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Behind the scenes of The Omen


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 05:11 AM

I only saw the end of the Omen behind the scenes short that was playing on FOXM channel, but what I saw annoyed me. The clip is a scene shot at a burial site and I presume the director is giving credit to the editor for the cut that he made. The Editor explains how he took out frames in certain shots to give the scene of the dog attacking one of the stars maximum impact.

Here's my gripe, the shots were masterfully created with a very fast shutter angle, I would guess somewhere between 45-90 degrees. The combination of the high contrast of the black dog against the white snow further heightened the result that was achieved.

So while I agree that the editor probably made good editing choices, the work of the DP was the cornerstone that created the opportunity for the editor to be creative. Perhaps the DP was credited in a previous scene in this behind the scenes short and I missed it, but I just find it unfair for somebody who gets to sit in front of computer screen and hack away to get too much of the credit when most of the magic was already there because of the DP.
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#2 David Sweetman

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 06:01 AM

Well of course the editor is going to hype himself. Heck, that clip may get him his next work.
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#3 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:01 AM

Surely you aren't trying to start a pissing match between DP's and Editors. Wouldn't you agree that both are equally (and uniquely) responsible for the final quality of a scene?
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#4 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:01 AM

I'm really looking forward to the look of this film - John Sela is a very young and talented DP. His work in music videos has been extremely good.
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#5 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:18 PM

Surely you aren't trying to start a pissing match between DP's and Editors. Wouldn't you agree that both are equally (and uniquely) responsible for the final quality of a scene?


The farther along a film project goes toward completion, the wiser the people involved would be in not pretending the process starts with them.

An editor cut the short promotional that I saw. For that editor to look at that footage of the dog attack and not get that the way it was shot was essential for the editor to create the edit that he did, is not a good sign.

Perhaps it was the interviewer who didn't realize that what they ask can make the individual contributors to a movie project look self-indulgent, perhaps it was the editor of the promotional short who dropped the ball and left out the editor acknowledging the camera work. Maybe the feature film editor acknowledged the DP during the interview stage but it was cut out of the final interview.

The studios should care more about the overall message of their promotional fluff pieces.

The promotional scene I saw promotes individual accolades when it's obvious the action in the scene was well shot and makes the success of the final version of the scene a joint effort.
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#6 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:37 PM

The farther along a film project goes toward completion, the wiser the people involved would be in not pretending the process starts with them.


True that. We are only shepherds of these projects which take on a life of their own.
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#7 Michael McIntyre

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 03:19 AM

For the past 13 years, I've been "somebody who gets to sit in front of {a} computer screen and hack away". You don't hear me whining when someone takes credit for my editing, saving their neck time-and-time again because they don't know how to sequence a shoot.

Film is, by nature, a collaborative effort. To use your egalitarian logic, we should also be giving kudos to the dog, the wrangler, the intern that tracked down the coffee and the copy boy that furnished that days' script sides.

They asked the editor a question regarding his approach to a scene, he answered. If he were to include details about shutter angles and composition, then why not the wireless technologies that enabled the Scriptboy to feed timecode to the script supervisor? What of the fossil fuel technology that powered the generators for the ligthing package? At the very least, why not more on the very inner-workings of the motion picture camera itself?

Why you would single out an essential member of the team like this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 07:21 AM

They asked the editor a question regarding his approach to a scene, he answered. If he were to include details about shutter angles and composition, then why not the wireless technologies that enabled the Scriptboy to feed timecode to the script supervisor? What of the fossil fuel technology that powered the generators for the ligthing package? At the very least, why not more on the very inner-workings of the motion picture camera itself?

Why you would single out an essential member of the team like this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.


I think it was wise of the editor to notice they could chop edit the attack sequence, but what made the idea plausible was the choice of the shutter angle and the contrast within the scene.

The above explanation took just one sentence, so it was possible to spread credit around.

It was truly a collaborative effort that created the overall impact of the particular scene in question, whereas in other situations, as you have aptly pointed out, it is the editor that can save the day when production mistakes and oversights occur, in this instance, the editor had terrific material to work with, and it would have been wise to acknowledge that.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:05 AM

For the past 13 years, I've been "somebody who gets to sit in front of {a} computer screen and hack away". You don't hear me whining when someone takes credit for my editing, saving their neck time-and-time again because they don't know how to sequence a shoot.

