Aesthetics of Walter Murch and Two Editing Documentaries

I’m including this link here mostly so I can find it again later to go through the delicious sublinks to Murch material: Aesthetics of Walter Murch.

But I also wanted to note two documentaries I’ve recently seen. Tonight I watched The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing, which was very good, offering a history of movie editing from Edison and the Lumiere brothers to Russian propoganda to today’s quick-cutting styles. In it, Murch is interviewed while in his London studio where he was cutting Cold Mountain. Earlier this year I read Behind the Seen, which details the editing of that movie and the technological issues (switching to Final Cut Pro) surrounding it. Highly, highly recommended (both the documentary and the book) to broaden your perspective as a video editor.

The other documentary is EdgeCodes, which I wanted to like but found to be just okay. It’s available as a download, and I like electronic distribution: for $25 you get it in one MPEG file, or for $15 you get it in three parts; I bought the 3-part version. The problem, however, is that the MPEG encoding wasn’t done very well… it wouldn’t play back on anything on the Mac (even though MPEG isn’t OS-dependent), and wasn’t very high quality playing under Windows either. You can also choose to get it as Windows Media or RealVideo formats, but once you make your choice, you’re stuck; I couldn’t determine a way to substitute my version for another format without paying again. A DVD is also available for $30, which seemed like a reasonable alternative… except that they charge $17 for regular mail shipping! I’m all for supporting independent cinema, but that’s just theft.

As for the documentary itself, it has some good information and a few good interviews, but is hampered by – ironically – the editing. I felt like the editor wanted to show off all the cool tricks he/she possibly could, which distracted mightily from the content of the piece. So, unfortunately, I can’t recommend EdgeCodes.

[Updated 10/21/05 to add EdgeCodes information, since my net connection flaked out when I originally posted the entry.]

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