Tag Archives: post and editing

Christina Humphries: A commercial editor in the first person

Christina Humphries

As one of the few female editors in Toronto’s commercial editing industry, Rooster Post Production partner/editor Christina Humphries occupies a unique vantage point in the business. In this article, Christina tells her own story, … in the first person.

I grew up mainly in rural Ontario, and because of the smallness of lifestyle, I never thought of working in commercials for a living. I always had a love and appreciation for film and visual story telling, but my eyes were opened to commercial post when I first started working at The Players Film Company in downtown Toronto. An acquaintance from Queen’s University, where I went to school, was looking to hire a post-production coordinator for a booming production company. The Players Film Company had some of the top directors producing some of the best work at the time. I was overjoyed to be offered the position … and once there, I was surprised to see the creativity, talent and production value that went into these short films. It made me realize how much commercials were already a part of my life – like the jingles that I still hum twenty years later. I realized that commercials represent the cultures, trends, dreams, aspirations and identities of the world – how could I not want to be a part of that? Commercial advertising is always changing, challenging and rewarding.

After months of hard work, I moved over to Player’s sister company Relish to work as an assistant editor. I always have had a love and appreciation for film and visual story telling, but my real education started when I first became an assistant editor. I don’t believe that editing can be taught from a book. Editing is a feeling and you need mentors to help you take those feelings and translate them to the screen. As soon as I entered the business there were so many people … peers, co-workers and clients, who became my mentors and friends. They were, and still are, my true teachers.

Back then I was a bit of a rarity. Maybe I still am. I would love it if there were more female editors in the business, but it isn’t a profession that women are drawn to. Editing is a huge investment in time and emotions. Like any artist, you bare your soul via your work, but it is a collaborative art where you have to take the ideas and tastes of the many people you work with into account. You need to be emotionally strong to handle it. Perhaps many woman find it too draining.

Industry-wise, it isn’t very often you see women working on car and beer campaigns which I find strange … lots of creative campaigns offer both a male and female point of view. On Volkswagen “Terra Firma”, I approached the edit from a mother’s point of view, telling the story of her child’s joy at finally being at the end of a long, long drive. Meanwhile, the edit is representing the tension and unfolding of a young boy’s body and energy as he hugs his second mother … Mother Earth.

Whether you are male or female Super Sexy CPR speaks to both in very similar ways. Seeing two beautifully… art directed women on screen will catch anyone’s attention. The challenge with that spot was to keep it clean and still appeal to all audiences. My female perspective came in handy … I think it kept the spot from potentially becoming too vulgar. Softer cuts and transitions, smooth body motions and different speeds help to make the spot feel softer and … safe to keep watching. Cutting with a male point of view added tighter shots, longer pauses, close-up voyeuristic shots and repetitive motions. Both points of view help to cut a successful commercial.

Then there’s TELUS … the commercials with the cute animals. There, you’re working without actors, sets, and with footage that can be interpreted and used a million different ways. Every take is different and probably isn’t the way you want it in the end so where do you start? TELUS is a whole other animal, no pun intended. I have to know where I want to end up before I begin. The music for those spots comes from anyone and everywhere. Music drives these spots, helps tell the story and sometimes the story is created around the music. I often take different tracks and approach the boards in various ways to compliment the music. The hardest part is falling in love with a song, building the story around the song and not getting the rights in the end.

To see Christina’s full commercial editing reel click here

Editor Izzy Ehrlich: Breaking Out With Style

Izzy Ehrlich

Youthful subcultures are often identified and distinguished by elements such as fashion, music, beliefs, slangs or behaviours. Youth isn’t afraid to flip the bird to the power of the bourgeois hegemony. Like the subculture that Izzy Ehrlich sprang from, she too isn’t afraid to be a little unconventional in her pursuit of creativity.

As a youth, Ehrlich always liked to make things. She started out making films by cutting clips together – cartoons, documentaries and videos – from tape to tape using a couple of VCRs and worked part time for a local television station. Upon her graduation from Conestoga College’s Radio and Television program she began her career in a symbolic fashion by editing pornography. Driven insane by the lame-o porno music tracks, Izzy joined the establishment, and the commercial postproduction world, when she joined School Editorial as an assistant. After School, Ehrlich worked long hours, earning her way into an editor’s chair at Rooster Post Production.

