Cinema is about bringing amazing stories to life. A film can have the most intuitive director, a writer with the vision to craft huge worlds from mere words and the most mesmerising cast, yet it all means nothing if the edit isn’t right. What could’ve been a fascinating experience can be reduced to tedium if the edit doesn’t ebb and flow to create the desired dynamic. Similarly, even the most gripping tale needs the perfect score to help draw emotion and colour atmosphere.
Film editors, sound editors and composers for Oscar winning films such as Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Skyfall, Les Misérables and Life Of Pi will surely testify to the role that Avid solutions played in ensuring that their films lived up to their full potential.
Avid Media Composer provides 64-bit performance, easy-to-use video editing tools, and streamlined HD, file-based, and stereo 3D workflows. Its open platform enables you to work with the gear you have or want and integrate into any workflow. It’s also designed to eliminate bottlenecks, enabling you to work faster than ever. New features in Avid Media Composer 7 include the ability to accelerate HD delivery from hi-res sources which eliminates time-consuming transcodes; the option to automate resize, copy, consolidate and transcode tasks in the background also allows you the freedom to continue the edit; and new connectivity with Avid Interplay and Avid Interplay Sphere, so you can edit, sync and share projects with anyone around the world.
As Christopher Nelson, ACE Editor on Lost and Mad Men testifies: “The industry standard is Avid Media Composer. It’s the most flexible and stable editing system there is and you need to know it inside and out.” For sound editors, Avid Pro Tools is an essential workstation that allows you the freedom to record, compose, edit and mix with both speed and accuracy. It allows the use of multiple audio formats in a session - including interleave - without file duplication and boasts higher resolution sound than ever. Avid Pro Tools 11 boasts a 64-bit engine that enables the use of far more virtual instruments and plug-in effects than ever before. Mixes can also be delivered faster than ever with the help of new faster-than-real-time bounce capabilities. For composers, Avid Sibelius 7 is the fastest and easiest way for composers to create their art. With its task-focused tabs that lead you through the process of creating a score from start to finish, the ability to finesse every fine detail of your score, native 64-bit support and an interface that’s optimised for single monitor use, Avid Sibelius 7 is the tool of choice for many.
TEN FILMS CREATED WITH AVID PRODUCTS
The Great Gatsby
With its pacy opening fifteen minutes designed to draw the viewer into its visually enticing world, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! featured remarkable editing which recalled the frenetic speed of a music video. It’s a lot for The Great Gatsby editor Jason Ballantine to live up to - and he’s a fine talent himself, having been nominated for Best Editing at the Australian Film Institute Awards for Wolf Creek - and he has used Avid Media Composer for his work on Cannes’ opening film.
Kevin Tent has worked as an editor with Alexander Payne ever since the director debuted in 1996 with Citizen Ruth. His work includes Sideways and About Schmidt. He used Avid Media Composer to edit Payne’s acclaimed The Descendants for which he earned an Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic) and he has returned to the technology for his work on Payne’s new film Nebraska, which is debuting at Cannes.
The Bling Ring
Another highly successful Avid customer is Sarah Flack, who has won editing awards for both film (Lost In Translation at the BAFTAs) and for television (collecting both an Eddie and a Primetime Eddie for the HBO drama Cinema Verite). Flack has worked with director Sofia Coppola on her last three films - Lost In Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere - and their relationship continues at Cannes where The Bling Ring will open Un Certain Regard.
Director Ben Affleck has an Avid post-production set-up at his house and another at his home screening room, which proved vital for the creation of Argo. As editor William Goldenberg recalls: “We could take the movie and really quickly throw it up on a big screen. Every Sunday when he wasn’t shooting, I would take all the editing material from that week and we’d go through everything that I did that week.”
Gone Baby Gone
Before Argo, Ben Affleck and William Goldenberg first collaborated on Affleck’s feature-length directorial debut. After work with the film’s initial editor didn’t work out, Affleck started work on editing Gone Baby Gone while he was waiting for Goldenberg to become available. He collated all of the best performances that had been filmed at that point into what Goldenberg calls “a big select reel of good stuff”.
Zero Dark Thirty
William Goldenberg also worked on Zero Dark Thirty with Dylan Tichenor, who can count The Master, There Will Be Blood and Brokeback Mountain among his many high profile credits. “We split it up, roughly half and half,” says Goldenberg. “You do it in logical ways. You don’t do every other scene; you take longer sections of the movie so you can get a flow. Dylan and I have a similar mindset about what we wanted to do with the movie, so it worked pretty harmoniously.”
All seven members of the Star Trek editing team used their own Avid Media Composer system. All of the systems were connected to an Avid Unity Media Network with sixteen terabytes of shared storage, enabling them to share media and projects simultaneously - no mean feat for a film that featured extensive green screen work and over a thousand visual effects. “Everything worked like a charm,” summarises co-editor Maryann Brandon. “Avid Media Composer is a workhorse of a machine.”
One of the biggest challenges for The Hobbit editor Jabez Olssen was in editing scenes that featured computer-generated characters such as Gollum. Yet Avid Media Composer could handle the task: “Characters like Azog were shot separately on a performance capture stage, which required us to layer separate material into a single shot. We were cutting vertically in the timeline as well as horizontally. In the early stages, many of the scenes were a patchwork of live action and placeholder animations, so I used PIP effects to overlay elements to determine the scene timing.”
The Amazing Spider-Man
Editor Alan Edward Bell used eight Avid Media Composer stations that were connected to the Avid Unity Media Network storage system. “Avid Media Composer makes it really easy to move from one machine to another,” explains assistant editor Jennifer Vecchiarello. “It’s incredibly easy to customise settings for each user. And when files are moved around and shared, I can easily take those unique settings from machine to machine. I can’t even begin to quantify the amount of time and frustration this has saved.”
Anne-Sophie Bion used Avid Media Composer extensively on her work on The Artist - and won an Eddie for Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical). “Avid Media Composer is my one and only tool, so I use it all the time - from the first to the last day of editing,” she enthuses. “I have a Avid Mojo DX box for capture, and my assistants use two Avid Nitris DX devices in order to input and output easily. “Why Avid Media Composer? “Because it’s simple - I find it easy to use and it’s clear.”
Words by Ben Hopkins