Sunday 1 May 2011

Things I Learned On scAIRcrows - Part Two


I'm doing the final clean up on the picture cut of scAIRcrows now. Seven of eleven scenes now are locked and won't change anymore. This might contradict things I said in the past re. number of scenes being locked but reason for that is, I thought scenes were locked when they weren't because the audio was so crap that I had no choice but to recut.

And as I'm doing these fixes, I realise how important coverage is. This kinda goes back to a previous blog where I mentioned that I was a much more confident writer than a director. You watch films and you notice (or don't) all the edits that happen in a scene - I've paying a lot more attention to this since deciding to start making films. But one thing I have trouble understanding is the need to have so many edits.

Most of the scenes on scAIRcrows were fairly well covered considering the time restraints we had- in most cases we shot between 5 and 7 angles per line of dialogue. Not as much as I think features shoot, looking at the variations in shots they have, but enough to give myself options. Despite doing that, I'd say about 40% of the film uses the wide, everyone in shot, angles. Because when I did jump around for close ups, a lot of it felt forced, it really did feel like I'd just been given this editing software and just wanted to make cuts for the pure hell of it. So I scaled back on that and there's three shots in the film that I can recall that last a good 35-40 seconds which doesn't sound too long but watch a random film and see how often shots hold for more than say, 10 seconds... But I thought it was much more interesting and natural to just leave the shot running. I don't know whether people are so used to seeing cuts all over the place that these moments might seem jarring - I hope not. But they felt right.

But, coverage has presented another use for me and that is to fix errors! If someone trips over a line, cut to a different angle, cut back when they've gotten over it. If there's an unwelcome noise (kids, sirens, rugby players) - cut away from the noise, come back when it's gone. Continuity error? Cut away from it, cut back when it's less prominent.

I realise that coverage is there for dramatic effect and I guess, in some respects, visual variation but I think it also holds a valuable technical gift that shouldn't be underestimated. It's saved me from a few seemingly dead ends and I actually surprise myself that I got so many angles - I certainly weren't thinking of how badly I might need them later on! And it's the one thing I hate about shooting. Doing things again and again and again, over and over. It's mentally draining and at the time, you just wanna be shot of these angles and just DO SOMETHING ELSE!

But, persevering pays off and I'm thanking my past self now!

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