April 12, 2007

The Class This Week


Assignment for Next Week

Additional Material

This week we're going to be looking at three parts of the editing process -- DVD Authoring, Trailer/Marketing Creation, and Music.

MArk RowenThere are editing room jobs that have not really changed appreciably since the days of upright Moviolas. Editors are still viewing dailies and determining cut points. Assistants are still calling screening rooms to book dates for previews. People still need their stationery supplies and their coffee.

There are also jobs that have changed drastically -- assistant editors used to be librarians, now they tend to be computer repair people.

Finally, there are the jobs that didn't even exist ten years ago and are only becoming more important as the years go on. Tonight we will talk about one of those -- the DVD Producer. Our guest tonight is Mark Rowen who has his own company which creates DVDs for a number of clients, most notably Dreamworks. Mark oversees all aspects of the studio's DVD production process including content development, menu design, compression, authoring, and technology advancements for DreamWorks' domestic and international titles. Some of the high profile titles Rowen has produced include Shrek, the best selling DVD of all time, Almost Famous/Untitled -- The Bootleg Cut, which was honored for its artistic and creative merits at the inaugural Festival de Cannes Collection, as well as the Steven Spielberg DVD titles Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, and Catch Me If You Can; the animated hits Chicken Run, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Antz; and as a co-producer on the highly acclaimed Gladiator DVD. Mark is also a commercials director and producer. His clients have included Walt Disney Home Video, CBS Sports, Shell Oil, Nike, Twentieth Century Fox, among others.

The important thing to know about DVD Production is that it is increasingly becoming crucially important in the making and marketing of a film. No longer is it a stepchild, but it is now a vital and extremely part of the filmmaking process. Later in the semester, after we lock our film and do some sound and music work on it, we will take a week and create a DVD-R master of our work. Though we won't take the time to create a lot of extras, the way Mark talks about tonight, we will be able to create some basic moving menus and work our way through a trimmed down version of the process that we talked about tonight. Now is not too early to think about what you would like your menu to look like.


Music. I find that this is one of the things that scares directors the most. It's most out of their hands until a big recording session and then it's hard to change it if it isn't working.

So the key for most filmmakers, including editors, is to figure out how music can work within the film, and how to talk to the composers who will craft that. That's what tonight's class is all about.

David Newman , who I first met many many years ago on HEATHERS, will be visiting us today to talk about thinking like a music person and, in the process, how to talk to a composer. David has been writing music for many different types of films - as well as writing symphonic music (you can click on his picture to the left to go to his IMDb credits list).

When I was a music editor I used to describe music to directors (when they asked, of course) as being like an extra character in a scene, except a character that represented the relationships between the on-screen characters. This led to the natural outgrowth that they should talk with a composer like they would an actor. What is the scene about? Where are the changes (beats) in the scene that the actors/music must shape their performance around?

David will show some samples of work in which he took temp cues and evolved them into a finished cue, from SERENITY and HEATHERS (if there's time). We will also stage a mock spotting session with one of the scenes from SHUT UP AND SING so we can see up close, just how musical discussions with a composer work.

We are also going to be talking about the trailer and the title sequence, beginning our thoughts that will hopefully move us towards the creation of these elements within the next few weeks (we don't have much time left, do we?)

In Sync -- five columns from Film Music Magazine (PDF File)
Film Music Magazine (online at www.filmmusicmag.com) ran these five columns from Christine Luethje a few years ago. Yet they still are very good descriptions of what a music editor does and doesn't do.
Interview with Shannon Halwes (PDF FIle)
Halwes was music editor for the television series TAKEN. In this interview, she talks about her transition from film student and filmmaker to music editor. She also talks about using music in films.
The Slice and Dice of Music Editing (PDF File)
Bret Perry, who is a producer and music editor for Music Consultants Group, Inc. This article, written for music production company Taxi's web site, describes the life of music in a filmed production. Of particular note is his discussion (directed at composers, but of use to us) as to what editors look for when adding music to a film.
Digitally Obsessed Interview with Mark Rowen
One of our handouts tonight is a shortened version of an interview with Mark from the web site digitallyobsessed.com, a web site devoted to all things DVD. The link above will take you to the complete interview.
So, You Want To Make DVDs, Huh?
This article, from Creative Cow, a fantastic site for articles on all manner of digital video topics, is a look at how DVD creation is deceptively simple. The link above takes you to the article, within the Creative Cow site.
All About Menus
This three part series of articles by Alex Alexzander, is also from the Creative Cow site, and is a great blow-by-blow description of some of the things that we may be working on when we get to our DVD Studio Pro work in the class. And while that day is several weeks away, this article is long enough that I wanted to give it to you tonight, while DVD creation is fresh in your mind.

