PUTTING IT TOGETHER
According to TD Bierne, of Exploded Diagram (www.xpldddgrm.com/), Fahrenheit suffered no instances when a clip Moore desired did not make it into the film. Part of his job was to find ways to make a compelling clip work in a movie theatre, including stuff like George W. Bush's playful Oval Office prep prior to his televised announcement of the Iraq war in 2003. That "footage" was actually downloaded off the Internet at 320x240 12fps. It took "a lot of massaging," Bierne says, more than "just putting video images through a box." The boxes included Viacom Video Services' Teranex standards converter and two Snell & Wilcox Alchemist converters at Ranko Gak's GRX in NYC.
Engfehr says the Avid Unity was filled with 1,000 hours of compressed video material. "We had so much footage," Czarnecki says, "Unity saved our ass! Every day we were changing the structure of the story [while] whittling it down to two hours. The cut was at four hours for a long time."
The film was offlined in sections, "a brilliant idea of Michael's," Czarnecki says, "because it completely coincided with the way he works - he organized the story with big note cards." Engfehr says his offline work is mostly seen in the first third of the film, including footage of President Bush's reaction to initial reports of the Al Queda's 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Michael Moore (second from left) flanked by his editors (L-R) Kurt Engfer, Woody T. Richman and Chris Seward.
Bierne agrees with Czarnecki and Engfehr that one saving grace of the Fahrenheit experience was that TV news and ENG footage could and should look just like what it is and not appear too pristine. Though the conforming process alone was formidable, Bierne coordinated it all, including the video footage's journey from 25fps PAL or 30fps NTSC to its ultimate residence on 35mm film. TDI in LA received a D-5 digital intermediate master for final transfer to film on the Arrilaser recorder.
"It's like weaving a collage," Czarnecki says. "It always fits together because of [Michael's] storytelling ability. No one's ever saying, 'Oh, there's so many different sources of material!'"