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The Rough Cut: Jeff Groth, Editor of Joker

When “Joker” made its public debut at the Venice Film Festival, it received an eight-minute standing ovation—and the editor who deserves a fair share of that ovation is Jeff Groth.

On the latest episode of “The Rough Cut,” I spoke with Jeff about his collaboration with writer and director Todd Phillips, their creative process editing “Joker,” and his career advice for aspiring editors.

Listen to the full podcast episode or read the highlights below.

Matt: You’ve done something uncommon in this modern era of reboots and franchises. The tone of this film and the style of Joker here is a lot different.

Jeff: We were always thinking of this as just a movie. It wasn’t a DC movie, it wasn’t necessarily the Joker movie—we were just trying to make a good movie. And then it has this overlay of Joker on it. The biggest thing is that it’s a character study.

One of the things I’m most proud of with the movie is that you see him at the beginning, and you wonder, “How am I going to get to this point? How am I going to see this guy?” And then when you do finally get to the point where the Joker appears on screen, you look back and say, “Wow, how did we get here? That’s amazing. I can’t believe that we got here from there.”

 

Matt: Todd Phillips is co-writer of the film as well as director. Does that make it any harder in editorial in that he might be a little closer or a little more protective?

Jeff: Todd knows editing; he knows how to run an Avid. As both the director and the writer, he’s very willing to cut things—in fact, I feel like he isn’t happy until he’s cut something from the movie to begin with.

Especially with directors who are also the writer, I use the Script tool, because they’re always very specific about their words. When we get, you know, four months into it, then I have the tool to say, “I know you have this line that you wanted to say in this way. Now let’s go back and look at every one of those.” And you have it for the entire script. With a writer-director, it’s of paramount importance to have that because they put those words on the paper.

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Industry-standard video editing software for independent editors and moviemakers

The other thing with Todd as a writer-director is that he is extremely talented at re-utilizing dialogue. If we’ve cut a piece of the dialogue, he still finds ways to use those lines and rearrange the dialogue in a way that I’m always learning from.

 

Matt: A film like this is an evolution of a character over time. When you’re shooting it nonlinearly, does it get tough to keep track of where he is in his arc from semi-tragic figure to evil villain?

Jeff: We’re shooting out of order, but what I ended up doing was cutting in order. As soon as I got scene two, I would go and cut scene two. As soon as I got scene three, I would go and cut scene three. And I would leave things in later reels until I got there.

This isn’t necessarily a thing that I’ve done on other movies. In this one in particular, it seemed like it was a good idea because then if you were coming in and watching, you could watch the progression of the character up to that point.

 

Matt: This is a character that’s been played out many times theatrically, but when you think about those other films, certainly there are great performances, but you think of the big set-piece moments. “Joker” is really more of a character study. Did you find it more fun to work on the smaller, more intimate scenes?

Jeff: The action definitely does take a backseat. Once we had the action scenes assembled, they didn’t change in a significant way. Where the debate definitely was was character and story. Has he gotten to this point yet in terms of intensity? If he has gotten to this point, and the next scene is not as intense, how did he recover from that? That was most of the discussion.

 

Matt: Do you have any tools or techniques that you use to keep track of how those elements are balancing out story-wise?

Jeff: Three-by-five cards on the wall, those are hugely important to us. We would reprint those cards throughout the editing process as the scene changed to better represent what was there. We actually had an identical board in the larger office and then one just like it in the satellite office.

 

Matt: For a lot of people the first job they hope to achieve in filmmaking would be an assistant editor or an apprentice editor. What is it you’re looking for in a good assistant?

Jeff: The number one thing for me is management of the cutting room. I don’t like to do too much managing of the cutting room—I kind of get stuck in my own world of putting things together. So the most important thing an assistant can do is manage and anticipate what the editor will need.

