Sunday, September 20, 2009

Some Editing Notes

When I approach the editing of a scene, here are my thoughts and steps. For the first three movies, I cut on the Avid (an offline version, then later we created an assembled 35mm negative and then worked from there). For the last two, I'm cutting on Final Cut Pro. Usually the arguments are much like Coke/Pepsi, PC/Mac, et al. If you were raised on it, you swear by it.

Me personally, I loved the Avid but was continually driven crazy by all the bugs and crashes and difficulty with the advancing technology of file based footage. You had to do some weird folder naming and stand on one leg on days that ended with "y" to be able to use P2. FCP adapted much quicker.

So now I'm editing on FCP. First thing is to organize folders. Recently, I tend to keep the footage in folders by day shot. So Day 1, Day 2, and on. Since I also directed, it's easier for me to remember that we shot on this location or that location on Day 5 and can relatively find shots quickly.

I watched all the takes and make notes in the description. I might even label them. Especially if there's no usable portions (for instance, we rolled on the slate and then cut before action for whatever reason), I will give the clip a red label. I could delete, but I have a thing about deleting any footage. I just can't bring myself to do it. I have created a "trash" folder where I put all those clips, but there's not enough of them to make a difference.

So I watch the takes and make notes. Then I start laying the scene down on the timeline sequence. Maybe I enter the scene with the master shot-- the angle that establishes the location and who's there. Or a scene might call for starting on a close up, then later pop out to reveal something special.

Then I continue laying down the shots. The spine or backbone of a scene is the sound, believe it or not. That sets the pace and speed. I'll lay down clips of the dialogue that I want. Then I'll split the edit a lot-- bring the visual forward of the sound edit, or backwards. This little trick helps hide edits. Of course, the sound design people later on will do a much better job. But it helps me mentally and others that watch the rough assemble.

Then I'll put in b-roll, inserts, reactions and so forth.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your latest write up! What a great plug for the good wholesome work you're bringing to TX!
    Keep on fighting the good fight.
    Brittany Joyner

    Independent filmmaker stays loyal to Texas roots

    BY JOE O'CONNELL / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

    Independent film is alive and thriving in North Texas.

    Daniel Millican recently wrapped Rising Star, an independent feature he describes as a mix of School of Rock and American Idol. Millican, who has shot three of his previous four films in North Texas, had to talk his New York-based producer into using the University of Texas at Arlington as the backdrop for Rising Star.

    "The producer wanted to go to Michigan for the rebates," Millican said. "I want to make movies here; it's home to me. I had to convince him
    there is the talent and crew here to do that. There are skilled cameramen, gaffers, grips and makeup artists."

    It's the first film for Millican to direct but not produce. He was wooed when a producer saw The Imposter, which follows a Christian singer.
    Millican has been aiming the film directly at churches, asking them to become theaters and raise funds for charity.

    The Imposter led directly to Rising Star, when Millican was asked to come up with a family-friendly film that would be aimed at a secular
    audience but still be music-driven.

    The result is the story of the finalists in a fictional competition that features both young filmmakers and musicians. The cast includes Broadway pro Fisher Stevens; ubiquitous Texan Barry Corbin (Northern Exposure); Catherine Mary Stewart (The Last Starfighter); and Christian music star Rebecca St. James.

    Millican, a UTA grad, said the film crew occupied an auditorium, various classrooms and spots on the campus grounds and were welcomed with open arms.

    "A movie is not an easy thing to have on your grounds," he said. "We went in hoping to get cooperation. What we got was so much more."