Norman: There are a series of recuts on any project. They are often named for the person who was joined into the editing process. Usually the editor is doing a cut of the project while the shooting is still going on so the director isn't a real active part of it. That first cut is often called the editor's cut. After that the director does join the process, so the second edit is often called the director's cut. There may be several director's cuts. Here there are three.
At a certain point, the producer will join the team in the editing room and that cut is often called the producer's cut. Now this doesn't mean that the director takes over completely when his or her cut comes, nor does it mean that the producer takes over completely for the producers cut. Film making is a very collaborative process. Good ideas come from many places. The number of films that I've worked on with the director or the producer or me is the only one with good ideas is like, well, never.
Different projects require different screenings. On episodic television the director usually only gets one cut since it's a producer's medium. But because television shows are edited much faster than features, there are usually fewer cuts An editor's cut, a director's cut, one or two producer's cuts, a studio cut, and a network cut. Done. Commercials and sponsored films are different yet again. There are ad agencies and clients who have suggestions and approvals, rather than studios and networks.
On smaller projects, there may be no one above the director and producer. But there will always be a series of screenings that can give you feedback about what is working and what needs to be changed. There are many types of changes that occur from screening to screening. We've seen a few. Extending pauses, swapping out takes, dropping lines. There are other often more drastic measures that we might take to move the film along. We might drop an entire scene or rearrange some scenes.
If we feel that two scenes duplicate an emotional or story point, we can try and combine them. On some films, we may discover that it's been a very long time between the times when we see a particular character or plot point. So we need to keep track of the order of scenes, especially on longer projects. I use a list, called continuity. Like this one for Magellan. This is the first page of what can be three or four pages for a short, or 12 pages for a feature.
It shows the arrangement of scenes for each version. As we make changes, we will have screenings where we watch the film with other people. And you never press stop, but you watch it like the film or the show that it was meant to be. Here's a continuity for the director's second cut of Magellan. You'll notice that two of the scenes are in italics. In my system that means that we've cut the scenes from the film or lifted the scenes. I like to keep the screen descriptions on the continuity so I can always see what was there.
Other editors prefer to cut it out entirely from the written continuity. There's also rearrangement here that we did up around scenes 15 and 16. Here we might have decided that it was important that we experienced Magellan's passion for dancing and his preparation for the dance before we show how his father doesn't really engage with him. We will screen and see how those changes worked. Many people like to hand out questionnaires and talk to audience members after a screening.
I think you need to be very careful about leading the audience or you won't get a true sense of what is and isn't working. Some of the questions that you might want to ask are. One, how would you rate the film? With some scale for them to rate it. Some people give number ratings. I prefer a scale like excellent down to poor. Two, would you recommend this movie to a friend? Definitely, probably, maybe, probably not, definitely not. Three, what things did you like the most? Four, what things did you like the least.
Five, how did you think the film was paced. Some people give suggestions. just right, too slow, too fast. And finally, six, was there anything you found confusing? You want this to be a fast questionnaire. And you will want to leave some time for verbal comments. But once again, be very, very careful about how you ask the questions. You may wonder, for instance, if removing the scene where Tianna talks about Persephone is confusing. And it may be. But if you ask the audience that very question, there is surely going to be someone who will start thinking about it, even if they didn't feel that way before.
Ultimately, the thing that I like to do the most is to sit in the audience and listen to them react. That's going to help you see the film differently and give you a much truer sense of what you've really got.
Start with an overview of concepts like the rule of threes, review a sampling of footage from films past and present, and then dive into script analysis. Find out when and when not to make cuts, how to collaborate with clients and directors during recutting, and how to ground the emotional backdrop for your piece with music and sound. Norman closes with a look at adapting to different genres and filmic styles.
- Exploring the history of video editing
- Controlling what the audience sees
- Identifying the logline
- Performing script and scene analysis
- Coming up with an editing plan
- Cutting from on-camera to off-camera action
- Understanding the value of recutting
- Shaping moments with music
- Working in a specific genre
- Mixing editing styles together