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rough cut definition

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Susie Lichterrough cut definition
by on Dec 24, 2009 at 8:14:35 pm

I recently signed a contract with a director agreeing to make him a rough cut of his documentary. Is there a detailed (or general) description of what is and is not considered required for a rough cut that someone can help me out with? He is a new director and I think expects more than a rough.


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Mark SuszkoRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 25, 2009 at 12:13:35 am

I think the "assembly" or first rough cut, should include all the shots in pretty much the scripted sequence as shot, with appropriate place-holders or pre-vis standing-in wherever an element like a composite or graphic is not yet fully complete. The audio will not be finished or sweetened yet, sound fx may be absent or minimal, music may be temporary tracks or not present. The main idea is to get the whole thing up in more or less the order it was scripted in, the master shots and key cut-aways or close-ups, to get a sense of the timing and length. The scripted order is what was initially approved and how everyone expects to seethe cut. It may well be that after the first rough, you will go back and re-cut and re-arrange or add things.

From that point, you might re-order scenes and tweak all the timings and choices of angles, do a coloring pass, an audio pass, a music and effects pass, ADR, Foley, all on the second cut. Or those may get farmed out to others, each to their specialty, while you and the director work to further refine the master cut. Depends a lot on the size of the project, the deadlines, the budget, the amount of help and resources you have.

First Assembly or Rough Cut is almost never suitable for screening to anyone but the director and producer. Though if your actors did some awesome work that will likely get trimmed down or cut out of the final, this might be a nice time to let them see their performances.




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David Roth WeissRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 25, 2009 at 2:32:50 am

[Susie Lichter] "He is a new director and I think expects more than a rough."

Of course he does. Rough cut meant something in the old days when we used to cut film, because it's very hard to undo cuts or lengthen them when cutting film, so whittling down was always part of the plan.

Nowadays, the term rough cut no longer truly applies, because edits are non-destructive. So, today when a director asks for a rough, he simply means a first cut, and if it's truly "rough" you may never work for that director again.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Gary HazenRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 25, 2009 at 3:55:00 pm

Rough Cut: Preliminary stage in film editing, in which shots, scenes, and sequences are laid out in an approximate relationship, without detailed attention to the individual cutting points.

Source:
http://motion.kodak.com/motion/uploadedFiles/US_plugins_acrobat_en_motion_n...

You can call it a rough cut, first cut, first pass, version 1 - whatever. In the end it's a roughly laid out sequence of events. If you end up spending an hour making fine adjustments to a single edit then it's no longer a rough cut. Manage your clients expectations and you'll be fine.



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walter biscardiRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 26, 2009 at 1:03:59 pm

Quite honestly that should have been discussed with the Director AND put into the contract BEFORE you signed. You already sound like you're resigned to the fact that the Director expects more of the rough cut than what you think it should be. So you're already in trouble.

A Rough Cut is simply whatever the editor and the Director agree it will be. With non-destructive editing tools, we can change timelines at will.

In my definition, a rough cut is the entire timeline laid out, all selects pulled, maybe some placeholder music where it will be used for transitions, the only graphics are created with the basic text tool of the editing program, and there are usually text notes in the timeline such as "add SFX here." I actually call these a "slap cut" because I literally just slap it together to see what we have to start with. Then from there we finesse.

On VERY important rule. NEVER destroy any of your timelines as you make changes. Even if you just change one shot, one graphic, whatever because there's always the chance, usually a good chance, the Director will say, "Remember that shot / sequence / graphic we had two days ago? Why don't we go back to that?" So every time I'm about to make a change to a timeline, I duplicate it. If we need to retrieve something from an earlier cut, it's right there.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
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HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Mark SuszkoRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 26, 2009 at 2:41:41 pm

Hey Walter, when you do that timeline duplication, is there a particular system or method you use to identify it, and where do you keep all the various iterations of the timeline, in the project file, or elsewhere?


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walter biscardiRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 26, 2009 at 3:47:35 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Hey Walter, when you do that timeline duplication, is there a particular system or method you use to identify it, and where do you keep all the various iterations of the timeline, in the project file, or elsewhere?"

In the Project file. In my primary Browser (using FCP) I have a bin called "Sequences". In that Bin there are three more bins. "Working," "Previous," "Master."

