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Janice DeMille December 17th, 2009 01:26 PM

Advice Cinematic Editing
Hello everyone. We would like to start doing cinematic edits. I know a lot of it is getting the right shots. Any advice or hints from you experts would be greatly appreciated.

Travis Cossel December 17th, 2009 02:07 PM

First and foremost I would say you have to start looking at everything differently. You really have to identify the story and shoot/edit to tell the story. It sounds simple but it's not. The typical documentary edit also tells a story, but from a very straightforward and generally uninspired perspective. The key to producing a cinematic edit, in my opinion, is finding a way to tell the story creatively and with inspiration. It shouldn't feel like you're watching the event live. It should feel like you're watching an inspired version of the event. Hope that makes sense.

Obviously there are tools that can help you achieve this type of story-telling (steadicam, slider, VDSLR, etc.). But at the end of the day it's not the tools or software that tells the story. Its you and your imagination. Never forget that.

Janice DeMille December 17th, 2009 02:16 PM

Thank you! Good advice.

Erik Andersen December 17th, 2009 02:35 PM

I think one of the basic ideas of cinema is to create and then assemble pieces that collectively convey the overall meaning. As a filmmaker you are taking the place of a human viewer, and providing all the information that person would acquire had they been present. When you observe an event in person, even if you are stationary you are able to see multiple perspectives by concentrating on one thing or another. You can also filter sound so you are focusing on what you specifically want to hear.

So with your camera and editing, you need to "look" at what your viewer would want to see. Mix wides, close-ups, inserts together so all the "information" is conveyed. Not just the events but the personalities and textures of the scene. Use sound design to convey mood - sound is often more powerful than images for setting a scene.

Once you've mastered the above, you can begin to manipulate the shots and sounds you use to tell the story how YOU see it, or to achieve the feeling you want to convey. But the starting point is appreciate what the viewer needs to see to understand what is happening from the big picture to the details.

Janice DeMille December 17th, 2009 02:57 PM

Thank you Erik. It will definitely require re-thinking the wedding and reception. I am sure it will be fun once I get a feel for it.

Art Varga December 17th, 2009 05:57 PM

And once you have those great shots you need to cut them so they invoke the feeling you are trying to convey. For me, the music is key. Cutting on a beat is less important than having the right shot matched up with the right passage in the music. One method I like is to lay all your good clips on the timeline randomly over the soundtrack. Preview and look and listen for something that feels good. If nothing hits you, slide the soundtrack or the video around. Once I find that magic spot that moves me emotionally, that becomes my anchor point and I build the rest of the story around that. Thats just the way I do it.

Matthew Craggs December 18th, 2009 09:36 AM

I prefer to think of things in a bit more black and white. Just watch a lot of movies and make observations.

You don't see zooms in movies, so don't use zooms in your work.

You can hear everything clearly, so pay close attention to audio.

The colour grading is consistent, so don't put black and white effects on random clips.

Shots aren't held for too long without a cut (unless they have specific purpose, like the end of The 400 Blows, Week End, Children of Men, etc) so don't leave a five minute chunk of video in the timeline uncut.

Shots are steady, so don't leave in the clip where the tripod was bumped by an overtired kid during a speech.

There is a story -- let the day unfold logically.

I don't mean to take this thread in another direction, but I know some people can cut a 30 minute edit and go back and forth between different parts of the day with no regard for chronology, but I prefer to keep things relatively chronological, only messing with the order when it is logical to do so.

For example, starting with the processional, then cutting back and forth between prep and ceremony footage, using the audio from both parts of the day overtop of an appropriate music bed. It's not chronological, but it makes sense.

Or putting a touching father/bride moment from the morning before you show footage of their dance at the reception. Not chronological, but makes sense for the story.

But the morale of the story: watch movies and pay attention.

Janice DeMille December 18th, 2009 09:46 AM

"For example, starting with the processional, then cutting back and forth between prep and ceremony footage, using the audio from both parts of the day overtop of an appropriate music bed. It's not chronological, but it makes sense."

This helps me a lot. I've been trying to figure out the story - a wedding yeah but how to fit the pieces together creatively. I've pulled out a lot of clips that tell the story now put them in a sequence that makes sense.

Thanks Matthew

Dimitris Mantalias December 20th, 2009 01:57 AM

I'd just like to add that while watching movies is definitely the right thing to do, you should notice that very few rules apply. While in weddings things like fast zooms or handheld are things that are not considered right when you go for the cinematic approach, yet there are so many mainstream movies that use both zooming and handheld. So, my opinion is that if you want to do something "out of standard wedding rules" in order to achieve a certain cinematic feel, then do it. If you want to make a Tony Scott type editing or a Lars Von Trier "Dogme" approach, then there is nothing (except you and your abilities) to stop you. There are so many different aspects in cinema, that to put rules seems restrictive to me.

Just an opinion though! :)

Rochelle Morris December 20th, 2009 02:58 AM

I'd also like to suggest that while being creative with shots and looking at "their world" with a different perspective, keep in mind what else you will need to deliver to you client. So if you are also providing a full edit, ensure you do have the footage that allows you to provide this to your client. It would otherwise be too easy to do the opposite which could lead you into striffe.

Then all of what the others have said :)

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