As an assistant, if you’re looking to move up into an editor position, one of the things that you can see as practice is to think, “If I were to be cutting, what would I want? What would I like? How would I want things set up?” And then doing those things for the editor and learning what the editor wants. Thinking in that way, even if you’re not doing all that work with the footage, puts you in the mindset of the editor.




Play Together — Avid MediaCentral | Editorial Management

Avid’s past, present and future has, is and always will be about helping creative people play together.  Even 27 years ago, when the original Avid1/Media Composer was released, it was all about collaboration.  Back then, the big technological breakthrough that took place was the ability to get 30 highly compressed frames playing from a hard disk in a single second.  So, the concept of an NLE being able to take a project from start to finish was not just financially impractical, but pretty much impossible from a technology standpoint.  In light of that, for a digital nonlinear editing system to revolutionize the industry, it had to function effectively as part of a bigger picture.  It had to have truly solid media management and interop capabilities.

Original concept sketch for Avid collaborative post. October 1987

Although professional editors often cite Media Composer’s timeline model and the ease with which they can manipulate a cut as to why they choose Avid, none of that would have mattered back in the 90’s if they couldn’t easily bring all their “offline” editing work forward into the other parts of the process; the color timing and correction, the sound mixing and editing, and finally the mastering and conforming.  Here we are in 2018 and all those things are still important.  For no better reason than that in professional post workflows you have highly skilled people who specialize in specific parts of the creative process.  Collaboration will always be the answer for getting work done faster and at the best possible quality.  Helping to make all that happen has always been Avid’s mission.

There are two key components to Media Composer’s leadership position in collaborative workflows.  The first would obviously be Avid’s shared storage.  When the original Avid Unity centralized storage product was introduced over 20 years ago, this was a huge leap forward in how post teams worked together. It was where collaboration changed from being about a fluid “linear” workflow, into a situation where creative teams were working in parallel and rapidly accelerating the post process.

The Amazing Race

It’s no coincidence that around the same time reality television production really took off.  Shows like Survivor and Amazing Race have enormous shooting ratios and extremely tight deadlines.  The only way to pull off something like that is to have a small army of editors, assistants and producers all working in parallel in an environment that is intuitive, responsive and very stable.  To this day, Avid’s intelligent shared storage products, from our original Unity systems (which are STILL actively in use throughout the world) to our new NEXIS line, form the backbone of thousands of production environments.

Despite all the focus on the storage itself, and the storage file system, it’s Avid’s bin model that was really the magic behind helping editors to collaborate effectively on the same project.  And that’s proven by how prominently Media Composer and NEXIS are deployed throughout professional post and broadcast.  In those environments, media and asset management are things that need to be completely reliable and not disruptive to the creative process.  Editors are able to work together without even having to really think about how they’re sharing clips and bins with assistants or other editors.

Avid NEXIS

Although Media Composer and NEXIS are the key parts to most professional post environments, NEXIS also fully supports Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve, EDIUS, and of course our DAW, Pro Tools.  While none of those third-party solutions have the same level of bin sharing capabilities as Media Composer, you can easily have them be part of a hybrid workflow, as many people often do.  Supporting third-party solutions is obviously a good thing, because it gives the creative teams more flexibility on how they want to support different projects.  But, as I mentioned earlier, Avid’s true goal is to help teams get their best work done faster.  And that’s where the next revolution in post workflows comes in with our new MediaCentral | Editorial Management.

MediaCentral | Editorial Management

Technically you’d have to classify it as asset management, but it’s more like collaboration management, as it does some things that have never been possible before.  I mentioned that Avid’s bin model was a key part of how we made collaborative post easy and reliable.  But even that was limited to a world where you needed both a Media Composer system as well as someone trained to use it.  The game changing part of Editorial Management is the new HyperBin architecture.  Simply through an easy to use web UI called MediaCentral | Cloud UX, anyone can browse and search all of the media they have access to on NEXIS.  More importantly, the user can also create Media Composer bins and folders right from that same web UI.  So, an assistant could literally be moving dailies around and prepping bins for an editor from anywhere in the world, provided they can get to the network that the NEXIS is on.

