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Re: Bin or Reel - The Debate!

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Franz Bieberkopf
Re: Bin or Reel - The Debate!
on May 2, 2017 at 2:38:09 am

[Joe Marler] "I just don't think this organizational method is efficiently scalable to larger productions and higher shooting ratios, esp. docs."


Your post raises several interesting issues with which I am personally often concerned.

I’m not sure Wiseman uses GoPro (despite them being available to him). I haven’t seen anything from the past 15 years of his films (since the introduction of GoPros) but his sensibility seems to be one person, one camera. (Some might call that inefficient.) I’d be interested to know if I'm wrong, but from reading recent articles it does seem he operates all his own material from one camera which is unlikely to be a GoPro.

But, to you point, let me first say that the approach or organizational method works well on larger productions with higher shooting ratios.

I name the two methods as browser-based vs. timeline-based (or sequence-based). Personally, I’d say they both make use of meta-data (so I would not make the distinction between them on this basis).

I’m not sure why you label sequence-based organization as a “primitive method” - both are as old as film (at least). If you’ve seen film bins and reels then you have the basics of the two methods. Both have been adapted in digital NLEs and both have been developed well beyond what was possible in film or video. It seems absurd to me to call one method "primitive" and the other "advanced" - they're both well developed and contemporary.

The primary strength of sequence-based editing is the immediacy with which relationships between clips are kept and presented. (Shooting chronology would be one obvious example of this.)

To the initial example of Vashi and your added example of Wiseman, I’ll add my own. I work primarily on non-fiction for theatrical and broadcast. Commonly this means beginning with 100 to 200 hours of footage, though I’ve worked with 300 hours or more on films. Edit schedules range from 12 or 16 weeks to a year or more.

If you’re not convinced that this method is valuable, productive, creative, and necessary given 3 examples of working editors using it, how many examples would it take? What would convince you? By what standard are you going to dismiss them?

The implication in your posting seems to be that Frederick Wiseman is “inefficient” is his filmmaking. My question would be this: how do you judge the efficiency of filmmaking? You will be quite able to find someone who can “finish” faster on any given project (including Wiseman’s films). Would that be “more efficient” in your mind? If not measured by simple schedule, what is your assessment of how efficient an editor or edit is?

It’s a sincere question.

I’d propose that a good measure would be making the best film possible with the time and resources available. How to judge “the best film possible”? How to judge what resources are available?

There’s a quote from Wiseman. “'I got the idea as I get all my ideas: I take a lot of showers.”

I’m not sure how that would rate on your efficiency scale. We can imagine the dialogue: the tired filmmaker has the plumber over, pleading his dilemma in platonic bereavement, “This shower isn’t very efficient. It’s not giving me enough ideas.”

The plumber can only offer a few words. “Take more showers.”

Here’s another quote from the article:

“More than any technological improvements that have come about in two decades, what's changed is my deepened commitment to dealing with the complexities of a subject and resisting cultural generalizations.”

Is it question of efficient tools (“technology”) on one hand and thinking (“creativity”) on the other? Who can separate their tools from their thought process. Doesn’t a hammer and chisel suggest one way of doing something and a bit of sandpaper another? Or to put it another way (with a reference to a forum touchstone): language is analogies all the way down.

Here’s another few lines: “'Most of the year I sit in relative isolation editing alone in the dark, and then it's on television, and it's very hard for me to get a sense of what it means that a lot of people see my films … it's like throwing a pebble in the water. And the only final conclusion is you go on to make your next movie.'' Maybe there is a more efficient path to that conclusion. I’m not sure the NLE figures into that one, though. And if it doesn't, does it matter which one you use?

Is this a forum for entrenchment or are you actually asking how other people work and why?

Wiseman talks more about process here (Jackson Heights, 2015):

"Jackson Heights was 170 hours [of raw material].  The film was just a bit more than three hours, I think.  Shooting ratio roughly of 60/1.  During the shooting, I just collect sequences.  I don’t have any theme or point of view toward the material; the only assumption that I make is that if I hang around long enough, I’ll collect enough material out of which I can cut a film.  I discover the themes in the editing process, when I come back from the shoot.  I look at all the rushes and that takes me six or eight weeks and at the end of looking at all the rushes, I put aside maybe forty or fifty percent of the material and I edit sequences from the material that’s left.  That work can take anywhere from six to eight months."


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