Newsletter 37 – October 1999

Online archive copy of Newsletter 37 which was a printed newsletter:

October Presletter

Sponsors

I am very pleased to announce that Atlab, The Atlab Group and AAV Australia, Digital Post Production Network have renewed their Major Sponsorship of the ASE. Avid Australia after a transition from Avid Technology has also come on board as a Sponsor. I would like to thank them for their ongoing support of the ASE. We simply could not survive without them.

A Personal Word

One of the first jobs I had after leaving Film School was to assist an editor whom I greatly admired. It was at the time when editors from a couple of Post Production houses regularly went to late but long lunches. During one of these lunches I dared to comment about the editing of a particular Australian film I’d seen. To my shock and horror my boss editor reprimanded me in front of everyone. To talk about a fellow editor’s work was against the rules. You just didn’t do it at social gatherings. What did I know about the circumstances of the edit to comment ? Maybe he was right, but I still cried for days after that. Not only because I’d be put in my place by someone whom I admired, but because I thought what hope is there ? What hope is there to improve our craft if we can’t talk about it openly ? Are editors so insecure that they can’t be self critical ?

Many years later when I joined the ASE I was still searching for a community of editors who felt comfortable about discussing and improving their craft and who wanted to bring status to the position of editors within the industry itself.

In recent months there has been a lot of questioning of the ASE. What does it do for me ? What do I get for my membership fee ? As well as a lot of disenchantment from the committee when no other feedback comes in and poor attendances at events questions the reason for holding them.

No you don’t get frequent flyer points or free passes to Hoyts for your membership. We are still a very young body, trying to work out priorities for its members. Trying to overcome years of isolation and introversion. I still see this as the biggest challenge.

I know that editing demands such high levels of concentration with long intense hours and that its hard to give or find any time for others apart from family and close friends. Certainly not an editing community. BUT we have to be able to exist and have support in times other than times of crisis such as existed in 1995.

Next month will be my final presletter and in the spirit of the time which is to be totally transparent...I will give a comprehensive list of just what the ASE does for you. In the meantime, I urge you to think about your membership and what it means to you and what you want from it. Then contact your committee or if you are in Sydney PLEASE come along to the AGM on November 27th at the Side On Cafe - 83 Parramatta Rd, Annandale from 1.30pm.

The ASE is you and what you make it.

Til next time
Denise Haslem, President.

 

SPENT ALL YEAR PUSHING THE
TECHNOLOGICAL ENVELOPE?

WELL STOP PUSHING IT AND MAIL THE DARNED THING, AND REMEMBER, THE ASE CHRISTMAS PARTY IS LOOMING LIKE A ROAD TRAIN, SO PUT SOME MONEY IN THAT ENVELOPE AND MAIL IT OFF TO THE ASE. THIS YEAR THE PARTY WILL BE AT THE MUSEUM OF SYDNEY( YES THERE’S NOTHING LIKE A FAMILIAR VENUE), ON SATURDAY, FOURTH OF DECEMBER. SO MAKE A NOTE IN YOUR PALM PILOT AND REMEMBER TO BACK IT UP.

 

PAUL CANTWELL’S EMMY

Last month Paul Cantwell won an Emmy for his fine editing work on the
natural history documentry Dragons Of The Galapagos. This super 16 doco
was cut on sprockets dealing with over 700 camera rolls. Okay not all of
them were 400 feet in length but thats a hell of a lot of footage to sift
through to get a 50 minute programme! When asked if Paul would be cutting such a project on sprockets again there wasn’t even a pause of
consideration - No was the polite reply with a wry grin accompanying it.
Congratulations Paul!

 

On Chris Cordeaux's passing

It is difficult, impossible, to think or write about working with
Christopher as an editor without thinking and writing about him as a very close friend - one whose company I shall miss greatly, at the same time as I mourn the loss of our 26 year collaboration on many films - SLEEPING WITH
CAMBODIA being the last documentary we did together and BLACKFELLAS being the last feature.

I first met Christopher in 1973 when, as a student at the Australian Film and Television School, Christopher was ’on loan’ to us for a brief time from
the Canadian Film Board where he was held in high esteem as the editor who could rescue films that no other editor had been able to do anything with;
who could turn sows ears into silk purses - in some cases (such as UNTOUCHED
AND PURE) into award-winning films. Chris’ contribution to this and other films he worked on was not acknowledged as fully as it should have been but
I guess this must be a familiar scenario to editors who have saved or rescued films made by less than competent directors only to find these same
directors quite happily taking the lion’s share of the praise for the
finished product. Chris didn’t complain about this though I was aware (even without him saying so in so many words) that he wished his contribution was
more publicly acknowledged. On the project that Chris and I were working on together just before he died we had agreed to share equal billing as director and editor as this would have been an accurate description of the
contribution we had both made to the project - Chris’ contribution being, at the very least, equal to my own.