Media management, something that most editors don’t want to spend too much time on, now gets distributed out so that it’s something the entire team can take part in.  And again, you don’t need Media Composer, or even someone trained on Media Composer to do it.  That said, Media Composer editors also get to enjoy some additional benefits as well. The same UI in the web browser also exists as a panel in Media Composer.  The beauty of that is that editors can now easily search for clips and bins across all their NEXIS workspaces, not just the active project that they have open.  This will really speed up the process of finding the exact right clips you need.  And, in keeping with the theme of openness, we’re also developing the same panel for Adobe Premiere.

Although I’m sure I can continue writing about MediaCentral | Editorial Management and the exciting prospects it brings, it’s much better if you take a look at it for yourself.  My friend Michael Krulik has put together a short demo for you so that you can see Editorial Management in action.  Check it out!

Creative Collaboration Made Simple

Add powerful, simple-to-deploy asset management capabilities to your file-based editing workflow with Avid MediaCentral | Editorial Management.




Clowning Around with IT Editor, Jason Ballantine

This past September, audiences everywhere witnessed the return of Pennywise the Clown in the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror novel, IT. Unlike the previously made-for-tv miniseries, the 2017 film focused completely on the portions of King’s book that covered the collective childhood of its characters. Here the filmmakers were able to craft a coming-of-age movie that intertwined with the more macabre aspects of King’s novel.  The result is something that is both frightening and yet emotionally-resonant.

The initial interest in IT may have been driven by nostalgia, but the film’s status as the all-time top grossing R-Rated horror movie is a testament to its excellent writing, editing, and razor-sharp attention to detail; playing on key touchstones from the original work.

I recently sat down with editor, Jason Ballantine to talk about his work on the late Summer blockbuster. Jason provides insight into his own creative process as well as the collaborative effort that went into realizing director, Andy Muschietti’s vision. Jason also discusses the techniques he used to create the unique look, feel and vibe for IT.

• Discover the vision behind bringing IT to life.

• Learn the techniques they used to create IT’s nostalgic feel.

• Get first-hand insight into the post production workflows on IT.

• Learn how meeting high expectations fueled the creative process.

Discover Media Composer

Accelerate storytelling with the tools embraced by top movie, television, and broadcast editors. And power through HD and high-res editing faster and easier than ever.




How “Stranger Things” Happened — Go Behind the Scenes With the Post Production Team

In 2016, audiences around the world couldn’t get enough of Stranger Things, the unexpected hit series. The show pays homage to iconic 80s films by directors like John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg—with a storyline that’s nostalgic yet refreshingly original.

The show grew into a phenomenon largely by word of mouth. The show’s success is a testament to its excellent writing, editing, and razor-sharp attention to detail—plus amazing performances by its cast of charismatic and endearing actors.

I was joined by the Stranger Things post production team, including editor Kevin D. Ross, editor Dean Zimmerman, first assistant editor Katheryn Naranjo, and first assistant editor Nat Fuller. They provided insight into their creative process and editing workflow, and explained how they used Avid solutions to create the unique look, feel, and vibe for the show.

 

  • Discover the formula for Stranger Things’ breakout success
  • Learn the techniques they used to create the show’s nostalgic feel
  • Get first-hand insight into their editing workflows on the show
  • Learn how collaboration fueled their creative process

 

Hear straight from the post production team behind one of the most exciting shows in recent memory.

Discover Media Composer

Accelerate storytelling with the tools embraced by top movie, television, and broadcast editors. And power through HD and high-res editing faster and easier than ever.




Your Free Ticket to the Movies—Media Composer | First

From compelling dramas like last year’s critically acclaimed Lion to the latest superhero epics, like Wonder Woman, over 95% of mainstream films are edited on Media Composer. And editors of some of the most addictive TV shows, like Westworld, Transparent, and Better Call Saul trust Media Composer to bring binge-worthy series to life each week—on incredibly demanding timelines.

