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Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals

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Jacob Kirby
Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 22, 2009 at 6:22:26 pm

Hey, I've been using fcp for a couple years now and everything I've worked on until now has been less then 10 mins. Recently I secured an editing job for a movie that will probably end up being close to 30 mins long. I was wondering what is a good editing workflow in fcp for long term projects? I'm only 21 years old and haven't had a lot of time to figure that kind of stuff out yet. Would I be better off using 1 sequence and putting everything on there, or should I create a new sequence for every scene and then a master sequence? Any advice?


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todd reid
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 22, 2009 at 7:53:38 pm

Hi Jacob-

Its all going to come down to your particular style of editing and what makes you comfortable. Also would depend on your client and how the structure of the movie will be.
Either way you have suggested should work equally as well.

For a 30 minute movie, I personally, would keep everything in one timeline.
So if the client wanted to "see how the opening scene came out", then the next day asked "how was the gunfight scene", I would export the requested portion out and ftp it to them.
Another strategy would be to create different sequences to keep them separate, and at the end copy/paste everything into a master sequence.
***One caveat with that is that if you have 2 copies of everything (as just described) any revisions, changes or additions would have to be done in 2 places.

Good luck



Todd Reid
Senior Editor
Digitized Media, Inc.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 22, 2009 at 7:56:18 pm

I just recently cut a lo-budget feature that was 98 minutes. We broke that up into 9 sequences, with the longest being 13 minutes.
That worked pretty well for me. I didn't use a master sequence, we stuck to each sequence being a major chapter in the film. I would avoid nesting your sequences into a master. Nesting looks good on paper, but on longer projects it was unreliable.
Once your project is finalized you can combine (without nesting) your sequences into one long one.
I'm sure others will chime in with some workflows that have worked well for them.
Good luck on your project.


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Jacob Kirby
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 22, 2009 at 9:12:25 pm

Thanks for the Advice, I'm gonna spread it across a couple sequences to start out with so I can have more elbow room when I'm trying to cut the scenes. Eventually I'll end up merging them all into the same timeline. Something weird happened when I was editing today. Normally when I'm going through my timeline frame by frame I can also hear the audio playing frame by frame and watch the levels change. I've found this very helpful for finding the write frame to place an edit but it randomly stopped working. I can't hear any audio when I'm keying through the timeline and the levels stay frozen. It only registers when I press play. Does anyone know how to fix that?


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Dustin Parsons
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 23, 2009 at 1:16:36 am

Make sure that Audio Scrubbing is turned on – this can be found in the menu under View or you can toggle it on and off by hitting Shift+S.

As far as breaking the 30 minute episode up into multiple sequences, I agree with Todd; it really depends on your style of editing. I duplicate and number my sequences throughout the day as I work so I'm comfortable putting everything on one timeline because I know I can't screw thing up to where it's not salvageable.

I don't see any problem spitting scenes up into their own timelines but I would suggest that, before you start, you should develop a workflow for keeping things organized. The longer the project, the more opportunity there is for things to get convoluted and confusing.

--------------------------------------------
Mac Pro | Leopard 10.5.5
2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon | 4GB Ram
Final Cut Pro Studio 2 | Avid Media Composer


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Phil Yunker
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 23, 2009 at 1:57:18 am

Jacob,
Have you checked out Shane Ross's "Getting Organized in Final Cut Pro?" DVD? it's worth the $$ now and down the road for you.
I edit a lot of "longer form" shows and find putting each act or act(s) into a sequence helps with keeping things organized and following some of Shane's suggestions in his DVD.


PHIL


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Jacob Kirby
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 23, 2009 at 3:11:43 am

Thanks for the advice,

I'll have to check out that DVD. I spend a lot of time organizing my Data before I edit, it's a form of procrastination. I have everything labled by scene and shot type and sorted all my data into bins according to the scene. I also have all the good takes checked off and extra audio in each folder. This was the first project I've worked on where all the audio was sent to a field recorder and I had to sync it up in post. I ended up merging all the clips together and getting them organized, now it's time to start editing. I'll probably be posting on here more often because this project is a learning experience for me. I've done a lot of editing for my jobs and film school too so I've got experience. This is one of the first fiction projects that I've really taken seriously soo it's pretty exciting. Most of the time I end up doing government work or marketing stuff, this is gonna be a welcome change.


