Here I sit in the online of my latest show, watching someone else do all the work. This show, SURGERY SAVED MY LIFE (“Battleground Miami” is the episode title…on Discovery Health) was done the old fashioned way, an offline/online workflow. We offlined on Avid Meridian v11s on G4’s running OS9….all the media on a Unity. Sure, it’s old, but it still works and works well. I had very few issues, and really enjoyed being back on an Avid. Well, I cursed at it a few times when I had to do something that in FCP would be a SNAP…like shuffling footage and scenes…but overall I liked it.

So I did the offline cut at the production office, working with five other editors, all on different episodes. When I locked picture (late last night) they took the bin with the locked sequence to a post facility that then onlined the cut on an Avid Symphony. When this is done, we will output a digibeta, then take it to a DaVinci for color correction, the output a tape, then to a linear bay for titling…then output to another tape. MAN…what a lot of steps. I didn’t have to do this with my last FCP shows…or even my last show I cut on an Avid. We did the titling and color correction in the symphony. Whew.

I mention this because the next show I will be working on…well, the one AFTER the next show I am on (I will be going to a company to help “fix” a series they are having issues with)…the next show with THIS company…will be shot on DVCPRO HD, Varicam and P2, for the History Channel…a series no less…and we are trying to pitch FCP to the main production company as I have already done three shows this way…but they are ballking and wanting us to use Avids. So we are doing a workflow comparison for them. I’ll blog about that soon.

ANYWAY…I have COMPLETELY digressed from what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about distancing yourself from the editing process to allow you to view your work more critically.

Last week when we were working on the FINE cut (the step between Rough Cut and Locked Picture…the second pass at a show that you send to the network), I had finished my cut and we were about to watch the show to see how it looks as a whole, when my producer said to me, “Shane, come here….sit on the sofa. Get away from the controls and sit back and relax, I’ll control the machine.”

“But, I…” I try to protest.

“No, get back here and watch it. Get away from the machine. Watch it from my point of view. NO! Watch it from the perspective of someone who just turned on the TV and goes ‘Hey, this looks interesting.’ Watch critically.”

Now, I never thought of doing this before. Dunno why. Because it is VERY true….when you watch it in your chair in front of the controls, you are still in your ‘editor’s mind.’ Noting things that aren’t working, or wanting to stop the show and just fix this one small thing. You are still seeing it from the point of something YOU put together. Sitting back does put you in another frame of mind completely. I was able to sit back and actually view it as though I was watching some show on TV. That surprised me. And it was really helpful, becuase instead of seeing it as I need to fix this one small edit, or music cue, I was paying attention to the story, following the people and the personalities and…well…enjoying the show.

I wasn’t allowed to take notes or anything. I was to watch it and give my general impressions. What worked for me, and what didn’t…all based on my memory, based on what impacted me and stuck with me. And when it was over, I can say that I did genuinely enjoy the show. It was odd, but I was able to remove myself from the process and watch the show. And it was eye opening. I gave my impressions to the producer, he agreed with most of them, gave me his…and I went about the task of fixing what didn’t work, or needed a little something more to get the point across.

As I said, I had never thought about doing this before. I think that my producer, also knowing how to edit (but having been away from the chair for quite some time) recognized what a difference it was watching in front of the machine, and back on the sofa. Because you are closer to the work, still there and involved in the cut, you are more invested in it, and apt to defend the edit decisions. But by stepping back and removing yourself from the process…distancing yourself…you can watch the show with a more critical eye.

Try it.