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Behind the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain Using Apple Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema [Paperback]

Charles Koppelman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Oct 2004 Voices That Matter

The first volume to reveal the post-production process of a major motion picture (Cold Mountain) edited entirely in Final Cut Pro!

  • Offers a rare inside glimpse at the creative process of one of cinema's giants: threetime Academy Award-winning editor Walter Murch.
  • Includes anecdotes from the director, edit staff, and producers; photos, emails, and journal entries from Murch; and behind-the-scenes insights.
  • Accounts from Apple's Final Cut Pro team about what they think about the future of it in feature films.

As the first software-only desktop nonlinear editing system, Final Cut Pro sat the film industry on its ear when it debuted back in 1999. Now it's shaking things up again as editor Walter Murch, director Anthony Minghella, and a long list of Hollywood heavy-hitters are proving that this under-$1,000 software can (and should) be used to edit a multi-million dollar motion picture! This book tells the story of that endeavor: the decision to use Final Cut Pro, the relationship between the technology and art (and craft) of movie-making, how Final Cut Pro was set up and configured for Cold Mountain, how the software's use affected the work flow, and its implications for the future of filmmaking. More than anything, however, this is Murch's own story of what seemed to many a crazy endeavor-- told through photos, journal entries, email musings, and anecdotes that give readers an inside view of what the film editor does and how this particular film progressed through post-production. The book includes, in his own words, Murch's vision, approach, and thoughts on storytelling as he shapes Cold Mountain under the intense pressures of completing a major studio film.

With Academy Awards for his work on Apocalypse Now and The English Patient, sound and film editor Walter Murch is one of the few universally acknowledged editing masters in cinema. Along with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, he is one of the founding members of the Northern California cinema community. Author Charles Koppelman has been writing screenplays and directing video and film since the early 1980s, including the independent feature film, Dumbarton Bridge, award-winning documentaries, and commercials.

"An exploration inside the editorial engine-room of a major feature film - the first book of its kind ever and sure to remain the best. Charles Koppelman chronicles Walter Murch's astonishing high-wire trapeze act as he works his way through the first large-scale implementation of Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software. Must be read by anyone interested in film, computers, or how the creative process unfolds." -- Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Conversation, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now

"This is probably the subtlest and most tender account of what a craftsman brings to a motion picture ever written. It is fascinating in its detail and awesome in its gradual uncovering of the ear, the eye and the soul of Walter Murch. The book may seem technical, or 'professional,' but any reader will be thrilled by the description of a struggle and the necessary commitment to it. To be read by anyone who has ever thought it might be fun to make a movie." -- David Thomson, film critic and author of The Biographical Dictionary

"BEHIND THE SEEN is not only revelatory in terms of technical innovation, but it reads like a thrilling suspense novel. Superbly written and paced, the book captures the brilliant and daring film/sound editor-scientist Walter Murch in all his passionate and creative glory. Charles Koppelman has crafted a truly unique addition to the canon of film history, delivering a must-read for anyone interested in how movies are made." --Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and City of Ghosts

"... excellent, original and tremendously informative book... Koppelman's account reads like a thriller... Behind the Seen achieves something remarkable: a chronicle about technology and data, machines and methodologies which also manages to record a story of friendships and dreams-not least the dreams I have been lucky enough to share with my friend and editor over three films and for almost a decade." --from the book's foreword by Anthony Minghella, writer and director of Cold Mountain, The English Patient, and The Talented Mr. Ripley



Product details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (21 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735714266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735714267
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 22.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A unique addition to the canon of film history, delivering a must-read for anyone interested in how movies are made.' -- Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and City of Ghosts

'Must be read by anyone interested in film, computers, or how the creative process unfolds.' -- Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Conversation, The Godfather, Apocolypse Now

'Probably the subtlest and most tender account of what a craftsman brings to a motion picture.' -- David Thomson, film critic and author of The Biographical Dictionary

From the Back Cover

The first volume to reveal the post-production process of a major motion picture (Cold Mountain) edited entirely in Final Cut Pro!

  • Offers a rare inside glimpse at the creative process of one of cinema's giants: threetime Academy Award-winning editor Walter Murch.
  • Includes anecdotes from the director, edit staff, and producers; photos, emails, and journal entries from Murch; and behind-the-scenes insights.
  • Accounts from Apple's Final Cut Pro team about what they think about the future of it in feature films.

