First Assistant Editor Riccardo Bacigalupo Shares Tricks of the Trade in Post Production

After having spent the last two and a half years on Kick-Ass 2 and Kingsman, First Assistant Editor Riccardo Bacigalupo took a well earned break for a couple of months, giving us the opportunity to talk with him about his latest and upcoming projects.  “I just returned this April from working in Germany on Eddie The Eagle, directed by Dexter Fletcher, and I am currently cutting a low budget horror flick to get my editing brain working again. I find the mindset required for Editing and Assisting to be very different, so it’s important to keep both skill sets sharp.”

Riccardo Bacigalupo working on They Want You – Photo by Lorenzo Bacigalupo

“I wanted to work on films as an Assistant Editor because in my opinion, the understanding it can give you on how the editorial department works, both technically and politically, is vital to one’s career progression. It is an essential part of the path to becoming an editor on big feature films.

My own path to Assistant Editing on movies started with a few months as a Runner/Post Production Assistant in a London post house, followed by a year working as the ‘tech guy’ for a TV production company. The role included running the 3 Avid Offline Edit Suites they had recently set up in house, which helped me further my knowledge on the Avid hardware and software. It turned out that someone from the management team knew Editor Eddie Hamilton from a previous job, so he put us in contact. The technical knowledge I had been developing over the previous years put me in good stead for a feature film cutting room position and I was very lucky to have Eddie offer me the job of apprentice editor on X-Men: First Class. We’ve been working together ever since.”

Riccardo Bacigalupo working on Event 15 (2012) – Photos by Sebastian Solberg

“I grew up reading Marvel comics and in particular the X-Men series. It was a huge deal for me that the first film I ever worked on was an X-Men movie”

—Riccardo Bacigalupo

“In terms of working in a cutting room, some of Riccardo’s favorite projects were the smaller movies he did with Editor Eddie Hamilton such as The Loft or All Things to All Men. “The production offices and shooting crew for these films were in a different location than the edit suite, so it was just the two of us in a room in a post house. This kind of environment provides a fantastic opportunity to work directly next to the Editor and see in detail how they craft the scenes and put the movie together.

Eddie has a pretty solid structure for organizing his projects and I’ve followed that right from the beginning. It’s something that we re-evaluate on a project by project basis. The main skeleton usually stays the same and we apply some tweaks here and there as required.

Everything is broken down into folders and subfolders which are organized numerically. The cutting copy, the scene bins, and his work zone are at the top of the project, followed by music and sound effects, then VFX, stock footage, turnovers, marketing materials, and exports. Then at the bottom we have a folder called ‘The Basement’ where each Assistant has his own work zone and where the master files for each day are kept, along with sub folders for the creatives/studio dailies.”

“Everything can be done quicker and more effectively nowadays, which liberates the storyteller and his creative team when the technology is fully understood and utilized properly.”

“I tend to try and have both OS in the cutting room. We’ve had Windows and MAC based Avid systems on Ka2 and Kingsman without any major issues. As for Media Composer versions, both Eddie and I like to use the latest possible version once we have tested it and made sure its stable. We finished Kingsman using 7.0.3, and I’m running 8.3 on my own two Avid licenses at the moment.

I have my own Custom Consoles System II electrically powered sit/stand desks on which I have 2 or 3 Avid systems in front of me; two of my own licenses and Eddie’s. I use a great piece of software called Synergy which allows me to seamlessly use my Razer hardware across all 3 systems without the need for multiple keyboards and mice, cluttering up the desk. My primary Avid has a Mojo DX, and the other two are software only, which I use for importing and exporting, so that I can always be working on my main system.”

“I have a bunch of commands mapped to the right side of my keyboard, but most of these are linked to the 17 buttons on my Razer Naga mouse, which means I rarely have to take my hand off the mouse and move it over to the keyboard to trigger these actions. For example, to toggle the Smart Tool on and off I would press the U key on the keyboard. But the U key is also assigned to Button 1 on the Grid right under my mouse hand thumb. And to get really geeky for a moment here; I can also switch between 7 different key maps on my mouse with a touch of a button on the keyboard – meaning I have 7 sets of 17 buttons at my disposal, all available to map different commands.

One of my favorite tips would be the power and flexibility of Workspaces. It’s great to be able to custom design the layout of the Avid GUI windows for different displays and screen resolutions, save them to my settings and have them available to apply with the touch of a button or menu command. This is especially useful when moving between working on my main system and my laptop with its smaller display.”

Riccardo Bacigalupo syncing Eddie The Eagle rushes on location in Germany; with Lab Supervisor Simon Chubbock - Photo by Vincent Zettl

“Another productivity tip that I actually picked up from Eddie would be using tools from the Effects Palette to make burn-in presets. We use the Subcap, Timecode Generator and Title Tool to build ‘drag and drop burn-in’ subsequence presets at the start of a job so that they are ready for any exports or turnovers that need to be done.  Once they are made, it’s easy to go in and quickly modify the text in the Subcap Effect or to create a new preset. This saves a lot of time when we are under pressure and have to deliver sequences quickly.

And finally, a nice trick is to map different bin views to the keyboard shortcuts. This wasn’t something you could do until version 7 of Media Composer. But it’s an amazing timesaver as an Assistant when I’m often moving back and forth between the different bin views depending on what I’m doing.”

Timeline of Reel 6 of Kingsman: The Secret Service

If Riccardo hadn’t gone down the film industry path, he would probably be pursuing his musical ambitions as a guitarist. “I’ve played all my life and was in a couple of bands at University that did quite well. I always told myself I would earn my living playing the guitar or working on films. Well, film got there first and I haven’t looked back. Although, I still play the guitar for fun. It relaxes me and helps me unwind after the long hours in the cutting room. It’s a great way to get rid of the stress!”

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