Frame of Reference with Editor Todd Gill

 

Todd Gill is a freelance editor and colorist with over 12 years of experience in the post production industry. He has worked on many national, regional, and local TV campaigns, as well as, documentary, and corporate videos. Like most other post professionals, he is a self-proclaimed technology junky.

 

 
What got you interested in editing?

It just kinda fell into place for me. I remember around 2000, I was in college and took a class called Non linear editing fundamentals. They were teaching an early version of Adobe Premiere. It was a slow process, but I think that was when I was hooked. I felt like I had power to tell a story. Or at least put the pieces of the puzzle together to tell a story. Also I remember from there spending countless hours editing tape to tape for other class projects

 
How did you get started in editing?


While studying in college, I interned at a local post production facility, Dempsey Film Group. There I worked the late shift in the duplication department. At that time the editors did the on-lining process in a linear edit suite. There were many a late nights spent waiting for the edits to be completed. So I would sit in the back watching the edit process and the interaction between the editors and the clients. Eventually, I became an assistant editor, still working late and prepping for the next days edit. Then about a year or so later, I became a full-time editor. By this time we were pretty much a non linear facility. So I seemed to excel as fast as the other editors as far as learning the software. I still had a long way to go before I had a decent editing technique.

 
What is your preferred NLE(s) of choice? Why?

Well, I’ve worked with the Big Three. When I started out editing, I cut my teeth editing with Avid Express, Avid Adrenaline, and Avid Symphony. Those were great systems at the time. When we moved toward HD workflow, We slowly moved toward Final Cut Pro. I really enjoyed working with FCP7 and the whole studio. I was always excited to see what it could do. I think it is a very powerful tool and still use it today. And probably will continue to use it. This last May, I jumped ship and now I am working in Premiere Pro. This is also a great app. It really seems to speed my editing process. I recently finished my first big project with it. It was a 20+ minute video, with multi formats. I was really impressed how smooth the process went working natively as well as round tripping to and from Resolve. There was a lot I learned about how Premiere Pro works while editing this project.
After all that, I have to say that at this moment Premiere Pro is my NLE of choice. But I think it is wise to have as many tools in your box as you can.

 

Give us a run through of your editing process.

 
It’s funny. I think my editing process changes from project to project. It never really seems to be the same. It depends on what I am doing. Usually I just segment everything into selects sequences, duplicate and then I begin to start pulling client and director liked takes, then I’ll go back to pull my own. If I am editing a lifestyle spot, I usually edit a story and not worry about timing. I then refine the edit to the music. I think for a spot, you get a better story if it is cut to the music. Then I lay in the VO to get a feel for how the spot is progressing. Then the tough part…what to cut. I keep refining the edit to get it into time. By this point I could have 6, 7 or more versions of the spot. Once I am happy with the edit and think it is working well, I’ll then show it to the director to get their approval then off to the clients. Again, this is only one scenario. I think each project seems to have a life of it’s own. Some are great to work on, and others are like pulling teeth.

 

What tips were you given that was really helpful?


I used to be extremely literal when It came to my edits. If it called for b-roll, I would cut in the b-roll of exactly as it was called for. The directors and editors that I worked with, said don’t be so literal with your edits. Follow the script to a point, but then put the script away and feel your way though it. That is something I am still working with.
Recently I came across this blog by Oliver Peters.I knew most of these tips, but it is nice to read these tips and firm up your skills.

 

How organized are you?

I like to think I am very organized. If you look at my projects in the app, they all look the same other than the project title. I create my projects from a template I created. So I am never having to search for where things are. I know where everything is supposed to go. I think it is very helpful for workflow purposes as well. If I need to come back to a project at a later date, I can backtrack through my previous versions if needed.
 Outside the App, I am just as organized. I have a template project folder, that encompasses the whole project from beginning to end. I think if you are very organized, you spend less time looking and searching for where to put files or where to find them and more time as to what is important…editing.

 

Can you work without a script, finding the story and building it on your own?

Yes, in some cases, I am handed take notes, and am told to get to it. It’s not difficult as long as you understand the scope of the project and understand the clients and directors vision. Actually, It is refreshing to do this, because you are not constrained to the boundaries of the script. You can really put your own signature on the project. Though sometimes that could comeback to bite you. 
I feel I really have a knack of taking doc style interviews and creating the best story as possible. I love to find the story and intertwine all the people through out. It’s kind of like writing a term paper and supporting your main statement, but way more enjoyable.

 
What is your favorite film? Favorite Tv show?


TV Show Guilty Pleasure: Hawaii 50 and Big Bang Theory
 Favorite Film… I’m going to have to say, any of Christopher Nolan’s films

 
What style of editing have you done? (Narrative/Documentary/News/Corporate/Wedding/Etc)


I think I have almost done it all. I mainly work with Spots, Corporate, and Documentaries. When I started freelancing, I was cutting wedding videos day after day. They are good work.

 
If you could meet any editor, who and why?

That is a good one, I’ll come back to this.

 
What advice can you offer to get through complex edits?


What I do to get through complex edits is, I try to create alternate versions to see every possibility there is. Try different takes. Try different editing techniques even though they are not called for in that particular project, then I bring in the director or others who have creative ownership in the project and bounce the alternate versions to see what they think. Getting input from others is always helpful if you are stuck.

 

Which plug-in(s) do you find most useful? Why?


Plural Eyes – I think sound sync will become a lost art due to Plural Eyes.
 Crumple Pop Lumineux – Seems like these days light leaks are the in thing. They work great to help grunge footage or create nice flash frames. Its easy, and my clients seem to like it.
 Resolve – Not sure we can call this a plugin. But I use this to grade all of my projects and really adds value to the final product.

 
How does the director-editor relationship work for you?


I think you must have a good relationship with your director. You have to understand their style and vision. I usually meet at the beginning of the project and sometimes in pre-production to discuss the project. From there, once I have the footage in hand, I am working solo. I will then either have the director come in or I’ll post for feedback. I’ll continue the process until the director is happy with the edit, then we will proceed to client viewing.

 
How do you deal with problem clients/directors?

OH the difficult directors/clients. I have to listen even more carefully and be more sensitive to what their vision is. This is to only avoid any issues down the road.

 
What’s your overall philosophy about editing?


My Philosophy? Tell great stories with what you have. That is your job as an editor. It might not be Grade A material. But you must tell a story in a creative and understandable way and engage with your viewers, whether it is a 90 minute feature-length film or documentary to a :30 second or even a :15 second spot.

 

Name one thing that you would tell an aspiring editor

 
Watch a lot of everything. I was told I should watch a lot of TV when I started editing, to see different styles. I don’t watch a lot of TV. I spend more time on Vimeo or other places on the internet watching and learning and picking up interesting tidbits to add to my skills. Get inspired and just start cutting

 

You can catch up with Todd on twitter @digitalpostink and @Todd_Gill or check out his work Digital Post Ink

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