How Does Someone Know They Have The Skills To Be A Film Editor? – Lawrence Jordan, ACE

How Does Someone Know They Have The Skills To Be A Film Editor? – Lawrence Jordan, ACE

Film Courage: From having grown up in the business
watched your father and your grandfather how did you know you had the skills that
would make you a successful editor? You knew what you probably didn’t want to do
but how did you know you had the temperament, the patience, an ability to be
alone in the editing room? Lawrence Jordan, ACE and Owner of Master The Workflow: I didn’t know. I just knew I loved movies and I loved
editing but when I was working in my father’s trailer house I started to get
a pretty good understanding of what was required of of an editor he even let me
work on some you know promo reels and sizzle reels and a couple of trailers
even when I was just sort of like schlepping stuff so you know I was
really able to get my hands dirty but I had him over my shoulder to you know
kind of tell me where to cut essentially when I when I when when I was lost and
again you know because I had been playing with those splicers and the 35
millimeter film and the tape and the rewinds since I was a little boy there
was there was sort of just like an inner knowledge I just I just was confident in
in the mechanics you know what really sort of became you know the challenge
and the learning experience was was learning you know about you know story
and and how to tell stories and although I didn’t have a formal film school
education I took a lot of night classes particularly at UCLA Extension and I
studied you know I studied story screenwriting classes but more
importantly I studied a lot of theater classes and you know learned about the
the great plays and sort of did some you know took some critical analysis classes
and things like that at night and you know that’s
the thing that you kind of have to learn as you go if you don’t have a formal
film school education and also I think it’s really important that you trust
your gut you know as an editor and I think that a lot of editors will tell
you that a lot of it is instinctual you know from everything from when a
performance doesn’t seem to be you know playing – when a scene doesn’t seem to
be playing – when an act doesn’t seem to be playing – when the whole movie
doesn’t seem to be playing I mean you really break it down you know –
individually you can break it down to a small an element as an individual shot
so you know that that really came over time and and luckily I did have
excellent mentors who you know pulled no punches and we’re very blunt about what
works and what doesn’t work for them and you know it’s that was part of the
business on film that we kind of don’t have as much anymore I think maybe some
editors work that way but because of a digital were much more siloed and we
work in in in separate sort of rooms and assistants are very busy with their
chores a lot of it has as before assistants has become metadata
management working on the computer input/output you know tracking things
like that whereas you know when you were a first assistant on film sometimes you
would just stand next to the editor as he or she were editing and you’d be
handing them film because otherwise they’d have to turn around and that
would break their thread and things like that and you you know it was a much more
sort of interactive process between an assistant and an editor and you you know
literally sit over their shoulder and watch them you know create cuts so you
know that’s kind of the way I was taught about performance and and and
storytelling and you know taste in terms of you know what what might be best who
were most appropriate in a scene did I answer your question you did
so having grown up in the industry and also there was this like instinctual
thing because you had been around the mechanics of it was there anything where
it surprised you where you were not sure that it was the right career for you
whatever it was whether I will tell you that yeah I will tell you there there
was a point when early on when you know video tape was becoming very prevalent
and people were video editors were these people who seemed like a combination of
mathematicians and science nerds and I am NOT either I have a great respect for
science but I I’m not a scientist and and there was a lot of numbers always
happy to punch in time code numbers and things like that with the videotape and
then rolling back and forth and not being able to like just put a cut in
there into the videotape you know like you could with film you know because I
came from film and you know I I was worried because I thought videotape is
the future you know in Francis Ford Coppola was cutting films on videotape
and and I was thinking oh man I’m gonna piccoli here because I really don’t like
this stuff I really liked the 35 millimeter or 16-millimeter movie olace
and and you know what I had grown up with and but as you know things would
would come to pass I was working on a film called little man Tate with Lindsay
Clingman who you know was another mentor and an amazing editor and I got a phone
call from my father who had kind of semi-retired but I think he was still
sort of doing something screwing around maybe a little bit here and there and he
said they’re cutting they’re cutting films on hard drives now and I’m like
why what are you talking about he’s all you you know you’ve got to see this and
I had kind of heard about this and was ignoring it because I was too busy
working on a film but then they ran into some people and they talked about a
couple of different systems that were out there but then I can’t remember who
I think was my dad said there’s this thing called the avid and it’s a
computer-based editing system and I said get out of town and concurrently while
working on little man Tate Jodie Foster had this beautiful color screen
Macintosh in her office and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever
I had a computer at home but it was an old IBM clone and Jodie was very cool
about it she was like yeah you can play with that one you know whenever you want
you know you can kind of screw around on that and so I was kind of like screwing
around in the Macintosh and I was just so you know hypnotized by the graphical
user interface it was it was like a video game to me and although I don’t
play video games but anyhow so we go to see a demo my dad and I go to see a demo
