View Full Version : ASE Newsletter 1998-05 Issue 23
26-02-2003, 02:53 PM
Index to ASE NEWSLETTER ISSUE 23 - May 1998
- From the President - Denise Haslem
- Patching ... an article on editsuite connections
- Bill Shepherd, - pioneer Film Editor, part 2
- Time's Up! From The Editor
- From Melbourne - News
- Feedback - Frans Vandenburg
- Visual Effects Seminar
- Radiance Shines - Frame by Frame with editor James Bradley
- Swimming with the Sharks - Lightworks training session
- Letters to the Editor - Avid training.
- Urban Clan - edited by Emma Hay - review
26-02-2003, 02:56 PM
FROM THE PRESIDENT
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
Last month we were faced with the drastic situation of Matthew Tucker needing to pull back as editor of the newsletter and not having anyone to immediately step into his shoes. So we are trying to alleviate that problem by instigating a Newsletter work group headed at this stage by Paul Healy. We are looking for volunteers who want to work with Paul, so please, please come forward if you are interested. If this system works then hopefully in the future the workload and skills can be spread amongst a few people.
Also our Administrator, Marianne Bryant's role has been extended to help extend ASE's network into the political arena. She will communicate with Government and other relevant industry bodies and report back to the committee and members about what is happening, what may affect us and what we need to be involved in or take action upon.
The best part of this months Committee meeting was turned into a strategy meeting on how to proceed in the next twelve months in order to achieve our goal of better pay, schedules and working conditions.
By July we plan to put out a discussion paper to the membership and follow that up around August with General Meetings in Melbourne and Sydney to allow feedback before we put the info out into the big wide world.
Next month being June is Sydney Film Festival time and so ASE activities will be minimal, but hopefully we will have some sort of presence at the Festival.
Finally, a big thank you to Matthew for the twenty plus newsletters he has produced. It has been the lifeline of the ASE. Now it is time for your contribution.
See ya round.
Copyright 1998 Denise Haslem
26-02-2003, 02:59 PM
Patching ... an article on editsuite connections
BNC? RCA? XLR? EE By Gum!
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
By Matthew Tucker
Have you ever needed to do a coded dub to SP and VHS and tech support wasn’t around to connect it all up for you? Here’s a quick guide to a simple patching scenario that may help.
Start at the End ...
Edit suites are commonly wired so that vision and audio signals loop through several pieces of machinery ... this causes the apparent mess of wires around the back of the machines.
Let’s say you want to do a playout from your Edit System, making an SP Betacam copy and a VHS viewing copy at the same time.
When connecting or tracing connections in such a system, don’t start at the beginning of the chain, start at the end.
The end is usually your PAL Monitor, which may have one or two inputs. Connect a BNC - BNC cable from one of the Video Inputs on the monitor to the Video Output of the VHS deck. Connect an audio cable (usually RCA - RCA) from the Audio Input of the Monitor to Audio or Monitor Output of thje VHS deck.
Test the patching by playing a cassette in the deck - You should be able to see and hear the cassette (unless its a blank one ... oops!). You now know that the monitor is looking at the output of the VHS.
Then EJECT the cassette.
TEST USING EE!
With no cassette loaded, most VT decks are set up so that they are in EE (Electronics to Electronics) mode. This means that signals into the machine will pass straight through to the outputs. This is a useful feature for testing the patching.
Now, trace or connect the appropriate cables from the VHS inputs back to the SP Outputs. Video is almost always BNC - BNC, and to get both audio tracks onto the VHS, the easiest way is to use the RCA Monitor Output on most SP Decks.
Test the patching by playing a known good SP tape. You should see the pix and hear the sounds on the monitor. If you don’t, then check
1. Is there an Input Select switch on the VHS? This should be set to AV or LINE.
2. Did you eject the VHS cassette? If not, the VHS deck will not be in EE mode and the SP signals will not get through.
Everything fine so far? Now EJECT the SP cassette (Why? to force the EE mode!)
Now connect a BNC - BNC cable from the SP Video Input to your Edit System Video Output. (Some systems may have S-Video or component outputs and if your SP deck has the corresponding inputs they can be used instead for better picture quality.) Select the appropriate Video Input on the front panel - COMPOSITE or LINE if you are using the single BNC connection.
Connect the Audio Inputs of the SP deck. These will usually need Male XLR connectors on the cable (Male? The one with the prongs!!) The other end of the Audio cable will usually be either Female XLRs (with the holes) or RCA plugs, depending on what’s on the back of the Edit System. Plug ’em in, making sure you don’t swap channels one and two.
Now, don’t forget timecode! The Timecode Input on SP decks need either Male XLRs or BNC connectors on the cable. The other end will either be Female XLR, or RCA. Connect the Edit System Timecode Output.
Lastly, you may need to connect a 9-pin serial cable in order to be able to control the deck with your editing system.
Test the patching using EE: play your edit. You should see and hear pictures. To test timecode, check the SP deck is set to EXT Timecode and REC RUN and hit the record button. If the timecode is correctly patched you’ll see the same timecode on the front panel as on the edit.
