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September 2, 2003
Assignments for Next Week
Handouts for this Week
Lesson for This Week
Examining The Cut
makes an editor choose a closeup rather than a wider shot? What leads
an editor to play a line of dialogue on the speaker vs. on the listener?
What is an L-cut? Through our screening of SAVING
PRIVATE RYAN, AMERICAN
BEAUTY and an analysis of a scene from NAKED
we will be learning about shot layouts, values, overlaps and what really
matters in the editing process. Hopefully we will gather knowledge
about how to approach a scene from an editorial point of view.We will
continue to emphasize the Rule of Threes. Don't forget it.
In NAKED, Mike Leigh's amazing look at a misanthropic characters on
the edge of society, a brilliant but desperately unhappy man, we will
get to look at a simple scene between two characters. Notice, using
the Naked shot breakdown, exactly
where Leigh chooses to cut from one shot to another. He often cuts in
the middle of a line, rather than before or after it. The exact word
that he cuts off of is important, because making a cut on a particular
word will emphasize that word. Look at how his edits emphasize the underlying
scene analysis -- the David Thewlis character is testing the Caitlin
Catridge character. How smart is she? How far can he push her?
We will also take a look at two scenes -- the scene from AMERICAN BEAUTY
that you received the script
pages for last week. We will also be looking at a scene from SAVING
PRIVATE RYAN. You can read the
script page for this scene and think about about them in concert
with the scene itself.
In AMERICAN BEAUTY try and perform a scene analysis. What is the scene
about? What do we know about the Annette Benning character before the
scene? What do we know about her afterwards? When does it change? Then,
take a look at the differences between the scene as scripted and the
scene. How does the editing strengthen the message, the underlying analysis,
of the scene?
Note how the sequence begins and ends, and how that style is different
than the intervening scenes. How does this mirror the scene analysis
(which I might venture a guess
is about showing that this character, like the others that we have already
met) is struggling to keep up appearances). We are set up to follow
Carol (Annette Benning) through her day, we see her bravely try and
sell her house, fighting off the depression forced on her by her failure,
until she breaks down.
Once again, we are looking at how a scene analysis affects
the editing of a scene. Notice the beats of the scene and see how the
cutting style is changed around them.
In SAVING PRIVATE RYAN much has been made of the opening twenty minutes
of the movie which is a high-impact, fast-cut look at a World War II
battle. That's all well and good but, in my experience, once you put
the issues of geography and clarity aside (not always an easy job but...)
cutting heavy action scenes like
that is easy compared to the simple character moments. We are going
to take a look at the scene in which the mother is notified that three
of her sons have died in battle, a scene in which not a word of dialogue
is spoken and much of the impact of the scene (manipulative in a brilliantly
typical Spielberg manner) is played in understated angles. Notice Spielberg's
use of framing. The major emotional moment is delivered on the mother's
back. Why do you think he chose to do it? Does it diminish the emotional
power of the scene?
Note the image of the mom with the chaplain that I've got here on this
page. It is an image which doesn't exist in the scene at all. We never
see her from the front, once she begins to get the idea of what news
the approaching car may bring her. What does the image of the mom crying
give you that the reverse image doesn't? Which works better for you?
Obviously, Spielberg chose to reveal her emotion by NOT showing her
face, a choice which forces us to imagine what it must be like for her.
However, not everyone will agree with this choice. Figuring out what
choices you, as a filmmaker, would make is what makes for good editing
We are also going to be choosing partners with whom you will be working
for the first half of the semester.
The following handouts will be given out this week. Click on the blue
highlighted terms to get to the actual handouts.
- NAKED Shot Breakdown
- This is a line-by-line and shot-by-shot breakdown of the scene from
Mike Leigh's NAKED that we will be examining in class today. Note
how things change around the areas that we've identified as beats
-- we move into closeups in one place and there are long overlaps
to watch David Thewlis' reactions in a second place.
- Sample Lined Script pages -- Lined
Page and Notes Page
(both in PDF format)
- These pages, from the film JUST LOOKING (originally shot as CHERRY
PINK) will give you an idea of how script pages are lined and how
shooting information is provided by the script supervisor to the editing
room personnel. Note that straight lines mean that the dialogue or
action described in thes script is on camera. Squiggly lines
mean that it is off camera for that shot.