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Jacob Kirby
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 24, 2009 at 9:01:14 pm

Hey everyone,

Recently I've run into a new problem... The director. He's very pushy and inexperienced, he show's very little respect for me even though I've agreed to edit his movie for free. I really want to edit the movie, not because it's really good or anything but I've already invested a lot of time into the project. I was on set every day managing data and I also spent a huge chunk of time syncing audio and video. And when it comes down to it, I really need completed projects under my belt. I've cut a couple scenes but he thinks this movie should be finished within the next week. He's been breathing down my neck and I really don't appreciate it. He thinks a reasonable deadline for a 30 minute movie is 1 month from the day they started to shoot. He says I should have a rough cut by then and I tried to tell him that no one can make a rough cut that fast. Especially when I'm workin on spare parts and spare time. I've also got a job, school and other projects I have to tend too. He called me the other day and I got him to move the deadline back 4 weeks. It's now a reasonable deadline for a ROUGH cut but I still don't feel right about it. At first he wanted to come over, take the footage and edit it himself. I had to practically beg him not too because I didn't feel like starting a fight. He doesn't know how to edit, and this is only his first movie. He's being a really big deuschbag and I don't know how to handle the situation because I'm only 21 and he's in his late 30's. It's really hard to tell him anything I've talked to the Assistant director and other people on set and we all came to the same conclusion that he has no idea what he's doing. His screenplay was descent, but if it wasn't for the DP and Audio guy his footage would have been totally screwed over. He has this illusion of how editing should be done but no real experience to back it up. He keeps trying to tell me he know's how to edit but he also told me he has Sony Vegas, he asked me how to flip a shot in post and he couldn't figure out how to play footage from the XD Cam and thought something was wrong with it. I really don't appreciate his intimidation tactics and lack of respect, and I'm about ready to hand it over and save my dignity. I really need finished projects though. Anybody have some good advice on handling this situation tactfully? He told me that he wants me to be open and honest with him so I think I should send him an email and work a couple of these things out.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 25, 2009 at 5:24:07 pm

Jacob-

This interpersonal business kind of stuff is more appropriate to the Business & Marketing COW, but I'll take a shot at it since the thread is already underway here.

Hmmm, tight deadlines, no pay and a jerk of a director to boot. Yes, you'd like to have this as a completed project for your resume, but at what cost?

Sounds like you've got the deadline thing at least partially under control, but the truth of the matter is editors get faster with experience and you're going to have to cram and jam and push yourself to make this all come together.

No pay? Well, that's your choice and probably not much of an option if you're just starting out. HOWEVER, there may come a walk-away point for you. Recognize that this is a possibility and determine where your threshold for pain is.

As to dealing with a jerk, especially one who doesn't know what he doesn't know, you're best option is not to be intimidated and especially not to respond in kind. If he's a hothead, you need to stay cool. If he screams, you need to talk. ALWAYS be helpful and offer to show him options and alternatives as well as techniques. Just make sure that you're professional and keeping calm.

One thing that's worked for me in the past with let clients, producers, etc. who act like know-it-alls, is to let them fail. Give them the chair or give them the raw footage disks. Just do it in a friendly and supportive way: "Gee, Bob, I'd really like to see your ideas on this." Then, once confronted with realizing that they really have no idea how to do it themselves, they're left to come back to you to save their bacon. And THAT's why you have to stay friendly and professional. If you are adversarial they will think their only alternative is to find another editor.

Of course for that demonstration to work, try to provide only the raw footage if possible. I especially wouldn't give away any sequences on which you'd spent a lot of time getting into synch.

Best of luck. Sometimes we ALL need it.



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Jason Jenkins
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 26, 2009 at 12:10:49 pm

[Jacob Kirby] "I've agreed to edit his movie for free."

That's exactly why he shows little respect for you.

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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grinner hester
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 25, 2009 at 2:44:41 pm

I capture everything I can for longforms. All of it, if I have the space. I find often I use a shot that wasn't a shot at all to stitch the story together.
I ignore my projected running time for the first pass and throw everything usable on a timeline. I then look at that time and guage how much will end up on the cutting room floor. I go from the top subtractively and this is when the story unfolds. I try to cut it to time witht his pass or the next. I then go from the top again with b-roll, music and notes for effects and transitions. I then go from the top again with those layers of love. This method keps me from spending time tweeking a shot that may not even make the cut. Should I have to spit a show out at the end of the day, I could. Meanwhile, I have alicated time to make it perfect tomorrow.



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Phil Yunker
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 26, 2009 at 12:23:08 am

Jacob,
Re-read Mr. Griffin's post and follow his advice, this is some of the best advice I've read in a long time not only for professional relationships but also for personal.
Also, hop into the business and marketing forum on the cow and read some of the posts in there from folks that have had the same problem you are withe the director. This will give you some more ideas on how to handle him (and unfortunately others like this that you will encounter) and it will show you that you are not alone with this problem.

Good luck.

PHIL



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Mark Suszko
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 26, 2009 at 2:47:55 pm

I cut pretty much like Grinner does, in that I throw all the good stuff up on a timeline and then work at it subtractively, carving it down and down more on each pass, and I have to tell you, it hurts, every time, because I tend to love my footage too much, so it is like yanking out nose hairs for me to keep shortening the piece past what I think personally is the best overall arrangement, to fit a set time window. When I get down to that level, I'm fighting for every spare frame at that point. When I've worked at it long enough that I think I may be losing objectivity, I will ask anybody walking by the suite to look at it and give me their fresh eyes. You must accept anything they say with good grace because this is not about your self validation at this point, it is about objectively checking if the message you meant is the message they are getting. If they react by saying something you think is stupid, perhaps they ARE stupid, but you don't say anything but thank-you for that comment because, well, though they may not be the target audience for the piece, maybe you didn't make the sequence clear enough that anybody can grok it on the first viewing.

