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James Mangold's "THE WOLVERINE" - A Silver Screen Samurai Restoration

Silver Screen Samurai

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Hello faneditors!
This is The Silver Screen Samurai, and it's a pleasure to be speaking to you.
I'm also grateful to finally be posting for the first time in this part of the forums.

Some of you may remember me from a couple years ago, where I mentioned I was making this edit and needed some technical help. It was only an idea then, and being troubleshooted and roughly designed with a less than stellar print of the film (acquired legally in compliance with the rules, rest assured). I never mentioned it here back then, since it was technically only an idea and I wasn't working on it all that regularly. I've mentioned in other places on here that I'm actually a professional editor, and so the bulk of my time has been committed to my career and furthering my skill; which is why you haven't seen me on here in quite a while, which I apologize for.

The truth is, I wanted to reconnect to this wonderful community; since it's what lead to me developing my skills as an editor in the first place. Working on the original version of this edit over 4 years ago taught me much of my skills, and was actually a really practical way to help me master much of my craft. Along the way, I got to consult some really wonderful members of this community for help, which even further helped me hone my skills professionally. So I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to this community, which goes far beyond just fanediting. The fact is, I don't want to be an editor... I NEED to be an editor. I need to make films that are personally meaningful to me; to tell stories that are deeply sacred to me. This community was instrumental in helping me to be able to do that, and for that I will be grateful to all of you for the rest of my life.

(=

So in a way, making this edit is my way of saying... thank you.
It was this fanedit that helped me hone my skills, and you all were instrumental back then in helping me troubleshoot it. And now that it's once again an active project -- due to the unfortunate slump of films in production, due to COVID -- I figured it was finally time to talk about it here. So enough of the weepiness! Time to talk about the project:




JAMES MANGOLD'S "THE WOLVERINE" - A Silver Screen Samurai Restoration

I'm continuing work on a fanedit of "The Wolverine" that I began making 4 years ago. I made most of the major decisions back then, so this effort will be more like recreating that version rather than starting from scratch. Essentially, this project aims to restore James Mangold's original vision for the film, before the studio enforced changes to the script. Specifically, I'm going to completely remove the third act and any prior scenes or shots setting it up. I had to get pretty creative in a couple of places to pull that off, and it wasn't easy, but after playing around with it? I have discovered it is actually possible; and all without harming the film's narrative or thematic continuity. The effect of cutting the third act is not only that it eliminates a plot-hole fueled twist that comes totally out of left field, but that it also returns the story to being told almost exclusively from Logan's point-of-view; thus honoring Mangold's original vision, for a small-scale neo-noir grounded in realism -- rather than a huge explosive action movie.

I'm editing on a Mac* using Davinci Resolve -- a free software, that is one of the most highly regarded professional tools in feature filmmaking. It can mix audio, edit footage, and most importantly it's BY FAR the best color correction tool available -- Since I realize most faneditors don't typically use Macs (or at least that was the case 4 years ago), I guess that means I'm possibly entering uncharted territory (no hubris intended in that statement, I swear on my life). Even fewer faneditors, as far as I'm aware, use Davinci Resolve. So I'd be happy, when the process is all said and done, to create some kind of technical breakdown for Mac editing with Davinci Resolve, once the edit is completed.

*Yes, laugh if you want, but again... I work in professional post-production. Mac computers are fast becoming the predominant ones in the industry, due to tools like Resolve and Black Magic tech. The only area they really suck is converting MKV to ProRes, but then again the post-production pipeline was never designed with the intent of ripping MKVs from discs (as opposed to just having the raw video files to begin with).

I still haven't quite figured out how to get a ProRes from the MKV (with tools available on a Mac anyway); especially because iOS 10.15 discontinued support for Wine, so Windows software is no longer an option. So for now I'm making the edit predominantly with a 3GB MP4 conversion from Handbrake; though I'll probably go back and switch it out with a ProRes, before release. This is standard procedure with professional post-production as it is; since they'll often edit with a lower quality print, to save RAM, then they can use the source timecode to switch it out with a higher quality ProRes print when they're done. That way I can finalize all the decisions and design choices before working with huge files, which makes any exporting procedures at the end of the pipeline go a lot smoother.

Right now, I have a seperate thread regarding 5.1 Mixes, and how they're typically downscaled to Stereo Blu-Rays by studios. You can find more information regarding how I'm currently working with the audio there, until I'm done with the stereo workprint. I don't know if that would constitute two threads, since I'm technically not an approved editor, so for now I'll relegate all mentions of this project exclusively to this and that thread to stay in compliance. I will also probably also use this thread, at different points in the process, to ask any fellow editors for help where I may need (should I need any minor additional VFX shots, etc).




