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Editors? We don’t need no stinking editors!

This article by Dan Selakovich makes the strong case for why films benefit from a skilled editor, separate from the director:

Why A Director Shouldn’t Edit Their Own Movie

It boils down to objectivity, to getting away from all the baggage of remembering what happened on set.  He makes a compelling case, and his advice is the conventional wisdom.  It reminds me of WIlliam Faulkner’s advice on editing yourself: “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”  He meant that you need to let go of your attachment to any one little bit, to focus on the needs of the story.

And yet…  There are quite a few noted filmmakers who edit their own work.  The Cohen brothers spring first to mind.  But also Akira Kurosawa and Gus van Sant.  And quite a few documentary filmmakers edit their own work, although perhaps as much because of a lack of budget as from creative considerations. Here is a short list of filmmakers who edit:

And So It Begins list of directors who edit

Any thoughts?  I edit to learn, and will hire an editor when I can afford to.




The Joys of Post Production


The Stars of Video Killed the Fairytale Star

I have nearly completed a rather large project – a DVD of Video Killed the Fairytale Star, Sunnyside Environmental School’s Spring musical.  I ended up only editing one complete performance, rather than cutting together bits and pieces.  But that is a two hour show, with a three camera shoot and 14 channels of field audio in Pro Tools.  Plus, there is the Wednesday music-only performance (only one camera, and only 5 additional audio channels).  And highlights from rehearsals…

The round trip between Avid Symphony (Media Composer is more or less identical, except Symphony has some added color correction functionality), and Avid Pro Tools continues to be a pain.  Both programs say they can export and import AAF files that just link to existing media.  But that mainly fails completely from Pro Tools field audio into Symphony.  And now, going from picture lock in Symphony back to Pro Tools is also a pain.

I have tried variations on the “Send to Protools” workflow, and there are problems.  Problems whether I tried to link to existing media or copy media.  In particular, including video doesn’t work at all.  Maybe I should have tried before I relinked to the original AMA media files – the lower-res proxy files, transcoded to Avid DNxHD 36, it might have gone more smoothly.  And maybe Media Composer 7 will work better – AMA is supposed to be further buffed.

Fine.  So I have to separately export a video file.  And you can’t export a QT reference with AMA, so it takes a while (45 minutes per hour long segment).  Then I’ll have to repeat that, using mastering quality, once the audio is mixed and laid back in.  Sigh…

Then, the Send to Pro Tools was working, except for the two audio channels associated with my mixed down former multi-cam video (e.g., A1 and A2 don’t get transferred, although A3-A16 do just fine).  WTF?

So, finally, I did an Export (to Pro Tools), consolidating the audio into OMF aiff-c files.  The only problem now is that the markers didn’t make it to Pro Tools.  So if I go back and – one by one – copy the markers onto one of the audio channels I am exporting, then they will come across.  Maybe I should put markers on audio tracks only to begin with, or the timecode track? I tried just exporting the two channels, A1 and A2, that have the camera audio from two of the three cameras on the shoot.  But for some reason, the Avid then does some really slow bit where it is “Copying media files…” that didn’t seem to happen when I exported all 16 audio tracks at once.  I guess it is the AMA media again?  Because I already had to import (instead of AMA linking) the field audio from Pro Tools to begin with – so only those A1 and A2 tracks are AMA linked.


Time remapping: Final Cut beats Avid and Adobe by a couple of lengths


Poster for Sunnyside Environmental School Spring Musical, 2013

It seemed so simple… Just speed up some clips, creating a faux-time-lapse sequence. It would be cute, save some space.

It seemed so simple…

I am editing the DVD (and BluRay) packages for Sunnyside Environmental School’s Spring musical, Video Killed the Fairytale Star. Three performances, each shot with three cameras – plus an 8 or 16 channel ProTools audio recording. And then there is about seven hours of single-camera material from rehearsals.  It is a lot of work – including trying to squeeze the best bits onto a DL DVD.

So I decided to time-compress some bits. Well, Avid Symphony and Boris BCC effects both have time-warp/velocity remapping effects – plus, there is Avid’s traditional clip speed controls. But – no good. They all work for video only.

Fine. I have ProTools HD, with a nice selection of Waves plugins (thanks, @Donny Wright at Super Digital).  I’ll just time-warp (or velocity remap) the video, then change the speed of the audio to match, and voilà…

What Waves Soundshifter only goes up to 400%?  Really?

OK, I’ll try going out to Premiere Pro for that bit, right?  No, wrong – at least I can’t see an easy way.  Probably not too hard in After Effects, but I didn’t go there.

OK, in desperation (well, really in pig-headed stubbornness) I fired up iMovie Pro  (also known as Final Cut Pro X).  I had to work a few things out, but in the end it was very easy to get just what I wanted.  I chopped up the tape into clips that needed retiming and clips that didn’t, applied a 20x speedup, and it was done.  There were only limited choices – 8x, or 20x, but nothing in between.  And no keyframes, so no easing in and out or such.  But a faux time lapse effect – for video and audio – with very little effort.

Bringing ProTools audio into the Avid was harder than it should have been.  I exported an AAF file from Protools, but the Avid would only ingest it if I exported an AAF with embedded media, then imported into Symphony.  I should have been able to export an AAF with links to the actual media, then linked with AMA into the Avid Symphony.  But no matter what I tried, it kept showing up as “media offline.”  Sigh…  It’s only hard disk space.

I am not brave enough to try a two hour multicam show with 14 additional channels of audio in Final Cut, though.  Are you?

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