Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Crafting a Scene

Yesterday was day 3 of "The Turing Enigma" shoot. After spending the night before retranscoding the rushes from day 1, it occurred to me that we had been wasting a lot of our time on day 1 and 2, watching the blue transcoding bar creep across the screen. So we decided to leave leave transcoding unless there was time for it and focus on syncing so I could start editing. As it happens, the crew were working on some fairly complex scenes and so footage came in fairly slowly, but from now on, we will likely leave transcoding and just set it going after the day is over.

Anyway, the outcome of all this was that I actually got down to the task of editing and have finished all the scenes shot on day 1 and 2. Rough cutting a scene is undoubtably my favourite thing to do in the world. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the number of possibilities ahead of you when you look at a bin full of different shots. On my first short a couple of years ago, I was very methodical in my approach to crafting a scene and this helped stop me getting overwhelmed. First, I would create a radio edit, focusing on getting every line of dialogue into the timeline, from the camera angles I wanted to use. Then I would go through every edit in the sequence and listen to it, refining the in and out points to remove extraneous noises and make the gap between the lines sound natural by adding to or removing the gap between them. Only then would I start to focus on what the video was doing. Using split edits (or j/l cuts as some people call them) I would move the video edit points away from the audio edit points. Using this method you can fix continuity problems, show reactions by cutting before someone starts or after some one finishes speaking, and generally create a more fluid scene. Hearing the audio from one shot and seeing the video from another, can help the audience link the two spaces in their mind, creating a scene rather than a series of shots (which is basically our job?). Then I would pepper in some reaction shots and cutaways if needed, to break up a very long shot or show something to the audience that isn't in the frame.

Now this process is more fluid. I have more experience and I jump back and forth between the various tasks, but I am glad I started out like this as it gave me a really good grounding in how to craft a scene, and how to avoid getting overwhelmed by the infinite ways the footage could be put together.

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