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  • Chris Salters

Delivering Video Faster | ArtClass On-set Editor Case Study

Like most editors, I’m no stranger to tight deadlines and often laughable turnaround times. In today’s gotta-have-it-now environment, production and post-production alike are being squeezed to churn out impressive content faster and faster. On one hand, the deadlines can impose a demanding presence on the creative process, but on the other hand, they heighten the excitement (and dare I say fun) of any project. That’s why when I was tapped by ArtClass to be an on-set editor for two of their Texas-based projects, I jumped at the opportunity!

Quick Approvals

ArtClass felt the juicing squeeze as much as anyone. One of their solutions to speed up the production to post pipeline, on-set editing, was simple enough, but as I came to hear while on set, not seen that often in the industry. With the camera to cloud workflow still not feasible in all situations, dragging the editor from the dark edit bay onto the bright lights of a set is a great alternative.

on-set-editor - laptop setup and camera car rig

TRICO Day 1 - Closed Course Driving

The benefits of getting an edit started immediately are enormous, from ensuring scenes cut together as planned to giving end-clients peace of mind. None are more beneficial though than the time saved. VFX heavy commercials especially benefit from on-set editing because clients can approve initial versions of cuts within hours or even minutes of scenes being shot, giving VFX artists more time to make a spot shine its brightest.

The On-set Editor Process

One of the first things I noticed (and appreciated) while working with ArtClass is their projects are extremely well produced and directed. Both projects included detailed scripts and storyboards, and one already had an animatic with VO that was instrumental in establishing timing.

If there was one piece of advice I could give for editing on set, it’s to work with a good DIT. In the spirit of time-saving, it’s almost a must to work with proxy footage and the production's DIT is the chef dishing them up. That’s especially true when working in remote settings where a laptop is the only option for the editor on the go.

on-set-editor - editing laptop setup and soundstage green screens

TRICO Day 2 - Green Screen Set

As the DIT fed proxies my way, I initially focused on stringing out footage, while simultaneously pulling and numbering selects. These were then uploaded to for the production, VFX teams, and clients to reference as the edits came together.

on-set-editor - premiere pro timeline shot numbering

Pulling Selects & Creating Stringouts

Once a handful of scenes were shot and proxies were in hand, I started on the assembly. working closely with Director Paul Trillo as time allowed. Ultimately these edits would be passed to LA-based editor James Boger to conform to source files, address notes, and coordinate with the VFX house for final delivery.

The Spots

The first spot I was pulled onto was called “Cats and Dogs” for Trico wipers. It was shot over 2 days, on-location and in-studio. It was a VFX-heavy spot, featuring cats and dogs raining from the sky (no animals were harmed in the making of the commercial, but all were petted).

The spot relied on a lot of green screen and compositing work, so the clients on set understood that everything I cut was a proof of concept. Still, I needed to push the spot as far as it could go before handing it off to James and the VFX team. Below you can see the on-set edit, completed entirely in Premiere Pro, next to the final 30-second spot.

on-set-editor - on set rough edit versus the final edit

TRICO | Cats & Dogs

The second job was an adventure in the Texas Hill Country for Academy Sports & Outdoors and ESPN. Featuring ESPN's Laura Rutledge, we'd create a total of six 15-second ads. that would be less heavy on the VFX than TRICO, but still need some visual trickery as the script called for scene transitions to rotate from one scene to the next.

on-set-editor - after effects and premeire pro project integration

Academy Sports & Outdoors | ESPN

Over the 2-day shoot, I called up Premiere Pro and After Effects to rough out 2 of the client's edits before passing things to James. Here's my favorite of the 2:

The Editor’s Onset Toolbox

Normally, I enjoy working in my main edit suite, which has a video jackhammer for a workstation, but this onset business was no place to lug a 60-pound desktop and a multitude of peripherals.

on-set-editor - windows editing laptop setup

Academy | ESPN Day 2 - Residential Location

So I used my travel setup consisting of an MSI Creator Series laptop, travel monitor, and portable LaCie drives for shuttling footage. Paired with a good extension cord, headphones, and mobile hotspot, I was set to cut anywhere - even the pines!

on-set-editor - laptop setup outdoors

Academy | ESPN Day 1 - The Great Outdoors

I'll be the first to admit that not every production demands bringing the editor out in the open, but whenever turnaround time is a concern, on-set editing is a great way to get a leg up on that pesky clock-ticking hours away on the wall.

1 Comment

May 28, 2023

Please tell us about the programs that you have included in your work, namely editors and so on? I am an amateur in the field of video editing (I shoot videos for friends) and I want to know the opinion of professionals. Not so long ago I came across an instruction on how to convert video on a macbook, here tells about several ways. I was wondering what other programs for working with video?

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