Foundation

A deep discussion with five experienced editors about the value of research, the attributes and skills that get an assistant moved up to the edit chair, how sound can change picture, and the value of setting things up in order to pay them off.


Today on Art of the Cut we speak with the editors of the Apple TV Plus series, Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi trilogy. On the call today are Paul Trejo, ACE, Miklos Wright, ACE, Emily Greene, ACE, Sidney Wolinsky, ACE, and Olivia Wyrick.

Paul Trejo has cut TV series including Black Sails, Carnival Row, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and Locke and Key. He was also the sound editor on Scarface and The Cotton Club.

Miklos Wright edited Open Range, Mr. Brooks, Luke Cage, and 3000 Miles to Graceland. He’s currently cutting Kevin Costner’s western series, Horizon.

Emily Greene edited the TV series Mrs. America, Carnival Row, American Crime Story, and the pilot of The Rookie.

Sidney Wolinsky has been on Art of the Cut previously for his work on Greyhound,  Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, and The Sopranos. His other work includes Boardwalk Empire, House of Cards, and The Walking Dead.

Olivia Wyrick, as you will hear, recently moved into the editing chair for Foundation after working as an assistant on the show and as an assistant or on-line editor for shows like The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, The Mentalist, and Spider-Man Apprentice.

GREENE: Hi, my name is Emily Green and I was the editor on episode three, King and Commoner, episode seven, Unnecessary Death and episode 10, The Finale Creation Myths.

WYRICK: Hi, I’m Olivia Wyrick and I just edited one episode was 204, Where the Stars are Scattered Thinly

WOLINSKY: Sydney Wolinski. I edited with Miklos. I guess Miklos had another commitment, so I took over episode nine of season two.

WRIGHT: This is Miklos Wright and I edited episodes two, six and nine of season two and shared a screen with Sidney Wolinsky for episode nine - who did a tremendous job of delivering a very difficult episode.

TREJO: My name is Paul Trejo. I edited the finale season two and I did 201. I’m now in the trenches with Olivia on the third season.

This is based on Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi trilogy, Foundation. Did any of you read the books?

GREENE: I did not read the book and I recall going into my interview with David Goyer - and I’m such a terrible liar - that I went in and said, “I haven’t read the book. I’m not even a science fiction fan.” I feel like I just blurted it out. I thought, “There went the interview!”

But it turned out - as our conversation went on - that perhaps I was the perfect viewer in the sense that I said, “I’m not super-well-read on science fiction, but I read the script for 101 and I loved it. The script tells a story. I’m excited. I’m intrigued. I wanna know more. I wanna see it.” And I think that definitely galvanized him.

Anybody else have thoughts on the advantages or disadvantages of reading the source material on anything you’ve ever cut?

WRIGHT: The version that we show is so dramatically adapted from the original source material. One of the great joys of reading the original IP was you could get to see the fantastic mind of David Goyer translate that from the page to the stage to the screen and really do some tremendous things. A fantastic thing to check out.

TREJO: I have to echo that because David told me that he had a lot of people, like Jim Cameron, say, “You’ve got a lot of brass going after this one because this one is really difficult to adapt.” With his genius, he made it his own. He really created new characters that weren’t in the trilogy.

WOLINSKY: One of the downsides of reading the source material is then you start second-guessing all the choices the writer made. You kind of think, “Gee, there was that really interesting thing and they didn’t use that at all,” or something like that. So there is sort of a downside, although often I try to read the book.

Editor Emily Greene, ACE and two “assistants”

There’s about a 50/50 split of editors who feel like they’re better off not reading it so that they don’t have preconceived notions. They’re not putting story ideas that they know in their head and assuming that they’re in the story. Then others who feel like it’s very important. 

What about collaboration between the editors? Were you ever in the same place at the same time for the editing or were you able to collaborate in any way or speak into each other’s episodes?

TREJO: I think that’s germane to first season because pre-Covid there was another editor, Skip McDonald, who was involved and we would just have ad-hoc conversations in the hallway. But once March of 2020 came, we were all working from home.

Did you find that you needed to watch each other’s episodes or that the people that cut just season two needed to go back and watch Season one?

Editor Miklos Wright, ACE

WRIGHT: You had to watch the episodes. There’s too much going on. I got jumped in a little bit because I came in a little bit towards the end of season one. So there were cuts to look at and I watched a bunch. We’re all desperately trying to stay ahead of the dailies and make our deliveries.

It’s a lot of “head-down” for me, just trying to get this ambitious material wrangled. We were expected to cut our own “previously on.” So, you at least had to watch the episode before yours.

Those previously-ons: s lot of times they’re handed off to an assistant. Did any of you feel like you could do that with your assistant or do you like doing those previously-on edits?