Over time, after several films, I came to have great confidence in Christopher’s ability to find connections between images that had not occurred to me; to put together two pieces of film (and later the video equivalent) in such a way as to make something that was much greater than the parts; that made me think “Wow!”. It was the “wow” factor that Christopher was always looking for - not just as an editor but in life also.
He wanted to be stimulated by new ideas, by new ways of arranging old and familiar ideas, by new people. It was a joy to spend time in the editing
room with Christopher as his every active imagination was almost always in hyper-drive and his powerful and often confronting intellect forced you (in the most pleasant way) to think about things - both the film you were working on together and life in general - in a different way.

Paradoxically, the advent of non-linear editing systems proved to be both a joy and a curse for Christopher - a joy because Christopher’s mind had
always worked in a non-linear and much speedier way than the manipulation of strips of celluloid with Steenbeck, Moviola or Pic Sync made possible; a curse because Chris never quite mastered the mysteries of the AVID and learned (as I am sure that many a former film editor has) that one small mistake, if not discovered immediately, can lead to some rude surprises a
few days later when tracks have mysteriously disappeared or sync has been hopelessly lost.

I I shall miss Chris’ intellect, his sense of humour, his generosity of spirit, his preparedness to work on many a film or video project not simply to earn a living but because he believed in it or simply liked the director
and wanted to help out..

Farewell Christopher and thanks for all the good times and for making me
look much better than I deserved to look at times.

-JAMES RICKETSON

 

Melbourne News

Victorian Film and Television Industry Working Party

Comprising a wide umbrella of industry associations including the ASE, SPAA, AWG, ASDA, MEAA, AGSC, ACS, and the AIMIA, the Working Party submitted their “Looking to the Future” policy statement to the Victorian Government in July 1999. Concerned by the contraction of the Victorian production industry and with the aim of placing Victoria as a center of excellence in content creation, production, services and distribution of film, television and new media, the Working Party want to increase recurrent funding to the industry by $6 million.

“ Ten years ago, when there was relative parity between Victoria and NSW, the Victorian industry was worth $73.1 million and the NSW industry $92.3 million. Since then growth in NSW has significantly surpassed that of the Victorian industry. If parity had been maintained, the Victorian industry today would be worth around $200 million. Instead it is worth less than half that, $94 million. “, the forward to the policy states.

So what’s happened since July? Well, the Victorian election was called and the result is limbo! We wait for the incoming Government to consider the report afresh. The Working Party have been making their concerns public and it has been good to see the state of the industry making headlines in the local press, especially with The Age running a number of stories on the matter.

If you’re interested in more information or getting hold of the report please email me or contact the office by leaving a message.

Show Us Your Shorts

Show Us Your Shorts is an initiative by the Australian Cinematographers Society and supported by the ASE, for cinemas to show locally made 35mm shorts before features. A great and worthy idea I hear you all say!

The good news is that already a number of Melbourne cinemas think that it’s a great idea as well.

David Muir, President of the Vic. ACS, is looking for unreleased 35mm shorts for the campaign.
Also, he writes “ There are a number of good 35mm shorts I’ve seen at festivals etc for which I am currently trying to track down the producers. If you or anyone you know have any idea how I can contact the makers of DARWIN’S EVOLUTIONARY STAKES (Prod. Deborah Szapiro) HAS BEANS (Prod. Miriam Stein), HOPPIN’ MAD (Prod. Georgina Wilson), TSUNAMI (Prod. Lisa Duff), SLIM PICKINGS (Prod. Anthony Lucas), THREE CHORDS AND A WARDROBE (Prod. Bruna Papandrea) and VENGEANCE (Prod. Judi McCrossin) I’d appreciate hearing from them.“

Let’s hope the campaign gets off the ground and is supported by as many cinemas as possible. If you can help, David would like to hear from you. Send him details of running time, synopsis, etc. Or if you know of someone who can support the campaign by screening the shorts please drop a line. David can be contacted by email at dmuir@majestic.net.au

We’re Going Online

As announced in the last newsletter by the Pres. both the Sydney and Melbourne committee’s have decided to produce content for online delivery. So expect to see your flyers, newssheets, and more arriving electronically.

To help gather email addresses can Melbourne members please send me an email with your name and any changes to contact details in the body of the message. If you haven’t notified Sydney of your address you had better CC them too.

Henry Karjalainen, Vic Admin.

 

Yes it’s back! did it ever go away?

Join Melbourne’s editing community at the Beaconsfield Hotel,
341 Beaconsfield Parade, St. Kilda from 7pm. onwards on the
first Friday of every month, for an informal industry drinks night.

