The enduring wisdom of The Rule of Six in editing

-Senior Editor, Nick Jones

As editors go, Walter Murch is one of the more well known ones. Famous as both Sound Editor (Apocalypse Now!), Film Editor (The Conversation, The English Patient, Cold Mountain), and Writer and Director; Walter Murch is a seminal voice in the world of editing and post-production. In his book “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing” he outlines, amongst other things, a hierarchy of 6 important factors in deciding where and when to make a cut.

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1. Emotion

How will this cut affect the audience emotionally at this particular moment in the film?

2. Story

Does the edit move the story forward in a meaningful way?

3. Rhythm

Is the cut at a point that makes rhythmic sense?

4. Eye Trace

How does the cut affect the location and movement of the audience’s focus in that particular film?

5. Two Dimensional Place of Screen

Is the axis followed properly?

6. Three Dimensional Space

Is the cut true to established physical and spacial relationships?

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As an editor, it’s something I’m constantly thinking about, and trying to improve my cuts by employing his theorem. It’s interesting stuff and you can watch this video for more information Walter Murch’s Rule of Six from Nikole Hidalgo on Vimeo.

or read Walter Murch’s book “In the Blink of an Eye”.

-Nick

State of Content: Bao Nguyen speaks w/ Joe Sabia – Pt 1

(Sponsored by Digipost, RICE & Partners and The Lab Saigon. Hosted at the AIA Nest by Bao Nguyen with treats from W Bakes.)

Bao Nguyen is a Saigon-based filmmaker whose past work has been seen in the New York Times, HBO, NBC, Vice, ARTE, PBS, among many others. In addition, he has directed commercial projects for clients such as Google, Coca-Cola, the United Nations, McDonald’s, the US Department of State, and Hugo Boss.

Joe Sabia is the VP & Head of Development at Condé Nast, as well as a director, digital artist, musician, concept cobbler and International Pun Champion.

(Check back next week for part 2 of their chat where Joe and Bao get into the backstories of some of Joe’s most well-known independent projects and his advice for young creatives.)

A taste of some of the most recent work Joe Sabia has directed at Condé Nast:

(This transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)

Bao Nguyen:
Working with iconic print media like Vogue, GQ, Wired, Glamour, etc. how do you approach the stories…because a lot of times these brands and these portfolios don’t have video content and they don’t know where to start. How do you, kind of, start the process?

Joe Sabia: 

Yea these brands are really iconic brands and, you know, before I got involved in Condé Nast–I joined it about two years ago–I never really was one that followed the brands. I didn’t subscribe to the magazines, and I didn’t tell anyone that when I joined–I’m like, yes! I love these magazines! I was very familiar with them but…I’m just an internet video guy. Like my whole career has just been making things and putting them on Youtube.

And for these brands, video is relatively a new thing. You know, when you think about some magazines that have been there, like Vogue, for 125 years, and the websites have been there for about…what? Ten to fifteen years? The idea of taking words and photos and doing moving images and sound effects is very, very new.

So for me, my sensibility as a creator was, just make stuff that’s cool. Make stuff that has an impact, it’s compelling, it’s emotionally driven. And when you come up with ideas it kind of falls beautifully in line with women, for Glamour, or hollywood for Vanity Fair, or you know, these big verticals of brands that Condé Nast has. There are something like 21 publications, it’s really convenient to find a home for a lot of ideas. So that’s kind of why I took the job, because all of the ideas that I can dream up that work on the internet kind of fall somewhere with these brands so it’s just an incredible opportunity.

Bao Nguyen:

And for you as a storyteller, you’re working with a big brand obviously, they’re more about getting attention, getting eyes on these videos. You’re trying to express something in a way that the audience can learn or can get a certain amount of information. How do you kind of walk the line between those two things?

Joe Sabia:

Yea, “viral,” we hear that word a lot…I mean we definitely have entered an “attention world.” It really has come down to which brands are better at capturing your attention. Where will you spend 7 more seconds watching something instead of your friend on snapchat? There’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of distraction.

