Thursday, July 30, 2009

Editing the music video: a primer

Now, this highlights music video editors and their prowess behind the clips.

A well edited clip doesn't just illicit perfect harmony with the visuals, it's got to make you feel them through assembly, arranging it like a good jazz session would.

I liken this way:

Jay Z "99 Problems" Ed: Robert Duffy.

Robert Duffy constructed an editorial masterpiece out of fragmentation, jump cuts, and perfect timing. Flawless, and textbook example of how GREAT editing is.

Jay-Z "99 Problems"

Prodigy "Smack my bitch up" Ed: Jonas Akerlund.

Watch it again. Look at how it stays in character, just like what it portrays.

Michael Jackson "Thriller" Ed: George Folsey Jr.

Thiller is everything a video should be, the holy grail. But the editing of George Folsey has been overlooked for Michael's gravistas, and credit should be due. This is how a dance performance is cut, period. That shit just kills. Every video done ever since has taken the same style and refined it, but 3,000 angles does not equal better editing. Selected shots and rhythmn does, evidenced here. Trivia: He also cut Hostel...and Animal House.

Squarepusher "Come down my selector" Ed: Chris Cunningham.

Every single edit is perfectly timed to the beat of the song, and it all fits. Remarkable. Chris is a better editor than most of them, this was his first. All the other ones were done by Gary Knight. Afrika Shox is a highlight.

R.E.M "Everybody hurts" Ed: Pat Sheffield

Form follows function in this clip. Perfectly lends itself well to the video's theme, and the edits don't intrude they illustrate. With that kinda footage, i'd be hard to fuk that up.

REM - Everybody Hurts

Justice "Stress" Ed: Romain Gavras.

Romain fucking killed it with this clip. Easily the best edited clip in awhile.

CSS "Move" Ed: Keith Schofield.

A more recent example. It's so simple in theory and moves at a good pace. Take one shot out and it all falls apart, I think Keith understands the "house of cards" approach to editing: every one counts. Put one in the wrong place and the house comes crashing down. I wish hip hop video editors understood this concept.

More to come. List to be updated.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Generation me = rant.

See this fking guy? look familiar? he just made the self possessed claim that he's the king of pop. Like anyone but him would believe him.

But you what's troubling? he may be right just because people ARE inclined to believe him.

This is a rant. It is filled with disgust. If you don't wanna partake tune out now.

This generation, "Genenation me" are a bunch of fcking idiots. Really. A nation of people with mental challenges, inclined on technology (the keyboard is the new bible) and twitter to construct a significance, built on nothing more than just self vanity as a substitute for a lack of personality.

Welcome to generation me, and it's happening everywhere across the galaxy.

Twitter, Facebook, Texting, Blogging, Youtubing, self idolation, celebrity worship, fashion obsession, hollowness, dumbness, pointlessness, non sense. These are the hallmarks of this dreaded culture and the representation of an entire species. I'm one generation removed, call me X, and can't relate. Won't relate, will never relate.

Any browse through Youtube is filled with hatred, homophobia, and most can't spell correctly or articulate it. Young people have just lost their minds, and have nothing to show for it than what is on their H & M ornated facade. It's the Tyler Durden speech rings a bell truer in detail, truer in verse.

During the past ten years, something was taking place. A generation got younger, and embraced the self as a means of existence. No longer content on representing individuality, they took the bargain basement fashions, quoteable movie slang, and 80's fashion to absurd extremes. Pictures of partying, drunkeness, and toplessness seemed to be no a social discourse, but an actual means of entitlement. Like that is what cool is. Twitter the result, and check 1,000 times to see how many hits you get.

During the movies, you'll text for the duration and only look up during the loud parts. In the street, you zip your latte and say "omg" on your sidekick at every moment of every step of every territory. This is who you are. This is who you became.

Reading scores are down, polls point to 70% of "adults" in the 18-25 range consider themselves "knowledgeable" of world events yet any search through blogs points the inward: this generation of people are dumb. Graduating to the worse financial crisis of the last 50 years, yet why do so many keep a job?

Because they're narcissistic. And narcissistic means you don't think about half the shit most people do. You worry only about self, how you look, how you're perceived and how your value as a human entity is carried in your laptop.

So you're entitled to everything is because you're special? no you're not. This mindset has created an army of useless people, people that populate our sidewalks, night clubs, cafes, and social living. Hipsters, you're an easy target. Men who whine and wear fedoras with fucking shorts while zipping on BK lager should be shot to extinction. Saving that money to buy you a pair of those high tops? great. You can't afford it yet you buy it. I am not against capitalism, shit I am a capitalist but there is something profound and troubling when your moral fiber consists of giving a fk about nobody but your self at the expense of...yourself or others like you.

