Monday, 25 April 2011

Dynamic Trimming

I mentioned the other day that as my experience has grown as an editor I have strayed from the step by step way of crafting a scene and instead fluidly move between the different stages as I edit. That got me thinking about how else my editing style has changed since I first started. One significant thing I have noticed is that I use dynamic trimming (or trimming on the fly) more and more when refining a sequence. For anyone who doesn't know, trimming is a way of adding or removing footage to the beginning or end of clips in a sequence. So in a dialogue scene, it can be used to remove a word that shouldn't be there or add a word that should. But perhaps more importantly, it can be used to control the length of the gap between the lines of dialogue. For me, controlling these gaps is one of the most important part of making a scene feel natural and right. They can also add a layer of subtext to the dialogue itself. If someone takes a moment to think before answering a question, it can add a new layer of meaning to their response. Perhaps they are lying? Or maybe they just don't want to answer? When I was a teenager learning to play guitar, my dad would often say to me "It's not the notes that are important, its the spaces in between." I apply that logic to my editing today. So how does this link to dynamic editing? Well early on in order to control the length of the pauses between lines I would trim using numbers. I would preview the edit by looping it and then remove or add a set number of frames, then preview again. This gave a good degree of accuracy and I would always find the frame eventually, but there was a significant amount of trial and error. Dynamic trimming allows me to hit play on an edit point and wherever I hit pause, the edit will move there. Sounds simple enough, but this allows me to feel where an edit should be, rather than find where it should be through trial and error. I know that using this method has sped up my work, but I also think that it has improved it. Hopefully it has made my work more emotional and less mechanical which, in filmmaking, can never be a bad thing.

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