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Jim Krause | Classes | P351 Video Field & Post Production

Week 4

Announcements/Reality Check:

  • Be sure to watch the clips and do the readings.
  • Lab this week:
    • After Effects, Color Correction, or Portraiture Exercse (Help us choose)
    • Share topics/subjects for your Interview/Feature Story. (The finalized Interview/Feature Story proposal is due by the start of lab next week.)
  • Next Week in lab:
    • Interview/Feature story proposals and treatments due
    • Op-Ed/News/Audio Exercise (Be prepared to shoot video outside)
  • Today we'll continue covering editing techniques

Readings & Watchlist

You should be able to answer the following:

  • Who made the first edits, which were jump cuts? (A Frenchman- they made Hugo, a movie about his work.)
  • Which American pioneered film in the US creating films such as The Great Train Robbery? (last name begins with the letter P)
  • Who is credited with using continuity-style production and cross-cutting? (He was also accused of blatant racism. D.W......)
  • Who was credited with carrying out major revelations related to the montage? (He taught at the Moscow Film School, which researched propaganda and agitation. Lev K....)
  • Who went further, studying many different forms of the montage and its impact? His created Battleship Potemkin. (Not Einstein, but .....)

Editing Techniques (continued)

Acceleration Editing (speeding up time) - In film and video production time is routinely condensed and expanded. (When you are telling a story, cut out anything that doesn't develop the story or character.) Someone gets a phone call asking him/her to meet. How much do we have to see before he/she meets his/her date?

Expanding Time (slowing down time) - Occasionally an editor or director will want to drag out a happening beyond the actual time represented. Expanding time can heighten the suspense. (Think action/adventure movie- A timer on a bomb is counting down to 0. Someone is working furiously to defuse the bomb. We might have 15 seconds left on the timer but the scene can take 1 minute! If the bomb does go off- we see it happen 4 times from different angles)

Causality & Motivation - This aspect of continuity editing addresses cause & effect. As viewers try to figure out the story they look for answers.

Imagine our 1st shot is a close-up of a bomb being placed underneath a table.

The 2nd shot is followed by two men sitting down to a picnic table in a park with a playground in the background

The 3rd shot is of children in the playground looking up as they hear an explosion.

While we assume that the two men have been blown up (causality), we still want to find out why (motivation).

Good storytellers will string us along for the length of a movie so we can determine cause and effect.

Relational editing is the concept that scenes which by themselves seem not to be related take on a cause-effect significance when edited together in a sequence. (Kuleshov experiment with a man in chair intercut with: corpse, bowl of soup, & woman) WIkipedia Kuleshov effect By juxtaposing two shots together a new idea can be created based on the contrast between the content.

Thematic Editing is also referred to as a montage. (South Park -/- Team America) Images are edited together based on a central theme. In contrast to most types of editing, thematic editing is not designed to tell a story by developing an idea in a logical sequence.

Many different types of montages have been identified and studied. Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin) identified various types of montages. Perhaps the best discussion can be found in Zettl's text, "Sight Sound Motion". Zettl identified three categories of montages (and each category has variations):

  • Metric - related or unrelated images used at equally spaced intervals. This can be sped up into an accelerated montage (where images get shorter and shorter)
  • Analytical - an event is displayed through thematic and structural elements
  • Idea-associative montage - Two possibly unrelated elements are brought together to create a third principle or concept. The collision montage is a variant of this.

One underlying theory that has been applied to montages (and especially related to the last type) is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Juxtaposing two separate elements can result in a more powerful third meaning.

Parallel Cutting (referred to sometimes as cross cutting) - Parallel action takes place when the segments are cut together to follow multiple story lines. These don't necessarily have to happen at the same time.

Parallel editing in the Godfather (example from Critical Commons)

The Opposite of Editing- the Long Take or Plan Scene

A Touch of Evil - opening scene (Orson Welles)

The Player - opening scene (Robert Altman)

There are many movies that give the impresion they are all one long take such as Rope or Birdman.

Editing Guidelines (Cybercollege 54 & 55) -----------------------------------------

Guideline # 1: Edits work best when they are motivated.
Guideline # 2: Whenever possible cut on subject movement.

Maintaining Consistency in Action and Detail. You usually end up with several takes of each scene. Not only should the position of people, feet or hands, etc., in both shots match, but also the general energy level of voices and gestures.

You will also need to make sure nothing has changed in the scene (hair, clothing, the placement of props, etc.) and that the talent is doing the same thing in exactly the same way in each shot.

Entering and exiting the frame. Following the rules of continuity if someone exits the frame on the right to go somewhere, in the next shot we'll see them entering from the left.

