February 1, 2007


The Class This Week


Assignment for Next Week

Additional Material

This week we will be looking at as many of the cuts as we can, including some of the re-edited scenes. You'll notice that last week, as we examined each scene we kept on asking ourselves (or, to be precise) I kept on asking you: "How does this go back to the underlying logline of the film. This will be our mantra for the next several weeks as we race to complete a first cut of the film. At that time we will be able to ask ourselves if the film truly represents the logline and, if not, how we can adapt either our editing or our logline. Justin took notes during out discussion last week and a PDF file of them is online here.

The scenes that I looked at this past week were all really good, so you deserve the special sign that I got the Pack Place Theatre in Asheville, North Carolina to give us. Over the next twelve weeks I'll post some other signs that you deserve. Be on the lookout for them.

Another aspect of the post-production process that we should be aware of is the schedule. Every week we need to be checking back with our post production schedule. How much time do we have left to complete the first cut of the film (that's three weeks)? Are you on track for that? What do you have to do to make that schedule? What needs to change.

When I work on a movie I generally meet with my director and post supervisor once a week (I like to do it on Monday mornings, at the very beginning of the week, but it doesn't really matter when we do it). There, we look at the detailed post schedule and ask ourselves: "Are we are on track to make all of the dates listed for the next seven days?" If we aren't, we figure out what needs to change in order that we CAN make it, or we figure out how to change the schedule so we can. Then we look at the NEXT week after that and ask ourselves the same questions. And, finally, we look three weeks out. The idea is that, if we've got a schedule that is detailed enough to tell us exactly what we should be doing over the next three weeks, we can keep in control of the schedule. If we don't keep on top of it, then the post schedule controls us, and that's when the schedule starts slipping.

We'll talk some more about post schedules over the next three months. But knowing how to finish a film on time and on budget is almost as important as finishing it with great editing. Some would say that it is more important.

In the second half of our class we'll have a visit from Jen Harrington, a recent USC alumnus who (very quickly out of school) got a job as an assistant editor for a company that produces reality television. She is now editing for a living and we will talk, today, about two things. First, what it takes to organize a production. Second, we will talk about what it takes to get a job out of school.

For those of you who want to become editors, your first job in an editing room will probably not be as a full editor but as an assistant editor. For those of you who do end up editing first, most of you will be on films with a low enough budget that you will need to be your own assistant editor. As a result, a discussion of what the assistant does in an editing room and how to organize your material is very important.

Organizing an editing room and organizing your Avid workspace are crucial skills towards removing the barriers that can stop you, as an editor, from thinking freely. The less the equipment and the process gets in the way, the more free your thought processes can be towards creating the perfect cut. To that end, we will discuss organization and paperwork with Jen. Jen, pretty much right outside of school, started working on the reality television production company, running their Unity networking system and working with a team of editors. Today she will discuss a number of things -- how she got to where she is today, where she sees herself going, and what it is that she does at her job. The handouts that you received in week two came from a job that she was working on last year (an Avid Projects Folder and a number of screen shots of project bins -- PL 105, the pilot for Hotel, and How Clean Is Your House?). Notice how she groups similar items and how she names clips.

Reality Show Continuity
This is an excerpt from a longer document of the video and audio portion of one of the shows that Jen Harrington worked on. It shows the type of detail that goes into crafting these shows.
Music Cue Sheet
One of Jen's job is making sure keeping track of all music that is used in the final show. This cue sheet is excerpted from a larger cue sheet from show 413.
Show 422 Project File
Notice how Jen groups the footage bins together into usable chunks for the editor, but also has folders for other uses below.
Walter Murch interviews Anne Coates (PDF File)
Anne Coates is one of the seminal editors of our time, having worked on films such as different as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and OUT OF SIGHT. Here she is interviewed by another top editor and theoretician, Walter Murch, who we will have occasion to mention in this class several times before the semester is out. In this interview, after discussing Anne's beginnings, they delve into several interesting topics. In particular, look at the discussion of making editing a very personal thing. Often I hear the complaint that editing isn't as personal as creating a film. I guess that means writing and directing. These two top editors prove that statement wrong, wrong, wrong. In my opinion, good editing only works when you make the material meaningful and personal to yourself. You need to feel the characters' feelings, you need to crawl inside the story's brain and heart. And you can only do that if you go deep in yourself. Editing isn't therapy, of course, but good heartfelt editing certainly can feel like it.
Careers In Post Production (PDF File)
Several years ago, the Editors Guild held a panel discussion about getting into the world of post production. Though some of it is outdated and its audience was much greener than you folks are, the article holds up pretty well as its panelists discuss career paths and what is necessary to be a success in the various paths.
Editorial Workflow for a Video Finish (PDF File)
SHUT UP was captured on film and this chart shows the path/workflow for a film capture/video finish work flow. Next week we will see some other work flows.

Check out the Post Production Schedule
Where are you in your own schedule? How many scenes do you have left to edit in your section? How "on time" are you? Will you make the first cut date? These are all decisions that an editor must make on a daily basis.
Edit further scenes in your section
Try to schedule them so you can complete in the time allotted. Look at the biggest scenes in your section. Maybe this is the time to tackle them, before you get too deep into it. Are you considering music? Do you need sound effects? Start to make a list of all sound effects that you would like and all ADR that you'd like (you won't get it, but I always keep a list in a book so it's all in one place. In fact, I keep a book with all of my notes from screenings and my own thoughts. If there is an ADR line that is mentioned, I'll write it down and jot the letter "ADR" in the left margin, so it's easy to find. The same thing with notes about sound effects ("FX") and music ("MX").
Begin to think about your accomplishments in film editing
In a few weeks we will be having our first visit from a job consultant. In preparation for her visit, I'd like you to start making a list of accomplishments. Think of (and write down) every little thing that you've done on every film that you've ever worked on -- at USC or elsewhere. Synching dailies, talking with optical houses, preparing EDLs and OMFs, coordinating lab and sound work, etc. etc. You've got a few weeks to do this, but I wanted you to start now. You'd be surprised at how much you've done that you don't realize.

EDL Requirements
Victory Post, in Seattle, has certain requirements for the Avid EDLs that it uses for its online sessions. Their requirements are specific to them but are not unusual. This page gives the details as well as linking out to a screen shot of what the EDL dialogue box in Avid should look like for them. Another pair of EDL settings can be found here, note that there are two links to "screen dumps" which show what the EDL Manager should look like.
Ben Hershleder's Tips and Techniques page
Ben Hershleder, an Avid editor, has compiled a great page of tips and suggestions for Avid editors.
Compilation of Avid Tips pages
Even better, here is a listing of a slew of pages of Avid Tips.
Alan Stewart's Zero Cut
Alan is an Australian editor who was employed by Avid for a while. He's compiled a great web site, which has a large number of documents specific to editing, including a list of items that should appear on a Telecine Spec Sheet. His sample Film Cut List is here.