How do you organize your shots (timeline) while editing a dialogue scene? at

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Old January 3rd, 2005, 07:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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How do you organize your shots (timeline) while editing a dialogue scene?

Hey - this question comes to mind as all the editing I've done over the past year has been for directors who either were great editors but didn't believe in formal procedures or who had no idea how to edit at all. My first experience really editing a longer project with dialogue was as co-editor of a feature length 16mm film in FCP (the other editor was the director). I had never used FCP before but the director said she'd show me around. Well, she was very talented at editing but her technical approach was just do whatever makes it work. So, I developed this overlapping style (by watching her) where as you cut and want to have the speaking start from the next shot or vice versa, you have the next shot overlap on a different video track and then can pull the audio either way to make things fit. You end up with this stair step looking thing that goes up and down and takes a good deal of "tricks" to make things work. This works for one editor (inefficient), but if another editor were to go back and tighten certain spots, I imagine this would be a nightmare.

So is there a formal approach to organizing your shots like keep the master shot on the lowest vid track and work your singles or two shots on the higher tracks etc. etc.? I'm trying to get more serious about editing techniques (already signed up for AVID training from one of those certified facilities in a week and some editing books for AVID I've been reading try to keep everything possible on a single track) and was curious how you pros out there were doing it or how the big boys have things laid out and organized?
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Old January 3rd, 2005, 08:01 AM   #2
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Location: San Mateo, CA
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Workflow, as you've experienced, can be very personal. I've seen people edit like your mentor. I've seen people lay in the master and then "layer" the close-ups and ots, then by soloing the tracks, they can pre-vis the cuts.

I like to make a "radio cut" of the scene first. I cut the dialogue without looking at the picture. (Well, pretty much) I cut the dialogue so that it flows right. THEN I look at the pictures. Can I make an L or J cut here, to pick up the reaction? Can I substitue a close-up from a different take? Do I need a cutaway to cover the mismatch in action, but keep the great tempo of the dialogue?

But then, I'm coming from a background of actor/cameraman/director/screenwriter - in that order. So no doubt, that influences my approach and workflow.

Your mileage may vary.
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