Smooth out the sound
Your big job this week is to smooth out all of the dialogue and begin work on the sound effects. In some places I hear overlapping lines of dialogue. Where this is not desirable, fix it. Make sure that all off mic lines are replaced with the best readings of the on-mic lines. Also, smooth out the levels so all scenes are at the same volume. Note that your volume should never rise above the tone at the top of your cut, but it shouldn't ride much below it either.
I want the trailer work to start this week so we can look at a sample or two next week. Every trailer which is cut will be on the final DVD and remember that trailer editing is a viable career path today, so it's worth your while to give it some thought.
Finish your final resume and email it to Janet Conn by next Wednesday
Janet Conn will be back in two weeks to finish going over your resumes. Hopefully you have all sent her copies of the rough drafts of your resumes. She is going to spend about 15 minutes individually with each one of you in order to hone your resumes. But, in order to do that, she needs to have them by next Wednesday. Send them to her as soon as you've got them done BUT IN NO CASE later than 4/19/05.

Sound On Sound Article on David Newman
This is an article on David that talks alot about the equipment and process that he uses.
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.
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, expecially the use of silence combined with music.
Editing Pearl Jams Music Videos
This article talks about the workflow from shooting through editing concert footage using Final Cut Pro.
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.
Mark Rowen discusses THE ROAD TO PERDITION
In 2003 Sam Mendes directed a very powerful, very nuanced character study based on the comic book, THE ROAD TO PERDITION. Mark Rowen, tonight's guest, was in charge of producing the Dreamworks' DVD for the film. In this interview he discusses when the DVD creation starts and who is involved with it.
DVD Power Players
This page, from the Video Premiere Awards, gives short descriptions of a number of people and companies who are now specializing in (and, I might add, making a living from) creating DVDs for a wide variety of clients.
This interview, with Charles de Lauzirika, is about working with director Ridley Scott on his DVDs. He is also interviewed in DVD Times about the film.
IGN Insider Interviews Jeffrey Schwarz, Producer of the FINAL DESTINATION DVD
Schwarz makes the point that more people are going to see the filmmakers' film on DVD than in the theatres. This puts a lot of pressure on DVD producers to come up with memorable and pleasing works, which still sells the film. Schwarz is also interviewed in DVD Times about STARSHIP TROOPERS.
Howard Rodman's article on Dede Allen
Howard Rodman, the head of the screenwriting division here at USC, did an interview/article with Dede Allen in 2002. This article includes this great quote on how she works.
Her program is to look at the footage, again and again and again, until she's memorized it--and memorized the smallest details of performance. Then she goes to work, typically preparing a rough assemblage even as the director is on the set. When the shooting stops, Allen and the director watch the footage yet again. ...she dives in, selecting the frames, slicing up the work print, gluing it together in an assortment of ways. As often as possible she will project the entire film, in sequence, to see where a segment fits into the larger picture, to see the fore-and aftershocks of any given change. She will run the film not only on an editing machine but in a theater with a full-size screen. "In order to know the effect of what you're doing, and to keep knowing it," she says, "you need perspective time, you need proscenium-arch time."
Creative Mac's section on DVD Studio Pro
Creative Mac is a great web site for many of media software programs, including Avid Xpress, Final Cut and DVD Studio Pro. This section has a number of tutorials and tips about DVD Studio Pro, to supplement what we talk about today.