Not sure what to code name the project I am working on.  There are times when I can’t reveal the projects I am working on until I can announce an air date.  I guess I can call this the “LONG BEACH” job, as that is where I am commuting to.

First off let me say that after a year of finishing work…online and color correction…it is pure joy to get back into the creative editing saddle.  But also a bit scary.  Now I am in the ho tseat for making sure that the story works.  But mostly, I am excited to be creative cutting again.

The hardest part of editing, to me, is the rough cut.  Because this is the time you are seeing things for the first time, the script (if you have one), and the footage. This is when you have to make the initial creative decisions that need to be made, decisions that you know might be changed, or nixed, in the future.  You both have to edit, and review your footage at the same time, and you have to try to assemble things in order to tell a story.

In this stage I find that I make a decision…cover a sound byte with some footage that I think works…and move on, and later find some footage that better works in that spot, so I go back and replace it.  Or I have a “sound up” (a piece of b-roll where I allow the audio to be heard) that I think works better, and I replace that too.  It’s like two steps forward, and then one step back as I go back and make changes.  I recall trying to change my habit and just push on, try to save the other footage to replace later during the fine cut, but I found that  I lost my inspiration for using that footage, or just plain forgot where the footage was.  So I now edit, then go back and replace things as I find better things to replace with.

But all in all it is a race to the finish line.  Get the audio laid out, fill it with b-roll and sound ups….maybe add music if the producers require it.  THAT task in itself tends to add not only hours, but a day or two to the edit.  But I’m not sure what I prefer…to edit without music or with for the rough cut…depends on the schedule.  If I have more time up front, I add the music, if I don’t, if my schedule is shorter in the front with more time for fixes, then I add it later.  I am in a bit of a rush this time as I do have a deadline to meet.  I have to get the first half of the doc rough cut before I take a week off to go to Vegas for NAB.  The producer will take that time to review my cuts, and look at the remaining footage to help them in writing the script.

Speaking of the script…

In documentary editing, you might have a fully flushed out script, or you might have no script, and you need to find the story in the footage.  I have been in both situations.  But this situation is kinda cool in that I have a sort of script outline.  I am provided with interview bytes, and possible sound up footage, but I am really given a lot of creative freedom.  That does have a way of making me more invested in the cut than if I was given a full script.  Although there are times when you have a full script that you can, if you find better stories and footage, replace that with your find.

I am struggling a bit with the Avid.  I’m afraid I have become WELL accustomed to the open timeline…that is, the ability to grab and move clips all about….like slips of paper on your desk.  This, to me, is more intuitive…perhaps because when I do a doc, often times I will have scenes on note cards and will re-arrange them to try to find a better way of telling a story.  I will edit something, but then find that the first half works better up front, so I want to swap things, but my audio trackes are layered (L cut and J cut), so the simple YELLOW OPEN SELECT arrow won’t work. I like to move things aside to make a hole, and then grab a full section and move it down…which I can do in the Avid MC now.  They have the SELECT ALL RIGHT and ALL LEFT options, to that has helped greatly.  But I find that I need to do a lot of clicking to make things work.  Even when I go into TRIM mode, I have to click click click on the track selectors to lighlight the right ones (I am working on the lasso thing…gimme time).

It’s taking a little getting used to.  But I feel that trim mode is great when you are editing narrative projects, like dramatic TV or features, but the open segment mode of FCP is better for documentary work.  I can’t speak to Reality TV, I have yet to edit one.

OK, that is enough babble from me.  Glad that I now have some time to write as I take the subway back and forth to work.  But I feel that now my blog posts will get to be a tad long…or numerous.  So…sorry in advance.