Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Editing Starts Today



Editing is actually my favourite part of the ad-making process. I've even read books on it. Possibly a copywriter thing? Do copywriters enjoy editing because it's a kind of narrative exercise?

Or perhaps it's just because I'm super-anal, and I really enjoy seeing what difference it makes to take 2 frames off the front of a shot, or the end.

In any case, the creative possibilities - and scope to improve the ad - are endless. And I'm always sorry when it's over, and I don't get to eat bento boxes any more.

The only bit that's tricky is the dynamic of seeing the first cut. The director and editor will have been working on it intensely for some time, and think it's perfect as it is. All they want you to do after watching their edit is to clap like a seal and say "fucking hell that's brilliant, I don't want you to change a thing."

This never happens.

So let's talk about editing. Do you enjoy being cooped up in a tiny room with five guys and some sushi? Or do you hate it?

42 comments:

john w. said...

Copywriter. Editing. The world has gone mental.

Anonymous said...

first edit nerves. There's got to be some sort of medical name for it.
Doleophobia?

Mike said...

I have a few questions for you scamp, I don't feel I can comment on the editing side of things having only done a couple 10/20 sec spots...

I know some places edit on site, so... on site or post-shoot editing? what are the benefits of each? Do you overcompensate with the shooting process - to make sure you have every base covered (even when the idea is perfectly scripted) or shoot only what is necessary?

Anonymous said...

Then you and your creative partner work on it intensely for some time, and think it's perfect as it is.

You show it to the client.

All you want them to do after watching your edit is to clap like a seal and say "fucking hell that's brilliant, I don't want you to change a thing."

This never happens.

Anonymous said...

P45icitis?

Ross McMinn said...

I actually enjoy the bit where I present the first edit and it's pointed out where improvements can be made. I may be a sadist but my objective when editing is to create the best film out of the materials and resources available. Objective viewers are another resource and I'd be remiss to outrightly dismiss feedback. I'm not saying it's all useful feedback but you don't know a box is entirely perfect unless you look at it from all angles.

Anonymous said...

All depends what the directors like. The atmosphere in there generally seems to reflect the one on shoot.

Anonymous said...

Editing.
The myriad of choices to deal with.
Bento box or chicken katsu curry?
Mother mash or Bodeans?
Shaston afterwards or the White Horse?
Just finished a week of it myself - love it.
Now the post.

Anonymous said...

Five blokes usually with girly producer fiddling about in a dark room - nothing like it.

Anonymous said...

I usually think it helps to have a planner in there.

Anonymous said...

I like it. Means you get out of the office and constantly eat without having to worry about people chasing you up for stuff.

Anonymous said...

Frist edit nerves: Aviditis

Anonymous said...

tv producers talking loudly into their iphones while you are trying to have a discussion about the edit with the director or whoever. love it.

Olly said...

I quite like inserting one or two obvious errors that the client can spot and get excited about.

Replace a perfectly good shot early in the sequence with one that sticks out like a sore thumb. When the client excitedly points this out you agree that it doesn't work and the editor vows find a better shot. Once he's hit 'undo' the shot that worked all along is replaced in the sequence and the client is distracted enough not to interfere any more.

The rest of the ad flies by as the client, like a parent at a school play see's little beyond the bit that's important to them.

This is similar to the DFA (Does Fuck All)fader on audio desks. A little bit more of DFA and the client agree's that yes it definitely sounds better.

Anonymous said...

The last director i worked with fucked off before he even finished his edit. I guess thats American directors for you.

namivan said...

Umm, I'd love to have the titles of the books you read on the subject - and found useful. Okay, one will be enough:)

thanks

Judit

Anonymous said...

You need a planner for a proper edit

Scamp said...

UPDATE: Just seen the first cut and really happy with it!!

Judit, the book I would recommend is "The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film" by Michael Ondaatje. Murch edited Apocalpyse Now, amongst other greats.

Anonymous said...

I always want more time on the shot than most directors (or their producers) allow for. Now I ask them to roll before the action and keep rolling for a few seconds afterwards. Works a treat. Last ad we managed to get a single continuous shot for 21 secs and then a second for 6 secs. 30 secs 1 cut. The hard part at the edit was choosing from the 41 takes we'd shot.

Anonymous said...

we're you a planner in a past incarnation scamp?

Anonymous said...

who directed the ad?

George said...

Yes - and what was it for?

Scamp said...

5.08 - Ha! No.

5.18 - I will be putting up names of people involved / client details when it's all finished.

Anonymous said...

i've always found it funny that you limeys let the director edit the spot. it wasn't his idea!

golublog said...

I had one great film professor in school who said the difference between a great film and a good film is purely in the hands of editors. It's so true when you see what they cut out.

john w. said...

Good DoP? Director?

Anonymous said...

