Editing at the Grammy’s

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Editing at the Grammy's

As an editor, I am usually in a dark room by myself trying to create something watchable and entertaining for the mass audience. Sometimes I get the unique opportunity to do something a little different. For example, editing at Comic Con (see previous blog entry), at the Academy Awards, or The Grammy’s.

Let’s talk about the Grammy’s. I was hired to work as an On site editor for E!’s Live From the Red Carpet Show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest. I was brought in to cut together Bumps (montages) from footage shot during the live show that aired during the live show. 

THE PREP:

– Each bump had to be a certain length and be to a specific song. I created five template sequences with the music cut together with the proper amount of music pad.

– For the template sequences, I also cut together montages with older footage, complete with effects and lots of sparkles. During the live show, I would just replace the old shots with the new footage.

REHEARSAL, THE DAY BEFORE THE GRAMMY’S:

Rehearsal day for me was about testing the Avid Edit Bay in the truck to see if I could break it and break it I did. It took me an entire 5 minutes to find a fatal flaw. The workflow was setup so I had access to all of the live camera feeds and I could digitize whichever camera I wanted through the Capture Tool. I would switch between cameras using a switcher. Unfortunately, when I tested the Capture Tool, I was not getting any video feed from the cameras. Even though I was pretty sure all of my Avid Settings were correct I did the usual troubleshooting. I triple checked all of my settings, then I did a complete restart of the computer and Nitris hardware. The Capture Tool still wasn’t working. I had an engineer with me and he started checking all of the connections in the truck, and then he started checking all of the cable connections outside of the truck. After about 30 minutes, the engineer figured out that a piece of equipment that was somewhere between the Broadcast truck and my truck wasn’t working and this was why I wasn’t getting a signal into my Avid. They were able to fix it eventually and I was up and running later that day.

The next step was actually testing the camera feeds. I started capturing cameras but I noticed that if I tried to switch to a different camera while digitizing, it would stop recording. I  had to restart the capture tool every time I wanted to switch cameras. This was a problem because the precious seconds I would lose would mean that I would miss an opportunity to capture footage of celebrities on the red carpet (sometimes two different celebrities would be on different areas of the red carpet at the exact same time). I asked the engineer if it was possible to hook up the signal so that Avid did not detect the camera switch while digitizing. Two hours later, he had reworked the wiring so that Avid did not detect the camera switch. 

SHOW DAY, LIVE FROM THE RED CARPET AT THE GRAMMY’S

The big day consisted of me doing the jobs of 3 people under the stress of live television, and I have to admit, it was a lot of fun. 

Here is the breakdown of what I did, and keep in mind, I could not capture and edit at the same time so I had a Producer being my eyes on the cameras while I was editing simultaneously.

– Producer: “Nicki Minaj, Camera 3!” ———> I would quickly switch to capture mode and digitize Nicki ————-> “Katy Perry, Limo Cam!”——————-> I switched the feed from Nicki to Katy and added a locator while capturing so I could find Katy’s shot quickly while editing————-> REPEAT SEVERAL TIMES

– Editing: I stopped digitizing and started quickly re-editing the new shots into my template sequence. In the middle of tweaking a shot…”Jay-Z Camera 7!”…

…I stopped editing immediately and quickly started digitizing Camera 7. If I hesitated, I would lose my opportunity to get footage of Jay-Z, which is unacceptable. As soon as I had about 15 sec of footage I would quickly switch back to editing. This happened A LOT.

– Delivering the Montage to the Broadcast Truck: I was on headset with the EVS operator who cued clips for live broadcast. I contacted him and let him know I was ready to deliver a Bump. My Avid could output whatever was playing back in my timeline directly to the EVS Operator. I would countdown and play back my sequence while the EVS Operator recorded it and then cued it for broadcast (the Bump usually aired about 5-10 minutes after I delivered it.)

I repeated this process for every bump I delivered. I couldn’t deliver a bump until I had enough celebrity faces in it, so I ended up delivering 3 bumps and the last one aired 10 minutes before the show ended. Ryan Seacrest even commented on it, which made my Producer and I cheer. We had been working in overdrive for over 2 hours straight and we were exhausted. 

I love these kinds of gigs because I have a very vague idea of what I will be cutting but as with every live show, things change at the last minute and I pretty much have to be prepared for anything. And I have to cut really, really fast. It is a great challenge and I always feel like I am a better editor afterwards.

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