Oct 28, 2003
Assignments for Next Week
Handouts for this Week
Lesson for This Week
Finishing Your Film at the Lab
Over the last several weeks, we've been looking at various
aspects of the building blocks of editing -- the cuts, the scene, and
the sequence. Knowing how to manipulate those elements helps to make
for great editing. But there is something much less definable that
helps give each film a different flavor -- style. So, what is style?
And how do you get it?
going to take a look at Wong Kar-Wei's 1995 Hong Kong film FALLEN
ANGELS (Duoluo tianshi). Right from the beginning of the film it
establishes a very different type of style and reasoning from OUT OF
The sequence we are looking at tonight is about two-thirds
of the way through the film. Wong Chi-Ming has tired of his life as
a hitman and wants to break out of it, which would end the relationship
with his Agent who
he may be in love with, but who certainly is captivated by him. There
is a second plot but our scene tonight comes as Chi-Ming accepts one
final job which is initiated in the same way as always -- his Agent
places an ad on the front page of a Hong Kong newspaper that sets all
of the action in motion.
Wong Kar-Wei has established, from the beginning of the
film, that this film is a mirror of a certain type of Hong Kong noir-ish
life. He has established the style of rapid editing, which mirrors
the tempo of the city's heart; he has created wide-angle fish-eye camerawork
which moves in a near-nauseating frenetic pace. There are powerful
closeups of the characters, practically shoving their noses into the
camera lens. The music, the sound, the cutaways of city life (often
with moving clouds in an unreal sped-up time) all further the mood
of the film. In this scene, as Chi-Ming calmly (as always) carries
out his last job, all of these factors come into play. It's a powerful
melding of style and story.
we have time, we will take a look at the opening section of Krystof
the first part of his Three Colors trilogy. In this film, Juliette
Binoche plays Julie, who loses both her daughter and her husband in
a car crash. The section of the film that we will look at (if we have
time) comes at the very start of the film, in the moments leading up
and her reactions to it.
Important elements to check out include Kieslowski's
use of sound and the juxtaposition of images. We never see Julie at
all it is important for us to see her reaction to the news of her child's
death. We see bits and pieces and hear the odd line from her, but her
character's presentation is disjointed and surreal. The film's style
meshes well with its intent -- to examine the meaning of liberty/liberation
(the first of the three elements of the French patriotic slogan -- "Liberte,
Egalite. Fraternite" and the three colors of the Grench flag --
hence, the title of the trilogy). Julie will, throughout the film,
attempt to avoid her past. Within the context of the film, she is looking
for liberation from her old memories, a liberation that takes on a
different meaning by the end of the film -- in fact, by the end of
Examine how the disjointedness of the opening both contributes
to the sense that something extreme is going to happen, as well as
to the overall quiet and severe style of the film. These editorial
concepts, along with the production design of the film (blues, blues,
blues) helps to contribute to the sense that would probably be in Kieslowski's
Other films which develop a strong sense of editorial
style in their storytelling include Mike Figgis' TIMECODE and Steven
Soderbergh's OUT OF SIGHT, which we will not look at tonight. However,
I have used the latter film in previous years. To see a discussion
of that film click
we have time (something that you and I know both know is rather unlikely)
then we will look at some other films as well. The first film that we
will belooking at tonight is Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's film DELICATESSEN,
released in 1991. The scene up for discussion
tonight is one of most famous scenes in the film -- a musical orchestration
of the sights and sounds of the activities in the post-apocalyptic apartment
building where the movie takes place.
I have put two video clips of the scene on the site -- in MPEG format.
You will need a video player such as Quicktime or Window Media Player
set up to run mpegs in order to see them. Note also that, if you are on
a telephone internet connection, they might take a frightfully long time
to download, so do so at your own risk.
The first one is a clip of the
first part of the scene (note that, contrary to my insistence on the
rule of threes, this clip does not contain the preceding scene). Note
how the movement of the action on the screen, as well as the cuts from
shot to shot, works with the music's build.
A more complete version of the scene, though edited down to become the
trailer for the US version of the film, is
available here. This clip is in a Quicktime format, so make sure you
have it on your computer (there are PC and Mac versions for it). It contains
the end of the scene that the first version above lacks.
These video clips have been borrowed from the official Jean-Pierre
Jeunet and Marc Caro web site.
In previous years I have often used two films to discuss the intersection
of style and music -- FAME and ALL
THAT JAZZ. To see my discussion of those films, click
As for the lab -- we will begin our discussion of how a finished film
is created from the originally shot pieces of negative, the various bits
of sound and music, and all of the opticals and titles.
- Lab Processes, According
- This is a flow chart of the ideal traffic flow of your negative from
the moment you shoot it, through the release prints.
- Finishing Your Film
- How is an answer print struck from your cut negative and how is the
soundtrack put on it ("married" we say)? This handout gives
you the sense of those processes.
- Interview with Richard
Marks on RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS.
- In this excerpt from a longer interview, Marks (along with his co-editor
Larry Jordan) discusses a number of topics that we have been exploring
-- how to work with others in an editing room, how to establish tone,
and how to deal with a lot of footage.
Assignments for Next Week
- Cut the second half of the scene from Young Indiana Jones
at the scene in the same way that we have been discussing since the
beginning of the semester. Who has the upper hand
at any given time? Where are you heading
with the action? What is the shape of the scene overall. I will also
be giving you some music to work with. The selections on the CD are
of a wide variety -- some are appropriate, some are less so, but still
might work. Next week we will be talking about music and how it affects
a scene. We have been seeing evidence of that throughout our work so
far. Determine where in the entire scene the music should begin and
where it should end. Use the rubber banding in the Avid to help fade
in and fade out the music at the proper places. Use it also to control
its level against the dialogue. We will be going into that in much
more detail next week, but this will begin to give you an idea of the
power of music. Work with Richard in the Avid Lab to improve your dialogue,
and music editing skills.
- Also, recut the first part of the scene to go with my notes
- There will be changes that will inevitably happen because of the
act of cutting the action part of the sequence. Be sensitive to the
build of the scene up to the end.
- Add music to your cut
- Choose several pieces of music (this will work better if it's on
a CD) and try them out in one or more places in your edit. Use the
rubber banding to craft the music around the dialogue.
- Read Chapter 14, and 14A
- These chapters take you through music editing.
(Page will open in a new window. Close it to return
to this page.)
Expensive Is It To Set Up A Non-Linear Editing Room?
- This article begins with these statements: "Do you wonder why
some edit systems are so expensive? How can companies like Quantel,
Discreet, Avid and others get away with selling something for about
ten times what logic dictates would be a fair price? Well, there's
a strange formula at work here -- one that suggtests that some of these
high-end editing and compositing boxes are not expensive enough!" It
then goes on to take the interesting stance that since producers looking
for "high-end" effects will expect to pay more, post-production
houses need to charge more to be considered for those jobs. It's a
variation of the well-known theory that an editor who charges more
is respected more ("He must be good at those rates.").
Can you break the cycle?
- In their own words -- Since 1950, ACE has been the honorary society
of film editors dedicated to the advancement of our craft and to the
conviction that the editor is one of the significant authors of a film.
This site has areas of interest relating to the ACE organization including
information on the history of ACE, a F.A.Q. on ACE membership, excerpts
from their Magazine, educational programs and an opportunity
to purchase items from the ACE store. Even more important, they sponsor
several programs for students. Information on them is available on