Wednesday, March 24, 2010
TRUST YOUR EYES
010- Blog number ten already. Wow, time flies. Speaking of time I thought I’d share something special today in celebration of this decablog. I’m going to reveal to you two secrets. One is about me personally and the other is about me professionally.
Personally you should know that I am in fact a very, very lazy person. I will try and find whatever shortcut I can to save time. I scour the earth for tips and tricks about every application I use and every piece of hardware I own. I like to save time wherever I can. I’ll cut corners on corners (without sacrificing quality mind you) just to save milliseconds. I’m trying to get some time back into my own hands so I can watch “Lost” or “Jon Stewart” in peace and then go to bed. Ahhh, bed. Is there anything better than bed? Bed is awesome.
Professionally I have one trick up my sleeve that saves me more time than anything else. This is THE trick that guarantees me the smoothest possible post process. It is THE trick that applies to any edit platform; Avid, FCP, Steenbeck, Movieola, whatever. This is THE trick that gets me to a successful cut that everyone is happy with (especially me) and gets me there fast. This is THE trick to remember if you’d don’t remember anything else. This technique governs everything I do in an edit suite and I never, ever skip it nor try and find a faster way around it. It is my first commandment.
What is this glorious bit of insight that I feel you cannot do without? It boils down to two simple words.
That’s right. Whatever footage you get no matter how much it is, watch everything. No matter how much the producers and director’s are ordering you what takes to use. No matter how much the stuff sucks. No matter how much a chunk of footage is “obviously” a waste of time. No matter how much time constraint you’re under, stay up, drink lots of coffee and watch everything.
Why? Well, because it’s your job. But there are a multitude of sub-reasons so I’ll name my top three.
1) you probably weren’t there when it was shot so you have the unique perspective of knowing what you have to work with and not being biased by anything that happened on set. People come in with these dumb-ass biases in the edit suite like “I don’t like her -- she was bad actress” or “we rented a thousand-dollar an hour crane to get that shot so make sure you use it”. Walter Murch calls it “seeing outside of the frame”. The actress may seem perfectly fine to you and the crane shot irrelevant. So watch everything and see things other people have dismissed. Part of your job is to know what you know by way of the footage and nothing more - because that’s all the viewer will know too.
2) watching everything allows you to see beyond the script as well. Sure the director intended the scenes to go A, B, C. And maybe you have to do it that way to show him or her what they intended. But as lazy as I am “Command-D” is a fast way to duplicate an idea and mix it up a bit to try something new. Another part of your job is to find the gem or the alternate paths not ever considered. It is not to take orders, but to collaborate. You can’t do that by being blind to some of the footage. There isn’t a project, program, film or commercial that I have worked on that wasn’t somehow affected positively by something that was supposed to hit the cutting room floor. So watch everything and be a better editor for it.
3) the biggest reason to watch everything is to fix problems. Whenever anything comes up in post, any obstacle, you have to be the authority of what is possible and what is not within the confines of the footage. The footage is now locked in your brain; make sure it’s all there. Trust me, you can fix just about anything if you can see all the pieces on the editorial chess board. That is part of your job too. And your reward is the trust of your team.
However, if something isn’t working, if the cut isn’t good, if you doubt the path you’re on and you don’t know what to do it inevitably comes down to the fact you didn’t watch absolutely everything. If you don’t you’ll find yourself constantly going back into the footage again and again to see what you missed. Watch everything, do that first and save an incredible amount of time in the long-run.
Now, I’d tell you some other reasons but I’m tired and there’s a new episode of “Lost” I wanna see.