Schools of Editing

I decided since I’ve bored you enough talking about the technology and software of editing I would break my intended schedule and touch on something that can help your editing a little more than technical knowledge can.

  When I say “Schools of Editing” I’m not talking about a learning institution. I’m actually referring to schools of thought on how editing should be done. I wanted to go over different thought processes that I’ve run across so you can be aware as you are confronted with them in your work. And you’ll hopefully be able to pick the right method for the projects your working on.

  I’ve run across three ideas about editing, each of them have their place and time to be used. I don’t know if these have real technical names but I call them Operator Editing, Technical Editing, and Emotional Editing. Now I know that if your reading this then you know what your into and you may already have a method you use while editing but I’m hoping to give insight on all three types.

Operator Editing

In simple terms this is when you as an editor are merely pushing the buttons while someone else sits over your shoulder and tells your what to do. I’ll admit it doesn’t sound like much fun, and it’s really not. From a creative standpoint, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything at all. But there is a time and place for it. As an editor I sometimes don’t have the time to sit down and go through unknown footage to find the clip they want. and sometimes the clients have an exact idea of what they want to do and don’t want to have someone tweak with their idea. that is generally something that people do when they want sizzle reels or corporate videos done. The plus side of these jobs are that they don’t take long and are not very mentally or creatively taxing. when I get these kind of project I try to remind myself that it’s just a small project and in no way a reflection of how I am as an editor.

Technical Editing

Sometimes you’ll have a project that was shot well enough that the actors movement all match from angle to angle and editing it together is simply a matter of matching what they are doing between the different camera angles as you edit to the script. This is somewhat creative and somewhat not at the same time. I think of this methodology when I first begin to edit a project. It allows me to work quickly and have something to show for in a relatively short amount of time. When doing this kind of editing the only thing you really need to think about is what is on the page, what angle you should use to show it, and does it match movement to the previous shot. I’ve worked on projects in which that was the most important thing to the director and producer. It made for a quick edit but not a very compelling story. Also as far as being “creatively fulfilling” it was not much better than being an operator.

Emotional Editing.

Last is the type of editing that is done to elicit emotion from the audience. We put technicalities on the back burner and focus on what FEELS right. we don’t worry about the hand positioning or which way a characters head was turned. The main thing we look at while editing this way is how the cuts make us feel. If the individual cuts FEEL good, then it will be good, If it feels bad, even if it’s technically correct. it will be bad. sometimes a cut will be technically perfect but it will take a scene that should be funny or sad and it will kill the emotion that you’re trying to have in the scene. This is where this type of editing becomes difficult. you have to be able to feel out the scene, and the individual edits in order to find the best way to put the scene together. Emotional editing also happens to be the most fulfilling creatively. There’s nothing better than being able to make someone feel the emotions you want them to feel.


The entire goal of writing this was to show you that editing is more than just being able to push the right buttons, and It’s more than being emotionally invested in whatever you’re working on. It’s an interesting balance of technical know-how. emotions, and decision making. And hopefully, keeping that in mind will make your editing projects more enjoyable to work on. Thanks for reading.

Editing Machines: Mac Vs. PC

The Goal here is not to say “x computer is better” or “you need to spend x amount on your computer to edit.” I only want to point you into whichever direction is best for you. I will say it upfront, I am a PC user, I have used Windows my entire life, it is what I’m most comfortable with and I plan to continue using PCs until something forces me to change that.

In the post production world there are a couple different things to take into consideration when looking for a computer to edit with. Usability, Processing power, Cost, and the Editing Software are several things to think about before you go out and buy a machine.

Usability

All computers require a certain skill level to become proficient with them. And the better you are with your computer the more comfortable you’ll be while working. The usability of a computer is different for everyone. Most people who haven’t had a lot of computer use tend to lean towards Mac systems. Their user interface is so clean and straightforward that it makes it simple to pick up and learn what you need to use the computer, what you sacrifice is the ability to tweak the minor things within the system. With Windows machines, learning the basics might be slightly more difficult but you exchange that with more customizability and system performance tweaks.

Processing power

Generally when buying any computer you have to think about what you’re doing with it and what type of work your system needs to be able to handle. Then you buy a machine that can do what you want it to do.

