March is Women’s History Month, and in this blog series, Avid celebrates some of today’s most talented women editors in film and television. This week we go beyond to the universe of science-fiction film editing on Avid Media Composer with Maryann Brandon, ACE and Mary Jo Markey, ACE.
Expansive stories that stretch the imagination. Heart-pounding interstellar action. The fascinating world of science-fiction films can take us light years away from our seats and back again in just a few hours. And over the past decade, no editing team has had greater impact on the genre than Maryann Brandon, ACE and Mary Jo Markey, ACE.
Brandon and Markey are lead editors for J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot. And they’re the common thread that runs through huge titles such as Star Trek (2009), Super 8, and the Academy-Award-nominated Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
For the editing duo, creating new galaxies requires a collaborative effort of epic proportions. Impressive visual effects, complex sound design, and hundreds of hours of footage come together to form a tightly crafted narrative. The success of each film depends on multiple departments’ ability to share assets with lightning speed. Avid shared stored is an essential part of their workflow. “For these films… we rely on quick changes,” Brandon notes. And with Avid [shared storage], the editors can easily integrate revisions from VFX or new 5.1 surround mixes—even if they arrive mid-cut.
Both editors got their start working in film. Markey was an intern on Turner and Hooch, and Brandon’s early work included interning on Grumpier Old Men. Each worked with Abrams on his TV shows, Felicity and Alias. But their first feature film as a team was working with Abrams on Mission Impossible III.
Markey’s approach to editing is tightly connected to her own emotional response to the cut. She tells each story through character perspectives to deliver deeply authentic and emotional experiences for the viewer. Perhaps that focus on humanity is what makes her work perfect for the sci-fi genre.
For Brandon, there’s just one option for every aspect of the film: “We work until it’s perfect, and then we work beyond that.”
Go behind the scenes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to learn more about Maryann Brandon, ACE and Mary Jo Markey, ACE here.
Take your sci-fi story beyond.
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