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Old October 6th, 2004, 02:15 PM   #1
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editing decisions

What are some of the things you might look for in your footage to determine a good point for a cut to the next scene? I'm sure these are very subjective and artistic decisions. I'm sure there is no substitute for experience.
just looking for some ideas/advise.

I have encountered footage were it seemed like nothing worked in some sections but a crossfade. The next thing you know you have video full of cross fades :)
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Old October 6th, 2004, 02:32 PM   #2
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the audio can be a very compelling reason for doing a video transition.
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Old October 6th, 2004, 03:27 PM   #3
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Cut on action is an important one I think to keep a piece flowing
(unless you really don't want it to).

Sometimes I time a shot on feeling. I go back on my timeline for
let's say 30 seconds and hit play. Then as I go to my new cut I hit
the pause button at the point that "feels" right to cut. When the
shot has stayed long enough and needs to go. Obviously how
long this will be totally depends on the scene/shot, material and
(emotional) impact of a scene.

However if you have two shots with motion, cut both shots while
the camera or subject(s) is/are moving (per my first line of this
post). It usually cuts better together in that fashion.

This is probably not very usefull.... sorry. It's the best way I can
describe it for now.

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Old October 6th, 2004, 03:33 PM   #4
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To add... I also find that if the contrast are radically different, a cross fade 'fixes' it. You may have dark on the right and white on the left. The next clip is reversed. A straight cut may 'flash' in a distracting way depending on the material.

Some of it is just gut.
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Old October 6th, 2004, 10:52 PM   #5
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Crossfades can help avoid the "flash" of a strong jump cut, but like fade-ins and -outs they kind of relay an idea of a change in space or time (to a lesser extent than full fade outs), so try to avoid using them often.

One of the things you'll learn thru shooting experience is how well things are going to cut together later, so that you're not trying to find a way to force footage to cut together. You'll notice that most professional works use the plain old jumpcut 99% of the time, and they shoot with that in mind. That is the trick to avoiding lots of effect-like transitions in post.
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Old October 7th, 2004, 06:12 AM   #6
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Man, This is actually some great stuff. I really appreciate you guys taking the time to help me out. I'm gonna print this to keep as a reminder for when I shoot and when I do my edits.

It may not seem like much, but for someone just starting out this is great information.
Thanks again.
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Old October 7th, 2004, 09:27 AM   #7
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Some people touched on it earlier, but I think it's most important to be your own supervising editor while you're shooting. If you're constantly thinking of how you're going to edit during your shoot you can save yourself a lot of work.

But it depends on the work. I've done a lot of single camera stuff during live events. That can be a nightmare to edit. If you're shooting a regular production, you can always do multiple takes, in effect it's like having multiple cameras. But I think you should always have a general idea of how you're going to cut a scene before you shoot it. Make sure you get the shots you need, then get more.

The more "extra" setups you get, the more creative you can be in the editing room.
John Lee

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Old October 8th, 2004, 11:58 AM   #8
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It depends on what you are shooting, but if are improvising on your own, I find the most difficult thing is getting good audio and video simultaneously, so I find good bits of either one and build around that. I often mix and match audio and video from different shots if I can get away with it.

As for the timing, that also depends... on the atmosphere you are trying to create, and also the material. I just watch the footage repeatedly, and cut when it feels right. After I connect a few shots, I watch it from the beginning and refine as necessary.
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Old October 8th, 2004, 01:49 PM   #9
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I agree with making some rough cuts, then watching it again and pausing when you think the shot should change. I think from watching TV and movies we all have a sense where we expect a cut to be and get uncomfortable if there is no cut. I often find that on my first try my shots are too long and I have shorten them to keep the pace up.

Depending on what you are editing, it sometimes helps to throw in some music that that might be appropriate. Even if you change music later or don't use music at all, it still helps you get a feel for the pace.

What I struggle with is when to cut when there isn't much movement. For instance, two people are talking, they shake hands, and then turn and walk away and I want to change shots during the exchange. I don't have a sense for how a cut should match up with these movements. When people say "cut on the movement" I don't really know what movement they are referring to. Is during the turn? After the turn? I guess I should just watch some movies and TV with the sound off and pay attention to what they do.
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Old October 9th, 2004, 06:43 AM   #10
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I think it all depends on the effect you want to get out of the scene. You could certainly shoot it effectively in one take if it was just going to be an exchange and a handshake. But you may also want to decide to emphasize the handshake, or downplay it.

I'm the same way. It's so hard to decide...which is why I try to shoot everything I can... then of course, I have the major disadvantage of having 8 million decisions to make in editing. But I find that preferable to not having enough coverage to have decisions to make.
John Lee

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Old October 9th, 2004, 12:34 PM   #11
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One of the advantages of going to 'film school,' even if it is at the local community college is that you usually study editing techniques along with scene framing and the other underlying elements to telling a story on the screen.

One of the tricks is to learn what 'tricks' Hollywood uses to tell their stories. The 'tricks' are that the viewing audience has learned to read on-screen action including editing as a silent language. If you understand the language, then you can more easily repeat it in your own productions.

A good editing job starts with a lot of pre-production work on script and story boarding. You almost have to know what you want in the finished piece before you go out to tape the scene. You can change your mind once you get on location but at least you have a departure point.

It always helps to visualize what you want before you shoot it because editing is always easier when you come back with the shots you need to create the effect you want.

(You probably already know all that and I'm preaching to the choir.)

One of the ways I learn is that twice a year I spend about 14 half-days taping acting students acting out scenes from exisiting movies. That forces me to study the exisiting film (think of it as a story board), plan the shots I need (and how to get them with almost no crew) before we start filming. Basically I'm under-studying with a lot of guys who have made it in Hollywood.

This experience carries over into my commercial work and has made it a lot easier to plan the shots for commercials, corporate work and even events.
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