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The creative use of space

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Simon Ubsdell
The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 7:49:37 pm

I don't mean how you lay out your room, although that too is an important creative decision.

I'm talking about editing and the fact that the most important thing you can do as an editor is manipulate space to create meaning.

Meaning in editing is what happens in the space between what is said and what is done.

Meaning expands into the space that you give it.

When we are watching a drama, for instance, it's the space before and after the words that is the most heavily charged with meaning, but the same principles apply to whatever form of editing we do.

This being the case, most editors know the value of black as an architectural component, a space where meaning is immanent for the time being.

Most editors know that if you extract B from the sequence A-B-C, it is an operation that requires nuance and not brute force.

I only mention it because in a recent thread some commentators expressed confusion about this.

Space, air, call it what you will, is the most powerful tool an editor has at his/her disposal.

It is important that we have both the tools and the understanding to handle it in the best possible way.

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 7:56:00 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "It is important that we have both the tools and the understanding to handle it in the best possible way."

Half-Life 3 confirmed!


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David Roth Weiss
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 9:37:01 pm

Simon,

Great subject for discussion...

In still photography the term "negative space" is used to describe the space around the subject, used in good design to balance intended subject without distracting from it. The term is also used in other arts - musicians for example describe periods of silence in a musical piece as negative space.

The same is true in filmmaking, where negative space can be picture, sound, or even time.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Michael Gissing
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:30:02 pm

I often tell young directors in a mix that if everything is loud then nothing is loud. Silence is the most potent sound.

It's the in between moments that matter and much of the work in sound editing is the careful application of atmos fill and the transition of quiet between cuts. Experienced editors will often compliment me for making edits work simply by how those quiet moments transition.

Similarly grading can sometime help with that moment of transition. It is remarkable how solving those in between moments can have a dramatic effect on the perceived pace of a film. Often after a grade and mix the most common comment is how much shorter the program feels


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Tony West
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:57:03 pm

I think we all use those types of techniques when we need them Michael. Just seems like there may be two different topics mixed in here as one.

The original thought has somehow morphed into an overthought out conversation about something totally different, which is cool, as long and we know that to be the case. Doesn't quite feel like that's the case for some reason.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:08:11 pm

[Tony West] "Just seems like there may be two different topics mixed in here as one.
"


I agree.

I think the original discussion centered around Lift vs Extract (aka delete and ripple delete) and which is the more 'natural' default setting. This discussion thread seems to be mixing that with using black as a pacing and/or stylistic device.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:28:12 pm

Andrew,

You and Tony are evidently referring to some other thread with which you guys are familiar... Michael and I are responding to the original post in this thread, as neither of us is gifted enough to know that we're actually expected to respond to something completely different than the post we actually read. :)

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:40:32 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "You and Tony are evidently referring to some other thread with which you guys are familiar... Michael and I are responding to the original post in this thread, as neither of us is gifted enough to know that we're actually expected to respond to something completely different than the post we actually read. :)"

Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Tony, Simon and I were having this discussions in the "FCP Explained" thread (https://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/91440) and Simon spun it off into this thread.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 12:25:20 am

No problem, but I do think a discussion of negative space is entirely more interesting. ?

I'm not really interested enough to look at the other thread, but I f that discussion was about whether NLEs should default to insert edits vs overwrite edits, my 2-cents is that the opposite of what Apple defaults to is probably the correct default. :)

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 12:42:23 am

[David Roth Weiss] "No problem, but I do think a discussion of negative space is entirely more interesting. ?"

Agreed. I just wanted to make sure we were all talking about the same thing.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 11:00:37 am

I hope I haven't shifted the goalposts - I believe I am arguing the same point I was arguing in the other thread, just in broader terms. Let me try to simplify this right down.

What are you doing when you remove B from a sequence that runs A-B-C in terms of the editing intentionality?

You are not creating meaning by the act of removing B. B no longer exists in the sequence so it does not contribute to meaning. It may be your intention as an editor to remove B but that is not the editing intentionality, which is formed from what remains.

What you actually are doing is bringing A and C closer together.

So the question then becomes: how do you bring A and C closer together and what is the intentionality?

If it happens that the existing tail frame of A is in fact the perfect match for the existing head frame of C in terms of delivering meaning most effectively, then you have won the lottery. But how likely is that really?

It is much more likely that the "right solution" (in terms of delivering meaning most effectively) involves one of the following choices:

a) extending the tail of A;
b) extending the head of C;
c) or both;
d) adding D where B used to be;
e) adding D where B used to be and extending the tail of A;
f) adding D where B used to be and extending the head of C;
g) something else again.