Any suggestions on good self-learning materials for editing film and video? It sounds like you've been in the trenches more than long enough to have some pretty firm opinions on how to learn, if not at least appreciate, good editing.
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#10 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 12:13 PM

Any suggestions on good self-learning materials for editing film and video? It sounds like you've been in the trenches more than long enough to have some pretty firm opinions on how to learn, if not at least appreciate, good editing.


I'll second that.

Mr. McIntyre is stating that a good editor can make a troubled film successful. Yet it's not the best publicity in the world to say a film was "saved" by the editor because it implies that perhaps others dropped the ball prior to the film being given to the editor.
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#11 Michael McIntyre

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Posted 17 July 2006 - 02:02 PM

Any suggestions on good self-learning materials for editing film and video? It sounds like you've been in the trenches more than long enough to have some pretty firm opinions on how to learn, if not at least appreciate, good editing.


Hal:
That depends on which platform you decide to cut with. I lean towards Avid but some gigs call for Final Cut. Others favor Premiere, Vegas, any number of other options. Each app has its own bevy of how-to books, often with accompanying media for practice.

The most important thing is to be on a 'box' digging around yourself, referring to the book(s) when necessary. The test footage is a nice thought but I find a certain sense of detachment to it. If you needed to get a reel or shot-selects DVD to a potential client, you would really care about how it was edited together. You would figure out how to make it look as good as it could because it's yours and the client could be yours.

One exception to that is "Jerry Hofmann on Final Cut Pro 4". Forget about version number specifics, the footage is from a filmed short he cut and they gave him access to most everything..... slates, bad takes, wild audio tracks, different angles, music, etc. There's no theory or over-analyzing, it's just the mechanics of getting the film done.

Cinematography lends itself to inspired prose. People describe light, shadows, the 'feel' of a scene. I have not found this literary bent to hold true for editing. Some will argue, saying Walter Murch writes some interesting stuff ("Conversations", "Blink of an Eye", "Behind The Seen"). I do not agree.

Imagine, if you will, Toland describing a set-up for "Citizen Kane". Now, juxtapose that with Murch trimming frames off scenes to get it 'to time' for Miramax. Ouch. I hope this helps somewhat and wasn't too rambling.


Alessandro:
Didn't mean to come off too grumpy but you really had it out for the "Omen" editor. He's just talking about cutting a scene. They asked after all. Even though it may not be "the best publicity", quite often films are "saved" by editors because many, many times "others drop the ball prior to the film being given to the editor". Every single day "editor(s) can make a troubled film successful".

There's a reason why 'fix-it-in-post' is now cliché. That doesn't apply to only f/x or color-correction but every boneheaded camera bobble, bad take, missed shot, forced zoom, boom-in-frame, reversed axis mistake you can dream of. Good story-telling involves much more than just being coddled in front of computer monitors. What context would the dog-mauling scene have on its own?

MOVIEGOER (INT. DARK THEATER):
"Wow, that dog looks like he was shot with an interesting shutter angle. What was that all about? A scene of a dog attack? Curious.... I paid $9 for that!?!?!?"
END SCENE
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#12 Matt Pacini

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 11:28 AM

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching the piece, that the editor didn't shoot the scene, so I find it absurd that you are insinuating he's taking credit for anything other than what he did; edit.
It's also obvious you've never done any editing, since you think it's just "hacking away", and don't realize it's a talent, a skill, and one that is not easy to do well.
Also, you're assuming that they shot with a narrow shutter angle. Perhaps the look was actually from the editing; cutting every other frame or whatever, so maybe it WAS the editor that created the look you're attributing to the DP?

There are so few shows that ever give editors credit, that it's ridiculous to complain about this one time they do. You need to edit a feature someday. Only then will you realize that they're not "just hacking away at a computer", (or just cutting away the bad takes, as many people mistakenly assume), any more than a cameraman is "just pointing a camera at something" and the actors are really responsible for the quality of the scene.