 

Technology Night at Frameworks

ASE are invited to a technology evening at the new Frameworks Building.
Frameworks and Avid will be demonstrating the new Avid Symphony Unity24P. This is the new high resolution finishing format which George Lucas will be using to shoot the next installment of the “Star Wars” adventure. To help further explain the intricacies of this new format, Avid Australia have flown out from the US two of the top people from Avid who were instrumental in the development of the Film Composer, Michael Philips and Tom Ohanian.
This should be a great evening, food and drink provided.
The event starts at 7:00pm Thursday, Nov. 11. If you would like a quick tour of Frameworks, as well, show up around 6:00pm.
Frameworks, 68 Lilyfield Rd. Rozelle Bay.
So we know the numbers, please RSVP to ASE by phone, fax or email ASAP.

 

COMMITEE NOMINATIONS

THE ASE NEEDS ALL YOU FULLY REALISED HUMANS NOW! GET ON THE PROGRAM.
ENERGY & ENTHUSIASM REQUIRED URGENTLY.

REMEMBER TO NOMINATE!

 

5.10.99

Letters To The Editor
ASE Newsletter

In response to Caroline Scotts’ letter ’Telecine Neg or Not’.
As you know Neg Matchers log the rushes into their software scanning Keykode(barcoded edge numbers) as a matter of course.
At Negthink we prefer to log the negative as it has ’first generation’ edge numbers , not ’printed through’ numbers possibly too light or too dark or fogged. However this is rarely a problem with 35mm.
But as you observed Caroline, keykode errors from Telecine occur whether it is neg or work print. This in my experience is more a Telecine problem than a Keykode problem .
Keykode when manufactured is a continuous set of numbers from the start of the film roll to the end. But by the time it reaches Telecine as a ’Lab Roll’, that seamless set of numbers has been disrupted by splices . These splices (from removing NG takes, splicing together camera rolls with spacing between rolls and from re-racking) represents a disparity between KeyKode and the timecode that is being laid down at Telecine.
Everyone of these splices must be accurately logged in order to maintain the integrity of the log so when the EDL arrives we may make an accurate ’assembly’ or cut list to do the Pos Conform or Neg cut. The same goes for logs imported into a Lightworks or Avid if the assistant is making the lists for the Neg cutter or to do their own Pos Conform.
Telecine readers seem to have trouble doing this accurately all the time, perhaps
because the telecine doesn’t stop and has lag in picking up the new code after a splice. Also the operator is remote from the actual film, and can’t check on the run.
Perhaps a Telecine operator would like to comment on this.
With bench logging in a neg room, you have your face in the film and are able to stop, mark the splice and immediately check the number on the film against the log on the screen.
We usually fax the hard copy of these accurate logs daily to the assistants on a Feature, to check them against their imported FlexFile logs.
As far as taking neg out of the laboratory, hundeds of thousands of feet of neg for TVC’s leave the lab every year in Sydney, to go to telecine and to neg cutters as Atlab was not in the TVC neg cutting business and is now not feature neg cutting either. A situation I don’t mind at all.

Kind Regards
Greg Chapman

 

To the editor(s),

Caroline Scott has referred to comments in my book (Film Technology in Post Production) in her letter (Telecine neg or not?) - I guess a reply from me is to be expected. Here it is.
Problems do sometimes occur when reading Keykodes from print at the telecine: this is usually because the Keykode reader is optimised for the black on orange negative Keykodes, and needs adjustment to read the clear on black print Keykodes. It may also be that the Keykodes were poorly printed through at the lab. However, this shouldn’t lead to “wrong” Keykodes, but to unreadable Keykodes (which in a way isn’t as bad, as at least you know there’s a problem before it’s too late).
One-frame errors on neg logging are a different issue entirely: if 20 per cent or so of shots were affected in a 25fps transfer, I would suspect an inaccurate offset on the telecine reader. You would get the same errors when transferring from the print.
In my book I dwelt rather heavily on the risks of putting freshly processed (green) negative onto a telecine. Original negative should always be treated like gold thread - especially when it’s new. It is very soft, machines are very hard, often there’s pressure to complete a lot of footage in a little time - and that negative is IT - it’s all you have, there’s no back-up. Of course people do transfer from neg all the time, and with due care in handling, and with well-maintained machines, there is no reason to expect any problems.
Caroline’s other question touched on the eternal 24/25 question. A
Lightworks expert would be better placed to explain the menu options on Lightworks: but it’s worth noting the good news in all this - Caroline mentioned work print, and pos conforming. If you’ve steered your way through FlexFiles, 24/25 syncing tricks (in some shots, not others), obscure parameters on the non-linear system, conflicting advice, one-frame errors, and a host of other mathematical adventures, and come up with a cut list, I reckon you’d have to have rocks in your head to cut the negative straight off the list. No doubt there are people reading this who’ve done it, and lived. (So far, anyway.) Me? I’d sooner juggle with chainsaws. A work print and a pos conform - apart from other undoubted benefits - give you the chance of trapping errors before they get into the cut negative.

