Cutting an Escape, a Heist, and a Two-Act Action Sequence for the Season Finale of Marvel’s ‘Agent Carter’

By in Timeline Tuesday, Video Editing

Editing Marvel’s Agent Carter was a dream come true. I had previously worked with showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters a year prior when they were co-showrunning ABC’s Resurrection. They were also showrunning Agent Carter (with Chris Dingess) at the same time. I loved working with them on Resurrection but was secretly jealous of everyone getting to work with them on the first season of Agent Carter. I was a big fan of the character of Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Cut to six months later: I was actually minutes away from accepting another job offer when they reached out to me to work on Season two. I jumped at the opportunity and was thrilled when I got to edit the Season two premiere, two additional episodes, and the finale.

Agent Carter follows the adventures of Peggy Carter in the late 1940’s after the “loss” of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. She is an incredibly capable highly trained spy who works for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (and will eventually, with the help of Howard Stark, found S.H.I.E.L.D.).

The Season Two picture editorial team consisted of three picture editors: myself, Chris Cooke, and Andrew Doerfer. Three assistant editors: Emily Streetz, Shannon Weiss, and Matthew Anconetani. We were also fortunate to have a VFX team consisting of Sheena Duggal (VFX Producer), Ian Markiewicz (VFX Producer), Shari Ellis (VFX Coordinator), and Sharon Smith Holley (VFX Editor). Seven Avid Media Composer systems shared media via Avid shared storage.  The show was shot primarily on Arri Alexa, and our editorial DNxHD 36 dailies were processed by Encore. The phenomenal VFX were done by Double Negative in London.

The series itself is a delightful combination of drama, action, suspense, and comedy. I find that when I get a chance to flex all the different editorial storytelling muscles I am really in my zone. Agent Carter was my first opportunity to do so since True Blood.

The #TimelineTuesday I posted came from “Hollywood Ending” the finale of Season Two. The episode was written by the three showrunners. It was directed by the wonderful Jennifer Getzinger. The episode hinges around neutralizing the Season 2 villain Whitney Frost.

The finale is many things: an escape, a heist, and then a two-act action sequence focused around opening (and then trying to close) an inter-dimensional rift used to neutralize the central villain of Season 2. Oh, and there’s a hovercar. And a love story.

I generally cut complex VFX/Action shows with about 10-12 tracks.  However the rift/hover car sequence required a few more tracks of music and sound effects. What you see here is the fully expanded (checkerboarded) sequence masterfully managed by my amazing Assistant Editor Emily Streetz. Four tracks of Dialog and ADR, eight tracks of Sound Effects, four Stereo Audio tracks of temp score, and two tracks of Mono Audio for LR music.

We also use locators to try to keep track of VFX (green), ADR (yellow), and notes to one another (white). On an episodic drama schedule there can be very little time between when you lock picture and turnover for the final picture and sound, so having a system to track all the various elements that can change frequently during the editorial process is vital.

Here are some Media Composer tips I love:

  • I’m always surprised when people don’t use option-c (alt-c) for making a sub clip that just magically appears in the source monitor. It’s a timesaver and makes changes in the room lightning fast.
  • Don’t fear the blue arrow button (Replace Edit button) but do practice with it.
  • Asymmetrical trimming is what I do for a living! Try it out for yourself, it’s awesome!

Got you interested in watching Agent Carter? Seasons 1 and 2 are available on iTunes, Hulu and Amazon.

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I am a picture editor working in my native Los Angeles. I got my first break as an American Cinema Editors Intern. I’ve worked on all your favorite shows such as True Blood, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Deadwood, and Scream. I’m currently editing the new drama “Animal Kingdom” which premieres in June. You can find me on Twitter @tweetermf.