Learning Film Editing – Insights From Film Editors

Learning Film Editing From Film Editors

Learning more about film editing from talented film editors is one of my favourite things to do. Finding videos, articles and interviews with working film editors on how they go about solving the uniquely movable puzzle that is film editing is always time well spent.

Fortunately there is a wealth of great material out there, which I’ve rounded up into one place for some easy viewing.

Editing Hollywood Blockbusters

Anchorman 2 editor Brent White discusses his work on the film and his approach to editing ensemble comedy.

Gravity Editor Mark Sanger is interviewed by the chaps at Stackpod (2 film fans and friends) about his work on the film for over an hour. You can stream it online or download it here. For more on the making of Gravity, check out this post.

Dan Lebental is interviewed on the ever excellent Craft Truck, about his film editing career, working with director Jon Favreau and much more including Spielberg playing him the ukele.

The process of making a movie is a journey of discovery, and those people who would sit in this chair and tell you everyone knows what they are doing before hand and it all  just comes together are telling you a big, big fat lie. – Dan Lebental

Editing The Hunger Games

Editing the hunger games catching fire

Film editor Alan E. Bell (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spiderman) has been interviewed quite a bit about his work on the ever growing franchise of Hunger Games films, which is a great opportunity for other editors to learn more. One of the main take-aways from these interviews is the importance of mastering simple VFX techniques to improve performances. For more on that, check out this previous post.

When I was a fledgling editor, notes kind of scared me. The more I edit, the more open I’ve become. We might not necessarily agree on how to get to the end, but we all want to make the best movie we can, whether you’re a studio executive, a VFX supervisor, a cinematographer, a make-up artist or a grip. It doesn’t matter who you are; if you have an opinion about the movie, I want to know about it, so I can learn from it.

Click through for tons more interviews including the editors of The Hunger Games and The Wolf of Wall Street

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5 Books on Colour Grading And Colour Science

5 Books on Colour Grading And Colour Science

Color Correction Handbook

These days if you’re an editor you are expected to have a decent handle on colour grading and colour science. Being able to steward your project from the shoot to the screen whilst maintaining the highest possible quality and artistic opportunities.

Or if you’re an apprentice colourist looking to deepen your understanding of the art, craft and science of colour grading then these four books will provide you with an excellent place to start.

One of them is even totally free!

Alexis Van Hurkman – Colour Correction Handbook, 2nd Edition

Having purchased Alexis Van Hurkman’s comprehensive first edition of his Color Correction Handbook, this updated edition is well worth the update. Originally published in 2010, a lot can happen in four years in this industry. The latest edition is revised and expanded with an extra 120 pages to a beefy 672 pages.

Not only that, but the book now also comes with a download code for a ton of Pro Res 422 HQ media so you can follow along in your preferred grading system. In the first edition this was available on an in-sleeve DVD, although there are plenty of new clips too. Publisher Peachpit Press also allows you to download a sample chapter on Primary Color Adjustments, if you like to ‘try before you buy’.

Author and colorist Alexis Van Hurkman details on his website just how much as gone into the second edition:

adds about 200 pages of brand new content alongside many updates to existing topics; this includes a new chapter on grading workflow, a completely updated and expanded chapter on displays, calibration, and room setup, new sections on log-encoded grading, a new section examining the intersection of fine art portraiture and color grading, additional skin-grading techniques, and many, many new and updated techniques spread throughout nearly every chapter.

Another excellent aspect to the book is that it was reviewed by technical expert Charles Poynton and Company 3 senior colorist Dave Hussey (500 Days of Summer, Constantine) keeping Alexis ‘honest’ as he puts it.

If you’re looking for a one-stop comprehensive education on all things involved in color grading from setting up your suite to understanding your color management workflow as well as the technically creative aspects of bringing a film to life, you really can’t do better than Alexis Van Hurkman’s Color Correction Handbook. The main challenge you’ll face is simply taking it all in!

Buy on Amazon.com | Buy on Amazon.co.uk
Click through for 4 more books on colour grading, including a free one!

