‘Buying the View’ Turned Out to Be Much More than Your Average Property Show

By in Timeline Tuesday, Video Editing

My journey on this series began in April of 2015. A Series Producer, for whom I had done work for on a paranormal series in the past, called me up and asked me if I’d be interested in working with her again on this brand new series for W Network in Toronto. That’s right—a brand new series. Naturally, we discussed the format, post schedule, etc. and I concluded it would be a pretty straightforward property show—as I think most of us did.

The format may sound familiar: prospective home buyers are shown three magnificent properties with a Realtorwith emphasis on the views, of course, and at the end of the show, they deliberate and choose the property they’d like to buy. Both the Realtor and home buyer(s) are real people—no actors here. The shoot locations were Toronto, New York, Miami, Muskoka, Whistler and Vancouver. The properties ranged from lakefront mansions to private penthouses.

The production was green lit for 26 x 30 min shows right off the top, so the pressure was on to deliver top notch content to the network. The material was beautifully shot with Canon C300’s at 1080p/23.976 with the A camera on a Ronin rig (totally epic) and the B camera on sticks and sliders. Audio was recorded externally with multi-channel sources. The edit team consisted of myself, three other Editors, a Story Editor and a few Assistant Editors. The material is ingested with Media Composer into local storage at 20:1, grouped and synced, then passed on to the Editors to begin the offline edit. Besides Media Composer, the only other tool we used was Photoshop.

Needless to say, there are always challenges with a new show, and this one was no exception. Casting and music proved to be some of the biggest hurdles. As you can imagine, a crucial component to these types of shows is the contributors. Because these are real people, getting them comfortable and excited on camera was sometimes more difficult than others. Regardless, it’s up to us, the Editors, to bring out their personalities as much as possible from the material we are presented with. What makes them interesting? How can the viewer relate? How the hell can they afford this 10 million dollar lakefront mansion?! The subtle glances, the slight chuckles, a nod, a smile—all these elements add to the personality makeup, strategically spliced into the show throughout. These are the things I am looking and listening for when I watch any interview. When I find something good, I’ll drop a marker on it. And because we are constantly going back to the source material, I also like to add markers for the Director’s questions and key topics of the interview. For example, I’ll add markers for “First Impressions” for when the Director asks, “What were your first impressions?” or, “Kitchen”, “Ensuite”, “View”, etc. This saves me TONS of time down the road when my Story Editor, Series Producer, or Network asks, “Do they say anything about the Master Bedroom?  It would be good to add a comment in here from them.” It’s as simple (sometimes) as pulling up my Markers window and finding that section.

I try to design a workflow that makes my edit as streamlined as possible, and it always varies slightly between shows. For every show, however, my sequences are always kept neat and tidy. Every edit impacts the next and when you have thousands of edits, it can get real messy, real soon. We’ve all opened up that other Editor’s timeline and had to cross our eyes to figure out what was going on! I’m very particular with this as well as naming and bin organizing. All my sequences—from the stringout to the locked picture, have the same tidiness and attention to detail to them. It’s an essential part of editing.

I begin by creating a stringout of all the best moments in the interviews and property tours. Interview and tours on VI and dialogue on tracks A1-A6.

From there, I reorder, compress and decompress clips to make a story edit.

As the story evolves and begins to take shape, I add BROLL, music, VO and temp graphics. BROLL is on V2, GFX on V3-V5, VO on tracks A7-A8, and music on tracks A15-A18. SFX is my last step, which go on A9-A14. I use the bottom two tracks to edit my music with the sync markers off, usually A19-A20, while all the tracks above remain in sync.

Once I’m happy with the music edit, I move it to the tracks above so it is in sync with the rest of the show and move on to scoring the next segment. I repeat this technique during the entire editing process. Once I get closer to a decent rough cut, I’ll add SFX on A9-A14.

Would you believe we’re averaging about 54 music tracks per show? Remember, these are 22 minute shows!  As all shows do, this show evolved over time, and music was significant evolution. Every segment and space has its own music cue: the bio, Realtor setup, location setup, property into, bedroom, bathroom…you get the idea. We’re burning through tracks about every 20 seconds. Plus, the “big reveal” tracks are only to be used once per season, ideally, and we absolutely cannot reuse tracks in the same show. So finding that perfect piece of music takes some time. I deal with this by using clip colors. Once I find a track that works, I label it orange. So the next time I look for a new track, I just skip all the orange ones, as I know I’ve already used it. Green audio clips are show elements like the opening music, SFX for show graphics, etc. One of the best edit tricks I’ve ever learned was from one of the other Editors on this series: Create grouped clips of music stems. Brilliant! Since we have all the stems, putting them into a group not only keeps things a little more manageable, but is super wicked awesome to edit with. With one grouped music clip, you can lead into a scene with a sting or some strings, bust into the full mix for a reveal, then go out with a bed or drum stem—AWESOME!

The last challenge was getting the shows down to time. These are multi-million dollar properties, and when you’re showcasing three of them, there is a lot to show in 22 minutes! Slowly, cut after cut, frame after frame, the clock comes down and I’m left with a perfectly timed show at 22:15. We’re mastering at 1080i/59.94 for the network, so my TRT is actually 22;18 at 1080i/59.94—this is why I have the Mas 30DF TC up at all times. Once picture is locked, I duplicate the show, move it into a new “000 XYZ LOCKED PIX” bin, collapse the entire picture to V1 and hand it off to my Assistant to prepare for online and audio mix.

This show has been a pleasure to work on and I couldn’t be happier with the final result. The entire crew is made up of seasoned professionals, which is apparent in the final show. It looks great, sounds great—and at the end of the day, it’s damn entertaining. I think it’s going to be a hit. Buying the View premieres Tuesday, January 12 at 10pm ET/PT on W Network.

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Combining over a decade of experience and certification with the industry’s leading editing platform, Sal Fabbri seamlessly brings his artistic ability together with a well-rounded technical background. With previous roles like Supervising Editor at Canada's largest independent media company, it is evident Sal dedicates his career to excellence in his craft. Get more info about Sal's work at salfabbri.com, and follow him on Twitter as @salfabbri.