P.S. - CLOSING (INTRODUCTORY) REMARKS:

I realize that's a large quantity of information I just dropped, because I like to be really detailed.
I'm just so excited to finally be at a point of sharing this project with a community that has meant so much to me.
I honestly don't know how many, if any, fan-editing projects I'll make after this; not because of wanting to distance myself, but because of my ongoing career as a professional editor. So before I go, I want to leave the community with this (possibly) parting gift. It's a community that has given me so much, so I want to do it as a way of giving back.

Again, thank you; all of you.
I owe you ALL an immense debt of gratitude.
 

Heavisyde

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Sounds interesting, didn't know that the final act wasn't originally in the script, how/where did the film originally end? I saw this film a number of years ago so don't remember it very well but would be interested in rewatching. Do you have a changelist?
 

Wakeupkeo

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Awesome! That movie needs it, and it would be great to see how your professional skills compare to the new levels of quality being released by amateurs, especially compared to four years ago!
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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Sounds interesting, didn't know that the final act wasn't originally in the script, how/where did the film originally end? I saw this film a number of years ago so don't remember it very well but would be interested in rewatching. Do you have a changelist?
I certainly know that the "identity reveal" of Silver Samurai being the real villain was definitely not part of that script. It was just supposed to be a small-scale Yakuza/Neo-Noir crime thriller that happened to star a known superhero, but the studio wanted more action/sci-fi to compete with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World (ironic, since both films were also altered by studio interference; 2013 was just a bad year for superhero films).

I don't have a super detailed change-list yet, but I will definitely make one when it's completed. I mainly don't have one because most of the changes were made 4 years ago, so I don't remember the exact time-stamps or shot-by-shot comparisons to the theatrical cut; some of them were pretty intricate, so I'd have to comb through it and report back. Right now, though, I can confirm that all of the changes from 4 years ago have been restored. Right now, I've shaved about 13 minutes off the film's runtime. I seem to remember having been able to even trim 20 minutes off at one point, so we'll see where refining takes it.

Most of my knowledge of the original script, and how it was changed, comes directly from Mangold himself; since he's spoken pretty openly about it in interviews on the subject. One of the huge things was that Viper straight up wasn't in the film at all, but the studio didn't like that the film didn't have a villain with superpowers. So I'll straight up be reducing her to almost non-existence in the film, and she completely disappears from the film after the first act.

It's clear that the finale inside the Silver Samurai's fortress was never supposed to happen, but what more than that is somewhat up for speculation. Based on the film's opening bookend -- with the archer killing the bear with a poisoned arrow, paralleling Harada "killing" Wolverine with a poisoned arrow -- I would probably make a safe bet that the Ninja fight in the village was always meant to be part of the film. So I've reframed it to be the new finale, but it did require some minor liberties; primarily because studio interference occurred before the film was even shot, so it's not like there's alternate footage from an alternate script floating around. When I did cut a scene, I tended to pull from the arsenal of Marcia Lucas (if you don't know, she's the editor that saved Star Wars from being a Tommy Wisseau level production); as in I would take shots from deleted scenes, out of context, and insert them into other scenes to bridge continuity. So by doing that, I was able to create "new" plot elements to bridge inconsistencies between the continuities of the different scripts.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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Awesome! That movie needs it, and it would be great to see how your professional skills compare to the new levels of quality being released by amateurs, especially compared to four years ago!

Considering a fan-edit did become an official cut only a couple years ago -- and what essentially constitutes a fan-edit played at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 (Ladies and Gentlemen) -- I'd say the quality of faneditors starting now is definitely more comparable to professional editors than when they started in the 1990s. There are some old ones where I can see a pronounced difference of skill between amateurs and my peers in the field, but the difference is definitely getting smaller. Still there, but smaller.
 

Dwight Fry

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I figure a lot of people on here probably know her name, but seeing as I mentioned her earlier -- and how she greatly influenced my process -- here's a little short documentary detailing her work on the original Star Wars. Like I said, it was almost a Tommy Wisseau production before she saved it.

"How 'Star Wars' was Saved in the Edit"
She was great, wasn't she? Without her, we would have gotten basically the prequels 20 years before (and today Star Wars would be just a footnote in B-movie history).
 