At Rooster, Ehrlich has worked on a wide variety of nationally aired spots and music videos. Music videos are an editorial venue that allows commercial editors a longer format to work in than the traditional 30 or 60-second spot. Some editors shrink away from them, while others embrace them. Ehrlich is one who embraces them.

Says Ehrlich, “I grew up listening to oldies. I first heard Black Sabbath “Master of Reality” on vinyl when I was 10 years old. Sabbath changed my life. I’ve been playing guitar/drums since I was 14 so I’m comfortable in the music genre.

As we all know, music videos began as a way for recording acts to sell albums and songs. What began as a subculture, became popular culture. Now it’s evolved into a representational art form in the age of new media. If you want to know what the latest styles and techniques in the film/video/commercial world are, you should still look first to the music video.

“I think editorially music videos make editors much better at their jobs.” Says Ehrlich, “Music videos allow you to go wild in ways that aren’t typical in commercials. However, these same techniques can be applied to commercials in a more sophisticated manner.”

Many bands have to shoot their videos on a tight budget. This can sometimes be a challenge for the editor. “It can get challenging because it seems like there are never enough cutaways. I often have to create different shots from existing shots and make them look completely different.”

Ehrlich’s freshman reel features a solid line up of spots for clients such as Telus, Agent Provocateur, Nordstrom and Little Trees. One thing you notice is another subculture influence at play: fashion. She has worked with noted established stills photographers turned directors Tom Feiler (Little Trees), Michael Williams (Agent Provocateur), and Shin Sugino (Telus). One wonders if fashion and music videos have an influence on commercial work and vice versa. Says Ehrlich, “Absolutely there’s a huge influence. I think I’ve just been lucky enough to meet these amazing directors and end up clicking so well with them.” Ehrlich says while her own fashion sense runs to jeans, t-shirts and Converse, she’s very much into fashion’s influence on the editorial world as you can see on her reel.

Client commissioned work mean a bigger budget, shorter format and an entourage of ad agency personnel with high expectations, overseeing every step of the process. For commercial editors organization is key. “I have to know every single frame of my footage and where everything is as my selects get tighter. The rest just comes together.” Says Ehrlich, “My favourite part of the process is cutting with my clients. Sessions don’t usually feel like work, which is pretty cool. Final client approval is always a euphoric feeling.”

“Never work with animals or children,” or so we’ve all been told. Always willing to turn a deaf ear on convention, Ehrlich has both featured prominently on her commercial reel. When asked which spot on her reel posed the greatest challenge editorially, Ehrlich replied, “I think I’d have to say Telus. Only because I’m not used to working with animals while they are on a white background. They have to be manipulated so much and you need to find that half a second where they say something to the viewer with their eyes, toes or even a bit of hair moving on their little backs. I got the hang of it though and am really happy with how Taxi’s Telus spots turned out.”

So where does this rising star see herself going in the next few years? “It’s a really competitive business … if you’re not on top of your game you’re gone. I’m off to a good start and I know that I’ve got what it takes to make it in this business because I love what I do … to me it’s not work. It’s beyond great. Not many people can say that. To see Izzy Ehrlich’s full reel click here

Editor Dave De Carlo is “A Part Of It” on new OMDC spot

Toronto Agency Brandworks International tapped Rooster Post editor Dave De Carlo to “be a part of it” in helping create 2 spots, part of a major international campaign for The Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) showcasing Ontario’s thriving cultural media sector.

The campaign encourages consumers and investors to “be part of it” by buying Ontario’s award-winning cultural media products and investing in the province’s dynamic companies because “we’ve got it going ON.”

De Carlo is a talented young editor who is very much in demand on-set for his extensive visual effects knowledge and collaborative approach. He says, “From the early discussions with the agency, we wanted the spot to feel anthemic – the kind of spot that makes you want to stand up and cheer or at least turn to the person next to you and say ‘Wow, I didn’t know THAT was done here!?”

The TV spots feature images of television and Hollywood stars who have worked here, such as Julianne Moore and Paul Giamatti, and singers like Justin Bieber and Drake, sending the message that Ontario is a hip locale. Other media sources featured include publishing, video games, music, and digital media.

“The trick to cutting a good montage spot is keeping the flow – using movements and light to direct the viewers eyes.” Says De Carlo, “A decade cutting music videos has given me lots of time to play. My assistant editor, Yumi Suyama was a tremendous help finding me great pieces of footage to work with – she literally had boxes and boxes of tapes, hard drives and discs arriving daily until the day we shipped the HD master.”

