s_editor

it's all about the art of storytelling


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Trailer Editing : The Art of Juxtaposition

I believe many people understand the functions of a Movie Trailer :

It has to be exciting, captivating, alluring, drawing, informing… the list goes on and on…

In short, it wanted your attention so that you will catch the movie!

The continuous winning formula in majority hollywood trailers that crowds our cinemas are those with template formulas of heart stopping sound effects punctuated with many fade ins and outs.

Personally, I find these trailers boring. They all look the same.

Recently, a very special trailer catch my eyes – The Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer.

This trailer defies the formula of short + sweet and instead goes all the way to a length of more than 5mins. The trailer literally brings you on a ride… in all directions and left you hanging for more.

It applies all the format of a good trailers: strong music, clever sound bites, showcase of big cast. However, i’m most impressed by its ability to tell a very complicated story in an “extended” short period of time.

And for the longest time, (with the exceedingly faster cuts employ these days) I am finally able to watch all the cuts clearly. I can see the cuts!

I shared excitedly with a friend about this trailer and  my view of its excellent editing. My friend ask : how do you gauge a good edit?

So I decide to take a closer look at this trailer, how did it manage to entice me even though i’m completely confused by its genre.

On first look, it makes no sense crossing from historical to romantic to sci-fi to action and then cris-crossing back and forth. It does seems like an overly complicated film.

Well, to start of, all good story telling has a strong theme as a back bone. (Even if it is only a trailer) This close to mini-short film trailer has a clever theme : EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.

This seemingly ambiguous trailer has done a good job in helping you to connect them subconsciously. Each sound bites or visuals are cleverly juxtaposed with the next sound or visuals.

For example, the first act of the trailer shows an old man sitting by the bed side, reading. It seems that he was reading a book the young man picked up. But later, we saw him put down a letter. Cut to a woman reading a letter. Such parallel juxtaposition of two letters quickly link two sets of images set in different time and space together brilliantly. Somehow, a spell has casted on you. You know you are on the way to a magic world…

The editor helps to connects the dots for you by piecing the jigsaw puzzles and yet leaving some pieces empty, so that you can use your own imagination to fill them up.

We are living in a visual chaos millennium. Audiences can conjure their own visual stories way faster then previously. I believe it is more about what you show rather than how fast and how many you show.

A good editor is also a strong summarizer. We are constantly sieving through tones of footages and pick up those that are useful in telling the story.

If you want to train yourself as an editor, it maybe a good idea to start with editing a movie trailer. It forces you to only pick the most essential shots in order to tell the story (you want to tell).

But of course, this particular film has a unique story to begin with. There are 3 directors!!

Many people think that a good trailer is usually about understanding rhythm and pace. But I defer. It is a lot more than that. The art of juxtaposition will take you further.

If you like to understand the fundamental of what it means to be a good cut, this course maybe a right one of you to attend.

Continue to visit my training courses page for updates.


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Rhythm Editor

I have recently worked on a project that require me to make NO cuts at all. The director and myself was searching for the right word to credit me, in the end we decide to choose the word

- RHYTHM EDITOR

Indeed, my job evolve into modifying the rhythm in an experimental short film that play with words – REMEMBER by Tan Pin Pin

Using visual thesaurus, the entire video is a one take choreography of word play. Pin opens up the possibilities of words trail with the word remember.

This seems to be an easy job, however, it turns out to be not such a breeze. We end up having multiples “rehearses” before recording the word dance and working on uncountable number of “takes”.

For me, it is the first editing job that really engage my little experience in dance choreography. When I view the “performance” I was constantly giving suggestions on how we can make each word appear with more interesting rhythm. In dance choreography, especially improvisational dance choreography,  audience may not see a clear development to a define story.
“Although there is no single approach to creating a dance that has a clear sense of development, certain characteristics are common to many effective pieces of choreography. Those qualities are unity, continuity, transition, variety, and repetition.” Sandra Cerny Minton share this effectively in her article – How to make choreography more effective

I had attended dance choreography class with Ecnad, there is one thing that I learned in my dance class that I get a chance to apply here. It is call – PHRASING. Yes, there are phrases in dances too!

I was suggesting different phrases in this short film by manipulating the time and space of opening the words. We were conscious of changing the rhythm of how this piece of work developed over a short period of 6mins and 22secs.

If you are curious about contemporary dance after reading this post. This video speaks about the vocabulary of movements and body intelligence.

To get a quick understanding about dance phrases, this video below is good to watch.

REMEMBER is a commission work by Singapore National Library BoardSingapore Memory.

Pin Pin also made another short film, Yangtze Scribbler under the same programme. Which is also edited by me.

“All the characteristics of effective choreography—unity, continuity, transition, variety, and repetition—are organized to contribute to the development of a meaningful whole. All phrases in a work should be designed to form the integrated sections of your dance, and all the sections of the dance should be placed in a sequence that moves toward an appropriate conclusion. The development of a work should lead the audience logically from the beginning through the middle and on to the end of the dance.” – Sandra Cerny Minton.

I believe strongly that DANCE and EDITING are interconnected.

I am extremely fortunate to be given two opportunities to marry dance and film in my own work : U_R_NOT_ME and PRIMAL FEAR.

PRIMAL FEAR will be screening on 2 June 2012 with Singapore Arts Festival 2012.


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Psychology of Seeing

This is the book by Walter Murch – In the blink of an eye. I believe it is a MUST READ in all film editing class. I strongly recommend it.

It is also a compulsory question I will ask in class – do you know why “In the blink of an eye?”

Walter Murch (WM) explains very interestingly  in his book. Recently, I came across an interview of WM with a visual artist Josh Melnick. The conversation reveals the story behind “in the blink of an eye” with added dimension on the  psychology of seeing.

A little excerpt from the final paragraph of this article :

” It’s part of a general acceleration of the world that started in 1830. In 1830, give or take a few years, if you wanted to displace yourself or information, you had the same abilities and tools that somebody in 1830 BC had. You could run. You could walk. You could ride a horse. You could take a ship. Then, suddenly, the pace picked up. We invented the telegraph, and we invented trains. Then we found out how to manipulate time, and we invented sound recording and film recording. Then we invented automobiles and powered flight, and radio, television, computers, jet planes, rockets. You could write a history of the last 180 years as the obsessive devotion to manipulating time and space.”

In short, an editor’s job is one that influences how we all see space, time and therefore emotions.
If you like to know more about what we can learn from the psychology of seeing, attend my upcoming creative editing workshop in april.
Sign up early! Click here to find out more.
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