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Editing-how to be objective


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 10:22 PM

All,
I just finished shooting a feature film, my first, and I am currently in the process of editing together a rough cut. I have a problem however, that I am sure a lot of you have dealt with. Frankly, I'm afraid of not being objective. Of course, I THINK everything I do is great, and looks great, but I know that isn't true. Do any of you have any tips for distancing myself from my work, so I can be more critical of it, and hopefully, produce a better final cut?
Thanks,
BR
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 11:17 PM

Hi,

Two things. The first is obvious - peer review. Get other people to look at it - not your friends or your parents, obviously. Post a link to a rough cut of a scene here and we'll happily tear it apart for you. Thick skin required, of course. The second thing, and something I do constantly, is to cut something once and leave it alone for a while. Three days minimum, a week is good, then go back and watch it. And you'll go "Urgh, that bit's crap." That's good for picking up moment to moment pacing problems.

But it doesn't let you out of thinking very hard about what you're doing. Editing is hard.

Phil
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#3 Gordon Highland

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 11:22 PM

For me, it's just time. Let it sit there for a couple of weeks and come back to it. Like with music, I'll never mix on the same day I record (part of that is ear fatigue, but it's similar). Of course, objectivity is why it's best to let someone else edit it in the first place. One of the good things about a rough cut is that you don't really have to be that objective just yet. Show it to a few people, tell them someone else cut it. They'll be honest.

The other thing is that cinematographers think in terms of pretty pictures, and that's not a good enough reason to hang on or cut away from a shot, someone's face falling out of a light or waiting for a camera move to finish completely or something silly like that. Keep the story moving along, likely much quicker than you'll initially want. Let the acting serve the scenes instead of the imagery. Walter Murch has a great (and very short) book called "In the Blink of an Eye" with some nice insights, once of which being that the best place to place a cut to make it invisible is often at the point when your eye naturally blinks when watching, ie. your brain has digested the info and is ready to move on.
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#4 Joshua Provost

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 01:25 AM

Brian,

My first thought is to spend some time away, but that's been mentioned. The other factor for me is to keep your mind way open during editing. Sometimes things change entirely in editing. They say that editing is the real "final draft" of the script. That goes along with being willing to throw away stuff that just doesn't work. Scenes and shots that took a lot of time and effort sometimes just have to go, for the flow, for the story, because of technical problems, poor delivery, lots of things. Don't let a take or even a frame get into the final product that will ruin the illusion. Better to leave it out than to risk the whole thing.

Josh
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#5 Ron_mc_Don

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Posted 18 December 2005 - 02:07 PM

I agree with everything that everone has said (and I'm not even running for office).

Do a ruff cutt that you are happy with
Leave it for a while and come back to it
Change it until you are happy
Show a wide cross section of peers and get their opinions
Use their ideas. If you like them, keep them; if you don't, change it back

Its as simple *cough* as that.

Enjoy!

Tony.
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