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