And of course, my A-B-C example is a vastly more rudimentary than most such editing situations, not to mention the fact that we haven't analysed what A and C actually consist of. In the real world, many more choices and factors need to be weighed in terms of how and when and, most importantly, why C follows A.

An editor who is alive to the concept of space and how that creates meaning is less likely to think that a brute force solution to bringing A and C into closer proximity is the most considered way to go.

I won't complicate things by trying to explain too much about the architectural use of black (another thing I have obviously also failed to convey properly), but I will just say that, in designing the new sequence that runs from A to C without B intervening, you may well find that an initial step that leaves black where B used to be is going to be more conducive to getting it right than the sledgehammer approach of closing the gap and then trying to create a fix (or, as I suspect often happens, simply not bothering to address what needs to happen at all because you have resorted to the sledgehammer in the first place).

From a lot of the editing that I see and indeed from the statements about editing made by some working editors, I sense that these considerations very often don't factor into the process in any way whatsoever. Editing is treated as little more than the process of butting one piece of preselected media up against another, and it's difficult to know what to say about that without being rude.

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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Brett Sherman
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:37:53 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "From a lot of the editing that I see and indeed from the statements about editing made by some working editors, I sense that these considerations very often don't factor into the process in any way whatsoever. Editing is treated as little more than the process of butting one piece of preselected media up against another, and it's difficult to know what to say about that without being rude"

I think your perspective is coming from a very specific type of editing. Editing for social media is an entirely different animal. Yes, rhythm matters there but so does brevity. I would guess that brevity is not something you consider a lot in your editing. More power to you. I wish I didn't have to either. But I don't know how many arguments I've gotten into about whether the video should be 4 minutes or 3 minutes or 2 minutes. I'm always pushing for longer. But, in the face of the demands for brevity I try to retain as much artistry as possible.

I'd be careful about assuming that all editors work on the same type of projects you work on. The fact is we all have different demands. And because someone doesn't make the same choices you do does not make them any less skilled. Their parameters are just different.

The other thing is that over the 20+ years I've been an editor, the "language" of editing and visual communication is constantly changing. Editing technique is not something that stays constant. Things we do now would have been verboten even 10 years ago. That's just sort of the nature of communication evolution. Are certain techniques going to be sort of artistically sucky along the way? Yes. But some will also be incredibly effective, even some I don't really like.

--------------------------
Brett Sherman
One Man Band (If it's video related I'll do it!)
I work for an institution that probably does not want to be associated with my babblings here.


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Michael Gissing
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:19:03 pm

[Tony West] "I think we all use those types of techniques when we need them Michael. Just seems like there may be two different topics mixed in here as one."

I was aware of the lift vs ripple discussion. I am just responding to Simon's post which seemed to me to be much more about edit rhythm and the importance of space. I almost never ripple but so often I am editing within a fixed time structure.

And I am aware that editors understand and use those techniques. However, often I find myself redoing them once it gets into a critical listening and viewing environment.


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Tony West
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 3:06:28 pm

[Michael Gissing] "I almost never ripple but so often I am editing within a fixed time structure. "

An important distinction, as I pointed out in the other thread.

Ironically I am actually a proponent of creative space. I think it can be very powerful when you leave that space after a person makes an important statement. Let the audience take in what they just heard before jumping right into the next topic.. I often tell my interviewers not to step on the person. Wait a beat so I will have that space.

At the same time I'm not a proponent of "wasted space" Things that are mistakes or irrelevant that can sometimes take up space that is better used elsewhere.

For example.............uh

Most people do it in an interview. Most people do it naturally when they speak. Uh uh uh uh uh uh I don't want to hear it. It's a waste of space.

A) being the beginning of the statement (B) being Uh (C) being the closing of the statement. (B) needs to go with no space "intentionally" Ripple that shut like it was never there.

I remember one of my first jobs in major League baseball was to edit videos for the big screen. Rap was coming on strong and popular pop songs were starting to include a rap section within the song. Conservative midwest was not having it, and ordered me to cut out the rap part leaving the rest of the song in tact as if the rap was never there.

That sounds crazy to younger readers but that' how things were back then. They had their own agenda (as people often do) and it wasn't space.

It's no different than other programs. You are typing and you notice after proof reading that you typed the word "the" twice. You delete the second "the" and it ripples shut by default because more times than not you don't need a space where that second "the"was.