We’re in awe of the global community of filmmakers that tell our culture’s most important stories. And we couldn’t be prouder that Media Composer is their choice for creative editorial.

“This would be perfect for anybody who is trying to learn this software.”

—Catherine Haight, ACE, editor Transparent, New Girl

For most film-industry pros, the journey begins as an assistant. Shuttling coffee around editing suites. Making sure the ultra-foam double-shot soy latte order is just right (do they even make those?). Running hard drives across facilities. And hoping for a few moments to learn from a mentor. Or to get a chance to cut a scene on “the Avid”. For many, these can be the first experiences that aspiring pros have getting their hands on top editing tools.

We want the next generation of editors and content creators to have an easier way to become experts in the industry’s standard editing software. And to be able to make inspiring pro-quality videos on their own. That’s why we made Media Composer | First. Video editing software that gives you many of the same tools used to create your favorite movies and TV shows—completely free.

“I can probably cut Better Call Saul on this… and it’s free, wow!”

—Kelley Dixon, ACE, editor Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad

Media Composer | First includes everything you need to get an edge before you even get to set. Edit stories across four video tracks and eight audio tracks. Cut between multiple cameras, and add sound effects. Bring your imagination to life with built-in visual effects and color palettes. And once you’ve finished creating, quickly share your story to the world with one-click publishing to social media platforms like YouTube.

To help you get started editing right away, we created a series of video tutorials just for Media Composer | First. Plus, as part of the Avid family, you’ll have access to a community of the world’s top movie and television editors. Get expert editing tips, storytelling techniques, and career guidance from today’s top professionals.

 

• Create stories with the same tools moviemakers rely on everyday

• Establish your own style with powerful visual effects, color, and audio tools

• Instantly share your work with the world with quick publishing to YouTube

• Learn from the pros with our new tutorials and VIP guest videos

“I’m actually incredibly jealous that I didn’t have this when I was coming out of college!”

—Colby Parker Jr, ACE, editor Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day

With Media Composer | First, you don’t need to land that assistant gig to launch your career. You don’t need to crowdfund your video editing workstation. You can take your stories, vlogs, and every creative idea to the next level—for free. Download Media Composer | First today.

Meet Media Composer | First

Learning Media Composer | First can open the door to a career in media and entertainment. Make a name for yourself starting now… Use the tools the pros use—for FREE.




Your First Look at Avid Artist | DNxIQ, New at NAB 2017

It seems like every day there are new technologies, media formats, and tools hitting the market. For video professionals, it can be challenging (not to mention expensive) to keep up with the gear you need to accommodate today’s complex and rapidly changing workflows.

Enter Avid Artist | DNxIQ—the successor to Avid Artist | DNxIO.

Avid Artist | DNxIQ is a powerful video interface that gives you the extensive media support, format flexibility and speed you need to deliver great content with confidence—to the delight of your team and your audience. With Avid Artist | DNxIQ, broadcast and post-production professionals can easily capture, monitor, and output SD, HD, 2K, UHD, and 4K content.

Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe 3 support give you more speed, more pixels, and more playout options. You also get the flexibility to address ever-changing content demands—efficiently and easily—and deliver to a broader array of channels and devices. And it’s available with or without Avid Media Composer | Software.

You also get built-in encoding to Avid DNxHR® so that you can edit massive 4K files with ease. And real-time format and frame-rate conversion on output and playback, thanks to accelerated Universal Mastering.

