Dutch Editor Raymond Leijdekkers Cuts “Ugly Ducklings” to Beautiful Swans

By in Timeline Tuesday, Video Editing

Hi, my name is Raymond Leijdekkers and I started editing about 25 years ago, in linear suites of course. Then this magical machine arrived at our offices, the Avid. After testing I was reluctant how this could suit my needs but after a couple of years it evolved and I started using Media Composer full-time and never looked back.

Nowadays I’m editing all kinds of stuff, commercials, documentaries and lots of TV-work. I specialize in documentary and reality-TV because I find them the most challenging. These shows make that you must be on top of your game regarding editing techniques as well as storytelling. Compared to commercials for example you end up with the same number of versions, but with timelines approx. 80 times bigger. You must deal with inexperienced cast, run and gun footage, multiple formats, and so on…

Last year I started editing on a new show called “Ugly Ducklings” produced by Strix, broadcasted by RTL5 in the Netherlands. We just wrapped season 2. In each episode, two participants tell how their appearance casts a shadow over their lives. They are often bullied, called names or have to hide their bodies under a thick layer of clothing because they have an unusually large nose, no breasts or excess skin. They talk about their experiences, insecurities and feelings. And then share their treatment process and the result with the viewer.

When I start editing, most of the time I receive a so called “easy-cut-timeline “of a particular shooting day. The reporter cuts everything down to what they find to be relevant material. Commonly this filters out 60% of all footage. I start out by just viewing this timeline. Then I quickly read through all logs. Most of the time I’ve already got a feeling what kind of music or song I would like to use to get started. With the more intense cases I’d probably start by editing the content first, so I won’t be distracted by the music. So there’s no golden rule of how to start editing!  During the editing process I try different kids of music, change things and try to get a decent first 5 to 6 minute “V1”-version done.

Timeline — First Easy Cut

Then I’ll give this version a rest to start on another case. After the next one is also in V1-stage I’ll go back to the first, have a fresh look and cut it down to 3 to 4 minutes for V2. This is more or less the length it will be in the final edit of the episode. So this is the moment my Editor in Chief comes in to have a look. If we both still happy, this whole thing repeats again and again for a couple of months until I have every single part of one episode edited.

Timeline — Version One

Then I’m ready to do the final on-line edit of the show. In this is a fairly simple process because every part has been edited with music, gaps for voice-over and so on. VO will be finalized, I add graphics and re-cut some scenes because sometimes the feel of a scene changes when it is embedded into an episode. And of course we have end up with a length of 45 minutes. I find it quite magical when all of the hard work is put together and a beautiful timeline is done.

Timeline — Final Cut

I like this particular show because I get complete freedom to edit the story right without any format-regulations. If a story is told better without the use of any voice-over or interviews for example, that’s ok. If we need these in to get things right, no problem! I find the relationship between the producers, network, sponsors, host and the editorial team very special. Haven’t seen it like this before and I think this shows in the final product.

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Raymond Leijdekkers is an independent editor and producer based in Hilversum, the Netherlands. He specializes in reality-TV, documentary series and commercials. He edited dozens of commercials for mayor brands. TV-shows are among others: MasterChef Holland, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, Survivor.