Cue someone writing that they leave a space for that second "the" : )


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 7:11:23 pm
Last Edited By Simon Ubsdell on Oct 25, 2016 at 7:28:03 pm

That, if you don't mind me saying so, is what is known, in the quaint backwater that I hail from, as "revisionism".

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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Tony West
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 26, 2016 at 4:27:48 am

Seems like it should be more space between those words. Too tight.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 11:45:02 am

[Michael Gissing] "I often tell young directors in a mix that if everything is loud then nothing is loud. Silence is the most potent sound.

It's the in between moments that matter"


So true. And so often disregarded.

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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Tony West
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 11:39:29 pm

Oh my bad, I thought it was kind of obvious. I guess not.

He wrote "I only mention it because in a recent thread some commentators expressed confusion about this."

That is him referring to a recent thread in which Andrew is correct when he said,

"I agree.

I think the original discussion centered around Lift vs Extract (aka delete and ripple delete) and which is the more 'natural' default setting. This discussion thread seems to be mixing that with using black as a pacing and/or stylistic device."


By the way, the only confusion was his bring in that topic (which is separate) in the "Lift vs Extract" discussion.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 25, 2016 at 11:07:51 am

Yes, indeed. I think that's a great formulation.

It's hugely useful to think in terms of negative space in this arena as much is the areas where it is normally invoked.

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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Tony West
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:24:24 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "This being the case, most editors know the value of black as an architectural component, a space where meaning is immanent for the time being."

This being a component that will stay in the final edit? Or, this shot needs to go?

Or your doc is 240 minutes long when it needs to be 90?


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Mark Suszko
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 26, 2016 at 2:35:35 pm

Following this discussion with interest. It covers so many creative endeavors, from typography to architecture and more.
Consider the amount of space you apply between letters in a section of type. There's a natural break-point in every font where it gets too hard to still recognize a word, because the inter-character spacing is too wide. And conversely, You can bunch those letters together so closely they overlap into a jumble. Stretching and squashing type like that, adjusting "Leading" and "Kerning" is a common way to animate titles by transitioning the words from illegible to legible and back.

In architecture, form and space each define the other. I can't stand it when some rube looks at an atrium space and declares it a waste of productive room that needs to be filled up with... "stuff". I actually got to see this in play in one of our buildings, which originally had a central, open, reception and multi-use space in an atrium with a great view. The atrium got walled off into private offices and conference rooms, leaving no practical area to receive or hold visitors. Now they just stand in the elevator lobby like cattle before the chutes.

Powerpoint slides from clients are the bane of my existence: every client acts as if they're going to be charged by the individual slide, so they overload them until they look like the hood of a NASCAR racer, or they cram thirty columns of Excel Spreadsheet into one slide. You have to hold them by the hand and almost force them to break down their bullet points and ideas over more slides, so that the typography is large enough to read and understand, with enough clear space around it to frame it.


And back to the edit: even in something as short as a "vine" video, you need to play with beats of time to make the story or joke work... you're working in a micro time scale, but the issues of timing in making the story work are the same.


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Shawn Miller
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 26, 2016 at 5:51:49 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Powerpoint slides from clients are the bane of my existence: every client acts as if they're going to be charged by the individual slide, so they overload them until they look like the hood of a NASCAR racer, or they cram thirty columns of Excel Spreadsheet into one slide. You have to hold them by the hand and almost force them to break down their bullet points and ideas over more slides, so that the typography is large enough to read and understand, with enough clear space around it to frame it."

All of this! I'm still having these same conversations with people after 15 years.

[Mark Suszko] "And back to the edit: even in something as short as a "vine" video, you need to play with beats of time to make the story or joke work... you're working in a micro time scale, but the issues of timing in making the story work are the same."

Absolutely! This is especially true for me when cutting interviews and promos. I still spend time cutting audio, re-ordering music and timing pauses so that splashes and break beats underscore talking points, just like I did a decade ago - the only difference is that these videos are now one to three minutes long, instead of six to 10 minutes... that, and people want a lot more b-roll and graphics than they did before.

Shawn



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Simon Ubsdell
Re: The creative use of space
on Oct 26, 2016 at 6:06:02 pm

Really interesting post. And I like that you bring up architecture.

Architecture is a metaphor that I find myself using a lot for editing, perhaps because we don't actually have a dedicated language in the film world for what we are talking about here.

I found myself talking about "space" in my original post, and of course I didn't actually mean space except metaphorically.

The architecture of editing, unlike the other visual arts, is such that "space" is in fact time.

Simon Ubsdell
tokyo productions
hawaiki


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