I began editing my short-film for assignment 5 straight-away as I shot the scenes and worked on them constantly improving them as I progressed through the project adding fresh ideas and making small improvements as my experience grew.
One of the first techniques that I utilised that I had learned from my Final-Cut-Pro, ‘How It Works’ manual was creating the compound-clip. This I found very helpful when combining my sound with my picture and locking it in place, so that I don’t accidentally move the soundtrack and throwing my clips out of sync. Another use for compound clips and just as important is to tie both left and right sound-bars together for stereo sound and making them a seperate audio compound-clip. I could then synchronise the stereo compound-clip with the picture before making a new compound-clip combining both sound and picture.
I have used both sound and imaging effects to polish my film. For sound I have used volume adjustments with keyframes to create provide an impression of depth by raising or lowering the sound, for example in the scene with Perkins ant Thompson chatting over a pint, as the point-of-view changed I adjusted the sound to reflect it. I also added some ready made effects such as the medium sized room effect to alter the equalisation to create a more natural sound for the scene. I recorded items such as a clock and found a good sound on the internet for a Tinnitus sound for the nightmares. I also used Debussy’s ‘Reverie’ in scene 4 for a sense of peace and reminissance which is then juxtaposed by the nursery rhyme sung by the child that forebodes his doom and again for the epilogue as another victim enjoying her day with her dog finds the whistle.
I employed various imaging effects such as focus blur for the dream scene and masks to disguise distracting elements and film equipment that was accidentaly caught just on the edge of the picture. I also used crop and colour and contrasting effects to add colour casts, add contrast and adjust the exposure to create appropriate visual feels for each scene. I have learned that the use of colour is an important tool for the film-maker and for the language of film and I have tried to put this lesson in to practice when editing this film. I hope that this can be seen if looked for but is also not too obvious spoil the desired effect.
I have had to use the crop tool in this film several times. In fact this is the first time I have used it. I had to crop some shots of my dark figure on the beach as I had to use a wide-angle lens to obtain the desired depth-of-field and to exaggerate the distance. The down side was the figure was small; so by cropping the picture I could increase the size on screen. This was at the risk of loss of picture quality; but I had kept my ISO to 125 which is my cameras optimum ISO and used a 24mm prime lens for control and better image quality. I also have used the crop to loose unwanted shadows on the edge of the frame.
The Colour Board
I have used this feature extensively for all my shots for this film. This is a powerful tool when creating atmospheric effects such as the dream sequences and a sense of time and place.
By making exposure adjustments on the colour-board in effects I was not only able to improve the contrast of all the shots but also to create stronger visual impressions such as the bedroom scenes of my character Perkins as he wakes up from his bad dreams and looks to his lamp and clock.
Saturation and Color
On the colour-board in effects the two tabs next to exposure is saturation and color (spelt the American way) I have used these features to create a sense of atmosphere and is a very important tool for the film-maker. When I first started to make films I was disappointed at the flat images that my camera produced. This was due to my use of a grey-card to always colour-balance. I was considering to try to manipulate to colour effects through my camera’s own pre-set options but then I discovered the colour-board effects in Final-Cut-Pro. I now realise that I have been following the right path from the beginning and that colour-balancing was important as it helps to create colour consistency even if you are going to make adjustments to the unaltered images as they will all be at the same starting points without a colour-cast to first get rid of.
As a matter of fact when I starting shooting on the beach, my camera was set to flash in white-balance; so my first shot was much more blue than the rest. I realised halfway through my first shot that in my haste to get started due to the cold I had forgotten to white-balance. On finishing the shot I quickly white-balance for the rest of the shoot. As a result I had one short-clip I wanted to use that I had to manually match with the rest. This was a good lesson in the importance of white-balancing.
I have employed two blur effects to assist the dream like effect in my story firstly the gaussian blur with the subject sharply in focus in the middle and the more localised focus blur to blur the dark figure for a more supernatural effect.
I was able to employ some subtle jump-cuts for example when my character switches off the side lamp and the room plunges in to near total darkness just before I fade-out to black and cut to the next nightmare.
Use of Time
I have used several methods on controlling the passing of time in my film, for example my opening scene of Perkins’ dream walking his dog who has recently died which was slowed as part of the dream effect and then speeded up when his dog runs off. I also used fade-ins to suggest the passing of time as Perkins takes his walk along the beach and the cuts between Perkins hiding in fear and the approach of his antagonist. For the final scene with Perkins I speeded up the shot of the ghost as it lunges at him for a more dramatic effect.
I have used a mixture of sound effects from synchronised sound to downloaded effects for both diegetic and non-diagetic effects. I have used layers of sound with volume and graphic equaliser adjustments as well as fades and J and L cuts. I have tried to create a sense of a 3D depth by adjusting volume with different shots and or movement of the POV.
To obtain a child’s voice singing Nick-Nack-Paddy-Wack I recorded my wife singing whilst mimicking a child then to get a more authentic sound I added the Helium effect and altering the adjustment level to be just off her original voice.
Throughout my extensive reading the expression film-language has been constantly repeated and I have learned that this is the fabric of any film. When we talk about film-language we are really talking about mood, atmosphere, rhythm, motifs, etc. This can be expressed through camera angles, composition, sound, exposure, editing and colour rendition, in fact colour is the most noticeable tool used for film-language. Next time you watch a modern horror film notice the choice of colour-casts the the vampire hunts his victim or a historical period drama piece and see how colour or lack of colour saturation is used to create a sense of the past. I have tried to use film-language in this film, but I hope that I have used it appropriately.
One of the best tools that I invested in some years ago when I took up photography again was a Wacom Bamboo drawing-pad and pen for my computer. Originally I used it for Photoshop and Lightroom but it has proved an invaluable tool for editing my films. The pad offers greater adjustability for fine adjustments which would be both difficult and uncomfortable using a mouse, the pen is also more comfortable to use over a long period of time.
As part of the editing I have included some elements as motifs such the nursery rhyme and the Tinnitus sound.