Film editing/Analyzing film dailies/The Assignment

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Table of Contents
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This school is:
Narrative Film Production
The course is:
Basic film editing (editing a dramatic conversation)
This lesson is:
Analyzing film dailies - What can you learn from film dailies?
The pages of this lesson are:
1. Lesson summary - Analyzing & editing film dailies

24 Unedited Scenes Disk

Out for a Walk Screen Shot.png Scene: "Out for a walk" Funny, short, needs matte painting
The Assignment Screen Shot.png Scene: "The Assignment" Long and intense
Ice Cream Screen Shot.png Scene: "Ice Cream" Long but simple
12 scenes from the family reunion
Taking Notes Screen Shot.png Scene: "Taking Notes" A basic scene
Morning Coffee Screen Shot.png Scene: "Morning Coffee" A basic scene
Letter From Amy Screen Shot.png Story Of Amy Screen Shot.png Amy Comes Home Screen Shot.png Scenes about Amy Good practice
Come On In Screen Shot.png Scenes about Jason Simple but good practice
Morning Surprise Screen Shot.png Scene: "Morning Surprise" Needs 3D animation
Doctor Doctor Screen Shot.png Scene: "Doctor, Doctor!" Needs sound F/X and music
Girl and the Golden Jewel Screen Shot.png Scene: "The Girl and the Golden Jewel" Needs F/X, voice over, sound
Wedding Bells Screen Shot.png Scene: "Wedding Bells" Funny, old, poor color, only 12fps
Big Bad Bell Screen Shot.png Scene: "The Big Bad Bell" A bit odd
Open The Door Screen Shot.png Scene: "Open The Door" Totally weird, MOS - even needs dialog!!!

The Assignment Screen Shot.png
"24 Unedited Scenes"
from the
Star Movie Shop

"The Assignment"

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"The Assignment"

This is a long and complex scene. This is like a final exam for dialog editing.
Background information
This scene is from a television show about an FBI agent who worries about aliens.
One of the evil characters in the series is called "The Smoking Man". He is so evil, he does not even have a name.
In this episode, we go back in time to when the Smoking Man was recruited for his first assignment. Long ago, the Smoking Man was an idealistic soldier in the military. And he never smoked.
The location
Washington DC, in a darkened government building so no one can see.
The characters
In this scene, the Smoking Man is interviewed by a bunch of obviously insane people in a top secret and illegal branch of the government.
The story
Everyone is nerviously waiting for the arrival of the Smoking Man.
Once he arrives and sits down, the Smoking Man's entire history is read to him which he completely denies. Then the Smoking Man is reminded that his father was a murderer and a Communist.
When the introduction is over, the general explains their philosophy and why their murderous actions are so beneficial to the country and why the Smoking Man is being asked to join the organization and what his first assignment will be.
Finally, the Smoking Man agrees but the Smoking Man asks if there is a cover story (a fake story that is told to the public.) One person jokes that they will use "aliens from outer space" as a cover story. The Smoking Man is told that they have a "patsy" which means they have found that they will put all the blame on. (See the scene called "Curtain Rods" about Lee Harvey Oswald.)
The challenge
This television shows is known for being a bit "over the top". This scene is the maximum. Look at the overview movie for this scene (which is in a different folder than the film dailies.) The coverage is very dark and the footage is extremely long for a single scene. (about 40 minutes.)
The overview movie is very important. If you had to figure out what is going on just by looking at the dailies, you would be really confused. This is why the editing assistant create the overview movie by putting all the footage in chronological order. From the overview movie, the editor can begin making the decisions for this movie.
Follow the rules of editing a conversation
Remember that even for a long scene, you still must follow this rules of editing a conversation. To edit a conversation, you first select the best audio. Once the audio is edited so it sounds natural then you worry about the picture. To adjust the picture, some of the picture edits in a conversation must be rolled edit forward or backward to find the best visual transition. After that is done, you might need to add cut away shots... specially of the Fat Man smoking.
There is no correct answer
"The Assignment" scene can be edited in a million different ways. One way is to never emphasize the person who is talking. Once the person who is talking gets about half way through the sentence, you cut to the people who are listening (by rolling the picture edits or by adding insert shots.)
And, of course, you should always cut to the cigarette being tapped in the ash tray when the dialog gets weird. This creates a theme of "smoking".
You can spend months trying to find the best possible edit for this scene. Try it!
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Edit this scene

Loan only
This disk is available from your instructor for a one month loan.
The Overview Movie
Start by looking at the overview movie. You need QuickTime Movie Player to view this movie (and the dailies.) The overview movie shows you the more important parts of the film dailies in chronological order.
Transfer the dailies
Copy the dailies (not the overview movie) to your hard drive. If necessary, convert the dailies to whatever format your editing program prefers. This will probably require QuickTime Pro. Import all the clips into your editing program.
Edit the scene
Start by selecting the best audio. Once the audio (along with the picture) is edited and lock the audio. For this scene, in addition to rolling the picture edits to create "L-Cuts", you you must add other shots of the people in the room (from the other takes) while still keeping perfect lip sync.
No music needed
The dialog is so extremely melodic, no music is needed except perhaps at the end to show extreme joy or to show the insanity of the story. Your choice!
Submit your finished scene
This scene is worth 30 points. (Note: The first person to edit this scene gets a total of 100 points.) Email me when you are finished. Crystal Clear app xfmail.png
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Analyze the Dailies

Mistakes with difficult dialog
During the filming of the scene, the General makes a mistake in his dialog. He corrects the mistake by going back and starting the line again. He does this without going out of character, without moving, and without changing his pose. This is OK and the director accepted this as a good take.
When you plan to film a movie with amateur actors, you must explain to the actors what they can do and what they cannot do when they make a mistake. They must never go out of character or make any special movements.

Watch the overview movie

The first thing you hear is the camera person yelling "Frame!". Prior to this, the director has yelled, "Roll camera". When the camera is rolling and in focus and aimed at the proper location (the camera was not because it was filming the slate), the camera person yells "frame" to let the director know that the actors can begin acting.
As you can see, the actor started before the director yelled "action". This was good because you will need that little bit of extra footage when you edit this scene. Never throw anything away. You never know when you will need it.
Scene 6T - the opening shot
Also, notice that the opening shot of the scene was not filmed until shot "T" which is a long way from shot "A". All filming is done out of order to speed up production (which is slow enough as it is.)
Off-line edit
With an expensive television drama, the film dailies shown to the crew and used for the rough edit is NOT the finished footage. That will be color corrected directly from the original film footage. Therefore, this footage is a bit darker than it should be. Don't worry about it.
But also realize that for some of the shots which are too dark, the director never intended you to use the actual footage from this shot. Look for another shot which is more interesting (such as a reation shot of the General sitting in his chair.) Remember that you are creating a mood, not just showing people talking.
This is a test
If you can watch the overview movie (which is only 26 minutes and not the full 40 minutes of dailies) and not fall asleep or get bored, you will become a filmmaker. Otherwise, take up hockey!
After you have edited this scene, you will understand why editing a motion picture can take years. This scene is as complicated as it gets... for a simple conversation.
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The next scene

"The Assignment" is such a complex scene, you should first try editing other scenes which are much simplier. Therefore, you should look at the scene called "Ice Cream". This scene is long but it is a simple scene (actually two scenes in one) which is easy to edit. That is why "Ice Cream" is a great scene to practice with.

Contact your Instructor