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AICE Winners Dissect the Edits
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We present the winners of the association of independent creative editors' annual editing awards, including a behind-the-scenes look at how six talents achieved their honored cuts. Read about all the results of the awards in News. Also, here we take the opportunity to debut our new video feature "The Breakdown," in which the artists behind notable work give us insight into their creative processes. Make sure to check out the films below from editors Carlos Lowenstein and Jake Jacobsen, who explain what went into cutting their award-winning spots.
Sony PS3 Launch
The PS3 launch campaign was a rare chance to create something more akin to a strange, ominous mood piece rather than narrative or montage. The concept was to have various normally inanimate objects brought to life by the brooding power of the PS3 console. The visual image of the black shiny console in the white cube room was very striking. It was almost Darth Vader-meets-Kubrik.
The three main brand spots were "Baby Doll," "Rubik's" and "Egg," with more spots featuring the game footage. It became clear that the sound would be a key element to develop in the cutting room. Part of director Rupert Sanders' vision was always to explore a unique sound design direction for all the spots. With this in mind, feature sound designer Brian Emrich was brought into the process. Brian and I worked closely together developing the sounds that would create a unique atmosphere and tension.
With "Baby Doll" we really had free rein to experiment with many weird and strange vocal sounds. The brief in this spot was for the doll to experience a range of emotions in response to the energy from the console.
The console itself had many iterations of its own sound before we found the right one. We realized that once we had found a formula for the key elements, we could reinterpret them for each spot. We wanted the viewer to become familiar with the white room, but have a sense of tense expectation of what would happen to the objects within.
With "Rubik's" there was also a very tricky transformation of the white room to the multicolored faces of the cube as the levitating cube explodes, shattering into hundreds of pieces. This was the key moment in the spot, and I was determined to try and illustrate this on the Avid with 20 layers of FX plates. Apart from this being vital to show the client what would happen, it also meant that we could discuss how this would work with FX Flame Artist Rob Moggach from Asylum.
This need to illustrate the climax of the spot was also important in the "Egg" spot. After the eggs have been caused to roll around the floor by the control pad, they suddenly lift off the ground and smash into the wall releasing black ravens that fly across the room as the console levitates.
Without temping in reasonably sophisticated offline FX it would have been difficult to sell the idea.
It was very satisfying to see that the campaign was a big hit with the target audience, with "Baby Doll" in particular getting rave recommendations on YouTube.
Jake Jacobsen Crew Cuts
Dairy Queen "Carry On"
"Carry On" was an exciting yet challenging spot to create. The fact that it was set on an airplane limited each scene to focus on just one character at a time. With character interaction driving the progression of the overall spot, it became necessary to use the wide shot as a way of creating cohesion while still managing to tell the story. That was the tricky part. Another challenge was to tell the same joke twice, and to make it funny—twice. For me, the comedy rested in the main character's responses, the Blizzard thief's reactions, and of course, the reactions of the innocent victims. And then there was the fun part—dropping bags on people's heads.
Baker Smith did a fabulous job of setting the timings of the foreground action to work as the glue in the cause and effect relationships interwoven in this spot. He also gave us a wide variety of stellar performances to work with. It's not often you have the freedom to explore multiple characters and craft character interaction, like I was able to with the Blizzard thief and his victims. As an editor, that is a completely liberating experience, and a wonderful position to be in. Oftentimes you find yourself with a mix of performances or takes that while great on their own, do not always flow smoothly to tell a story once cut together. With Baker's work, that is never a problem. I had the opportunity to explore all editing options, knowing they could and would work.
Another part of what made this spot so much fun to work on was the unbelievable creative team at Grey. We worked closely together, exchanging ideas and challenging one another to come up with something that adds to the spot. That challenge forced me to rethink not only character performances, but also the chronology of events, which in the end gave the spot better pacing. With "Carry On," it was all about exploration and re-exploration—taking something great, and making it even better—and we did.
Dialogue Carlos Lowenstein
I've always loved cutting dialogue. It's inherently visceral. Even when staying faithful to the script and the original structure of the story, as an editor you inevitably spill your own rhythms onto each cut point. You can construct infinite rationalizations as to why you must stay on an actor's face a few more frames for that last blink. Ultimately, you choose to cut there because it feels right. If you cut before the blink, it feels wrong and it bugs you and you really can't explain why, but it does. So what was it like cutting a two minute dialogue spot? Simply put, the "Taxi" edit sessions were some of the most exhilarating and exhausting of my career.