in 1997, a actor/writer/director named Keith Snyder got together with some people and made a film called 1 IS FOR MURDER. Though the diary of the making of this film is out of date in terms of the technology (his editing software didn't make EDLs, for instance) it still holds true in terms of the art behind it. Discussing his script, Snyder says:
You slaved over it. You poured your soul into it. You argued about it, beat yourself up over it, spilled coffee on it, procrastinated forever on it, and finally finished it. It's finally perfect. It is a work of sheer genius. You can see every scene, every shot, in your head. Hold on to that image. Clutch the script to your nose. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be as one with your yet-unborn movie. Enjoy

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Last Modified - December 1, 2013