Thinking back on the plans I was making last year at the outset this project. I'd been anticipating contemporary collectors and enthusiasts as the primary subject matter. But as it turns out, I've been able to weave in more history and background information on the 78 record than I'd expected. Of course, this historic information is a tricky matter for inclusion, since I'm seeking to avoid creating a film that reads like a moving-image Wikipedia page. Also seeking the right balance between interviews, vintage music, background history, contemporary profiles, various side-issues, jumping-off points, larger thoughts on the subject, and smaller details. It's interesting to observe how the proportions of one thing affect everything else. . . taking out a long section from the rough cut about the early days of the record industry affects the other sections; suddenly there's a better balance in the relative allocation of time for the contemporary portraits, the musical vignettes, and everything else. Not an easy juggling act to simultaneously view the forest and the trees, but it's also the gratifying part of editing as well. Editing can be a meditative process, driven by aesthetic instincts as well as reasoning, where one can get into a groove and lose track of time. And at other parts of the day, walking around the city, the editing continues, the footage being rearranged as mental pictures even in these moments separated from the material itself.
Then, there are the occasional moments when editing is like following in the footesteps of Gustave Flaubert as he described spending a whole morning putting in a comma, and an entire afternoon taking the comma out.
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One of the first sequences to be cut together was the explanation of why 78rpm records are 78 revolutions per minute, why that speed was chosen instead of some other speed. We cut between different interviews to discover all the various considerations and answers surrounding this. Why 78rpm? It's a more complex issue than I expected. Are the reasons primarily technical? Or does it have more to do with the compromise of fitting a piece of music of a certain duration on a record of a certain size? Does it have more to do with compatibility, having a common standard? Is it a loophole in avoiding patent infringement issues? Pathé, Edison, and other companies used 80rpm, so why use 78 instead of 80? And how often were "78s" actually not recorded at 78rpm?
But time to go back into the editing cave, hopefully to emerge with a finished movie in the not too distant future.