It is commonly known that PC Gamers tend to buy the biggest and best parts for their computers. This is partially because they like to have those items but also partially so they can get the best performance from their games. The same goes for high-end editing systems. My current computer is running an AMD Phenom 6-core processor running at 3.3 Ghz I have 16GB of RAM and 5 TB of Hard drive space. My system is nothing compared to what the professionals use but I’m still able to edit some of the highest quality footage available in real time without any problems. Now you don’t need to have a monster system to edit with either. If you are working with standard definition footage you can use pretty much any consumer-grade computer to do the work. So as you think about which computer keep in mind the CPU speed, The RAM, The hard drive space AND the Hard Drive speed all those together will determine what kind of work you can do with your computer. This all also factors into the next point which is cost of your computer.

Cost

The cost of your computer is actually more clear cut than you might think. Mac computers generally cost more than PC computers for the same performance. The trade off is Mac computers all use parts that work together perfectly, while sometime PCs have parts that conflict or have minor issues with them. Apple also has great customer service for their computers while PCs vary depending on which company manufactured it. This was one of the most important factors when I was buying my own computer. So keep that in mind, If you want the ease of use and compatibility perks of a Mac computer you WILL be spending more money on it.

Editing software

We covered this more in-depth last time. But basically if you are editing with Final Cut Pro, you need to have a Mac. If you are using Adobe Premiere or AVID, you can decide which type of machine you want to use. And that is all I have to say about Editing software.

Like everything I’ve written so far, your computer will not make you a better editor. Keep that in mind as you move forward. Your computer is a tool, much like a carpenter has his hammer and saw, or a surgeon has his scalpel.

As a side note, keep in mind that film schools usually have editing computers you can use if you are enrolled in them. If not, then buying a small computer to start with will be your best bet at getting experience.

Next week we’ll be talking more about cameras and types of footage you’ll potentially be working with, in an effort to ease into the various workflows that we’ll be covering. as always if you have any questions for me feel free to ask. I’m always willing to help with specific problems or questions you might have. good luck in all your projects and future work!

March 30th Legend of Zelda Marathon!

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It’s another month which means it’s time for another 24 hour stream for Charity. but this time it’s going to be a bit different. Instead of playing a whole bunch of games and doing whatever for the whole day, I decided to finally play through some Legend Of Zelda Titles. I’ll be able to kick back on the couch, hang out on Teamspeak with everyone and FINALLY play those games. So come join us once again at twitch.tv/tactfulfool for a good time! Saturday March 30th to Sunday March 31st

Opening title Sequences

I’ve noticed something really cool over the last few months that I wanted to share today. Television Opening sequences have become incredibly awesome and have been a big tool for setting the mood of the show they are for. So here I’m putting 5 of some of my favorites from modern television.


First is a really new show on the history channel “Vikings” it tells the story of some Viking warriors who are trying to find a better life for themselves and their families despite their Earl (or king) being a douchebag who won’t listen to their ideas. It makes for a lot of tension and the opening brings that feeling to the show right from the start


The next one I just found out isn’t coming back on television until late this year it’s Hell On Wheels. The show is one of the best western genre shows I’ve ever seen on television. And it’s worth giving a look. The show opening is a big old pile of badass served to you on a toasted bun! anyone who ever wanted to be a cowboy would love the show and the opening for its own reasons.


Alphas has an opening sequence that stood out from the crowd when it first started. the music and the visuals served to get you ready for an adventure that felt strangely familiar. They tell us what the show was about without spelling anything out and it makes for a fun music video-esque experience

 

The first time I watched The Walking Dead it’s style stood out right from the start and the eerily gritty opening just cemented any feelings I had for the show in place. The opening sequence alone is saying “get ready, things are gonna get weird.”

 

The last show really needs no introduction. It’s one of the most popular shows on HBO and is a great series of books as well. The Game of Thrones title sequence feels like opening a pop up book. We are introduced to the entire world of Westeros in about a minute’s time and sets us up for an epic story of betrayal and deceit . It’s a familiar sight to see but I enjoy it all the same every time it’s on.

Tools of the Trade: Software

     Every time I think I’ll be able to get one of these out on schedule something comes up and forces me to push it back, at least this time it’s still the same week that I had intended.

