A good editor works at telling you the story, not at showing you the edit.
Daniel Dercksen shares a few thoughts with editing gurus Michael and Lynn Brennan from The Labspace, colorist Regardt Voges from The Color Space, and editor Richard Starkey, who will present a not-to-be-missed workshop for budding and pro editors at the Indie Karoo Film Festival from June 29 to July 2.
If you are new to Premier Pro, want to explore the magic of Color Grading and DaVinci Resolve, the go-to tool for colorists, learn how to build and refine the Editing Toolset available in Final Cut Pro X, look at some of the additional features available in Premier Pro to enhance your Editing Skills and Workflow in Premier Pro, this is the workshop for you.
There’s also Advanced Resolve v12, an ideal course for existing Resolve users who are looking for more knowledge in both the software and the art of color grading.
Tell me about the Labspace?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: Labspace is an Apple and Adobe Authorized Training Centre that offers training for both the Editing and IT Software platforms. From Final Cut Pro X to Premier Pro, After Effects and Learning the Operating System of El Capitan, Labspace has been training people since 2007. Visit: www.labspace.tv
Regardt Voges: I am not actually involved with Labspace, but I do offer training through them. I am a colorist and I have my own company called “The Color Space”, through which I offer expert color grading services for the film, television and digital media industry.
How was The Labspace/ The Color Space started and what inspired the creation?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: Labspace was born from an idea in early 200, to create a company that would inspire people to work on Apple and Adobe Software and to offer further services and advice to the growing Film Industry. Over time the company has grown and also changed to not only offer training but also to offer Editing, Directing and Advice! We have trained 100’s of people on the Apple and Adobe Platform and it is amazing to watch how people’s careers have grown.
Regardt Voges : I started “The Color Space” when I saw a big demand for professional color grading and I was able to offer clients a cost-effective alternative to traditional and expensive grading at high-end post-production facilities. With the release of Black Magic Design’s Da Vinci Resolve, the color grading industry became completely democratized and now it is possible to offer the same grading solutions as used by the biggest films in Hollywood.
Where does your interest in editing come from?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: In the later 1990s, Michael was working as a Rock Climbing instructor on a Summer Camp out in North Carolina, due to a accident in which he broke his leg he had to find a new avenue to keep busy on Camp. He was offered first the option to assist with the filming of the Camps activities and then to assist with the Editing. Michael found that he had a great ability to tell stories and make people laugh through his editing. He then went and studied at the South Hampton Institute where he received his Honours Degree in Film. Michael made a short animation in early 2004 that got him noticed by Apple and the chance to become a Trainer for Apple and later became a Mentor for FCP X in EMEA. For Michael the chance to tell stories through Film will always inspire him, whether Writing, Directing or Editing!
For Lynn, having come from a Hotel Corporate background, the option to Edit wasn’t one she decided to do, but once given the chance to edit, became something she has really grown to love. The art of storytelling with access to visuals, sound, effects and so much more, is what inspires her and what she whats students to learn through learning to edit.
Regardt Voges :I discovered editing at film school, where I actually went to study cinematography. Because there were too many cinematography and directing students but not enough editors, we would’ve only been able to work on 1 or 2 films per year. That made me decide to try my luck at cutting and I soon discovered that I loved putting films together and telling stories in a different way. After many late nights in the edit suites, I left AFDA Cape Town in 2004 and subsequently I worked as a freelance editor for the next 10 years. Feeling that I missed out on cinematography, I started to explore color grading and in 2009, with the release of BMD’s Da Vinci Resolve, I was able to fully dive into a new world of color grading. Combining editing with grading offered me the best of both worlds and I love being able to not only put a film together, but also to polish every detail it and make it look as good as possible!
Richard Starkey: I started my career in post audio and was amazed at how the picture could be affected by changing the sound. But one day I stopped in at an editor client and saw them cut a few shots together.This process of bringing the film to life instantly appealed to me and I was hooked.When I was offered a job as an assistant editor I didn’t hesitate!
A film gets made three times, when it is written, filmed and then edited? Your views on this?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: Films do get made three times or at least they grow and change at least three times – if not more – with each idea and stage the film you have different people bringing their special talents – From the writers who conceive the ideas, to the Directors and Crew on Set who bring the story to life on film and finally to the Post Production Team who pull all those ideas together to all the audience to enjoy the amazing storytelling of film!
Regardt Voges : It is very hard to predict how a director will interpret a script, or how an actor will deliver his lines and how the DOP will capture it on film. What becomes the sum of so many parts and finally lands on the editor’s lap is the greatest challenge. To be able to see what you have and to find the story in it is the art of editing.
Richard Starkey: Totally. Especially the editing part. It is the final rewrite of the film and can really make or break it.An editor has to do everything they can to keep their audience interested, to keep them believing what they are watching, to keep them immersed in the story.
The art of editing is vital in the process of turning an ordinary story into pure magic. Your views on this?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: Editing is the glue that brings all the ideas together. It combines all the visuals, the story, the sounds and the ideas that makes for a great story!
