Transcript of 'Video 8a – Post-production workflow with Grace Eyre – editor '


I'm Grace Eyre, I'm a screen editor. I cut narrative, documentary, and TV commercials.

When I first get the rushes of a film, for the most part, what needs to happen is that they need to be transcoded or converted into a smaller file so that the programme that I'm working in, like Avid or Premiere, can actually interpret it and play it back without any lag.

That's pretty common, and that's a very standard workflow in most edit houses. It's important to realise that as the editor, I'm actually just step one in the post-production process.

So those smaller files that I'm working with in Premiere or Avid eventually have to be relinked to the larger files. And then my edit project, so the edit that's in my timeline needs to be exported and sent along to colourists and sound mixers

and sometimes music composers, people who do titles and graphics, people who do special effects, in some cases, and people who do compositing, which is cleaning up backgrounds, sometimes tweaking elements of the frame, things like that.

So, the second part of the process after the files have been transcoded to a smaller file size or a proxy, as we often call them, is that they need to be organised in the project in a way that makes it easy for the editor to reference them later.

So you don't want to take all of the files that have been shot on the shoot day and just chuck them into one giant folder, that would be quick at the start, but ultimately, it's going to slow you down quite a bit, because you need to have a way to reference them quickly and to just organise your brain as an editor, when it comes to dealing with all of this material.

There are different preferences between editors, but for the most part, the gold standard is that you want to break everything down by scene, say, if you're working in a short film, or script, if you're working with a commercial that may be has two scripts for the same campaign.

You want to break it down from the biggest chunk first. So, you break it down by scene, then you might break it down by shot, then you break it down by take. And most of you probably already know this, but when you have a shot, that actually just describes the type of frame that you're looking at.

So you might have, say, a wide shot of a man walking down the street, and then you have a close up of his face. So those are two different shots, right?

But each time that you shoot that particular shot over again is a new take. So, for example, if the wide shot is shot one and the closeup is shot two, you will then label each take by shot one slash takes one through 10, or however many you shot of that particular frame, right?

So when you organise a project, you want to break it down that way. You go scene, then you go shot, then you go number of takes, and you want to be able to label these files in such a way that you can reference them easily and understand what they mean when you're trying to find them in the project.

A lot of people, not everybody, but I do and many editors do, will take all of the takes of a particular shot and make a sequence out of them. And that way, if you are looking for the best take of a particular shot, you have one sequence that you can reference and you can watch it all the way through.

And watching it all the way through in one sequence gives you the ability to compare one take to the next and to actually see, in a relatively quick way, which take is the best or which takes are the best, because there are often a few that are pretty good.

And the ultimate question is whether or not they're going to work well with the other takes and the other shots that are in the film. When you start editing, once you have all of your sequences and all of your takes put together in a sequence, you want to then go through a process called selecting.

Selecting is where you basically watch all of the footage within reason. I mean, there are times when obviously the camera's been turned on by accident or maybe there's just a test or something like that.

But for the most part, anything that involves a take or somebody calling 'action,' that's the kind of thing that you want to make sure you watch, and you want to watch everything.

And you don't always want to constrict yourself just to the bits of action as well. Sometimes, things happen after cut, it's called, and you want to make sure that you see any potential, little moment that you might be able to use.

So when you watch the sequence of takes back, you just mark the ones that you like, and you don't have to stay married to those, later on when you're actually cutting, it's pretty common to go back to the original sequence of takes and pull out something that you didn't initially like,

because it actually works better with the other takes that are in that particular edit, that's really common. Each take is only important in so far as it's relevant to the other takes, right?

So, each shot is only important, and that it works well within a scene. So even if you like a particular take of a particular shot, it doesn't matter if it actually is not flowing with the rest of the scene.

So, it's all relative, and you're constantly actually going back and referencing the things that were originally shot on the day.

And that's why, it's also really important to be organised with your project and know exactly where you need to go to find that material.

The way that I make creative decisions in an edit really depends on the edit itself, of course, of the story and the type of vibe and mood that I'm trying to go for.

So, a comedy or a TV commercial that has kind of a snappier pace is going to be quite different than, say, a slow burn drama. And that's okay, that's actually what makes editing fun.

I try not to stick to any particular rules. I try not to be really dogmatic about what makes a good shot or what makes a good edit, because it changes all the time and it's depending on the context of what you're cutting.