Dominic Case

 

Don’t just fade away ... have your say!

Firstly I’d like to thank Gavin Walburgh and Henry Karjalainen
for making the effort to record and transcribe the entertaining “Editor Profiles” in last month’s newsletter, and to Caroline Scott for bothering to do the rounds and report on who’s doing what in Melbourne.
But as a long-time Committee member I feel compelled to have a bit of a whinge about Caroline’s proposal that ASE membership fee be reduced from $100 to $80.
I find this amazing. $100 is “too much”??? Then why is $80 better? Why not $79.95? Why not $40? Free membership!! There’s a good idea!! But seriously, how can you place such a precise dollar value on your ASE membership?
I’ll tell you how we did it four years ago. We took a nice round figure, tried to estimate how many members would join, and worked out whether the resulting amount would be sufficient to cover the costs of running the organization we were trying to establish. We looked at other guilds. Some charged less, but did less. Some charged more. We thought $100 was a nice, round, reasonable figure, and most of the editors we spoke to agreed.
But perhaps it IS time for each of us to take stock and decide whether being a member of ASE is “worth it”? What do YOU get out of it? Are you getting your money’s worth?
Since ASE started we have put on many of the sorts of events, seminars, training, support and industry presence that we thought editors needed and wanted. We have published a regular newsletter, and we have seen our membership grow in Sydney, Melbourne and in other states. We have established ourselves in the industry as a serious representative body.
But we have a big problem. With a few notable exceptions, almost every event we have put on, was attended by a disappointing few. (Sometimes, if you don’t count the committee, we’ve had maybe half a dozen participants.) The few people who do turn up have a great time ... but this is incredibly demoralising for the committee, who puts in a huge amount of unpaid work into organizing these things. We exist to provide the things you want us to provide. But lately, we are beginning to wonder why the hell you continue to pay your membership fees?
Why does nobody bother to turn up? Excuses range from “too busy” “wrong night” “wrong location” “didn’t know about it” “forgot” and so on. We understand that these are all legitimate excuses, but put yourselves in our shoes for a moment. ASE members work in all sorts of situations all over the city. We try very hard to find a central venue and a convenient time to suit everyone, and we try to give members as much notice as possible. Sure, we can’t suit everybody all of the time, but I find it very hard to believe that more members can’t, with two or more weeks’ notice, organize an evening off!
Which leads me to think that instead, the true excuse is “can’t be bothered”.
Either that, or we’re wasting our time organizing the wrong sorts of things.
So, what do we do? How are we to know what you want if you don’t tell us? Do you know how much feedback we get? Virtually zero. We organized an extensive professional survey of members and non-members, and most respondents replied that they were happy with ASE. Very few suggestions.
So, what next? Should we be bothered about low turn-out?
How do you think it feels to organize something like the recent inaugural Goof Reel Awards, giving members well over two months notice to send in entries and to attend the event. Then on the day, at a great location, with a celebrity guest presenter and an entertaining variety of finalists, less than thirty people show up! Most of whom were the committee, the finalists and their guests. (A huge thank you to those who did make the effort be there.)
Sometimes, it seems that we could just stop organising things altogether and nobody would even notice. I hope it doesn't come to that.
Imagine instead, an organization in which the members looked forward to the next "excuse" to get together to network with, learn from, to talk to, and to be entertained by fellow editors.
Imagine an organization in which policy and direction is driven by both praise and criticism from its members.
Imagine an organization where the volunteer committees are confident that they have the full support of their members.
Imagine an organization where both new and established editors regularly step forward to volunteer a little bit of their time every now and then, without the committee having to chase people up all the time!!!
Imagine an organization that editors felt was essential to belong to, rather than a luxury reserved for the times when work was abundant. An organization whose reputation meant that our numbers grew steadily rather than vacillating by the month. An organization with sufficient confidence in its future to embark upon ambitious projects such as accreditation and awards.
That's the sort of organization I'd like ASE to be. It can be like that. But its not the sort of thing one, two or even twenty well-meaning people can create.
ASE is its members, every one of you who cares about your craft and who sees the benefit in joining with other editors is also responsible for ensuring that the organization is doing what you want it to do. And that requires a bit of effort from time to time.
Please don't just leave it all to others. Don't let your committee "burn out". If you can't help directly, give someone who is contributing a call and let them know what you think. Praise is a great stimulant. Criticism is welcome, we can handle it.
ASE needs a new committee for 2000. Can you be bothered to volunteer? Worried about the committment? One fun evening a month, and a few hours, at your convenience, in between. Worried about getting too busy? You're only expected to do what you can. If you get the big break fine, we'll still be here when you get back!
I've greatly enjoyed my time on the committee, and I can say with confidence that the more you give to ASE, the more you get back again.
If you don't feel you're getting your money's worth, is it just possible that you're not giving ASE your best shot?