GREENE: All of the previously-ons were definitely delegated to the assistant. I find those so tricky because you’ve got a very compact amount of time to just dynamically tell it all. And as the episode’s have gone on, there’s more to tell.

Watching the Season Two previously-on, that is a heavy, heavy lift! Reminding you about the whole Season One of everything that happened, especially in this kind of show where there are so many worlds, so many crossovers, so many characters!

My assistant editor, Phil Hamilton, actually is now cutting on season three. He really proved himself not only in the previously-ons but did a couple of sizzle reels and really just did a beautiful job in season one and season two.

So he’s now cutting on season three. So it’s a great opportunity for assistant editors to really shine. I think in the previously-ons and other opportunities, including doing sound work on this show, it’s a lot of work and I think definitely an all-hands-on-deck feeling.

Paul, I was struck by the complexity of the story. How do you juggle the need to understand the story, this complex story and the need for the audience to feel something? There’s so much exposition that has to be done. How do you balance that?

Editor Paul Trejo, ACE

TREJO: My North Star has always been emotion and cutting for what you’re feeling in your gut. It is a matrix in a sense of juggling multiple stories. I think it could be said that season one was probably not quite as complex as two and that season three is even more.

So it’s really a tricky thing to mentally focus on all across storylines yet still developing the character. Brother Day, for example, is played by Lee Pace is just a wealth of talent. You can’t lose with him ‘cause he gives you so much. It’s sad sometimes to have to leave certain performances and certain character things kind of on the wayside.

WOLINSKY: Generally as an editor you’re working at a very granular level. You’re working scene-by-scene, trying to make the scenes work, getting everything you can out of the material. You have a lot of the complexity of keeping the story going. It’s stuff that should have been dealt with at the script level and should work.

Often it doesn’t and at that point, you as an editor - until you’re really collaborating with the writer or the producer, or the showrunner - you can’t really deal with that at that point. It’s very exciting to be moving things around and deleting things and repurposing stuff to achieve a goal.

GREENE: I agree with what both Sidney and Paul were saying. I think that the scope and the grandeur of this show from season one, the writing was just perfectly executed in a way that by the time it got to us, obviously with something that kind of budget, because it is so complex and there are so many worlds. 

I’ve worked on shows where there’s a lot of shuffling and a lot of reworking and a lot of inventing scenes. But in my experience on this, everything felt like it was pretty buttoned down in terms of the storytelling. So by the time it got to us, we could really hone in on the granular editing and on each scene, referring to our previous episodes and conferring with the other editors. 

Thankfully the actors were incredible and we were able to really focus in on performances and emotion and the action because there’s plenty of that.

TREJO: Oftentimes people mention the word style and they get kind of confused about, “What’s the style of the editing and how do you keep it in a similar way, particularly when you have multiple editors on the show, four editors?”\

We’re all very experienced. It all just sort of unfolds. It looks as though it’s all one mind, one personality, one sensibility that’s cutting it. It’s not to say that Miklos has one way of doing overlaps or Sidney has another way of establishing a scene. I was particularly impressed with the uniformity of the style.

Avid timeline screenshot of episode 203

Emily, talk to me a little bit about the beginning of the finale. It was editing between two characters back and forth. How closely did those intercutting edits happen compared to the script? Or did you find that - throughout the process - you needed to change when you chose to cut between one character and the other?

GREENE: There were a lot of variations in that opening. We did one version which was super tight, where it almost felt like jump-cutting to give the idea of the choking, the suffocating, the grasping for breath and for life. But I think when we reviewed it, we couldn’t quite follow everything that’s happening. 

“Let’s give it a little bit more breath,” for lack of a better word. We played around more than anything else with the pacing, but the whole intention was always to make it as seamless as possible between Gail and Hari as though they were one person. 

So as the hand is climbing up on the cliff, I would try to match it frame for frame exactly in mid movement from his hand to her hand.

So it felt like it was just the same hand maybe from left to right and then just why it dissolves in between when Hari looks into the water and the reflection and at first you think you see Hari, but it’s actually Gail.

There were a lot of playing around with little nuanced moments, but in terms of what it was and where it went, the material was more or less always how I laid it out. But it was just the pacing that was mainly played around with.

Have any of the rest of you ever tried that kind of slash and burn technique of overly tightening something to see how much you can cut out to see what needs to be opened up?

WRIGHT: One of the conditions that we are facing in the show is that we have a time constraint we have to deal with. We’ve got a wonderful script. But you run into what I did on episode nine before I handed off to Sidney. 

I was running north of 70 minutes on something that needs to be 50 minutes and now you’re looking at making some pretty dramatic changes and some pretty dramatic shifts in how the story’s gonna work. That was really a powerful thing to watch that final version. From my perspective, having really struggled, it began at 86 minutes. 