So it’s very important to take what’s important to the core brands but also find a way to elevate. Period in two minutes is a great example. That’s information that you can find on wikipedia, that’s information that a blogger can write–facts, like did you know this about your cycle? But to construct something that’s whimsical, that’s fun, that’s artistic, that is 8 people in a room with hands choreographing…this really artistic expression is an example of elevation, it’s an example of hard work. It’s an example of how concept meets execution.

And that is what’s needed to kind of elevate it enough so that it gets shared. And then if it gets shared enough, sure, it’s viral, but at the end of the day it’s just artistic elevation, that’s kind of like the two words I say a lot for these types of things.

Bao Nguyen:

Yea and I would imagine that most of the brands, most of the people that you work for, they would think that the Emma Watson thing or the Samuel L. Jackson videos, that those would get the most hits but actually Glamour (the period video) got 97 million hits just on FB…

Joe Sabia: 

Yea, approaching 100 million views. You know for a lot of the brands, one of the coolest things about them is that it has a lot of access to celebrities and they’re basically coming in like crazy. Photo shoots are a big thing. Traditionally, Conde Nast has always had one day for photos for the covers and when video came along it was like the request at the end of the shoot: can you give us five minutes at the end? And what ended up happening was the publicists and the bookers were getting requests to have more time for video. Because they realized that people kind of care more about video.

They want to see an experience, they don’t want to see a Q & A. So I think that one of the coolest things we’re doing now, like Samuel L. Jackson is a great example, is that when you only have 15 minutes with a celebrity, the last thing you want to do is say “so, what was it like working on that film?” You kind of want to create an experience. That’s a lot of the motivation for what we’ve been doing…is it an experience? If yes, great. If no, it’s probably too boring and you shouldn’t just rest on the fact that he’s famous to assume that it’s going to be watched.

Bao Nguyen:

Obviously you’re integrating technology in the way stories are being told. But what’s the difference between a cave man drawing on walls with the way the you’re telling or integrating technology into, say, an interview. Like, where’s the connect between those two worlds?

Joe Sabia: 

Ah, cave drawing. I actually started out as a cave artist, that’s where I got my start. (I’m kidding). Um, you know, I always say that good stories always have a really strong concept. There’s an idea about it and then there’s an execution. There the publishing of that idea, there’s an expression of that idea. And I think that as technology has evolved it’s become one of those things where the ideas…and this is kind of like my central thesis–the ideas always seem borrowed.

There’s always going to be a love story. A Romeo and Juliet love story with someone out of town falling in love with someone else but the medium–the way that radio turned to film and that turned to the internet, there are just so many different ways to bring new life to that, to all these different stories that have just kind of been recycled. So I think that in today’s world, where we tend to forget things five minutes after they happen, there’s kind of a new opportunity to recycle. But also to just kind of be more inventive and be more creative because the tools are there for us to kind of do whatever we want and it’s really exciting right now.

A new workflow at Digipost

There will be some changes this year in how Digipost operates. Instead of passing a project from one station to the next, everyone will be organized into a few small teams to take on a whole project collectively. Senior Editor Nick Jones explains the changes and why they’re good for both Digipost and clients:

As Senior Editor at Digipost, what’s the most important part of your role?nick

My role is to mentor and nurture our young team of talented editors.

In just over a year, we have members of our team working with international brands, agencies and directors and I really enjoy knowing that my team is developing and becoming more and more successful.

Who’s on your team and what are their jobs? (Name & role)

My team consists of Quang, who is a very talented storytelling editor, Laura Knieling who is our brilliant colourist (and occasional editor), Leo who is our star junior editor and mgfx guru and Duc who is also a upcoming junior editor and IT chap.

What do you think the advantage is of changing the workflow at Digipost from “assembly-line” style to small teams that take on a project together?