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How To Be A DIT – Part 8

How To Be A DIT – Insights From Working DITs

What does a DIT use?

If you’re looking for the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a working DIT then Charlie Anderson’s excellent blog is well worth a read. In his most recent post he shares some battle stories, technical updates to his cart and some of his DP work. It’s a great example of the range of abilities a DIT needs to master; file based workflows, colour grading and colour management as well as an eye for artistry.

(I was working on) a 2 camera show shooting Alexa at 2k ProRes4444 on SxS cards.  I was monitoring in LogC and then de-logging with the usual Film Emulation LUT provided by Company 3.

The shoot itself was pretty hectic, mainly using Boxx wireless to monitor and color a signal (which isn’t exactly ideal but we made it work) and also talking screenshots with Blackmagic Media Express (which is my favorite way to submit reference still BTW, just quick and precise and to the point).

The Lift Gamma Gain forum also recently had a great discussion called ‘Picking a DIT’s Brain’ which develops into the pros and cons of different carts and gear in different scenarios, and the intricacies of live-grading.

If you are grading – even basic LOG-to-Rec.709 – you need to know you have an accurate monitor that you can trust. The FSI CM-171 is a great choice. On features and series, I work with rented 10-bit panels like Cinetal B230, TVLogic XVM and Sony BVM OLEDs, but for the day that those aren’t available and the production insists on their own 17″ Panasonics, I will buy a CM-171. – Patrick Hogue

Lastly colorist Juan Salvo posted this twitter puzzle, the replies to which, are worth reading.

Enders Game File & Color Pipeline

Enders Game Pipeline

There’s been quite a lot of interesting internet fodder on the VFX and color management pipeline involved on Ender’s Game, not least the excellent 19 minute case study (below) on the “progressive data management and color pipeline” of Ender’s Game from Light Iron Digital CEO, Michael Cioni.

Studio Daily also have a decent interview with Cioni and Light Iron colorist (and co-founder) Ian Vertovec on the particular challenges of providing the film’s post-production file and colour management.

“With Red, it’s very straightforward,” Vertovec said. “We essentially just pulled the Red log film, with a Cineon curve, from the R3D files, loaded it as 10-bit RGB in log and then colored directly into P3 color space.” The DI was performed on a Quantel Pablo 4K connected to Light Iron’s GenePool shared-storage system.

Creative Cow has a nice written breakdown of the same Light Iron case study, but they also have some great HD sized screenshots fresh from colorist Ian Vertovec’s Quantel Pablo which are well worth a look.
Click through for more on Ender’s Game and resources on better understanding codecs and compression

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The Best Thunderbolt Expansion Peripherals for Editors

Expand your editing set up with Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt Connections and devices

So I’m thinking of upgrading my trusty MacBook Pro later next year, but it only comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 Thunderbolt ports and an HDMI port. So I’ve already begun looking into how to expand it’s usefulness through all these nifty Thunderbolt peripherals you can get these days. Here is an epic run down on some of the best available Thunderbolt devices.

Expand your laptop edit suite with thunderbolt peripherals

What’s the difference between Thunderbolt 1 and 2?

Thunderbolt 2 speeds

Thunderbolt 2 delivers twice the throughput of Thunderbolt 1, providing up to 20Gb/s of bandwidth to each external device and allowing you to daisy-chain up to six peripherals on each port, so, if you wanted to, you could plug in up to 12 external devices via Thunderbolt alone. (If those devices also allow for daisy chaining, with additional Thunderbolt ports on them.) The new Mac Pro will feature Thunderbolt 2.

Inside Thunderbolt 2 cable speeds

If you are after them, The Register has some good technical details on Thunderbolt 2, where they also note that the upcoming USB 3.1 should expand its capability from 5Gbps to 10Gbps. Everything is getting faster.

Jigsaw24.com Free Shipping!

Jigsaw24.comI often buy things from Amazon as it tends to be the cheapest, but my next go-to site for editing gear is usually Jigsaw24 as I have a long standing relationship with Tim Bridger, one of the excellent sales chaps there, when I need a speedy delivery, some detailed questions answered or just greater levels of service.

