ACE drew a capacity crowd for its Creative Master Series session at the National Association of Broadcasters Show, which was held April 18-23, 2016, in Las Vegas.
During the program, two Oscar®-nominated editors – Hank Corwin, ACE, editor of The Big Short and Stephen Mirrione, ACE, editor of The Revenant – offered an in-depth look at their craft. The discussion was expertly moderated by Norman Hollyn, editor, full professor at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and inaugural chairholder of the Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Film Editing.
So what actually goes into the thoughtful mind of an editor during this delicate process? For Mirrione, it’s about manipulating the viewers to take in a message a certain way. Interestingly, this was how he first got into editing. He had read a book about using different words to manipulate how a recipient took in a given message. He discovered that editing was the visual equivalent of this.
Corwin said he’s inspired by everything that surrounds him. “I read more books and online articles than I watch movies,” he revealed, adding that music is his greatest inspiration.
Music editing and soundscape were driving forces in the editorial decisions on both The Big Short and The Revenant. “When you remove language from the equation, you can rely on the performance, emotion and body language. It actually becomes very fulfilling – a great freedom,” Mirrione said.
Corwin added that in The Big Short, he removed words in several scenes. “Editors create moods. I love how if you don’t hear things [said] – it doesn’t matter.” Days earlier, NAB Show kicked off with an 11-minute preview of Ang Lee’s anticipated drama, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the first Hollywood feature to be made with an unprecedented mix of 4K, 3D and 120fps, per eye.
Speaking for another standing-room-only crowd was Lee and a panel that included the film’s editor, Tim Squyres, ACE. The film is being edited in a specially-configured room in New York, with two Christie 4K projectors and a 12-foot screen to approximate as closely as possible the theatrical experience.
“Editors are very good at knowing how 24fps in 2D translates to a theater when they are cutting, but I didn’t have that confidence on this film,” Squyres said. “I cut at 60fps using Avid beta software. It was quite a task coming up with software and hardware that would work at 60.”
Billy Lynn was photographed using Sony F65 cameras on a 3D rig and using a continuously open 360-degree shutter. This gave the production 10 times more data than even a regular 4K feature but allowed Lee and his creative team more headroom to adjust the image in post.
“In editing, your basic tools are close-up, wide, dissolve but using all this data we came up with ways to create all kinds of different formats and looks,” Squyres said. “For example, we can make some scenes look more normal – like they were shot at 30 or 24 – in the context of a film where some scenes are at 120fps. We had the ability to change shutter angle to add motion blur to just one part of the frame.
“In between Life of Pi and this I cut a 2D movie and it felt kinda lame because there was nothing more I could do except close-up, wide or dissolve,” he joked.
Around the NAB exhibition, there were noticeable trends toward ever higher resolutions, higher frame rates (HFR), high dynamic range (HDR), interoperable systems using generic computing resources and standardized internet protocols and the live streaming of panoramic video.
Avid highlighted its collaboration with its rival to bring Adobe Premiere Pro into its MediaCentral Platform. This means MediaCentral users can access any of their assets within Adobe Premiere Pro.
“We’re the most open, extensible company here,” claimed Avid CEO Louis Hernandez, Jr. “We invite everyone to join the open movement. We can solve this connectivity problem once and for all.
“The industry is littered with siloed, disconnected products that haven’t changed,” he continued. “With ‘Avid Everywhere’ (the company’s product philosophy) we took all the workflow and put it on a single platform to create a global integrated network with common services.”
In line with this strategy Avid is also replacing the Isis brand of shared-storage products with Nexis, a software-defined system that uses off-the-shelf hardware.
These range from Nexis E4 for medium to large postproduction facilities to Nexis Pro targeting indie users and small operations. The latter is priced at $13,995 and is positioned as the successor to Isis 1000.
“In the IT industry hardware storage has been commoditized to the point where the use of off-the-shelf components and the concept of software-defined storage is not uncommon – but it is [rare] in the media world,” said Avid senior director of product management David Colantuoni.
Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Sony, Grass Valley and Blackmagic Design are all certified to use the product. “Users don’t need separate pools of storage – they can run products from all of those vendors on this platform and interact with them as they need,” added Colantuoni.
As is its tradition, Blackmagic Design didn’t skimp on announcements, making 14 of them including DaVinci Resolve 12.5. The 250 new features include additions to the editing toolset, enhanced color features for improved high dynamic range support, as well as ResolveFX, a new framework for native GPU and CPU accelerated effects. For more advanced visual effects work, a new FusionConnect feature lets customers send clips to motion graphics solution Fusion.
Also unwrapped at NAB was Blackmagic’s 4K Duplicator (priced at $1995) for recording 4K files to 25 SD cards simultaneously in real time. The idea is that content creators, such as concert promoters, might sell 4K versions of the live performance right after it’s finished. CEO Grant Petty said that it addresses an industry problem as it has previously been difficult, if not impossible, to easily get 4K content into many people’s hands.
The company also introduced a 7-inch URSA Studio Viewfinder, which turns a Blackmagic URSA Mini into a professional studio camera.
YouTube’s introduction of live-streamed panoramic videos was timed to coincide with NAB where virtual reality products were trending.
The update from Adobe was impending support for 360-degree videos in Premiere Pro CC. The edit software will gain a ‘field of view’ mode for imported spherical videos, and let editors freely switch between monoscopic, stereoscopic and anaglyph frame configurations. When exporting, users will be able to assign virtual reality-related tags for compatible video players.
According to the company, the software could separately speed up the editing process, by allowing people to edit while audio and video are still being ingested – often a time-consuming process – and take advantage of new keyboard navigation shortcuts.
Post-production technology manufacturer SGO previewed a set of tools for finishing 360-degree video with its grading and mastering system, Mistika. This includes automatically handling projection mapping of equirectangular content to a new 360-degree image-processing and finishing engine.
AJA Video Systems introduced KONA IP, a video capture and playback card for IP-based workflows compatible with AJA Control Room software as well as editing systems from the likes of Avid and Adobe.
It also launched a streaming tool for producers needing a separate recording of video to hand over to clients or to editorial. The HELO, priced at $1295, simultaneously streams and records HD 1080p to SD cards, USB drives or network storage.
AJA also showed a software update for its Cion digital camera, aimed at improved highlight handling and black detail in gamma modes. The 4K/UHD production camera shoots Apple ProRes files at up to 4K 60fps.
Meanwhile, a technology partnership between AJA and SGO will see SGO’s Mistika compatible with KONA and Corvid cards, a combination aimed at supporting video formats including 4K stereo 3D dual-link, even at frame rates up to 60fps.
Snell Advanced Media (SAM), formerly Quantel, highlighted its 4K products, which includes an updated Rio finishing system offering support for HFRs and HDR.
Looking further out, Canon focused on 8K, a format that Japan public broadcaster NHK will test broadcast from the Rio Olympics later this year. It showed 8K imaging projected onto large screens, a series of 8K lenses and reference displays.
“This is technology we’ve been working on for 10 years, primarily for NHK,” said Larry Thorpe, Canon senior fellow. “Cinema seems to be moving to 5K, 6K. We’ll be there when people are ready for something like 8K.”
SGO and SAM demonstrated Mistika and Rio, respectively, working with 8K media. According to Adobe, new proxy workflows for Premiere will be soon available for 8K, HDR and HFR content.