Guideline # 3: Keep in Mind the Strengths and Limitations of the Medium.

Remember: Television is a closeup medium. Use the closeup to show important detail and storypoints.

Guideline # 4: Cut away from the scene the moment the visual statement has been made.

New verses familiar subject matter. New elements need more screen time to give viewers a chance to comprehend them, as opposed to pre-established (or well-known) elements.

Varying tempo through editing

A constant fast pace will tire an audience; a constant slow pace will induce them to look for something more engaging on another channel.

Guideline # 5: Emphasize the B-Roll. An example of this is a feature story revolving around interview. The interview should look and sound strong, but it's the B-roll that holds the viewer's attention.

Guideline # 6: The final editing guideline is: If in doubt, leave It out.

Jim's suggestions (nuggets of wisdom) for all videos:

  • When shooting B-roll - be sure to capture "mini-continuity" sequences. These are 3-6 shots that follow the rules of continuity (just like in the Week 2 exercise you shot).
  • When editing in B-roll, use the mini-continuity sequences you shot. Don't drop in a single shot, use several to make a grouping and establish a rhythm.
  • Cut B-roll on phrases, key words, or to the soundtrack.
  • I like to build my edits with the soundtrack in mind first. (Some might call this a radio edit). Constant talking/dialog is tiring. Break up the texture of dialog-heavy sections with music, and natural sounds.

Editing can go smoothly (and even be fun) or it can be slow and frustrating. Usually it's the latter when adequate footage doesn't exist, there is no clear plan or script to follow, or you are unfamiliar with the tools.

You need a few things:

  • Understanding of the process & tools. This allows you to focus on having fun and being creative. How to get more familiar with the tools? Spend time editing. Use the software, read the manuals and tutorials. Know your workflow! Spend a lot of time doing it and you'll become proficient. The only way you can get better is to spend time with the tools.
  • Your ducks all in a row! Know what you want to do in the edit room before you ever get there. Have your script, footage logs, graphics, and music etc. Minimize the time you spend in an edit session trying to figure out what shot comes next. (This is what should be done in pre-production or at some corner cafe with a mug of your favorite beverage.) When you edit, you should have a plan, or you are wasting your time or someone else's money.

On-line v Off-line (proxy) editing

  • On-line editing is when you are editing the footage that will be used for the final broadcast/delivery.

However, many projects require masters that are so large in quality and size, that they can't be edited on an average computer. One needs a high-end workstation In order to edit dual streams of HD for stereoscopic footage, 4K, or IMAX. In situations like these, one can still create the edit, but by using lower-resolution, or proxy footage.

  • Off-line editing is when you are editing a lower-resolution, or proxy version of the footage.

EDL - Edit Decision List

  • While you're editing, Media Composer, Premiere & Final Cut are tracking every single edit. Edits are numbered and the source in/out & record in/out are logged along with the tracks (audio or video). For off-line edits, EDLs can be output and brought into an on-line house.

Color Correction & Grading

  • Color Correction is the process of fixing lighting and exposure inconsistencies. This is done before grading. It's important to make sure that video and audio levels are rendered "broadcast safe".
  • Color grading is the process of enhancing the visual appearance in regard to hue, saturation, and contrast. This is where one might give a "look" to a scene or entire movie.
  • Lut - Stands for Look Up Table. Here's a short clip explaining how they work.

Examples of Editing Techniques and Color Grading


Week 4 Vocabulary - Make sure you know these editing-related terms:

  • Color Correction
  • Color Grading
  • Continuity editing
  • Acceleration Editing
  • Establishing shot
  • Expanding Time
  • Master shot
  • Match Cut
  • Jump Cut
  • Off-line (proxy) verses On-line Editing
  • Relational editing
  • Thematic Editing (montage)
  • Parallel Cutting (cross cutting)
  • The Plan Scene (Long Take)

And know these Graphics-related terms:

  • Anti-aliasing- A feature in software that smooths out jagged edges.
  • CMYK color mode - Subtractive color mode (for print)
  • Color Grading (includes color correction & color effects)
  • EDL (edit decision list)
  • HSB - acronym for Hue, Saturation and Brightness
  • Kerning (the space between a pair of characters)
  • Leading (the vertical spacing between horizontal lines of text)
  • Off-line (Draft or Proxy) vs On-line (editing)
  • Plug-in (a software add-on that performs a unique task)
  • RGB color mode - Additive color mode (for video, web, CGI, etc.)
  • Safe action area
  • Safe text area
  • Sans-Serif type
  • Serif type
  • Tracking – the spacing of an entire group of letters

And be sure you review Jim's Graphic Tips




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