I was emailing Tim about some of these devices and he was kind enough to offer a special deal to readers of this blog! If you’re looking to purchase any of these Thunderbolt peripherals in the UK get in touch with Tim Bridger (tim@jigsaw24.com/0115 916 5536) mention my name and you could get free next day shipping!

Thunderbolt Expansion Hubs

Thunderbolt 2 expansion peripherals

If you want to be able to plug in more USB 3 or 2 devices, HDMI connected screens, Gigabit ethernet and daisy chain in a few more Thunderbolt peripherals then a Thunderbolt Station like this one from Caldigit might be the right thing for you.

For $199/£179 you get 2 Thunderbolt ports (allowing you to connect and daisy chain) three more USB 3 ports, an HDMI port, Gigabit ethernet port and two 3.5 mm audio I/O. This is probably the device that I’ll get as it seems to represent the best value for money. Caldigit have a decent FAQ on the device here if you want to find out about charging devices or running an Apple Superdrive via the Station. For a very thorough review check out this post over on FortySomethingGeek which includes various transfer speed tests and connecting four different displays!

Buy on Amazon.com | Buy on Amazon.co.uk
Click through for a huge article covering Thunderbolt expansion chassis, RAIDS, video I/O, adaptors and more!

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Color Grading Craft Stories

Insights on the Craft of Color Grading

Colorist David Cole Grading Tron

In this round up I wanted to share some of the great resources to be found online about the art and craft of color grading. While many of the grading posts focus on the technical details of colour spaces, working in Resolve or achieving specific looks, I thought it was worth rounding up some insights on inspirational work too.

Interviews with Colorists

It used to be that it was quite hard to get quality interviews with colorists but these days there are plenty to go around. To kick us off check out the Mixing Light colorists profiles from Juan Salvo and Alexis Van Hurkman.

In this short interview with colorist David Cole you can pick up a few tid-bits on grading a 3D film vs a 2D film, from his work on TRON:Legacy.

There are a lot of tricks you can do in a 2D world that get exposed when they are put into 3D. We had to test and see what we could and couldn’t do and develop new techniques to use in our arsenal.

Adam Glasman grading World War Z

Colorist Adam Glasman is interviewed briefly over on Arri.com on his work on World War Z, which was shot on Alexa and used a print emulation LUT to kick off the grading process.

Before we went through the whole film, we created some examples of distinct looks designed to represent different locations in the story. This was to ensure that everyone was onboard with the approach before we did the entire thing.

DNEG has an interesting Q&A with VFX colorist Garry Maddison who has worked on Rush and The Dark Knight Rises, who answers emailed in questions. It’s a great opportunity to hear from a different side of the color grading work world. There is also a superb collection of other VFX artist profiles on the same site.

We start the grading process at the beginning of each show to neutrally balance all of the plates using in house designed grading software. We grade and review the sequences with the supervisors of the projects to make sure we have the right look, and create contact sheets for easy and quick referencing on groups of shots.

Becoming a colorist

In a really interesting article Junior colorist Aurora Shannon, who has assisted colorists like Stephen Nakamura on Quantum of Solace, shares how she got her start in the business as a runner at Company 3 in Soho, London. I think the big take away to those looking to work as colorists, is to do what you can to get yourself in the room so that when opportunities arise you can seize them!
Click through for even more colorist interviews

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Adobe Speedgrade CC Tips & Tutorials

Tips and Tutorials for Adobe Speedgrade CC

The latest release of Speedgrade allows you to ‘direct link’ between Premiere Pro which means that you now no longer need to render out new media after grading. There are limitations with this workflow and these are also discussed in this tutorial from Josh Weiss at Retooled.net. Check out Adobe’s official Direct link help page here, for more information.

For two free downloads grab the official Adobe Speedgrade keyboard shortcut pdf as well as colorist Mathieu Morano’s free keyboard shortcut guide. If you want to know what else is new in Speedgrade CC check out this Adobe TV introduction.

