Ceci n'est pas une lift

If Rene Magritte was a Flame Artist, perhaps his penultimately famous contribution to surrealism wouldn’t be about a pipe, it’d be about a lift.

Ceci n’est pas une lift.

It’s not a lift if it uses handles.
It’s not a lift if it uses the same live action but requires you to split screen shots for continuity sake.
It’s not a lift if it requires you to timewarp a shot for the cut down when the original shot was approved 2 weeks ago and you find out about this new shot 1 day before you ship.
It’s not a lift if it uses the same camera but requires different animation and cg comps.
It’s not a lift if it is from the same take.
It’s not a lift if it is from the same shoot date.
It’s not a lift if it is from the 2nd unit pickup.
It’s not a lift if you say it is. It’s a lift if I say it is.

Stop saying it’s a lift. I cannot remember when it ever was.


The usage of the term “lift” insinuates the task at hand is nigh-automatic. It presumes the task to be simple and causes us to look like assholes when it’s not done in 15 minutes.

Conversely, I sympathize with editors and even with their desire to make this false claim. It’s not like the panic shitshow starts and stops in VFX–editors are under the same pressure to appease a bunch of folks convinced they are about to be fired. Our enemy is not the editors, it is the supreme client who treats us all–agency, edit, vfx–as interchangeable parts that will be swapped out any moment. Our enemy is capitalism.

What I’m saying is if we had a union, there’d be some fucking RULES about what is and isn’t a lift.


‘Lift’ definitely means different things to different people.

We’ve started using the term ‘Direct Lift’ in our bids in an attempt to make clients understand what it means.

It does not always work…

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I once worked with a junior editor who thought we colored entire camera files, so anything on A001_C003_ASD123.r3d was a lift and totally kosher to use. That was a fun talk.

Speaking of rules, doesn’t being a lift vs not have talent payment implications? I’ve seen agency producers force reedits over it. You’d think they’d want to know if offline is serving up noncompliant cuts.


hahaha…that’s like…"*.final_final.mov"!

This is indeed true and can be utilized to avoid the problem…sometimes.

NOTE FOR ACTORS: count the FRAMES of each shot in the social versions and assorted cutdowns.


on a somewhat related note, the only thing worse than getting a new shot the day you ship is finding out the cut is a lift, but the 9x16 version needs a set extension top and bottom. I have been screaming from the rooftops to our production dept to put “NO UNIQUE PIXELS” in social versioning bids. Also agree with @andy_dill… the editor is not our enemy. Editors are getting killed.


NO UNIQUE PIXELS is a good one.

I had one social cutdown that did a vertical stack of the image three times for one otherwise-unframeable-in-9x16 shot, and I gotta say: nice solution. Easy for me to build. Works. Moving on.


I did a few of these last year, too. Can get you out of a framing hole.

One solution that I just didn’t think of was on an overhead shot (bowl of cereal) where going from 16x9 to 9x16 lost soooo much action. Client in the room suggested rotating the shot 90 degrees. Worked so well and I just didn’t think of it as an option. Bit embarrassing…

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Orcas we say in London: when is a cutdown not a cutdown? When it’s a cutdown.


@johnt, in the states we call true lifts unicorns… po-teɪ-to, po-tæ-to


i always thought a Lift was a box you stood in whilst your elevation was mechanically adjusted.