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  • BrickSculpting and Classical Conditioning.

    Posted by Bill Davis on June 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Catching up on the threads today I found myself thinking about how I learned to swim decades ago.

    The pool our family frequented as respite from the summer heat, had a swimming instructor named Joe, who would take us tadpoles, and drill us with a particular stroke cadence – bellowed loudly enough for us to hear underwater:

    “One, Two, Blow it out, Take a breath.”
    Over and over and over.

    I’m swimming a good bit this summer for exercise and when I hit the pool and start my strokes, i find it functionally IMPOSSIBLE to swim without that cadence running through my head.

    Looking back, it’s among the most successful classical conditioning I’ve ever had.
    A regular behavior – ideally linked with a conditioned mental response.

    I’m wondering what part of this debate about how editing should be best approached – doesn’t have a large measure of the same type of classical conditioning at it’s heart.

    For any editor who’s spent decades constantly, daily, conditioned to equate “build your timeline” as where successful editing happens – I wonder if it’s every bit as difficult to conceive editing without calling up and addressing some type of timeline thing – as it is for me to do laps without Joe’s voice being summoned?

    Just a Saturday morning musing.

    FWIW.

    Creator of XinTwo – https://www.xintwo.com
    The shortest path to FCP X mastery.

    David Lawrence replied 6 years, 10 months ago 19 Members · 77 Replies
  • 77 Replies
  • Simon Ubsdell

    June 17, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    [Bill Davis] “For any editor who’s spent decades constantly, daily, conditioned to equate “build your timeline” as where successful editing happens – I wonder if it’s every bit as difficult to conceive editing without calling up and addressing some type of timeline thing – as it is for me to do laps without Joe’s voice being summoned?”

    So we’re back to Luddites and dinosaurs?

    What a shame.

    Can we not agree to disagree on this? It’s all just personal preference at the end of the day. It’s fun to argue, but none of us is “right” and none of us is “wrong”.

    Surely?

    Simon Ubsdell
    tokyo productions
    hawaiki

  • Bill Davis

    June 17, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    What?

    What part of this implies ANY luddite or dinosaur thinking whatsoever?

    Addressing prior conditioning is a long standing part of understanding human behavior.

    It’s IN NO WAY good or bad. It just IS. It’s how we learn to hit a baseball – OR type, for heaven’s sake.

    Without conditioning – we have to re-learn EVERYTHING anew each time we face it.

    The question isn’t ARE we conditioned. It’s stepping back occasionally and asking a very simple, and very reasonable question. Does the conditioning we’ve accepted still serve us optimally.

    The answer can VERY much be YES IT DOES. The conditioning Michael Phelps went through in swimming propelled him to amazing achievements.

    So the conditioning is neutral. The only thing dangerous might be if we NEVER question our conditioning and merely keep assuming that our prior methods are always inviolate.

    Which is distinctly NOT saying anything IS bad. It’s just asking for occasional “re-examinations” in order to make sure the original criteria for advancement are still being met.

    Seems simple enough.

    Creator of XinTwo – https://www.xintwo.com
    The shortest path to FCP X mastery.

  • Simon Ubsdell

    June 17, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    [Bill Davis] “What part of this implies ANY luddite or dinosaur thinking whatsoever? “

    Sometimes, although you write brilliantly (and I really admire you for that), it’s very hard indeed to understand what point you are trying to make.

    Simon Ubsdell
    tokyo productions
    hawaiki

  • Franz Bieberkopf

    June 17, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    [Bill Davis] “Without conditioning – we have to re-learn EVERYTHING anew each time we face it.”

    Bill,

    This is factually not true.

    A casual search on wikipedia lists 17 types of learning. I suspect it’s rather incomplete.

    If by “conditioning” you mean “learning” or “memory” in general, then it might be more true, but your title implies you are really more interested in classical conditioning.

    [Bill Davis] “… how I learned to swim … Looking back, it’s among the most successful classical conditioning I’ve ever had. A regular behavior – ideally linked with a conditioned mental response.”

    I’m not an authority on learned behaviors but as you have described it, this is not classical conditioning.

    I’m not sure what your experience was, but it seems like it may be more operant conditioning (if you felt you were being rewarded, which is unclear), or something like imprinting (as you seem to feel your age and the authority of the instructor were factors). In any case, you can familiarize yourself with an overview of classical conditioning at wikipedia.

    [Bill Davis] “Addressing prior conditioning is a long standing part of understanding human behavior. … The question isn’t ARE we conditioned.”

    Conditioning is, of course, central to behaviorism. Behaviorism is famously not interested in internal processes so much as observable and measurable outcomes. It was popular and influential in 20th century psychology, particularly in the U.S. where its traces are still seen in pop culture, and stands in contrast to another foundation of psychology (Freud) and humanist understanding in general. Noam Chompsky’s 1959 critique of behaviorism began the shift to cognitive psychology which focuses on mental processes that affect behaviour (anathema to behaviourism).