 

    We’re going to talk about something that is important to Editors but it is not the MOST important thing for Editors. we’re talking about software. The program that you will use every day while attempting to carve out a story from the massive amount of raw footage you will have to work with. I said it’s not the most important thing because no matter what software you choose, the basics of storytelling, creating mood, pacing the cut, and making sure the cuts work aesthetically, are all independent of software and can but done in any program you want.

 

    There is a phrase that gets tossed around a lot in every field of business, it’s “industry standard.” When people say something is Industry Standard, they mean its what the majority of people who are working professionals use to do their work. that means quite a bit for those of us just getting started in the industry. the majority of the companies that do the hiring already use the industry standard tools so they want people who know how to use them. It also means a lot of tricks and tips have been developed for the tools to make the work easier, and those tricks might not work the same with something else. many times the industry standards have been in the business for years if not decades and have perfected the tools and molded it to the professional users. so it’s a good idea, as you start focusing on a program to edit with, to work with one or all of the industry standard software packages. I’m going to discuss the three top programs for editing which are. AVID Media Composer, Apple Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premier Pro CS6. And yes these are in order of popularity in the industry.

 

AVID MEDIA COMPOSER

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    AVID has been one of the leading digital editing software companies since the beginning of digital film editing. That has given the company years of communication with the professionals and companies that use their program and they have made an amazing program that is not only powerful but also easy to learn and quick to work with.

    Media Composer has a steeper learning curve than any of the others but if you can focus on how to use the software as intended you can learn to edit very quickly and efficiently. The program is designed to use keyboard shortcuts to do almost all the work. with practice you would be able to edit for long periods of time without having to touch your mouse at all. Cost-wise it is more expensive than it’s competitors but they do have a 30 day trial you can download to use. if you focus your time on learning the program you can become very skilled with it in that month’s time. I cut several small videos on it after only working with it for two weeks. I’ll admit, it helps if you have a keyboard that shows what each key does, but it’s not a necessary thing to own.

    As far as performance goes, the developer has brought the software up by leaps and bounds to match and even outperform its competitors. I’ve seen it handle some massive video files without having to run on any special hardware. As far as I’m aware it is the program used most in television and film for the time being. It’s definitely a program anyone who want to be an editor should know.

 

APPLE FINAL CUT PRO

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     Ok, Final Cut Pro or FCP is a program with a lot of controversy around it. For years Apple was in the middle of the semi-professional editing industry, they were a staple for small production companies and film students alike. In that time they literally changed how people work with footage to standardize their own encoding software and to make the whole end to end process of editing easy for anyone to step into. Their software was easy to use yet powerful enough to create some really high end projects. and over the years they have pushed their way into the film and television industry. Then not too long ago they announced the next version of their software, Final Cut X, or FCX, in it they decided to simplify the simple things and make the complicated things even more complicated, they also slashed the price to practically nothing and changed the whole lay out to look and feel like their consumer level editing system iMovie. The changes were met with a mix of happiness, anger, frustration, relief and a boom in business for their competitors.

    I can’t say much about FCX because I used it once and did not like how it handled things and “held my hand” so I’ve never tried picking it up again. one thing to remember with all versions of FCP, it is a Mac OS software only, so if you are running windows, you can’t use it.

 

ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CS6

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    Premiere Pro has been around for a long time as well but suffered a rough start as an editing program. the early versions were plagued by stability issues and minor annoyances that put it at the butt-end of these editing software. However, over the recent years and recent versions of the program it has become more powerful and more stable than even it’s competitors. At risk of sounding biased towards it, it is the only software that I own for editing and I use all the Adobe products for my Visual effects and graphics work.

    Performance-wise Premiere is the most powerful editing software I’ve used hands down. It is more complicated to use than FCP and AVID when it comes to some parts of the process, but it makes up for it in other ways.

     One of the downsides with it though is they have a lack of compatibility with other softwares that do the same thing as their own products. for example sending the audio tracks to Logic for editing was a headache and a half, and sending the footage to Apple color for color correction was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. But on the other hand if you’re an editor who is used to working with Avid or FCP you can tell premiere to use the same keyboard shortcuts as your program of choice.

