digital editing

What is Adobe After Effects?

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a motion graphic designer, you’ll quickly find Adobe After Effects to be essential software. After Effects artists are split between motion graphic designers and visual effects artists.

Adobe After Effects is a digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing application and is used in the post-production process of both filmmaking and television production, in live action and animation alike, with a wide variety of different uses.

Artists who create title sequence designs that begin almost every movie or television show you’ve ever seen, as well as animators will need to know After Effects. Similarly, artists who create informational graphics that explain complex circumstances visually can utilize the program. In the commercial world, motion graphic designers are tasked with animating logos for companies or creating stylistic lower thirds to introduce speakers in interviews.

Adobe After Effects

In contrast, visual effects artists use After Effects to mix computer generated elements with live action footage. This is known as compositing. Artists use After Effects to track, rotoscope, and key footage to create otherworldly environments that one might see in fantasy and science fiction films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Captain Marvel. After Effects can also be used to create stunning visual effects seen in films such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as Avengers: Infinity War

After Effects has dramatically affected the digital editing industry by increasing the quality and frequency of visual effects in entertainment. What used to require expensive and dangerous practical effects such as puppetry and pyrotechnics is now typically done by visual effects artists. 

Digital visual effects can be done cheaper and safer and can be integrated into any scale of project. There’s nothing that can’t be visualized on screen now–the only limitation is one’s imagination and knowledge of software such as After Effects. 

Examples of television shows and movies that have utilized skills that will be taught in the After Effects workshop at New York Film Academy (NYFA) include the title sequences for Stranger Things, The Leftovers, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and American Horror Story. Similarly, we will explore and mimic the compositing seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the visual effects seen in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as the visual effects seen in Captain Marvel.

New York Film Academy’s Digital Editing school offers workshops that provide students with hands-on instruction in editing theory, techniques, and the fundamentals of digital editing, as well as hands-on experience by editing various projects with footage provided to them in class. Apply today to upcoming workshops in 2020 to learn and strengthen your digital editing skills!

Written by Nate Garcia
Digital Editing, NYFA After Effects Instructor

2019 Academy Awards: The Best Editing Nominees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have announced the nominees for the 91st annual Academy Awards, to be given out during ABC’s televised ceremony on Sunday, February 24. The Oscars will cap off a months-long awards season featuring industry veterans, newcomers, and as always, endless debates about who deserves to go home with the golden statue.

New York Film Academy (NYFA) takes a closer look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Film Editing:

BlacKkKlansman, Barry Alexander Brown

This is the second Academy Award nomination for Barry Alexander Brown, with his first dating back nearly forty years ago for the 1979 documentary feature The War at Home. Since then, Brown has edited several of Spike Lee’s films, including Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, He Got Game, 25th Hour, and Inside Man. He’s also edited The Giver, and directed the rock documentary, The Who’s Tommy, the Amazing Journey.

Bohemian Rhapsody, John Ottman

John Ottman has edited several major motion pictures, but has also been the film composer for dozens more. He has edited several of Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer’s films, including The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, Superman Returns, Valkyrie and three X-Men films. Some of the films Ottman has scored include The Cable Guy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Astro Boy, Orphan, and Fantastic Four. This is his first Oscar nomination.

The Favourite, Yorgos Mavropsaridis

Yorgos Mavropsaridis has edited nearly eighty films, including those of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos — Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and The Favourite, which has earned him his first Oscar nomination. He will also work in post-production on Suicide Tourist, currently filming, starring Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Green Book, Patrick J. Don Vito

Green Book editor Patrick J. Don Vito has edited over a dozen films, including Another House on Mercy Street and My Life in Ruins, and has worked in the editing department of several more, including Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Welcome to Mooseport, and Semi-Pro. Don Vito also edited the visual effects on the first Austin Powers sequel. This is his first Oscar nomination.

Vice, Hank Corwin

Hank Corwin was first Oscar-nominated for his work on Adam McKay’s previous film, The Big Short. Corwin has also edited for other prestige directors such as Terence Malick, Robert Redford, Barry Levinson, and Oliver Stone. Some of his credits include Natural Born Killers, Nixon, The Horse Whisperer, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The New World, and The Tree of Life.

 

Check out the New York Film Academy Blog after this year’s ceremony for a full list of the 2019 Oscar winners and losers!

4 Tips for Getting Full-Time Work in Corporate Video


Every year tens of thousands of students across the country graduate with film degrees and get ready to join the workforce. Some of these graduates will go on to enter the film industry, while others will move into the rapidly growing corporate media landscape. More and more corporations and marketing companies are hiring and developing
video production in-house.

While a film degree or certificate from a school like the New York Film Academy is a huge step towards becoming employable in corporate video, there are additional things you can do to optimize your ability to get full-time work. This article outlines five tips for getting a full-time job in the corporate and commercial video industry. Here they are:

1. Know your Audience

Working in corporate video is very different than trying to get work in traditional filmmaking. In filmmaking, the end goal of the process is to output content that will sell to a distributor or be a commercially viable product for entertainment audiences. In corporate video, however, you are primarily aiming to make content that will please a client’s expectations and solve a real world business problem. In order to optimize your ability to work in this sector of the video production industry, you must align your priorities with those of the company you’re aiming to work for.