    Behaviorism is one school of psychology, and not really current in terms of our understanding of learning. I’m not sure what your question “are we conditioned?” is asking. I think you might be suggesting editing is learned by classical conditioning (thus the title of your post) which I have trouble making sense of, so you’ll have to explain further if that is your meaning.

    Any complex skill set is going to be rather difficult to trace in terms of how we learn it, even without considering the relationship between creativity and something like editing or the social contexts in which something like filmmaking or videomaking is undertaken (which are surely quite important).

    So I don’t really understand what ideas you are trying to express or what connections you are trying to make.

    If your point is that people can be creatures of habit, I’d agree. People are also quite curious, creative, inventive, and surprisingly open minded sometimes. You’ve made no case for why one approach to editing is any more of a habit than any other, or why one editing habit is preferable to another.

    Franz.

  • Bill Davis

    June 18, 2017 at 4:56 am

    In response, I will make some assumptions.

    First, while I’m sure there are some (like you?) reading this thread who focused on the behavioral theory, I suspect the vast majority of those reading my post didn’t get confused at all and understood what I was arguing, which was NOT about Psychology as a topic of critical importance to my point..

    Second, Many people in the threads relating to this topic have referenced “muscle memory” – a clear form of conditioning.

    Third, – … oh why bother.

    I wrote something about people getting “conditioned” (see, it’s even in scare quotes this time, so it clearly doesn’t need to be taken literally anymore!) to prior habits that got them good results in the past – and making those habits their default because it might feel rational to them to presume that those same behaviors might get them equally good results in the future.

    My point was that sometimes conditions exist (or have changed?) that make said thinking situationally WRONG.

    Not always. Not exclusively, Sometimes not at all. But sometimes.

    That’s the simple core of what I was saying.

    If you’d like to address THAT – I’d welcome reading your thoughts on the topic. It would be WAY more useful than a discussion of how many hairs we might split (or at least the ends of them?) before we need to discuss “conditioning” any further.

    ; )

    That last graph turned stealthily, surprisingly FUN to write. Thanks!

    Creator of XinTwo – https://www.xintwo.com
    The shortest path to FCP X mastery.

  • Bill Davis

    June 18, 2017 at 5:23 am

    [Simon Ubsdell] “Sometimes, although you write brilliantly (and I really admire you for that), it’s very hard indeed to understand what point you are trying to make.”

    First, thanks – and second, my failure, clearly.

    So let me try to be a bit more clear.

    But first, let me say I truly enjoyed reading your article. Well, perhaps not enjoyed, but it was fully ENGAGED by it – which is excellent enough. Seriously. It pushed me WAY out of my comfort zone. And that means it mattered to me. So that caused me to re-examine my position. Which is healthy. And while I obviously disagree with some of the points you seemed to be making (and that could DEFINITELY be my flawed assessment at work) I greatly appreciate the time you took to think about the topic, write it down, and do that scariest of things – post it in the open for others to criticize.

    I know that’s not easy. EVER.

    I also GREATLY admire much of the other work you do, Simon, including your software products. I suspect they help many, many editors get quality work done more efficiently. And that moves the industry along.

    Let me also acknowledge, that lots of us here take elements of these discussions a bit too personally. I know I’ve done that a bunch. And if it’s come across as aimed at you personally, that’s me irritably swatting the smoke, not addressing the fire.

    So to the extent I’ve done that. My apologies. Sadly, I’l probably continue to do so – based on the fact that this is the area I have elected to work in and it matters to me. But I’ll try to be more careful.

    But sometimes a phrasing hits me as personal – even if it might not have really been intended that way.

    As I’m SURE it does to you.

    So sorry for that.

    Please, keep doing this. Engaging in the discussion. Keep making the case for the tools you appreciate. And when folks like me push back, I hope you can continue to do what I try to do. Use the pushback to see if if it helps you refine your thinking.

    There are LOTS of video sculptors (and far more, probably now tantalized by the ideas that video editing can be a sculptural process) than there were before this overall discussion.

    That’s great.

    So long as any foolishness that there may be one STYLE of editor necessarily superior to another – nor in fact, one editing tool that’s deficient in the ability to sculpt, lay bricks, or for that matter – firehose ideas out into the internet – I’m good.

    The rest is just debate. And I know you’ll take comfort in the fact that your article and ideas earned coveted Cow front page prominence. So in that sense, your ideas have already won the actual contest.

    So well done.

    Take care.

    Creator of XinTwo – https://www.xintwo.com
    The shortest path to FCP X mastery.

