I’m going to avoid the tech in this post, and try to concentrate on the creative.  Because to tell the truth, there isn’t a lot of tech involved, just editing.  Yes, can say things like the trim tool in Avid make cutting this show very easy, as the trim tool, in my opinion, is one of the best tool for cutting narrative.  It allows me to nuance the scenes better than I could with FCP.

Oh, sorry, I’m talking tech.  I’ll stop.  I’ll stop saying things like I’m doing my temp mix on the timeline without the audio mix tool open, I’m using keyframes. Not chopping up the audio tracks and lowering/raising levels in the mixer and adding dissolves, like I always have done in the past.  I’ll skip saying that.

I guess I could say that I’m sticking to traditional editing, and not relying on a lot of fancy transition effects.  Well, I’m using ONE, and only as a transition between scenes that denote a passage of time. It’s a simple film leak that’s super imposed between the cuts, with speed ramps for 4-5 frames on either end to make it look like a camera starting and stopping.  Other than that, it’s all straight cutting.

And that’s what I want to really get into…the cutting. The way I approach the cutting. This show is an interesting cross of interviews, narration and recreations.  That makes it a bit of a challenge to cut.  See, I can’t just cut it like a narrative show, just cut the scenes as scripted. I need to make sure that the narration fits, and that interview bites fit. See, I have to have the scenes driven mainly by the sound bites, with the audio from the scenes to be lowered to make room for them, and only have it break through at certain points so that story points are made in the narrative.  It’s a balance…a tough one.  Because the dialog of the actors will be the same as the interview, so the interview audio needs to go over the acting, but then punctuate the scenes with audio from the scenes.  And still allow for space for narration to fill in the gaps.

Now, while they did take a lot of this into account when they shot, there are still moments where I have more narration than I do scene, so I need to recut the scene after I add the interview and VO so that I can cover what is being said. It can be tough at times, but it can also allow me to find reactions to emphasize what is being said.  It’s a challenge, and all this does add time to the edit. I’m not cutting a doc with VO and sound bites that I just need to fill in with b-roll and music…nor am I cutting straight narrative, where I can rely on performance to carry the story. I need to blend both.  And moreso than previous shows I have cut that had recreations, like Andrew Jackson and the Mexican American War.  Those relied mainly on VO and interview bites, and all the recreations were basically backdrop to those.  Very few sound ups were had.  But this show has a 60/40 split, leaning towards performance over interview.

OK, with the story part cut, I need to also address audio.  I tend to cut the story and the interviews and VO first, and then go back and add music and sound design. And yes, I mean sound design. More on that in a second.


This show will have a composer, and the temp tracks we are relying on are from previous shows and other cues in their library.  The music will all be redone, so what I am doing is just temp, but it needs to sound like the final to make the scenes work…to sell it to the producers and network. So a good amount of time is taken on the music. And as what always happens with music, the timing of the scene changes slightly when I add music, and add sections where the music punctuates the action.


Well, I have to say “sound design.” No, I am not an audio mixer, but I still need to do quite a bit of sound design. I need to layer music, and small hits, rises, impacts…scary SFX cues and demon breaths and all sorts of audio to make the scary parts work. I mean, you should see them without the scary music or effects. They are creepy, sure. But add the SFX and it REALLY sells it. Audio can get pretty thick…16 tracks of audio, and more than a few are stereo tracks. Go down to the WEEKS 3-4 post and see what my timeline looks like. I might have 3 tracks of video, because I might layer a couple shots, have a layer for transitions, and another for titles. But that’s it.  AUDIO? 16 tracks…the most I am allowed for real time playback. Audio is by far more involved than video.

But again, this adds time. A lot of time.  Hunting through music cues for the right one, one that you didn’t use before. And wait, what was that one I heard when looking for something in that last act? Where is that one, it will work great here.  And then listening to all sorts of WHOOSHES and IMPACTS and ghostly audio again and again to see what might work, and what just sounds cheesy.

So I delivered the rough cut of my first episode…and it was 58 minutes long. It needs to be 48 minutes for international distribution, with 5 minutes taken out for domestic. So it’s a tad long.  I’m awaiting notes on that one. In the meantime, I’m in the middle of Act 4 of my second episode (of 6 acts) and making headway. Just today I cut 2:48 of finished, fully mixed and sound designed video.  A little slower than usual, I try to get 4-5 min done a day. But today I was working on a scene that was full of dramatic tension buildup, and ghostly encounter, so it took a little time. I expect notes on my first episode tomorrow, so when that happens, I’ll stop work on episode 2 to address those so we can get that off to the network.  Then back to finish up the rough cut to get that to the producers. And by then my drive with the next episode will arrive.

No rest until it’s over.  #postdontstop