That’s it. Now you know all the signals are getting from A to B to C properly. Bung in your blank cassettes and do your digital cut/playout/whatever-they-call-it. Remember, with cassettes loaded, all systems must be in Record for the signals to get through, so if you just want a VHS, eject any SP tape first.
Terminators? If your picture looks way too bright and burned-out you probably need to terminate the video line. If you have more than one terminators connected in any one video signal chain the video levels will drop significantly.
Careful here: A terminator is a resistor that terminates a video signal chain. Therefore, it must come at the END of the chain, and you must only have one terminator in place, on any one video chain. Machines that have loop outputs next to their inputs (eg SP decks) often have a “75 Ohm”switch, which is an onboard terminator. If you are using the loop output, you must turn the terminator OFF. If not, you must turn the terminator ON. If there is no onboard terminator you must use a BNC terminator, which is a special terminating plug. Machines that don’t have a loop output such as some domestic-style monitors are already terminated at the input.
Got a Patchbay?
Staring at a patchbay with a patchcord in your hand? Well, the same Test Using EE methods apply, but you have to identify the inputs and outputs on the patchbay instead. Outputs are usually on the top row, Inputs on the bottom row.
Oh, and another thing ... don’t EVER, EVER use T-Connectors for video signals!!!!!!!
PLEASE REMEMBER, if you ever change any patching, you should always put it back the way you found it afterwards. If you can’t do that, at least have the courtesy to tell tech support what you did, or put a note on the machines to indicate things have been changed!
EE by gum, I hope that saves your skin one day!
Copyright 1998 Matthew Tucker
26-02-2003, 03:03 PM
Bill Shepherd: Pioneer Film Editor - Part 2
An interview by Graham Shirley (see also Part 1)
Ken Hall and Cinesound
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
SHEPHERD: Well I went to Cinesound something like a week after Standardtone had folded. Ken Hall knew I'd been working with Fletcher and Bruce, and before I got onto features I cut a lot of 'A' items for the sound newsreel. I think I started on the sixth edition. Then I moved onto shorts which included The Ghost of Port Arthur and Over 70 Club.
When I arrived there, George Malcolm was just finishing the editing of On Our Selection, but he didn't want to do editing, he wanted to do camerawork. He got sick just before he was due to cut The Squatter's Daughter, so I took his place.
SHIRLEY: Malcolm gets a co-editor's credit on "The Squatter's Daughter".
I know, but he didn't cut a foot of it.
You mentioned that he'd made a winding mechanism.
Yes. It made provision for the removal of any one of the four rolls that were running through the synchronizer without disturbing the sync on the others. It's still the only way to work. I made one out at the D.O.I. at Burwood that cost 30 pounds. You could change from 16 to 35 straight away and drive all four mechanisms at once. As it is today, you've got to take everything off the arm to get at the fourth roll, and your mind goes “whoof”away from the mechanics of cutting. That's why I never had a phone in the cutting room. The whole process has changed, and it shows. Today you make most of your decisions on the Moviola. There's a foot and a half gone by the time you've put your foot down. You can only judge proper timing by looking at the film in front of you and keeping the shape of it in your mind the whole time.
The first feature I did at Cinesound was In the Wake of the Bounty (1933). Chauvel was using Cinesound's studio as well as its staff and I was taken off the newsreel to work on the film. The first day that Errol Flynn came on the set all the women were around him. He was a fine looking chap - like a Greek goddess.
God or Goddess?
Goddess. They had a big set in the studio. Tas Higgins had done the shooting in Tahiti and Pitcairn Island. I cut the whole thing.
How long did it take you to get a 'system' going at Cinesound?
Not too long. The room was plotted out, I hung 'No Smoking' signs above the benches and was given two assistants. The first two assistants were so good that when they got 0ing they could, tell you the edge number for the beginning and end of every scene.
Was the studio gearing itself for continuous production?
There'd been some doubt when they began On Our Selection. but it's success had enabled them to go on. After On Our Selection, there'd been alterations to the whole studio. We took over the newsreel room and the newsreel moved somewhere else.
Were you doing your own neg. cutting?
Oh yeah, we were doing everything. The way it happened was this. The negative came up from the laboratory and the assistants would check it for scratches or dirt marks. We saw everybody's faults. I usually had to say something about it and for that reason I was known as a bit of a bastard. Then the assistants would synchronize the sound with the negative and send the negative in for a Print. We didn't have an edge numbering machine, but we attached a rubber numbering device to a Bell and Howell sprocket, and numbered according to the section of the script. Each section was represented by a letter of the alphabet.
Hall would see the rushes with the crew, and together we'd pick the takes to be used. These takes would be filed away in the vault after they'd been printed, and for one reason or another certain takes would be held. The assistants and I would then decide what sequences they were going to cut. Half the time I told them what I wanted and they'd go and edit. After two or three films, I didn't have to say as much. Terry or Phyl* would cut the sequence, we'd run it once or twice on the projector and I might suggest an alteration. When there was a rough cut, I'd do the final edit.
