Moving Deeper Into The Editing “Workflow”

5 08 2007

The word “workflow” is so overused in filmmaking today that I’m hesitant to put it into my title, but there’s almost no other way to describe this quote from Alexandre Gollner’s post in his really entertaining and interesting blog Editing Organazized (and that is no typo). In a post about a visit that he took to St. Anne’s Post, at Ascent Media in Soho, London, he talks about St. Annes’ move towards Avid’s Nitris DS tool.

The man from St. Annes says that more and more people are learning DS. The grader knows that Da Vinci is just a tool. People are adding more seats to their Unity networks.

He is discussing this approach, versus the idea that adding more of the Apple apps.

As editors, we are being asked to do more and more inside our editing bays — the Final Cut Suite has begun to indoctrinate us (and our clients and producers) to the idea that editors can do it all. We can do color correction, we can do titles, we can smooth out dialog tracks removing unwanted sounds and doing EQ in a way that we used to go to a mixing stage for.

But here’s where I part ways with this idea. Even though I love the idea that there is so much more that I can do. Sure, we have the tools to do it all. But does it mean that we can. My wife will swear that I’m practically color blind (“You’re wearing that today?”) so I’m not the best person to do color correction beyond the obvious eye dropper stuff. I can do great music edits (I was a music editor) but does it mean that every editor can?

In short, whatever happened to the idea of getting the right person for the job? I’d rather a real composer do the music for my film, rather than knock something out in Soundtrack Pro. A really bright and innovative title designer can usually do a better job than I could, no matter what tool I use.

There are, as Alex brings up, two different thoughts on this — one that each tool for a job should be individualized to run best and that the proper person should be in charge of running it. The other thought is that one artistic person can better guide that process through universally available tools.

I had a conversation this morning with Steven Cohen, of Splice Here the great editing blog, about the concept of interaction. The best ideas don’t come fully blown from one person’s mind but, instead, come from a dialectic between multiple creative partners. I would rather edit with a director than by myself any day of the week (well, skipping Sundays). Working alone is normally a guarantee that new ideas won’t be tried out. If you ask me, John Sayles work with an editor beats the hell out of his work without one. Do I think that directors should be their own cameramen/women? Hell no. Not only does it divide time, it shuts down interaction with another acoomplished professional.

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11 08 2007
Mike Curtis

or another option for the budget constrained – if you OWN the tools of production that CAN do all the steps…bring in the experts to work on your system (or take the files to theirs) to get it done by the best possible folks.

The ease of not having to port from an NLE to a coloring system (losing the ability to go back and re-tweak the edit easily and affordably) is awfully nice (presuming Color works right, which it doesn’t…quite).

Having all the tools in one suite, to me, doesn’t mean that they should all be used by the same person (although bosses/ignornant clients push for that – “Whaddaya mean! It’s right there! USE it!”), it means that at some stage, it is time for the editor to hop up and let the Colorist sit down (or collect the files and take it to the colorist’s properly prepped room).

When done, the files come back (or the editor returns) and can then keep tweaking on what is before them.

-mike

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