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Film - A Series of Images

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 11 months ago

Film

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film to me is a representation of life through the of juxtaposion of images, similar to the creation of a website (or widesite). That may seem so very blunt and simplified, but after creating a number of short films, you realize how difficult it can be to produce that certain feeling or emotion that was the purpose of the project. These experiences with film have led me to an even greater appreciation of those "classic films" that create such resounding emotions and experiences. Each cut, each editorial choice can affect the overall impact of the work. Great Films take you away from merely watching a movie, and they become an experience that moves you and provokes thought: the final scene of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"; Marvin's head exploding in "Pulp Fiction"; the payoff (I mean PAYOFF) twist at the conclusion of "The Usual Suspects". Even short films have there own brilliance.

 

The base of film relies on making certain choices that will arouse emotion without calling attention to itself. Even a single shot that doesn't belong in a sequence can force the viewer to become self-conscious that he/she is watching a film. Therefore, one strives to create a flowing sequence of images that both seem natural to the viewer and also create a certain amount of emotion. This "flowing sequence of images" comes from the persistance of vision phenomenon that tricks the eye into viewing separate images as motion.

 

Linear and Nonlinear Editing

 

Since film first became a popular medium in the US in the 1920s, hundreds of thousands of full length feature films have been produced. Before the advent of nonlinear editing programs in the 1990s, film had to be manually fast-forwarded to an exact location on the analog film in order to physically make a cut. This process was tedious and time-consuming and involved hours upon hours of listening to a tape deck fast-forward and rewind itself. I read an interesting article that was written in 1995 that comments on the distinct advantages of the digital wave of nonlinear editing systems compared to the painstaking linear editing process. Though linear editing has a definite down side, it is generally agreed upon that the meticulous process of finding exact frames in film to cut forces the editor to make precise decisions, something that can't be said about the instantaneous nature of nonlinear editing systems. According to his book, "In The Blink of an Eye", Walter Murch took two years to edit Apocalypse Now on a linear editing system, claiming to average about 1.47 cuts a day.

 

This incredibly tedious editing method was, as we know now, eclipsed by nonlinear editing programs in the early 1990s. Introduced publicly in April of 1989, the Avid/1 nonlinear editing program was the first of its kind and was based around the Apple Macintosh II computer. The idea of nonlinear editing wouldn't become popular until the Avid program garnered media attention after Walter Murch received an Academy Award for The English Patient, which was edited entirely on Avid. The nonlinear nature allowed users to edit and compress digital videos on their personal computers. Although Avid would quickly become the industry standard for nonlinear editing, another program would enter the fray and popularize it even further.

 

Final Cut Pro

 

Introduced by Apple in 1999, the nonlinear editing program Final Cut Pro, with its more user-friendly interface, began to make inroads into a market that was dominated by programs such as Avid and Adobe Premiere. Apple initially purchased the Final Cut team in order to sell the program to a buyer after its demonstration at the National Association of Broadcasters exposition in 1998. When no buyer could be found, Apple developed Firewire/DV support for the release of Final Cut Pro, making it accessible to inexpensive DV cameras. Initially, Adobe Premiere and Avid retained their share of the market on PC computers, but slowly declined on Apple computers. FCP would slowly convert users of Premiere and Avid due to the presence of FCP users in forums and chatrooms dedicated to nonlinear editing. Today, there are even more Helpful Websites that allow interested filmmakers to learn about digital video and nonlinear editing.

 

The brilliance and allure of FCP was the sheer genius of its easy-to-use interface, which would begin to create a bridge between professional and amateur filmmakers. Before nonlinear editing systems, filmmakers would have to know a formitable amount about the technical aspects of the camera as well as the editing system, keeping a distinct separation between film professionals and amateur filmmakers. This distinction was further blurred in 2002 with the release of the studio motion picture The Rules of Attraction, which was edited on a version of Final Cut Pro 3.

 

Final Cut Pro has continued to gain a stronger and stronger foothold in the industry and in independent studios with each new update. Walter Murch also sent shockwaves through the editing community when he used a version of FCP to edit Cold Mountain, a Miramax film with a $100 million dollar price tag. The program has successfully gained professional acclaim while still being accessible to amateur filmmakers. With the release of Final Cut Express, one can get most of the professional features contained in a FCP update for only a fraction of the cost. The democratization of the film industry by programs such as Final Cut Pro has changed the way we think of filmmaking, for better or for worse. What was once a highly-specialized, expensive endevour can now be done by your neighbor Jimmy down the street. If you ask any professional in the field of film, though, they will tell you the quality of shooting a movie on celluloid film is still unmatched.

 

Me and Final Cut Pro

 

Where do I fit in all this? Well, as a aspiring filmmaker, I welcome the democratization of a once-highly specialized industry. It gives creative people with small budgets a chance to be heard by the masses. On the other hand, Final Cut Pro has also made it possible for professional filmmakers to produce high definition video shot on HD cameras, generating an extremely sharp picture quality that rivals that of film. Big-budget studio films such as Zodiac and 300 have been shot entirely on digitial HD formats, with much of the production happening inside a green-screen studio.

 

Although these advances in nonlinear editing have significantly reduced the time spent editing, some professionals would argue that the overall quality of films have dropped due the relative ease of "making cuts". I would have to agree with this viewpoint, especially after seeing horrible short films that have polluted the Internet. Now that a digital camera and a computer to edit on is all one needs, many amateur filmmakers have neglected to learn the fundamental basics of shot composition. What we end up with is a slew of films that have poor lighting, shaky camera work, and bad acting. In this way, I believe Final Cut Pro has hurt film as an art form. With websites devoted to videos, such as Youtube and Googe Video, the internet has become a superhighway for inferior-quality short films. Others would argue that this democratization has only strenthened film further by distancing itself from low-quality digital videos, such as those on Youtube.

 

Either way, I welcome the change because this allows me to continue in my storytelling, something I have always loved to do. The fact that I can shoot a short film, edit it in FCP, and then create a website in which people can view my movie is fascinating and exciting. No matter where film is going, it will still be a process of creating a series of images that complement each other and the entire picture. Even if technology has changed the industry, the great filmmakers will still be rewarded for their work, no matter what medium or mode the film is produced on. If I can arouse emotion with a three-minute short shot on a cheap digital camera, then I have created something worthy of being called a "movie".

 

 

Final Cut Pro in Action

 

My final step in the process of creating this site culminated into a short video that is now on YOUTUBE. I was able to shoot the digital video footage for my WIDE IMAGE on inexpensive MiniDV tapes, one of the supported platforms of Final Cut Pro. Since becoming familiar with the hot keys for the FCP format, I was able to make sharp, dramatic cuts during the editing process of this short without having to labor over ever single decision. This allows for a more natural flow of ideas.

 

 

The non-linear process of editing enables me to seamlessly construct sequences as the inspiration happens, similar to the advantages of hypertext in web design.

 

 

In this video, I try to explore some of the images that are represented on my ARTWORK page, especially the reoccurring imagery of FIRE.

 

 

 

 

 

"Your job is partly to anticipate, partly to control the thought processes of the audience. To give them what they want and/or what they need just before they have to 'ask' for it -- to be surprising yet self-evident at the same time. If you are too far behind or ahead of them, you cause problems, but if you are right with them, leading them ever so slightly, the flow of events feels natural and exciting at the same time." - Walter Murch, "In The Blink of an Eye"

 

 

 

 

 

Now it's Time to meet the FAMILY.

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