Taking shot lengths of a running movie is a manual operation performed in real time, and like any such operation – driving a car or playing a video game – it, too, takes a little practice and patience to master. Though I am only few films ahead of anyone else who might be willing to try our CineMetrics, I think I can offer a few suggestions. On the other hand, I will be much obliged to anyone who might be willing to share their experience with me or, for that matter, with the rest of potential users.
- Take some time to play with your CineMetrics “dry” before you try it out with an actual film. Don’t “save and submit” the mock-up data.
- When doing your first movie for the first time use a DVD version (if it exists) and play it on your computer (if you have one equipped with a DVD player). Thus you will have your movie, your DVD control, and the buttons of your CineMetrics handy on the same monitor.
- Start with the simplest of the options your CineMetrics menu offers, the “Shot change” button which only registers the general ASL dynamics throughout your film. Wait till you have some practice to try out the “Advanced” and “Customized” options.
- Remember: shot counting starts at the end of the first shot.
- Get your finger used to the idea that it is only when you “release” your mouse button that your CineMetrics reads it as a cut. So it is safe to press your mouse button as soon as the next shot begins (or somewhere in the middle) and hold it depressed till the cut comes, much like you do it when you “drag” icons. Gunars designed it this way for the user to have more time to choose between the multiple categories (CU, LS, etc) when doing “advanced” measurements.
- At first, you will be likely to miss some cuts forgetting to click, and, conversely, to click an extra time mistaking, for instance, a brisk movement within the duration of a shot for a shot change. Do not panic or despair at your first mistakes. Do not start all anew unless you really feel you’ve screwed things big time. Remember: what you aim at is a statistical picture, not a shot list with exact times. Unless most of your clicks are grossly off target (which is highly unlikely) your trendlines will still be more or less accurate. Remember: the choice we are faced with when doing this kind of job is between “more” and “less” accurate, not between “hit” or “miss.”
- If you have noticed in the process that you have done this or that misclick you will be tempted to compensate it by clicking one too many, or leaving the next cut unclicked, and vice versa. We do not think it a good idea. An honest mistake once in a while won’t mess up the result, but a habit of tampering with the measurement tool might.
your doorbell rings, your mind starts wandering, or your wrist gets tired of clicking, pause your DVD first, and then promptly pause your CineMetrics. It helps to take a look at the timer on your DVD control panel in case you will need to play it back for a second or two before resuming the time-taking. Remember: your CineMetrics does not read the “pause” command as a cut, so after you click “Start” again, click when the paused shot ends.
- The best spot for a pause is usually a long intertitle – precisely because you can tell at a glance it will be long, even when your film is Japanese, and you are not.
- What you measure and what you don’t normally depends on what you are aiming at. I for one always treat intertitles as shots, but do not include the credits and the end title into my measurements. So does Bordwell.
These 10 points are just 10 tips, not the 10 commandments or commands. One thing that I found the hardest to get used to is that once you have sat down to do a film, you cannot do one part of it, save the interim result (as you do when playing a game), turn off your computer and go on from there next time you turn it on. You can pause and rest, but you cannot undo or redo without going back to square one. In this CineMetrics is not like driving a car, but rather like riding a bicycle: to stay on it, you need to keep it rolling.