Saturday, September 23, 2006
Cut This Bitch

Okay, damn it. Tomorrow I'm going to have a full top-to-bottom cut of this video if I have to stay overnight to do it. I'm going to do it if it kills me; I am not leaving that goddamn room until it's done. Unless I need a snack. I can't work if my blood sugar gets low.

But as of right now, everything's downloaded, converted, imported, rendered, adjusted, exported, re-imported, and re-rendered. Which is to say, all of my remaining footage is fully ready for use. I have maybe 30 seconds more to cut, and I already know what goes where, so it's just a question of making it all fit together. And that's the part I find the easiest, so there shouldn't be anything left standing in my way (yeah, I know, famous last words.)

It's pretty amazing that it can take three full weeks to edit five minutes of finished film; that's longer than I expected it to take. Of course, in that five minutes are (by my estimation) just under 200 cuts -- that's an average of a cut every 1.5 seconds, and that's actually less than I originally intended. And each of those cuts has been placed to the frame -- there are doubtless a few that still want some adjustment, but we're talking fractions of a second here. Or to put it in slightly different terms, five minutes of video contains 9000 "frames" (not literal frames, since it's all basically 1s and 0s, but a representation of literal frames) -- and I have made a conscious decision about each and every one of those frames. So maybe three weeks' work isn't so surprising after all.

One of the interesting things about cutting to music is that it provides a great demonstration of the difference in the ways in which the eye and the ear perceive things. When presented with a rhythm, the ear anticipates each beat -- it knows when it's coming and is satisfied when it happens as expected. The eye, however, experiences a delay every time an image changes -- film is founded on the phenomenon of persistence of vision, and in practice it means that the brain doesn't register an edit for an instant after it occurs. So we have anticipation on one side, and a delay on the other. Therefore, in order to make a cut appear to happen on a beat, you actually have to cut a frame or two before the beat. If you cut exactly on the beat, it'll look late -- almost imperceptibly late, but just late enough to throw the viewer off the rhythm and keep them disengaged. I've seen this principle at work throughout the last few weeks -- a frame or two can make all the difference between a rough, awkward cut and one that zips by unnoticed.

Moreover, it's interesting that a steady auditory rhythm is pleasing to the ear, but a steady visual rhythm quickly becomes boring. Editing to music then becomes an exercise in simultaneously following and diverging from a given rhythm. It's an interesting line on which to balance -- this stuff isn't quite as straightforward as it seems.
12:51 AM ::
Amy :: permalink