Regardt Voges : I think a great example of this is Spielberg’s Jaws, where the animatronic shark wasn’t really working and looked like “a great white floating turd” (Spielberg), until the editor started adding and deleting just a few frames to create something so iconic and scary.
Richard Starkey: A good film is often made where very little actually ‘happens’. It’s a just a good story told in a compelling way. Likewise there are films where a lot happens but they have very little substance.Of course there is no accounting for taste! Every viewer is different and what is considered pure magic by one viewer is not necessarily seen in the same light by every other person.
What is your aim with the workshop at the Indie Karoo Film Festival?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: To give you an insight into the different Editing Software Platforms available, teach new skills and maybe inspire you to try new platforms of Editing software.
Regardt Voges : I will be offering a color grading workshop to showcase Da Vinci Resolve 12.5 and hopefully open the world of color grading to all the participants.
Richard Starkey: Very few people actually get a proper look into the editing room, where the director and editor sit and thrash things out. There is lots of theory but in practical terms I like to be able to convey what works for the people in post and what doesn’t. So I like to share that. I also like to convey the spirit of what we do, install the confidence in the person rather than focus on which button does what function- this is constantly changing and can be learnt on the net, plus everybody has their own way of doing it.
What do you hope participants will get out of attending the workshop?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: Our Workshops are aimed to give you an insight into the different Editing Software Platforms available, teach new skills and maybe inspire you to try new platforms of Editing software.
Regardt Voges :I hope that they will be able to grade their own projects and use Resolve as a tool in telling their stories. Or, at least, understand more about the art of color grading.
Richard Starkey: Confidence to know that they can do some of it themselves.Understanding of the post process.
A festival like the Indie Karoo Film Festival is important to bring filmmakers and storytellers together, your views on this?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: Festivals like the Indie Karoo Film Festival are absolutely a vital part of our industry – it allows us to showcase work, collaborate and to see and be inspired by what people are doing.
Regardt Voges : The Indie Karoo Film Festival is a great place to showcase South African independent film and to meet filmmakers, support local talent and catch up with old friends. It’s a great opportunity for new filmmakers to meet their mentors and for the audience to ask questions and discover more about their favourite films. The life of a filmmaker can often be lonely, as we get consumed by our projects, but the great reward is showing our films to an audience and experiencing it with them.
Richard Starkey: It’s an amazing opportunity to meet people who are specifically there for that purpose. You can’t walk up to a director in a random place (even on set or in a post facility) and just start chatting, asking questions, etc…The same goes for any other busy person- producer, editor, colourist, whatever. But at a festival like the IKFF, people have made time to share their experience and knowledge, as well as to collaborate with others and see what others are doing.
What is a highlight in your career?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: For Michael – So many highlights looking back but ones that really do have great sentiment are working on the award winning Chase the Makarapa and winning two awards last year for Commercials Directed. For Lynn it was the first time I had a Commercial aired – such a sweet personal success but also with teaching I really love to watch students learn the skill and really showcase their talents.
Regardt Voges : As a proud Namibian, the highlight of my career was to work on “Katutura”, the first independent Namibian feature film, shot in 2014. I was the colorist and I worked with the director, Florian Schott and DOP Trevor Brown. It was a great experience and I was very proud to be a part of it.
Richard Starkey: Editing a commercial for an Oscar-winning director (Alejandro González Iñárritu). Editing my first feature (The Flyer).Editing a series for National Geographic channel (Battleground Afghanistan) which went to 155 countries in 38 languages.
What excites you about the editing process?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: That’s easy … its the chance to be creative and create something special! Editing is a new art one that allows you to tell a story through moving pictures instead of on paper!
Regardt Voges : I love the creative and technical marriage of post production. Being able to solve problems by using the tools available to tell stories without any limitations. And I also love the collaborative workflow – being part of team of creatives who work together to deliver the best story.
Richard Starkey: Creation. The birth of the film. The way you start with this empty timeline an put one little shot next to another and end up, often months later, with your final and locked cut.
What makes a good editor?
Lynn Brennan/ Michael Brennan: What makes a good editor? – I love this question … and for it there isn’t a straight forward answer. To be a good editor, normally your work isn’t noticed, it’s that good. As an editor you want to craft a story that gets the audience absorbed in the story, what is going to happen next and ultimately remember the film for how amazing it made them feel not for the great edits! If someone is noticing your edits – then you have lost your audience.
Regardt Voges : A good editor works at telling you the story, not at showing you the edit.
Richard Starkey: The right combination of technical and creative. You have to be able to understand a bit of the tech stuff like codecs, frame rates, and so on. You are after all the custodian of the film once it is on your system.But you also have to be able to think creatively and find solutions to problems that nobody was aware existed. Probably most importantly, you have to become an extension of the director. You have to get into their head and understand what they’re trying to do. You can just be a button-pusher who does whatever the director or their client asks them to do but you have to collaborate with the director and producers to make a proper film. Once the director trusts that you have their best interests at heart then they’re a lot more open to your suggestions.