Easing the Editor’s Struggle… Just a Little

By in Video Editing

Blackway is the latest collaboration between Swedish director Daniel Alfredson and editor/post-production supervisor Håkan Karlsson. Screened at the Venice and Austin film festivals ahead of a general release, it tells the story of a young woman who returns to her hometown on the northwest Pacific coast of America only to be menaced by an ex-police officer turned criminal. The film was shot in Canada but edited at Karlsson’s People in the Park facility in rural Sweden. Which, he explains, was made possible by remote networking.

I’ve been working with director Daniel Alfredson for 25 years, on TV drama series and a lot of films. We did The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, based on the novel by Steig Larsson, and episodes of the Millennium TV series that was also inspired by his work. More recently we made Kidnapping Mr Heineken, which featured Anthony Hopkins.

Our latest film, Blackway, also stars Anthony Hopkins, as well as Ray Liotta and Julia Stiles. It was shot on ARRI ALEXA in 4:4:4 and I edited it using Avid Media Composer. I’ve used Media Composer as long as it has existed and I’ve been editing for 25 years. I was using Steenbeck editing tables until 2000 but I started with Avid long before that. I’ve tried other programs but Avid is my preferred tool – it just works for me.

I set up People in the Park in 2006, based in Kilafors, a small town about three hours north of Stockholm. It was a small risk but I wanted to build a place where people would want to come to work.

I work here with sound designer/mixer Kenneth Skoglund and film and sound editor Sarah Patient Nixastro. People in the Park is built inside a big old school, with an office, several virtual editing suites, a grading room and a mixing studio. There are guest apartments for directors and producers because a week here is like two in Stockholm – you can get more done in shorter days.

When people can’t come to us, we’re also able to work remotely, as we did with Blackway. Collaborative distance working is made possible by the combination of Avid with the HAWC cloud-based editing and distribution platform. HAWCeye, the streaming service we use for distributing footage such as daiies, edited scenes and versions of the film. HAWCsuite works like a remote computer; it allows me to have directors, producers and more to ‘visit’ me in my edit suite from wherever they are, while still working in high-res and with no latency. But it´s just a computer, not an edit system – it is more passive, whereas Avid is more active and can be used for the coding as well as the editing.

All of this worked well on Blackway. I did go over to Canada for a week just to see everyone, but other than that I was in my post house. And because of the time difference with Canada we were able to work during their night time. My assistant Bjorn worked closely with me and we did a lot of the DIT at my facility instead of on-set. This included the encoding for Avid offline; by using the FileCatalyst transfer platform we could upload the original in high resolution and encode everything for Avid.

FileCatalyst uses the UDP-based Data Transfer Protocol for uploading RAW files, which is a fast and secure way to transfer data. As well as loading the video footage into Media Composer I also had the audio files and continuity reports. I was post supervisor on Blackway and Kenneth Skoglund, who was the sound designer, worked closely with me using Pro Tools. I work a lot with the sound and the music – it’s very important to do that for the final editing.

Everyone was very pleased with the results, and it really shows that you don’t have to be close to the production any more to stay connected and to do a great job.

The fascinating thing I find about editing is working not only with a big canvas but also having the choice of a ‘big wide pencil’ or a ‘small, thin pencil’ – which is what Media Composer and other Avid systems provide. They allow you to go down to the tiny things, at 1/25th of a second. Even at that level, though, every decision is big. I think it’s very important that editors struggle. Editors should want to make the end result better than the best all the time and, while technologies like Avid are ‘just tools’, they help enormously in doing that.

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As a Sales and Marketing Specialist in the Nordics, I have an amazing opportunity to work closely with some of the best and most interesting artists, content creators and audio and video professionals from Northern Europe. Follow me on Avid Blogs to learn industry news from Scandinavia, Benelux and Russia.