”Music Trickery” 09/14/09
Editing picture to music is basically simple, but there are a few considerations. First, any music dynamic that you decide edit your picture to should be made at least three frames before the music itself hits. So that you’re edit and the music do not hit at the same time. The picture edit leads the music dynamic—this makes for better flow.
Second, when cutting to music keep the lengths of shots approximately the same so that they fall in with the rhythm of the music you’re using—this can become tiresome if its overdone —so compensate by varying the length of a shot or two at the right point just to break up the sameness.
Third, placement is important. If there is dialogue in the scene music should be placed so that it does not step on an actor’s line or for that matter step on the scene itself. Of course, choosing the right piece of music is needless to say, extremely important—it must support the scene.
Cut scenes do have their own rhythm–this helps when writing a score–the composer follows those rhythms and marks the musical dynamics that will help drive the narrative forward.
“The Bad Pieces” 07/05/09
When I first started to edit, the legendary Jerry Greenberg gave me some sound advice. He said, “Most young editors need to learn how to use the bad pieces.” These words had a much larger meaning than I realized at the time.
All right, so in my close up takes, I have one that’s terrible—it won’t be used in my cut! Of course, as I edit away I see the need for a close-up at a certain moment in the scene. After checking all of the close-ups for that moment, I find that nothing matches action except the one I dislike. So, I reluctantly try it and find that it’s not bad. Why is that? What did I miss at first look? Why is it different now?
After some thought, Jerry’s words hit me again—I had used a bad piece! I had judged that shot by itself, outside of the cut–but in the cut it seemed to work. This is called “Dialectics.” In other words, when my bad shot is juxtaposed with a new shot before it, my shot changes and a new value is established for it.
So, now I’ve solved my matching action problem by using the bad shot, but I’m still not thrilled with the actor’s performance in that shot. I then decide to take the audio from the actor’s best performance and try to cheat it into the bad shot—it syncs-up perfectly! I have now matched action and have the best performance for that moment.
“The Ear Tricks the Eye” 06/02/09
Here’s a simple little trick that I call “The Ear Tricks the Eye.” It’s probably more familiar to you pros then you newbies. It is used mostly in narrative scenes to help suspend disbelief for the audience. So, if you’re editing a scene and find that there are two shots you need to put together where the actors do not match their action, but you must make the edit in order for the to scene play–here’s what to do–try to get the edit to match as close as you can for continuity, and then build a background sfx track straight across the edit–a car by, a distant police siren, an airplane flyby. The end result is that the ear tricks the eye into believing that everything seems normal–even if the physical action of the actors does not exactly match.
Sometimes you even can make the same edit as above work without using the background sfx trick. This is called a “right time, right place” edit. If you have the same continuity problem, but you can make the edit at the right time when you think the audience will emotionally expect it, and in the right place where they will expect it–everything will also seem normal also.
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