 

• Quickly and easily ingest, monitor, and output SD, HD, 2K, UHD, and 4K media

• Connect to the latest Mac and Windows computers with support for both Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe (with 3rd gen support to come)

• Work with the tools you prefer to use, including Media Composer, Pro Tools, Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, Apple Final Cut Pro X, and Adobe Premiere Pro CC

• Conveniently monitor video ingest and output using the integrated front-panel HD LCD

 

Universal Mastering offers no-fuss, real-time format and frame-rate conversion on output and playback, making it the perfect complement to the Media Composer | Symphony Option

Avid Artist | DNxIQ offers great flexibility in today’s deadline-driven world, providing support for every type of connection, format, and workflow today’s professional facilities need, including the new Cloud VM option for Media Composer workflows.

Beautiful Performance

Stunning images. No drama. For more information, visit the Avid Artist | DNxIQ product page.

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Save Hours Now—ScriptSync and PhraseFind Are Here

Every editor has been there. You’re staring at a growing mountain of drives and cards and devices containing dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of hours of footage. You know the story you want to tell. But finding the best takes or that perfect clip of dialog to complete your narrative can suck up hours of time daily. Hours you’d rather be spending creatively focusing on your story.

Back in 2006, Avid partnered with a company called Nexidia to bring Nexidia’s phonetic dialog indexing and search technology to Avid’s editing systems. First with ScriptSync, which automated the process of syncing every dialog line in a script or transcript with its equivalent media files. Then later with PhraseFind, which made it possible to simply type a word or phrase and quickly find every clip where that word or phrase is spoken.

With this technology, Media Composer editors gained significant speed and ease throughout the creative editorial process. Unfortunately, we experienced a partnership setback a few years ago and had to remove ScriptSync and PhraseFind from Media Composer. This wasn’t easy for us—and we know it especially wasn’t easy for you. Thankfully, that’s all about to change because they’re back!

 

Meet the new and improved ScriptSync and PhraseFind

As we mentioned late last year, we acquired the exclusive rights to Nexidia’s phonetic dialog search technology and would be bringing ScriptSync and PhraseFind back. Well, I’m thrilled to tell you that both are available now. And they’re better than ever! All you need is Media Composer 8.8 and you’re ready to rock (check out our special upgrade offer below).

ScriptSync

With the new Media Composer | ScriptSync Option, you can quickly sync every source clip to its associated dialog line in your script or transcript in seconds. This makes it super easy to compare all performances in the context of your story, so you can choose the best take. And it offers several new features and enhancements, including…

 

• Sync clips faster with the more powerful phonetic indexing engine

• Easily undo and redo tasks

• View clips in their native frame format, including 4×3 and 16×9

• Get more color choices for richer organization and script markup

• Work in multiple languages, with all available languages included

• Edit, find, and replace script text

 

ScriptSync is available now as a new purchase, upgrade, or bundled with PhraseFind—see all of your options here.

PhraseFind

With the new Media Composer | PhraseFind Option, you can quickly find all relevant clips by typing a word or phrase of dialog. That means you can spend less time searching for the right media and more time focusing on what matters most—your story. It also offers several new features and enhancements, including…

 

• Get faster search results with the more powerful phonetic indexing engine

• Save time and money with the ability to catalog volumes of dialog-driven media

• Get more accurate results with support for shorter phoneme phrases

• Gain better indexing of unclear audio and support for more dialects and accents

• Work in multiple languages, with all available languages included

 

PhraseFind is available now as a new purchase, upgrade, or bundled with ScriptSync—see all of your options here.

Got an older version of Media Composer?

Both ScriptSync and PhraseFind require Media Composer 8.8 to operate. If you have an active Annual Upgrade and Support Plan for Media Composer—or a Media Composer subscription—you can download the latest update at no charge right now (you’ll find the latest installer in your Avid Account).

If you have Media Composer 3 or later, Symphony 3 or later, or NewsCutter 7 or later, we’re giving you a limited-time only chance to upgrade your software to Media Composer 8.8 for just $399. This not only enables you to update your tools and editorial skills, you get an Annual Upgrade and Support Plan too, which provides access to all future Media Composer releases and support for one year, renewable annually for just $299/year.

Get more details about this special offer—or invest in your success and upgrade now through June 30, 2017.