How did you work with Ken Hall?
Hall and I would discuss the scene, so that I usually knew what he was trying to obtain. There'd be cases where he'd say "I think it might be wise to trim that close-up", and while I'd always say "All right", it would mean that I might trim it or I mightn't trim it at all. The next time he saw it, I'd say "Does that look alright?", and he'd say "Yes." If he said "We'd better take out a few feet", I might only take out six inches. That was the way I worked. I generally cut it as I felt I should, but if he was adamant, then I had no say in it. Mind you, if we found a story was lagging, we'd put the scissors into it.
Which of the films came into this category?
There was that weakness in most of them.
Did Hall's coverage allow you to do this often?
Oh yes, we were working together all the time. I'd often go to the studio to get an idea of what he wanted from the editing, and as we weren't so far behind shooting, I could ask Hall for extra shots if I needed them. If he thought this was reasonable, he'd go out and shoot them. We normally had a rough-cut a fortnight after shooting had finished, and Grandad Rudd (1935) only took eight weeks to travel from the start of shooting to its premiere at the State Theatre.
That's pretty tight.
Reel six of The Squatter's Daughter was premiering at the State while reel nine was coming off the printer at Bondi. I have an idea we'd make an alteration, and reel nine still had to be tinted red because it contained the bushfire sequence. We speeded up the drying with a bath of metho.
Whose decision was it to tint that sequence?
Now and then we'd tint a sequence if it were possible. There'd been a lot of it during the silent era, but the main consideration at this time was how it would affect your track. It didn't matter for the bushfire because any dialogue was being yelled, and there was a lot of other noise. In most cases we previewed the film before an audience. Sometimes it was done with a double-header, but there were very few places you could do this. The preview would tell you if the film needed tightening and this the film needed tightening and this was especially crucial with comedy. I used to be in the audience of every first screening. Quite often, we'd bring a film in for cutting from its first release.
What about general release?
Oh yes, if we had the opportunity. There were usually eleven prints on general release, but if we were cutting after release we'd only concern ourselves with the major places. Even though you couldn't recall the New Zealand prints and you couldn't make another print, you could cut the prints that existed.
I noticed that in "The Silence of Dean Maitland" (1934) there's a lot of cutting around in the pulpit confession scene.
Yes, we had to cut it down.
Ken Hall must have shot that from about five different angles?
Could have been. The main trouble came with trying to get something out of the actor playing the scene. Instead of running the entire speech up to the breakdown in the one shot, we had to keep cutting around.
Running the entire master shot would have been impossible. Cinesound was firmly on its way with that film. The titles, which were in the form of book wipes were worked out by Jack Kingsford-Smith. He was a brilliant effects man. His optical Printer was a Bell and Howell modeled with a lot of Meccano parts, and he later put together quite an elaborate montage of wipes for the fashion parade in Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938).
How involved were you with preproduction?
I usually timed and estimated the footage of a film before it was shot, then we had a preproduction conference. There'd be the director, the set man, cameraman, soundman, myself - all the key members of the crew - and we'd talk about the script and the film as a whole.
Were the shots planned before Hall went out to shoot?
Oh yes, we all had a rough idea to start with. The script girl would itemize what sequences were going to be done and Hall would work out the shots every night before shooting.
Did you ever suggest to Hall that he cover a sequence in a certain way before he went out?
No, no. He had his own ideas. I'd only make a suggestion on location if I saw that what he was shooting wouldn't cut with what he'd already shot.
What was your feeling about the use of location sound?
With all due respect, I think you lose a lot of atmosphere by trying to use an alternative. Tall Timbers (1937) had the best outdoor sound we ever did. In fact, it's probably the best outdoor sound that's ever been done anywhere.
Why was that?
Because it was done in the clear blue yonder. Mind you, we had a big cicada problem. The actors would run through their dialogue with this deafening noise going on, and when we were ready for a take we'd fire a gun and start hitting kerosene tins. In most cases, the damn things kept quiet for the duration of a shot.
How closely were you working with the musical director?
Pretty close. After we'd finished a sequence, the musical director would come out and we'd run it for him. We'd work out whether there was anything that needed to be upped or held down with the music, then he'd go away and write it. We knew the timing, so that when the time came for recording we knew exactly what was going to happen.
Were there any special demands on you with "The Broken Melody"(1938)?
Only in getting the playback ready. The pos. print for the sound was worked out in sections and played back on the set. We had a timing device and we had to work out the timing in relation to the synch. mark. Synch. was established by start marks on special leaders at the head of the image and soundtrack. As a story it should never have been made. Even though it was trying to compete with something that the Americans had perfected, it did give us the knowledge of playback with music and vocals. The performers occasionally went out of synch. but the sound man and I were on the look-out. If this happened halfway through a song, I'd advise that we change the angle. We'd run right through if we could. Quite a few times we had to take it by removing frames from the sound.
