Compared to many of the other Oscar categories, “Best Film Editing” is often a tough one to predict.  With “Best Cinematography,” “Best Art Direction,” and “Best Costume Design,” for instance, you can clearly see how each nominee demonstrated a mastery of their craft and set themselves apart from their peers.  With editing, however, aptly called “The Invisible Art” of cinema, what’s been left out is just as important as what ends up in the final cut.  The audience has no realistic way of knowing what compromises in performance the editor had to make in order to elucidate a specific plot point or which amazing shots couldn’t be used simply because they presented an inconsistency in story or character.  Even a seasoned editor, who knows better than anyone else what the editorial process involves, may not be able to recognize a brilliant feat of editing without a glimpse of what was left on the cutting room floor.  Sometimes a poorly written, haphazardly-shot mess of a story can be turned into something meaningful in the skillful hands of a top-notch editor, and similarly, a beautiful story can be butchered by an editor who doesn’t let the material find its own voice and tries to impose a style that doesn’t fit the material. (more…)

In case anybody was still wondering if Avid’s recent rebranding was a good idea, I recently attended two industry events that helped prove that the company that brought us Media Composer twenty years ago is not going anywhere anytime soon.  With a renewed sense of forward thinking and a commitment to actually listening to the users of their product, Avid’s recent releases of their 3.0 and 4.0 versions of Media Composer, along with a spiffy new series of hardware, helped prove to customers that there are still some advantages to throwing down a little extra cash to buy the editing toolset used by the majority of big-budget Hollywood productions. (more…)

ScriptSyncMost of my professional editorial experience is in the reality TV world, where the footage usually dictates the story, as opposed to the other way around for fictional, script-based storytelling.  But recently I got involved with my first scripted project in several years – a web series about the lives of three twenty-something male roommates living in Los Angeles (visit http://www.guessagain.net to see the pilot episode, which I did not edit).  As a frequent reader of online editing blogs similar to this one, I’d heard about a feature called “ScriptSync” that a small but devoted number of Avid users raved about.  For the first episode of the web series that I was assigned to cut, I decided to try out script-based editing and see what all the fuss was about. (more…)

avidvsfcpYesterday Apple released their first update to Final Cut Studio in over 2 years, and I am thrilled!  Why, you may ask, do I care about the latest iteration of Final Cut when I haven’t used FCP in over 3 years?  The answer: competition.  Every substantial release of a non-linear editing application raises the bar for each of its peers, forcing them to consider integrating the better features of competing products and innovate to produce stellar new features that will hopefully tip the scales in their favor next time an editor or post house is looking to make a major software purchase.  Without the NLE “arms race” Media Composer wouldn’t be blessed with the “Select All to the Right” feature (which I use practically all the time now), and Apple would not have included a large timecode window, color-coded markers that automatically ripple through the timeline, an equivalent to the “Remove Match Frame Edits” command, and an offline HD codec in their latest version of Final Cut (see the complete list of new features here). (more…)

haha

Whenever I see a producer freaking out about a piece of missing footage or an editor stressing about a deadline, I always remind myself that in the grand scheme of things what we do for a living is ultimately of little importance in the world as a whole.  We’re not curing cancer, we’re not feeding homeless children, we’re not lobbying for legislation that will transform the health care system for millions of Americans.  We simply make entertainment, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that.

That being said, I think it’s important to let loose every once in a while and not take our jobs too seriously.  With April Fools Day coming up tomorrow, here are a few practical jokes to bring smiles to the faces of your coworkers.  Just make sure they don’t have an impending producer screening or network output, or you may find that the joke’s on you.  Without further ado, I present to you – April Fools Jokes for Editors. (more…)

sculptorI don’t usually write about the individual projects I work on, but I thought I’d take a page from Shane Ross‘s playbook and do a little first-person story-telling for once.  I wanted to share a real-world challenge that I faced recently on my current show and how I used my knowledge of Avid software to pinpoint the root of the problem and fix it.  It’s situations like these where you really have to think on your feet; because of the unique nature of the problem, no manual or editing class can prepare you for what course of action to take.  You simply have to extrapolate your knowledge of the program and use all of the tools at your disposal.  Imagine an artist with a giant rectangular block of granite in front of him – somewhere in there lies the beautiful statue that is pictured in his head, and it’s his job to find it.  Sure, it’s possible to use a single chisel and hammer to hack away until something resembling a human figure appears, but with careful planning, a variety of specialized tools, and a delicate hand, the goal he strives for is much more likely to be attained. (more…)

optionkeyMost non-linear editors know that the secret to an efficient workflow is to use keyboard shortcuts for your most frequently used editing functions, as opposed to mouse clicks.  What many intermediate Avid editors do not know, however, is that one extra keystroke gives you access to a slew of commands that you won’t see in any menus or on any buttons.  Try holding down the “Option” key (“Alt” in Windows) while you do various functions and see what happens.  You can drop the “Add Option Key” command from the command palette onto any of your composer or timeline buttons so that when clicked it will always perform the function as if you’re simultaneously pressing the option key.  I use this all the time with the “Copy” command.  Here are a few shortcuts that I’ve discovered. (more…)

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