Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cut and Run

One of the best lessons my father ever taught me was to take care of tough jobs as soon as possible.

“Better behind you than in front of you,” he used to say.

Just eight simple words but they can often mean the difference between joy and all sorts of procrastinated misery.

I haven’t always followed my Dad’s advice, but I recently applied this golden rule and I was very glad I did.

I gave up my Friday night to edit the two scenes I shot in my film director’s class. It was quite challenging, since editing—like directing—is new to me.

But the editing is an important part of the class. Todd, our instructor, told us that when you look at the raw footage, you’ll see what you have, and, more importantly, what you don’t have.

Now I have to say that the finished work will never be mistaken for a Hollywood production, but at least I got the job done and I have something to show in class. And I was able to enjoy the rest of my weekend.

We had all downloaded our scenes on to flash drives so we could edit them. My only problem was that after I got the video into my computer, I had no idea what to do next.

This is particularly irritating as I’m sure there are grade schoolers who can shoot and edit video while listening to their iPods, surfing the Web, and texting all their friends at the same time.

A classmate suggested downloading Final Cut Pro for the 30-day free trial and I thought this was a great idea. I went online, pressed a few buttons and in no time at all I had this fantastic editing software in my computer. There was only one problem.

I couldn’t figure out how to use it to save my life.

Don’t get me wrong—Final Cut is a tremendous tool for filmmakers and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. This is definitely an "it's not you, it's me" situation.

Splice of Life

I see now that Final Cut is not something you can learn overnight, especially if you’re a natural born technophobe like me. I felt like I was sitting behind one of the consuls at NASA’s Mission Control Center.

I couldn’t get the footage in the right sequence. I’d press a few buttons and suddenly the middle of the scene was now the beginning—and I couldn’t undo it. My classmate told me she printed out the Final Cut manual, which runs more a mere 400-plus pages.

I knew I would never get the footage edited in time for the class screening. I was getting all twisted and I thought I’d have to skip the class entirely. The whole business was eating away at me all week long.

But then I tried thinking instead of worrying. My computer comes equipped with the iMovie program and I had taken a few how-to classes at the Apple Store last year.

I didn’t remember much about it, but I recall it was pretty simple, and that’s just what I needed. I set up the footage, blocked off a chunk of time on Friday evening and went to work.

I felt like Dr. Frankenstein building his monster as I stitched the scenes together. Each time I added another few frames of video, I watched the scene grow longer and longer. After several hours and a few calls to tech support, I finally had my two scenes edited.

I wanted to scream out "It's alive! It's alive!" But I controlled myself.

The cuts are jumpy, some of the shots don’t match up as well as I would like, and I see things I would’ve done differently on set. But I did get the job behind me. And I have to say it was very exciting listening to the actors as they said the lines I had written.

So it looks like I’ll be ready for the screening. I’m sure my younger, more computer-savvy classmates will be displaying far more polished work, but at least I won’t show up empty-handed.

Thanks, Dad.


Ron said...

"I wanted to scream out "It's alive! It's alive!" But I controlled myself."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! OMG, Rob, that made me HOWL!

Too funny!

I got all sorts of excited when I was reading this post about EDITING your film! How wonderful is that! And yes, I've heard so many film people share that editing is probably THE most important aspect in creating a film because editing can make or break the movie's story line.

I am so glad to hear that you were able to use the software on your computer to edit your film. That's what I use when I edit the videos that I make on my blog. And let me tell ya, when I first started doing it I didn't know what the hell I was doing. But, eventually I learned - and keep learning. Edited is tough work.

Please keep us posted about how the screening goes because I'll be anxious to hear all about it.

You GO, boy!

Have a great week, buddy!

P.S. Love the photo you used from Ed Wood. Great film!

Walaka said...

I'd really like to see your film, Rob. Are you going to post it somewhere or make it otherwise availabe?

Rob K said...

These are just scenes from longer films, but if I can figure out how to post them, I may do it.

Rob K said...

@Ron, Hey, buddy, Thanks for the encouragement, I want to get better at this and there's only one way to do it--keep on doing it. Take care and have a great week!

Jay said...

Oh, well done, Rob! I am seriously impressed!

I know exactly what you mean about feeling out of your depth when faced with a powerful new program and a very short time in which to learn it. I did something similar when I was entrusted with the task of producing finished artwork for a logo - I downloaded a vector art program, foolishly confident that it would be much like Photoshop Elements. It was not. It was a whole new box of tricks and worked in an entirely different way! I abandoned the first (like you) in favour of a somewhat simpler one, and managed to figure it out, but it was a nasty feeling, not knowing where to start, and I imagine that film editing software is even worse!

Rob K said...

Hey, Jay, Frank Sinatra used to sing about nice and easy and now I know what he means. I'd probably have trouble with Photoshop Elements! But it's important to remember that while you start with simple, you don't have to stay there. Given a proper amount of time, I have no doubt you can master that vector art program. Take care!