People hiring in corporate video will care about your ability to:

  • Understand the theory and process how marketing works (lead generation, brand awareness, sales, etc)
  • Be able to think of and develop video ideas that solve problems within any of these areas of marketing and sales
  • Develop marketing messaging and video concepts that align with business goals
  • Develop thoughtful brand-centric creative writing
  • Present ideas, storyboards, and concepts to clients
  • Shoot & edit in a way that matches the client’s or company’s overall brand standards and guidelines
  • Communicate respectful and empathetically with clients
  • Handle varieties of projects at once and work quickly

Understanding the goals and priorities of your hiring audience will inform your interviews, resume building, and overall strategy for finding work. Start to embrace the above points and skills.

2. Invest in Yourself

Hands-on training is a powerful way to build serious experience and stand out amongst other candidates. Beyond the four walls of school there are a variety of other investments one can make to build your network and create ongoing opportunities for full time work. Utilizing some of the following, while not essential, can help develop your career, skills, and ultimately make you a more valuable & hireable professional.

  • AMA or AAF: Groups like the American Marketing Association (AMA) or American Advertising Federation (AAF) allow you a great opportunity to create one-on-one relationships with both potential marketing employers and people who could refer you to others for work.
  • LinkedIn Premium: Linkedin is a great tool to network within corporate America. Linkedin Premium affords you the ability to network even deeper by messaging hiring managers, sending portfolios, and with other powerful tools to help you get in touch with just about any marketing or business professional.
  • Redbooks: Redbooks is a database of targeted decision makers and potential hiring managers of ad agencies and brands. With over 250,000 decision makers from 14,000 agencies, you’ll have the direct contact information of just about anyone in marketing. Having this will allow you to network, send work examples and resumes.
  • Hands-On Workshops: You can never be too experienced to get your hands back on production tools to hone your skills. Keep your skills relevant and honed, and also do some valuable networking and resume building.

There are hundreds of other things you can invest in to help build your career, but the above are great ways to get in front of the right people — which at the end of the day is one of the most vital aspects of getting full-time work in corporate video.


3. Become a Brand

Just like a company must brand and market themselves in order to sell their products, you as a video professional must brand and market yourself to find full-time work. This means you must have the ability to package your skills, communicate your experience, and have the tools to effectively market yourself. The following tools will be valuable:

  • A Simple Website: Creating a simple website through SquareSpace or WordPress can help bring all your information together into one place. Making a website shows you can put the effort in, and shows you’re serious about your craft. Include contact information, work examples, your resume, and references.
  • Completed Social Media Profiles: Create all the relevant social media accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr, etc) and upload all of your video examples and other information to these sites. Add your contact information and experience, as well as linking to your website.
  • Logo: Have a simple logo that represents who you are. It can be as simple as just a text-based logo of your name, or something more artistic. Either way, having a simple logo can help your resume pop, and help make your overall professional brand be engaging.
  • Demo Reel: Your demo reel is essential in summing up your video production capabilities and experience. Have this easily accessible on your website and resume so that employers can quickly get an idea of your skills. Make your demo reel 60 seconds in length and speak to the experience that relates to the type of work you’re aiming to get.
  • Relevant Video Examples: Demo reels don’t always tell the full story. If you’re aiming to work at an ad agency, have example videos of commercials you’ve directed, or web marketing videos you’ve produced. Having this in addition to your demo reel on your website is essential.

The above are the basic branding and marketing tools for your professional brand, and should be updated even after you find your first full-time job. They should evolve with your career and be ongoing tools for you to communicate your value.

4. Follow Up … And Follow Up (Again)

Of course, you must apply and reach out to potential job creators after you have your resume and demo reel, etc. But if you think you’re just going to apply to a job or email a manager once and immediately get a job, think again. Working in corporate video is competitive and it requires consistent and respectful follow-ups to the companies and agencies you’re trying to be employed by.

In business development, 80 percent of sales happen after five follow-up attempts, and finding work is essentially sales — so don’t be bashful in sending follow-up emails or making follow-up calls to jobs or companies you’ve applied to. However, don’t be annoying or spammy, as you might create the opposite effect. Here’s a simple follow-up email script that will help increase your ability to engage a hiring manager:

“Hi [First Name] –

How are you? My name is [Full Name] and I’m following up regarding the video position I applied for last week. I understand you have a lot going on, but I wanted to say hello and send you another example of my video work for your consideration.

Here you go: [insert link]

Let me know what you think. If you’d like to speak with any references, let me know and I can send any email introductions. I appreciate your time!”

The above approach does not apply to every situation, but in general is a solid starting email template for following up with a manager. Remind them of your name, that you applied, and send them something referenceable like a new video link or a particular project you’ve done.

Between knowing your audience, investing in yourself, building your brand, and mastering the follow-up, you’ll be in a great position to land a full-time job. Stay engaged throughout your studies at NYFA, and network with fellow graduates. Whatever happens, never give up, as there is incredible opportunity in the corporate video industry.

 

Article by Mike Clum.

Mike Clum is the founder of Clum Creative, a corporate video production company that employs 10 full-time video production professionals.

Editing Like an Oscar Winner: Why Learn Avid Media Composer?

by NYFA Instructor Igor Torgeson

Avid Editing

With a new semester beginning, students at NYFA campuses are starting their first introduction to Avid’s Media Composer system.  Hard drives are being formatted, project directories are being created, and folks everywhere are wondering to themselves “What is YCbCr anyway?”

As Post Production instructors, we often get the asked how Media Composer became the software of choice at the New York Film Academy. I can only assume that question is also asked at the many film schools where Media Composer is the required software.

