THE EDITOR STRIKES BACK

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When I started cutting commercials 10 years ago, there was a tremendous shift in the postproduction process toward nonlinear editing. The technology had more impact than anything introduced in the previous 30 years. At the same time, the sport of bowling was undergoing a similar revolution. Having been an avid bowler for the past 25 years, I immediately knew there was a connection.

Let's take a walk down memory lane. Originally, there was film and there was your classic black rubber bowling ball. Then, in the 1960s, there was videotape and the polyester (or "pearlized") bowling ball. In the '70s there was timecode, then the blockbuster invention of the urethane ball. The '80s brought Avids and nonlinear editing, along with the awesome CAD-designed multicore reactive resin bowling balls, which revolutionized the sport. Coincidence? Hmmm, I wonder.

Postproduction is more complicated today because of the variety of technical options available. You got your Henry, Flame, Digital Studio, Illusion, Editbox, etc. You weigh the variables and make your best recommendation. It's the same in bowling. It used to be that everyone had one hard, shiny ball that skids and one dull ball that hooks. Now, there are three-piece configurations of core shapes that are oriented to the ball's center of gravity and axis of rotation that can cause a potential flare pattern of oil accumulation as it rolls down the lane in either an arc or a hook, depending on the porosity of the resin cover stock. Most serious players bring four to 10 balls to a tournament, all configured differently, and there are just as many ways an editor can approach a stack of tapes and a deadline -- though you don't have to wear special cutting shoes.

The great thing about bowling is that you can have an average -- but an average is not as simple as it would appear. Good players know the difference between a 227 average at Roosevelt Lanes and a 210 at Bowl Rite Lanes. In editing, no one can see the obstacles that were overcome to make a spot work as well as it did. An ordinary spot on your reel might have become a total disaster had it not been for the heroics of the editor or a creative with a brilliant alternative idea. But who would ever know? Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to "score" an editing job that would account for how well the production company followed the dailies specs; how well-prepared the art director was for the composition of the visuals; how uncluttered and original the copywriter's script was? How about a score sheet for how well the producer protected the integrity of the original creative or managed to finesse the changes in the budget as contingencies arose? How about the ways the editor contributed to the creative or negotiated the subtleties of the Avid, Photoshop, AfterEffects? Maybe the trades could publish an editor's standings sheet. Sure beats sending out a reel that no one appreciates.

Steve Covello is an editor at First Edition in New York. He owns 12 bowling

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