Jump to content


Photo

That's a job for the editor


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Daniel Madsen

Daniel Madsen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Student
  • Boston

Posted 28 January 2006 - 04:51 PM

Do you agree that some effects, once done optically should now be done in the edit using computers?


This can limit the mark left on a film by a cinematographer......what effects should be reserved for DPs and what responsibilities in the future do you see being passed from the cinematographer to the editor?




500 words or less, #2 pencil
  • 0

#2 Gordon Highland

Gordon Highland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • Director
  • Kansas City

Posted 28 January 2006 - 06:58 PM

The businessman in me says most of them should be left for post. And that wouldn't be the editor, unless you're talking very-low-budget indie. Most of these optical things you refer to would still not be the responsibility of the DP anyway, even if in-camera. If there's something you can pull off absolutely convincingly that doesn't require a lot of time on set, go for it. The reason it's often done the other way, aside from control, is the cost of all that crew on the set compared to a small number of folks that could do it on a workstation later. See "Eternal Sunshine" for a great clinic on practical in-camera effects.
  • 0

#3 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 29 January 2006 - 06:48 AM

Do you agree that some effects, once done optically should now be done in the edit using computers?
This can limit the mark left on a film by a cinematographer......what effects should be reserved for DPs and what responsibilities in the future do you see being passed from the cinematographer to the editor?
500 words or less, #2 pencil


Hi,

If you can shoot it for real easily, do so, it will look far better.

Just my 2c

Stephen
  • 0

#4 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 29 January 2006 - 11:57 AM

Depends on what you are calling an "effect". Fades and dissolves? Double-exposures? Matte paintings?
  • 0

#5 Daniel Madsen

Daniel Madsen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Student
  • Boston

Posted 29 January 2006 - 06:32 PM

sorry....should have specified. How about filtration...low con filters, color effect filters...etc.
  • 0

#6 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 January 2006 - 12:52 AM

sorry....should have specified. How about filtration...low con filters, color effect filters...etc.


That definitely falls under the control over the cinematographer, not the editor, whether or not the cinematographer decides these image manipulations are best done in camera or in post. Some sorts of effects, like filters to lower contrast, polas to darken the sky and reduce glare, probably should be done in camera because the affect the subject in ways that are harder to do in post as effectively. Color effects can be done either way, in camera or in post -- it just sort of depends on which is the best approach for that particular shot.

If an editor decided that this shot needed digital diffusion and that shot needed to be timed greenish, etc. and didn't involve or consult me and just did it, I'd be pissed off. It would be like me sneaking into the AVID room and altering a cut.
  • 0

#7 Keith Mottram

Keith Mottram
  • Sustaining Members
  • 824 posts
  • Other

Posted 30 January 2006 - 12:01 PM

That definitely falls under the control over the cinematographer, not the editor, whether or not the cinematographer decides these image manipulations are best done in camera or in post. Some sorts of effects, like filters to lower contrast, polas to darken the sky and reduce glare, probably should be done in camera because the affect the subject in ways that are harder to do in post as effectively. Color effects can be done either way, in camera or in post -- it just sort of depends on which is the best approach for that particular shot.

If an editor decided that this shot needed digital diffusion and that shot needed to be timed greenish, etc. and didn't involve or consult me and just did it, I'd be pissed off. It would be like me sneaking into the AVID room and altering a cut.


Dont want to hold up a red flag to a bull here, but I cant think of a single edit I've done where I haven't manipulated the "photography" to a certain extent. I mean what is the cut off point?

I assume retiming is acceptable? flips and flops? Re-frameing (essential to match certain shots)? Re-grading (again essential- especialy when utilising footage from a different scene)? How about comping two shots to improve one? etc etc....

I understand why cinematographers want to supervise grading/ post, but there has to be a point when they relinquish their work isn't there? Otherwise you must walk around pissed off all day long?

If I needed a nod from a DP everytime I needed to manipulate an image then I'd never complete an edit (and they'd never get a moments peace).

Keith
  • 0

#8 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 January 2006 - 12:19 PM

Flopping an image has always been under the perview of an editor, but even then, a good editor would mention to the DP about why the shot needs to be flopped, especially if it will require an optical printer dupe, if this is during production and the editor is seeing problems with screen direction, etc. There should be a line of communication.

