March 7, 2009


I've been a little busy lately with some home improvement projects so haven't put up a new blog but tile layout problems actually got me to thinking about editing.  

A little background.  I'm redoing my half bath and have purchased some travertine marble for the floor.  Since travertine is a natural stone it means that no two pieces are the same.  In my case some of the tiles are pretty uniform with just some marbling and some have very strong veins of chocolate and caramel running through the predominant cream color.  There's also some big areas of smooth, translucent white.  I love these tiles with the special character but they wouldn't work without the more simple tiles.  This is where it relates back to editing.

We talked before about mixing together footage with camera movement or movement within the frame and why that should be mixed with some still shots.  This is a similar situation.  A shot with a lot going on or that is spectacularly shot (like my tiles that have plenty of character) needs to be placed with some simpler shots to make that beautiful one stand out.  I did this on my last film with one particular shot.

I had a scene that was a conversation between the two leads.  It took place just outside a door while they debate the pros and cons of entering the room.  I had originally planned it out in a fairly standard two shot plus over the shoulders from behind each actor to give me plenty of editing options.  Unfortunately our location backed out at the last minute and we had to scramble to find a new location.  This left us shooting in a very tight T shaped hallway and the over the shoulders just weren't going to work.  Plus the audio was very echoey in the tight space.  So we moved the guys out of the door alcove and put the camera in the bottom of the T.

My DP wanted to use the jib he had to do some move into the shot.  I was watching on the monitor while he tried to set it up.  He zoomed in really tight on the guys to focus, getting just their faces and shoulders, cutting off the backs of their heads and keeping us from seeing that they were in front of the door alcove rather than in it.  Also, the colors were so perfect and the shot so well framed that I told him to stop and leave the camera right there.   We did the entire scene with one camera setup and no cuts.  It's a short scene, 20 seconds maybe, and the actors brought in motion as they performed so we didn't need a camera move.  It was beautiful.  

I still think it's a lovely shot and I also like it because we had movement in nearly every other shot, including a long dolly in immediately following.  The stillness and length of the shot as well as it's wonderful framing is in stark contrast to the rest of the film and makes it stand out even more.  In fact, it worked so well that when we got to the final shot of the film where the actors again stop at a door (this time before they exit) we did it very similarly, not as tight but still and long with no cuts.  

I also find that home improvement projects help me when I'm stuck with an editing dilemma because thinking of something else frees my subconscious mind to solve my problems.  But that's probably a subject for another post. 

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