This uniform approach to editing software comes from three basic facts about Media Composer that have been consistent since the 1990’s and look to continue to be true for at least the next five to ten years.

1. Avid Media Composer is the Industry Standard Editing Software.

All of the films nominated the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018, as well as all the films nominated for Best Editing for 2018, were edited using Avid Media Composer.

If you’re going to be working in feature films or episodic television, Media Composer is simply the standard for editing software.  Post facilities are set up to use Media Composer and that is the expected workflow.

2. Proficiency in Avid Media Composer Translates to Proficiency in Other Editing Platforms

Students sometimes find the first few sessions with media composer a bit challenging, as the interface does very little to inform you what everything is and what it does. This is a legacy of the software’s creation by engineers for technically-inclined individuals.

The thing to remember, however, is that all the other Non-Linear Editing software on the market is at least in some part inspired by or reacting to Media Composer. That means the general workflow of every platform is the same.  Media gets into the software. A window allows the editor to view and listen to the media.  The editor chooses the media to include in the show and places it in a timeline, which can be viewed in another window.  This is the same in every platform!

Once an editor becomes comfortable with this process in Avid Media Composer, moving to other platforms becomes easier, as the switch is simply a matter of finding the same tools in the new software, as well as understanding which tools the new platform has automated or eliminated.

3. Avid Editors Earn More Than Editors On Other Platforms

Of course, success as an editor is first and foremost a result of talent, skill, and experience — whatever the platform. Nevertheless, the data shows that there is a positive difference in income for Avid editors. For students hoping to move into editing, or at least have a gig that can pay well between other projects, Media Composer is the clear choice.  According to Payscale.com, the median nationwide salary for an editor with Avid skills is over $50,000.  For an editor with Premiere skills, $37,475. In Payscale’s survey, Premiere editors topped out at $53,727, top Avid editors made $105,126!

According to Glassdoor.com, Avid Editors in major markets, depending on experience, can expect even higher salaries, getting to over $135,000 annually. The same site currently lists Premiere Editor positions for $40,000 to $51,000.

For gigs and on an hourly basis, Avid Editors expect between $45 and $75 an hour.  Final Cut Pro Editors fare even worse — Glassdoor currently lists a Final Cut Pro Editing position for $20-$22 an hour.

As we saw above, once an editor learns Avid, it’s relatively easy to shift to a new platform.  So not only does an editor have an economic advantage by knowing Avid, in the absence of Avid jobs, it’s easy to shift to another software, even if it means a lower rate for a while.

Sweeteners

So with those three basic facts in mind, Avid Media Composer has been the clear choice for editing software.  Avid has also sweetened the deal a bit for students and New York Film Academy in particular.  First, Media Composer is available to students for about $10 a month, which is an enormous discount off the retail price.  Second, Avid has partnered with NYFA to make us an Avid Learning Partner, which allows us to offer our students the possibility of earning Avid User Certification (if they successfully pass the exam).  

With those things together, our goal continues to be giving students a thorough training in Post Production, on industry standard software, with a competitive advantage when entering the marketplace.  And maybe even a passing knowledge of YCbCr.

6 Tips for Working With an Editor

As a director, you may have trouble putting your baby in another’s hands. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about your project for years. But working with an editor will be a vital part of being a professional filmmaker, and learning how an editor works can help your film be its best. Here we offer six tips for establishing a relationship with the person who holds the keys to turning your countless hours of hard-earned footage into a film.

  1. Choose your editor wisely.

You will likely be spending a lot of time with your editor, and there may be tense moments of disagreement, so be sure you choose one you like! It’s important that you get along as well as respect their work. As quoted in this MovieMaker article, Michelle Morgan (L.A. Times) gives this important bit of wisdom: “You should never hire an editor that you don’t want to sit and have a beer with.”

  1. Let your editor do her job.

Perhaps the biggest mistake a director can make is to micromanage the editing process. Besides the fact that you’ll be stepping on the toes of your editor, who is an artist in her own right, you’ll be less likely to allow for the objectivity of a person who has come to the project relatively late, and who can look at it with fresh eyes.

  1. Learn how to edit.

This may sound contradictory to the above, but learning what’s possible in the editing process can help you avoid missteps. “I love working with directors who have an understanding of editing,” editor Joi McMillon told MovieMaker, “because I feel like a lot of times when they ask me to do something, and I say, ‘I would love to do that but you don’t necessarily have the material to make that happen,’ they understand.”

  1. Give your editor a room of her own.

Having a quiet room of one’s own is crucial to the creative process, and this is particularly true for your editor. Perhaps this is your first film and super low budget, but packing your editor into a space with lots of distractions is going to hinder her work.

  1. Remember the editor is there to serve the story too.

If you find yourself constantly doubting your editor and question her decisions, it may help to remember that she is also there to serve the story. You did not bring her on board to be an automaton, but as a skilled artist who can serve your story best if she is allowed to work with some degree of freedom.

  1. Give postproduction room to breathe.

Rushing the postproduction process will likely cause thoughtless decisions to impact your film. As The 6 Stages of Editing as a Film Director hints, “Never be afraid to let the first cut ‘rest’ for a few days so everyone involved can see it with fresh eyes.”

Filmmaking is a stressful, deadline-driven business, but you will do your film a disservice if you do not allow a little breathing room, so that you and your editor are not forced to make snap decisions that you’ll regret when you see the finished product on a big screen, with an audience to witness!

