Instructor - Norman Hollyn

Lesson #15

Dec 2, 2003


This is your last class before the final project is due.

You are due in class next time so don't skip town!!!


Additional Material

Assignments for Next Week

Handouts for this Week

Lesson for This Week


Very Very Short Films -- Commercials and Music Videos

Tonight we will discuss short form editing -- commercials and music videos. These fifteen second to four minute films have a language all of its own, though longer form filmmakers constantly adopt the styles of their shorter form brethren. I doubt that the hand-held, jerky photography of films and television shows (like SE7EN or "Law and Order") could exist without several years of short form experimentation before it.

As different as the language of the short form film is, however, the questions that you ask to decide what types of style to use are all too familiar to us. You still ask yourself the same questions you've been asking all semester: how does one tell a story? Instead of asking how you can sell a particular emotion or understanding of story or character, you are now asking "How does one sell a product?" Instead of asking how you can rope the audience into your film in the first ten minutes you are asking how you can get their interest in the first three seconds?

From Nigel Dick's music video for Staind's FOR YOU.

Each commercial has an analysis, each one uses the tools best suited to that analysis. You can use elements of both in your own films say, during a montage. What do you want to say? What type of emotion and energy do you want the audience to begin with? What type do you want them to leave with? Not very different from what we usually go through, eh?

The compressed storytelling techniques that are used in commercials are also used to great effect in music videos. If there's time, we'll take a look at one -- in this case the Nigel Dick directed video for Staind's "For You". Read the handout and check out the lyrics to the song. Then see how Dick breaks down the song into storytelling sections and then check out how he does it in this video. What is the log line for the video? Where are the transition moments?

In addition to the music video we might look at some spots edited by the very talented folks at Avenue Edit.

Look at how each of these thirty second spots try to lead the audience through their own analysis. In the Squirt commercial, the idea is "This drink is fun! SQUIRT! This drink has energy! SQUIRT! You'll feel energetic! Buy SQUIRT!" The second commercial, uses MTV and videogame techniques to make the point that this is a game that sucks you in..

Each commercial has an analysis, each one uses the tools best suited to that analysis. You can use elements of both in your own films -- say, during a montage. What do you want to say? What type of emotion and energy do you want the audience to begin with? What type do you want them to leave with? Not very different from what we usually go through, eh?

And, in the unlikely event that we have any extra time, we're going to be looking at a short film called "True" which started the "Whuzzup?" craze.

We'll also be takiing our short quiz tonight.

Last semester, instead of this short film class, we had a discussion about editing for acting in a film, with Jason Alexander guest speaking. The description of that class can be found by clicking here.


Though we won't be watching this video tonight, it still merits talking about. Prolific music video writer/director Nigel Dick talks about how he comes up with treatments for the music videos that he directs/writes. Note that he is dealing with story telling throughout the process. Even music videos which don't appear to tell a story, really are. He talks about the three act structure and how he identifies important moments in the song. Think of beats, and you'll realize that he's talking about the same things that we've been talking about for the last fifteen weeks.
Putting together an animated film has many similarities and many differences to putting together a live-action dramatic film. This interview with two of the people responsible for 2000's RUGRATS IN PARIS talks about the use of music, planning, foley and all of the usual post-production necessities.
An interview, conducted by AvidUniverse, with Owen Plotkin, a commercials editors who edited three office.com spots, one of which ("Runner") played during the Super Bowl this year. If you go to the interview on AvidUniverse's web site you can see a QuickTime movie of the spot. If you do, check out the spot "Runner" and notice the use of jump cutting. Plotkin discusses the use of these cuts to compres time and build tension in service of the sense of humor. Notice also the use of the bell sound effect as the running man has his idea. This is the use of a sound effect for humorous effect.
Two spots for eve.com, caused editor Einar (yeah, only one name) to throw out the storyboards and create ideas without some of the images that were going to be digitally inserted later.
I don't know if we'll be getting to it tonight, but the video for Stain'd's "For You" is an example of how to take a song, get inside its lyrics and then plot out a video where (clearly) the director, Nigel Dick, had very limited time with the band. Take a look at the script and see if you can find the beats and moments where "things" might happen. Then click down towards the bottom of the screen where you'll see the treatment that Dick created from the lyrics.
Emily Denis edited the 2000 Beck video, "Mixed Bizness". In this interview she discusses some of the process of being hired, laying out the video, and working with the director.