Darth Kermit

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I’ve seen that video. I think it was a little dishonest iirc. There’s another video which definitely takes its time and could have been a lot shorter, but it basically tried to debunk that video. Made some good points. I’d have to rewatch the one you sent and skim through the other one again though, as it’s been a while.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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PROGRESS UPDATE (1/5/21):
Using the "Unleashed Extended Edition" as my workprint, I can now confirm I've cut 26 minutes off the film's original runtime;
It now presently runs 1h52m, as opposed to the extended cut running 2h18m.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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PROGRESS UPDATE (1/6/21):
I'm working on two potential alternate rough cuts right now. One is the one from 4 years ago, one is a cut that's potentially a few minutes shorter; mainly incumbent on an action sequence that some sources claim Mangold was forced to add in, but I've yet to find anything more official than that.

So for now I'm experimenting with one cut that takes it out, and one that keeps it in.
Don't know what the shorter cut runs at yet; the one that keeps it is still 1h52m.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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https://vocal.media/geeks/so-where-did-the-wolverine-go-wrong-logan-director-mangold-tells-all

You might be referring to this... If so, I'm even more keen to watch your edit!

Good luck!
Right, that is one of the sources I'm going off of, and the train sequence is the ambiguous scene in question.
Because it is a predominantly non-practical CG-composed sequence, it would lie within the parameters of what Mangold described as being forced to put a lot of CGI/Sci-Fi imagery into what was supposed to be a real-stakes Neo-Noir.

Because no other source besides this one explicitly refers to it as being forced in, however -- and because Mangold himself has never explicitly referenced the sequence as something he was forced to add, as well as actually describing enjoying filming it --I'm currently treating it as something I'll POTENTIALLY cut rather than something I will DEFINITELY cut. That being said, it does feel a lot less tangibly grounded than some of the other action sequences, so my gut says I'll probably cut it; depending on whether or not doing so hurts the pacing.

What I MIGHT do, when it comes down to previewing it for feedback, is screen both cuts for people and see which one generally feels better paced.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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PROGRESS UPDATE (1/7/21):
Have completed pre-sound edits on both rough cuts; can confirm that cutting the train sequence and related continuity cuts 29 minutes off the film.
The decision will ultimately come down to which version has better pacing.
- Rough Cut + Train Sequence: 1h52m​
- Rough Cut - Train Sequence: 1h49m​
 

yoshif8tures

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I've always been convinced that there was a good movie within this one somewhere. I look forward to seeing your edit when it's completed.
 

Canon Editor

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Cool enough! Do you already know when will it be available for viewing?
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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Cool enough! Do you already know when will it be available for viewing?
Let me get back to you on that one; since I still also have an active career as a professional editor, it'll ultimately come down to how long it takes to setup my uploading pipeline. Right now I've mainly just prioritized transcoding and exporting, since I'm at that step in the process.

I'll say that I don't anticipate it being too long before the actual FINAL edit is completed. But then how long it takes to switch out the MP4 print with a ProRes using the timecode (which I previously mentioned was my workflow), and making any additional VFX and audio mixing that might be necessary on top of that, will take time. It'll also take time to setup the upload/file process once it's completed, since I've mainly prioritizing transcoding for now.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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(PROGRESS UPDATE 1/8/21):
Encountered a minor snag, which I'll detail here for fellow Mac editors. I may have mentioned something like this 4 years ago, but while Davinci Resolve can edit a film using MP4 files -- which is how I'm currently editing the workprint -- it cannot export media if the original source files were MP4; it'll just give you an encoding error. Since I've been following the professional editing pipeline -- of editing with a smaller MP4 file, until I eventually go back and replace it with a ProRes -- I can't presently export it yet.

This usually isn't a problem in professional editing, since when a cut is finished you can just select "replace selected clips" in the media bay, then find the high quality ProRes version of the video files on your (probably external) hard drive. As long as the frame rate is the same? It'll even go as far as switching them out in the actual project timeline, without (probably) having to make any adjustments; at the exact frames where you originally made the cuts! The problem is simply that I don't have a ProRes print yet, so I can't simply switch them out (for now).

Again, this is really not a major setback, just thought I'd detail it here; in case future Mac editors run into this problem, and don't know what it means.
 

Silver Screen Samurai

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(PROGRESS UPDATE 1/18/22):
I may have found a solution to the encoding problem; though I'll wait to report on it in detail, until I've tested if it actually works.
Meanwhile, I've mocked up a potential piece of poster art for it. It's a high-contrast/neon-b&w poster, which I definitely evokes the right tone.
 
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