Our 2018 BAFTA Predictions

While the Oscars are still a few weeks away, the 71st British Academy Film Awards are finally upon us. The ceremony will be hosted by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley on February 18, at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall.

The BAFTAs are one of the major award shows of the season. Because so many actresses, actors, and filmmakers come from the United Kingdom, the nominations and winners often overlap with many of the Golden Globe and Oscar categories. However, because the Academy is made up of different voters, sometimes the results can be wildly different.

Here then are the nominees for some of the major categories, along with our best guesses at who will be taking home the BAFTA award bronze mask statue this weekend — though like always, anything can happen.

The BAFTA Award
Leading Actress
Annett Bening – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Our Predicted WINNER: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

While Margot Robbie is considered the favorite for the Oscar in this category due to her stellar performance in the wildly enjoyable I, Tonya — the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan isn’t as much of a cultural milestone outside of the United States. This may give the edge to Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, star of Lady Bird, a film with near perfect critical acclaim.

Leading Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kayluuya – Get Out
Jamie Bell – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Timothee Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Our Predicted WINNER: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

It’s hard to bet against Daniel Day-Lewis, especially in a thoroughly British role that may also be his last. But Winston Churchill is about as legendary as you can get in Great Britain, and Oldman’s performance as the Prime Minister in his finest moments has already won several awards.


Supporting Actress

Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Kristin Scott Thomas – Darkest Hour
Laurie Metcalfe – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Our Predicted WINNER: Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread

While Day-Lewis may not win, his co-star Lesley Manville certainly has a good shot just for being able to go head-to-head with him in several scenes, matching his intensity and emotional subtlety every time.

Phantom Thread

Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread

Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Hugh Grant – Paddington 2
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

There’s a lot of momentum behind Sam Rockwell this season for his complex performance as a bigoted cop in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That momentum might be too much for any of the other very talented actors in this category, including co-star Woody Harrelson.


EE Rising Star Award

Daniel Kaluuya
Florence Pugh
Josh O’Connor
Timothee Chalamet
Our Predicted WINNER: Tessa Thompson

Daniel Kaluuya made a huge splash with his haunting starring role in Get Out, but we’ve got to give the edge to Tessa Thompson, the talented American actress who is quickly becoming an A-list movie star thanks to her scene-stealing performance in Thor: Ragnarok.

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson

Editing
Baby Driver – Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Blade Runner 2049 – Joe Walker
The Shape Of Water – Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Jon Gregory
Our Predicted WINNER: Dunkirk – Lee Smith

The editing in all of this year’s nominees was impressive, but Dunkirk’s style was a crucial part of the narrative — telling the evacuation of Dunkirk in three distinct timelines cut back-and-forth. The epic World War II film will probably come away with at least one award this weekend, and odds are it’ll be this one.


Special Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War For The Planet Of The Apes
Our Predicted WINNER: The Shape Of Water

The Shape of Water is essentially a classic romance tale, except one of the romantic leads is a computer generated seven-foot fish creature. By making the character not only believable but emotionally relatable, the special effects team for The Shape of Water more than proved they’re worthy of this year’s award.


Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049 – Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour – Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk – Hoyte van Hoytema
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Ben Davis
Our Predicted WINNER: The Shape Of Water – Dan Laustsen

Blade Runner 2049 is a dark horse in both the Special Effects and Cinematography categories for its fully realized portrayal of a near-future America, but The Shape of Water will probably come ahead in both. The film is a visual marvel in multiple ways, and slides between multiple styles and genres with ease.


Adapted Screenplay

Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin & David Schneider – The Death Of Stalin
Matt Greenhalgh – Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
Simon Farnaby & Paul King – Paddington 2
Our Predicted WINNER: James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name

Paddington 2 is a smash success and both Aaron Sorkin and Armando Iannucci are screenwriting legends, but Call Me By Your Name manages to adapt the 2007 novel of the same name in a way that preserves all its raw emotion that audiences can’t help but be affected by.


Original Screenplay

Jordan Peele – Get Out
Steven Rogers – I, Tonya
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape Of Water
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird

Gerwig is making history as only the fifth woman nominated for a Best Director Oscar, and her film Lady Bird is easily considered one of the best of the year. It’s had a tougher time at the BAFTAs, so if the overall film gets recognized it’ll have to be here for its remarkable screenplay.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird

Animated Film
Loving Vincent
My Life As A Courgette
Our Predicted WINNER: Coco

All three films are visual works of art, but it’s hard to bet against Pixar and their soulful, supernatural masterpiece about a 12-year-old boy trapped in the land of the dead.


Documentary

City Of Ghosts
I Am Not Your Negro
Icarus
An Inconvenient Sequel
Our Predicted WINNER: Jane

Primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall is a hero and legend to naturists and to her fellow Britons alike. Jane, the 2017 documentary about Goodall, has already picked up several festival and critics awards and will probably get the BAFTA as well.


Outstanding British Film

Darkest Hour
Death Of Stalin
God’s Own Country
Lady Macbeth
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Paddington 2

There might not be anything more loved and more British than Paddington 2, a film with a rare 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. While all of the other nominees could win as well, especially Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards or the Winston Churchill drama Darkest Hour, the world really needed an adorable teddy bear in a raincoat —again— and Paddington 2 delivered.