Speedgrade Tutorials

As mentioned in my Best Training on Lynda.com For Film Editors post, Pat Inhofer from Mixing Light has a great introductory series for anyone looking to grade with Speedgrade CC. Here are all the freebies from lynda.com. (These embeds always appear as black boxes for some reason so just click play to find out what each freebie covers!)


Click Through for 9 more Speedgrade Tutorials

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Making of John Lewis Animated Advert: The Bear & The Hare

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2013 – Bear & Hare

This advert for John Lewis (a UK department store) is pretty special. I always love seeing the intricate, passionate, endless work that goes into make amazing animation, which you can see in the making of video below. Directed by Elliot Dear & Yves Geleyn it’s very lovely work. Creative Review has a good article featuring co-director Elliot Dear on the creative process.

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The Best Training on Lynda.com for Film Editors

The Best Training on Lynda.com for Film Editors

Lynda.com is a hugely valuable resource for digital creatives the world over who want to pick up new skills, learn new software packages or hone their craft. I’ve used Lynda.com in the past (Larry Jordan’s training on Soundtrack Pro was especially helpful back in the day) and thoroughly enjoyed having instant access to so much quality training with over 2200 courses and counting.

One of the main benefits of Lynda.com is that you can simply pay for a month at a time and cancel whenever you’re not using it. The best way to get a real feel for what’s available is get a week’s free trial with complete access to the whole site to give it a test drive for yourself. Personally I find it easier to learn whilst following along, so if you do sign up, I’d recommend getting a subscription with a exercise files included.

All that said, I thought it would be useful to round up some of the best training for film editors that’s available on Lynda.com, which will help you get to grips with the skills, software and knowledge you need to flourish in the business.

NOTE: On some browsers all of the freebie tasters embedded in this post seem to show up as black boxes, but if you click play you’ll get a free lesson from each course.

Learning Editing Craft on Lynda.com

In this series from editor Ashley Kennedy has put together a two hour series of tutorials on Narrative Scene editing inside of Avid Media Composer. Although many of the techniques Ashley demonstrates are unique to Media Composer such as Avid’s ScriptSync but most of the editing knowledge is applicable in any NLE.

Another great series to check out is Norman Hollyn’s Foundations for Video Editing. Norman is a Professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (and he also wrote the very handy Film Editing Room Handbook) and in this 4 hour NLE agnostic series, he teaches you the essential principles of the craft of film editing from script analysis to recutting your work.

Click through for more valuable training from Lynda.com for film editors

Posted in Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, AVID, Colour Grading, Compositing, Craft, DaVinci Resolve, Documentaries, Editor's Tools, FCP-X, Free download, Motion Graphics, Sound Design, Speedgrade, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DaVinci Resolve 10 Grading Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve 10 Color Grading Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve 10 is now out of beta and available to download. The latest release from Blackmagic Design is a huge leap forward – adding in features such as live grading, greater editorial functionality and a whole lot more. And of course there is an updated manual. If you didn’t see this previous post on the Resolve 10 beta, it will give you more info on what’s in the update. Also check out the post NAB Resolve 10 post.

What are the differences between DaVinci Resolve Lite/Full?

DaVinci Resolve Lite is now no longer restricted to 2K outputs (now UHD), nor does it come with any GPU limitations. The main differences then between the free Lite version and the $999/£780 full software version is basically the inability to do anything to do with Stereoscopic 3D, apply noise reduction or motion blur, fully support a DaVinci Resolve control surface nor customise it, or do remote grading. But pretty much everything else is free! Amazing.

Free DaVinci Resolve Tutorials

DaVinci Resolve 10 has the ability to support OpenFX plugins, one of which is Film Convert. In this tutorial Splicenpost demonstrates how to use it inside of Resolve. For more on Film Convert check out these two previous posts: Matching Film Stocks. More Tutorials for Colorists.

Track Opacity Composite more level in ResolveColorist Nikolai Waldman suggests that the best way to add film grain in real time inside of Resolve is not to use a plugin at all but rather simply to add it in as an overlay layer and adjust the opacity for the whole track, a new feature in Resolve 10.

In this tweet, and the whole conversation, Juan Salvo points out the easier to see tracking indicator in Resolve 10.