In 1937-38, we started pressing for a union in the industry, and the only reason I wasn't sacked was because Cinesound couldn't do without me. The funny thing about it was that we were going to signup with the projectionists, who were very strong at the time. We had a meeting attended by Hall, the Cinesound employees and people from Filmcraft, but most of us blokes didn't have enough guts. When we went back to work the next morning, everybody was put on the mat and asked why they had been at the meeting. We'd have got an industry going then, which would have been a terrific thing. If we'd all stuck together, everybody's wages would have risen to a level compatible with feature films.
Did you have much contact with overseas suppliers?
Well, the biggest row of the decade was prompted by the arrival of Kodak's New York man. We'd always paid good prices for the stock we'd been using and had never thought to question its quality. The representative took one look at our edge numbers and said "This is terrible. All of this stock was out of date six years ago." That was about 1938, and I think that little affair earned us some respect.
They'd been able to send over inferior stock because we honestly didn't know what to look for. This applied to many of our activities. With the help of trade journals and hearsay, we built our own editing equipment, sound equipment, camera equipment, and even the back-projection setup. We had the occasional spare part and overseas references were vague, so that most of our equipment was built through trial and error.
You've often said that your favourite film at Cinesound was "Orphan of the Wilderness".
Yes, it was. I've always considered it 'my' picture because I took particular care with the animal sequences. For weeks we filled the studio with trees, ferns, streams, kangaroos, dingoes, rabbits, snakes and koalas, and let them settle in. Altogether, we shot between 23 and 24 thousand feet, and I didn't really know how it was going to work until I'd run the footage and decided on how to cut one shot with the next. I wouldn't say the first two reels were without a story, but I certainly hadn't been given a storyline for that section beyond knowing the way it was going to start and end. We had footage of a snake that had had nothing to do with footage of a frog, but we cut them together to make it look as if the snake had menaced the frog. Then we had the ostrich being attacked by the kangaroo, the rabbits being frightened by the hawk, and while there was nothing preplanned, it all worked out magnificently.
Just before this, the Americans had released an animal picture called Sequoia (1934). It was well done, but a number of American trade people wrote across and said they considered Orphan of the Wilderness the best animal feature ever made. The 'human interest' scenes weren't as good, but when you consider that it was begun as a supporting feature, we didn't do too badly.
What other sequences are you proud of?
Oh, the charge in Forty Thousand Horsemen.
Would it rate equal with "Orphan of the Wilderness"?
I think the animal picture was better because we made something out of material that didn't exist in the first place. I suppose you could say the same thing applied to Forty Thousand Horsemen, because the charge was cut with a different story in mind to the way it was shot. Chauvel had covered the sequence mostly in three quarter and long shot cameras on the Cronulla sandhills. After we'd done a rough-cut I worked out what inserts I wanted to make it more dynamic. If we already had a horse leaping over the camera, I'd ask Chauvel to shoot something like the horse landing to hit a soldier. I learned a lot of what you could create with the scissors from San Francisco. It contained a lot of model work, but the illusion of buildings falling to crush people was created in the cutting.
Chauvel worked on Forty Thousand Horsemen for quite a while. The thing was dragging a bit, and Hoyts were getting fed up. They came to me and said "Can you give us a date?" I said "Oh yes.", and they told me to go ahead and do what I thought best. I wanted to cut the charge down, but Chauvel didn't. I still think it's too long. I'd like to get down,and cut a little more out of it. Hoyts said "If you cut it down and finish the picture, we'll give you a few quid." So we finished on time and I received an additional 25 pounds - a lot of money in those days.
In 1945-46, it looked as though Cinesound were really going to start making films. Ken Hall was going to produce at the Pagewood studio and went across to Britain and America to buy the necessary equipment. When the British announced their austerity measures. Rydge thought 'better' of the situation and put a stop to all the plans. The equipment, which included new cameras and the latest back projection equipment, was sent back.
Didn't Hall try to set up several productions after that date?
Well when I was in America between July 1946 and March 1947, I got in touch with a company which financed films for the independent theatres and put forward the suggestion that Australia make Westerns. It was just the time to do that sort of thing and was years ahead of the idea of location shooting in Spain and Italy. One of the company executives said "If you can get the money and you make an average picture, we'll buy it. You can then send us the script for the second picture and we'll advance you the money."
That seemed to be a pretty good idea, so when I got back I suggested that Hall float a company to produce Australian Westerns. He thought about it for a moment, then looked at me and said "That's alright, but you know Bill, a man's got to think of prestige."
(See also Part 3, “A Matter of Fact” ... Ken G. Hall’s frank reply to the publication of the above interview in Cinema Papers!)
Copyright Graham Shirley
26-02-2003, 03:05 PM
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
This is Definitely, Definitely the last Newsletter I’ll be doing for a while. Its been great fun but now its time for me to hand it all over...Many thanks to the people who have rang up to offer help.