Paddington 2

Paddington 2

Director
Denis Villeneuve – Blade Runner 2049
Luca Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Guillermo del Toro – The Shape Of Water

The Shape of Water leads the BAFTA nominations with twelve total — and it takes a masterful director to bring all of these nominated elements together into a fantastical tour-de-force. Guillermo del Toro already picked up a Golden Globe for his efforts, and while his competition is stiff, he’ll most likely pick up a BAFTA as well — even if the film falls short in other categories.


Best Film

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: The Shape of Water



It cannot be overstated just how important the Second World War is to modern Britain, and both films in this category dealing with the subject —Dunkirk and Darkest Hour — do so in masterful ways. For different reasons, Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards have connected with and sparked conversation for their audiences. But The Shape of Water has a slight advantage over its competition with its overwhelming amount of nominations this year, as well as its perfectly executed fairy tale with just enough of a twist to make it unique. It doesn’t hurt that avid movie buff Guillermo del Toro also managed to make the film a love letter to cinema. Look for this film to take home the biggest BAFTA of them all.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

From Rough Cut to Director’s Cut to Final Cut: How a Film Transforms Over Time

Craig_Tanner_on_Set_Avatar

There’s a reason why filmmakers don’t just toss together the footage they took and call it a day. This unprepared footage is called rough for a reason — it’s far from what you’d expect to see as the finalized product on the big screen.

While both pre-production and production come with their own challenges, it’s during post-production that all that work is assembled into something high-quality and presentable. Thus, it’s vital that digital editors do their best to turn that rough cut into what will be shown to audiences worldwide.

The following are the four main tasks that an assistant editor and/or digital editor working on a film is responsible for:

1. Logging

Logging is in the domain of the assistant editor. In filmmaking and television production, it’s common for the amount of footage shot to be several times longer than what will actually be used on the final cut. To avoid wasting time searching for specific source shots, the very first stage of post-production involves the assistant editor sorting all the dailies (raw, unedited footage) so that they’re properly labeled, organizing all the footage so that the editor can work more efficiently to make a cut. To help the editor, especially since this is likely the first time they’re looking at the film, directors and cinematographers also will leave notes onto takes to help give context. Remember: films are rarely shot in the order that the movie will actually go.

2. The Editor’s Cut

2017.03.01 Editing workshop075

The editor’s first major task is to start assembling the footage in an order that flows smoothly story-wise. This involves selecting all the best audio and visual material from the dailies and using them to put together each scene. Today’s’ big films usually have an editor doing this even when filming is still taking place. This way, directors and producers can check out the editor’s rough scenes and decide if additional footage needs to be shot. This is also the editor’s opportunity to start trimming off some of the extra footage that’s currently making the film longer than intended.

3. The Director’s Cut

During filming, the director will try finding time to join the editor and offer his suggestions. But once shooting has ended, the director can then focus entirely on working with the editor to refine the cut of the film. This stage, which can last anywhere from 10 weeks to several months, is when the director and editor will reorder, remove, and change every scene and shot with extreme attention to detail. It’s also their chance to discover plot holes and missing shots that require new scenes to be scheduled for filming.

4. The Final Cut

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Once the editor, producer, and designer are satisfied with the current cut, the sound, music, and title designers will add to the edit. After music and sound effects are added to the cut and everyone is satisfied, it is sent in for an exact copy to be created. This final cut is what people across the globe will see on their theater and television screens.

Excited about digital editing? Learn more in NYFA’s digital editing programs.

The Latest Video Editing Trends to Watch

Video editing has come a long long way. From the beginning of the 20th century, when film as a medium began to develop, editing meant simultaneously two things at once: the joining of shots as well as the manipulation of images. Many of the first films made were realist, documentary films, such as the Lumiere Brothers’ “Arrival of the Train,” which fascinated audiences and allowed them to recognize themselves and the places and events around them. Montage style developed as a counterpoint, where Soviet film makers such as Eisenstein juxtaposed contrasting or even unrelated shots to create new meaning. Rathern than tell a linear story, montage sought to evoke emotion. Montage gave rise to the formalist tendency, which began to see any form of video footage as fodder for creating illusions, magic tricks and fantastic worlds, a style begun by George Melies and continued by the Hollywood superhero 3D blockbuster of today.  

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Before the digital revolution, linear video editing was done with expensive video tape recorders (VTR) that did not promise quality and was were cumbersome. Later inventions such as the “flying erase-head” and vision mixers made the process easier. But the switch from celluloid to digital incited a fundamental change in the process. Gone were the days of handling magnetic tapes, and with the arrival of premier software such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects, digital video editing was here to stay.

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This is the age of digital. Consequently, the norms of video editing are undergoing a tremendous change. Here, we give you a lowdown on the latest digital editing trends to watch out for.

1. Video Chapterisation Will Gain Popularity

In other words, we’re entering an age where instead of watching videos, we’ll be reading them — and instead of trial-and-error fast-forwarding to find a particular scene, we’ll only have to check the contents and find the right chapter or bookmark. Although most DVDs come with rudimentary chapter divisions, this will become more sophisticated, with careful allocation of sequences semantically, rather than on duration.

2. Your Smartphone May Become A Video Editing Station

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Professional video and photo editing software with a multitude of features may become available on smartphones soon, meaning users can shoot a film, edit it, add special effects and title cards, and release it to YouTube, all from a smartphone. Before you worry that your Avid Media Composer skills are wasted, don’t despair: the entertainment industry, while flexible and able to adapt and absorb new trends like these, will still have need of professional editors able to apply advanced skill and precision. Phones will not replace post-production. Instead, digital editors can see this trend as an interesting opportunity to plug into popular culture and play with emerging new media.

