Editors in Edit Suites
If you ever wondered what it looks like inside the professional edit suites of some pretty big films and TV shows, then in this post you’ll get a chance to peek in and see where the magic happens.
Many of the images in this post have been sourced, with permission, from Steve Hullfish’s superb series of in-depth interviews with film editors and first assistants, The Art of The Cut, over on Pro Video Coalition.
In those interviews you can hear from some of the world’s best editors on their craft and learn from their creativity, and pretty much every single interview is a must read!
I’ve also previously reviewed Steve’s book of the same name, which draws together in a topical fashion, the very best nuggets from the series. If you want to deepen your knowledge of the craft then check out the book, it’s a rare gem.
I personally conducted all of the interviews, then I personally transcribed most of the interviews, but it wasn’t until I saw them broken down into topics and edited into context that I realized the power of the book.
Even if you read every interview on PVC, you wouldn’t get the value that the book provides. It’s really eye-opening. – Steve Hullfish
If you like this kind of info, then you might want to check out one of the most popular posts on this blog – a look at the professional editing timelines from top film and TV shows. Timelines include a look at Suicide Squad, Mission Impossible:Rogue Nation, The Martian, Gravity and many more…
Day 2 in editing room on In the Heart of the Sea. Another fascinating post prod challenge akin to Rush or Apollo 13 pic.twitter.com/f4yXRsQdk2
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) January 7, 2014
There are also a few more photos inside a few edit suites, and some detailed gear breakdowns, in this previous post about professional edit suites. Including Director Darren Aronofsky’s home made standing desk set up.
Inside Feature Film Edit Suites
Here is Fred Raskin’s fairly epic looking edit suite for The Hateful Eight. It’s interesting to see how many large viewing screens he is using, along with a large mixing console. I like the use of a music stand for the script and notes.
UPDATE – Inside the Mission Impossible 6 Edit Suite
Director Christopher McQuarrie Instagramed this picture of editor Eddie Hamilton inside the edit suite of Mission Impossible 6. It turns out this is just the ‘mobile’ set up for working out of the director’s house.
Eddie was kind enough to tweet me a picture of his fully fledged edit suite (which he used on Kingsman The Golden Circle).
This comes replete with standing desk, dual monitor + Big TV set up, filled out with a laptop, two Razer Naga Chroma mice and a backlit Astra keyboard. There are also two interesting looking boxes under the second monitor which look like they’re running colour grading scopes of some kind.
Joe Walker Edit Suites
In the next 3 photos you can see editor Joe Walker, who is currently working on Blade Runner 2049, in his suite for Sicario and 12 Years a Slave.
Here is Joe Walker’s edit suite on 12 Years a Slave, it’s interesting to note the index card grid on the wall, to keep track of the current cut, at a glance.
Charlie Austin’s Annotated Edit Suite
FCPX Guru and trailer editor Charlie Austin shared this photo of his edit suite, annotated for clarity. I particularly like the ‘Revision Generator’.
While we’re on the subject of FCPX, Lee Warner shared this photo of his edit suite, where he has “Changed my client/producer monitor to a split feed from my left dual monitor so anyone can see the bin selects.” Which I thought was a clever idea.
Correction – Not sure how I missed the fact that Lee is actually cutting in Adobe Premiere!
In what has to be one of the nicest looking edit suites in this round up, not to mention that I’ve ever seen, is this one at Splice in Minneapolis, which is owned by editor Clayton Condit.
My cutting room has a 110-inch projection screen with 7.1 surround. FCPX allows me to work in 5.1, which is a great way to offline and play and allows even better temp mixes throughout the process.
The edit position is centered and on a stage just behind a row of seats with console space to my sides for the director so we both are looking at the same thing. I use the projection for my program monitor and my computer monitors are ergonomically set to allow me to easily look up and down as needed.
I typically use 3 computer monitors to spread things out but mostly use the center 27” Apple display for my timeline and primary workspace.
I like to work in the dark like a theatre so I have a lighted keyboard and controlled task lighting from above for script and notes.
