Video editing in the ‘vertical’ dimension
In the last chapter of his book In the Blink of an Eye (Viking, 2001) film editor Walter Murch explores the possibilities inherent in the digital future of film editing. He predicts film editors will be able to manipulate moving images in much the same way sound editors manipulate many layers of sound:
Up until now…[motion]picture editors have thought almost exclusively in the horizontal direction. The question to be answered was simply, “What’s next?”…that’s complicated enough–there are a tremendous number of options in the construction of a film. In the future, that number is going to become even more cosmic because film editors will have to start thinking vertically as well, which is to say: “What can I edit within the frame?”
Last week Adobe previewed a new technology called a video mesh that looks an awful lot like Murch’s “vertical” dimension. It allows the film editor to extract 3D elements from live 2D video and ‘re-shoot’ certain aspects of the scene (e.g. depth of field). It is even possible to reposition characters and objects within the scene once the 3D landscape has been defined.
In the future, video meshes and other technologies like light field photography may completely change the way we think about 2D images and how best to capture them. Will these new possibilities lead to innovative filmmaking or will too many options lead to a kind of self-conscious paralysis? As Walter Murch says, we already have a “tremendous number of options” at our disposal.
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