Articles tagged with: Editing

Will Virtual Reality change which stories we tell?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

For a few years now I've enjoyed using panorama apps on my iPhone.

Occipital's 360Panorama iOS app can teleport you into a panorama by using the iPhone's accelerometers. Accelerometers detect where the phone is in 3D space and what angle it is being held at. 360Panorama uses this information to determine which part of a panorama to show on screen.

This means as you turn left and right (360°)…

p1 p2 p3

up and down (180°)…

p4 p5

in real life while holding the phone, the panorama display updates to show you what you would see if you looked in that direction at the place and time the panorama was captured.

In a new VR music video iOS app from 'Stor Eiglass' by Squarepusher the same technology gives you the opportunity to look in all directions during a 3D animation. If you have a Google Cardboard viewer you can also experience the VR in stereoscopic 3D, but the 2D version works just as well. The app is also available on Android.

While playing the video, I could look ahead as I flew forward...

vr1a

and look down to see what I was flying over:

vr1b

I wasn't able to choose the direction of my flight, the application flies through a virtual world, but was able to look around as things happened. As streams flew down from a tower...

vr2a

...I could look up...

vr2b

...or behind me:

vr2c

VR: No director or cinemetographer scene framing, few editor edits

From a storytelling point of view, this kind of virtual reality means that the viewer/player/user chooses where to look: how to frame the scene. They choose what is important to look at. Part of non-VR stortyelling is the ability of cinematographer, director and editor to direct the audience's view: "This is important," "her reaction is important" and "don't forget this."

The point of VR is that a solo audience member takes control of where to look. They can even change aspect ratio if they turn their phone:

vr3a vr3b

In-scene editing isn't possible because the editor cannot juxtapose different camera angles with editing - the audience chooses the camera angle.

Another aspect of editing is possible. Structure-based edits can be done with staging. Structure provides the beginning, middle and end of stories. 

Staging means that virtual physical boundaries between scenes act as edits.

In a city I fly towards a advertising billboard:

vr4a

vr4c

Flying through the billboard is a way of travelling between scenes to a new environment:

vr4b

I can look back to see there's no way back to the previous scene.

vr4d

Why are these 'staging edits' important? They help change pace and mood, making storytelling possible, so that this scene takes place in the same story as the previous scenes:

vr5

New storytelling technology, new language, new stories?

The history of movies and TV is the history of technological developments informing the way we tell stories. Movies started off as single shots being shown to large numbers of people in public. As artificial lighting, editing, sound, colour, multitrack audio, model visual effects and computer generated visual effects appeared, the way we told stories changed - which informed the kind of stories we told.

Now's the time to consider whether VR will affect way we tell stories and what stories we tell.

Editors: Listen to cinematographers

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Before editors have to deal with codecs and files, TV and film camera teams have to capture scenes and footage. 

It is a good idea for editors to keep up with what they are thinking. Which cameras and codecs are preferred? For which jobs? What about on-set post services?

A good place to keep up to date is Geoff Boyle's Cinematography Mailing List site. Internet mailing lists have been around since before the web, but they still work well. You register your email address with the list, and if you or any member of the list send a message to the mailing list email address, everyone in the list gets a copy of the message.

Post is disarray right now

Recently, on-set equipment hire company Panavision bought workflow consultants Light Iron. Here's an example message from a CML mailing list discussion of the news:

Subject: Re: Panavision buys Light Iron
From: "Paul Sommers"
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 2014

I recently was made to do the full dog and pony and most of the major post houses to vet and build our pipeline from dailies to final. Right now it's a bit like the wild west. The on set to dailies solutions go from the full Ferrari solution, a DIT, loader and a Utility to maintain the gear and the pipeline. It involves an on set and cloud based dailies database and realtime color correction. This is Light Iron. Their system is really well thought out and has solutions to problems that I never knew I had. They want to offer solutions that run from set to final. My problem is that it requires too much care and feeding for the day to day hurly burly of multiple locations and no internet connection that I was afraid of the complexity. And who has the budget for a full time DIT in television?