- Editorial Technique Flow
- This layout will break down how I approach every project, every
scenes, every day's shoot, and every editorial choice and challenge.
It's not just making the action match.
- Log Line Examples
- These are examples, both good and bad, of log lines culled from
newspapers and other sources. For
an article about log lines from SCREEN TALK on log lines click here.
- Walter Murch talks about
THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
- Murch, who we will talk about more when we get into sound, gives
several tips on how you (as an editor) can analyze a scene, taking
notes, and remembering what is important.
- Script pages for THE
VISITOR (Scene 11)
- This scene, from an episode of the television show "Paradise",
is very straightforward in its execution. These are the script pages
for this first scene. You will need to line the pages to reflect the
dailies that you watch. For a PDF
copy of the scene click here.
- Avid Keyboarding
- As we go on with our discussion about Avid work, we will refer
back to this keyboard chart. Use it to remind yourselve where the
keyboard function live. In fact, use it to remind yourself what keyboard
functions Avid has.
- Avid Monitor Windows
- This is a screen shot (from the Avid Manuals) of a typical source/Record
Window screen. This is, in other words, what you'll be facing once
you start editing. The buttons may vary and, certainly, the footage
will as well. But the Avid window will look very much like this.
- Lassoing The Avid Timeline
- How to get inside the timeline and make things work for you. Useful
for draffing individual soundtracks to make L-cuts.
- Avid Commands
- This is a sometimes hard-to-read excerpt from the Avid 7.0 manual,
which lists a large number of the Avid commands. You will be getting
- Avid Handouts
- There are a number of screen shots of Avid keyboards and screens
that might help you as you begin to edit. These illustrations are
borrowed from the Avid 7.0 manuals. They include a sample Avid
keyboard layout, Avid
timelines, a list of Avid
commands, the Avid monitor,
and a shot of how to lasso cuts
on the Avid timeline. All of these handouts are also strung together
in one downloadable PDF
file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to see this handout.
Assignments for Next Week
- Log Line #1.
- You will be creating a log line based on an actual movie that you
have seen. It can be recent or old. Give it plenty of thought and
try to desribe the core of what makes the film special. To see good
and bad examples of log lines, click
on this hyperlink.
- Read the script pages from THE VISITOR
- You will begin working on this scene this week so I want you to
read the script keeping in mind the idea of beats that we discussed
this evening. Create a scene analysis. Then look at the footage and,
taking notes, also line the script as we learned tonight. Then...
- Edit the scene from THE VISITOR
- What is this scene about? Who changes during the scene? What changes
during the scene? Where (exactly) do these changes occur? Analyze
the footage and compare it to your analysis that you made of the scene
based on the script you
received last week. What is the same? What is different? Does
your analysis still hold up?
- Read Chapter 4, 4A, 5 and 5A in the textbook.
- These three chapters, combined with the ones you read last week,
should take you up to and through the process of editing on film.
(Page will open in a new window. Close it to return
to this page.)
A Film Sequence
- This is an excerpt from a long discussion about film grammar from
a German course at the University of Victoria in Canada. About half
way down the page is a rather succinct and interesting discussion
with nine questions about how a story is told. While it isn't necessary
for us to get into that sort of dogma, these are all pertinent and
interesting questions. Further down the page there are discussions
(of a less interesting natures) on editing and sound. A page of terms
of film criticism (including a fairly comprehensive list of film editing
analysis terms), also in the context of German film, can be found
- The episode "The Visitor" is from an old television show
called "Paradise". This is a listing of all of the details
of the show. I note that the episode name that we've got on the slates
here, doesn't appear on this list. They must have changed the episode's
name before the air date.
- A very basic glossary of editing terms. The one in the textbook
is, in my humble opinion, much better. But these terms are more conceptual.
A more comprehensive glossary can be found on the Internet
Movie Database (commonly referred to as IMdB), though it is not
restricted to editing terms alone.
Movie Guide Glossary
- A collection of some common and some not-so-common editing and lab