As the industry has changed and moved away from the traditional ways of doing post, we realise that artists need multiple skillsets so that we can work effectively in a dynamic and fluid environment.

Also, our team spirit is very strong. We have a formidable work ethic and a high standard of workmanship. In essence, a strong creative pride. As we are a small team, our work is representative of us all, so we dead-set on making it the best that we can.

Each of us are constantly developing new areas of skills and abilities, so that as each project comes in we can offer more to our client.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017 at Digipost?

I’m looking forward to taking on more and more projects. We also want to integrate a wider skillset in our team, so eventually we can handle all aspects of post production within one unit.

See Digipost’s 2017 reel and Visual Effects reel here.

DIGIPOST SHOWREEL 2017

It’s 2017! It’s the time to reflect. To introspect. To look back on a stimulating year of change. Here is a quick compilation of our body of work. Excellently curated with impeccable editing to showcase just the right moments. This is how we compress a year’s worth of blood and sweat. Here are the final outputs minus the stress, drama, hate and love involved in creating our magic.

Thank you to all the clients who put their faith in us in 2016 and we look forward to more exciting collaborations.

In the words of Thom Yorke..

“This goes
Beyond me
Beyond you

We are
Just happy to serve
Just happy to serve
You”

Hit the full screen button and grab a cà phê đá.

Editor Quang Vu: one year on at Digipost

What’s your role at Digipost? Where were you before here?

Now I’m an Editor in Digipost, I used to work as a freelancer when I was a student, then I became an editor for a small company for a year. One day I got to know Digipost, and now Digipost has become part of my journey.

How have you grown in the past year?

I’ve made films, and learned about the world of filmmaking.

What’s been the biggest challenge? Or the biggest learning experience?

Every job has its own challenges and also has a different experience, it’s not easy to compare, but I’d say the biggest challenge would be when I work with great filmmakers in a project with a tight deadline.

What’s been the most fun?

The most fun thing is when I feel happy with my film editing and when I see an audience enjoying my work.

What advice would you give to fellow editors or people aspiring to be editors?

Be patient and believe in yourself, trust your film and trust your feeling, sometimes you make a bad decision but you will learn from that and grow your skills as well.

What are you looking forward to this coming year? 

I’d like to learn more about filmmaking and I’m still waiting for the chance to make a great emotional film.

Check out some of Quang Vu’s recent editing work here:

And learn more about this video here.

‘Editing is an artistic creative job,’ says DIGIPOST senior editor

An insight into the job of our senior editor Nick Jones

nick-1

Nick works at his office at DIGIPOST

The first time I came to Nick’s office, it was for the interview.

In a not so big and gloomy room, there were only two giant monitors, a few wall pictures and a small sofa. It looked minimalist and quite lonely. But, the man, who welcomed me with a bright smile, looked so comfortable and happy in it.

As soon as we sat down for the interview, I couldn’t help but ask him right away the question that had bothered me, since I first read his brief profile on DIGIPOST’s website.

“How come an English Literature major from a UK college ended up being a senior editor at a post house in Vietnam?”

“By chance,” Nick said, smiling.

“I first became interested in editing films, when shooting and editing a fashion film for my friend,” he said. “I had previously edited a lot of behind-the-scene videos. But, it was not until then had I realized how fascinating it was to shape a story.”

“I felt so free. While there were rules to follow, I could follow my feelings as well,” Nick said.

He then started freelancing. And, like most of people in the post-production industry, where the hierarchy was strongly integrated, he started with small projects such as music videos and short films, and low positions.

But, it is never easy to do a good job. It is even harder to do a good job as a professional.

Working around tight deadlines, Nick spent countless hours a day sitting in front of monitors. He had to go through hours-long footage and a lot of related materials to find a good story to tell, sometimes just within just 15-30 seconds.

“It took a lot of my personal time, but I wouldn’t change it,” he said. “I know that the harder I work, the better the outcome will be. And I love to know that I am doing a good job.”