But afterwards during the edit phase, obviously it is the editor's job to do whatever makes the film cut more smoothly, so if that means flopping or reframing even, or slowing or speeding up a shot, that's part of the editor's job. However, if image quality is going to be impacted, they should talk it over with the DP at some point if possible.

Where I draw the line is when the editor decides he wants to be a DP actually. I remember one film where I had a scene in an expensive hotel bathroom and the editor timed it deep green on the AVID because he thought it would look cool, when it had nothing to do with the look of the movie, nor did it support the mood of the scene -- it was merely distracting. And then he wanted me to create that look in the final prints.

The editor is not the cinematographer. They are not TRAINED nor experienced in that sort of work (well maybe a few have worked in the past as cinematographers.) But the main problem is that the photography for a feature needs to be well thought-out and designed by the DP in collaboration with the director, and working with other departments (including post) to achieve and maintain that look. Now I'm assuming artistic competency in the DP here obviously, not someone whose work needs saving.

I would prefer not working with an editor who does not respect my work as a cinematographer, but feels they can do it better, that they are better at picking colors and creating mood with light and shadow, contrast, composition, etc.

Certainly my work impacts the editor in terms of angles I shoot, good or bad takes technically, and certainly the editing impacts my work. But there are lines that I don't cross either. I don't sit down at the AVID and make changes to the edit, so the editor should not sit down and make changes to my color schemes or lighting ratios -- at least not without discussing the reasons why it is necessary. If he didn't involve me, that would assume a lack of respect and that the editor was assuming authority over the photography of the movie. What exactly does my DP credit mean at the head of a movie if final decisions on the photographic look are someone else's and are done without my input?
  • 0

#9 Keith Mottram

Keith Mottram
  • Sustaining Members
  • 824 posts
  • Other

Posted 30 January 2006 - 12:43 PM

If one is assuming that the DP is as experienced as yourself David, then one would also assume that every other aspect of the production is to the same standard- yet unfortunately this in rarely the case (the weekest link is usually the director!). My point is that all departments have to compromise and being too precious is not necesarilly the best thing (for the production).

In any case, how often would you have time to sit in on an edit? Now being disrespectful is something else entirely and in cases where I've felt that something needed to be changed fairly drastically and the director has agreed I have always tried to involve the DP, but he is rarely available to come there and then. This is to me the problem, because edit descisions are made very quickly and they'll either stay or change, but you cannot wait for a day for a DP to come and give an opinion (if you want it or not) and you cant make decistions like this over the phone. So therefor the best you can do is make a curtesy call. or is there something I'm missing?

Keith
  • 0

#10 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 January 2006 - 03:05 PM

No, you need to do whatever it is you need to do to make the edit better.

Now if the director wants to monkey with the image, it's hard for me to stop that although I will express any misgivings and make an argument for the way I think the image should look.

Sometimes you have no choice but to make alterations in the image. But I once had an editor take normal day establishing shot of a building in the city and try and make it look like night -- with horrible results; luckily I was able to talk them out of that and let me reshot the shot at night with the streetlamps on, etc. But I understood why the editor needed a night establishing shot. But I didn't want a lousy day-for-night shot to go into the movie with my name on the credits as DP if I didn't have a chance of figuring out a better way.

Since it was a static shot of a building with no motion in the frame, I basically took a digital still photo of the same building at night and some moving grain was added over it in post. For a brief establishing shot, it worked fine, much better than the after-the-fact day-for-night attempt.

Normally I don't run into editors trying to be cinematographers, actually -- most respect my work and seem grateful that the footage works as well as it does. Now and then you meet an editor who is overly creative and feels that post is his chance to repaint and reframe the image, as if all a DP does is turn in raw material for manipulation. Now if I were shooting background plates for efx compositing or to be turned into animation, that might be true. But if I'm doing the photography for a non-efx feature, I try and make the cinematography represent a consistent photographic vision that tells the story, and this look is based on collaboration with the director and other department heads, with the idea that the post will support and enhance that vision, not replace or re-design it.
  • 0

#11 Jaan Shenberger

Jaan Shenberger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 262 posts
  • Director
  • San Francisco