You hate to be alone. You wait until that text comes back to see what your friends are up to tonight. You tweet about it. You bitch about it. You get isntant gratification from those who agree and wanna take you out. You "like this". The constant attention. The playing the game. Past 30 and still the same.

We talk about the things we don't have, whine about what we do. It's the realization that soon one day you'll realize that the life you live is the one you're living at now. Every single second or every single minute. What is useful about it? that is the eternal question. We are at the mercy of intimacy, substituting communication for instant gratification. They are not the same. They are not designed to be the same.

What you put in is as anything as what you put out.

All comes crashing down. Baby boomers got old, and their abuse of the system led to the credits crunch and the bubble burst. Flash the new economy and all things changed, for the better we don't know but change is not something people that don't think like to do. Interaction is completely dependent on what is happening tonight and what celebrity did what on what reality show star dressed why. Facebook status says "why is it raining today, it's ruining my evening plans" to useless talk of "getting highlights today and hate tall buildings". Whine and whine about yadayadayda LOL LMOA LMFFAO. Whatever. ADD is on auto pilot.

Who's responsable for the narcissism epidemic? the internet.

Yes the internet. Everyone is safe heaven to free expression, youtube facilitated a lack of originality since you can take anything that exists and make it your own. Music sounds worse than it did a decade ago, going back to a decade that was long ago.

The 80's. And why are skinny jeans still in fashion? high top sneakers and bright colors? WTF is this supposed to be? it's hard these people seriously.

The rise of inflated self is a thing people tend to believe, since self satisfaction is mutual with self idolation. They learned this from reality tv, and instructed by gossip mags and bloggers whose negative rhetoric and put downs have become the language of an entire generation. Subtlety, meaningful relationship, generosity, intelligence. These were once hallmarks of a thinking person, but even in school these idiots just think about what they're going to do when they get out. 9/11 taught the world of gen X to grow up. Some did. Some went vegan. Some embraced ironic messages in their t shirts. Some grew a beard. Yager shots in brooklyn is a cultural defining form. Material wealth and grandiose egos are a thing that plagues the visual world, and turns inward on them. Confronted with a crisis, you'd rather twitter the result than confront it like a thinking man (or woman, or both) do: with common sense. A sense of self removed from construct, removed from what you think you know, removed from what you haven't done built from what you've lived. That is who you are.

What ME needs is a sense of reality. What wiser people always try to instill on young ones, and every generation that preceded it has it.

Yes, common sense. That is what's missing this generation and the source of responsibility among action: common sense. Narcissism is a crisis of spiritual faith, were the love of self is not love at all but a deeply distorted sense that you must love me because I am special. Without demonstrating the superlative reasons why you should be treated special. Exceptional at anything besides sucking dick? kissing ass? telling people and hearing what you want to know? that is what me is exceptional at. There is no withs if or buts about it. The narcissism epidemic is so corrosive to society that everything must start again from zero to believe in again.

So when you hear Kanye talk about being the next king of pop, Me will believe him because they've got frame of reference, no mental construct to think otherwise. If you say it, then it must be true. That is the distortion that marks Me and oblivious to all things true to form, true to life. That requires a sense of reality, a sense of thought not a sense of self according to construct not lived not earned through experience emotional or otherwise. You've never been exceptional, because you ride the coatails of your own inflated self as a substitute to reality. LOL. LMAO. OMG. WTF.

Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion? they have more than three syllables.

Friday, July 24, 2009

3D or not 3D?

Now it's 3D that's taken over movie screens as a fad.

Or does it offer new storytelling possibilities? yes and no.

I got one word for ya: Avatar.

3D has seen the industry transform (and the profits rise) so it's not a secret they went for it. Big time. Economically it makes sense, for they can charge a premium (about 17 bucks) per ticket and it'll offset the loss of DVD revenues, which were the cornerstone of the business in the last decade.

But why is 3D special? is it special? I've only seen one film in 3D - Beowolf. It wasn't special. Any technology depends on how the filmmaker uses it, and throwing stuff at the audience at random intervals is just cheap, and gimmicky.

If 3D was the be a viable alternative to enhance the experience, make it an actual part of the process and enhance the storytelling. This is were the technology has promise, and of course it takes an innovator like James Cameron to lead the way.

His film will combine 3D with a newly developed technology that would have really feel as close to being there without actually being there, Avatar will be a mix of CGI and live action, picture Golum from LOTR as the main character in a CG environment and you get the picture.

But that sounds exciting and all, what about the rest?

The rest is bullshit really, why not invest those resources into making better scripts or even better lighting? it's amazing how prosaic film making has become, were camera coverage is like television and fast edits with multiple angles is the idea of excitement. Spectacle always works when you are hooked, and that starts with good characters or something amazing to look at. The Dark Knight in Imax was a defining moment, because that film contained amazing cinematography and characters to tell a good story. Not seeing how destruction can occur or how the earth can be toppled by giant robots, even though that could be fun too...just not for 2 1/2 hours.