Paul Healy will be co-ordinating the next issue via the Newsletter subcommittee. Style sheets, newsletter policy and publishing guidelines can be obtained from him, call him on (02) 9692 9151 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you do have something to contribute, please make an effort to check grandma and your spelkling, and send it via email or on a disk, etc so that we don’t have to spend hours retyping and making it printable. Photos, stories, anecdotes, tips - everything will be considered! Its your Newsletter!
We are all volunteers with busy schedules. The most help anyone can be is not to ask what can be done, but just to go ahead and do something. Guidance is available if you need it.
Cheers ... I look forward to reading issue 24!!
Copyright 1998 Matthew Tucker
26-02-2003, 03:07 PM
From Melbourne - Business as usual
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
We’ve just had a couple of successful events down here, including a creative drama editing workshop organised by Sophie Meyrick & an A.S.E. report about the recent Digital Media World 98 conference held in Sydney, organised by Martin Fox.
The next few months promise to be quite busy with several A.S.E. events on the calendar in Melbourne.
On Wednesday the 24th of June we’re sponsoring a Frame by Frame with the A.F.T.R.S., featuring Nick Meyers, the editor of The Boys. This will cost A.S.E. members $25 & you’ll have to get your booking into A.F.T.R.S. as soon as possible as this event is sure to sell out (don’t forget to see the film before you come).
As well as this, we’re organising a sound editors night in June, a tour of Cinevex Film Laboratories in early July, another editor’s cut looking at Rats in the Ranks with the editor Ray Thomas on Tuesday the 28th of July (at A.F.T.R.S.), and in August we’re planning a foley sound night. If that’s not enough, we’re organising a mid winter social get together.
Also, the committee is organising a one day conference for late September which will be an open industry forum to discuss issues related to post production in Melbourne (in a similar vein to the “Fade to Black” conference held in Sydney two years ago). If anyone is interested in helping us organise this important conference, or has some ideas about it, please contact the commitee in Melbourne.
26-02-2003, 03:08 PM
HOW TO GET RID OF FEEDBACK?
We don’t know ...We haven’t had any lately!
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
I like tracks from Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young! Why? Because they give good feedback!
So c'mon Girls and Boys - Off Your Butts
Gimmee some feedback!
How about even more of you making it to these screenings. If you can't or won't, please tell me what the reasons are.
You are missing out on a lot. The opportunity to hear not only Assistants and Editors speak, exchanging experiences and ideas, but you are also missing some damn fine films.
It can't be the admission fee: $2.00!
Do you want more feature films or more documentaries?
Are the evening screenings at Planet Hollywood hard to get to? Would you find Sunday mornings at the Chauvel more convenient?
I know the bar staff at Planet Hollywood love to do acrobatics like Bryan and Tom but it's fun to watch them bounce off the floor, the glasses I mean. Alex and his team at the Chauvel always have a nice word and a cold beer.
So - C'mon, Gimmee some feedback!
Fax me on (02) 9331 5473
It was good to see the new faces at 'Urban Clan'. I'm glad you came. Welcome and come again!
26-02-2003, 03:10 PM
Visual Effects & Animation Seminar
sponsored by cinevex
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
Picture: A tremendous turnout in Melbourne listens to Gordon Lescinsky
THERE WAS STANDING room only at the Melbourne branch of the Australian Film Television & Radio School on Wednesday the 13th of May. A tremendous turn out for the first major A.S.E. event of the year in Melbourne saw the lecture room at A.F.T.R.S. over flowing with people who had come to hear the A.S.E. report on the recent Digital Media world 98 conference from Sydney.
MC for the night was Martin Fox, our intrepid A.S.E. reporter who had braved the wilds of Sydney to bring back the latest information about digital effects techniques. Martin started the evening with an important thought that was doing the rounds at the conference in Sydney - it’s the people that matter, not the equipment (although this was being hotly debated by the equipment manufacturers).
Gordon Lescinsky from Beam International, was the first presenter for the evening, giving us a cut down version of the talk that he gave at the Sydney seminar. Gordon filled us in on the latest motion capture techniques for 3D animation, covering the three main techniques now used and how they’re being used to add greater emotional depth to 3D animation. Gordon also took us through Beam International’s proprietary hardware/software system for capturing facial movement, “Famous”, which offers real time motion capture.
Next up were Michael Gracie & Peter Webb, from Complete Post, who were giving shortened versions of their presentation from the conference, called “Emerging Trends in Digital Cinematography”. The main thrust of Pete’s speech was that the digital domain allowed the cinematographers vision to extend into the post period, and that visual effects designers are now starting to form co-cinematographer relationships with D.O.P.’s.
Pete started with an amusing video that he & Michael had made to demonstrate the three main areas of (digital) cinematography from their point of view, before taking us through various samples of their work on films such as Romeo & Juliet, Amy, Hurrah, & Dead Letter Office. Peter & Michael put in a tag team effort discussing how they achieved certain effects & why they went for them, including their work on a recent Korean Daewoo Leganza commercial (some of us weren’t so sure that Michael’s favourite version of the commercial, involving the untimely demise of a goose, would get past the R.S.P.C.A., but most people there thought that it’d be worth a try).