Apps such as Adobe Premiere Clip and WeVideo can be used to make home videos or presentations. For professionals there are paid options, such as the powerful Pinnacle Studio Pro developed by Corel, with more sophisticated features.

3. Live Video Editing

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Live videos are already a thing — whether you’re streaming a rock show live on Facebook timeline or showcasing a 30 sec clip on Instagram. And live video editing is going to be the next big thing. While it’s still at a nascent stage, with live editors rushing to apply filters or emoji to recorded content or camera switching in TV, you’ll soon see innovative developments in this space. The app Lumify, for instance (only available on ios), let’s you edit video from the moment you start recording, for example changing the white balance or focus exposure.

We’re entering an age where one records and edits simultaneously. Soon, more complex features will become easily available, particularly designed for seamless video transitions so as to make sure the audience does not notice the cuts between shots.

You can expect the video editing industry to boom, and as a digital editor you’ll be expected to know the fundamentals of editing as well as the new trends. Even beyond editing digital content with film or advertising companies, your skills can apply in many new fields — from marketing strategies to social media promotion.

Ready to get up to speed with digital editing and dive into this exciting field? Check out NYFA’s digital editing programs for special video editing courses, year round classes and even workshops to help you to remain on top.

 

What You Can Learn from Edward Dmytryk’s 7 Rules of Cutting

Edward Dmytryk is arguably one of the most influential directors in movie history, with over 50 films to his credit. He was nominated for an Oscar for his film “Crossfire” (1947) and worked with big name stars like John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, and Humphrey Bogart. But you may not know that before directing films, Dmytryk was a film editor.

In 1984, Edward Dmytryk wrote “On Film Editing,” which stipulated seven basic rules of cutting. He used his own experience to pave the way for future editors. These rules are an excellent resource for New York Film Academy students in our digital editing programs. The examples below will show how his rules are still used in contemporary films today. While the technology behind film and editing has changed since the mid-1900s, it cannot be denied that Dmytryk’s style is timeless.

Rule 1: Never make a cut without a positive reason.

Long scenes have the potential to be “the boring part” of any movie. Nothing is worse than a section that drags on with meaningless dialogue and no action. However, Dmytryk was never afraid of a long shot, stating “a cut should never be made only because the cutter feels the prevailing cut is too long.” In fact, long shots have become more popular in contemporary films. For example, the entire film of “Birdman,” which won Best Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, is designed to look like a single shot. Edits are made to carefully support the illusion of a continuous track shot, and are only made in support of the overall stylistic goal.

Rule 2: When undecided about the exact frame to cut on, cut long rather than short.

In order to maintain fluidity in a film, cuts must be as precise as possible — especially in action films where two shots will be fast-paced and must be perfectly timed. The editor must have plenty of film to work with when deciding where to make that pivotal cut. For this reason, the camera will continue to roll for a few seconds after the action is over and before the director says “cut.” Director Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill”) knew this and so did his actors. That is why they often used to say “Hi, Sally” to the camera while filming to say hello to Sally Menke, Tarantino’s long-time film editor, who edited all of his films until her death in 2010. This is why the cast and crew used to greet her after a long take, knowing that she would see these scenes and cut them for the perfect action sequence. They wanted to give her plenty of extra footage to work with, knowing that an editor will often look to cut long rather than short.

Rule 3: Whenever possible cut “in movement.”

While transitions between scenes will sometimes require a few frames of no action, action is always preferred. A film can be pushed along scene-by-scene if there is an action to keep the audience engaged. For example, the urgency of “Apollo 13” (the 1995 Best Editing winner) is heightened in the scene below. After the flight director (Ed Harris) explains the challenge, the scene immediately cuts to the scientists dumping materials on a table. This movement shot is more urgent than a scene of them sitting and discussing the problem.

Also see the scene below from “American Hustle” (nominated for Best Editing in 2013). The sequence of the characters all going to the event is made as a montage, and each cut goes to a scene of action (i.e. Jeremy Renner lighting a cigarette, Jennifer Lawrence exiting the car, and Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams walking through the smoke). This keeps the scene moving a builds tension to the following scenes.

Rule 4: The “fresh” is preferable to the “stale.”

Dmytryk understood that a film must cater to its audience. Regarding his fourth rule, he said “if it is necessary to add a number of frames before the actor enters the scene, the viewer has, at least, a new setting to examine and integrate, which serves to keep his interest alive.” In the clip from “Titanic” (Best Editing winner in 1997) where Rose first calls Brock, there are quite a few seconds of filming before the camera focuses on an actor. Further in the clip, when the movie transitions to a ship, there is a shot of the ship from afar to show the audience where the film has moved.

This is also particularly true of films by Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”), which heavily focus on setting.. See the scene before from “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (nominated for Best Editing in 2014). As the two protagonists (Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori) go down to meet the police, there are several seconds of film with no one speaking. This allows the audience to take in the new setting and also shows Edward Norton’s character’s consternation with the arrest.

Rule 5: All scenes should begin and end with continuing action.

The movement of a scene is one of its most important parts. Whether it is a simple transition or a tense action sequence, the actor’s movement must be seamless throughout. For example, if you are showing an actor entering a room, there must be continuous movement from the cut filmed from outside the room to the cut filmed from inside the room. The example below is from “The Matrix” (Best Editing winner in 1999), where the protagonist (Keanu Reeves) must escape his office. The scene is not in one continuous shot, so the editor must create continuity and make the actions look the same throughout each take, editing down the shot so that it looks like the actor never stops moving.