Somehow they realized that the shitty product was costing more and revenues were down on auxillary markets, so they developed a fad to keep people interested...and make some more money. That I'm not against, but I am against bad product.

And most of it is. Formula. Even Michael Mann, a filmmaker I adore, struck out by sticking to close to his formula. WFT?

In the business, everything's a formula. What cannot be marketed cannot be made, as simple as that. And 3D has promise despite the gimmick but watch it attached to every talking animal movie Disney makes for the next ten years until it runs it's course.

They jump on the bandwagon for profits, which are record high despite them bitching attendance is down. How can attendance be down when two films this summer (Transformers and Harry Potter) have broken opening week records? the movies have gotten worse and the technology more sophisticated.

Really, Transformers 2 was really a bad movie that looked great. I had more fun watching The Hangover than any film out this year. Last summer had great films to choose from, this summer not so much. And the rest of the year not so much.

Translates into nothing without a good story. Avatar, that shows a lot of promise.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't forget your goals.

It's easy to lose the ladder as you climb your way up to becoming an editor.

The traditional master / servant role of Editor / Assistant has narrowed, not expanded due to technology facilitating more tasks for the assistant. HD work flows dominate the rooms, man.

What does that mean for an aspiring, up and coming assistant? doom.

It used to be that we relied on the code book and trimming dailies to work the room, now the path to becoming an editor with the big leagues is plagued with getting sucked into assistant mode, permanently or even years can take until you become a picture editor.

And becoming a picture editor is far out of reach if you go the assistant route. You may learn valuable lessons on how to structure an edit and all the technological issues one must master, but it won't teach you how to cut. Learning how to cut requires actually doing, not observing, cutting.

In Cut To The Chase, the greatest book on editing I've ever read, legendary film editor Sam O Steen (Chinatown, The Graduate, ect) recalls that he spent 11 years paying his dues as an assistant, but by the time he got to edit a feature he'd doctored so many that his peers at Warner Bros had to vouche for him to get in the union. He was under contract to Jack Warner, who notoriously kept editors on a leash on the studio system.

Yes the path is long, but the road is longer. Assistant editor duties have evolved throughout the years to a point of a less creative and more managerial position, more demanding and more technical then before. Most will contest that they will want to cut picture at some part of their lives, and if their mentors will get them in that could happen. Tv in particular has a good system to enter the gates, but like most things in life things happen random, and by force of will do your goals ever get met.

I do not believe in unions, and I do not believe anyone will give you a break. That break must happen by your own doing, pushing and shoving until it happens. Why would anyone spend 6-12 years of their life assisting other people when there is a path to cutting that only experience will teach? sorry but that gap will get wider between editor / assistant.

Jeff Buchanan, editor of Gondry's Be Kind Rewind, became a feature editor after cutting documentaries and bypassed the assistant route. Now the edit in that movie is debateable, but point is some people by association get their lucky break. And that's all that's needed.

As for me, I've done the assistant thing. But later in life, as I learned how to cut alone and by doing. The ratio of getting paid by it vs working for free is uneven thus far, but fortunes are about to change. Once you arrive at a place were you feel your skills are good, that you have developed a methodology, then you gotta have work that shows it. I do not know what people look at when they hire editors, because most people who hire them ARE NOT editors. That's why you see so many idiots running the asylum.

Lesson learned? don't forget your goals, and continue cutting. Anything that moves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 things I learned from watching Entourage.

The new season of Entourage is underway, and I'm a huge fan.

It's the only TV show that I watch, and it says a lot about Hollywood and it's culture albeit in an inflated, "fictional" reality way.

There are ten things I learned watching the show, which may or may not help me later in my career. These are:

1) The "arty" director always wins.

Billy Walsh stuck a finger to the establishment, and didn't care about money. Now that's not something I would follow, but his tactics to keep the suits away were formidable entries in a chess game of film making. Notes taken.

2) Listen to who can make you a deal.

Ari Gold was ALWAYS right. He's the man with the lifeline.

3) Don't listen to actors.

Vincent Chase don't know shit from Shynola. Evidenced in the Medellin storyline.

4) ALWAYS have another project set up.

In case the one you're working on bombs.

5) Spend wisely, but make the studio pay for the real things.

Like perks, trips, ect. Wanna hire me? fly me in. Wait, it's not like that anymore.

6) Make sure the posse has a job.

That way you're not the loyal breadwinner.

7) Studio execs are crazy.

And so are the description of the movies they make.

8) Don't trust what's not on paper.

Here today, gone tomorrow. It's not on the script? don't film it.

9) Keep family out the business.

Johnny Drama fucks things up routinely for Vince.

10) Lat but not least:

Play the eccentric, commanding, take no prisoners director well. It's your saving grace from the suits. But deliver no matter what capacity you're working on.