The Various Edits

The Abstract Edit

For the Abstract Edit, two of my colleagues (Nick and Matthew) and I, had to shoot footage of things around us with no story in mind. We then had to put them all together in no particular order, giving it the most random treatment possible.

This, I found particularly difficult. For the sole reason that I have always shot and edited videos with a particular story or subject in mind. Shooting the footage wasn’t as difficult. We shot our surroundings and experimented with a few other shots by using each other in them.

However, the bigger challenge was the editing. Nick and I got to edit it together. We decided we would first select the sound track and then work on the video from there on.

Once we decided on the music, we put the videos together in no specific order and went all out with the effects and editing tools. Each video was pretty well shot and usable, but were highly contrasting from each other. The one thing we made sure was not to follow any particular pattern. It was difficult to break out from the habit of order, but we managed to get into the groove eventually.

We decided to use effects which people usually doesn’t use (or rarely use) during film editing. We tried out embossing, mirroring, mosaic and several others. We also overlapped  the effects here and there. The overall video had a thriller, suspense and eerie vibe to it. Sound from the footage wasn’t really used, but the music added to the feel of the video.

It was a very good exercise as it taught us to come out of our comfort zones and try new things. This is a big advantage because if we use these unconventional effects the right way, we can get some amazing results. Trying new things like this gives us the opportunity to explore and try them.

 

The Expertise Edit

The Expertise exercise helped us understand the importance of continuity of an action or the progression actions through different shots. We were split into different groups and asked to shoot a person enacting a particular action. We used different angles to shoot this action multiple times.

Later on we went into the edit suits and stitched up the videos together. Nick and I got to work on this together as well. We were also allowed to use shots taken by other groups. We put all these actions together to make one short clip.

We split up the work as Nick took care of the music and sound while I worked on the editing. We gave a Noir feel to it and the music we used added to the effect. The main challenge was to make a story using the shots taken by each group and putting them together.

This exercise helped us to understand how important it is to pay attention to small details while shooting. Especially when we are capturing the same motion from different angles. There has to be consistency in the way it’s shot and how the actor enacts the scene, or else it becomes increasingly difficult for the editor to bring about a fluidity in the final edit. If it’s not done right, the final edit can look discontinuous and sketchy.

 

The Initiative Post

When it comes to filmmaking, there are three things that intrigues me the most.

  1. Cinematography – There is a certain thrill in being able to bring an idea or a story to life through the lens of a camera. This is the reason why I have always enjoyed the process of being behind the camera.
  2. Direction – As the director, one needs to have an overview of every process that is taking place and more importantly, have to work with the actors personally to bring out the best in them.
  3. Editing – Editors are the people who are responsible for bringing about the final product. They can make or break a film depending on how the film is edited. I also believe that good editors have the capability to become really good directors.

Lately, to bring about a certain type of outcome, editors, cinematographers and directors have to work together more closely than before. For example on the TV show, ‘Orphan Black’, there are scenes where the actor plays multiple roles and 4 of her characters are in the same room with an additional fifth person. It is fairly easy to achieve a double role scenario with a stationary camera. It gets increasingly more complex when that number increases, the interaction between the characters played by the same person increases and the camera is in motion at the same time. This effect has also been achieved in another show called ‘The Following’ for a double role scenario.

The process of bringing about something new like this through experimentation and working on the complexity of various techniques is what interests me the most and is something I want to achieve.

One person I have looked into and researched intensively is Tod Campbell. He is a cinematographer and has worked on shows like ‘Mr. Robot’ and ‘Stranger Things’ among other things. His use of negative space, continuous shots, misdirection and unconventional framing is something that is worth looking into. His work in ‘Mr. Robot’ especially is very inspiring.

 

Prompt – Readings

Sight and Hearing

What I found interesting in this article was that to make the sound and video compliment each other, they must not constantly support each other. Sound must never come to the rescue of the video and vice versa. I had never looked at editing from this point of view.

This especially makes a lot of sense for suspense films. ‘The eye solicited alone makes the ear impatient, the ear solicited alone makes the eye impatient.’ This impatience can be used to the advantage by the cinematographer and the editor by playing with these two senses. The build up results in delivering the desired effect, and the switching of how the information is given (through sound or video) at the right time, makes all the difference.

Sound and video should be like a relay race. That is how they work together in the best fashion to create a great impact. It is all about catching the audience’s attention from the beginning till the end. The perfect team work of how the video, sound and music work together is what makes or breaks a project.

If the sound and the video are at par at all times, it can get confusing as too much information is being fed to the audience at one go. Therefore, it should be a blend of the two in the right quantity in the correct time frame.

Actor and the Director

The relation between the Director and the actor is a very important one. Getting the best out of the actor depends a lot on how well the two work together.

One of things that caught my attention in this article was the debate about the amount information that should be given to the actor about the story and his character to bring about the best performance. I wouldn’t go as far as Antonioni, but I do agree that some information should be withheld. Giving too much information to the actors can hamper their performance by inhibiting the way they express in a particular scene. The actor’s imagination needs to be controlled at all times. This is very important before the actor steps in front of the camera.