  • Simon Ubsdell

    June 18, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Thanks for your kind words, Bill.

    It’s good to be provoked into re-examining the way we do things and the reasons why we choose the methods that we do, and it was in large part because of your “provocation” (and I mean that in a good way!) that I thought I’d try and write down my approach in detail, as much for my own benefit as to share it with others.

    I’m sure you will agree that writing about your thinking can actually help clarify what your thinking actually is, and in this case I found it really useful to articulate aspects of this method that I perhaps hadn’t fully explained even to myself hitherto.

    I think we all believe that “our method is the best method”. It would be very odd if we persisted with a sub-standard method if we believed there was a better method out there. That said, it’s always worth taking stock and re-evaluating our choices in the light of changing technology and exposure to other people’s thinking. Ultimately though, what makes sense to you might never make sense to me and vice versa. What matters most is whether something “feels right” to us. Although that too may be continuously evolving.

    Simon Ubsdell
    tokyo productions
    hawaiki

  • Franz Bieberkopf

    June 18, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Bill,

    So: people have habits and sometimes habits are bad. Got it. Thanks for clarifying. I’d agree.

    Your original post is concerned, however, that if someone achieves success editing with timeline-based approaches, then it might lead to an inability to conceive of editing any other way.

    In fact I think there’s been a feast of discussion here about how people use both models in their editing – the very intention has been to articulate and identify different approaches. (I myself touched on how Murch thought of both approaches. And Oliver and Simon have been very patient in articulating their thoughts to ungenerous response, to give just 3 examples.)

    So it’s been demonstrated that at least some people who use timeline-based approaches can conceive of editing in other ways. On the other hand, there’s been real resistance to even considering timeline-based approaches from some posters who use browser-based methods. Here’s one example:

    [Tony West] “The concept of dumping hours and hours of footage into the timeline that you know very little of is going to stay, is not an efficient way of going about your work.”

    So I don’t understand the concern of your original post which seems oddly focused if we’re talking about ingrained habits – unless your claiming that browser-based editing never becomes a habit, which would be an interesting claim.

    How do you challenge your own editing habits?

    [Bill Davis] “… oh why bother.”

    Posting? Responding? Editing? It’s a good question.

    Finally, “muscle memory” isn’t a kind of conditioning as you seem to think, but a form of learning connected to procedural memory that allows action without conscious thought. It’s often used as an analogy, though, for ingrained behaviours (conscious or otherwise), which is how I suspect you are using it here. Still you seem to be conflating “learning” with “conditioning” (and very specifically “classical conditioning” for what remains a mysterious reason).

    I think this is important because perhaps if you reconsider your understanding of how people learn things, it might assuage your concerns about their ability to adapt and consider alternatives.

    Franz.

  • Eric Santiago

    June 18, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    First off a simple man asking a simple question.
    Not to derail this topic but I figured to ask here since I feel its the best place to add (and not to start a new topic).
    My question is more “chicken or the egg” as far as editing processes go.
    An argument I’ve had many at times with different colleagues.
    If one is to do a commercial spot (an example), what’re your thoughts if a client picked a music bed first?
    I’ve had arguments on this one where one editor would ignore the music bed all together until the end.
    Of course, I would reply with the music video process where one is to edit to a specific music track provided.
    This topic on my end has come up in so many levels from feature/short films, docs, and tv spots.
    Should an editor be so biased as to how to start a process?
    What if the client is adamant that the music should be the basis of the edits?
    I want to say “to each his/her own” but I also instruct NLE software at local college and would like to have some input from this fabulous forum ☺
    Please go easy on me, I’m asking since it’s been burning in my head for years now.

  • Simon Ubsdell

    June 18, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    [Eric Santiago] “If one is to do a commercial spot (an example), what’re your thoughts if a client picked a music bed first?
    I’ve had arguments on this one where one editor would ignore the music bed all together until the end.”

    My view is that in short form videos, and in commercials, promos and trailers especially, the music is the bedrock of everything you do. The music should dictate the underlying structure. It’s what is going to give your piece the shape, the flow and the emotional impact.

    Every line of dialogue needs to be placed so that it fits most effectively against the music. Make sure that the beats and loud accents are happening in the spaces between the words nor underneath the words. There is a real art to making this work to the very best advantage but when you get it right, your spot will really sing.

    Similarly make sure to place the key moments of your visuals on the beats. Not only does this create a really satisfying flow, it also contributes to the drama, the emotion, the comedy, or whatever it is you are trying to convey. Imagine you’re making a music video here – make the visuals harmonise with the music and everything will work so much better.

    It takes a lot of practice to make this work well but the difference between a spot that’s been cut around the music and one where the music has been laid in as an afterthought is like night and day.

    Simon Ubsdell
    tokyo productions
    hawaiki

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