Mike ran me through the multiple solutions at Technicolor, again well thought out and adaptable to different scales of production. One was very DIT-centric, one allowed all the LUT building to happen behind the curtain with the loader. I didn't go this way because I didn't feel like I had the time to learn the system. That's a shame, I do most of my final color sessions at Tech with Scott Klein. The appeal of one vendor handling the color science from shoot to post definitely has appeal.

Keep Me Posted has a good setup that is similar to Technicolor's

We ended up going with Bling. Mainly because I've been using them for the last three years and I didn't have to contend with a learning curve.

I was very involved every step of the way, but really it came down to price

Light Iron was by far the most expensive. I doubt they are going to compete on price. They are going to compete on service, just like Panavision. It's a good match.

Bling is owned by Sim Digital and you get a discount if you bundle camera and post, and it's substantial. They compete on price.

The trick as always is to find vendors who can provide good service at a reasonable cost so that we get what we need on set.

If Panavision and Light Iron offer this sort of bundling and both become cheaper and more fluid this helps everyone. If it pushes the market and we get better answers for better prices we look better to producers and maybe they will let us get on with the fun part, telling stories with images.

Post is disarray right now with the push to deliver in 4k (Amazon, Netflix, HBO). Even though we have been talking about 4k for years, and now it seems like it's really here for those of us who toil in TV. I hear a lot of different answers from a lot of different people about this. Technicolor and Light Iron seemed to have the best answers, and they were singing the same song. It's tough for post to suddenly make this 4k jump on the schedules we work with. A degree of integration might help soften the blow. It feels like when the HD storm hit, and everyone was scrambling.

I'm also wondering if Light Iron's experience with dealing with large amounts of data and pipeline management might help Panavision. The rumor mill is pretty thick with speculation about when/What/why it's taken so long to put this system out. Maybe Light Iron is helping with the new camera as well? Pure speculation, but the data rates and sheer size of the files the rumored camera puts out and release upon must be massive.
 
Paul M. Sommers
Cinematographer

Many of the mailing lists at CML are high-traffic: many messages per day. To prevent email from these lists interrupting personal email you get, you could set up an email rule the sends all messages from a CML list to a specific folder. Many list members view messages in 'Digest' mode: A compilation of all messages is sent once a day (At CML, click a list you are subscribed to, then go to 'My Account' and choose 'Digest' from the 'Membership type' pop-up menu).

There are many lists at CML:

List of Cinematography mailing lists

The 'Post production issues affecting the cinematographer' list is relatively quiet. For editors interested in crew discussions on complex workflows should subscribe to the 'RAW-Log-HDR' list (where Paul's sample post came from).

As well as being able to sign up at CML to read new discussions, there are some useful summaries of previous discussions.

Walter Murch and Iron Man: The Science of Cinematic Perception

Friday, 08 August 2014

At the end of July, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put on an event where scientists and film makers got together to learn about how we perceive films.

Walter Murch explained how his edit of a tricky scene involving Gene Hackman in The Conversation (his first feature as a film editor) was inspired by a comment that legendary filmmaker John Huston had made during an interview: Huston described blinking as a physical manifestation of a psychological “cut.”

 iron-man-eye-tracking

A clip from the Monaco racing scene in Iron Man 2 followed, and Jon Favreau, the film’s director, and Talma Hendler, founder and director of the Functional Brain Center at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, joined the other guests onstage. Smith introduced eye-tracking footage captured from ten audience members earlier in the Dunn lobby, which demonstrated the remarkable consistency of where the ten focused their attention as their eyes took in the action.

Although Jon Favreau talked about how knowing where people are looking in a frame determines the quality of special visual effects, editors have known for decades how to direct the audience's view. That's one of the reasons why continuity between is not very important: editors know that the audience will find it almost impossible to notice the length of a cigarette contantly changing on screen left because the actor's face is screen right.

Go to the Academy's site for more on the event and 20 minutes of interesting videos.