Also see the scene below from “Spotlight” (2015), which was nominated for Best Editing. As Mark Ruffalo’s character goes from the cab to the office, his movements are continuous.

Rule 6: Cut for proper values rather than proper “matches.”

It is important to remember while discussing these rules that Dmytryk was also a director. He understood that the film itself was the most important product. He believed that “the film’s dramatic requirements should always take precedence over the mere aesthetics of editing.” Dmytryk references a scene in his film “Murder, My Sweet” (1944), where a flashing light does not match up between takes. However he understood that the flashing light added to the drama of the scene and decided to leave it in. 

At the end of the day, Dmytryk stressed that the substance of the film was paramount to all of his rules. His techniques are important. However, these rules should be used only to make a film great, not to make a film perfect. In the last line of his book he states, “This book has persistently stressed technique and has urged the pursuit of perfection in its use. But the ‘human situation,’ in all its guises, is what good films are all about, and technical skill counts for nothing if it is used only to manufacture films which have little to do with humanity.”

What have you learned about your own projects after reading Dmytryk’s editing rules? How will you use them in future products to create a brilliant film? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re ready to learn more about digital editing, check out NYFA’s digital editing programs!

Do the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Awards Accurately Predict the Oscars?

The Eddie Awards are given out by an honorary society of film editors called “American Cinema Editors” for achievements in editing both in film and in television. Along with acknowledging outstanding work, what makes these awards so special is that they often predict which film will win an Oscar in the same category as well as the much-coveted Best Picture Award! 

So if you’re one of those people who love playing Oscar prediction games and are even willing to bet your money on it, watching the Eddie Awards ceremony is a must. If you’re still not convinced, here we give you examples of 18 years (yes, 18!) when the American Cinema Editors were accurate predictors of the Academy Awards. 

1. 2016: Yes, that’s right. Just last year, the judges of the Eddie Awards awarded “Mad Max: Fury Road” in the Best Edited Feature Film-Dramatic Category. The film not only went on to win an Oscar for film editing, but also five more Academy Awards for sound editing and mixing, costumes, makeup, and production design. So this year, keep an eye out for the film that wins an Eddie in this category, as it’s pretty likely that the same movie will take home some Oscars too!

2. 2003-2011: For almost a decade, the Eddie Awards proved a near-constant string of accurate predictions as to which film will win the award for best editing, and several films won the best picture as well, including “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” in 2004, “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2009, and “The Hurt Locker” in 2010. Even now, the third LOTR film remains the first and only fantasy film to win a Best Picture award, and also holds a record for winning 11 Oscars — in every category it was nominated for (a record shared with “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic”).

 

Meanwhile, in 2009, there was a fierce debate as to whether “Slumdog Millionaire” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” should win. The following year all eyes were set on James Cameron’s 3D extravaganzaAvatar” to sweep the awards as against the low-budget war thriller “The Hurt Locker.” So the next time the rivalry gets tough, you know whom to trust: the Eddie Awards.

3.  1991-1995: The early to mid ‘90s were also a good time for the Eddies. While “JFK” won the Academy Awards for best editing and cinematography in 1992, all the other films to win an Eddie — “Unforgiven” (1993), “Schlinder’s List” (1994) and “Forrest Gump” (1995) — went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture one after the other.

4.  1964-1966: Even during the early years, the Eddie Awards were known for getting the Oscar predictions quite right. From 1964 to 1966, they correctly predicted that “How the West Was Won,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music” would win awards for editing and receive a string of nominations. “The Sound of Music” in particular went on to win 5 Oscars, including Best Picture, and still remains one of the most beloved musicals ever made.

 

So do you think “Arrival” and “La La Land” are likely to win big at the Oscars? And what about animation movies as well? Will it “Moana” or ”Zootopia” that takes home an Academy Award? If you can’t wait to find out, then don’t miss the Eddie Awards  on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017!

What films do you think were the best-edited this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Movie Trailer Editing: How Much Should You Reveal?

“So they’ve basically just shown us the full movie, then.”

It’s a common charge against many movie trailers, particularly in recent years. For whatever reason, it’s becoming common to show so much in the trailer that audiences wonder whether there’s any point in seeing the full cut.

It goes without saying that this is the exact opposite reaction that you want to elicit from your potential audience. Today, we’re going to look at the arguments for and against baring all during your movie trailer.

Warning: potential movie spoilers ahead!

Setting Out the Market Stall

A classic example of this would be the trailer to 2011’s “The Double,” which relies on a central plot twist that Richard Gere is the killer he claims to be hunting…

… something which is completely given away in the theatrical trailer:

Didn’t see the movie? Neither did anybody else. Commercially, it completely tanked (grossing $3m against a $17m budget), and we can’t help but suspect that the tell-all trailer was a deciding factor in the movie’s failure to garner interest.

But there is a case to be made for showing all your cards. Director Robert Zemeckis opines: “We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly everything that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It’s just one of those things. To me, being a movie lover and film student and a film scholar and a director, I don’t. What I relate it to is McDonald’s. The reason McDonald’s is a tremendous success is that you don’t have any surprises. You know exactly what it is going to taste like. Everybody knows the menu.”

Who is Dead?!