I always start with the first sequence called "Timeline Name_Cut 1" and that's in the "Working" Bin.

When I duplicate the timeline, it becomes "Timeline Name_Cut 2" and the previous version moves up into the "Previous" Bin. I repeat this process as the project moves along. In the case of our "Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" documentary that has been cutting since March, we have almost 200 cuts of the 9 segments that make up the doc and there have been numerous times we have gone back to older cuts to bring back shots and other elements as we have needed them.

When the project is locked to picture and we're ready to finish the show, I make another Duplicate which becomes "Timeline Name_Master" which moves into the Master Bin. If we have to do any alternatives to the main master, like a "Clean" "Short" "Long" etc..., those all remain in the Master Bin so we know exactly which cuts are mastered out.

Sometimes we'll also name the cuts by dates for long terms projects like the documentaries.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

"Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" now in Post.

Creative Cow Forum Host:
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Steve WargoRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 27, 2009 at 10:12:55 am

We will do a "save as" and add the date/time to the name also.

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Scott DavisRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 26, 2009 at 9:11:10 pm

Martin Baker has a great method for doing this that I love.

http://www.digital-heaven.co.uk/hot-tips-ep-5

Scott Davis
View Scott Davis's profile on LinkedIn



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grinner hesterRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 26, 2009 at 7:30:21 pm

Because you guys signed this without agreeing on what "it" is, I'm afraid it's open. You'll hand him a rough cut then go from there. He'll either be happy or he won't and you'll adjust your plan accordingly.
While a rough cut was an offline years ago, today it's simply the first draft more often than not.



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cowcowcowcowcow
Alan LloydRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 28, 2009 at 2:37:54 am

Well, someone has to post this:







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+1

Ron LindeboomRe: Hilarious, Alan
by on Dec 28, 2009 at 2:53:32 am

I had never bumped into that one before, too funny!

Thanks for the laugh.

Ron Lindeboom


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grinner hesterRe: Hilarious, Alan
by on Dec 29, 2009 at 4:07:32 pm

that one was done out of frustration.
...after sending a rough cut, of course. lol




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Richard HerdRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 27, 2009 at 5:56:06 pm

Here's a phrase to live by: "Manage Expectations." :-)

This one time, I really messed up bad. $10,000 contract and I was proceeding slowly, so slowly that I felt I should include the "right" people in the cutting process, so I showed a rough cut to the Creative Director who showed it to the client who fired my ass.

I don't do that anymore. No one gets to see a frame until I'm feeling good about it, ready to put my best cut out there every time no matter what because everyone has an opinion and they pride themselves on having an opinion that's different from the other persons!

Under no circumstances should a screening be prefaced with "now, this isn't finished yet." Instead have the mind set of this is my best damn work.

Sorry, you didn't clarify in the contract, first.


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Kai CheongRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 28, 2009 at 1:37:00 am

I think it's a good time to establish a good working & communication relationship with your director at this point. Afterall, as an editor, communicating & negotiating with your director in the spirit of cooperation is also a very valuable skill.

Since you mentioned he's quite new to the process, perhaps you could walk him through the various stages of cuts he should be expecting as part of a docu workflow. Possibly explain to him why a workflow is important. Sometimes, for someone unfamiliar with the process, they might not understand why you can't just tweak everything nicely for the first cut.

Usually we have to do this sort of 'workflow education' with clients & they're generally open to our expertise. Since this chap is a director-to-be, i think it'll help him a lot to know of the post stages.

Kai
FCP Editor / Producer with Intuitive Films
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Bill DavisRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 29, 2009 at 1:04:48 am

Look, this is a dynamic business.
And this is a dynamic question.

If you're working on storytelling of some form, then yeah, a LOT of stakeholders can't understand anything other than the near-finished approach.

OTOH, if you're working on a piece driven by talking heads and cutaway info-graphics - and the client requests a first cut knowing that they haven't finished the product mock-ups so that all you're going to have is a series of grey slates with "Insert shot of Widget A here" then there's little downside to that kind of rough cut.

They get to see the folks on-camera and decide if the VO/performances do the job - AND even an idiot confronting a grey screen with those words will accept that the visual is going to change.

Please remember, this is HARDLY EVER a one solution works for everyone business. JUDGEMENT is a good thing. Use it.



