Posts Tagged ‘captain america’
This was my first time at an SFCutters meeting, and I was especially excited to hear from Robert Dalva, A.C.E. This guy is a veteran in the industry, having first edited on the Moviola! It’s no surprise that I have a particular fondness for editing so it was great to hear from a working professional, especially someone as experienced as him who is still cranking out superb edits (he most recently finished cutting Captain America).
Robert showed select scenes from October Sky and Hidalgo. It was very informative because he broke down almost every cut and explained the motivation behind them. What’s interesting is not all cuts were purely by choice for storytelling purposes; some of them were meant to hide continuity errors! It’s nice to relate to a seasoned editor cutting Hollywood blockbusters who still has to find ways to “fix it in post”.
There were some interesting things to note that night:
“What’s a rough cut”?
As someone who started editing film on the Moviola, he learned how to “cut something right the first time”. He explained that with every cut of film, you are deteriorating the physical quality of the film itself. So every single cut is thoroughly planned out before execution to limit this wear and tear. He carries this approach to non-linear editing. In fact, he still finds the term “rough cut” a little strange because he is trained to cut a film right the first time around.
“Editing is all about RHYTHM”
Robert said that a movie with good rhythm will sometimes get your foot tapping, as if you’re tapping to a song. But that doesn’t mean to edit to the music! In fact, he made some strong points about how the rise of MTV paved the way to bad editing techniques; editors got in the habit of editing only to the beat of the music. Simple test: turn off the sound when watching a music video. Usually, the cuts only work when you hear the music with it.
With that said, he mentioned that he sometimes he will turn off the sound when reviewing a cut to see if it flows visually, without any sound. Of course, it is dependent on the kind scene you are editing too.
“Working with Composers”
This was something I was always curious about when it came to working with professional composers. I notice how sometimes there is perfect use of music for a cut. Does the composer see the cut before it’s locked? Does the editor get at least some of the music for the edit?
Generally, as I assumed, the picture is completely locked before it goes to the composer. But to help give the composer some direction in the edit, what Robert does is he gathers all the previous work of composer that is signed on for current movie he’s editing and uses that in the edit. This way, the style is already familiar and furthermore, good composers will pick up on great cuts and score the music to complement it.
“A note to directors: unless it is designed as a one-take scene, don’t shoot the master shot too many times… it barely gets used!”
This is something I’ve learned in my experience as an editor as well as shooting my own projects. Too many times, a scene is covered wide first, until “perfect”, at which point actors and crew are exhausted moving in for close-ups, which of course is more important visually. This reminds me it’s best to cover the wide for safety and focus more on capturing intimate moments that reveal the emotion of the scene.
“Always be a half a step ahead of the audience. You want to keep your audience guessing, ‘what’s going to happen next’?”
A classic approach to editing any story. As simple as it sounds, it really takes focus and effort (and sometimes a long break and fresh eyes) to be able to do this successfully. Because once you lose the attention of a viewer, and they are taken back into their reality, it’s difficult to bring them back.
Overall, it was an educational and entertaining night. It’s fun to be in a room full of editors. Robert would sometimes crack jokes only editors would understand and appreciate! Which is fresh because it’s all too common for crew to dismiss the editor as a critical component to telling the story. I met some great people and am happy to know that I’ve expanded my network of editor contacts.
I look forward to more meetings and networking events with the SFCutters and continuing to refine my skills as an editor.