A compelling argument for sure, but a counter-point would be that this all applies only to specific types of movies; if you’re dealing in a formulaic genre, it’s generally good to reassure audiences that you’re hitting all the beats they’ve come to expect. Take the “Golden Eye” trailer, for instance — a lot of spoilers in there, but this was a Bond movie. There’s almost an unwritten contract of things a Bond movie needs to deliver, and the trailer is the best opportunity to advertise the fact that all of the boxes are ticked.

The same goes for remakes. The 2013 adaption of the Stephen King classic “Carrie” also had a spoiler-laden trailer, but for good reason; fans of the original needed assurance that all of the iconic scenes (such as the “prom reveal”) would be faithfully featured in the remake.

While Zemeckis makes a good point, unfortunately his movie “What Lies Beneath” probably wasn’t the best type of flick in which to pour every single plot reveal into the theatrical trailer:

It’s okay if you let slip that Tom Cruise will survive a big explosion in a “Mission Impossible” trailer. After all, nobody assumes for one moment that his fictional life is in any real jeopardy, and audiences already know he’ll live to survive for at least another movie for as long as the franchise remains profitable.

But a Hitchcockian-thriller relies heavily on a slow and suspenseful layering of reveals, and is entirely undermined when these reveals are telegraphed ahead of time.

Finding the Balance

Trailer editors working in comedy and horror also need to tread carefully. Viewers are remarkably good at spotting whether you’ve included all of your best gags and jump-scares within the trailer, which can be as much of a turn-off as a “Sixth Sense” trailer that reveals Bruce is already dead.

Ultimately, whether a movie trailer should hold its cards to the chest or bare all really depends on the individual movie itself. Balancing audience expectation and creating intrigue (as well as succinctly communicating what the film is about) is the recipe behind an effective movie trailer.

Gut intuition as an editor will get you most of the way, but consider extensive test screening of your trailer with different audiences to get an indication of whether you’ve struck the right balance.

And we cannot understate how important that balance is. After all, those three minutes of trailer can make or break your 90 minutes of feature.

What are some of your favorite film trailers? Let us know in the comments below!

A Beginner’s Guide to Film Editing Vocabulary

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It was Francis Ford Coppola who said, “The essence of cinema is editing.” If you’re an aspiring film  editor, you know your craft matters — and you know it also matters how you speak and think about your craft. We’ve compiled a guide to help you beef up your terminology and learn to communicate about editing like a pro. The following are some fundamental digital editing terms  that editors should know: your concise guide to an editing vocabulary.

Cut

A transition where one shot is instantly followed by another.

Continuity Editing

Visual editing where shots are cut together in a clear and linear flow of uninterrupted action. This type of cutting seeks to maintain a continuous sense of time and space.

Continuity Error

When the action or elements of a scene don’t match across shots. For example, when a character breaks a glass window but in a later shot the window is shown undamaged.

Cross Cutting

Technique used to give the illusion that two story lines of action are happening at the same time by rapidly cutting back and forth between them.

Cutaway

The interruption of a continuously filmed action with a shot that’s peripherally related to the principal action.

Dissolve

When the end of one shot overlaps the start of the next one to create a gradual scene transition.

Editing

The process of taking raw footage to select and combine shots to create a complete motion picture.

Establishing Shot

A shot that gives viewers an idea of where the scene is taking place. These usually involve a shot from a long distance, such as a bird’s eye view.

Eyeline Match

A technique based on the idea that viewers want to see what on-screen characters are seeing. For example, if a character is looking intently at an off-screen object, the following shot will be of that object.

Fade

A visual effect used to indicate a change in place and time. This involves a gradual brightening as a shot opens or a gradual darkening as the shot goes black or to another color. Sound also fades in and out to convey the change.

Iris

A wipe that takes the shape of a shrinking or growing circle, depending on if the scene is opening or ending. Rarely used today but very common during the silent era.

J Cuts

An editing technique that allows the audience to first hear audio from a shot, and then see it.

Jump Cut

An abrupt cut that creates a lack of continuity between shots by leaving out parts of the action.

L Cut

An editing changeover between one shot and another in film, where the visual and audio shift at different times. Also called a split edit.

Matched Cut

A cut joining two shots with matching compositional elements. This helps to establish strong continuity of action. One of the more notable examples of this technique is from a famous scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Montage

A sequence of shots assembled in juxtaposition of one another to create an emotional impact, condense a story,  or convey an idea. A famous example is “Psycho’s” shower scene. WARNING: This scene contains graphic violent content and may be disturbing. hereView the scene .

Roll

Graphics or text that moves up or down the screen. This technique is typically used for credits by having text move from bottom to top.

Rough Cut

The first editing pass done for a film. (The former sentence is not entirely accurate as an Assembly Cut is the first editing pass done for a film, but it depends on how one defines editing, so I think this is o.k.).  A rough cut receives further polishing and editing before making its way out to audiences.

Sequence Shot

A long take composed of one shot that extends for an entire scene or sequence. Usually requires complex camera movements and action. Here is a notable example from GoodFellas. (This isn’t a term that is particularly important for an editor to know.)

Shot Reverse Shot

The alternating of over-the-shoulder-shots, usually used during a conversation between two characters.

Sweetening

The process of adding sound effects and music and/or enhancing the existing audio with effects.

Wipe

The transition from one shot to another with a visible pattern or element. No longer used in today’s films but very common in early cinema.

Any more important editing vocabulary items to add to our guide? Let us know in the comments below!