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Mark SuszkoRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 29, 2009 at 1:13:19 am

Some clients just can't visualize based on incomplete product, and you just have to make it policy that those types don't get to see a truly "rough" cut because they just won't understand or get past the "unfinished" parts. The same types also have a hard time working in a non-linear manner, and freak out in the edit bay if you skip forward to work on the middle or end with finished elements, leaving an unfinished element in the beginning. Even though what you're doing is faster and more efficient with their time and money, they want to plod along in A, B, C, D fashion. Like someone with OCD, they will preoccupy their minds fretting about the "hole" you left in the program until you go back and patch it. I had clients like that even back in the linear tape days. A checkerboard assembly used to blow their minds. Heck, a tape pre-view edit would, come to mention it.


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Mark AlexanderRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 29, 2009 at 4:00:24 pm

I worked with a first time director on a doc recently. She wanted to guide the editing from the start. I explained to her how this first cut would work and she seemed fine with the explanation: audio levels all over the place, wrong colors, rough in and outs etc. So off we go and not 5 minutes in she's asking why does it look / sound / feel that way. I got to the point where I understood that she wasn't going to be able to see past these items so I would clean up as much as I could to help her be able to watch edits without stopping all the time.

On another occasion I was working with a long- long time director who could see past things that just bugged the heck out of me. He would tell me don't worry about, it's fine, move on. He had things under control and finished quickly.

In these cases the directors were in the room with me so that really affects the process. Newbies want it all laid out cleanly and the more experienced don't need that degree of finesse to "see" what they're looking at.

Mark


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David Roth WeissRe: rough cut definition
by on Dec 29, 2009 at 8:05:59 pm

[Mark Alexander] "Newbies want it all laid out cleanly and the more experienced don't need that degree of finesse to "see" what they're looking at. "

I think your post offers excellent examples that point out exactly how the meaning of two words can be so very differently interpreted. However, I don't think the two different interpretations of rough cut always relate to the amount of experience of the supervising producer or director -- more often, it relates to the type of experience they have had, and whether they have managed projects for broadcast TV or some other aspect of media production requiring collaboration with strict deadlines.

In a studio or broadcast environment, where upper-level managers are spread thin and have very little time, they demand to see the story developed as fast and as efficiently as possible, with a beginning, middle, and end, and they simply assume the holes can be filled and the polish applied later. In situations where the supervisors have not worked in a studio-type environment with that kind of pressure, most have no idea how to work efficiently in post, and it's up to the editor to try to educate them, if possible, or to just go go along with them if they refuse to learn a better way.

It can be very frustrating, especially if you know a better way, but you're forced to work in ways that are very inefficient.


David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Rebecca GillaspieRe: rough cut definition
by on Jan 2, 2010 at 6:31:59 pm

Is this a scripted or unscripted documentary? If it's unscripted you just signed up for a huge endeavor and I'm guessing that they're expecting something presentable.

I have yet to be able to show anyone a true "rough" cut based on the definition.

A lot of people (particularly in the reality/documentary) genre, consider a rough the main cut prior to color correction, animation and soundmixing. They're not really expecting anything terribly rough. More of the cut that would be screened prior to the online process.

Anyway, I'm just guessing. It's impossible to know what your client's expectations are. But find out and report back!

Rebecca

"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do." - Bob Dylan

Rebecca Gillaspie
Producer/Editor
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Richard CooperRe: rough cut definition
by on Jan 3, 2010 at 7:49:54 pm

Our "rough cuts" for the reality series R5 Sons, Alaska go to the Executive Producers once we have an edit that is "95% there". This means that it will run a little long... up to a minute, but other than that it is final with a rough sound mix and no color correction. Once we get feedback from the EPs and make any small changes we tighten the edit up to proper time for a 1 hour episode (51:29:29) and it is ready for color and sound mixing. This is the process that works for us and it has been agreed upon by all parties so there are no surprises. They also give us extraordinary latitude to write and edit each episode and are not "sit in the edit suite and watch over your shoulder while you edit" kind of folks. They trust us to put out a great product and we run with it.


Each project and EP is different and it is a good idea to work out the work flow in Pre Production to manage their expectations... but this is still not always a perfect plan and each client / EP must be handled differently.


Richard Cooper
FrostLine Productions, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska

Everyone has a story to tell.
http://www.FrostLineProductions.com


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