Join Norman Hollyn for an in-depth discussion in this video Keeping things fresh through multiple screenings, part of Foundations of Video: The Art of Editing.
Perhaps the most difficult part of editing is not the physical cutting part. It's not even the decision making process. It's how to keep yourself fresh, after you've seen the same film five, ten, 15, 80, 100 times. Think of it. I've talked about how you want to look at the dailies before you sit down with the director to get notes. If you're both the editor and director, which I highly advise against. But, we know that sometimes, that's what you have to do. Well, if that's the case, it gets even more difficult.
In any case, you've seen the dailies once before the director saw them. If you're lucky, you've seen them again with the director. If you're smart, you've watched them again before you edited the scene. Then you've watched the scene multiple times as you edit it, several times after your first cut, in order to refine it properly. Let's watch our scene again.
>> Tiana. Why weren't you there this morning? >> Tiana, I think the dwarf is talking to you. >> Magellan, we can talk about this later. >> We're still going to the dance together right? Because you said you would. >> I never said that, freak, I wouldn't be caught dead going to the dance with you.
>> Are those cuts starting to feel familiar to you? Are you anticipating where they're going to fall? If so, what is going to happen is that things will start to feel slower, because you are ahead of the cut. You know its going to happen, so you won't have that sense of newness that you got the first time you looked at it. One of the jobs of an editor is figuring out how to look at cuts fresh, every single time you see them. To help you get there, here are some tips. For one, get up and walk out of the room, take a break.
Do something that does not involve that scene for a little while. Some people move over to editing a different scene. Others will go out for a meal or a coffee. Still, other editors will make sure that they finish a scene before they go home, so they can sleep or do something different before they watch it again. Next, watch the scene with other people. It is amazing to me, just how different a scene is going to look when you are sitting next to some one who hasn't been in your head while you were editing it.
You may not want to screen your project for family or friends until you've got it somewhat closer to what you'd like your film to be, than your cut. But once you get there, running the film for them, and sitting in the middle of the audience is the great way to see your film differently. Your perceptions about pace will change. In addition, things that are not confusing to you, because you know the film, might be confusing to them. And you'll feel that. Next, listen to your audience. Many filmmakers like to hand out questionnaires after a screening, and then lead to discussion.
While I see the value of both, remember that when you ask a question like, were there any problems you had with the end. You are suggesting to the audience that they should have a problem with the end. You not listening to their honest feedback you are feeding them responses. Next, change something in your cut. This may seem odd, but some filmmakers like to flop the entire film, so what was right becomes left and vice versa. You won't want to screen it this way for an audience since, all the writing will be reversed and people's shirts will be buttoned incorrectly.
But, in the privacy of your own editing room, look at it flopped like this. >> I wouldn't be caught dead going to the dance with you. >> That probably felt a little different to you. If you had been staring at this footage for days, it would have looked even more different. Some editors like to flip the footage. >> I wouldn't be caught dead going to the dance with you. >> Well I don't like to do that.
It's impossible for me to get a sense of what's going on in the characters eyes, and their mind that way. But whatever works for you. The point is to change something in the way you are viewing the film. Change the room you are in, the audience you are watching it with, the way the film looks visually, whatever. This is especially true of comedy, which gets old, very very quickly. After a while you'll find that you can train yourself to see things fresh, each and every time you look.
You'll stop seeing the cuts and just experience them. That is when you'll find your ultimate value as an editor. Fresh eyes are so valuable in an editing room. So train yourself to keep your eyes and your mind fresh. It will make the work you do as an editor more genuine for the first time viewer, and that's your true audience.
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