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Behind the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain Using Apple's Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema Paperback – October 31, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders Press; 1 edition (October 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735714266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735714267
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 8.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #978,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cold Mountain, the recent film based on the Charles Frazier novel, is a love story set during the American Civil War. Behind the Seen, being the story of how accomplished film editor Walter Murch (of Apocalypse Now fame), is also a story of love in a time of internal conflict. The difference being that Behind the Seen has to do with how Murch used Final Cut Pro, a software package that runs on any modern Macintosh and costs less than $1000, to edit Cold Mountain and thereby incite debate among professional film editors. Can such a mass-market product, accessible to anyone with a camcorder and a FireWire cable, be a serious tool for professionals? Murch proved that it can.

Behind the Seen deals with the technical accomplishment of using Final Cut Pro to assemble a feature film, but more importantly explains to its readers how shooting and editing work--and how the personalities involved in Cold Mountain worked together. This is a book of nonfiction that you can read from beginning to end; it is a technical book but not in the click-and-drag sense. Rather, it's a story about a creative team and the tools they used to deliver a work of drama. --David Wall

Topics covered: How Cold Mountain was shot and edited, using Final Cut Pro as the principal editing suite.

About the Author

With Academy Awards for his work on Apocalypse Now and The English Patient ,sound and film editor Walter Murch is one of the few universallyacknowledged editing masters in cinema. Along with George Lucas and FrancisFord Coppola, he is one of the founding members of the Northern Californiacinema community. Co-author Charles Koppelman has been writingscreenplays and directing video and film since the early 1980s, including theindependent feature film, Dumbarton Bridge , award-winning documentaries, andcommercials.


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Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
Wonderfully well-written, gorgeous layout and typeography and great pictures.
T. Butler
This book offers a fascinating record of the interaction between art and technology, artist and corporation.
Janis
Almost every problem they talk about in the book just isn't a problem anymore.
P. Hastings

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. Quinn Jr. on November 15, 2004
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Powell on February 2, 2005
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.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Andrew D. Fraser on April 5, 2006
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.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By P. Hastings on April 11, 2005
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Janis on January 5, 2007
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Dawes on January 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
When Walter Murch decided to use Final Cut for a major motion picture like Cold Mountain, film editing would never be the same again. This book documents that incredible story. How Murch went against the advise of Apple and how a team was assembled that allowed Murch to create cinematic history. The book reads like an adventure story and contains all of Murch's emails as he made history, to give a very personal, up close view of the project. Buy this book - really is a fantastic read.
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