As the first software-only desktop nonlinear editing system, Final Cut Pro sat the film industry on its ear when it debuted back in 1999. Now it's shaking things up again as editor Walter Murch, director Anthony Minghella, and a long list of Hollywood heavy-hitters are proving that this under-$1,000 software can (and should) be used to edit a multi-million dollar motion picture! This book tells the story of that endeavor: the decision to use Final Cut Pro, the relationship between the technology and art (and craft) of movie-making, how Final Cut Pro was set up and configured for Cold Mountain, how the software's use affected the work flow, and its implications for the future of filmmaking. More than anything, however, this is Murch's own story of what seemed to many a crazy endeavor-- told through photos, journal entries, email musings, and anecdotes that give readers an inside view of what the film editor does and how this particular film progressed through post-production. The book includes, in his own words, Murch's vision, approach, and thoughts on storytelling as he shapes Cold Mountain under the intense pressures of completing a major studio film.

With Academy Awards for his work on Apocalypse Now and The English Patient, sound and film editor Walter Murch is one of the few universally acknowledged editing masters in cinema. Along with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, he is one of the founding members of the Northern California cinema community. Author Charles Koppelman has been writing screenplays and directing video and film since the early 1980s, including the independent feature film, Dumbarton Bridge, award-winning documentaries, and commercials.

"An exploration inside the editorial engine-room of a major feature film - the first book of its kind ever and sure to remain the best. Charles Koppelman chronicles Walter Murch's astonishing high-wire trapeze act as he works his way through the first large-scale implementation of Apple's Final Cut Pro editing software. Must be read by anyone interested in film, computers, or how the creative process unfolds." -- Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Conversation, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now

"This is probably the subtlest and most tender account of what a craftsman brings to a motion picture ever written. It is fascinating in its detail and awesome in its gradual uncovering of the ear, the eye and the soul of Walter Murch. The book may seem technical, or 'professional,' but any reader will be thrilled by the description of a struggle and the necessary commitment to it. To be read by anyone who has ever thought it might be fun to make a movie." -- David Thomson, film critic and author of The Biographical Dictionary

"BEHIND THE SEEN is not only revelatory in terms of technical innovation, but it reads like a thrilling suspense novel. Superbly written and paced, the book captures the brilliant and daring film/sound editor-scientist Walter Murch in all his passionate and creative glory. Charles Koppelman has crafted a truly unique addition to the canon of film history, delivering a must-read for anyone interested in how movies are made." --Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and City of Ghosts

"... excellent, original and tremendously informative book... Koppelman's account reads like a thriller... Behind the Seen achieves something remarkable: a chronicle about technology and data, machines and methodologies which also manages to record a story of friendships and dreams-not least the dreams I have been lucky enough to share with my friend and editor over three films and for almost a decade." --from the book's foreword by Anthony Minghella, writer and director of Cold Mountain, The English Patient, and The Talented Mr. Ripley


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very insightful and well written book 10 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback
I bought this book because I edit video using Final Cut Pro, and I was intrigued by the story of Walter Murch and FCP.
I have read a previous book written by Walter Murch and was a bit dissappointed with it, so I wasn't setting my expectations too high.
I read the whole book in about 3 days and found it to be a unique experience - a technically authentic book that was also a real page-turner. You really wanted to know what happened next, and whether everything worked in the end. The level of detail was just right - enough to understand the issues, but not so much that you got bored.
The thing I was most impressed with was the scale of the task undertaken, and it gave me a new respect for those working on large scale movie production.
I recommend this book if you are at all interested in the technical craft of movie editing, and especially if you are a Final Cut Pro user yourself.
Dave
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5.0 out of 5 stars Walter Murch Rocks! 3 May 2009
Format:Paperback
I've seen a couple of interviews with Walter and this guy has been pushing Hollywood forward quicker than any director you can imagine! The magician behind some of the best films ever (and the reason they are great in my opinion) and developed Dolby 5.1.

