Offline Film Editing


man-filmingWhen your camera original returns from the lab you will have two identically sized rolls. One is the camera original, the other is your workprint. The camera original normally has white or other colored leader on it. Workprint rarely has leaders. Store your camera original in a safe place. Protect it in every way possible. You have spent a great deal of time, effort and money getting the images onto that negative. Without it you don’t have a film.

The workprint is the working copy of your original negative, so it is OK to cut, splice, scratch or tear the workprint. However, for the sake of showmanship and to avoid any future confusion, keep your workprint in top shape. DO NOT RUN IT ONTO THE FLOOR. Always run it on to a reel or into a lined trim bin. Make sure the lab has printed the latent edge numbers from the original on to your workprint. If they haven’t printed through, return it to the lab for a re-do. Your workprint will likely be in a A-wind position. If not, flop it over and rewind it into the A-wind position.

transferring sound to 16mm magstock

Usually, while your film is being processed, you will schedule the transfer of your 1/4″ sound rolls to 16mm Fullcoat. To save time and money, specify if you want all takes transferred or only circled takes.

syncing workprint with magstock

When syncing your workprint with 16mm Magstock, start by building a leader 8 feet long before the sync mark and 8 feet long after your sync mark for both pix and sound.

Mark your sync marks legibly. Be sure to double check your sync often, looking for sync errors. You can do this by marking your tail leader with end sync marks for reference. If they’re out you’re out of sync.

Do not use “junk” or “used” picture or mag stock as fill or slug. It can cause out-of-sync problems. Always use fresh 3M stock for filling your sound track. It is well worth the few extra cents. At the end of your sound track(s), make a definite circle at the point of last pix and sound, then leave at least 6 feet of run-out leader.

edge Coding (AKA ink coding)

Once you have pix and sound in sync, you can send your workprint and magstock out to edge coded (aka Ink Coded). These yellow ink numbers are a constant sync reference between your seperate pix and sound track. This is possible because the corresponding numbers are printed every 16 frames on both pix and sound track. You can edit dialogue productions without edge coding, but it immensely easier with these bright yellow numbers.

editing the film

Your film is created in this phase. Forget the script. Forget the production phase. You now have the actual footage from which your final result will emerge. Your film is made magic or ruined in this phase.

Before actually cutting the film, remove your temporary 8+8 foot long picture and sound leaders at the head of your pix and sound track rolls used for syncing. Replace them with a ten foot long leader before your sync mark and 8 feet after that is then spliced to your academy leader.

Before marking fades and dissolves, make sure you understand the proper marks and the theory behind them (“A” Roll/ “B” Roll).

If you have titles at the head or the end of your film, slug and mark them as part of your cut workprint. Titles should be organized and shot when you begin the editing phase so they will be ready before your last days of editing.

If you want to save time and also guarantee a professional result to your film, contact VFX LA.


Independent Film is Back in Business

This year, Sundance was booming with buyers. Over 38 films were sold; many of which were well reviewed and oozing with box office potential in a mainstream market. In addition to the financial prospect of this year’s films, there were also some well regarded, possibly star-making turns by a few up and coming actors; most notably Sundance darling Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley).

Among some of this year’s critical winners are Martha Marcy May Marlene (starring the breakout performance of the aforementioned Elizabeth Olsen), Being Elmo (a documentary following the man behind the iconic Sesame Street character), The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (a documentary by famed Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock about product placement, financed completely by product placement), and Win Win (a Paul Giamatti starrer, about a family that take in a 16 year old boy, by acclaimed director Tom McCarthy).

The Current Industry

In recent years, the film industry has seen a huge growth of interest in big, summer blockbusters. Studios have been clamouring to secure the rights to every comic book franchise, video game, high-concept novel, and even popular board games. Movies filled with visual effects done by great companies like VFX Los Angeles. So, in turn, there has been a significant loss of interest in the independent community. For a few years now, the idea, “you can’t sell a drama anymore” has been floating around and seemingly becoming truer.

The super-franchise that Marvel and Disney have started with Iron Man and plan to “end” with The Avengers is a prime example of the great investment some companies are making in this boom of big pictures. For those that don’t know, the idea is to have a solo, origin movie for each character of The Avengers (a sort of superhero super group) that includes Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and a few others. Then, all of the original players (save for Edward Norton who is replaced by Mark Ruffalo) come together for one, ultimate blockbuster extravaganza.

Its cinematic events like these that have cast a huge shadow over the independent film market. How is an intimate character drama supposed to compete with the latest Transformers film? It can’t. And, really, it’s not trying to most of the time. But, what the studios can do is suck away the interest and intrigue from the independents. Of course, this is just a fad like any other, but right now we’re in a very special part of this story: the comeback.

The Change

If you look at this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees compared to last year, you’ll note the difference in independents versus studio pictures. The Best Picture nominees of the 82nd Academy Awards are as follows:


  • The Hurt Locker


  • Avatar
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • Inglorious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In The Air

This year’s nominees are:

  • ·Black swan
  • ·127 Hours
  • ·The King’s Speech
  • ·Inception
  • ·Winter’s Bone
  • Toy Story 3
  • The Kid’s Are Alright
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit
  • The Fighter

If you notice, this year has 6 independent nominees as opposed to last year’s 4. It may not seem like much, but jumping from the minority to the majority in one year is a big leap. Now, I’m not saying that the Oscars are the end all and determining factor of what’s hot or not, but this does represent a giant leap in interest and value of an independent film. Not to mention, films like Black Swan have been great successes with both critics and audiences alike.

So, this leads me to my point: independent films are making their comeback. I’d expect to see a lot of independent successes in the next couple years, leading to many filmmakers creating smaller, more intimate pictures, and, ultimately, setting off a new boom of indie films. How do you foresee the future of film?