Editing Archives - Blog
When editing any project, there are moments when a visual effect can be applied to help the story be told. These effects can emphasize something to make it more evident, subtly isolate a certain element or blend several assets into one shot. Sometimes these effects are added only as eye candy to add production value to a project. Ideally, you are not adding visual effects to hide mistakes or to cover up deficiencies in the story…but this has been know to happen. (Guilty as charged!)
In 1992 Francis Ford Coppola filmed Bram Stoker’s DRACULA with no CGI or digital VFX. He fired his Visual Effects team that said the shots he wanted could not be accomplished without modern digital technology. He hired his son Roman Coppola (only 24 years old at the time) and together they shot all the visual effects with either in-camera and on practical sets. The relied upon tried and true techniques that went back to the birth of cinema. The results were beautiful, organic and surreal while using every trick from the previous 100 years of filmmaking. What could have been done digitally was instead created practically by skilled craftsmen that are slowly becoming obsolete in Hollywood.
I hope that day never fully arrives.
Here are the practical techniques used to create the visual effects:
David Fincher is known for his creative and visually ground-breaking title sequences.
From the frenetic and kinetic jagged cuts of SE7EN to the CGI extravaganza of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO to the North by Northwest inspired large static font in PANIC ROOM.
The Title Sequence is a chance for the filmmaker to set the tone and prepare the audience for the world they are about to enter.
In Fincher’s new NETFLIX show MINDHUNTER…the use of subliminal edits is used to cue the viewers to the violent world of serial killers.
As a filmmaker, I always want to challenge myself both creatively and technically. I pursue projects that can stimulate me on several levels. If I am going to commit a year of my life to a feature film…it is crucial that I walk away with new skills, a successful storytelling experience and a lot of fun in the trenches with my team.
When I was asked by director Scotty Waugh to edit 6 BELOW…all my personal and professional requirements were met. All the checkboxes were ticked. The true story of Eric LeMarque, a professional hockey player, that went snowboarding and got trapped in a snowstorm on an isolated mountain for 8 days was riveting.
As fate would have it, Scotty didn’t know I knew Eric LeMarque when he asked me to edit the film. He didn’t know that Eric and I both played professional hockey together 15 years earlier. That only added to the immense sense of responsibility I had to deal with in telling his true story in the best manner possible. The conflict of editor versus friend.
Then Scotty dropped a couple huge technical bombs on me. 6 BELOW would be the first entire feature film in the history of Hollywood to be presented in the Barco Escape format. The 7:1 aspect ratio is the widest of any format in 100 years. Three 2K DCPs are projected in sync onto 3 full-sized movie screens to create an incredibly immersive viewing experience.
On top of that, we also had to deliver a 2.76:1 aspect ratio (same as the 70mm version of “The Hateful Eight”) theatrical version for traditional one-screen theaters. That meant two complete separate feature film edits to accommodate for the different framings of each format.
After all that…there was one more surprise that Scotty had waiting for me…
I spent 10 months editing 6 BELOW and you only need 97 minutes to enjoy it!
It’s in theaters October 12th and available to stream in HD on October 13th.
I will be posting a breakdown of how I created the first ever 6K Native workflow for a Hollywood feature film here on my blog October 14th.
Until then, here’s a some background on the true story of 6 BELOW…
When a snowstorm strands former professional hockey player Eric LeMarque atop the Sierra Nevada Mountains for eight days, he is forced to face his past and come to terms with his personal demons in order to survive.
The first time I heard “Fuck The Pain Away” was in Sofia Coppola’s film
LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003) starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. Great use of music to create an awkward moment in the strip club scene!
Canadian musician PEACHES wrote and recorded the song in 2000
for her album THE TEACHES OF PEACHES. I love the song, love her music, love her approach to life and finally had a chance to see her live.
On a cold night at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown…PEACHES brought the thunder. Sick show. I recorded the performance on my iPhone 6S Plus and decided to cut a video the next morning.
My goal was to try to make the most interesting video with only my one angle of footage shot from the side of the outdoor stage. I took it as a creative challenge to see what I could come up with. I also chose to not use 3rd party plug-ins and only use the built-in effects of Premiere Pro.
On 3/9/2011, John Fell Ryan and Akiva Saunders produced the first screening of
THE SHINING FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS, SIMULTANEOUSLY, SUPERIMPOSED. In their experimental film, they digitally re-edited THE SHINING so it plays both forward and backwards at the same time. By keeping the opacity of the top layer at 50%, the two versions are superimposed equally on top of each other. Only the audio from the forwards playing version is heard so that pure sonic chaos doesn’t overwhelm the viewers.
Somewhat shockingly, the visual symmetry of certain critical story points seemed to be more than just a coincidence. The screen position of the actors during pivotal scenes also seem to flawlessly interweave in a graphically pleasing way. Was this planned by Kubrick (as presupposed by some) or is this just a curious by-product of happenstance and wishful thinking? Either way, the visuals speak for themselves and the viewer can see whatever they want to see within the imagery.
A selection of scenes were featured in the 2012 documentary ROOM 237 but there hasn’t been a public screening of the experimental film in several years. There is not a full version in HD available on the internet as far as I know.
Film Editing begins with organization. A feature film can have anywhere from 77 minutes of footage as in PRIMER to over 500 hours of footage shot on DEADPOOL. On both films…keeping track of the footage and making it all instantly accessible to the editor is paramount to a successful edit. On my current feature film 6 BELOW I am using markers in a new way.
By using MARKERS on timelines and sequences to notate takes, scenes and memorable moments an editor can isolate specific shots or sections that all the filmmakers can use to help wrangle all the footage and help tell a clearer story with all the footage.
All editing software allows for dropping markers on timelines but I utilize one little know function inside Adobe Premiere Pro to help me mark larger groups of shots or sections of similar content. A marker is usually placed on one frame but I like to extend that marker to cover minutes or whole swaths of footage. I then assign a name to the marker and this allows me to visually spot my assets very easily inside my timeline.
Click the image below to see how to extend markers in Premiere Pro.
I’ve just finished editorial on the feature film 6 BELOW starring Josh Hartnett and directed by Scotty Waugh (Need for Speed, Act of Valor). This is my 10th feature film as an editor and a very welcome challenge both creatively and technically. It’s also the first feature film to be edited natively in 6K. I’m cutting the original RED 6K Dragon files (R3D) with no transcoding or proxies in Adobe Premiere Pro. We are framing for a 2.76:1 aspect ratio like The Hateful Eight and using Panavision Primo 70 lenses.