Friday, August 22, 2014

Editing via the lowest bidder… really.

This site has me a little concerned.
They've basically made it so that you submit the project you want edited and desperate editors bid on it, then you go with "best" (read: lowest) bid. But wait there's more! If you're not happy with the edit, you don't have to pay! So some jackass, who managed to bid lower than the other jackasses on the site, doesn't even get paid because you're not happy with the edit, which is maybe because you paid for the lowest bidder, or maybe because what you shot is shit. This just sounds like a fucking nightmare. But hey, thanks for demeaning and lowering the value of the work of creative artists even more. Awesome.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

B Camera

A Director once said to me "There's no real plan with B-Cam, they're just there to grab shots when they can and hopefully they give us something useable."… I almost strangled him.

B-Cam can be very important to a shoot, but if you're not going to have them do anything important, you'd might as well just save the money send them home. The unfortunate thing is that too many directors have the same attitude towards B-Cam as the one I mentioned above. Unless it's a really experienced operator, who's normally A-Cam, and is doing the show as a favor to the DP, B-Cam should never really be left to their own devices. B-Cam is usually either an operator that doesn't have enough experience for A-Cam, or is experienced, but doesn't have enough of an eye for A-Cam. In either case, their shots are going to be pretty useless unless the DP is actively framing every shot for them, and they spend some real time on blocking.

Anyways, so what happens when you leave B-Cam to their own devices? You get hours of unusable shit that you have to sift through just in case they accidentally shit a nugget or two of gold. Oh, and if you're really lucky, some of it might actually be slated. That kind of shit didn't fly on film productions, no slate, no telecine. Shoot unusable, poorly exposed shit and you'll find a day-call op parked in your spot the next morning.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Avid Log Exchange IS Discontinued. D'oh.

Apparently someone saw my query on the Avid forums and wrote a brief article HERE.

It really is disconcerting that ALE is gone, as 24p points out, it really helps when moving logs between software and when I was an AE, I was always in the habit of running ALE files from the lab through Avid Log Exchange to make sure they're "clean", which, usually at least once a week they weren't. It's also handy for converting EDLs into log files for batch capture if you're having to rebuild an old project.

Anyway, it's annoying that it's gone, I'm sure a lot of people are going to be cursing when, like me, they eventually bite the bullet and upgrade to MC8. MediaLog is gone too btw, which was a useful tool to help keep your 2nd AE busy for a few hours  if your production was too cheap to have a lab log your dailies.

I'm starting to get nostalgic for the old days of tapes and floppy disks arriving every morning...

Avid Media Composer 8

I've recently upgraded my system from MC 6.5 to MC 8, yes I know, I know, never upgrade mid-project but honestly, it's  pretty simple task to roll-back to MC6.5 if I have problems.

So far so good, it's been a few days now and it feels like snappier and more stable than 6.5. I had briefly tried MC7 last year, and had had some stability and performance issues with full screen playback, and I'm happy to report that so far, MC8 has none of those issues.

For those one MC7, there's not really any compelling reason to upgrade at this point, as they haven't really introduced any new, tangible features to the software (other than licensing options) but if you buy an annual support contract before the end of the year (for $299), you'll get free version updates with it, along with latest version of Squeeze Lite, but I wouldn't bother with it, your older Squeeze still works and is more full-featured. At NAB I was assured that, while there wasn't much in the way of new features with MC8 now, by the end of the year they will have rolled out some significant updates.

Concerns: The current installer does not include Avid Log Exchange and does not support Phrase Find or Script Sync. So if those are options you need for your workflow, then you'd best stick with MC7. Of course, if you're an MC6.5 user and purchase the Upgrade/Support license, you'll have access to the MC7 installer and can continue to use it until Avid is able to eventually negotiate a deal with the companies behind Phrase Find and Script Sync. Why Avid has dumped ALE, I have no idea. It's one of their most useful tools. I tried using an older version, and for some reason even though it worked perfectly before I upgraded to MC8, it now crashes at launch. Avid has also seriously reduced the software bundled with Media Composer, but you can get it all back, along with the Symphony upgrade, for and additional $599.

A note about the new license structure: it seems that Avid has learned from the fallout around Adobe's Creative Cloud fiasco, and whether or not you get your latest version of MC via upgrade/support contract or perpetual license, it will still continue to work after your contract has expired. If you're on month-to-month, or yearly subscription it will stop working when the contract expires if you're not auto-renewing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Cut Needs More "Overlaps".

It's interesting when you get a note from someone that reads something like "As a general note, I think we need more overlaps (read: overlapping dialogue) in the cut/scene". Now, this is fairly ignorant note, and that's not meant as an insult to the person who gave it, but it does show that their film IQ is a little lacking. It's the film equivalent of "Needs more cowbell".

A dialogue overlap is a technique that can help you accomplish a number of things in the edit.

  • It can help to smooth over a jarring edit, or to avoid a bit of worrisome camera work 
  • It can help compress time or remove "air" in a performance
  • It can help create a sense of conflict between characters
  • It can be used to create an emphasis on the dialogue that is on character who's speaking
The above things are essentially editing tricks, but are useful to have in your toolbox. The main reason to overlap dialogue, is to show the character for whom the dialogue is most important. For instance, you have a scene where a Police Officer shows up at your hero's home and says "I regret to inform you that your sister was killed in a car accident last night". Now, is that information important to the cop? No, not really, he's just the messenger, but it's very important to your hero. That dialogue will have a lot more impact if it's played over your character who's receiving it, and then reacting to that information. You can even play it heavy handed and cut to the receiving character right as the cop says "your sister was killed in a car accident last night" for added impact. The other way to play it would be to have the character open the door to reveal the cop, then play the entire piece of dialogue on the receiving character and watch the emotion grown on the actor's face. Either are effective ways to drive home the importance of the dialogue, and who it's important to.

The reason why I hate arbitrary overlaps is because if your film is full of them, it takes power away from the technique, so that when you do actually want to use it for emphasis, it's impact is diminished. However, this can also be used to your advantage, for example, lets say you have a scene with your hero and the villain. They're bantering back and forth until the scene climaxes with villain saying "It was I, who killed your sister". Already, big, impactful information for the hero. So you can play it two ways, you can do what I described earlier and play that line on our hero's face to see the emotional impact, OR we can intentionally play the preceding dialogue in an overlapping fashion, then cut to the villain's for his "It was I, who killed your sister" line, and then cut to our hero for his/her reaction. So what does that accomplish? Well the previous overlaps reduce the importance/impact of the preceding dialogue, and so cutting to the villain for his line creates a strong impact on the viewing audience. Now, neither way is right or wrong, they're two different approaches to the same beat, but the point is to use overlaps in a deliberate fashion, not arbitrarily.

So this leads me back to the cut note and why it shows ignorance on the note giver's part. They don't really know what overlaps are for or how to use them to create emphasis in a scene, they just know they see them a lot in other shows, and therefore they should be more present in the one he/she's looking at now. When someone sits down to give notes on a cut, they are sitting down with the intention of finding things to criticize in the edit. That's just how it works. You'll always get dumb notes from people who only know what they're looking at doesn't conform to what they think everything is supposed to look like, it's just part of life as an editor. If they're sitting in a room with you, you can try and educate them but likely they're sitting in a office at the studio and your show is just one of 5 that he/she had to watch that day. If you have a strong director (or show-runner if your on a TV show), those kind of notes will likely either get filtered out or vetoed by them, but yes, they're still annoying when they do make it to you. :)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Keep rolling!

This has got to be a first… I have a take that contains 4 different setups! Like, COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SETUPS! Wow.