His hard work and patience over years were finally paid off, when his expertise started bringing him jobs with big clients such as Adidas, Comedy Central, Future Cinema, Marks & Spencer, and MTV Networks.

Nick spent about 8 years working as a freelance editor in London, before coming to Vietnam and working at DIGIPOST through a friend’s recommendation.

A senior editor now, he has never stopped learning, from other professionals, from books and from films. In fact, since he started working as an editor, the only training Nick has ever taken was advice from more experienced professionals.

“Passion asides, a good editor must have broad understanding about the world around him. Failing to do that, you’ll fall behind,” Nick said. “The more you know, the better you can shape a story. You need to know what you are talking about.”

Although the job demands lots of work and time, Nick said he felt “lucky” to be able to do it.

“Editing is an artistic creative job. I would never exchange that feeling of accomplishment when seeing how ideas on paper develop into something lively and knowing that I am a part of that process, for anything else.”

A Short Perspective on Story Telling by Nick Jones

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Since the dawning of time, people have been telling each other stories. Stories surround us everyday, from the films and television that we watch, to the books that we read, the photographs that we see and the music that we hear. Even in our day-today lives, we are telling stories when we recall a funny incident with our friends at a bar, or repeating a bit of gossip we’ve heard about so-and-so. Our world is built around stories, they educate our children, terrify our parents and amuse our friends.

It is film, among many other forms, which posits itself as one of the most impactful and accessible ways to tell a story. It is in the editing process where we see a story grow and develop…it’s often said that if production is where the film is conceived, then post-production is where it is born.

In fact, film is a relatively new way to tell a story; it’s only a little over 100 years since the pioneering experiments of Eadweard Muybridge and Thomas Edison at the turn of the 20th century changed the way we tell stories forever. In that time, film, it could be argued, has evolved more rapidly than perhaps any art form in history (if we are to include the advancements in CGI). It has become a complex and sophisticated medium, allowing audiences across the world to see and experience everything from heavenly dreams to maniacal nightmares.

Like never before, creating film has been democratized. Access to editing software is getting more and more easy, cameras are getting cheaper and more people are willing and eager to learn the craft. Today, each day, filmmakers from all over the world, from every social-class, from practically every country, of all abilities and of all ages, share and upload new video content on a unprecendeted scale. Never before has artistic output being so readily shared and available to watch. Never before have there been so many stories accessible to digest.

Nonetheless, many themes of dramatic work, tragedy, comedy and revenge for example, we still see in cinema today. There are several fundamental components about how to construct films with these themes: character arcs, key plot points, character depth etc, and these elements can be studied ad infinitum, from books and by watching films, however, I want to recognise that, aside from these things, film has the awesome power to affect.

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I’ve always felt that the strongest stories are the ones that say something, about life, about society. Stories have the ability to make us look inwards, and to discover things about ourselves that we might not have had the chance to otherwise. It can challenge our preconceptions, and give us new perspectives, on both an individual scale and a societal level as well.

As an editor and filmmaker, I try to follow the Free Cinema Manifesto which, in part, states that: “An attitude means a style. A style means an attitude.”In essence, this means that your own attitude to a subject should inform your style and visa versa. Similarly, the The Free Cinema-ists also wrote that “No film can be ‘too personal’” meaning that there is no limit to the amount of “yourself” or your personal experience that you inject into the film. This makes films uniquely personal expressions, and on several degrees connect us in our common “human” experiences of life.

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So for me, telling a good story is about putting ‘oneself’ into a film emotionally or psychologically. In addition to this, I think using film’s power to connect to people, it’s a good way to say something unique, to make a critique or to voice an opinion.

So here’s the Free Cinema Manifesto (abridged), as written in 1956 by Lindsay Anderson and Lorenza Mazzetti:

As filmmakers we believe that

No film can be too personal.
The image speaks. Sound amplifies and comments.
Size is irrelevant. Perfection is not an aim.

An attitude means a style. A style means an attitude.

An article by Nick Jones.