Assignments for Next Week

Scene 83, 86/87 and the final CRIMSON TIDE sequence
This week you will be adding the remaining scenes and all of the interstitial shots into your sequence. The final scene is made up of 83, 86 and 87. The interstitial scenes are on their own tape. When you are done you will have one complete sequence which runs from the lead-in to Scene 80, all the way through Sc. 113. (made up of your cuts and the interstitial scenes).
You need not use my notes from last week and this week to create your sequence if you feel they don't work. This week is all about your choices. I do expect you to integrate the insert shots and interstitial scenes you received last week.. I also expect you to shape the music and sound effects that you received last week as well as integrating the music from the interstitial scenes in seamlessly. This exercise should test pretty much everything that you've learned in this class -- overlapping, rule of threes, emphasis, and most importantly -- scene analysis. Though we won't talk about the scenes next week you should make sure that every cut that you make fulfills your analysis. Make sure that you work your cuts professionally - smooth out the dialogue and sound, match cuts when it makes sense but don't slavishly match your cuts. If you can get away with a mismatch (and remember the tricks that we've talked about to help you over those issues).
In addition, make sure that you have put a slate, bars and tone and a slate at the top of your final cut, and that the first frame of action begins at 1:00:00:00, time code wise.
Chapter 18 in the text
This chapter is all about finding a job. Which is often more difficult than editing. We may talk about resume writing and networking.
One Final Question
I'd like each of you to bring in to class one thing that you wish we had discussed or done in class, but we did not. I compile these and use them to make improvements in the class every semester.

Added Material

Questions To Analyze An Edited Film
Anatoly Antohin, who teaches film theory in Fairbanks Alaska, has put together a long list of items to look for in a film, that reflect on its editing. It's actually quite a fascinating list and covers how the editing uses cinematography, music, sound and many of the other things that we've been talking about these last fourteen weeks. He also discusses the theory of montage on another page. If you can get past the incredibly annoying MIDI music he drops on some of his pages, you'll find a wealth of often rather insightful pieces on film.
Making A DV Film On No Budget
Much has been made about the endless vistas of cheap productions that DV filmmaking can bring us. In this article in the Spring 2002 issue of Filmmaker magazine, the production of a $73,000 feature.
Greg Pak's Diary of Editing a DV Film
Greg's blow-by-blow description of editing a film on Final Cut Pro is incredibly instructive in giving a hint of some of the issues -- good and bad -- involved in using a no-budget system to edit a film. He also has links to some of his films which can be streamed online. A great page of handy tips and tricks (for instance, how to get a lively Q&A session at a festival screening of your film) is available here on his site.
Short Diary of Making A Short Film
Back in 1997, a actor/writer/director named Keith Snyder got together with some people and made a film called 1 IS FOR MURDER. Though the diary of the making of this film is out of date in terms of the technology (his editing software didn't make EDLs, for instance) it still holds true in terms of the art behind it. Discussing his script, Snyder says:
You slaved over it. You poured your soul into it. You argued about it, beat yourself up over it, spilled coffee on it, procrastinated forever on it, and finally finished it. It's finally perfect. It is a work of sheer genius. You can see every scene, every shot, in your head. Hold on to that image. Clutch the script to your nose. Breathe in. Breathe out. Be as one with your yet-unborn movie. Enjoy everything about this moment. Your finished movie will not resemble this script.
Ad Critic
A web site that has streaming and downloadable commercials for viewing (though no real commentary). They have examples of recent commercials along with commentary. It'd be helpful to have a broadband Internet connection for this site, because it is heavy on streaming video. By scrolling the button along the time line at the bottom of the player screen (not always easy to do, but quite possible) you can see the commercial in slow motion as well as some of the cuts. The video requires QuickTime so make sure your computer's got the QuickTime plug-in.
Nigel Dick Web Site
Nigel Dick, the music video director who did the article that was handed out in this lesson as well as the Staind video that we saw,, put together this web site. If you click on the link "Conceptual" you'll find some treatments for videos that he's written and directed.
A great diary-like site from two professional screen writers. It's large number of columns and interviews give a great sense of how the industry really works.

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