The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
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But from these details, a larger picture emerges of an editor at the top of his game. Your first job is getting the material down.

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Laying things out. Just do the grunt work. Putting a film together is all about having opinions: this not that, now not later, in or out…. The point is, if you squash this down, then you push the whole curve of the film down, whereas it might have righted itself by its own mysterious means.

  1. THE CONVERSATIONS: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film.
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If you try to correct the film while putting it together, you end up chasing your own tail. What you really want to do when first assembling a film is to put it together, right from the beginning, without second-guessing anything. Put one scene down after another. Keep your eyes half closed.

Walter Murch - A practical approach to the six rules of film editing (294/320)

Take deep breaths. When it comes time to solve the problems in your film, be leery of solving them all. In fact, the best films purposefully leave a few answers blank. This ambiguity allows the audience to participate in the creation of the film, by answering the questions themselves. You want the audience to be co-conspirators in the creation of this work…. If by some chemistry you actually did remove all ambiguity… I think it would do the film a disservice.

In fact, the paradox is that you have to work as if every problem needs to be solved. Murch again:. You must set out to solve every problem and answer every question. This, Murch explains, is why we must be very careful about how we use music. Left unchecked, it can act as an emotional steroid: a short cut that ultimately causes permanent damage.

With the new version, that particular drive—for compression above all—is not as compelling. We talked as Walter worked on the Avid in his editing room at Zoetrope and later continued over lunch at a Chinese restaurant on Columbus Avenue. The new version of Apocalypse Now Redux would not open in theatres for almost a year, and Walter was still uncertain about several changes.

We began, however, by talking about the early days and how he became involved with the world of sound and eventually film.

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, p.1

When did you first become interested in this landscape of sound? M: It was with me from as early as I can remember. Maybe I heard things differently because my ears stuck out, or maybe because my ears stuck out people thought I would hear things differently, so I obliged them. Back then there was an animated cartoon character, a boy named Gerald McBoing-Boing, who spoke in sound effects instead of words, and he was able to communicate with his parents this way.

That was my nickname:Walter McBoing-Boing. Around that time the tape recorder was becoming available as a consumer item. The father of a friend of mine bought one, so I wound up going over to his house endlessly to play with it. And that passion, which was a kind of delirious drunkenness with what the tape recorder could do, completely possessed me. In fact, I rarely used it for that, but I would hold the microphone out the window, recording sounds of New York.

I would construct little arrangements of metal, and tape the microphone to them, striking and rubbing the metal in different places. It was fascinating.

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And then I discovered the concept of physically editing tape—that you could rearrange it by cutting out sections and putting those sections in a different order. You could record two things at different times and juxtapose them, getting rid of the middle, or you could turn the tape upside down and play it backwards, or flip it over and play it back muffled, or any combination of these things.

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M: Definitely. I came home from school one day and turned on the classical radio station,WQXR, in the middle of a program. Sounds were coming out of the speaker that raised the hair on the back of my neck.

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I turned the tape recorder on and listened for the next twenty minutes or so, riveted by what I was hearing. I could hear a real similarity with what I had been doing—taking ordinary sounds and arranging them rhythmically, creating a kind of music on tape.

5 Editing Lessons from Walter Murch

In France at that time, people would go to concerts and a big speaker would be wheeled out onstage. Somebody would come out and turn the tape recorder on with a flourish, and the audience would sit there patiently listening to this composition being played back. This was the future! O: You were how old when this hit you?

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The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film [Michael Ondaatje] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Conversations is a. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Ask most moviegoers, "Who is Walter Murch?" and they're likely to stare uncomprehendingly. Ondaatje (The English.

M: Ten or eleven, something like that. It was intoxicating to realize that somebody else was doing the same things I was. But here was validation. There were adults in the world who took it seriously.

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O: And these were essentially documentary recordings with an artistic structure? M: It was an early, technically primitive form of sampling. By the time I was fifteen or sixteen, I had relegated all of this passion to my pre-adolescence—I thought I now had to get serious. Maybe I was going to be an architect. Or an oceanographer. Was I going to be. It was only in my early twenties that I discovered those early interests all came together in film. O: Did someone like John Cage interest you,were you interested in what he was doing?

We would go to some of his concerts. I appreciated them, but I was moved more by the idea of what he was doing—that by taking humble sounds out of their normal context you could make people pay attention and discover the musical elements in them. It was very close to what my father was doing in his paintings: taking discarded objects and arranging them in ways to make you see them with new eyes. O: Was the interest in editing film something that existed at the same time? Or did it come much later? M: When I was a student at Johns Hopkins, a group of us made some short silent films, and I discovered then that editing images had emotionally the same impact for me as editing sound.

It was intoxicating.

5 Editing Lessons from Walter Murch – Articles

I felt that way when I was eleven, playing with my tapes. Then when I got to the University of Southern California as a graduate student, both of those things—sound and picture—came together. O: Yes—something that had and still has the feeling of a hobby, a curiosity. If what you do later on ties into that reservoir in some way, then you are nurturing some essential part of yourself.

1. How to Begin: Editing with Eyes Half Closed

He seems to have an innate compulsion to smooth out important jagged edges in both, for example, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The English Patient As Morrison points out, this story has certain inherent hindrances: it is the tale of a courtship, without the suspense of wondering how it will end. With the utmost sensitivity, he must weave the raw elements of film the footage, the sound, the dialogue, the music into a coherent whole. Already registered? The Missouri Review. Additional Information.

O: Did you think of going into the sciences at all? M: No. Although I was interested in them—and interested in math—as revelations of hidden patterns. What you do as an editor is search for patterns, at both the superficial and ever deeper levels—as deep as you can go. The fact is that there is always much more film shot than can ever be included in the finished product: on average, about twenty-five times too much—which would mean fifty hours of material for a two-hour film. Sometimes the ratio is as high as a hundred to one, as it was on Apocalypse Now. And films are almost always shot out of sequence, which means that on the same day the crew could find themselves filming scenes from the beginning, the end, and the middle of the script.

This is done to make the schedule more efficient, but it means that someone—the editor—must take on the responsibility for finding the best material out of that great surplus and putting it in the correct order.

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Putting a film together is, in an ideal sense, the orchestrating of all those patterns, just like different musical themes are orchestrated in a symphony. It is all pretty mysterious. I came back to the States buzzing with the idea of film, and then I realized that there were actually schools where you could study it, which I found incredible, delicious, almost absurd. I applied to a number of them, and miraculously won a scholarship to the graduate program at USC. But I immediately saw the connection with what I had been doing twelve years earlier, and that was exciting. See All Customer Reviews.

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