So, how excited are you to have ScriptSync and PhraseFind back? And how will these tools help you? Share your story in the comments.

Subscribe to Media Composer

Get the professional’s choice for creative editorial, and accelerate HD, Ultra HD, 2K, and 4K video editing. Choose an annual subscription for as low as $49.99/month.

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Avid at Sundance Institute — Not All Heroes are Made in Hollywood

It’s true. Not all heroes are made in Hollywood. Wherever you are, you can dream, tell your story as you imagined it, and share it instantly—with everyone. In fact, today’s latest culture-shaping content doesn’t come out of Hollywood. It comes from small production teams pushing the boundaries of creativity around the world.

One of the places where independent production teams thrive is in Sundance, Utah, at the flagship location for the Sundance Institute. Since 1981, the Sundance Institute has worked to nurture and advance the careers of independent storytellers worldwide. Through its renowned labs, grants, and workshops, the Sundance Institute is one of the leading production-team incubators on the planet.

Take a look at this video, and see how the Sundance Institute is using Avid NEXIS | PRO and other creative tools from the Avid Premium Team Bundle to turn production teams like yours into the next generation of video superheroes.

Your team can deliver content that rivals the largest Hollywood production houses. But to take on bigger projects with tight deadlines, you need exceptional data management to create at your best. Otherwise, your workflow will be defined by the limitations of your storage, not by the reaches of your creativity.

That’s why we created Avid NEXIS | PRO. Storage that meets the demands of your workflow—not the other way around.

Stepping up to powerful, networked storage can be daunting, or feel like “too much.” But Avid NEXIS | PRO is easy to set up, and brings incredible openness and efficiency to your workflow right away.

Everyone on your team gets instant access to the same footage as soon as you ingest. Easily collaborate on projects at the same time—whether you’re working with Avid Media Composer or other creative apps—and save everything to one location. Then, playback your creations from any workstation. Anytime.

No more running drives back and forth to different workstations and wasting endless hours copying footage. No more worrying about which files are the most current version. No more managing stacks of hard drives. When you want more space, just add it to your Avid NEXIS | PRO. It’s the most open, intelligent, and flexible storage system you’ve ever experienced.

Avid NEXIS | PRO

Learn more about Avid NEXIS | PRO and how it can help turn your team into a video superhero squad.

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The Bandito Brothers Turn to Avid NEXIS | PRO for Shared Storage Across Adobe Premiere Pro and Media Composer Projects

As a full-service media company that creates, produces, manages and distributes everything from commercials to big-budget indie films, the Bandito Brothers needed a reliable, yet affordable storage platform that could support their growing workflow needs — enter Avid NEXIS | PRO. We sat down with the Bandito Brothers’ Chief Technology Officer and Senior Director of Post Production to learn how they utilize the Avid NEXIS | PRO on various projects and what it means to have a storage solution that can easily integrate with Adobe Premiere Pro and other third-party solutions.

Avid NEXIS | PRO

Ready to bring the same advanced workflows to your workgroup or post facility? Avid NEXIS | PRO is a next-generation intelligent storage system that expands and accelerates media workflows for everyone.

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Star Wars: Behind the Scenes with Bad Robot

Just days before the release of one of the most anticipated films in over 30 years, we’re pleased to present an exclusive webinar and Q&A session with the Bad Robot team, to get an inside look at the post production process behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

You’ll learn how they used cutting-edge Avid workflows to push the bounds of technology for the reboots of the two largest sci-fi franchises in the galaxy.

 

  • Learn the tools and techniques they used to build a blockbuster
  • Discover how collaboration fuels success at Bad Robot
  • Hear the team answer questions in a Q&A session

 

Editor’s Note: Updated December 14, 2015

Don’t Miss this Exclusive On-Demand Webinar

Find out what it’s like to work on one the biggest movie releases of all time—register to watch this on-demand webinar today.

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