Picture: Peter Webb and Michael Gracie extending into the post period ...
Michael gave an entertaining speech about his new short film “Babyfoot” that’s currently in pre-production. Michael’s put together a dream team of crew & equipment for his film, with many of the top animation people in the country being inspired by his creative vision & donating their services to help make “Babyfoot”.
Peter finished things up with a statement that the model of film production is changing with post production starting in the pre-production period, while the production period is now stretching into post with the advent of digital technology.
Martin Fox & Mark Pitman finished off the evening with a report on the Master Class that was held at the Sydney Conference by Ron Brinkman & Paul Wang, where he discussed effects sequences from two recent American films, Batman Forever & Contact. Martin & Mark took us through the complex intricacies of the subtle & not so subtle effects used in these films & how they were achieved.
All in all, the evening was a highly successful one, and thanks are due to our guest speakers: Gordon Lescinsky from Beam International, Peter Webb & Michael Gracie from Complete Post, and Mark Pitman. We would also like thank Simon Britton & Alan Woodruff from the A.F.T.R.S. for helping to organise the room, and also to Richard Leigh for taking photos of our speakers. Congratulations are due to Martin Fox for organising an extremely successful event.
26-02-2003, 03:13 PM
Radiance Shines at Planet Hollywood
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
Andrew McNeil reports on last month’s Editor’s Cut, with James Bradley talking about his work on Rachel Perkins’ “Radiance”
Forty-odd editors assembled at the Planet Hollywood screening room in downtown George Street - looking, as usual, decidedly out of place amongst the adolescent fashion victims who make PH their watering hole of choice. This aside, the venue again proved a winner, with crystal-clear sound, luxury seating and excellent sight lines. The only complaint was a small but noticeable amount of image jitter from the projector, which compromised the otherwise remarkable crispness of this Super 16 - originated film (more on this later).
Rachel Perkins’ absorbing 84-minute debut feature, set in tropical Queensland, is strikingly confident. It never missed a beat as its story of familial dysfunction - laced with powerful themes of sisterhood, identity and spirituality - unspooled to a rapt audience. An outstanding effort from the film-makers involved.
After the screening, forum convenor Denise Haslem gave us 2 minutes to fortify ourselves at the bar for the informative and entertaining Q&A session that followed.
Starting with the script, editor James Bradley (Pictured, in times of Yore!) was asked how much involvement he had had with the preparation of the shooting draft. Not much, he said. His primary concern upon reading the script was the number of lengthy monologues that had survived Louis Nowra’s adap tion of his own play. While these protests were largely not taken on board during preproduction, James noted with a wry chuckle that the majority of the speeches in question did in fact end up on the cutting room floor. As an example, he estimated that one third of the original dialogue was removed from the climactic mudflats scene, and about half from the burning house scene.
Isn’t this an all-too familiar story? Yet another example of film editor as script editor - a role which of course is central to the function of any decent editor, but a red crayon on a page is SOOO much cheaper than several hundred feet of film on the floor ... Producers, we have to say it again - involve your editor OFTEN and EARLY and LISTEN - it usually pays!
So how did James navigate the film to its “slimmed down” form? The discussion focussed for a while on this delicate process of elimination - ascertaining which tracts of dialogue belonged in the film, and which were rendered redundant by the non-verbal information that the film imparts so powerfully in its imagery, textures, sounds and settings.
Rachel was reluctant, at first, to part with any of the wonderful performances her cast had turned in, James said. Only after projecting the rough cut to a trial audience did the need for restructuring become clear - and so James suddenly found him self at the other end of the scale, trying to temper Rachel’s newfound slash-and-burn zeal with a bit of judicious conservation. This he did by reassuring her of the merit of certain sections which she had momentarily lost faith in. There was never anything wrong with these scenes. They merely needed an appropriately streamlined context in which to shine. (Editor as one-person cheer squad - another familiar story.)
Towards the end of the 10-week edit, James and Rachel held three screenings of the work in progress. These screenings were to play a crucial role in reaching lockoff - and underlined the wisdom of cutting the film on sprockets. Sitting in front of a large, projected image with a sizable number of “outsiders”, the less-compelling aspects of the film were thrown into sharp focus.
At this point in the discussion, Andrew Plain piped up in agreement, saying that an audience’s attention is never held by a projected video image. “They lose it after about 15 minutes,” he said.
Even if the budget could have been stretched to accommodate an Avid cut, there would certainly not have been the resources to finance a pos-conform for trial screenings. So a film cut was the right decision.
This is not to say that James didn’t miss the speed and flexibility of cutting on Avid. “I seemed to be forever writing edge numbers on trims,” he said, “And I was often painfully aware of the director, who usually brims with energy and enthusiasm, sitting next to me waiting for something to happen.” Luckily Rachel found an additional outlet for her boundless creative energy: once the cutting settled down into a pattern, she took to organising the preparation of big cooked lunches which would be enjoyed by the extended cutting-room “family” round the table. This certainly sounded like a homely, creative environment. However, asked if he would ever choose sprockets over Avid again, James pondered for a second and said, given the option, no.
