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Your Comments On The Class
|CNTV 535 INTERMEDIATE EDITING
|USC SCHOOL OF CINEMA - TELEVISION
||T.A.: Denise McCarthy
|Instructor: Norman Hollyn
Web Site: www.norman-hollyn.com/class
This is the page where I'll post any comments that
you send to me that I think would be appropriate for other in the
class. Feel free to send me questions (at my e-mail address email@example.com)
or comments about our classes, films you've seen, editing in general,
or anything else you think of and I'll post them here.
Here's how to do it. Click on the letter image right
This should bring up your mail program. If it doesn't
copy the address from the first paragrpah above and post it into
your mail program's address.
After I get your e-mail, I will post all appropriate
messages below, the latest messages on the top.
I'm going to start us off with some comments from
last semester so you can see some of the feedback that's already
been sent my way.
- (3/15/01) From Akin Salauw, a student in my 535 class several
USC definitely prepared me for The Real World [Akin worked on that MTV series last year: as an editorial assistant]. I ultimately had very little time actually on the
Avid. I spent most of my time logging footage & then trying to
figure out (on paper) how it should be cut to tell a story. Ironically,
I'd say it wasn't so much Crimson Tide that helped me, as much as
the Western footage in which we didn't necessarily know exactly how
it was meant to be cut. So I understood the need to analyze how a
piece of footage can read in a different context.
I actually also manage a website right now: www.zilo.com. We
market to college students and make shows that can be streamed if
you have broadband connection. Unfortunately the shows are not so
good. But I think USC might have made me a big snob.
- An interesting perspective on the difference between scripted and
documentary style editing.
- (10/30/00) I found the following on the web and thought it might
be of interest to you and/or the class [re: Ben Burtt's comments about digital footage]:
and some info about the new Panavision/Sony 24fps digital cameras:
- Thanks a lot for the info.
Two comments on JUST LOOKING.
- (10/16/00) I saw Just Looking this weekend at the Beverly Center.
And after seeing the entire film, I didn't miss Phil's goodbye with
Lenny. I had a question -- I noticed that the editing choices in the
scene where Lenny and Johnny first meet in Phil's backyard were, for
the most part, "4-square." The scene worked quite well,
but we talked in class about how this kind of choice can emphasize
a sense of confrontation. This was a different kind of scene, yet
it worked well. How did you decide what choices -- or rhythms -- to
employ in this scene?
- You chose an interesting scene to ask about. First of all, there
were shooting problems (it was shot on the first or second day of
production and Jason was still warming up). There was really no coverage
of Johnny and Phil walking to the table. There was an awkward camera
dolly into the boys, and it took forever to get Norma and Phil up
and into the house. So, I was working with footage that, until the
boys were isolated (actually several lines into that part of the scene)
was not complete. However, your observation that scene was cut very
four-square is quite true and here is the scene analysis behind it.
Lenny and Johnny are not confrontational, but Lenny very definitely
does not want to be sitting here talking to this boy, because he's
not where he wants to be -- at home in Queens. there is an awkwardness
as they seek some common ground and it is clear that everything that
Lenny wants is not what Johnny is offering (Phil bike is a piece of
shit, no one plays stoopball). It's not until they get to the sex
club issue that Lenny perks up. So the cutting style was emphasizing
the awkwardness between them and leading up to the sex club punchline.
The scene isn't entirely four-square as I remember it, it gets more
reactive from Lenny as it goes on.
- (10/16/00) I also strongly sensed Lenny's disorientation when
he discovers where Phil has disappeared to.
- [WARNING: This answer has some spoilers in it. If you intend on seeing the film, you might want to skip this.] Jason had an interesting take on the
scene with Lenny finding Phil and Hedy in bed together and it ties
together with the mirrors. First, he created the mirrors out of necessity,
because he knew that it would be impossible for Lenny to see Hedy
in bed from the ground floor, outside her house (in the scene where
Hedy goes to sleep after seeing the club in the weeds). However, the
mirrors are the eyes of his soul, to some degree, and when he finally
gets to see two people making love it is something that doesn't WANT
to see. He turns every which way he can in the room to avoid seeing
the sight, but the mirrors won't let him avoid it. In the earlier
fantasies in the film the camera was always at a tilt when he fantasized
about sex. Now, the camera can't quite go tilted (though it moves
like crazy), and he can't avoid seeing what he doesn't want to see.
