Postchat: Animation and the Post Process

Postchat is a weekly discussion on issues surrounding post-production amongst the Twitter community of which I am a part.

This week I was asked to be featured during a discussion on animation editing. I've summarised the proceedings before and tried to link questions and answers together - although at the time a lot of conversations were occurring in parallel, with diversions - and I went back a few times to questions asked earlier. For a full transcript, see this Storify.

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A Day In The Life at Aardman VFX

Here's a sample day to show what I presently do at Aardman as the editor in the VFX department on Pirates. My job has evolved a lot since I first started and basically loaded and exported shots, and after 6 months I gained an assistant of my own - which helped a great deal.

Of course, there's no such thing as a typical day in a job like this. Some days are packed full to bursting, others more relaxed. On some days nothing breaks, on others.... well, yes. It changes around a lot. And of course it's all much less segregated than this.

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Working with the edit department (from the outside)

A few months ago I rather rapidly acquired a new job - my first on a feature, a stereoscopic stop-motion animation. But I'm not working in the editing department. They've been in place now for some time. I'm working in Previs and VFX. On an Avid.

Now, this was a rather contentious point. In fact, it still is. The previs reviews bring in a number of changes to the edit, where the editor isn't even present. As an editor, you become used to people making changes to the shots that you've selected - even not being present at the decision and therefore not being able to argue your case is something you have to live with on occasion. But this involves entire sequences being shaped away from the department. And is, understandably, somewhat frustrating.

I'm in a rather unique position on it all. I sympathise entirely with the editor's wish to be the one in control of these decisions. But from the previs perspective, the sequences need to be viewable at our reviews with the director. It was one of the reasons I was hired in the first place - to be able to tidy up sequences and show the director different possibilities within reviews without the entire thing having to go into the main edit suite and involve about twice as many people. But with the massively hectic schedule we have, the added complications of dialogue selects coming back on a near-daily basis, sequences being updated in edit with incoming shots and newly recorded/approved dialogue whilst they're being updated in previs to solve issues with sets, models, actions.... well, it's impossible to request the editor to attend all of our reviews, and impractical for previs notes to be given within edit reviews when there are so many feedback sessions required per sequence before they're approved.

The upshot of it all is that our approval workflow is changing on a monthly basis, as we sort out what's working and what isn't for our relative departments as well as the overall production. The meetings are vastly interesting as we all get to say what would work best for us, and then hear what that would imply for the others further down the line. It's a masterclass in communication and adaptation. And it's actually pretty damn enjoyable.
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