Frame of Reference with Editor Kylee Wall

Kylee Wall live’s and work in Indianapolis, IN. She has worked professionally as an editor/producer for over three years in a corporate setting and works mainly with industrial video projects, including training DVDs, online education, marketing, interviews, video blogs, and occasionally some super short form documentary. By night, she freelance, working mainly on indie short films or other corporate projects. “I graduated from Indiana University in 2009 with a video production degree. I also love cooking and baking, I make bad ass cupcakes, and do portrait photography on the side.” I got a chance to chit-chat with Kylee about all things Editing.

What got you interested in editing?
I got interested in editing by chance. I obtained a video camera at 14, started shooting around with it, and realized I really looked forward to the editing part. I was basically just going out to shoot so that I could have something to sit and edit. I think the thing that drew me to post production was that I really saw a story come together on the timeline. I could obviously visualize it when I was shooting it, but it actually turned into something tangible at my hand in the software. It amazed me how much the meaning of a piece could change by nudging a shot left or right, or swapping shots in the sequence.

How did you get started in editing?
I got started in editing fairly young, cutting in the software provided by the Sony Handycam I had (MGI Videowave). I spent the majority of my teenage years indoors, cutting videos and posting them on the Internet (which really sucked because YouTube didn’t exist, so I had to figure out how to stream them myself, and share via email and AIM). I eventually moved up to Adobe Premiere and used that until I jumped to Final Cut Pro my senior year of high school. I went to IU in Indianapolis and completed three internships, two of which allowed me to work in Avid and were absolutely vital to my career. Then I graduated and got hired into my first real editing job. It was a lot of setup to get to the actual professional editing position for me.

What is your preferred NLE(s) of choice? Why?
My preferred NLE is still FCP7, simply because I’m super comfortable with it. As part of my senior capstone project in college, I got certified in FCP6, so I know it pretty deeply. However, with the FCP road going into some interesting terrain these days, I decided to switch to Avid and get back up to speed with Media Composer. I love how Avid operates, so I’m pushing all of my freelance projects into Media Composer. I eventually would like to work in TV or film, and I don’t see Avid going anywhere, so it seems like a safe bet. I’ll always have the skills FCP gave me, too.

Give us a run through of your editing process
My editing process depends on the project, but generally I spend a LOT of time organizing footage. There’s no point in starting a project if your media is a mess. From there, I go through and assemble a really rough cut, just to see how it all plays out and figure out where things aren’t working. I start tossing things in the timeline, whether it feels right or not. Then like everyone else, I make passes until it’s awesome or time runs out. My editing and writing processes are very similar – for better or for worse, I just have to get that first cut or draft laid out right away. Then I can see everything a lot clearer and make it good.

What tips were you given that has been really helpful?
When I was an intern, an editor told me to always make a copy of your sequence before you revise it. It should be pretty obvious to keep increments of your timelines so when a director or producer inevitably says “Actually, I liked how it was before, can we go back to that?” you can just hop backwards without wasting time undoing things. However, I didn’t think that far ahead as a 19-year-old at my very first internship, so I like to pass that tip along to young editors now too.

How organized are you?
I like to think I’m really organized, especially when the project may ever pass into someone else’s hands. When I work on my own personal stuff, the organization tends to break down which is really not good, but I’m working on it. I don’t ever want someone to drop into my edit and think I’m an utter fool. Well, at least not when it comes to organization.

Can you work without a script, finding the story and building it on your own?
I can definitely work without a script. That’s typically what I do at my day job. I often have a lot of footage that needs to come together to tell SOME kind of story, so I have to dig in and figure out what that story is within all this industrial footage. Whether its truck drivers trying to pass a test, or how to inspect an engine, there’s a story somewhere.

What is your favorite film? Favorite TV show?
My favorite film is Amelie. My favorite TV show is Doctor Who. There are a lot of close seconds to my favorite film/TV show, but I’ll spare you.

What style of editing have you done? (Narrative/Documentary/News/Corporate/Wedding/Etc)
I think I’ve dabbled in every style of editing by now in some way. The only long form work I’ve done so far is in training videos. I’ve edited short films, short documentaries, news reel style pieces, interviews, industrial how to, weddings…I’m not sure there’s something I haven’t touched in some way.

If you could meet any editor, who & why?
If I could meet any editor, it would be Sally Menke. Her death in 2010 really sucked. I would have absolutely loved to talk with her about working with Quentin Tarantino, who is one of my favorite directors.

What advice can you offer to get through complex edits?
I think the best way to get through complex edits is to take a break once in a while and go outside, especially if you get stuck. Leaving and coming back to something really helps.

Which plug-in(s) do you find most useful? Why?
My favorite plug-in is Magic Bullet Colorista. I just find it easier to use and more robust than the built-in color correctors. I also really like Magic Bullet Looks, particularly for videos with a quick turn around. I usually use it to find a starting point quickly, and mold it into what I need.

How does the director-editor relationship work for you?
Producers and directors I’ve worked with so far have been fairly hands-off with the editing process, which is nice because they trust me to get their story to a certain point without a lot of interference and I think that gives the best result. I really enjoy collaborating, so working with someone with a strong vision for where the story should go is always a really rewarding experience.

How do you deal with problem clients/directors?
With problem clients, the best way to go for me is to be honest. When I’ve had clients being a pain, I’ve had pretty good results with simply being direct and telling them what I need, what I’m missing, what they need to do for me, and when I need it. It’s important to be diplomatic, but there’s no point in being subtle or passive aggressive. Having a positive attitude with a client about their project from beginning to end provides the best results. Ultimately, they’re your customer, so you must have that idea of customer service in the back of your mind while reminding them you’re the professional they hired. And if they’re a true problem, knowing when to say no is important too.

What’s your overall philosophy about editing?
My philosophy on editing is that there are no rules. If a cut elicits the reaction you want, it’s a good cut. Bad cuts can be good cuts.

Name one thing that you would tell an aspiring editor
I would tell an aspiring editor to never stop learning and never stop asking questions. Find editors, ask questions, learn things. And be prepared to spend a lot of time in a dark room.

For more info on Kylee you can find her on twitter or her blog.

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