Instructor - Norman Hollyn

Lesson #10

Oct 28, 2003

Assignments for Next Week

Handouts for this Week

Lesson for This Week

Added Material




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?

Tonight we're 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 SIGHT.

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.

BlueIf we have time, we will take a look at the opening section of Krystof Kieslowski's BLUE, 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 to the crash 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 the trilogy.

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 analysis.

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 here.

If 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 here.

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 To Kodak
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
Look 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.

Added Material

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How 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?
American CinemaEditors Organization
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 their site.

Though I've tried to accomodate other browsers THIS SITE IS DESIGNED FOR BEST USE WITH IE for the PC, SAFARI for the Mac, and FIREFOX for both the PC and the Mac. It also looks reasonably good on the iPhone. Lucked out on that!

All material, except where noted, ©1999-2008 by Norman Hollyn. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an e-mail at my office
Last Modified - September 30, 2008