5 Things Cinematographers Can Do to Make the Editor Happier
Anybody successfully working in the arduous art of filmmaking will confirm it: it’s a collaborative process. And yet, because so many people are involved at very different stages, effective communication can sometimes be tricky. Two of the most important position in the filmmaking crew are the cinematographer and the editor, but unless a conscious choice is made, they rarely overlap during the storytelling process and little chance is given for both parties to exchange.
Freelance editor Jonny Elwyn, who you already know for his excellent eBook for creative freelancers or for sharing great insights such as the 25 things you need to do for your sound editor to love you, wrote “11 things Video Editors wished they could say to camera operators and DOPs” over at Red Shark News.
Elwyn makes some very good points, and here is a selection within the selection for cinematographers:
- Always roll – It’s the ‘bad bits’ that we often use – re-focuses, lens whacking, snippets of background audio for filling in silences, etc. – so please don’t wave your hand in front of the camera to say that it’s no good. We might have a use for it anyway.
- Fix it in Camera – Ensuring your white balance and colour temperature are set correctly is extremely helpful. Not only is this a pretty basic element for a professional cameraman to get right, it can be sometimes very difficult to fix in the grade later on (if the project is lucky enough to have a grade), especially under more exotic lighting conditions, for example inside a factory or under-ground parking garage. And if you want to really go wild, actually shoot a colour chart.
- Hold your shots – Nothing says ‘amateur’ more than a whole series of cutaways that are too short to use. Hold your shots for at least a long 3 count or until you are really, really bored and then, and only then, move on. This is especially true of photographers turning to video for the first time. Just because you’ve framed the shot, and mentally ‘got it’, it doesn’t mean you have actually captured enough of it on video to use in the edit.
- Don’t be on a track to nowhere – The ubiquitous nature of sliders make for an easy win in terms of adding a bit of extra production value to your shoot. But just make sure you’re sliding from-or-to something. Tell a story in the shot by what is being revealed, moved towards (or away from). And if you’re going to shoot a wide and a close version, please make sure you’re tracking in the same direction and at the same speed for both. That way we can cut in (or out) and it will match perfectly.
- Ask for feedback – Come in and talk to us; although we ‘work with computers’, we actually like seeing people, too. Come in and review the footage to get feedback and improve what you shoot. We’ll be able to tell you what worked out really well and what didn’t – from the hindsight laden tranquility o’ the edit suite. If you can’t physically come in and look at footage in the edit suite, then drop the editor an email, ask them for what was good, what worked, what didn’t work, etc. Editors prefer to work with an embarrassment of riches rather than having to work to cover your embarrassments.
Any editors having extra thoughts and tips you think should be part of the list? Any cinematographers want to to comment on that one?
*photo from Inside the Edit Video
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