March 22, 2007

The Class This Week


Assignment for Next Week

Additional Material

shutupwideshotToday, our class is devoted to one thing and one thing only -- looking at how our movie has changed since our last cut. This version, v299 in the v200 series (which, once again, means that this is the second full-length version of the film that we are putting up on screen and watching), is substantially shorter than it was when we watched the v100 series cut three weeks ago. Many things have been removed. Many have been rearranged. Some others have been restructured.

The questions we need to ask ourselves after we watch the film today (please do not ask yourselves these questions during the screening, we should try and watch the movie as an audience, not as filmmakers) are the same ones we've asked ourselves before. How does this movie represent the things that we discussed way back in Week 2 -- the logline? Have we solved some of the problems that we identified after the last screening? Which problems still exist? What new ones have we uncovered? Which new ones have we created? And, finally, which ones have we solved? (Pat yourselves on the backs for that!) .

Notes on Digital Film Editing (PDF File)
This is an excerpt from a rather scholarly, but very interesting article on the effects of technology on editing, goes over some uncovered ground. The author, Gerhard Schumm, bemoans the editors' dependence on technology, feeling that it will enforce a trend away from meaningful films, in favor of technology toy-playing. On the other hand, he feels that the NLE system provides a way around the tedious and creativity stopping work associated with film editing. In an interesting sidelight, he talks about how the technology is changing the process of mentoring new editors. You can read the entire article at the website here but this excerpt is, I think, very appropriate for the process that we are now undergoing as we re-edit SHUT UP AND SING.

... in order to be able to use this artistic freedom you need two things: time and discipline.

You need time to take a break for revising the material and to turn an attentive eye to the struggling images, despite the option of flipping through the material at the speed of light. You need discipline so that picking up on your work so far does not turn into a mindless poking about in an abundance of variants.

It will come as no surprise to some of you that I disagree on a large number of Schumm's points. In particular, I disagree that the arrival of NLEs has meant that we no longer need to order and arrange since "simply pushing a button, ins and outs, sequences and edits appear - just like that." I also disagree with him that during traditional editing, the cut "becomes more rigid, exchange becomes more difficult." I also have difficulty squaring his process -- Sorting footage, assembly as a rough sketch, rough cut, first cut, fine cuts and final cut. He also seems to feel that the first stage, sorting footage, is done "uninfluenced by a sense of story." This shows a shocking insensitivity to the value of thinking about story. And it is this story analysis which, as you know, I believe is the cornerstone of everything we do in the editing room.

Still, the piece does point out a number of needs and this searching for the time and discipline to do one's work properly is the most cogent. Anne Coates once told me that when she cut OUT OF SIGHT, her first experience in digital editing, she consciously had to work slower than the technology allowed her, in order to recapture some of that thinking time. One of the challenges, that we will each confront as we go through re-editing in a time-starved world, is how to allow us time for the creative process to percolate. As I've said before, some of that comes from screening the picture in front of audiences on a regular basis. On other films, it may be helpful to bring on an additional editor half way through the editing period to give everyone a fresh eye. I also use the "sense memory" method to remember my reactions the first time I saw a piece of footage, or the first time I saw something edited together.
Digital Theatres Pay Off (PDF File)
This article from Reuters on March 20, 2004, points out where digital cinema is going to make incresing sense in the future for independent filmmakers. Pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs and think about them.
Regal programmed satellite broadcasts of five concerts in 2003 from old rock bands like The Grateful Dead to newer sensations like Coldplay, and has plans for more this year. Educational groups have also made use of its network, and some 60 churches use it to link up to Sunday morning services.
Imagine what could be possible with these cheaper projectors and your films.
Kodak Partners With Movie Tunes in Cinema Premiere (PDF Files)
In conjunction with the above article on digital theatres, take a look at some of the things that Kodak is doing with its digital cinema initiative. The exhibition world is rapidly changing. The real question is whether the production and distribution worlds can catch up.

Recut based on my and the class' notes
This time, you have only one week to turn your cut around (it is due by 12 noon this coming Tuesday). This is precisely the process that exists on a feature in The Real World. As the editing moves from the first cut, to the second, to the third, the amount of time that you need should get less and less. On many studio pictures, we're turning a new cut around every week (including temp dubbing and previewing).
Start thinking about the DVD and titles
In the next few weeks, if all goes well, we should have a visit by a DVD producer. He will discuss DVD creation at a very high level. We will be doing something much less ambitious but it isn't too early to start thinking of what your own chapter heading will look like. I would like each one of you, using footage from your sequence, to come up with something that is decidedly you. This will become the menu chapter heading for your portion of the DVD. Start thinking about it now. We also will probably be assigning one of us to create a titles sequence of some sort. Let's get some ideas kicking around.
Start thinking about sound
Get together your notes on sound effects that you need and email them to me. I'm going to try and put together a sound effects CD with some of the effects on them. You should also avail yourself of our sound effects library.
Start thinking about a trailer
Though this isn't a class in marketing, often the editor gets involved in supplying material to the trailer house. One or two of us (actually, as many of you who would like, but it probably won't be more than one or two) will be able to do a trailer for the film. Start thinking of the concept.
Continue to work on your resume
Janet Conn will be back April 26. As a result, she would like to have your completed resume by April 20. This means that you should be taking advantage of her offer to speak with her in time to rewrite your resume.

Interview with me on Moviemaker Magazine's website
Moviemaker Magazine, for whom I've written a few articles, did a two-part interview with me about the thought processes of editing, teaching editing, and much more. They also asked me for ten things I've learned in the editing world. The link above will take you to my copy of the interview. If you want to see the interview within the magazine's site (something that I'd recommend, since they have a lot of great interviews) click the link right here.
DV Magazine Article on Digital Dailies [May require registration to read article]
It's getting more and more ubiquitous (now that's an SAT word) to have digital dailies both on location and in town. This article, from DV Magazine, talks about the process that one film went through in 2003. By the way, DV Magazine is an excellent resource for all things digital -- cameras as well as post-productino equipment.
Film Editing - A Hidden Art
This excellent article, from POV Magazine, discusses just what types of problems and contributions the process of editing deals with in the creation of the storytelling process. The author, Vinca Wiedeman, has a very insightful discussion about why the first cut of a film rarely does what the script hints at. It is our job, as editors, to try and reclaim the things that the script hinted at and make it present, despite the number of issues that the shooting introduced.