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Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures: A Guide to the Invisible Art Paperback – May 9 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (May 9 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240809181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240809182
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 2 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 798 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #746,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"The premise of the book is true: it is a necessary but usually overlooked part of film sound." - Larry Blake, supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer: films include "Traffic", "Erin Brockovich", "Ocean's Eleven", etc.

"John Purcell's excellent book is a concise and detailed text on the aesthetic and techniques of dialogue editing in the digital age. He brings a wealth of knowledge of the entire production sound arc and how dialogue editing significantly contributes to the process. Any filmmaker who follows Mr. Purcell's methods will have gone a long way to producing a very polished and professional sound track for their film." - Bill Dannevik, Professor of Digital Media, USC Cinema-TV/Savannah College of Art & Design and Technical Manager of World Wide Dubbing, Disney Character Voices International

"John Purcell's book is a comprehensive and detailed guide to the arcane craft of dialogue editing. Both instructors and students will benefit from his thoughtful examination of each stage of the post production sound process as it relates to this crucial component of the soundtrack." - Harry M. Cheney MPSE - Supervising Sound Editor - Associate Professor; Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

"This is a great subject matter and I and my colleagues would have loved to have had a book like this 10 years ago...there is very little information on the specifics of dialogue editing available." - Todd Hooker, film editor

"I am very happy to endorse this book. I have not previously seen a book that has realistically dealt with the professional responsibilities of a dialog editor. Dialog is the focus of a successful soundtrack. It not only contains the majority of the intellectual arch of the film but the timbers and tempos of the actor's voices are instrumental in establishing the critical relationship between the audience and the viewer. Without the Dialog editor's well-prepared session it is difficult and costly, (in terms of time spent in the dub) if not impossible, for the mixer to do what is necessary to establish or enhance that relationship. I look forward to being able to use this book as a required reading for my students." -Professor John Sisti, Savannah College of Arts and Design/Department of Sound Design. Formerly with Columbia Pictures/Sony Entertainment Supervising Sound Editor and Dialog Editor "Mad About You”

"Purcell has written this book for people who need to edit production sound for narrative films but were 'never taught how to do it.' Unlike music and effects editing, dialogue editing operates under a different set of rules. There are certain fundamental procedures that are absolutely essential to know and, unless one has been fortunate enough to work with an experienced editor in different situations, the information is not available. Purcell's book will fill in the gaps." - Editor's Guild Magazine

About the Author

An Emmy award-winning sound editor based in Tel Aviv, John Purcell has decades of experience in film, video, and sound editing in the US, Europe, and Middle East. In his current role as a motion picture dialogue editor and sound supervisor, he is responsible for budget development, artistic direction, sound editing and mix preparation. He is often called upon to fix unprofessional or botched sound jobs.

Inside This Book

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 13 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A good professional book for aspiring film professionals. July 27 2007
By Doron S - Published on
Format: Paperback
Clearly phrased, easy to read, concise and extremely useful, this book is a step by step guide to every pop, crackle and roll of the core part of sound editing - making the dialogue heard. It also has a great overview of the context - how to transfer production sound from the picture editing room, what you'll need from production as well, favoured/time saving procedures and the required contacts in other departments of production (a crucial though rarely covered issue).
The basic feel is somewhere between a 'how to' guide and a master-class. The book covers a lot more than which plug-in gives you what or how to use your mouse. Anyone with a few basic concepts in editing would probably be able to give it a go him/herself, or at least have a very good clue on what should be done in order to get the job done, and done well.
It's also packed with illustrative materials of most dialog boxes and written materials you should run into while working.
I'd recommend it to editors (both picture and sound) and post production facilities (in case a producer might wander in and wonder what's the big deal with dialogue).
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dialogue Editing on a professional level. Sept. 18 2007
By Brad Semenoff - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the best book I have ever read on dialogue editing! It explains everything from budgeting time for a project all the way up to the final mix. John Purcell clearly loves his job and his enthusiasm comes through in his writing. I highly recommend this book to all filmmakers as a way to learn exactly what goes into the dialogue editing process and I consider it a must read for all sound editors.

John uses pictures and examples to demonstrate what he is talking about. He shows how to organize EDLs and how to use them to find alternate takes and locate wild sound for a particular scene. Though every film has its own quirks, John also demonstrates how to handle common problems with matching rooms tones from different angles in scenes. Those two aspects alone make the book worth getting, but there is a wealth of information in this book that makes it an excellent purchase.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Very useful book! May 30 2007
By Bruce Tambling - Published on
Format: Paperback
Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures, by John Purcell is an opportunity to learn a HUGE amount about dialog editing and audio post production in general. This is the type of information that can only be acquired through years of professional experience in the motion picture industry. From practical techniques of file management and workflow to the creative aesthetics of the art of sound design, Purcell delivers an incredibly dense book that will be helpful to both students and seasoned pro's.

I am not aware of any other book on the market that presents this advanced level of information on dialog editing and sound for picture. I am looking forward to using the book as a required text for my upcoming college classes, because I believe these skills are essential for success in today's digital audio job market.

Two Thumbs Way Up!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommended! April 29 2008
By Pascal A. Garneau - Published on
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, Purcell has written the definitive book on post-production sound editing for feature film. This is the best yet. Though this book focuses primarily on dialogue editing (a largely misunderstood and under-appreciated craft), there is a wealth of information that would benefit anyone who works in post-production from the picture cutting room to the final mix dubbing stage.

While so many books on this subject are written from the point-of-view of the technician, the academic, or the bedroom studio warrior insulated in his own "home-brewed" workflow, it's clear from the first few pages that Purcell has spent many years working in the professional film industry. Many times I feel like I've been on some of the same crews that he describes.

Overall, this book is not only informative but very funny and cleverly written. As someone who works in the industry myself, I got a lot out of this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this field or who wants to broaden their understanding of how the "Invisible Art" really works.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Sound Designer - Yaniv Bitran Feb. 5 2008
By Yaniv Bitran - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hey there,

I read the amazing book of John Purcell all night and I couldnt stop.
This book contains everything that sound editor & sound desginer need for Dialogue editing.

The book doesnt patronizing or try to goes a round by his language. Its talking straight to you as an editor. step by step building you as Dialogue editor and construct John famous and modest System.

I was student of John Purcell, and I am using his methods from college time, because of his system I get compliment & awards.

Director that I used to work with John system got compliments for the Sound Editing & Design on her movie from Mike Leigh - The famous Director. that close the case. The book is must in every sound desginer or Dialogue editor who take himself seriously...

Yours With truthful respect