The conversation suddenly veered to a discussion of matters technical. How did the blowup to 35mm go? James admitted it was somewhat fraught (though the result was, on the whole, extremely effective - the image had a sharpness, depth and richness usually associated with 35mm origination). After doing some tests, it was agreed that a direct blow-up to 35mm interpos would yield the best results - a process that would cost about $20 000 more, but looked better than the more conventional Super 16 interpos path.
However, a direct 35mm interpos does throw up one major limitation: in order to ensure stable edits in release prints, the A and B rolls should be prepared with 4 frame ’handles’ of neg on either side of each cut. This then permits the cuts to be made as (0-frame duration) “dissolves” on the printer at the blowup stage, ensuring solid image registration. Unfortunately this detail did not come to the production’s attention until after the neg had been cut. As a consequence, there were about a dozen (to this viewer’s eye) cuts which had the telltale “flash” of an imperfect neg join.
This cautionary tale alone made the evening worthwhile. (There are other paths to a 35mm blowup - for example printing the blowup frame by frame on an optical printer. This subject is worthy of another entire report altogether - any takers?)
Another area that was a bit touch and go was the insertion of CGI shots into the master negative. These were finished on 35mm, so James had to cut them into a 35mm dummy roll for the negmatchers who then had to cut the 16mm neg rolls
(Editor’s note: In this case, a 16mm reduction print could not be made with edgenumbers that matched the 35mm neg.)
The richness and depth of the images were more than matched by the soundtrack - a very lush design by Tony Vaccher and John Dennison at Audio Loc. Mr Plain was curious to know how the film came to have a 6-track mix on such a tight budget. “Audio Loc set things up so that there was room in the budget for it - it was just the way they wanted it,” said James, adding that he was impressed by Audio Loc’s unstinting commitment to their art.
Music spotting was not an area of particular involvement for James on this film, though his use and placement of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” was maintained in the final track. The dialogue tracks were reconformed from the source dats usi ng the centre-striped mag cutting copy sound, without a hitch as far as James was aware. Denise added that whilst this practice was usually fine, in her experience most one-frame edits (“Bs” and “Ps” cheated from their original location) would inevitably be lost in the edl ...
Finally, the forum was treated to an anecdote involving the scene where Deborah Mailman delivers her joke-rendition of Madame Butterfly, much to the amusement of her two “sisters”. The scene was only vaguely scripted - Deborah improvised the whole routine, and did it in one take. They did shoot a second take as a safety, but unfortunately the induction-earphone fell out of her ear as she was half way through her vigourous schtick, meaning that she went out of sync with the playback. “It shouldn’t matter too much - the sync isn’t that crucial” was the rationale on the day for not going for a third take. But of course the sync WAS crucial, as Deborah’s comic timing was locked split-frame to the guide track. It’s lucky the first take was technically ok - because Deborah’s performance was priceless and an important moment in the film. Thank heavens for one-take wonders!
After this very satisfying discussion, we rejoined the American Dream at the Planet Wannabe bar.
Thanks to the sponsor of The Editor’s Cut, AAV-Digital Pictures, and to the ASE organizing committee for bringing James Bradley and Radiance to our Members.
Copyright 1998 Andrew McNeil
26-02-2003, 03:17 PM
Swimming with the Sharks?
Paul Healy went to an ASE Lightworks training session ...
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
Was this a workshop for those beanie wearing, bungee jumping members of the Pepsi generation? It was with a lot of trepidation that I approached Island Films in picturesque Glebe. Seeing no sign of BASE jumpers or abseilers I relaxed a little as I met the three other members of the workshop. They seemed normal, at least as far as members of the editing community pass for normal.
My trainer was the ever charming Bin Li who immediately split us into groups of two and sat us down at the controls of the Lightworks Turbo. Methodically and with thoroughness, Bin took us through the interface and command structure of the Lightworks. I was relieved to discover the eponymous sharks were merely screen icons for trashing unwanted display items. We explored the topics of system workflow (how to organise the job for the Lightworks), Logging Databases, keeping track of the material, backing up and archiving and outputting. The thing I found hardest to assimilate was operating the mouse with the left hand - I think I'd rather swim with sharks any day.
The ambience of Island Films provides this editor with rather an unfortunate opportunity to think about things far removed from the task at hand. Simon Dibbs, the proprietor of Island, has decorated the two floors of the former woolstore with mementoes of tropical climes. Thus creating a glimpse of Paradise in the thick of the city's clamour. Strangely enough, with Simon in charge of the luncheon table, the main topic of the meal was Shark Stories - the oceanic sort.
After lunch I was fortunate enough to have the Lightworks to myself. I settled down to five hours of solid cutting of the very excellent rushes from Dead Heart. This was the sort of workshop experience that I find the most satisfying.