As far as your rough cut, part of the problem may be that you and the Director have different notions of what "rough" means. You may be trying too hard to polish every cut as you encounter it on the first pass, and playing with color grading and filters or tweaking audio is not what you should be doing on that first assembly. I have a saying about hooking up gear; "First make it work, THEN make it pretty". And I kind of approach the first rough timeline the same way.

You are not Coppola on 'Apocalypse', spending a whole day to try out five or more versions of one cut. Be Coppola or Scorcese on the final version of the edit. Be Roger Corman on the first rough assembly. Just throw the elements up there in script order, leave slugs or holes for what you have not yet got or built, and keep moving forward, slamming away. If you had good notes on set for the "keeper" shots or paid good attention while logging (which I call the real first edit), you already know the best takes, go with those and work with them first. If the script was good enough to shoot as-is, it deserves a rough assembly that follows it in pretty close form. The alternate jazz riffs and re-sequencing comes later, if it's not flowing as well on screening as it did on the page.

A running joke/truism I have with clients who sit in with me is "Just give me the number of the last take for that scene". "Why? Don't you want to see them all?" "The first take is almost never perfect and the last take is the last one because it was at that point we decided on set we couldn't get it any better, otherwise we'd still be out there shooting it". :-) Kind of a variation on the old saying that the missing car keys are always in the last place you looked, because you stop looking once you've found them. Not to say the best take is *always* the last one, just statistically speaking, for me, it's the way to bet when you don't have much time to noodle around. I also have the luxury of usually being the shooter/director for whatever I edit, so I have a better knowledge of what's good in the raw bin to begin with.

You already got a lot of advice about passive-aggressive tactics with a pushy director. Instead of digging-in your heels this early in the process, remember the joy of NLE is that you can save infinite versions, so when you get to a point your opinions strongly diverge, just save off a new version to make his wanted change, and know you can go back to the older, better sequence if/when he finally comes around. Work with the guy until he splits, later, during a snack break or something, you can show him the alternate version you were toying with in his abscence, and if you stage this right, without putting his back to the wall, he may come around on his own and buy your cut as better. Or suggest: "How about we come back to this in a bit after we skip ahead and work on another segment, might help to judge the overall flow."

And then again, he may not. At that point you shrug and say: "Its your movie", and you do what he asks. You made your best case, agree to disagree, and just push ahead and be professional.

Whenever I get into an argument with a client about a particular cut, I make it less personal by arguing from a technical standpoint as to why I think something works or doesn't; I cite an aesthetic principle or example from a well-known film to justify what I'm doing, then it can't be about me and my taste, it is about whatever source or craft principle I'm quoting. The third party concept gets the scorn, not me.

This layer of abstraction helps to keep things from getting personal and insulting. Once ego gets in the way, nobody likes to change their mind, even if they are wrong, so you have to de-escalate it.

You don't say to him: "Your cut there is stupid", you say: "That cut brings the character in from the wrong side of the line of action we already established; typically that's not done as a rule, so I would suggest we get to that shot via a transitional shot like.... *this* one... and that should also help sell the timing of his entrance in the shot you like... can I show you what I mean? We can always undo it, just takes a sec.".

After all that, you still may get a boorish grinder. It happens. Some people have that as their M.O. and it's just the way they've decided works for them. You endure it, you survive it, you keep your own self calm and professional, then after hours, you go work out your aggression and frustration in some legally responsible manner, after the jerk is gone. When my kids complain about something, my wife tells them: "This ain't heaven".

Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.


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Rory Brennan
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:13:12 pm

Make a copy of everything, then give him the footage, without your project. Given he didn't pay you, you are under no obligation to give away your hard work. (This alone might make him change his mind).

Also, once you've got him off your back... keep cutting. You still will have all the footage, and will be able to satisfy you desire to cut a film. Probably don't tell him though and if you put any of the film on your site, maybe say it was a spec job.

I know that this isn't the most honest thing to do, but many people build careers from cutting already cut spots, or unlicensed music videos. As long as you then don't release the film, I don't feel it's a big deal.

Rory Brennan
Editor
New York City


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Mark Suszko
Re: Young editor needs advice from seasoned proffesionals
on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:17:19 pm

Rory, there may be a problem with that idea in that if you show on your reel or web portfolio that you are willing to go around behind an old client's back and use something of theirs without permission, well... someone looking to hire you may think twice about someone so blatantly willing to "rip off" a client. They can assume from that, that they might be ripped off the same way. Not a good way to start a new business relationship.

Its a whole different matter if there's a written memo between parties that you can show excerpts for your portfolio.

Reputation counts for a lot in a business built on personal relationships, and media markets can become very small in this sense that when you burn somebody, the word gets out fast and soon you can't find anybody willing to use you.

So I think its worth the extra hassle to get the permission even if technically you *might* not need it. There's what's legal and there's what's moral.


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