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In Premiere Pro CS4 Beyond the Basics, Adobe Certified Instructor Chad Perkins explains how to take video editing from simple nuts and bolts to an art form. He shares tips for shooting video in the field to get the most from a subject and get the best footage for a project. He demonstrates how to build a project through the careful use of cutaways, pacing, and suggestive edits. He covers special effects, color correction, and keying and compositing, integrating all these concepts as he builds a music video project from scratch. Exercise files are included with this course.
This chapter is one of my favorites. Here, we're going to get beyond just what the buttons do. We are going to get into the art behind the video edit. In this movie, specifically, we're going to look at when to cu,t and why to cut. First, let's just look a little bit at cuts versus transitions. In this clip, from Night of the Living Dead, we have this guy realizing that he needs to barricade the house against zombies. So he gets some wood and he starts nailing up doors and windows and eventually the doors and windows are all boarded up. But we don't want to sit here and watch him do this to every single piece of wood on the doors and windows. That would be extremely boring.
So instead of cutting from this to this, which would be too hard of a jump, there is a dissolve, a soft transition from him working to everything being done, his work being complete. So, transitions are often used to show a distance in time or in space. So, it's almost, like, as if you're saying "meanwhile" or "later on." That type of thing. So hard cuts, in other words jumping from shot to shot.
It's a little bit too rough for something like this, a dissolve works much better. We see something similar in this clip from Plan 9 From Outer Space. We'll be looking at little more in this movie later on, but here we have this scene where Vampira comes out and she's about to kill these guys, and it's apparently night time in a cemetery, and they die, and as we go to a different time and different place, there's a nice soft fade out, fade in. So that soft transition, and not that Plan 9 From Outer Space is a great example of movie making by any stretch of the imagination, but the idea, the principle works here that if we're jumping through time, jumping through space, that dissolve makes things work much easier.
Now another job, when you are cutting video, is that you need to get rid of bad stuff. Sometimes directors, bless their sweet little hearts, make extra mistakes and they shoot things that they shouldn't shoot and they expect certain things to be in a movie that maybe shouldn't be there. So, as editors, we're kind of like the last line of defense of the story. So we need to go in there and make sure that we get out bad things that should not be there. So, for example, this clip in Plan 9 From Outer Space, these little pilots are sitting here and all of a sudden, this UFO flies by and shakes things up and after it flies by, this pilot, here, continues to shake for some reason.
So the UFO is gone and he's still rocking out over here. So if we play that back, here's the UFO, and long after it's gone, he's still freaking out. So, as an editor, what you could have done is cut it, like, right here. Now, with this particular shot, it might not work to cut it right there, and so you might need to use a cut away that we'll look at later in this chapter. Another thing you can do with video is get rid of the bad stuff, say for example, this UFO. This really shouldn't be here.
Just a second ago it did this crazy drive by that rocked the plane and shook everything like crazy and then when we finally cut to it, it's just kind of standing there, just hovering. So, there are a few things that you could do, as an editor. Number one, you could edit out this string that's holding up the UFO, get rid of that, clone that out. You could also, if you want to take the time to go into a program like After Effects, isolate this UFO and maybe have it moving around this cloud background and kind of bring it to life a little bit. Ideally, the director would not make such a large blunder as having it fly by and then showing it completely stagnant, but we're all human. We all make mistakes and overlook things and so, as an editor, you can go in, realize the inconsistency, and make the fix.
Let's just look at the rhythm of edits. It's one of things that really takes a while to get when you're learning how to edit. There is a really important timing and pacing of editing. We're going to look a little bit more at this later on in this chapter as well, but let me show you this clip here. This is from Hercules Conquers the Moon Men, I think, and here we have this mountain. This is a terrible, perilous mountain that eats people and so the town has to sacrifice people to this mountain and the mountain has just devoured a bunch of people, and then it cuts, all of a sudden, to a throne room and it's a hard cut.
There is no transition, there's no dissolve. It's just a hard cut to a throne room and then, as we play this back, you'll notice that this guy is already in the middle of talking to some character that hasn't been introduced yet, in a room that we are unfamiliar with. It's just ridiculous. So let's play that back and you could see how harsh this transition. See that? So we go right from the chaos, even the crazy music, and all of a sudden it's calmed down and we're in the palace walls, in the middle of a conversation, apparently.
Part of the rhythm of edits is that edits often times work like real life. You ever stub your toe or, like, get punched in the stomach or something? You get the wind knocked out of you? Human beings kind of need a little break, a little pause to recover from trauma and pain. So, as a filmmaker, we're trying to get the audience to go with us down that journey and as we have mountains that eat tons of villagers, we need our viewer to sense the tragedy of that, the pain of that. So just like when you step your toe, you kind of need a minute to just pause and wait for a second to get over that before we just jump in into another conversation and start figuring who these characters are.
So a way to that would be slow things down, maybe fade this out and maybe fade this in and then maybe show the new environment or maybe the outside of the castle as an establishing shot and then get a little bit closer. So we could kind of tell what's going on here and acclimate a little bit better to the new scene. Finally, I'm going to go over to this storytelling Timeline and again, we see the clip that we saw a little bit earlier from Plan 9 From Outer Space. This clip is just a mess, to be honest with you. These guys are in a cemetery, these gravediggers, apparently, and it looks like it's daytime and you go, and they look over to the right and you see what they're looking at, and all of a sudden you just see it's nighttime.
So, over here, where these guys are, it's day, but somehow they look to the left and they could see through time and space and it's nighttime where they're looking. That just really doesn't make any sense and then, here, at the end, when Vampira comes out, she's looking at them, apparently, because we keep coming back and forth between these guys and Vampira, and she just raises her arms and we really don't see what happens and then all of a sudden there's a house. So we assume that they die, because of the sound effects, if you listen closely here.
So it's not really clear, exactly what happens. She kind of started raising her hands and then there was screaming and it's not really clear if it's her that's screaming, or it's these guys, or it's somebody else. It's just really not very clear. So, as an editor, what we can do is is we can add cut aways. We could add transitions. We can add extra bits of footage over the top of different scenes this to kind of reshape the story and retell it. As we'll see, as we go through this chapter, editors have a great deal of power when shaping a story.
In the next movie, we're going to look at some bad edits that editors make and how to avoid those.
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