As part of my Editing Emphasis for Dodge College, I am required to cut a handful of Senior Thesis short films. Wanting to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone, I decided to sign on to a Digital Arts VFX Sci-Fi film, a psychological thriller, and a drama. As of now, the VFX and thriller films are in post-production, with the drama scheduled to shoot near the end of February.
The VFX film entitled, Prism has led me to dive deeper into AVID's effect and compositing features, as well as learn how to collaborate with a director to creatively restructure a story. One of the main characters, LARS, is a completely computer generated flying robot who interacts with the film's lead and the environment. As I did not receive any pre-vis from the VFX team, I needed to create it manually within AVID. Using various 360 degree views of LARS, I would keyframe his image to simulate floating. In handheld and tracking shots, I made use of AVID's tracking tool, mapping LARS to the camera movement. With the addition of dialogue, this temporary LARS worked nicely for screenings and also allowed my director to communicate more clearly to the VFX team of how he wanted LARS to move around the screen and be animated.
Following a screening for the Dodge Thesis Committee, my director and I received a handful of notes regarding the logic and overall tension of the film. While moving around various scenes and beats was familiar to me to address the notes given , what came as a surprise was the option of actually creating entirely new shots out of the footage we had. For example, in the first scene we wanted to establish that the main character, Dan, is trying to hide his pastel drawings from LARS. In the original scene, we had an over the shoulder of Dan drawing and then jumping back when LARS comes up behind him. However, the papers can still be seen on the desk in front of him. We decided to make use of Dan's backwards movement to imply him pushing away his drawings, having the VFX team then comp in a blank table top from a different set up. The process reminded me of David Fincher's approach to editing. A few months ago, an Assistant Editor who worked on Gone Girl came to visit my Editing Thesis class. During his presentation, he showed us a short shot comprised of performances that were comped in from different takes. It had never occurred to me until that moment the true power the editor had to directly mold the performances and images presented on screen.
Recently, I have been working closely with my director on my second thesis, Doppelganger. The film was shot and written in a way that relies heavily on the cut hiding or presenting specific information to the audience. As Doppelganger is comprised of three constantly shifting perspectives, I had to follow the script's writing to a T. Each line of prose dictated a cut, proving to be a bit more challenging than I had originally anticipated. My usual approach to editing includes analyzing the script to determine which setups I should make use of to evoke an emotional response from the viewer, and in turn, best tell the story. However, with Doppelganger, I quickly realized the cuts were less motivated by connecting the viewer to the characters, and more showing how one character's actions influenced another. This is definitely one of the more experimental shorts I've cut, and I'm looking forward to seeing how people react to it during screenings.