Call me and tell me what you think.

Matthew Tucker

 

Talking The Goof Reel Rises - Jane St. Vincent-Welch

The huge pub hall hushed as the lights dimmed over the packed crowd of 25. Many more were turned away by security carefully selected to handle the crowds for this exclusive day of days?The FIRST ANNUAL ASE GOOF REEL AWARDS!!!!
My hands were dripping with sweaty tension, my Goof reel had been accepted for competition. Would this be my day of days?

Today is for all those assistants and editors who had slaved for days and nights creating masterpieces of comedy, tragedy and legend from little pieces of film and tape containing bad acting, unconscious moments and blatant show offs-working to manipulate and cajole them into little gems of joy. Without script or advice these would regularly roll out of the cutting rooms and into the heated drunken disarray of THE wrap party.

The goof reel creator is likewise nervously inebriated. “Hey, where’s the goof reel?” they finally yell. It starts, battling the sound level from the floor and the ice bucket. That’s when the realization strikes that none will hear the subtle jokes and nuances above the ribald din. Some one comes and thumps you on the back.. “Good on you, loved the shot of Len falling off the the jib!!?.”

Why do we do it?
We love a challenge, the chance to sharpen our cutting skills - and lets face it, we were madly ambitious too and thought (sweet innocents we were) that someone would see our potential! As our peers in the editors’ club know.. it is time these pieces of art were recognized for what they are - evidence of history, of life, of why we do what we do!!

Where were we? ? the lights dimmed?. No. Before the lights go out they revealed our own cherub-faced ageless Andrew McNeil on whose shoulders the whole show was balanced. He welcomed the crowd warmly, knowing this event will get even bigger next time and then introduced the incomparable Chris Heywood who warmed up the audience with a great joke about a pair of gaffers in a row boat. “Sorry I don’t know any editors jokes” (Is that a good thing? I wondered.. maybe we should start sending in editor jokes to the newsletter!-)

So then the lights dimmed... and there by the grace of Frameworks (who provided pre selection screening facilities, betacam dubs, video projector and player machine) our wee reels were finally given the screening of their life in front of an attentive appreciative audience.

And the contestants were?.

1 /Monica Heidemann-”Medivac” Fast paced music driven expose of fluffed lines
2/ Bin Li -”Paradise Road”=Wonderful actors graciously reattempt lines (traditional)
3/Carryl Irik-”Love In Limbo”= Created with no sleep, Carryl was rewarded trip to Perth for screening, which is how all reel creators should be treated!!
4/ Patrick Stewert -”Skippy” =Hilarious triumph of kids, ’roos n crews over budget ordeal
5/ Jane St Vincent Welch-”Mortgage”= Bill Bennett & crew vie for microphone.
6/ Basia Ozerski -”Over The Hill”= Musical romp thru shooting mayhem
7/ Bin Li -Under The Lighthouse Dancing”=A big leap forward for goofs where even starwars can be highjacked for the cause.

After an hilarious hour or so it suddenly came to an end. The crowd was stunned, some politely sipped warm beer, then spontaneously, a warm clapping filled the room. Chris wound up the screening by acknowledging that the goof reels differed widely and well reflected the mood of the crews and shoots. Chris then organized the complex voting system. The voting was tricky and swift. “Not only had we to concentrate on a random selection of reel order, “ÖK hands up for number 6.. “- we could use as many body appendages (hands /feet /heads) as desired, and you could vote as often as you liked! The result was hilarious, fair and just.”

And the winners are?
Peoples Choice awarded to Bin Li for “Under the Lighthouse Dancing”
Jury Prize to Patrick Stewert for “Skippy
Uncertain Regard History Prize to Jane St Vincent Welch for “Mortgage”

I was most suprised to receive an award (which now sits in pride of place over the fishtank) . It elicited few laughs, because of the now very suss sexual innuendo that dripped from the piece - and firmly dated it. That, and Steve Arnold’s pigtail had resulted in its historical value being noted. I wanted to thank Mum, Dad, Sarah and Bill Bennett - and the world - for choosing my reel, but everything left my head as I stepped up on the glittering stage and received my plaque, my Golden Spool ( hand made beautifully by Mathew Tucker) and my photograph of Mel Gibson signed” Hamlet” by Chris Heywood. What could I say but ?”Thanks Guys”.