Whats the point of punking in your subjective thoughts on editing? You chose the specific director for a reason: so that he'll/she'll do an amazing job. Creative teams that go anal during editing are just plain naff. Stick to writing scripts. thats what you're good at. Editor/director is there for a reason. Would you like an account man going anal and questioning every single boring detail thats on your script? Especially an untalented one? It maybe just perhaps could happen that you're doing the same thing. every talentless twat must justify their talent by being difficult and loud. seen it all before. same old shit.

agency editor said...

Good luck with the edit!

As an in-house editor, I've felt similar feelings, although mostly with pitches/mood reels/case studies etc...Patience is important.

Don't be a dick with the runners. Having been one, we never forget. And we always have the last laugh.

Editing books worth reading imo are In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing by Walter Murch, Technique of Film Editing by Karl Reisz and First Cut: Conversations with Film Editors by G Oldham.

Roger M said...

I think I like editing.

I can't say because:

a. some agencies, especially the bean-counter led ones, think it is counter-productive for writers to go for editing sessions. (Just leave it to the Art Director and Producer.)

b. in the 80s, my CD used to enjoy going to Australia to edit.
The fact that he usually took an extended holiday to go check on the property he had Down Under was just coincidental - ha.

c. Since he insisted on flying 1st class, this just mean there was no budget for even the Art Director to go along.

Anonymous said...

5.40 - but its his vision and his reputation if they go up the swanny. i think thats why creatives should stay out of editing. if creatives want to interfere with how an ad is shot and visualised.. they should become directors (in the same way that i client wants to start editing the copy they should become a creative). this is shown by most posts on here.. all these guys seem to think the best bit about editing is the free food and the time to doss about. don't hire a portrait artist then criticise his technique

Anonymous said...

It's alright with a GBK Satay Burger.
But you have to go onto salads after day 2.

GOUT-LEGS said...

you need to be all over the edit as a creative.
what do most directors know about marketing communication?
not much.
they know about how to create a great bit of film, but that nuance that changes a film into an ad is where we come in.

George said...

Gout Legs - there are many directors who know exactly how to get the message across. Creatives aren't the only ones that sell for a living. Directors need to be able to see the idea, otherwise they won't win the pitch. Besides, half the directors out there are ex-creatives anyway.

Anonymous said...

5.40 - but its his vision and his reputation if they go up the swanny. i think thats why creatives should stay out of editing.

no it's not. he's just executing YOUR idea.

there's a saying in films. you write film three times. You write it when you write it, you write it when you shoot it and you write it when you edit it.

there is no way in hell i would allow a director to rewrite my idea. he or she can contribute by all means but it's my idea and i, not the director, have to answer to the client. therefore i control the edit. i let the editor do their thing. plus, it's just not that hard.

June bug said...

Scamp, you've been bigging this one up for more than a week now. This better be fucking good.

Sell! Sell! said...

5:40, George, you don't want to go confusing the role of an advertising creative team with the role of a movie scriptwriter, that will only end in tears.

Anonymous said...

Sell sell. Am not confusing the roles. Don't worry. Just pointing out that filmmaking is merely storytelling. That's all it is. And I'm good at that. Yes film is collaborative. But if it's my idea i'm telling it my way. I don't think that's unreasonable.

bob hoffman said...

It happened once. I looked at a rough cut a creative team had done (I was creative director)and said, "Don't change a frame."

It was a glorious moment.

The spot went on to be very successful and win many awards.

The good ones seem to edit easily. The bad ones you can torture for days.

Sell! Sell! said...

5:40/7:57 hmm sorry I think I'm agreeing with you and quoting the wrong time - I keep doing that. If only people would use a name would save my little brian getting confused... :-)

Alan Wolk said...

I love editing too Simon.

But you do know that when you tell someone outside the business the amount of time spent editing a 30 second commercial, their primary reaction is incredulity followed by the inevitable "so if it takes a week to edit a 30 second commercial, does it take five years to edit a 2 hour movie?"

You can explain about storytelling and mini-movies all you want, but 9 out of 10 think you're insane and your clients who pay for this sort of indulgence even more insane.

Anonymous said...

Hate first cuts. Remember the worst was I burst into tears it was so bad. And then Sam Snead made it all better

Tom C said...

I learnt a long time ago how to edit on a PC, just to do rough cuts and play around with stuff, without incurring eye-watering charges. Learn all you can about the craft: read, read, watch, digest. Discover what rules to follow and which to break.And if necessary, overrule director or editor to get the film that you thought of, visualised in your head, wrote and cast, chose the music for, and so on.

And stand up for yourself. I once threatened to take over as director when he wouldn't give me what I wanted. I've been in too many PPMs where directors want to make the film that will make him rich and famous, not the agency and client. If it's your idea, it should be your call. And if you must take a planner along, it makes a change from having the account man there who knows nothing about editing. Tough? Well, remember that success has many fathers but failure is a bastard. And you'll be the one named in the paternity suit!