of the avid media composer and in an instant I saw that that was my future
this was the future of editing and because it was nonlinear it was the same
as film except it was on the computer you didn’t have to
it wasn’t like video tape which was you know which was linear and you had to you
know rerecord the entire sequence if you wanted to make a change in one place so
yeah it was I would say to say it was like a bolt of lightning would be an
understatement I literally you know would look at those
movie owners after that and say these things are dinosaurs and they are
destined for the for the dustbin of history or they anyway and so after that
I took a year off to kind of work with my dad again and immerse myself into
digital technology in the app and Media Composer I’m sorry what year was this
little man Tate was what 1990 would 90 okay yeah Wow
so it was this at like a hotel like where did they have this
no I haven’t had offices in Burbank oh I see and they had started to make inroads
in commercials because the images the digital images at that time were very
pixelated they almost look like a Dali painting and you know that was the thing
well you know this is great but we’re not gonna cut features like this you
know so and of course the sales people there and the representatives there were
like well yes but the next generation of picture quality is going to be much
better and you know fine fine fine and it wasn’t ready for primetime in
features but people were using it for commercials and I said I need to learn
everything I can about this because this is coming this is the future this is how
I’m going to be an editor if I’m going to be an editor indeed and and the
picture quality did improve and I spent a lot of time immersing myself into the
Macintosh operating system and the hardware that made the Macintosh
operating system work which was pretty foreign to me I mean I wasn’t a computer
you know engineer or anything like that I I you know frightened of it just like
anybody else and oh my god am I gonna erase everything and things like that
but I spent really literally almost a year getting my hands dirty and you know
after that year I I had no fear and I could pull apart a computer and I was
ready to I was ready to go having that experience how does that going forward
when you see a new technology or or a hint of it you read about it in the Wall
Street Journal whatever how does that make you feel because so many people
could shun it and say oh that’ll never happen
like they said Amazon oh that that will fail you know the nothing that will
never take off and it’s it’s changed the world it’s changed how we consume things
but so many people in the beginning did you know how does that make you look at
things now well it’s different now because
you know that was the beginning of the of the computer era for personal
computer era and it was also the beginning of the era of computer editing
and the adoption of editing in that in that manner everything is done on the
computer now so I I look at it with you know with interest I mean I remember
when somebody told me about uber and he said uber this is the next big thing and
I’m like uh-huh and I mean it was years before I even understood what it really
like so I mean you know in terms of our industry I think there’s still a lot of
exciting things because what’s happening is you know the products continue to get
more powerful and cheaper and you know things to make films continue to get
more powerful and and relatively cheaper and I get excited by that kind of stuff
I always been excited by the idea of being able to put technology in more
people’s hands and have an and have people you know all kinds of people have
a voice in the media creation industries so but you know AI and and you know
virtual reality and 3d I mean you know I’ve seen 3d come like three or four
times in my lifetime so come and go so IMAX you know I think IMAX is is great
for you you know what it is but I do I think that’s gonna change or take over
the entire industry or have any kind of real lasting impact I’m not sure you
know there’s all kinds of stuff out there I I imagine that some of them are
going to kind of really take hold some of these
immersive technologies but I don’t know you’re making me feel very old-fashioned
if it made you bit sorry I wasn’t my it wasn’t my digit so what does it make you
feel like less of a skeptic or more so because you like that’s truly I think
was it even in the 50s they had the 3d glasses or them with jaws and these
different things and and and we weren’t really sitting around wearing them and
then we were told we were going to but but different things where where this is
going to be the new the new wave does it make you more of a skeptic or less so as
you saw well you know one of the things that I didn’t want to get into the
commercial advertising business one of the reasons I didn’t want was because
there’s so much hype you know and and I’m skeptical of hype you know I like to
you know if I see a technology that I that I think has been a really you know
sort of bear fruit or empower people or be fantastic
you know I’ll check it out and I’ll really like kind of get into it but you
know the next big thing I’ll give you an example there’s there’s a project up at
Stanford which is and I think Adobe’s involved in it where they’re
experimenting with artificial intelligence as it applies to editing
and you know there was some hubbub about it last year and do I think artificial
intelligence is going to replace editors probably not in the not in in the near
future will it will it maybe augment editing at some point in time probably you know I think that there’s kind of
like a lot of hype about artificial intelligence in general I don’t you know
I think that’s kind of overblown to tell you the truth it’s just my opinion I I
don’t think that there’s going to be anything that’s gonna obsolete us humans
anytime soon I think probably get a lot of help from computers continue to get a
lot of help but I also think that there’s
know that humans operate on a different kind of level in terms of consciousness
and things like that the computers just don’t have and no one has shown me
otherwise so I don’t know you know nothing that exciting has has come along
but what is exciting is the improvement of the tools for what I deal with you
know for digital editing for filmmaking so I’m excited about that stuff you