And the way that you know if something is right or not is really just a matter of intuition. I know that's an unsatisfying answer in some ways, but it's a matter of how something hits you on a subconscious level, and the only way that you can really know that is to hit play, watch it, feel how you respond to it, and then just keep doing that over and over again, tweaking a little bit each time, until it starts to feel really good to you.

That's what all editors do, and that's actually how an audience responds to a film as well. So, we are a visual society, and everybody from your great aunt to the guy down the street has clocked a lot of hours of watching TV and movies and ads.

And so, without even realising it, the general public has actually become really sophisticated in interpreting film language, right? And they interpret it on a really intuitive, subconscious level, and that's how you need to think as well as an editor.

You might be making certain decisions consciously, and there are certain rules that can apply in an edit, sort of technical things that you want to keep in mind when you edit, but for the most part, you need to be able to tap into how a general audience is going to view your film.

Montages can be really cool, and they can be fun to cut, and they can be fun to watch. I would caution against using them too often or too frequently, because what can sometimes happen is that, almost all the time a montage has music underneath it,

and it can be easy to let the music guide the mood, and it can be easy to fall back on this mood as a way of sort of feeling good and making the edit feel good. But the truth is that the edit itself needs to work on its own terms as well.

So, when you feel the need to use a montage, I would just, as an exercise, ask yourself if there's a way you can convey the same information in a more effective, maybe more clever way,

because an audience does understand often when an action or an event has happened between scenes, they can often bridge the gap, and they're really good at doing that.

So, a montage is often a transitional tool. You don't always need to use a transitional tool, sometimes you can actually just cut to the next scene, and it still makes sense, or you can convey things like mood and character in smaller, more subtle ways that frankly can be a little more sophisticated in the final edit.

Now, that's not to say that there's never a time or place for montage. Sometimes there is a time and place for montage, but I would say, it's when the mood shift is really important. Or you would use a montage sometimes when you are setting a scene for the first time or when you're reflecting back on a scene or a story as a way of kind of tying it up and closing it out.

In the case of 'The Tailings,' there is a kind of a montage sequence at the beginning of episode 5, when the main character of Jas starts to finally hit upon the truth of what happened to her father and how he died.

Now, prior to that, she was kind of, not a silly teenager, but sort of brash, and she sort of lashed out, and no one took her seriously.

There's a transition moment when she stumbles upon a pretty serious theory and starts to investigate it. And with that comes this sense of danger and tension, as she's walking around the woods sort of putting all the pieces together, because she's by herself,

and she understands that something bigger is underneath the story of her father's death. So, that's an effective montage in the sense that it's both a character transition, and it's a transition in the tone of the story overall.

Teacher 1:

You're the new.


Yeah, I'm Ruby. This is my first teaching job.

Teacher 2

Holy moly, good luck with Jas then.



Today, we'll be working on your inquiry project. Does anyone want to share their topic?


I do, I'm investigating my dad's murder.


There's some really nice effective cutting techniques that I do like to use from time to time. It really depends on the type of piece that I'm working on.

For example, in the case of 'Running Bare,' it's a piece of branded content, meaning it's an ad, but it's meant to live on the internet and be a little bit longer and a little more story-heavy.

The 'Running Bare' piece follows four different female athletes as they all sort of embark on their day and practise alone with their sport. So, in this case, I really wanted to find moments of movement, because this piece is all about movement.

So, I really wanted to find moments of movement that matched beautifully from woman to woman. And that's something that's a really nice technique to keep in mind. You can use it even for narrative pieces, just trying to match scenes together in a way that flows for the eye and gives people a sort of subconscious sense of satisfaction.

So, in 'Running Bare,' for example, there's a boxer who's hitting a punching bag, and she hits the bag, and the bag spins across the room, and I use that moment to cut to the dancer spinning across the dance floor. And there are several moments like that in this piece that I really enjoy.

And I'm lucky that the director, in this case, gave me a bit of room to find all those moments. There's another one where the basketball player throws the basketball into the hoop, and as the ball goes through the hoop, the swimmer in the next scene dives into the pool.

I think that those can be really fun moments to find, especially in cases of, say, a music video or just a general kind of mood piece. But as I said, you can always try effects like that in a short film.