So let there be a next time. You all have to come, it could be you up there. If you’re not cutting a show reel a year, why aren’t you? Has fun finally left the building’? Has time, efficiency and hard nosed thinking taken its toll and left no chance for the assistants to show their stuff? Another battle is looming: the fight for camaraderie and industry support will whiten your gloves yet again ladies and gents?
Humour may be the only way over the barricades?..

JSTVW

AFTRS “Collaborative Workshop” HDTV

by Fiona Strain

In July I gave a presentation at the SMPTE conference, regarding education for HDTV, relating some of our experiences at the AFTRS in preparing for our “Collaborative Workshop”. The workshop involved shooting 3 short films on 35mm, withC broadcast as the outcome.

Of course we were faced with some limitations as at the time there were no HDTV facilities available in Australia. This is slowly starting to change.

Here is part of the presentation for your info.

The main issues I will be discussing are:

· The reasons for early and frequent Collaboration between departments,
· Choosing a workpath that is suitable for the budget and schedule of an Australian, High Definition television product,
· An idea of some of the difficulties to be faced by practitioners when planning for HDTV.

At the AFTRS we have a term that we often use, that of “being on the same page”. The idea being the Director has a vision to which the whole production crew contribute, using their specialist knowledge and individual creative talents. Essentially the whole production team work together, building the film as it passes from one department to the next, with information and intentions being shared through the whole process.

Producers are not always in a position to understand the technical issues of post production fully, as change occurs so rapidly. A feature or documentary Producer often does one production every two years or so. In the time that has passed between productions, the possible work-path options have changed significantly. Editors and Cinematographers are regularly dealing with these issues and are exposed to current developments in their areas.

Early consultation between departments allows better decisions to be made for delivery, considering the complexity of modern productions which regularly include digital media.

There are many possibilities for creating special effects shots, for example the opening title of “Figures In Motion” a student production edited by MA student, Thom Corcoran. Initially a shot of two dancing men was to be done in camera, replicating the movement of the early Zoetrope. Early tests proved difficult to get the correct look in camera, and it was decided to use the Flame to digitally create a rotating shadow, and to use the online facility to create text for the title. The discussion involved Cinematography, Editing, Digital Media, and Title Designer all contributing their particular expertise to obtain the Director’s desired look, within the schedule and budget of the production.

When we were having initial discussions about how we would teach the HDTV work path, we struggled with the complexity of it all, and decided we needed to do some tests to clear up such notions of film versus tape finish, what grading method to use, how to tackle the aspect-ratio dilemma, to letterbox, or not…

As we talked we realised that there was a lot to learn and that we were not (yet!) the experts. The best approach with our students who are all mature age, and experienced to a degree in the industry was to let them do the research.

The first issue we felt we needed to tackle was the HDTV Workpath:

The brief was to shoot on 35mm film, so the first question was … 24 or 25frames per second?? There was discussion about 24p and what this meant in a PAL world - did that mean we could screen at 24fps without the hybrid frame? No.. until HDTV is a broadcast reality in 2001, we would still end up broadcasting on PAL TV at 25fps, resulting in the sound being sped up by 4%, needing a pitch shift during the mix, so the students opted to shoot at 25fps.

There is the opinion that completing on film is the only way to “future proof” your production, but we also had to consider the more realistic view of television broadcast requiring tape finish, as well as budget considerations. This being “HDTV” awareness, we assumed that when HDTV is a standard, we would be doing HD telecine at the outset, and that post would be completed on HD equipment.

We considered 3 work paths:

· Finishing on Film
· Finishing On Tape- Grading off Neg
· Finish on Tape, with a Tape-Tape Grade

1. Finishing on Film:
Initially the students preference, this work-path would entail initial a “one light” telecine. Offline editing would occur concurrently with the digital treatment of shots for special effects as well as titles and credits. After lock-off, a neg match would occur, the neg would be telecined, graded and put to a digital format.

This option was rejected quite early by the students, as their budget did not extend to include the cost of cutting the neg, as well as the considerable cost of transferring the digital media to neg. It also meant that their editing time would be reduced, as they would have to allow for neg matching to occur after lock-off and before sound post. In fast turnaround television, this also is not an option.

2. Finishing On Tape- Grade off Neg:
This was considered as a possible alternative to finishing on film. The idea being that the closer to the finished product that the film comes off the neg, the better quality the image. This involves a path which is often used for commercials at present: Shoot film, do a “one light” for editing. Once lock off is achieved, the neg is pulled for the shots that will be in the finished product, and graded. Online is done from this graded neg, adding digitally enhanced shots.

3. Finish on tape; Tape-Tape Grade:
This third option is a more standard television path, where all the neg is transferred to Digital Beta using an initial compressed grade. Digital effects would be created using the compressed grade, then fully graded in Flame when complete. Online would occur, including digitally enhanced shots, followed by a tape to tape grade.