 

    Enough of my ranting about Premiere. The important thing to remember as you begin editing and working on learning the programs is that Knowing how to use the software doesn’t make you an editor. Just like not everyone who owns a camera is a cinematographer. What makes you an editor is how you use the software and the stories you tell with it. It’s the edits that you make that no one notices. or the edits that stand out and make them say “Damn, thats some good editing.” It’s being able to take a mundane conversation between two actors and turn it into an emotional chess game. Whatever you choose to work with, it is second to learning to truly edit. Good luck.

Pre-Production For Editors.

      When you start working on a project there are really several questions you need to answer in order for the project to run smoothly and to be able to spend the most time being creative with the edit as opposed to spending all your time figuring out how to work on the film.

1. What is it being filmed on?
    right now in independent filmmaking it’s rare that a movie is shot on film. The cost of processing film puts it out of the budget range of many beginning filmmakers and with modern camera technology you can achieve the same look and feel shooting movies digitally. The problem that comes from this is that not all companies cooperate to have their cameras record footage the same way.
    That is where it becomes your responsibility to know what format the camera records to and how you can best use it to edit the film. For example, when filming with a camera that records on a p2 media card you generally have to unlock the footage before you can work with it. This isn’t always the case and that’s something we’ll go over in more detail later on but you get the idea. you as an editor need to know how to work with the footage in order to do your job.


2. What is the story?
    Don’t edit a project unless you know the story that you are trying to tell, I mentioned before that Editors are the last storyteller to touch the film. You should know the ins and outs of the story in order to get the point across properly. You shouldn’t half ass this part of the process, it can hurt the film more than any other part of the process. The old addage is “Story is King.” that holds true in editing as well.


3. What is the feel of the film?
    This is something you need to discuss with the director of the movie. make sure you are on the same page so that when he shoots a scene to be long and drawn out, you don’t cut it up and turn it into a Guy Ritchie film. It will give you a better idea of how long editing the film will actually take and it will save a lot of back and forth discussing how a scene should be shown later.
    Once you know how a scene is supposed to be played out it opens up the possibility of changing that, if something isn’t working out being a slow scene, you can make the decision to pick up the pace a bit. Knowing beforehand opens up a whole ton of options for you to play with. keep that in mind as you move forward.

4. Scheduling?
    All things in filmmaking run on a schedule, yet another part of your job is understanding the timeframe you have to work in and be ready to do what you need to meet the deadlines. In student or Independent films scheduling is always kind of wishy-washy when the main production gives you deadlines like “asap” or “sometime soon but it’s no rush” its important you set your own deadlines and hold yourself to them. I’ve also found that it helps letting someone else know your schedule so they can motivate you and keep track of it as well. It’s important that you remember not to bite off more than you can chew. Know your limits and pace yourself throughout the post process.


    These four points have been huge help whenever I take on a project. Try to keep them in mind as you move forward on your own projects.

     If you have any questions about any of the points please ask away. Thanks for reading.

24 Hour Charity Stream Details!!!

Ok now for the REAL Info.

Saturday starting at 8am PDT I will begin streaming gameplay and continue until Sunday at 8am I’ll be streaming the following games (the list is in no way complete)

FireFall
Path Of Exile
Torchlight 2
Tera
Realm Of The Mad God
Magicka
Planetside 2
Team Fortress 2
WarFrame
Binding Of Isaac
Left 4 Dead 2
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
Vessel
Quantum Conundrum
Cave Story
GuildWars 2
And whatever else comes to mind during the day.

The Goal of the stream will be to raise a humble $100 for Childsplay Charity. Unfortunately right now we have no way to track our progress so I won’t be able to see how much is raised but i don’t want that to stop us! So if you donate please give what you can, as it is really going to a good cause.

In addition, I will be doing some giveaways. I have beta keys for Firefall, some copies of Magicka, Dota 2 (but who doesn’t have that yet, really?) and Hero Academy! Also I will be doing one big giveaway around the middle of the stream which will only be limited by the viewers. so put the word out for a chance to win something bigger!

This is the first time i’m doing this for charity and I hope to be able to make it a continuous even throughout the coming months. but I need your help to do that so don’t hesitate to share this or retweet it, or write it on the side of a building, or get it tattooed on your lower back, or name your first child after it. Thank you!

AND CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE STREAM!