With Bin on hand to prompt me about a command that had slipped my mind, and to provide many a short-cut suggestion, I ended the day feeling as if the day's achievement justified somebody slapping a big can of Pepsi into my hand, at the very least.
My hearty thanks go to Bin Li, the ASE editing workshop subcommittee, and to Simon Dibbs of Island Films for generously providing the excellent facilities and the sharks.
Copyright 1998 Paul Healy
26-02-2003, 03:19 PM
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - My 1998
It’s all frame work!
I never thought that drama editing could be such a challenge! It certainly helped a lot to talk to experienced editors.
Guided by experienced drama editors Angie Higgins and Anne Carter, four students, as selected by the ASE committee cut scenes from the contemporary series "Neighbours" and "Good Guys, Bad Guys" on a recent Saturday workshop in Melbourne.
Organisers Sophie Meyrick and Andrew Brinsmead, committee members of the A.S.E. provided the lucky students, Stuart Partridge, Clare Fischer, Belinda Fithie & Angela Schroeder, with the relevant material, scripts and shot lists and the sequence from the two series.
Avid suites were set up and the shots digitized according to the scripts and we started editing. By the time we had laid down our first shots or the dialogue Angie and Anne arrived and assisted us by answering the many outstanding questions that confronted us. We learned, when starting to edit a dialogue, to follow our natural instincts by watching the action and listening to the words then changing the shot, when the second person started talking thus establishing the characters. With further editing, we realised that we had to cut during movements and in conversations. Even more difficult was coping when a third person became involved in the sequence. Continuity was risked if cuts were made at the wrong time and from an inappropriate viewpoint - it's all frame work!
Remember, there always must be a reason for cutting from one shot to another. Is it because of action or length or different angle or what? That's one of the many lessons learned through this unique workshop. It is clear there is a lot of artistic work left for the editor. The script does not restrict a creative editor as each participant demonstrated during the workshop.
Thank you to the organisers, who did a great job. Thank you to the two instructing editors for your help and patience and for taking the time to pass on your knowledge and experience.
A very enjoyable & worthwhile day.
- Angela Schroeder
Another useful course!
It was Saturday 25th April, yep, ANZAC Day. Every street around the VCA was blocked off due to the ANZAC Day march, hence the wonderful map we received was of little use. But in true ANZAC spirit we fought on, and edited together scenes from Neighbours and Good Guys, Bad Guys.
Having two experienced drama editors in Angie Higgins and Anne Carter there was great. After completing a scene, one or both viewed the cut and made suggestions as to how it may be improved, explaining the reason behind the changes, and answering any questions we had.
Once you went back to your cut and made the changes, you could see why the improvements worked and made a better scene.
I learnt a lot about drama editing at this workshop, and even those who already have a little experience cutting drama will find something useful in a course like this.
26-02-2003, 03:21 PM
URBAN CLAN edited by Emma Hay
Review by Frans Vandenburg
ASE Newsletter Issue 23 - May 1998
Once again, the aware, the loyal and interested arrived to see and participate in an excellent evening's viewing and discussion of a very fine film. Another event generously sponsored by AAV Digital Pictures and organised by the tireless ASE NSW Screening and Special Events sub-committee.
We were treated to a special screening of this wonderful documentary, directed by Michelle Mahrer, beautifully shot by Jane Castle with great music by David Page and terrific sound mix by Michael Gissing of Digital Sound Studios.
This creative and inspiring film incorporates cinema verite and archival footage with beautifully crafted dance sequences from Bangarra's latest production, Fish. Fish was one of the highlights of the '1997 Festival of the Dreaming' and is about to finish a most successful return season at the Parramatta Riverside venue.
What is particularly effective in the film is the skilfull mix of styles. We get to understand and feel so much about what motivates these Indigenous artists, Stephen Russell and David Page who form the creative core of Bangarra Dance Theatre, how they grew up and where, who influenced them and what they want to do and achieve through individual and collective efforts.
They tell their stories in very personal ways, but with a unified vision that only close family members can. Through Emma's deft editing we are able to appreciate their various contributions to the art of Bangarra in very poetic, personal and lyrical expression combined with down to earth, humorous and moving anecdotes.
The juxtaposition of sequences from Fish, so skilfully interwoven with the Page Family's history and stories in such an assured manner by Emma, was a real education and a very fine achievement.
It was a rare privilege indeed to see and feel the warmth and humanity that can be combined so well with artistic endeavour like it is here by filmmakers of the high calibre of those involved with the production of Urban Clan.
The Video projection and sound playback in the Planet Hollywood Theatrette was also first class!
At completion of the screening, the ever elegant and eloquent Ms Hay spoke with La Presidenta, Denise Haslem and the audience, about her Editing of the film, Schedule constraints (what's new?), working with Michelle, the Yin and Yang of Literal vs Poetic, broadcaster expectations and many, many other things that went into the creation of this most Special Film.
Special Dreaming Indeed!
Copyright 1998 - Frans Vandenburg
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