The TV spot which will air during this year’s Oscars broadcast features more than 80 Ontario companies and world-renowned cultural exports, plus a soundtrack by Juno winning indie band Metric. The campaign also features print, digital and an interactive website developed by Brandworks International.

Says De Carlo, “I was thrilled to find out the music track we would be using was Metric’s ‘Gimme Sympathy’ being a fan of the band. The Metric track helped me stitch together a journey – providing motivations for cuts and a point of continuity throughout the spot.”

He is quick to mention however, that post-heavy executions rely on a talented team to pull off. Rooster Post is lucky to have Track and Field VFX, a visual effects, design and compositing company under the same roof.

“I was very fortunate to have an incredible post production team led by our two senior Flame Artists Mike Bishop and Ernie Mordak and our two incredibly talented animators Steven Hollman and Tom Morrison.” Says De Carlo, “We really tried to give every media sector some great memorable moments. Steven set the tone in the early stages with very intricate ‘Style Frames’ of what he thought the animation could do to help elevate the spot’s appeal. Having Steven down the hall was such a great asset to help the agency visualize the animated sections of the spot. Eric Whipp at Alter Ego Post did the final colour grade, creating a subtle yet extremely rich connection through all the material. He made all the footage regardless of the medium feel natural in the spot.”

The campaign drives home the message that creating entertainment the whole world enjoys brings thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars to Ontario. “Be a part of it. We’ve got it going ON.” And that’s great news for the 300,000 people currently working in the creative media sector in Ontario – one of the fastest growing industries in this province.

Agency – Brandworks International Inc.
Agency Executive Producer: Ron Chapman
Agency Producer: Kate Dale
Creative Director: Michael Clancy
Group CD: Frank Tino
Art Director: Amanda Wood
Principal, Account Director: Lorne Kirshenbaum
Account Director: Bill Macdonald
Account Supervisor: Alexandra De La Cadena
Editor & Technical Director: Dave De Carlo
Editorial Assistant: Yumi Suyama
Post Production: Rooster Post Production
Online House: Track & Field VFX
Design Director/Track & Field VFX : Steven Hollman
Animation & Graphics: Tom Morrison, Andrew Vucko
Inferno & Smoke Artists: Mike Bishop & Ernie Mordak
Colour: Eric Whipp @ Alter Ego
Music: Boombox Sound
Music Track/Voice: Metric “Gimme Sympathy” Emily Haines

It Takes More Than ‘Talent’ To Win Juno Video Of The Year

Director Michael Maxxis

Michael Maxxis, The 2010 MuchMusic Director of the Year, has made an impressive leap into the music video scene. He’s both a visionary and an original, with his raw, purist style. His visual look is unique, preferring to shoot on film, allowing him to do many of his signature optical effects in camera. His latest music video for Juno award-winning Canadian band Billy Talent has garnered a Juno nomination for Video of The Year for the Brown Entertainment director.

Billy Talent – Saint Veronika – 2011 Juno Video Of The Year Nominee
directed by Michael Maxxis, edited by Dave De Carlo

Rooster editor Dave De Carlo is a talented young editor with his own unique editorial style that is a perfect match for Maxxis’. He’s very much in demand on-set for his extensive visual effects knowledge and collaborative approach.

Dave De Carlo

About working with Maxxis, De Carlo says, “Maxxis and I have been working together for a few years now. We have a very collaborative relationship and have become good friends. We constantly push each other to evolve our style and taste in music videos and commercials.” I can still remember being asked to cut one of his music videos for the first time – I watched a few of the videos that he had done previously on his reel and was blown away by his frenetic style of filmmaking. His music video work was like nothing else that was being done at the time in Canada.”

Maxxis’ recent projects have included videos for Billy Talent, Hot Hot Heat, Three Days Grace, Alexisonfire, Jimmy Gnecco, Cradle of Filth, and The Heavy – each with it’s own signature look. But nailing the look isn’t easy. Getting there takes planning, hard work and time.

Hot Hot Heat “21 at 12” directed by Michael Maxxis, edited by Dave De Carlo

“The first video we worked on together was for The Clicks (F$%k Your Pain Away) and it was quite the adventure.”says De Carlo. “Maxxis came back from New Orleans with nearly 7 hours of footage shot on 4 different cameras. At the time I was shocked, but I have since come to expect Maxxis to give me everything I need AND MORE on every job I have the pleasure of cutting for him.” According to De Carlo Maxxis loves to experiment with cameras, film stocks, lenses and colour.