Another important aspect that was spoken about in the article was how a director should communicate with the actor. The Director should never ignore the actor and his/her needs. Deal with them with humility. If the actor is not delivering the way the director wants, it’s more important that the director inspires them, rather than give more instructions. The director should try to get the actor to want what they need. They should make the actor feel as comfortable as possible, as that is something that will assure a good performance from them.

There are a lot of other things that are important when it comes to the relation between an actor and the director. But if we keep the basics in mind, and learn as we go, this part of the production can run smoothly.

 

Lenny

We got the opportunity to work on a project called ‘Lenny’. It was a short project with three scenes and a few dialogues between two characters. Before we got to the process of making it, we were given a chance to edit a ‘Lenny’ project done by a group of other people. This was a good exercise as we got a lot of ideas and learnt what we should or should not do when we got the chance to make our ‘Lenny’.

Pre-Production

Our class was split into groups of 5 and given a screenplay of the ‘Lenny’ shoot. We distributed the work amongst ourselves according to each scene so that we all get to experience each role during the production process and learn from this exercise.

We sat down and decided a how we would shoot certain scenes and made a rough storyboard. Practiced all the things that need to be said on set during the shoot according to our responsibilities. The scenes were fairly small and self contained, so we didn’t have to discuss too much about how much time should be allocated for each scene. We did a little bit of scouting in our free time and decided where we could take the shots.

Production

On the day of the shoot, we were teamed up with another group so that one group could act while the other went through the process of making the short sequence. It was a lot of fun and pretty easy going.

During our turn, it went smoothly as we helped each other when it was required and worked according to the position we were assigned.

I got to shoot and direct the first scene. Since there were no dialogues, I made sure the actor paid attention to the continuity of his actions as there were multiple shots. Inspired a little by the framing used in ‘Mr. Robot’, I tried to add elements of it while shooting this scene.

I also got to shoot the second scene. I worked with Nick (the director for the scene) on this sequence and shot the scene the way he wanted it. In the last few scenes, I worked as the boom pole operator and the assistant director. We didn’t need to use reflectors as the lighting worked in our favour.

I did work with the actors during the dialogue sequence and told them to add some pauses between their dialogues as that helps during the process of editing. While editing the previous version of ‘Lenny’, I had noticed that there was no pause between dialogues, and that made it difficult to edit the scenes as they looked very hurried.

Overall, the entire process of the shoot went smoothly and we enjoyed it as we worked well as a team.

Post-Production

Post-Production was a fairly easy process. The fact that everything was followed the right way during the shoot helped in the process.

I first made a rough edit by lining each of the clips together by selecting the takes that were the best. I didn’t add too many effects (mainly colour correction, contrast and brightness, and exposure) to the shots as I wanted to keep it as realistic as possible. Once the edit was done the way I wanted it, I unlinked the audio from the video so that I could blend in the sound on each cut. By doing this, it helped in making the video look more fluid. That way, it never sounded odd when there was a cut in the scene.

Once everything was in place, I selected the music I wanted for the scene and added it to the edit. I made a few changes to the cuts during the video so that it fits in with the music. I also added fade-ins and fade-outs wherever it was required to make the process smoother.

All the videos were placed in proper folders according to their scenes and usage so that there is no confusion if this needs to be edited again in the future.

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Find a Scene

This is a scene taken from the film ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’. It’s one of my favourite scenes from the movie.

The shots constructed by John Mathieson are very clean and well executed. The lighting is very well composed (especially every time the switch is pressed for the electric torture) and suits the tone of the scene. It starts of as a very serious sequence (clearly because of how Henry Cavill is getting tortured), but soon takes a lighter tone as Armie Hammer enters the scene. This happens due to the chemistry between the two characters. The acting and direction is brilliantly done and gives no scope for any complaints. The dialogues, it’s timing and method of delivery is really fantastic and adds humour to a rather serious and complicated scenario giving it a touch of dark comedy. The occasional mistakes by the characters once the antagonist is placed on the chair adds to the dark humour.

The editing done by James Herbert is what I love the most about this film, and not just the scene. The fluidity and continuity in the entire sequence is perfect. Right from the guard collapsing when Armie Hammer enters the scene as Sylvester Groth’s dialogue continues without any break, to the jump cut where he is suddenly placed on the chair. The whole thing has been beautifully executed. The addition of the ‘old-school’ music as the two leads go off to discuss the matter is a brilliant touch. The continuous shot of the conversation between Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Sylvester Groth gets burnt in the background with the music playing is the highlight of the entire clip.

One must also note that the screenplay and dialogues for this sequence is very well written. The production design and make up is spot on as everything in the shot looks very authentic and doesn’t look out of place at any moment. The effects used are also very good, right from the occasional sparks, to the flames, which makes the whole scene very believable.

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