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  1. 15:09 How soon before computers replace human editors? Silly question. AI cannot make creative decisions as well or better than humans. I can live to be 200, and I doubt I will ever see that day come in that time frame.

  2. I think AI could be used to help with workflow, file management, and screening for technical issues in a given take; have the AI flag and de-prioritize out-of-focus or technically problematic takes for instance. In terms of creative decisions, I think that an AI would be overwhelmed by the plethora of factors to consider in choosing a take and placing a cut, whereas a human can sort of stumble through all that subconsciously without freezing up.

  3. "They're cutting films on hardrive now!" is something I'm too young to fathom being said. Can only imagine what the shift in the future would be like

  4. AI will always have thee upper hand on technical correctness but creativity is unorthodox and does not follow rules hence it can't be replicated because it simply is not linear nor completely random.

  5. Εδώ είναι ένα υποθετικό σενάριο… Τι θα γίνονταν αν το λογισμικό που γνωρίζουμε ως Final Cut Pro X δεν είχε δημιουργηθεί από την Apple; Πως θα ήταν η κατάσταση στην βιομηχανία του μοντάζ σήμερα; Μιλώ για το ίδιο ακριβώς non-linear editing σύστημα, με το ίδιο πακέτο χαρακτηριστικών και πρωτοποριακών εργαλείων˙ όμως με διαφορετικό όνομα και από διαφορετική εταιρεία. Οκτώ χρόνια μετά, πολλές επαγγελματίες μοντέζ και άλλοι τόσοι μοντέρ δεν μπορούν ακόμα να βάλουν στο κεφάλι τους το #FCPX. Το μισούν ή νομίζουν ότι το μισούν, δίχως να του δίνουν το χρόνο για να σπάσει ο πάγος, στο πρώτο μέρος της εξοικειώσείς τους.

    Όλα αυτά θα ήταν μια εντελώς διαφορετική ιστορία σήμερα, αν κυκλοφορούσε ο #AVID Media Composer X με μια μαγνητική timeline και ένα τόσο ανοιχτόμυαλο browser. Στην παραπάνω συνέντευξη ο Lawrence Jordan μιλάει για την πρώτη ανακάλυψη της έννοιας του ψηφιακού μοντάζ και πώς ένιωσε αμέσως ότι έπρεπε να εξοικειωθεί γιατί θα ήταν το μέλλον. Έτσι ένιωσα και εγώ το 2011, όταν ξεκίνησα με το FCPX˙ όπως είμαι βέβαιος ότι πολλοί ακόμα.! 

    Πιστεύω ότι πολλά περισσότερα είναι εφικτά με την τεχνολογία που εξελίσσεται συνεχώς. 🙂

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