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DP Communication w/ the Editor?


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#1 Peter Moretti

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 11:51 PM

As a Director of Photography, do you find it necessary to talk with the editor (or the director about editing) before filming?

Shooting a seated two person scene seems like it should be pretty straightforward, one master and two CU's.

But things could easily get complicated. For example, what if one of the actors gets out of her seat; do you follow her or let her leave the frame?

Or let's change it to five actors around a table and a few standing, like you would find in jury room. It's not possible to shoot coverage of everyone. Does the DP consult with the editor and director on how the scene will probably be cut?

I'm sure the answer is "It depends," but I love to hear anyone's thoughts on the topic. Thanks much!
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 01:01 AM

I try my best to communicate with all departments involved in the footage, and that included the editor. Often this is "tech talk" about what my workflow is, but often times even if I can't talk to the editor in person, I try to e mail them all of the camera reports and implore them to ask me any questions about shots and/or fill me in with anything they'd like.
I've been a bit lucky that on most projects I've known, at least in passing, the editor, or the director was editing it him/her self. So, that being the case I'd be able to speak to them often. Of course, other times I've just given footage away into the abyss of post; though this is not my preference.
Of course, make no mistake, I'm not an editor, but at the same time I think it's important to at least be a little bit versed in editing and if you can in some way say your 2 cents on things; why not make the effort?
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#3 Serge Teulon

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 08:01 AM

My view is that we work in a collaborative environment which relies on many stages and depts for the final product to work.
So as far as I'm concerned, it makes total sense to bring the editor in....

A director that I work with regularly is absolutely brilliant about this. Unless we are shooting a feature, he always asks the editor to be there throughout the shoot. It's something that is beneficial to the editor and also makes him/her feel more like they are part of the team.
Additionally, I've found it to be really helpful when the question on set of "will it work?" arises between the Director and myself on a new idea...
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#4 Byron Karl

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 10:57 AM

I doubt there's any common overlap between DP and Editor. Mainly because, the Producer had hired the Editor and the Director is there guiding the edit. A DP would be an unnecessary distraction, in that the footage is either there or it isn't. In terms of piecing it together, that's the Editor and the Director's role and a DP's input wouldn't be appreciated.

Having worked with DP's in the edit process before, it's not welcome. Because often the problem is a scene isn't working and someone from the production side will often take the argument that it was shot fine. When it clearly wasn't. So now, you have two sides arguing to persuade the Director.
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 01:31 PM

In the past, we've sometimes had the editor and assistant visit the set on day one, just to meet everybody and schmooze at lunch. From day two onward, the editor and assistant are plenty busy keeping up with camera.




-- J.S.
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 04:21 PM

......In terms of piecing it together, that's the Editor and the Director's role and a DP's input wouldn't be appreciated.

Having worked with DP's in the edit process before, it's not welcome. Because often the problem is a scene isn't working and someone from the production side will often take the argument that it was shot fine. When it clearly wasn't. So now, you have two sides arguing to persuade the Director.



I certainly understand that this is a potential pit fall that happens when ego's start to get in the way.
But what you are referring to is in the Cutting Room and the original post is about prior to shooting and on set....however I must say that on your point I completely agree, there is nooooo space for the dp in the cutting room.
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#7 Tom Jensen

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 06:22 PM

Editor's are pretty smart, they can pretty much watch the takes and see what's going on. If the DP needs to communicate something, he can write it on the camera report or tell script to make a note.
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#8 Peter Moretti

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 11:21 PM

...

Or let's change it to five actors around a table and a few standing, like you would find in jury room. It's not possible to shoot coverage of everyone. Does the DP consult with the editor and director on how the scene will probably be cut?

...


I think my title is misleading. I'm not asking about the DP telling the editor what to do. I'm seeing if the DP sometimes consults with the editor to be sure that scene is being filmed in a way to give the proper coverage and to suit the intended editing style.

It seems like the answer should be "Well of course the DP knows how to give enough coverage." But for example, in the scene described above there are too many permutations and groupings to cover everything. I would think some conception of editing decisions has to figure into the setups that are chosen. Does this mean the DP asks the editor or director how they see the scene being cut?
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#9 Tom Jensen

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 07:33 AM

It's pretty much the director's vision. He or she should know what they want. That's their job.
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#10 Byron Karl

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 11:11 AM

It's pretty much the director's vision. He or she should know what they want. That's their job.


That's it essentially. The Director either tells the DP what to shoot and is responsible for dictating the coverage. Or the Director works with the Editor to piece it together. If you have any concerns or ideas, you need to speak to the Director.

The equivalent of you talking to an Editor, would be if the Director was unhappy with a DPs lighting and just went over and talked to the Gaffer. If the Director has no idea how to direct a scene and relies on a DP for coverage, then it's something you just need to figure out yourself, based on what you perceive to be the Director's intentions.
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#11 Rob Vogt

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 06:27 PM

I've had editors who've wanted to color correct when there's no colorist. I feel like that should be more my job then theirs since it's more to do with how an image looks than how the actors are acting which is more what the editor focuses on. Just because it's a function of their NLE they think it's their job to do it.

As per your original question I think that it saves time and money to definitely talk with the director about what coverage to get, but it's important to know that the director has a lot going on in his/her mind and if you feel like it is important to the script to even just have a cut-away its your job to get it if the budget allows, or at least point out your reasoning to the director. Either way it's not necessary to involve the editor in that stage, but it isn't vital. Even the operator, in your first example, could simply change the coverage between two takes.

All in all, you answered your own question... it depends ;)
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#12 Del Collens

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 11:01 PM

Editor's are pretty smart, they can pretty much watch the takes and see what's going on. If the DP needs to communicate something, he can write it on the camera report or tell script to make a note.


This pretty much sums it up.
I rarely if ever talk to the cinematographer, if anyone in post is talking to the camera department it's usually the vfx artists for any 'special' shots, i.e. greenscreen, cgi, etc.
As an editor, I can't speak for all, but I do not go on the set, in fact I avoid it as it inhibits the imagination of 3d depth/space. If I know what the set was like, what shots were cheated, etc it can greatly effect the impact of a cut. Seeing as the idea is to get the directors vision across (unless you're working in TV/Music videos, which is usually free-rane cuts with no meaning), understand the story and directors narrative, I really never had the need to speak with a cinematographer about anything from a post-production point of view.
Course, taking in consideration there are a lot of different types of editors, from a picture editing point of view -- I don't want to know anything about what is taking place outside of what I see, because that is how the audience will see it.
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