Solutions

Walter Murch

"FileMaker Pro is the most essential tool we have in terms of keeping the technical components of making a film together. It's essential to the way we do our work."

Innovative motion picture professionals make
FileMaker Pro an integral part of their editing suite.
Award–winning film editor Walter Murch and his associate Sean Cullen take full advantage
of FileMaker Pro's flexibility in tracking and documenting individual shots.

Overview

  • Award–winning film editor Walter Murch and his associate Sean Cullen take full advantage of FileMaker Pro's flexibility in tracking and documenting individual shots. FileMaker Pro coordinates closely with the Mac–based Final Cut Pro editing suite to ensure that vital information on each stage of the editing process is always close at hand.

Industry

  • Creative Services
  • Entertainment
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Walter Murch

The art of motion picture editing is an ever–evolving craft, from the old Moviolas of Hollywood's storied past to today's cutting–edge software applications that carry editing into an entirely digital realm. In the vanguard of these innovations, you will find three–time Academy Award® winner Walter Murch. He needs no introduction to either cineastes or techies. His work on such recent films as Cold Mountain, the first full–length feature to use the Final Cut Pro editing suite — and Jarhead, keeps him in the forefront of both creative accomplishment and technological innovation. Walter and his associate editor Sean Cullen depend on the latest tools to do their job, including FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software solution from FileMaker, Inc.

Business Challenge

Film editing requires careful documentation of footage as it moves along the editing process. Every frame that passes through the cameras is tracked and organized using databases. It's a system that's come a long way since Walter's early days in the film business in the late 1960's, when boxes of hole–punched paper index cards documented each day's work. "What you're presented with in film is simply a mountain of stuff that comes at you very, very fast," he explains. "And as time goes on, it comes faster and faster, because it's getting easier and easier to shoot film — in fact, we're not even talking about film anymore, with the transition already underway to shooting in digital media."

Successful Solution

Even today, paper cards have a vital role to play in organizing the editing of each shot, with key frames from each scene printed out for ready reference as the film is assembled. Associate film editor Sean Cullen, who worked closely with Walter on Jarhead, explains that before the reference shots are printed, FileMaker Pro keeps careful track of what goes where and when. "FileMaker Pro is the most essential tool we have in terms of keeping the technical components of making a film together," he enthuses. "It's essential to the way we do our work."

What you're presented with in film is simply a mountain of stuff
that comes at you very, very fast.

Walter Murch, award–winning motion picture film editor

Flexibility is key to meeting the demand for fast, accurate editing work under ever–changing, always–demanding circumstances, and here FileMaker Pro excels. "When we start a project, we really don't know what will be different from the previous project," Sean continues, "and we usually only have about a week to figure it out. We have the ability with FileMaker Pro to completely change the character of our database without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. All of the scripts that Walter's been working on since he started using FileMaker Pro in 1986, and all the interrelations between databases that we've developed don't have to go away simply because we're adding new fields, structures, or ways of organizing information." That flexibility lends itself naturally to the collaborative nature of filmmaking — with so many fingers in so many different pies all at once, FileMaker Pro offers an effective, efficient, and user–friendly means of keeping everyone in frame and in focus. "All these different people need to be able to communicate," emphasizes Sean, "and the thing about FileMaker Pro is that it's also collaborative. It helps you keep everything together as you get different people with different needs — you simply add them in, bring them into the fold, and they're all working together."

On Jarhead, for example. Walter and Sean used a FileMaker Pro-based product called MetaFlow, produced by Gallery Software of London, as a rapid–fire channel for exchanging vital log book information as the editing on the film progressed. FileMaker Pro databases also linked the main editing department with the film's visual effects supervisor, ensuring that both sections remained coordinated in the production of essential shots. "Whenever we needed to print out visual effects shots or compile something for our producers, we could get all the information out of the log book," Sean outlines, "and we could immediately tell you not only what the visual effect was, but what the status of it was at that very moment."

Customer Benefits

FileMaker Pro also coordinates closely with the Macintosh–based Final Cut Pro editing suite, ensuring that vital continuity information documenting the length and order of each shot remains close at hand as editing progresses. "By using the XML export capabilities of Final Cut Pro, the import capabilities of FileMaker Pro, and an XLT style sheet," notes Sean, "we were able to take relevant information from the cut of the film from beginning to end, pull it into FileMaker Pro and see what all the shots were."