Matt Fez shares how to transfer looks from programs such as After Effects, Photoshop or Apple Color into Resolve.

Working with LUTS in Resolve

In this free Mixing Light taster Patrick Inhoffer talks through the basics of using a LUT in your grading workflow and how you really can’t apply it as a one-size fits all solution. There is a 7 minute embedded video tutorial that is definitely worth a watch, as Patrick explains why he creates a 3 node structure when working with LUTS.
Click through for loads more free tutorials and Resolve grading tips

Posted in Arri Alexa, AVID, Colour Grading, DaVinci Resolve, Free download, Tutorials, Workflow | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Editing Craft Round Up

Learn about the craft of film editing

As an editor, learning more about the craft of film editing is one of my favourite things to do. Thanks to the great people who make up the online global post-production community there is plenty of talented professionals to learn from.

Captain Philips Post Production

Captain Philips was the last film I’ve seen at the cinema and it was a 2 hour heart pounding piece of cinema. Masterfully directed by Paul Greengrass and edited by Christopher Rouse, the pair now have a long standing collaboration with Rouse having cut both the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum, as well as Green Zone and United 93.

There is a great Reddit As Me Anything with Paul Greengrass here.

Q: What was the most interesting thing that occurred on set when you were filming Captain Phillips?

PG: Well the focus puller throwing up on Tom Hanks’ leg on the first day we shot inside the lifeboat. It was very realistic!!! Needless to say, Tom didn’t bat an eyelid but was ready to shoot on. That’s commitment for you.

Editing: The Hollywood Reporter has a short interview with Rouse here, mostly on working with Greengrass and crafting the two captains performances.

“Paul brings me aboard months before shooting; I’m able to root myself in the piece long before I ever make a cut,” Rouse said. “Once I start editing, my process is similar to Paul’s: I make choices carefully — trying to be attentive to story, character and theme — but I also work very openly and intuitively, trying to get the most out of the material no matter where that takes me.”

Editing Captain Philips

Grading: Blackmagic Design posted a short press statement about the fact that Captain Philips was graded on Resolve by London based, Company 3 colorist Rob Pizzey. You can read a couple of interviews with Rob (about other films) online here and here.

“The camera is always moving because you’re at sea, so the tracking tool was perfect because I could hand draw shapes and then grade within that area. Resolve’s auto tracking would then map to the movement of the camera so we could get on with matching all of the footage. It was also really useful for lining up faces and pulling out eyes. With the auto tracking, you get the shape on there and it maps it all the way through. It really did save me a lot of time.”

Composing The Score: Fast Co Create have a fantastic interview, peppered with clips from the film and snippets from the soundtrack, with composer Henry Jackman. The interview goes on to cover a wide range of Jackman’s work.

“It would be false to think that, because a score like Captain Phillips isn’t in that category of sweeping symphonic and thematic scores, that somehow that makes it more restricting, or that the director’s aesthetic has caused any restriction–I look at it as defining creative parameters, and once you know where those lines are, it’s just a different kind of creativity.”

Anatomy of a Scene – Editing Breakdowns

This is a brilliant short video essay from Max Tohline, in which he deconstructs this climatic scene from Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. An insightful and fascinating watch.

Evan Richard’s has put together this great analysis of 5 editing techniques, theorised by Russian filmmaker Vsevolod Pudovkin. The five techniques Evan highlights are: Contrast, Parallelism, Symbolism, Simultaneity and Leit Motif. Well worth a watch.

Interviews with Film Editors

Vashi Nedomansky Film Editor InterviewFilm editor Vashi Nedomansky is interviewed in this edition of the Go Creative Show, created by Ben Consoli, on all this editorial covering a whole host of post production topics. Vashi’s interview beings 16.30 minutes into the show.

“You have to try, and make mistakes and that’s how you find out what kind of filmmaker you are.”

In this brilliant short clip, documentary editor Sam Pollard shares some of the inherent challenges of editing documentaries with students at the School For Visual Arts in New York, and how to draw the very best out of your material.

click through for even more interviews with film editors

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