Maxxis once again called upon De Carlo’s editorial chops to help him bring the Billy Talent project together. Says De Carlo, “When I saw the Billy Talent ‘Saint Veronika’ footage initially, I was blown away by the sheer scale of the video. Maxxis and his production team – including acclaimed cinematographer Adam Marsden and talented production designer Adam Wilson – did an incredible job making the story of the paper-bag doll named Veronika feel EPIC. I felt inspired and dove right in. I can remember the first night of cutting. I was here at Rooster until 4 in the morning playing around with variations on the intro – trying to nail the tone.”

The experience hasn’t just led Maxxis and De Carlo down the music video path. The pair has collaborated on a few successful commercial projects that have brought Maxxis’ unique sensibility of filmmaking to advertising.

8 for Infinity Trailer directed by Michael Maxxis, edited by Dave De Carlo

Maxxis has also achieved international critical acclaim with his short film “Steak and Milk” which screened at festivals around the world. Following Steak and Milk, Maxxis shot “8 for Infinity”, also cut by De Carlo. It stars Jimmy Gnecco and David Carradine in his final performance on celluloid. 8 for Infinity will be hitting the festival circuit in 2011.

About the Juno nomination, De Carlo says, “Michael Maxxis did an absolutely brilliant job! I feel very lucky to have been part of a music video that I think is pretty killer.” You can bet everyone at Brown Entertainment – the production company that reps him – and the staff at Rooster Post, will have their fingers crossed for Maaxis when the Video Of The Year Juno is announced.

A Tribute to Bob Kennedy: The Top 10 Things You Don’t Know About Bob

Most people in the Canadian advertising industry have known, or have worked with, editor Bob Kennedy. For many, he has been a fixture in the business, and is a recipient of the prestigious Bob Mann Award for post production excellence. Bob’s career has spanned over 35 years, featuring some of the most recognized, and awarded commercials done in Canada to date. To many, he is also one of the industry’s nicest characters, with a thoughtful intelligence and knowledge of technical craft that is second to none. But you don’t know jack unless you know the Bob behind the Mann.

Why you might be surprised by the things you don’t know about Bob.

On this, the eve of Bob’s retirement from the commercial post production business, we’d like to offer a tribute to Bob. Not for his accomplishments, which are known industry-wide, but for the things you might not know.

The Top 10 Little Known Facts About Bob Kennedy

10. Bob is a polymath. He also likes to use big words. If you don’t know what a polymath is … ask Bob.

9. Bob is an avid organic gardener and card-carrying environmentalist.

8. Bob can tell you the botanical terms and latin horticulturial names for every plant found growing in our zone. Knowing Bob, he can probably spell them all too.

7. Bob’s family is the original founding family of Georgetown, Ontario. How come they didn’t call it Bobtown?

6. Bob and editor Richard Unruh were classmates at York University.

5. Bob is the “muffin” in Martha And The Muffins. Bob has enjoyed a long-standing collaboration with Mark Gane of the Toronto band Martha And The Muffins. He’s been the editor of many of the band’s video projects, as well as a creative and artistic collaborator with Mark for public space installations and other artwork.

4. Bob’s favourite colour is plaid.

3. No one will miss Bob more than long-time collaborator and friend, director/cameraman Steve Gordon.

2. Bob did iconic Canadian director Bruce Dowad’s first commercial and they had a fruitful collaboration that gave us Molson Canadian’s “Dancing in the Street “ and Canada Tourism “The World Next Door” to name a few.

1. Bob is leaving Rooster Post and changing careers to join a startup company, called Solarship Inc., as the Administrative Manager and Head of Media. Solarship Inc. makes solar powered hybrid airships. Yes – really! You can learn more about this exciting new venture at solarship.com

Thanks for the years of incredible work, laughter and friendship from your friends and colleagues at Rooster Post Production and Track & Field VFX. You have a unique ability to turn everything you touch into a great success. We’ll be looking to the skies for your next great one.

