17
Feb

Open letter to concert editors

Dear editors,

I understand how hard it is to take raw footage and edit it into something beautiful and coherent — especially when it needs to be in time with the music. I really do understand, because although I am a metal messenger by night (read: blogging nerd), I am also a professional editor by day. I am not saying I’m necessarily better than you at this, nor am I trying to brag, I’m merely explaining how I know a thing or two about this activity.

There is, however, no reason to giving me a close-up of the drummer, whilst the lead guitarist is doing a solo. You see, each member of the band is important in his own right, so you don’t have to be unfair and focus on the singer more than you focus on the guitarist, for instance. Unless we’re talking about a solo artist and his live band, that is. But if we’re talking about a metal band, when the lead guitarist is doing a solo, I want to see him do that solo. As many shots of him playing the guitar as necessary.

When a solo is happening, fuck the singer, fuck the drummer. I want to see the solo being played. And here’s one of the many reasons:

A lot of people who listen to this type of music play instruments themselves. Chances are, if someone plays guitar and is watching an AC/DC dvd, for instance, he is interested in watching Angus Young do his thing. So when Angus is doing a solo, focus on that solo. Alternate between close-ups and full shots of him, do whatever you have to do to feel like you’re editing the concert, but don’t lose track of which instrument is the main focus at any given time.

Fans usually buy these DVDs, they want to see when the guitarist does his solo, when the vocalist does his trademark scream, when the drummer does a blast beat. Just put yourself in their position. This is the music they’re playing, what would I want to see if I was a big fan?

I think editors who work on concerts need to be familiar with the band they’re working on.

Make the jump, cause I’m not done yet. I’m gonna start giving examples of good edits versus bad edits. Ohh boy, I’m so excited! Feel these nipples.

Nice try, woman, but the only cut I want from you is for the bacon in my breakfast...

Again, I want to stress that I’m not trying to be condescending. Concert DVDs are, for the most part, very well made. But I found myself wanting to see what the guitarist was doing when a certain guitar lick was being played, but instead I got a close-up of the bassist’s sweaty face. It just didn’t feel right, and it made me think that the people behind the concert’s post-production were not into this type of music.

There’s a certain rhythm and dynamic to a piece of edited content, however, I think rules need to be broken a little more when we’re talking about a show. Even if you feel you need to insert a shot of the crowd during a drum solo, don’t. Wait for a pause, show the crowd’s reaction then, but focus on the fucking drummer for the rest of time. That’s all I’m saying.

Let me give another example: James Hetfield. Being the singer of Metallica, Jaymz has a lot of ‘air time,’ so to speak. And since Metallica puts out DVDs like Bangbros puts out porn, boy do I have a lot of Metallica footage I could be giving as an example.

However, I feel Jaymz is being unfairly treated as a guitarist by you guys. He has two or three solos per concert, yet even then, we get shots of Kirk and Lars. It’s not right, man.

Here’s how you don’t cut “Nothing Else Matters’s” solo:

 

Australia 2004

The solo (which starts at 5:51) is going on, but you don’t even see who’s playing it. You get shots of Kirk and Lars for the first 8 seconds, then you see a quick close-up of James’ guitar, only to go back to Lars right after… The solo ends and we’ve barely even seen James, it was mostly Lars… Why?

Granted, this was on TV, probably broadcast while it was actually happening, even though they didn’t broadcast the full concert. But even if it’s live, the director needs to realize who’s playing what and focus on him. And this happens on DVDs as well, so don’t be giving me the “THIS IS NOT A DVD!!111” excuse, it’s just to illustrate what I’m talking about, as I’ve seen similar mistakes on actual DVDs.

Anyway, here’s how you should do it:

 

France 2009

The solo (which starts at 6:28) is show almost in its entirety whilst being focus on James. Lars makes yet another appearance, but it’s just for a split second, cause the drums are prominent. It’s all James, as it should be… It’s his solo, and for God’s sake, it’s one of the few solos he does in Metallica, let the man have his guitarist moment. And let the pretend Metallica fans be amazed that it’s not Kirk who does all the lead work in the band.

And again, if you’re trying to discredit this example by saying “Well, duh Alex, this is a DVD, of course it’s edited properly” then let me give you an example of sloppy editing from the very same DVD:

 

France 2009

During James’ “Oh yeah!!??” moment in “Enter Sandman,” he starts the riff then the song continues (4:43). However, the editor here chose a shot of the audience members giving the devil horns. Why? Then they went for a ridiculously wide shot of the stage. If you look close, James actually does a jump, too. Why not show this? It’s a DVD, they must have had at least 2 cameras on James, why not show a full shot of James doing the jump and playing guitar, instead of showing us the audience and stage? They could have made the cut to the fireworks exactly as they went off, not 2-3 seconds earlier…

While these cuts sort of made sense from a rhythm point of view, I’m sure most people will agree that they’d rather see James do the jump and play the riff, than see a bird’s eye view of the stage.

And since I started this rant with AC/DC as an example, let’s take a look at two of their concerts and see sloppy editing vs. better editing.

Angus Young’s virtuosity shines in the intro for “Thunderstruck.” It’s the quintessential AC/DC guitar moment. Simple, yet exciting as fuck. So why would you show Angus’ back almost the entire time?

 

England 1991

I understand the crowd was massive, and the shot of Angus’ back with the crowd was poetic, but again, this is a concert. The diehard AC/DC fan will most likely want to see Angus’ fingers in action (that’s what she said!). You can pick many, many other times during this concert when you can focus on the crowd. This was Angus’ moment, and you’ve ruined it. BASTARDS!!!

Here’s another bad example:

 

Argentina 2009

Why show all the wide shots in the world instead of focusing on Angus? Why, oh fucking why? In fact, if you look at most “Thunderstruck” performances, chances are they’re gonna show a variety of wide shots for no reason whatsoever.

However, whoever edited this was doing it right:

 

Russia 1991

It starts on Angus, and it stays on Angus. That’s the way it should be. Obviously the intro is long as fuck, and the riff continues well into the song, so you can’t have Angus be the main focus the entire damn song. But start like this video did, because it’s Angus’ shit. That’s how you fucking edit a “Thunderstuck” intro, yo.

Got it?

Of course, I do know that it’s not just the editors who are at fault. Maybe the editors meant well, but the producers and directors tried to feel like they knew what they were talking about, so they forced them to add shots here and there. It happens. A producer’s job is to ruin it for the rest of the crew working on any given project, I get that. But you really need to be a fan of rock/metal music if you’re gonna edit rock/metal concerts. And the more about the band in question, the better.

So to the editors out there, thanks for all the hard work, but apply yourselves next time. If you hear a guitar solo, figure out who plays that solo and stay on that dude until the solo ends.

Yours truly,

Alex


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