Tight reality show schedule
I’m about to start on a reality show which has a brutal edit schedule. 5 episodes in 16 weeks. Apparently we (myself and the edit producer) will be inheriting long cuts of the main stories (5 stories to be intercut across the 5 episodes) and have one week per episode to get from there to a first cut for internal viewing.
I see that having a rough cut before we start can save time, but I’m used to watching all the footage and feel uncomfortable editing having only seen these rough cuts.
Anyone here working on reality shows? I’d be keen to hear peoples thoughts on this workflow. When you work on reality shows is this normal for you? If so, do you just cut from the rough cut, trusting that what’s been selected is the best footage? Or do you still somehow find time to go through the rest of the footage despite having such a tight schedule to meet?
[Christopher Travis] "Anyone here working on reality shows?"
[Christopher Travis] "Apparently we (myself and the edit producer) will be inheriting long cuts of the main stories (5 stories to be intercut across the 5 episodes) and have one week per episode to get from there to a first cut for internal viewing."
That's not enough time. Even if this is a half hour episode...not NEARLY enough time. I typically cut 2-3 min a day, and this is with me looking at all the surrounding footage to the selects the story producers made. In 5 days...one week, I can cut about 10-15 min...that might be one act, or two acts.
Not a full show. NOT looking at the footage, just working with what you have? You MIGHT be able to pull it off, but the cut will not be the best it can be. Because you won't have any time to look for reaction shots, which are KEY. Look for other moments in the scene that producers or story producers miss, and they always miss moments that are key, because they don't think they are key. But reactions are the main thing, and those take time. MUSIC...if you need to cut music, and your music is THE music...then that's not enough time.
If this is an hour long show? Forget it...no way is that doable. This would work if there were 3-4 editors on the show...and it was a half hour. One editor per Act. But that's tight. Look, 30 min (22 show time) SCRIPTED shows are allowed 5 days for the rough cut. And that's SCRIPTED...with a script, and scenes. Reality...there is none of that. 1 week, one editor...that's unreasonable. Unrealistic.
Not sure why they are doing this...well, I am sure. To save money. Either they spent too much in production, or are trying to earn more themselves, or told the network they could do the show on a low low budget in order to win the contract. Whatever the reason...Post is where it all comes together, and where the show can shine. One week isn't enough time to slop together what the producers handed you...much less make a good show.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
Thanks for your response Shane,
I was hoping you'd reply as I know you do a lot of reality. I left a comment on an old blog post of yours so in case you didn't join the dots, no need to respond to that one too.
I thought this was too tight a schedule. This is their second series (I'm the UK, it's an American format that's been running for a few years over there I think) so I'm hoping they having some sort of plan/system in place. Basically, I'm sure it can be done, but just not to a very good standard. Reactions are crucial as you say, but I think by getting a rough cut together quickly and matching frame back to the source, I can scramble together the shots I need. I'm just sceptical about cutting without a good knowledge of the material because we're bound to need to go back later on to find extra little stories and moments to pad things out later once we realise we're short on time..
Good to hear it's my just me that thinks this is too tight. All we can do is give our best efforts and make itt as good as we can in the short time we have.
I take it then that you never cut like this and always watch all the footage before you stry? I'm ised to working like that and this is the first time I've been asked to cut blind like this.
And yes, forgot to say these are half hours not hours.
Yeah, noticed that comment, and didn't get to it...glad you posted here. More visible to others.
In that time frame all you can do is roughly cut it down, maybe slap a quick music cue in there. Basically take it from a stringout to a VERY rough assembly. I wouldn't even call it a rough cut...it's just a rough assembly.
And no, I don't have the luxury to watch ALL the footage. I know editors on shows like SURVIVOR get to, but shows like DEADLIEST CATCH and CURSE OF OAK ISLAND....we have story producers who find the good bits, and make stringouts. And when I look at those stringouts, I'll try to watch down all the footage for that given section...that time that the moment they grabbed occurred. But I don't have time to look at all the footage. I look at all the footage in the given section. And thankfully we are given time to do that...sometimes.
And even then, supporting moments, or good reactions, or processes that we might use in the spots we have, come from sections that the producers didn't put into the stringout. So when I'm stuck for something, a good reaction or process or cutaway, I'll look in the other footage, 2-3x speed, to see what I can dig up. This might happen after the initial cut, when we get notes to "make more of this moment" or "it's not quite working, need to amp up the drama, or need better reactions," then I'm given time in the "show runner notes" phase to look for options.
Even if the show is very formulaic, cutting takes time. Getting the music right takes time. So yeah, a week will basically look like a cut down string out...it'll be VERY rough.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
You might want to watch this. It's got some interesting thinking about Reality workflow and time that can be saved by visual databasing.
That said, I'm on Shane's side on this. What you're describing is at the point where schedule will likely be putting so much pressure on quality that quality is going to really suffer.
Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.
[Shane Ross] "Post is where it all comes together"
Editing is not the most important part of the movie...it IS the movie.