A Look Back at Some of Bob’s Commercial Work

Budweiser – directed by Gillian Proctor

Rubbermaid – directed by Marco Brambilla

YWCA – directed by Steve Gordon

Molson Canadian – directed by Bruce Dowad

Money Mart – directed by David Shane

Canada Tourism – directed by Bruce Dowad

The Weather Network – directed by Steve Gordon

See it Here: Short Film “8 For Infinity” Teaser

Ultra cool teaser/trailer from hotly anticipated upcoming short film “8 For Infinity”. Directed by our friend Michael Maxxis, represented by Brown Entertainment here, and DNA in the US and starring David Carradine in his final film performance. Edited by Rooster’s Dave De Carlo. See Dave’s Commercial & Music Video Reel

Oscar Contenders: Editors Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall

Oscar hopeful The Social Network

Good editing can be explained as a combination of great storytelling, and crafting great performances with an overall stylistic approach that works naturally with the film, and the vision the director has for that film. It’s seamless … you shouldn’t know it’s there – it blends into the storytelling so that the audience feels that they are experiencing the film as it unfolds … in real time.

One collaborative team whose work surpasses the mark are Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall ACE, co-editors and hot favourites for an Oscar nomination for the Film Editing category for director David Fincher’s “The Social Network”.

Angus Wall

Angus Wall is known to many in the ad industry for his editorial work on Nike and BMW and as co-founder of West Hollywood editorial shop, Rock Paper Scissors. Wall first met David Fincher 20 years ago, doing commercial work for Fincher, and later editing the titles for Fincher’s film Se7en. Later still, Wall graduated to “editorial consultant” on Fight Club and co-edited Panic Room with James Haygood, (Fight Club). Australian commercial editor Kirk Baxter, joined Rock Paper Scissors in 2004, working with Wall on Zodiac (2007) as an “additional editor”. Wall put Baxter forward as co-editor on Benjamin Button and the rest is collaborative editing history.

Kirk Baxter

The Social Network screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, wrote a dense 160-page draft, which would normally translate into 160 minutes of screen time. With this much content in script stage, a big challenge for Baxter & Wall was the fear of over-extending the finished cut. The fear was very real when the production delivered 268 hours of raw footage. Known as a meticulous craftsman, David Fincher’s attention to detail, and Aaron Sorkin’s script structure, meant that they would both be intensely involved in the editing process.

Says Wall, “A lot of movies you do re-sequencing of scenes. I think we lifted three or four lines out of the movie. With Aaron and with David directing, our job becomes about making something as perfect as it can be. It’s not finding the through lines of the movie, unless you’re talking about performances, because just editorially, we have to make sure we have the best and most genuine performances in. But the construction of the movie really all came out of the script.”

Says Baxter, “It was performance and timing. It was a delicate thing. One sort of wrong beat of the eyes can show a look of guilt or holding on something a little bit too long. The movie was trying to be extremely sure-footed with everyone believing they were right.”

“One of the things David really wanted to stress was to just be propulsive in terms of the editing and make sure we were slightly ahead of the audience, but not too far ahead,” Wall says. “So it was trying to find the right balance where you had little micro-pauses to let things land where they needed to land.

David Fincher

In this clip from The Social Network, watch the way Baxter & Wall cut together the Henley Race at Harvard. Rooster Post managing partner/editor Bob Kennedy, makes this observation about the following sequence …

“What I really love about the Henley sequence is the way they play with screen direction and composition between shots. The camera axis is not just ignored, but deliberately crossed to maximize the energy of the finish. Check where your eye is going from shot to shot: your eyeball is being choreographed. Most of the time, they lead your eye directly to the perfect placement for the next scene, but towards the end, they start working your eye back and forth across the frame to add to the sense of frenzy.”

But it’s not just the editing that makes this movie an Academy Award contender. According to Kirk Baxter, “What gives editing a helping hand comes from within the script. If something is moving along quite rapidly and taking you to different places, then the editing gets pushed to the forefront. Technique tends to stand out, but the task really is to make everything land and deliver a message at full understanding. It’s a much bigger picture – the whole movie is your real job. It just begins with that technique part.”

Angus Wall goes on to say, “When it feels like it’s a new experience, when you’re sucked into the movie and you’re not aware that you’re in a theater. You’re experiencing things like the characters, living vicariously through them. It feels like you’re part of the movie. To me that is a signal that everything is working on 16 cylinders.”

Rooster Post editor Dave De Carlo offers up this Pro Video Coalition ProBlog article for anyone wanting more about the The Social Network editorial process with lots of insider details from Angus Wall. De Carlo also mentions a great article worth a read about the film’s VFX from FXGuide and the VFX Blog.

Nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards 2011 will be announced on January 25th. The awards ceremony happens February 27th with producer-director Francis Ford Coppola receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Award.