The Mentoring Room - Ask the Working Pros

Mentoring Room

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This is a Public Topic geared towards first-time filmmakers. Professional members of The D-Word will come by and answer your questions about documentary filmmaking.

Matt Dubuque
Pro

In reply to Doug Block's post on Tue 29 Jan 2008 :

Thanks Doug... I'll check out the Grapes of Wrath again (great flick!) and I've added Sullivan's Travels to my Netflix queue.

Your mention of Grapes of Wrath reminds me once again of

this "recurring image" theme I find so fascinating.

As I start to immerse myself in the Soviet montage school (which heavily influenced James Longley) I'm intruiged by how they focus on the EDIT and the juxtaposition of two scenes rather than just American and continental narratives with their focus on the SINGLE scene and its Mise-en-Scene.

For example, I've previously mentioned the possible role of the recurring butterfly in Goodman's Stone Reader and the group walking in the field in Bunuel's Discreet Charm, cross edited into that film.

The book Grapes of Wrath actually alternates each chapter with an ongoing parable of a tortoise, walking in the sun, apparently unrelated to the plot line. Every other chapter returns to the tortoise....the movie, however, left that out.

And the Soviet montage director Vertov was really into juxtaposing different clips with a single scene. I think there's a lot of potential there to allow people to infer new creative contexts to my message.

Looks like I'm heading down to southern Mexico this year to film some exotic bird life to use for this purpose... should be very interesting... I think the end result will be both cool and thought provoking, judiciously applied of course.

Matt Dubuque
Pro

In reply to Erica Ginsberg's post on Wed 30 Jan 2008 :

Darla, I've seen The Plow that Broke the Plains, but I have yet to see what is generally regarded as his greatest work, The River. Now I will, thanks to you!

Thanks for the link!

this "recurring image" theme I find so fascinating.

As I start to immerse myself in the Soviet montage school (which heavily influenced James Longley) I'm intruiged by how they focus on the EDIT and the juxtaposition of two scenes rather than just American and continental narratives with their focus on the SINGLE scene and its Mise-en-Scene.

For example, I've previously mentioned the possible role of the recurring butterfly in Goodman's Stone Reader and the group walking in the field in Bunuel's Discreet Charm, cross edited into that film.

The book Grapes of Wrath actually alternates each chapter with an ongoing parable of a tortoise, walking in the sun, apparently unrelated to the plot line. Every other chapter returns to the tortoise....the movie, however, left that out.

And the Soviet montage director Vertov was really into juxtaposing different clips with a single scene. I think there's a lot of potential there to allow people to infer new creative contexts to my message.

Looks like I'm heading down to southern Mexico this year to film some exotic bird life to use for this purpose... should be very interesting... I think the end result will be both cool and thought provoking, judiciously applied of course.

Wolfgang Achtner
Pro

Sorry about that guys,

since I actually don't like writing that much, I'd only intended to knock out two sentences re translations, then the keyboard just went on by itself....

Darla Bruno
Fan

Yes, well, I appreciate these explanations. I understand better now. Seems my dp would be the best translator, since his Italian is great and his English is excellent (and he gets the meaning of what these people – older people in a remote village often speaking in proverbs, etc...) are saying. But I don't know that I'm going to have him actually edit b/c after we finish shooting, I go back to NYC and he goes to Milan. I think it would be offensive to ask him to log/translate (obviously I'd pay him) but not edit . . . so I'm a little stuck. Well, not stuck. Just feeling in a bind. We're here for 10 more days and we've got a lot of good material (and information) already. I want to cut a trailer to enter into a grant/contest for April 1, so just wondering if I should cut our shoot like 4 days short and translate/log . . . edit . . . with him . . . (for the trailer, perhaps). I can still come home with all my footage and work with another editor down the road. This is only going to be about 20 hours of footage . . .

Christopher Wong
Pro

unless your DP is very unusual, he shouldn't object to doing the logging and translating with you (and not the edit). he might object to logging and translating in general, but he'll certainly understand that you need to edit this locally back in NYC.

one thing to keep in mind is that logging and translating almost 20 hours of footage (or even 10 hours) will take a LONG, LONG time. for every 1 hour of footage, i would estimate at least 4 hours to turn that footage into a transcribed, translated, timecoded document – and i believe that is a very conservative estimate.

Wolfgang Achtner
Pro

Darla,

If he is willing, you could ask your DP to do the transcriptions and translations for you. There is no need for him to log the tapes to do this. Otherwise, you might find someone else in Italy.

As I explained in a previous post, you should do the logging of all the tapes WITH the editor with whom you are going to edit your documentary because you BOTH need to be aware of all the video.

This way you'd only need to copy onto VHS tapes or a DVD with burnt in timecode (in order to be able to transcribe beginning end ending times for each sentence/paragraph) the tapes (or sections there of) with the interviews. You'd still need to capture this material onto a computer – and this takes place in real time – but you could return home with the tapes and your DP or whoever will be doing the transcription and translation could work at it over here and then e-mail you the finished transcripts.

Erica Ginsberg
Host

Darla, if you can afford a professional translator, that would be your best bet. It really is an art and the challenge with working with someone who doesn't do this is that it can go much more slowly and either not accurate enough or too accurate.

With Crucible of War, we had a lot of material, so split the translations of the transcripts between the director (who did speak the language while the editor didn't), two student friends, and two professional linguists. The quality of the translations was best with the two professionals, followed by the students followed by the director. He was simply too close to the material and his translations took a painstakingly slow amount of time and were too literal in text. Once we got to the point of editing, we brought in one of the professional linguists to work with us on the subtitles, both to help the editor get the cuts exactly right, improve the linguistic construction, and dare to lose some of the exact words to fit the space and still retain the meaning.

Darla Bruno
Fan

Since we're specifically on the subject of translation – can someone give me an idea of price ranges (per hour, I assume) . . . and were you finding that it's about 4 hours per 1 hour of footage?

Also, do I need it written first in Italian, and then translated to English, or just written in English? I assume both.

Finally, the thing with my DP is that he really loves these people, and their stories, and he knows the context for some of the wacky things they're saying . . . so while he may not be a professional translator, I think he might offer some good insight. Perhaps I can just ask him to do the work (instead of cutting our shoot short, I'd probably send him back to Milan with DVD copies) and then have it looked over by a professional translator.

Boyd McCollum
Pro

Maybe your DP can do the Italian translation with notes, then you can have that transcribed here in the states.

Darla Bruno
Fan

Sounds good, Boyd . . . (Maybe I'm just tired) but can you spell this out for me a little more? So he'd write everything out in English? And then . . .

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