Posted 30 January 2006 - 04:20 PM

i remember reading walter murch's "in the blink of an eye" and getting to the part where he talks about dictating to the color timer how the color balance and exposure should be. it's a very insightful book and full of wisdom, but that part kinda creeped me out and immediately kinda reminded me of the bazillion editors i've met that are actually wannabe directors. i've heard a lot of editors speak as if once the tapes/prints are delivered to them that it's "their turn" to implement creative decisions and that the photography/production stage is over and dead.
  • 0

#12 Chris Keth

Chris Keth
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4427 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 January 2006 - 04:30 PM

i remember reading walter murch's "in the blink of an eye" and getting to the part where he talks about dictating to the color timer how the color balance and exposure should be. it's a very insightful book and full of wisdom, but that part kinda creeped me out and immediately kinda reminded me of the bazillion editors i've met that are actually wannabe directors. i've heard a lot of editors speak as if once the tapes/prints are delivered to them that it's "their turn" to implement creative decisions and that the photography/production stage is over and dead.



Yes, the timing of the film should be the DP's responsibility, but it kind of is the editor's turn to add his or her mark, isn't it? You make it sound like editing a film isn't a creative pursuit. :huh:

Edit: typo

Edited by Christopher D. Keth, 30 January 2006 - 04:33 PM.

  • 0

#13 Sidney King

Sidney King
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 56 posts
  • Director

Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:07 PM

It's also hard for me to imagine when it's ever appropriate for an editor to be giving timing instructions, but the power balance in these situations can vary quite a bit. Depending on the project and the principal creative forces (and producers) involved, it's feasible someone like Walter Murch could have more creative influence than an editor would typically have in a similar situation.

An actor shouldn't be able to fire a director, either, but if the actor is Harrison Ford and the director is a kid just out of USC, it could happen.

I'm sure a lot of DPs here have been involved in creative conflicts in post (especially timing), I think you really have to try hard to do the best you can to work within the creative goals of the other people involved (who are, after all, paying the bills) even if they're pushing it into an area you feel is compromising your work (perhaps drastically underexposing a shot to fit the "new mood" of a scene, etc...).

Ultimately if you're too prickly or difficult to work with on these things they may just cut you out of the process altogether and the results could be a lot worse. Catch more flies with honey and all that.

I'm certainly interested in hearing about creative conflicts in post between DP/editor/director/producer and how these were resolved if anyone wants to share.
  • 0

#14 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:14 PM

It's common for the editor to be responsible for the timing in television, particularly on documentaries. Often the DP is working on other productions and is unavailable or there has been a number of DPs working on the same production.
  • 0

#15 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19765 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 January 2006 - 05:58 PM

It's common for the editor to be responsible for the timing in television, particularly on documentaries. Often the DP is working on other productions and is unavailable or there has been a number of DPs working on the same production.


Or the post supervisor if the DP is not available.

My conflicts about timing are usually with people above me in the scheme of things, the director and the producers -- obviously they have a lot of say in that regards and I have to take their concerns seriously, even let myself be overruled by them. It's their movie after all -- I didn't pay for the thing.

Normally an editor hasn't been much involved in the final answer print timing decisions (other than to watch the composite print and make sure the sound and edits are all correctly done) and color-correction for home video, but sometimes they will show up and give their opinion on the timing, which is fine, I don't have a problem with another pair of eyes checking and evaluating the image.

But usually the editor would defer to me on final timing decisions. But when I work with an editor I respect and trust a lot and he says that I've timed a scene too dark, well, of course I'll reconsider what I'm doing. I think the editor tries to see things like an audience member would, so that evaluation is important to consider. But most editors know and accept that ultimately I have more say over how the image is timed than they do, and the director and producers have ultimate authority.

We all have to work together, but obviously there are areas where the editor has more control and areas where I have more control. I may give an opinion on how a scene is cut, but I don't expect that opinion to have more weight than that of the editor. They are the experts, not me, when it comes to editing. And I assume they think that I am the expert when it comes to cinematography.
  • 0


Metropolis Post

Paralinx LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

Opal

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

CineLab

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

The Slider

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

Technodolly

The Slider

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport

Opal

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Ritter Battery

Visual Products