I have also gone to great lengths to have a very quiet environment so I can hear everything. I like to really refine my temp mixes to avoid having anything pull you out of the edit.
This setup also allows me to step away from my workstation and sit in a comfortable chair and watch scenes from a different perspective.
Tom Cross’ La La Land Edit Suite
That said, Tom Cross does also have a nice looking edit suite, which he used to edit La La Land.
I’m not sure what kind of mouse he’s using but it looks a bit like a Razer Gaming Mouse. The shortcut button keypad under the left most monitor also looks interesting.
In this photo with Tom and his assistants you can see their scene boards with large thumbnails posted on the wall. This helps to keep the flow and order of the film accessible without scrubbing through the whole timeline.
Documentary Editor Steve Audette’s Frontline Edit Suite
In this still from a 360 video of Steve Audette’s Frontline edit suite, you can see a fair few things going on, not least the waterfall of script notes/pages/scene boards hanging from the wall on the left.
Steve even gave me a detailed breakdown of the components of his edit suite in this previous post, which is another opportunity to look inside some professional edit suites.
Editing Teams Inside Edit Suites
In this video from MichaelBay.com you can get an inside look at the process and team behind Transformers 4, which includes editors Roger Barton, William Goldenberg and Paul Rubell as well as a how of additional and assistant editors.
It’s not often you get this candid a view into an edit suite and a team discussion!
Steve Hullfish has interviewed most of the team of editors behind Transformers 5 – The Last Knight, in a fairly epic post here.
To cover the editing of Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight, we spoke to four editors in three separate interviews. The exciting thing for readers of Art of the Cut is that when you get six top editors on a single picture, they all learn from each other in ways that are impossible without working on the same footage and with the same director. Those important lessons are at the core of this Art of the Cut.
In some ways it’s a bit disingenuous to split these ‘team photos’ out from the others, because all big budget films have an editorial department packed with numerous professionals bringing their skills to the mix.
In this team photo from The Martian, you can check out the gang on ‘Pirate Day’, as well as the film broken out into Reels on the photo thumbnail grid.
Steve Hullfish has interviewed both Editor Pietro Scalia on editing The Martian, as well as an in-depth interview with additional editor Cheryl Potter.
Assassin’s Creed Post Team
In this photo of the Assassin’s Creed post team, you get a better look at some of the assistants that support an editor during a feature film edit. If you read the caption closely you’ll also get a sense of the hierarchy that allows younger editors to work their way up from Editorial Trainee to Second Assistant Editor to First Assistant Editor and then finally, you get to sit in the chair.
More Editors In Edit Suites
Editor Ben Mills shared this snap of his home edit suite set up, which I have to say looks pretty neat.
The dual support arm for his monitors looks like it can handle the weight and allows for ready repositioning of each monitor, even the LG Ultrawide. He’s also using a huge mouse matt and Razer gaming mouse, along with some nice looking Genelec studio monitors.
I’ve previously interviewed Ben in some detail about what it’s like to work as a VFX Editor on top Hollywood films.
In this photo from Pete Beaudreau’s edit suite on A Cure for Wellness. He’s also cut some other interesting films including: Beasts of No Nation, The Gambler, All is Lost, My Week with Marilyn and Margin Call.
Here his ‘assistant’ is his 3 month old daughter Erin!
In this photo you can check out a glimpse of editor Eddie Hamilton’s edit suite on Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
I’ve previously dissected Eddie’s Avid workspaces in this blog post on Premiumbeat.com and shared Eddie’s Razer Naga Chroma gaming mouse custom set up here.
Update – The Editor with all the Keyboards
Editor Taran Van Hemert, who edits a lot of the videos for Linus Tech Tips, shared this photo of his current editing desk set up which features the following gear!
- Palette Gear Professional Kit
- Elgato Stream Deck
- Tangent Ripple
- Microsoft Surface Dial
- Corsair K95 RGB
- 2 more keyboards and a number pad
- A very simple mouse
In the video below, which runs to over four hours (!), you can check out a full video desk tour from Taran during ‘Chapter 3’ of The World’s Most Advanced Video Editing Tutorial.