This is a history of editing/ behind the scenes/ story of Final Cut Pro. If you're an editor, it's well worth reading!
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting look at the process 15 Nov 2004
By Thomas E. Quinn Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As always, Walter Murch is a facinating individual to observe. I see this book as a companion to The Conversations and In The Blink of an Eye because it has less information on Murch's creative insights while editing, but a great deal of info on ups and downs of post production. This book is very intimate - detailing emails, journals, comments on deaths in the crew's family, weddings, frustrations, triumphs, etc. I expected this book to be a commercial for Apple, but while it knocks Avid in support of FCP, Apple and Steve Jobs come off as completely useless for most of the process. Digital film tree, Sean Cullen, and Walter Murch seem to have willed FCP to the next level when it's maker had little faith. Hopefully, their insights will trickle down to suburban film dreamers through future copies of final cut pro. This book also reminded me that all of this new digital technology is simply a tool, the results of which are not in 'film looks' and whatnot, but in the creativity and experience of the user. A great read with facinating details.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heroic Early Adopters Unite! 3 Feb 2005
By B. Powell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is Lord of the Rings with Walter Murch as Frodo. Too much of the book is focused on the INCREDIBLY HEROIC undertaking that was using FCP 3 on Cold Mountain. The author goes a little over the top with his love fest for Digital Film Tree. I thought this was going to be an in depth look at how Walter (lord of the edit) uses FCP. As well as in depth info about the editing of Cold Mountain and his editing process. Everyone has technical problems of their own. It isn't that much fun reading about Walter Murch's technical problems. I'm more interested in the creative side. There are too many books like this that focus too heavily on the tools and the technical problems. Though it is fun reading Steve Job's emails. For that it deserves 4 stars. Besides I can't bring myself to disrespect Walter with 3 stars.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed. Not what I expected 5 April 2006
By Andrew D. Fraser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book expecting to get a blow-by-blow account of the editing of Cold Mountain and how Walter Murch translated his film cutting techiniques (that are well explained in either "In the Blink of an Eye" or "The Conversations...") into Final Cut Pro.

Instead the bulk of the book was spent in excruciating detail about the selection of Final Cut Pro as an editing platform. There was much talk of the concerns around using FCP3 to edit a feature-length film project. Likewise there was too much detail about the worries they had about shipping these systems to Romania for the edit. Would they have tech support?!? Would they have enough hard drive space?!? Would it survive customs?!?

There are even copies of e-mails of the order of the system and how grand a moment it was... Sorry, I found the inclusion of this material to be boring. I lost interest well before the edit actually started.

To me it was more a story of how Digital Film Tree (God Bless 'em. They ARE good people.) took a big chance on championing this effort and how they supported Murch and his Assistant Editor to provide the technical knowledge of FCP than it was about the actual Edit of Cold Mountain.

The information IS dated now that FCP is in version 5.1 (as of 4/2006) and that may have tainted my read of the book.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars big fan of Murch, but not this book 12 April 2005
By P. Hastings - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you're interested in knowing about using Final Cut for a feature project, this book won't really help you, because almost every trick, workaround, and difficulty that these guys had was with a version of Final Cut that's OLD (v.3, I believe)! Almost every problem they talk about in the book just isn't a problem anymore. And supposedly version 5 is appearing at NAB April '05.

There are some interesting things about the filmmaking process and the editing of a picture in general, but Final Cut specifics are kind of moot. Murch's "In the Blink of an Eye" and also the "Conversations" book are great reads on his process and how he thinks about editing. Also, the Los Angeles Final Cut Pro Users Group ("LAFCPUG") sells a DVD of Murch talking at one of the meetings.

But again, if you want to learn about using FCP to do a feature, this really won't help you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apple Seeds Hollywood 5 Jan 2007
By Janis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book offers a fascinating record of the interaction between art and technology, artist and corporation. It describes in thorough detail the logistsics of shooting and editing a feature film from start to finish using a totally untried and discouraged software and hardware tool chain formerly for amatuer efforts only.

The meeting of Silicon Valley and Hollywood industries creates a riveting plot that is hard to put down. The gorgeous graphic layout and attention to detail also help.

Only grumble was the detachment of one page from the binding, but if you don't sleep next to your copy, it probably won't be a concern.

Anyone interested in cutting edge (hah!) technology and/or legendary Bay area genius Walter Murch must read this book.
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