- (10/5/00) I don't recall if we discussed WHY we as individuals
are taking editing. For me, it is not because I have a desire to be
an editor. I don't. I think I would find it stifling. I enjoy creating
images too much to manipulate somebody else's, though I realize that
the way we assemble those images changes the way we perceive those
images -- which in effect IS creating images. That is not to say that
I don't respect the craft. I do. I am intimidated by it - which is
ONE of the main reasons I am taking it. I don't think I am particularly
good at it. I don't know if I ever will excel at it, but I don't want
to have a gaping deficiency in it.
- Excellent points here. This class isn't about being an editor per
se, it's about how to create good editing.
Editors, as I often say, don't usually have the ultimate say in how
their work is presented. In fact, directors often don't. The trick
with moviemaking is that it is an inherently collaborative craft.
You're not a photographer, working in your own darkroom or in your
own copy of Photoshop. You're collaborating with writers, actors,
other craftsman, studio executives and the audience.
- (9/23/00) I was curious about your own movie tastes. What
movies got you into moviemaking?
- That's a very broad question and deserves a much broader answer
than I have time to give. In a nutshell, it was 2001:A Space Odyssey
and working as an usher in a movie theatre, back when they had such
things. I had been working at a local movie theatre for a few months
when SPACE ODYSSEY came out. I was quite blown away by the way in
which Kubrick told a story and, working with (even then I knew) limited
actors, created a mythic fable. I began to see the film several times,
thanks to my free passes from the sister theatre where I worked. I
began to look at the film's construction -- the way in which it divided
into neat acts (four of them, I'd say) and I looked at how he constructed
Then, at the theatre where I worked, I had the opportunity to look
at films again and again and again. Because many of them were dreadful,
I was forced to start examining how they were put together. By the
time I got into college, I knew I liked what films could do. From
there it was an unfortunately short step to wanting to be involved
in making them do those things.
- (9/23/00) What movies would you recommend that we see? What pictures
and editors would you recommend we study?
- You're going to get a good sense of that from the various films
I bring into class but I'd pretty much say almost any well put together
film is worth looking at from the point of view of its editing. I
love Gerry Hambling, who's cut all of Alan Parker's films (for better
and worse). I think that Dede Allen's work in the seventies and eighties
pushed the boundaries of editing. Look at Robert Wise's work in CITIZEN
KANE. But, more than that, look at the films that you like
and think about why.
- (9/23/00) While I was editing, I discovered
how much footage I had in my first cut that could go. I was
holding onto shots much too long and everything felt slow, drawn out,
overlong. It amazed me how sometimes only the beginning of an action
was really needed to get across the idea of the entire movement itself.
- Examining cuts is essential to the editing process. Editing is really
re-editing. It is quite normal that an editor's first cut will be
fat, that is too much at the head and tail of cuts, too many
cuts, etc. etc. You can never learn how to involve the audience in
a film as a general rule, you can only learn how to learn. You will
develop a set of tools to learn how to work the varied material that
you get, to fulfill the director's objective.
- (9/23/00) Do you feel pacing is a usually a reflection of a director
or editor's own energy? Is it something that's learned as you hone
- Pacing is a function of the script and the material. In a well directed
film, the director sets that tone and it is my responsibility to affect
it. I often suggest other styles of editing or different approaches
and the director can vote up or vote down. Now, editors develop specialties,
but I don't think that it is our job to have a style. It is our job
not to have a style. What I have learned in the years I've
been editing is how to think on many levels at the same time. Or,
to put it another way, to internalize many of the thoughts
that we are consciously talking about in class. Script, editing
style, director's needs, etc. etc. etc. All of these things contribute
to pacing, that is, story telling.