Tuesday, February 26, 2008

'Serum City' 2-min short film trailer

Check out http://serumcity.atspace.com/ for the synopsis and production stills.

A 'blast from the not-so-distant past'. 'Serum City' is my graduation short film, produced back in 2006, on which I served as the DP and editor.

This is probably THE definitive inspiration for me to go into editing. Back in 2006, I had worked out my class schedule such that I didn't have to take any modules in my last semester, so that I could concentrate on my short film. And concentrate I did! I turned up at the editing suite almost every day, tweaking with the edit and... tweaking with the edit more. Sometimes with the director and our faculty supervisor; but usually working alone.

So not too long after a grueling week-long shoot as DP [my legs were on fire from standing and climbing every single day - thank goodness my director is a qualified massage therapist!], I started logging and capturing my rushes... then, edited to script... and soon, we hit an 'existential crisis'. The film wasn't working if we were to cut to script. This was... probably in February, when we had to deliver by mid-March.

This led to a complete overhaul of the film structure - scenes were juggled around quite radically, shots were dropped, re-shoots were done [thankfully, nothing too drastic].

As much as it drove me nuts to have to do a COMPLETE re-cut, I distinctively remember being positively reinvigorated, when previously, I was getting quite ho-hum about the film/editing it.

So yeah, that was intense but loads of fun. There was a lot of to-and-fro with the director, so that was a very good process.

Of course, having ~5 other groups of people going crazy in the same edit suite [FCP FTW!] got 'interesting' nearer the deadline, haha. I'm glad I chose to stick with FCP, even though the school had 4 Avid Adrenalines available as well. I enjoyed the ease of use [fire up mac; connect to SAN Network; launch FCP; edit... toggle over to Firefox when bored/rendering/needing help] and being able to work directly with Adobe Photoshop and AfterEffects files from the same machine and network. After that, it was easy to author a simple customized DVD in DVD Studio Pro, or export to various .Mov files.

The one pity is that 'Serum City' never did get a proper screening in any festivals. Feedback from those who have watched it have generally been positive - though the common thing is that it sets people up to propose more ideas and different ways to explore certain themes. Of course, its non-linear narrative has thrown a few people off-track as well. Anyway, a copy or two are available at Library@Esplanade ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Walter Murch Quote from 'Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing'

Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing
by Roger Crittenden

But the defining craft of cinema - montage - seems to have quickly invented itself in a cocoon of silence, and to have continued that reticence as part of its protective colouration. Perhaps this is due to the personality of film editors themselves, or to the nature of their role as seconds to forceful and articulate directors. Or to the work itself, which most often aspires to burnish the efforts of others and to remain itself unnoticed. Perhaps it is simply priestly discretion: there is something of the confession booth to the editing room, where the omissions and commissions of shooting are whispered and discretely absolved by concealment or alchemically transformed into discoveries. Or maybe it is due to the very lack of deep-rooted tradition: there is not (yet) a rich vocabulary to describe what goes on as moving images mingle and fertilise each other, so we remain mute. Or cryptic: 'Why did you make that cut?' 'I don't know - it just felt right'.

Walter Murch, London, June 2004, Foreword


First of a series of interesting quotes on editing which I've been scribbling down.

Maybe that's one reason why I like editing - because you can get away with 'just because' when asked 'why?' - sometimes, it's just tiring [and impossible] to explain everything. Things can very well be 'they are what they are ' ;]

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Oscars: Which Editing Is a Cut Above?

EVERY year, when the members of the editing branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sit down to watch movies and choose the five nominees for film editing, they try very hard not to look at what they’re supposed to be looking at.

“When do I notice the editing? When it’s bad,” said Craig McKay, a nominee for “Reds” and “The Silence of the Lambs.” “You sit there and think, ‘Why is the camera on this character’s back at a pivotal moment?’ But if it’s really well done, I just surrender like the rest of the audience.”

The “invisible art,” as many of its practitioners call it, has been an Oscar category since 1934, when Conrad Nervig took home the first editing statue for “Eskimo.” Yet editors acknowledge that even after 70 years assessing excellence in their field sometimes comes down to guesswork. “Everything else — music, cinematography, costumes, design, acting — can be judged at face value,” said Christopher Rouse, a nominee last year for “United 93.” “But when you’re looking at editing, you don’t know what the totality of the material was, and you don’t know the working dynamic between a director and an editor — whether the editor was micromanaged or given free rein. It’s very difficult.”

Continue reading over at the New York Times

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Currently Reading: Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing

Currently reading:
Fine Cuts: The Art of European Film Editing

Admittedly, I'm neither a film buff nor an European films film buff. But this has been a really captivating read [esp. when you have that trippy almost-literal English translations going on quite often].

Going to jot down a few interesting quotes I've dog-eared in this book.