So having a character, for example, leave one room, and then having another character enter another room in the next scene, almost as if it's a continuity edit, but it isn't.

Continuity is just the case of trying to match an action across two different shots. An audience will actually forgive a little bit of a lack of continuity if there's a greater reason to put it in there.

They also don't really need to see every moment of a single action. So for example, you don't need to have a man leaving his house, walking down the driveway, putting his key in the car, starting the ignition, pulling out. You really just need to see, if anything, he grabs the keys, next scene, he's driving down the road.

People understand what's happened in between. But you can also use this idea of continuity across shots that actually aren't connected. And it does create a really nice bridge that can help everything feel more cohesive and more like an edit.

One technique that I like to use is to keep my eyes open for little moments of magic that can happen in an unintentional way. Sometimes, an actor will maybe improvise a line or even flub a line a little bit, but it kind of conveys an interesting emotion.

And I try not to rule those things out. I try also to make sure that I look at the footage that's coming to me and see it for what it is, rather than having a preconceived idea based on the script that I read beforehand.

Because the script and the pre-production of a particular piece is never going to be exactly the same thing that comes back to you once it's all been shot.

So it's really important to keep an open mind when you're editing, and make sure that you find the magic of what has actually been shot, rather than trying to stick to some particular, I guess, rubric in your mind.

Some common mistakes made by new or young editors is that they want to overedit. So that often means not letting things breathe as much as they could, even in something that's meant to be a little bit faster-paced or meant to be a comedy or an ad or something like that.

It doesn't always mean that you need to cut every few seconds. It's one of those things when you have that tool at your disposal, you're tempted to use it, you just want to cut, cut, cut, but it actually is better to try to get out of your own way as much as possible and let the footage tell you what it is as much as possible, and only cut when the magic of a particular shot has started to fade.

Another mistake or a mistake that a new editor will often make is trying to plan everything out way too much before they even start to cut. The thing is, the timeline actually needs to be like a drafting board for you, and you need to feel comfortable drafting in the edit software.

So if you're the kind of person who likes to put everything on note cards or write everything on paper, I mean, that's great. I'm definitely one of those people as well.

But there needs to be a time when you move away from that and stop trying to sort of plan everything out before you put it on the timeline. Because there's an element, I think, of confidence that can sometimes be lacking when you're just starting out.

So you're afraid to put things down because then they might start to look imperfect or you might not like what you see right away, but you actually need to get used to not liking what you see right away, because that rough assembly that you do, which is the first step to any edit, is actually the important foundation that you're building from when you end up refining and cutting and getting to that finished, polished piece of work.

After you select everything, usually the next step is to make a select assembly.

So, you would take all of the selects that you picked, put it kind of roughly in order of the script, and then watch it back, and it won't feel like anything at first, and that's okay.

Sometimes, in fact, often in select assemblies, people will say the same line over and over again, or they'll walk into the same room over and over again, and that's completely fine.

That's actually how you figure out which takes are going to work the best together. Once you have the select assembly, then you can go make an assembly, which will still be rough, but it'll start to give you an idea of what the edit is meant to be, what's meant to be coming out at you.

And then once you start editing, you're looking more for trimming seconds, trimming frames, trying to finesse, or maybe you swapping out various shots that you think aren't working as well.

And that's when the edit actually happens and when you start feeling something come together, and that's a really, it's a gradient. It's not a hard cut, you gradually will start to feel better with what you're saying in front of you.

But if you are afraid to put something down that's rough, you're never actually going to get to that end point. So you need to be comfortable with not being perfect right away.

And that applies in a cut itself, so starting out the cut is not always going to look or feel like you want it to, and you might think, "Oh my gosh," like, "How am I ever going to make this feel good?" But you have to actually have that rough start before you can go on to finesse it.

And that's true as well with an editing career as a whole, you need to be comfortable showing work to people before you think it's perfect. And you need to be comfortable with receiving feedback and being willing to sort of get better as an editor over time, because the truth is too, even the most senior editor in the world gets feedback.

That's not a reflection on you as an editor. That's actually just part of the process, and it's really important to keep that in mind that that is a normal and essential part of the job basically is to be in conversation with other people and to show them things in a half-baked state and then bake the rest of it together. It's a collaborative process.

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Last updated: 29 November 2022