The Cutting Room Floor


I think we all know by now the job of the editor: pick out the best parts, put them in an order to achieve the best results.  But what about those deleted parts?  When it came to the cutting and splicing process with film, if you were there, you might have seen film spilled and litered on the cutting room floor.

For what wasn’t immediately destroyed, the stockrooms full of unused footage would gradually become destroyed anyway.

And for novels, just imagine the tons of manuscript paper, or countless numbers of files and folders in text/word processing form.

Director’s Cuts

When directors think they can do a better job than the editor (and is not the editor)—or is thinking of extra pay, they may attempt to take the role of editor for a later release.

Sometimes there are good director’s cuts, and sometimes those cuts get pretty long, with Apocalypse Now Redux as an example.

While some editors are able to cut a film in under four days (and possibly less with digital since there’s no celluloid to move around), director’s cuts can easily last weeks to make.  But either way, there’s still going to be footage left over, and often quite a lot of it.

Special Features

With the advent of new technology and consumers wanting more, some movies would come to be “enhanced” or completed with computers, such as the retouching of the first five Star Wars films.  On the other hand, for home home-viewing it became common practice for disc distribution to include deleted scenes, “behind the scenes,” interviews, gag reels and even things that have little to do with the feature or episodic series compiled.

Given the capacity of DVDs and beyond, certain R-rated comedies and horror films (and a few PG-13 movies) would come to include an ‘Unrated’ cut on the same disc.  The Unrated version, if any, is often separate and produced for the purposes of extra money for the production and/or distribution companies.

Bonus Cuts

But then, it wasn’t long ago before we started seeing the Rental Purposes Only screen for a number of home-rental discs, requiring the consumer to purchase the non-rental version of the movie to get all of the materials listed.  These rental-only versions would typically carry only the theatrical version.

And to tease the ‘rentee,’ some discs still have all of their menus intact, giving the impression that the “bonus materials” are there (if the viewer hadn’t paid attention to or had forgotten the message before the main menu came up).

Media Technology

For high-definition video, ultra-violet wavelengths would have to be used for an even higher density disc.  With the Beta-Max-like demise of the “HD-DVD,” the “Blu-Ray” won. It would come to store over 22 GB in data, compared to the maximum, total capacity of a 9.4 GB for DVDs (both sides combined).

The smaller audio footage is easily left uncompressed due to the Blu-Ray’s large capacity, while DVDs would typically use MPEG (i.e. MP3/MP4) compression for audio. The video form of MPEG-2 compression would still be carried over to HD, just with higher resolution numbers, and probably interlaced for the 1,080-pixel-line resolution (1080i).

With Blu-Ray and screen tech companies pushing for even higher-resolution content, it won’t be long before we’ll start seeing discs with ultra/super-high-definition video—something, by definition, that means at least 8 million pixels.

It may become difficult for those disc utilities used to compress the media data even further without any (additional) loss to keep up.


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