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Editing “The Ticket”

By Dan Liu

As an editor, it is the best feeling knowing that you will have great material to work with. After talking with Po and Shane, I was very excited about working on The Ticket, as I knew it would have great material in spades.

 

Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut and Director Po Chan

Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut and Director Po Chan

The Ticket

 
I started with a visit to the set on day one of shooting. I hear frequently that editors do not like to do set visits, but I highly recommend them as you can start piecing together shots and takes in your head before you get the material. Also, it is good to be on the same page with the Script Supervisor, as their notes are great for reference. When used properly, their notes will save a lot of time during the organization process, as some takes might have resets, or one camera didn’t roll, etc. It will also help you while editing, as you will always know who’s on camera for what line based on their lined script. Lastly, the editors themselves are a good resource for the director as the editor can have immediate input on any possible angles they want to work into the cut. I did not need to suggest any extra angles though, as we already went over the shot list a few days before the shoot.

 

Dialing in the shot on Day 1 of “The Ticket”

Dialing in the shot on Day 1 of “The Ticket”

The Ticket

The Ticket

Director Po Chan guiding Mark Hapka's performance

Director Po Chan guiding Mark Hapka’s performance

Director Po Chan and D.P. Shane Hurlbut monitoring the shot

Director Po Chan and D.P. Shane Hurlbut monitoring the shot

 
Next came the meat of the job: getting and working with the footage. I prefer to work in Avid (6.0 was the version used for The Ticket), so I received a drive with all the mxf media and bins from Light Iron. Due to the time crunch, there was no assistant editor to organize the footage, so I did it myself.

 

Light Iron creating dailies and MXF bins on the Lily Pad

Light Iron creating dailies and MXF bins on the Lily Pad

 
Organization is up to each individual editor, but the standard I picked up from scripted is to have a bin for each scene, organized by name and viewed in frame view.

The editing process itself becomes easier as we then see our angles and can start putting clips into the timeline. Each clip was reviewed and the best performances chosen. Sometimes, a performance didn’t work due to other factors like the footage surrounding it or technical issues, but I initially always try to use what I think to be the best performance. Once I had the scene with dialogue edited in, I started adding the sound effects.

A big difference between how polished an editor’s work is resides in how the scene sounds. Not only can you help highlight story and performances, you also keep the viewer from being distracted by showing them a more finished piece of work. This includes:

• Smoothening dialogue (there should be no empty spots where you don’t have audio)
• Leveling audio so you’re not peaking or things aren’t too soft
• Adding ambient backgrounds where needed
• Strengthening sounds from production
• Replacing production sfx that sounds bad
• Introducing new sound effects that help the scene

Music is also an important factor, but you should not cut to music on your first pass. Sam Pollard, the first editor I worked for on the film When the Levees Broke, always emphasized that a scene should be able to sing without the music. Cuts should have their own natural rhythm, and later when you add music you can change that, but unless you’re doing a music video, try to make each scene work without music. The song “Those Kisses” that was written for The Ticket was so powerful that we wanted to highlight it. The scenes preceding the song had to play without any music so the impact of the song could be that much more powerful.

 

The Ticket

 
Finally, once I had everything together and had my editor’s cut, it was time to show the director.

After working with Po and addressing notes from the producers, we locked. I am immensely proud of the results of our work. Great job to everyone on the team!

 

Author: Shane

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11 Comments

    • alireza soroush, glad that we could help, so sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you

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  1. Hi. I really enjoyed this editing blog particularly at a time when I most need it. I have been working on a US/UK series for a TV channel and could really benefit from advise on assistant editing. I have Non-Time code footage from GOPRO’s and canon 5D and would like to know how I am supposed to add TC and sync X audio in the field. Thanks. Currently using Avid 6.5

    Gavin

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    • Hi Gavin,

      Without any time code for reference, one generally syncs by the slate. An easy way to spot it in the audio file is to turn on wave forms and make the audio tracks bigger so you can see the clap, then line that up in a new sequence with the video, and then use “autosync” under clip.

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  2. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for sharing this.

    The sounds you add while editing, are these temporary or do the go through to the final picture? Are you doing the finished sound or is there still foley and/or a sound designer after edit?

    Warmest regards,

    Rob:-]

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Rob,

      It was all temp sounds, as there was still a sound designer after the edit. But for presentation to producers and as a reference to the sound designer, I tend to try to make a detailed enough sound bed that could be used for broadcast.

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  3. Hi, can you edit natively with the MJEPG 4K footage in Finalcut pro X in full res. ?? thank you :)

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    • I’m not familiar with Final Cut Pro X as that is not really used in films/television in Hollywood at the moment. Avid Media Composer and occasionally Final Cut Pro 7 are the go to programs.

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  4. Very helpful info. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Hollis, you are very welcome, thanks for your support

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  5. Good stuff. I especially like the comments about the value of sound and not editing tightly to music (when appropriate). I’m learning editing, and these points are very helpful.

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