The editors and cinematographers took test footage to different telecine houses to compare the grade options. After researching the paths the Producers and Directors were also brought into the discussion. There was much discussion of the implication of things such as: scheduling a neg pull, possible damage to neg due to extra handling, a possible reduction of picture quality in doing tape-tape grade, the options now available in secondary telecine, what grade is required for the digital effects process. The tests were viewed, and the decision made to follow the third path-Compressed grade off neg followed by a Tape to Tape grade.

It was agreed that there was no significant loss of quality in grading tape to tape.

The Next big question was the aspect ratio.

We always knew that we would end up with a 16x9 picture, but what was the best way to achieve this???

We made an early decision to transfer the film to the full 4x3 screen, and then letterbox it in post.

This was made after discussion with our digital media guys who wished to have access to all the available picture to allow maximum flexibility in Flame.

When we delved a little deeper into the aspect ratio issue, we weren’t sure whether we had made the right decision, and investigated a bit more. The main problem being that with a PAL picture in an HDTV world, if you mask some of your image, you are masking your available pixels.

When you push that image to a full HDTV screen, so that the letterbox no longer exists, you are essentially blowing up your picture and degrading the image.

What are the other options?? It took another round of tests with telecine to investigate the possibility of doing to our 35mm picture, what a 16x9 digital camera does to the picture…

..essentially squishing the full 16x9 picture into the 4x3 frame, (no letterboxing) so that when that image is switched to 16x9, the image widens out to fill the frame, there is no degradation of picture quality, and you are using all the pixels shot. It took a while to get the right terminology for this..Some call it “squeezed”, but it seems the correct terminology is “stretched”… (another small hurdle as everyone is struggling with what to call these processes).

We also discovered that every telecine house seems to have a slightly different interpretation of 16x9. Our students learned that for each telecine roll, it is essential to have a frame and focus leader attached, otherwise they are unlikely to get the frame exactly as the cinematographer intended.

The main thing to be gained from this workshop was that Producers, Directors and key crew need to talk and research together, on a case by case basis, for each production because of the rate of change. There is a huge amount of confusion around as people haven’t yet deeply considered HDTV requirements. Many of the professionals in the facilities we spoke to in our research said, “When you guys figure it out, let us know!”

Well, I am about to find out a bit more about it all as I head off to the IBC Conference in Amsterdam. The focus for the conference, and film festival that runs in conjunction is HDTV. I’ll let you know how it goes.

