Entries in editing (3)


a matter of timing

The internet is a fine place for the restatement of the obvious. Obviously. Consequently, mental midgetry is given vocalism:

Video editorial technology still has me in its thrall. The ability to simply duplicate a scene - without duplicating the original media on which it is based - and then recut the material with an adjustment for pauses between reactions of performers, or a different ordering of the pieces of imagery, is a fabulous advancement. This, possibly more than any other reason, is why the world of nonlinear editing has taken over the editorial world. Only archivists still use flatbed editing machines. Even large features shot on film originals have moved away from literally cutting work print film copies. Why would you when the tools to do this electronically are so ubiquitous, so subtle, and so relatively easy to use?

This adjustment to the timing of images is something that can't be attended to with still images, unless you're working with a slide show. But certainly not within the realm of a book or a gallery of online images. These media have their own aesthetic appeal, and rarely depend upon the performances of actors to impart their power of expression. Many recognize the importance of captions for still images, which becomes something of a narrative device. But there is still no way of shaping the meaning of a sequence of images through the prominence given by their timing, meaning the specific amount of time that each image is presented, and the pauses between vocal interactions.

As this pertains to my current editorial activity, as I create alternative versions of scenes, the earliest are the most leisurely, the most contemplative. The later versions are faster, more to the narrative point. But I feel nonetheless that I'm falling victim to the ever increasing insistence upon the need to sharpen and propel the narrative, something I'm decidedly conflicted about. The question becomes at what point to leave alone the awkward pauses and mispronunciations in order to impart a feeling of awkwardness.

The quest continues for the correct balance between the non linear animal brain gut feeling of here and now, and the delineation of a thematic concept. Wish me luck.


meanwhile, back at the ranch

Several days later, and we seem to have reboarded the roller coaster ride.

The final scene of "Roscoe" - who is going to get his named changed - was a brief period of agony at the completion of shooting. Instead of really relying upon my imagination, I got lost in details. Thinking that it could be saved in the edit, I stumbled through the performance hang-ups, and focused on a need to finish. As it turns out, the battle cry of editors 'round the world: Coverage! was not heeded, and I'm now left with limited options.

So from Thursday's peak of excitement, I'm now screaming down the steep slope of depression at my limited imagination. How noticeable is a forty-one second shot on one character in a thirteen minute piece? This is why I've been dreading working on this scene. All the words are covered, but in such a limited manner that the static nature of the scene really becomes obvious.

In fact I can make a case for leaving the scene as now cut: something about a need to see the uninterrupted emotionalism of the Professor, unmediated by editorial caprice. If only the visual wasn't so fucking static! Dare I leave it alone, in all its barren awkwardness? This would certainly be a bold decision - that still smacks of making pathetic excuses for what is lacking. OTOH, there are always little pieces of unused takes that can be dropped in at judicious moments to distract from the inherent awkwardness of this lengthy shot. Door #1 or Door #3? Or Door #2: get a few people together and reshoot the closeup of Roscoe. I need to make a decision about this fairly soon, before the leaves change and drop off.

What else is there to do at 4am, when sleep is nowhere to be found, other than obsess about the defective nature of the current work?


in which some excellent progress is made

Amazing how much can be done when one applies seat of pants to seat of chair. After a rather considerable period of reading too much news and going hither and yon such that I didn't apply myself to the task of editing "Roscoe" footage until 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon, finally in the last 15 hours I've knocked out pretty complete versions of three scenes. Admittedly they are simple, short scenes. But having all the material there, with a variety of alternatives to work through, is a wonderful thing. It truly is possible to have the picture mostly edited by the end of this week. Only one scene to go: the killer Eighth Scene, in which the Truth is revealed, but Nothing is known for Certain.

The wonders of computer video editing. It is possible to have several working clips, or shots, open in windows called Viewers, at the same time. So the master shot gets loaded into the Timeline, and then all that I have to do is go back and forth between the close up inserts and drop pieces of my two actors  into the master shot that's already on the Timeline. With a little tweaking to the sound to drop out any cue lines that might appear from off screen, add some ambient "room tone", and the thing is pretty much assembled. So much simpler than agonizing over what pieces to use in a documentary. This is feeling pretty good right now, and I'm looking to do this fictional short thing again. Let's not wait another twenty-five years this time.