MP
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 14 August 2006 - 12:30 PM

I only saw the end of the Omen behind the scenes short that was playing on FOXM channel, but what I saw annoyed me. The clip is a scene shot at a burial site and I presume the director is giving credit to the editor for the cut that he made. The Editor explains how he took out frames in certain shots to give the scene of the dog attacking one of the stars maximum impact.

Here's my gripe, the shots were masterfully created with a very fast shutter angle, I would guess somewhere between 45-90 degrees. The combination of the high contrast of the black dog against the white snow further heightened the result that was achieved.

So while I agree that the editor probably made good editing choices, the work of the DP was the cornerstone that created the opportunity for the editor to be creative. Perhaps the DP was credited in a previous scene in this behind the scenes short and I missed it, but I just find it unfair for somebody who gets to sit in front of computer screen and hack away to get too much of the credit when most of the magic was already there because of the DP.


I totally stand by this statement and I don't think it's that controversial either.

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone watching the piece, that the editor didn't shoot the scene, so I find it absurd that you are insinuating he's taking credit for anything other than what he did; edit.
It's also obvious you've never done any editing, since you think it's just "hacking away", and don't realize it's a talent, a skill, and one that is not easy to do well.
Also, you're assuming that they shot with a narrow shutter angle. Perhaps the look was actually from the editing; cutting every other frame or whatever, so maybe it WAS the editor that created the look you're attributing to the DP?

There are so few shows that ever give editors credit, that it's ridiculous to complain about this one time they do. You need to edit a feature someday. Only then will you realize that they're not "just hacking away at a computer", (or just cutting away the bad takes, as many people mistakenly assume), any more than a cameraman is "just pointing a camera at something" and the actors are really responsible for the quality of the scene.

MP


Rather than call you a dumbass for making such a groundless statement about my editing abilities, which include having edited a piece that won a regional emmy, I'll just suggest you reread my opening comment that I provided above, it's really not that controversial.

Just because so few shows give editors credit really doesn't relate to the issue at hand, and frankly, I do agree that editors get very little credit.

As time goes on, the concept of editing and what it is is changing. I expect younger people to not get it because the only type of editing they know is via the computer, and it's just too tempting to want to overmanipulate a project and the visual work of others, just because they can rather then because it makes the piece better. But once someone is editing professional projects, I would hope they understand a good cinematography technique well excecuted when they see one, and give credit.

If you are saying that the shutter angle was normal and the editor created the look strictly through the editing process, then I would say my whole premise in this issue is wrong, but I don't think that is the case.
I think the editor took a well shot scene and squeezed all the quality out of it and then some, but then forget to acknowledge the DP, or it was left on the cutting room floor, was earlier on in the Omen Promo and I missed it, but most likely, the people who created the promo piece didn't make the connection between the DP and the Editor and therefore never brought it up for the Editor to address.
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#14 Michael McIntyre

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 04:41 PM

Congrats on the regional emmy and thanks for not calling me a dumbass. Er.... I think.

I just find it interesting that anyone would really care that much about a DVD extra with an editor's soundbite. Care enough that they'd actually create a topic thread on Cinematography.com to voice said opinion.

Kudos to the DP! Fight the good fight.... He shot it with a specific shutter angle. I was just standing up for an editor's voice actually being heard for once regardless of crew politics or due credit. Shame on that editor!

I guess there's something to be said for wanting the last word but this is so tired..............

I'll go back to cutting shows, making sure to give credit for each and every effect or manipulation that gets brutalized onto someone's precious photography.
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#15 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 05:01 PM

Congrats on the regional emmy and thanks for not calling me a dumbass. Er.... I think.

I just find it interesting that anyone would really care that much about a DVD extra with an editor's soundbite. Care enough that they'd actually create a topic thread on Cinematography.com to voice said opinion.

Kudos to the DP! Fight the good fight.... He shot it with a specific shutter angle. I was just standing up for an editor's voice actually being heard for once regardless of crew politics or due credit. Shame on that editor!

I guess there's something to be said for wanting the last word but this is so tired..............

I'll go back to cutting shows, making sure to give credit for each and every effect or manipulation that gets brutalized onto someone's precious photography.


Hi Michael, I was referring to Matt's comments.