- Fiona Strain

NEWS from the FRONT

by Frans Vandenburg

On the weekend of 8-10 October I attended the Fourth National Australian Screen Association Conference held at Wollongong University’s Faculty of Creative Arts. A most successful and informative couple of days and a damn fine time! Many issues were discussed and debated and make no mistake, the issues concerning our director colleagues are ours as editors as well.
The Conference was titled: Wake In Fright-Australian Stories In A Global Industry. It covered such issues as the current depressed state of Australian film and television, the erosion of director’s rights, and the struggle by local animators for recognition and wider investment in their area. The Conference addressed the fact that documentary makers are fighting for pieces of a smaller and smaller pie and are often being forced into unusual and sometimes compromising international deals to survive, as are low budget drama feature projects. The Conference also talked about the fact that many independent producers live hand to mouth and get abused into the bargain. Sound familiar, Editors out there-?
After a most enjoyable cocktail reception attendees were treated to an exclusive preview of long time ASDA member Scott Hick’s new film Snow Falling On Cedars.
The film is truly a combination of many universal themes and had contributions from many global participants. Hicks co-wrote the screenplay with Hollywood legend Ron Bass. The story is based on David Guterson’s 1995 Best Seller and on the surface is a murder mystery but that merely is a context for exploring larger and more complex, time shifted themes. Hicks chose this project post-Shine, when he had virtually any project to choose from. You sense how much the material means to him from the very start with it’s eerie and atmospheric opening, which, like the rest of the film, is so beautifully and evocatively shot.
The film has great performances from a diverse cast including Ethan Hawke, newcomers Youki Kudoh and Rick Yune, Sam Shepherd (always a favourite) and a virtuoso turn from Max von Sydow. Scott happily mingled with those having an after screening drink and joined the enthusiastic conversation his film had created.
The next morning the Hon. Peter McGauran MP, Federal Minister for the Arts spoke of his awareness of the concern held by all about the current state of the Film and TV Industry. He again expressed his desire to get the broadest overview of this situation from as many sources as possible, not just the usual agencies and funding bodies.
He stressed he wanted facts sooner than later and was hoping to get these answers together by the end of the month.
The Minister stayed on to take copious notes as Scott Hicks made a most impressive Opening Address. Hicks had many humorous “Hollywood” stories of his Post-Shine days and had the audience enjoying terrific anecdotes as he spoke of Agents, The big Harvey W; Lear Jets etc. etc,. One of the most telling and serious comments he made was that, despite Shine’s success, he did not receive one new project offer from an Australian producer.
From a rich selection over the rest of the day and the next I chose, and enjoyed, lively sessions such as the one where the audience and speakers David Malouf, Barry Jones, Freda Glynn and Anthony Buckley discussed and debated the reality of a national cinema. Most agreed there was, and, though there were different views on what exact form it took, agreed it should be encouraged and protected.
Many Doors, One Room, chaired by Martin Williams was equally lively as “Colourful Character” and Director Mike Thornhill soon had the room jumpin’ as he and ASDA Executive Officer Richard Harris discussed domestic financing structures, and the impact of the cross financing of films on their form and content. This discussion also took on the notion of just how real is diversity? This, and their other question: “Is there a common funding culture and is it creating a homogenised style of Australian film?” was strongly debated. Mike’s cat was amongst the pigeons and by the look on his face he may even had eaten the saucer of cream as well!
Another highlight -the evening screening of Wake In Fright introduced by the film’s Editor Tony Buckley. Tony outlined the search that still goes on for the film’s negatives, at this stage lost. This, the only known 35mm copy, was found in Dublin.
The print, fortunately, a Technicolor one, so fading was minimal, was hand cleaned, checked and repaired by ATLAB. Despite a few bumpy moments, this classic film of 1971 lived up to its terrifyingly powerful reputation. The scandal of this film’s near extinction through neglect, like so many from the not too distant past, is a national disgrace and has frightening similarity to my own experiences with the NEWSFRONT restoration/dvd project I’m involved in with thefilm’s director Phil Noyce-but that’s another story for another time. Interesting to note, as Geoff Burton noted Cinematographer and Director did the following day -that some of the most keenly observed films about Australia have come from foreigners.
Wake In Fright by Canadian Ted Kotcheff, The Overlanders, Back of Beyond and Walkabout all by Englishmen, Harry Watt, John Heyer and Nic Roeg. Wake in Fright examines our national psyche remorsely and is as sharp today as a finely turned scalpel.
Speaking of Sharp Blades, Austen Tayshus gave a finely honed, funny and, yes, cutting performance at the very fine Conference Dinner as Guest Artiste!
The Cecil Holmes Award for services to Australian Directing was a very popular one to Lineas Fraser.
Geoff Burton and Dr. Jacques Dellaruelle presented Framing Australia. A session that not only regarded how we frame Australia both historically and in the present, in our Art, Cinema and TV screens, but also posed the question: Does Australia have a unique mode of composition within the frame? The answer seems to be yes, especially when one considers Geoff’s point that often, in our films, action takes place on the verandah!
Geoff’s well prepared case was aided by a superbly researched set of images including many clips from films he has worked on such as The Sum Of Us, Sirens, The Year My Voice Broke, Sunday Too Far Away and Wide Sargasso Sea.
Aside from the obvious advantage of the verandah as a lighting aide he feels it is a metaphor for much more. The space between outside and inside, open and yet enclosed, and so on.
Graham Thorburn’s discussion and comparison between Australia’s narrative with that of other contemporary western culture’s television was a winner as was the final session I attended which explored the collaborative relationships between composers, sound designers and directors on a feature film production. The speakers were Composer- Peter Best, Sound Designer- Liam Egan and Director Neil Mansfield.
The conference concluded with much having been exchanged and much offered to think about. Such things as where we are headed as an industry, if in fact we are one, and what the whole damn thing means! It was good to re-meet old friends and meet new ones. A most stimulating and enjoyable weekend.

I also discussed with Richard Harris, ASDA Executive Officer, various initiatives between
ASE and ASDA and there will be a number of interesting co-events coming up. - So Stay
Tuned!

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Student David BARROW ViC

Associate Stephen DIXON Vic

Associate Jeffrey DOLLING Vic

Student Jane ELIZABETH WA

Full Lindi HARRISON NSW

Associate Sadhana JETHANANDANI NSW

Full Grant SHANKS NSW

FuIl Robert WERNER NSW

THE ASE WELCOMES THESE NEW MEMBERS!

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ASE Sydney Committee

Denise Haslem President.
Fiona Strain V. President.
Christian Gazal Treasurer.
Leigh Elmes Secretary.
Pam Barnetta
Dany Cooper
Roger Grant
Paul Healy
Maria Kalenthaler
Andrea Lang
Natalia Ortiz
Milena Romanin
Matthew Tucker
Frans Vandenburg

Melbourne Committee
Martin Fox
Scott Grierson
Clifford Hayes
Henry Karjalainen
Glen Newnham
Peter Palankay
Strutts Psyridis
Jill Rice
Caroline Scott

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