What Makes A Good Editor?

Last quarter I taught the “Art & Craft of Film Editing” class at UCLA Extension. I dedicated our last session to career-related questions and compiled a list of what, in my opinion, makes a good editor. Here’s that list:

Good instincts (Knowing what the audience wants to see or feel, and/or *should* see and feel, as well as knowing what feels right at any given moment.)
Understanding story & character
Good eye for performance and production value
Knowing your craft, knowing how to use at least one editing tool (Avid, FCP, Premiere…)
Practice (Lots of it!)
Speed: Fast thinking and fast execution (e.g. know your keyboard shortcuts)
Organization (For efficiency and speed. Organize your project really well before starting to edit.)
Good audio-visual memory (Remembering shots, dialogue, interview bites, etc. is very useful.)
Attention to detail
Patience (to go over lots of footage, to watch the same footage over and over again and make many revisions.)
Being able to sit down and be alone all day (often in a dark room!)
Communication skills
Good Attitude (Last but not least!)

What a Colorist does, and doesn’t

I had to join in the “entertainment careers memes” and made this one for the fellow Colorists out there 🙂

Color-Correction Workflow (Avid Symphony)

This article isn’t about color theory, neither is a color correction tutorial. This is basically my own workflow based on my personal experiences.

First order of business, make sure your monitor and scopes are properly calibrated.

Observe the image you are looking at, both on the screen and on the scopes, to see where the black levels and the video levels are.

I like to start with the HSL tab, and the first thing I do is to bring the image at the correct spot per brightness. Because once your image is on the correct spot you have a better idea of what the actual colors of the image are. For example if your image is a lot darker than what it should be, the colors will look more saturated than they really are. I see this process as “putting the image on its feet”.
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“I never say my lines the same way in any take. Is that a bad habit?”

An Actor asked me an interesting question: “I never say my lines the same way in any take. Is that a bad habit?”

YES, that is a bad habit. As an actor you have to be consistent in every take and setup. Here’s why:

1. As an actor, it is your job to learn your lines. There is no excuse for that. If you want to occasionally ad-lib a few lines you can of course do that with the director’s consent, but you must learn your lines first.

2. The writer wrote the dialogue a certain way and as an actor you need to respect that. That said, you may want to tweak a couple of lines here and there to make them your own and to help your performance, but in that case you would have to stick with that version throughout the shoot.

3. Changing your lines might confuse your fellow cast members and affect their performances.

4. The ever-changing lines might leave the editor with fewer choices and create problems with continuity as well. That is especially the case when cutting dialogue back and forth between over-the-shoulder shots. Most of us (if not all of us) finds this habit very annoying.

Changing your lines in every take is like serving the same dish with a different presentation in every plate. You can do that at home if you would like to, but it would be unacceptable in a professional environment like a restaurant where consistency is the key.

Happy Chocolate Day!

I’ve never really cared for Valentine’s Day. I don’t want to kill the spirit for the ones who do care, but let’s face it: it’s another commercial day where they want you to spend your money on hearts, teddy bears and… chocolate. Chocolate! That’s a word that changes everything… That’s how they trick you into (sort of) caring for V-Day.

Yesterday I attended a “Valentine’s Chocolate Workshop” at Sur La Table in Farmer’s Market. That was the perfect opportunity for me to get my hands and apron covered in chocolate, learn more about it, and actually get creative with it. We learned how to “temper chocolate” (I had no idea how temperamental chocolate can be!), make ganache, fudge, truffles, bark, as well as caramel and fondant for dipping. We experimented with writing and decorating with chocolate, we made strawberries wear little tuxedos… We were all clumsy with decorating but I think we did an okay job… And the best part of it all, we got to eat the treats we made. In fact there was so much of it, that we took some home with us.

Later this afternoon I’ll be baking chocolate cupcakes to enjoy after dinner. Photos to follow, if they turn out nice!

Potato-Fennel Soup (Pressure Cooker)

After a long day at work I don’t always have time to cook a hearty meal. I figured a pressure cooker could be just what I need to make a nutritious and tasty meal in no time.

Today I decided to use my pressure cooker for the first time and made a soup using basically what I had in my pantry. Here’s my Potato-Fennel Soup recipe:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • chicken broth (low sodium, 26 oz package)
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs agave nectar (or sugar)
  • dried Italian herbs (optional)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Chop all vegetables in small chunks. Add the vegetable oil to the cooker and select the sautee setting. Once the oil is hot add the onions and sautee them for about 2 minutes, until tender. Then add the fennel, the carrots and the garlic, continue to sautee for another minute or two. Add the potatoes, the celery and the chicken broth. I like adding the agave nectar to bring out the flavors, but you can choose to substitute this with sugar. You can choose to add some dried Italian herbs for seasoning. If I had fresh ones in my fridge I would probably chop those instead, but since I didn’t have any I went with the dried herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Set the pressure cooker to “high pressure” and time it to 8 minutes. When the soup is cooked quick release the pressure. Taste it for salt and add more if need be. With the use of a hand blender, puree the soup. I chose not to puree it all the way and left some texture in the soup to make it heartier.

I had my soup ready in less than 30 minutes including the prep time and it is yummy! 🙂

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