The piece I saw was on television prior to the release of the movie, I don't know if that matters any from your perspective.
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#16 Michael McIntyre

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Posted 15 August 2006 - 06:16 PM

My bad, Alessandro. See what this thread has driven me to!?!?!?!?!

I don't even know who to be mad at anymore. Sad but true.

I gladly retract any and all grumpiness from my posts. The more I think about it, the more I can see the frustration with copping and/or chopping a DP's vision. Can't we all just get along?

I haven't visited your site in a while and might PM you (if that's cool) on some Super8 info for an upcoming project. It's safe to say I'm done debating 'The Omen'. Happier times.....
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#17 Keith Mottram

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 05:51 AM

Didn't notice this thread before, so it's avoided the full extent of my wrath and with calmness I'd like to explain why the initial thread was the biggest load of horseshite I've read on this forum for a long time in one statement. THERE WOULD BE NO CINEMATOGRAPHERS WITHOUT EDITORS. there i said it, the edit makes a film. full stop. now before everyone starts whining i am merely pointing out that the editor's work is the final part of the filmmaking process (excluding post considerations). now obviously a bad edit can ruin a film, but it can save/ disguise a whole range of cinematic disasters. what irritates me is that we have reached the point where people have this little respect for editors, but I have to admit i can understand why. i have recently been trying to put a team of editors together for a new hi-end television show, here in London and so far I have yet to see any of the (highly recommended) trialed editors come up with anything worth while. we are talking editors with a large amount of experience aswell. quite simply they are as creative as the vast majority of cameramen/ women, i.e. not at all. but if you are willing to respect a DOP on a feature, then you should give the same respect to the editor (although this is not to say a film editor's work is uncritisisable, in the same way as any other film professional). in conclusion if you are naive enough to think that you can edit to the standard that features require, based on the fact that you can 'chop' away on a computer ask yourself this can you write a novel if you can use microsoft word? the anwer is of course you can, but unless you have the interlect, craft and creativity it will be a largely pointless exercise. the term 'editor' has been devalued by media graduates and diy filmmakers, but so has cameraman/ woman by the hordes of dv operators claiming to actually posess talent, many of whom lurk on this forum.

keith

ps i can and have operated plenty of film cameras, but I've never wondered why people give respect to good DOPs. Oh and i'm one of the people that believe great editing is about the interlectual analasis as much as the actual operation and I'd recommend Murch's Conversations.
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#18 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 18 August 2006 - 07:46 AM

Didn't notice this thread before, so it's avoided the full extent of my wrath and with calmness I'd like to explain why the initial thread was the biggest load of horseshite I've read on this forum for a long time in one statement. THERE WOULD BE NO CINEMATOGRAPHERS WITHOUT EDITORS. there i said it, the edit makes a film. full stop. now before everyone starts whining i am merely pointing out that the editor's work is the final part of the filmmaking process (excluding post considerations). now obviously a bad edit can ruin a film, but it can save/ disguise a whole range of cinematic disasters. what irritates me is that we have reached the point where people have this little respect for editors, but I have to admit i can understand why. i have recently been trying to put a team of editors together for a new hi-end television show, here in London and so far I have yet to see any of the (highly recommended) trialed editors come up with anything worth while. we are talking editors with a large amount of experience aswell. quite simply they are as creative as the vast majority of cameramen/ women, i.e. not at all. but if you are willing to respect a DOP on a feature, then you should give the same respect to the editor (although this is not to say a film editor's work is uncritisisable, in the same way as any other film professional). in conclusion if you are naive enough to think that you can edit to the standard that features require, based on the fact that you can 'chop' away on a computer ask yourself this can you write a novel if you can use microsoft word? the anwer is of course you can, but unless you have the interlect, craft and creativity it will be a largely pointless exercise. the term 'editor' has been devalued by media graduates and diy filmmakers, but so has cameraman/ woman by the hordes of dv operators claiming to actually posess talent, many of whom lurk on this forum.

keith

ps i can and have operated plenty of film cameras, but I've never wondered why people give respect to good DOPs. Oh and i'm one of the people that believe great editing is about the interlectual analasis as much as the actual operation and I'd recommend Murch's Conversations.



I really don't disagree with anything you've written, I also don't think it relates to the issue I brought up originally.
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