Episode 15: Workflow vs Cutting

Terence and Philip discuss the importance of designing workflow as opposed to simply jumping in and cutting. How have the roles of Assistant changed. The inevitable sidetrack covers the role of “independent film” when so many get made but never return their investment, and what’s the better alternative.

We also discuss the workflow for reality TV.

Thanks as always to Zach Spell for making us sound intelligent.

12 thoughts on “Episode 15: Workflow vs Cutting

  1. Great thoughts! I think your description of the changing role of assistant editor is spot-on. The technical complexity and data/format wrangling required is often a different skill set than the creative cut. Out here in MI, we don’t usually have the kind of budgets for editors to focus only on the creative – they need to also have the technical chops to guide the workflow based on their experience. Our production company has taken on some larger projects (needing assistants) but the editors still have the technical lead role.

    You talk about lack of knowledge about workflow creating a lot more work on the other side – it’s tricky because the post workflow seems to be often influenced by funding available (at pre-production), not by what workflow would be best for a project.

    Great episode, thanks for the discussion!

  2. great podcast. nothing has changed in 20 years. back in the days of shoot on film (80’s-90’s), it was single light xfers, “best light” and supervised. online with tape, offline on VHS / 3/4 / SVHS or that avid thing…. it seems there are always people who don’t know much technically who think they can ignore those things. then they get to pay for their education $$$$.

    and really if they want to edit on a PC, use premiere pro ! now with FCP XML export 🙂

  3. There is a saying that covers funding issue, “Penny-wise, Pound-foolish”. Smart pre-productions is supposed to be about making those kinds of wise economical decisions.

    I agree with you, too often that is not the case. And frequently they have already stolen from the post budget during production which makes it even worse.

  4. “Did you track him down and beat the hell out of him?” Love it!

    I’m still an AE, unfortunately. I work with a pile of editors, and while it sounds uppity, the stone truth is also simply this: I know twice as much as most of them – not just on the equipment, but the Avid app itself. Yet, I get paid only half as much.

    Any competent reality AE can cut as well as the typical reality editor. So it’s no surprise that a good AE is hard to find. We’d rather be promoted to the easier job for twice the yearly income.


  5. Daniel,

    To be fair, there are different levels of skill needed by reality editors depending upon the company and workflow.

    If the story has been roughed out by someone else, like a story editor or field producer, etc., then it is easier to put together. However, if the editor has to find and make the story out of a ton of footage, that takes some real chops. I’m not implying any individual can’t do it, just that experience at that level of storytelling is a big plus in the tight timelines that most shows are edited under.

  6. I think it was a luxury back in the day when all you had to do was sit down and cut. I’ve personally never experienced that luxury but I do remember a few editors who were able to do that back in my early assisting days. Some of those editors aren’t working anymore.

  7. I never got that chance either, but there are still quite a few editors in the LA market who can do that. Not sure ow much longer those days will last though.

  8. Great talk Terence/Philip. It’s interesting to read some of the comments. I think to compare the workload/knowledge needed by a ‘good’ Assistant today with one coming from a Steenbeck or even Linear Tape Suite background is unfair to be honest. Both those previous backgrounds required a certain amount of knowledge and skill (don’t get me wrong I had both), but once you learned them that was it. There was a finite amount to learn. Nothing really changed for a LONG time – Steenbecks were around for how many decades… These days, the complete opposite is true. As you mentioned, new formats, workflows, software, conversions, etc… literally come out everyday. And it’s a full time job for anyone to get a grip of them, nevermind an Assistant who’s paid a pittance.
    The flip side is that as an Editor (i.e. a Cutter), I really don’t care or need to know how the media is put in my computer. That’s not what I’m being paid for. However, I do think in the role of an Online Editor (traditionally a much more ‘technical’ role) you do really need to be on top of all these new techniques. Trust me, I don’t like it, but as an Online Editor I really don’t have a choice. Even if I don’t know the ins and outs of every format/workflow I know the basics or just enough to know where to look and find the answers. If you’re really lucky a company will have some Technical Supervisor/Engineer who will oversee things, but you can’t rely on it.
    Unfortunately, the number of Assistants who really aren’t trained well for a variety of reasons is frighteningly high. People seem happier paying me a couple of days in an Online to fix issues due to bad Assistant work, then hiring competent Assistants in the first place.

  9. “People seem happier paying me a couple of days in an Online to fix issues due to bad Assistant work, then hiring competent Assistants in the first place.”

    Bingo! Just spending a few bucks to hire a seasoned post super before the shoot will save big bucks on the back end.

  10. I feel vindicated. I listened to this for the third time and it makes me feel good each time. I’ve been jumping up and down on this for years. It’s good to know there are voices of reason out there!

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