Inside Professional Editing Timelines

Professional Film Editing Timelines

Editing the martian

It’s not often that you get to peer over the shoulder of a Hollywood feature film editor and see exactly what they look at day after day, whilst honing the latest cinematic blockbuster. But thanks to interviews like the Art of the Cut series Steve Hullfish has conducted for PVC, and other editors who are willing to share their work via Twitter’s #TimelineTuesday, now you can.

This opening image is the Avid timeline for reel one of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, edited by Pietro Scalia. Check out my making-of round up of The Martian here to jump to Steve’s fantastically detailed interview with Associate Editor Cheryl Potter, which explains just what’s going on in this timeline.

UPDATE: Suicide Squad timeline

Suicide Squad director David Ayer recently tweeted this image of the current cut of the film, from editor John Gilroy’s Avid timeline.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation Timeline

Another treat from Steve’s Art of the Cut series, is this screen grab of editor Eddie Hamilton’s reel one Avid timeline for Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. You can read more about that in this previous post, including Steve and Eddie’s detailed conversation.

What I love about images like this one is that you can see the scale, complexity, organisation and methodology required to keep track of a feature film’s worth of footage, visual effects plates, sound design, music, colour correction and final elements. A quick note about getting the most out of this post – if you want a bigger view of each of the images, click on the tweet to open the page and then click on the image to enlarge further.

Dissecting a pro editors workspace

Eddie also recently shared some screengrabs of his full Avid Media Composer editing layout, which I’ve taken a stab at dissecting in this post over on You can learn a lot from how he lays out his bins, effects and works with his rushes.

UPDATE: Eddie Hamilton recently posted timelines of all seven reels of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on Twitter, with a link to download them as high res tiffs too.

UPDATE 2: Apparently Eddie’s download link has expired, so here is a link to download the Kingsman timelines and desktop and a download link to the Mission Impossible timelines.

An Editor’s Timeline Breakdown

Occasionally an editor, in this case Shane Ross, will go to the trouble of explaining what’s going on in their timeline, which greatly adds to the educational value. As you can see in this tweet, Shane breaks down his colour coding system for keeping his sound organised.

Below Shane describes how he lays out his bins, timeline and project panels. Further down you can see how he organises and labels his tracks.

On left, Project window, below it my current cuts bin. On right you have all my picture bins on top, audio bins on bottom.” – Shane Ross

Premiere Pro Feature Film Timelines

Premiere Pro Feature film Timelines

Although the majority of feature film editing timelines you see online tend to be in Avid Media Composer, some editors prefer Premiere. In this image you can see four of editor Vashi Nedomansky‘s Premiere Pro timelines for feature films, including one Audition timeline.

Below are a couple more tweets from Vashi. I’d also highly recommend you check out his Adobe Max presentation here, in which he discusses some of his Premiere Pro editing techniques. Notably David Fincher’s Gone Girl was edited on Premiere Pro.

FCPX Feature Film Editing Timelines

Editing WTF in FCPX

UPDATE – Editing Whisky Tango Foxtrot in FCPX.

These screengrabs from editor Jan Kovac’s FCPX timeline for Whisky Tango Foxtrot are courtesy of Steve Hullfish’s excellent, and very detailed, interview on the process of cutting a Hollywood feature film in the software. In the image above of one 20 minute reel from the film, Jan points out the use of colour coded markers to help with collaboration.

The red [markers] are me leaving notes for my assistants on stuff to do. Once they’re done they become green markers. The blue markers are a section representing three lines of dialogue and the green markers are “action.” The orange ones are chapter markers which we are using to mark VFX with. You can see the stuff that’s above them are the VFX shots that are cut in over the originals.

editing a feature in FCPX

Head over to Steve’s article on ProVideoCoalition to get a lot more details on how Jan organises everything in FCPX, the benefits of shooting and working natively in ARRI Pro Res as well as some great feature film editing insights.

The three big advantages of editing in the highest resolution and in ProRes from the get go is that all your DCPs that are created throughout the process (for screenings) look amazing and you get a much better feedback since there is a lesser amount of technical imperfections your audience can bump on. And the second really good thing was that since we didn’t have to deal with ArriRaw, editorial could carry a copy of the o-neg for our in-house vfx crew. We had 1200 VFX shots – it’s hard to create Afghanistan in New Mexico, so there was a lot of small stuff to do. We would not be able to do that if we had to go to outside vendors, but we had a lot of VFX artists in-house – at some point 20 of them – and I carried the O-neg on my SAN.

I had one chassis just for the O-neg, so they were working straight from that with us. They figured out a color pipeline and there was no pulling frames. No waiting for the DI house to give it back to you. No dealing with different vendors. We could see shots immediately and making small changes as we went. It was a big financial saving, but for me, it was mostly creative because it gave us more time on temps and all the temps we worked on – even in Final Cut – were a real step towards the final. It wasn’t like you were just working on a temp and threw that work away. When you worked on a temp, as it was getting approved, it was becoming the final.

And the third reason for working this way was, that it allowed Glenn and John to shoot faster. They didn’t have to worry about a microphone being in a scene for example. They could concentrate on getting the performance they wanted since they knew we could take care of stuff like that later.

If want a lot more information on editing in FCPX check out the FCPX category on this blog, or this previous post on Jan’s previous FCPX feature film Focus, which is packed with interviews and further resources.

Feature Film Editing Timelines

This screengrab from Gravity editor Mark Sanger’s Avid timeline kicked off this popular previous post, packed with editor’s timelines, that I wrote for

Documentary Editing Timelines


TV Editing Timelines

More Editor’s Timelines

In this FCPX tweet you really need to jump over to this link and click on the images to enlarge and compare the timelines.


    • Because nested sequences are wonderful for the editor but a pain for all the other parties, like the colerist and sound mixer. Especially if you use the adobe workflow.

  • Jonny,

    The dropbox like to Eddie’s screengrabs is no longer working. Is it possible for you to reup them or send to my ermail?


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.