So I felt like I’d done a huge job of getting it to 72 minutes without dropping a scene. I was looking for six frames here and eight frames there and that’s how you really have to do it in a streaming or a broadcast show.

I have to compliment Sidney because the amazing thing that I saw happen - being in the trenches with it and then being able to step away and then come back and see it - was really a powerful conversation about the value of setup versus payoff in terms of “how much do you have to queue the audience up for an idea before you bring them to it so that it has a weight and has a meaning?”

And it’s really quite a riddle for shows such as these where you have these directors going out and shooting these mini-features and then we have to turn around and answer to our producing team that’s trying to make a streaming show that they ultimately want to put on television syndication someday. We can’t deliver a 70 minute episode. We can’t even deliver a 65 minute episode.

You really have to get it down close to these targets and that’s a super-duper challenge. I’m really inspired Sidney by what the work you did on our episode nine. I couldn’t see a way out of that forest when I got there.

When it was done, I finally started noticing things that had been dropped, things had been moved away, had gone and I was watching the episode with my wife and I noticed that she didn’t miss anything and everything was landing terrifically.

Sidney, I gotta tell you man, I’ve had to rethink how much I value setup and the role that it plays. It’s incredibly important. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s one of the first things I learned: that editing is all about set up and payoff, set it up, pay it off, time it out, you know, intercut the setups, deliver the payoff in that show.

There are huge scenes that hit the floor in episode nine. Big, big sequences with exposition, raw backstory for characters. Kudos to you sir. It really, really was streamlined effectively.

I watched it and only kind of was doing the math later on and I gotta just tell you when it got to the end and General is having this conversation with this man on the surface and their relationship was at stake and they’re having a big goodbye and - this a big spoiler for anybody listening to this - but there’s a fatality about to happen and they refer to this book that they’ve read.

They make these references to things that we had - big scenes to set up and to make sure that that emotion would land for the audience. It was so much better without it. I was amazed. It was incredible and so I’ve been applying more of that mindset to more of my work about how, when you’re looking for that tightening, that’s the balancing act. How much setup do you really need?

Editor Sidney Wolinsky, ACE. Photo by Steve Cohen, ACE.

I will go right over to Sidney then. Tell us a little bit about how do you make those decisions to get to time and still have a solid, powerful episode?

WOLINSKY: I guess I never really think in terms of setup and payoff. When it’s too long you look first of all in any kinda action stuff. What can you get rid of and still tell the story? How much can you “jump” somebody when they’re moving from one place to another?

That’s one thing. Then in dialogue scenes you look for repetition because writers always tend to repeat the same thing over and over again. Then they go to the next thing and repeat it and you just find out which chunks you can drop and have the dialogue feel continuous and natural and not lose any meaning.

So those are sort of the two major things. There was a lot of intercutting between fighting and stuff and I tried to push that together.

But luckily - unlike Miklos - I didn’t have to make the fight work. I could just find the little chunks that we didn’t need. It’s sort of a paring down process. Little by little you’re getting close to that 60 minute mark and you think, “Okay, let’s take another look.

There’s gotta be something we can get rid of. Really, a lot of these dialogue scenes - and I’m sure you all have in other shows as well - there’s just so many ideas that are repeated and the audience knows all this stuff. They figured it out really fast. They don’t have to be hammered on with the same idea. 

WRIGHT: So, so true. 

WOLINSKY: I think in this particular episode, there are big long scenes between Hari Seldon and the Lee Pace character. They go on and on and repeat the same stuff and you can just go from thought to thought to thought without the reinforcement. Then occasionally - like at the end - I felt it needed more intercutting to really jack up the emotions.

Sidney Wolinski editorial assassin.

Avid timeline episode 210

WRIGHT: Absolutely. 

It’s an interesting idea that you did the cutting down and didn’t do the assembling because it almost makes it less painful maybe, or opens your mind up to the possibilities whereas if you built it, you know why you built something so it’s harder to deconstruct if you built it?

WOLINSKY: There’s no question about that. So the person who comes in and takes a fresh look is in a much better position and as an editor you have to really try to force yourself to have that vision.

Olivia, can you tell me a little bit about your episode and maybe some of the things that you discovered after you built the thing up about what had to happen to get it to - maybe not to a specific time - but to feel the right length?

Editor Olivia Wyrick

WYRICK: It was an interesting one for me because it was actually my very first editing episode ever. I started as an assistant on season one and worked very closely with David Goyer and Skip MacDonald on the first episode and became very familiar with the show and they asked me back as an editor on season two, which was great.

So my very first episode ever! So that certainly was a challenge in and of itself coming into such a huge and epic show. As a first time editor there were a lot of challenges and that episode was also a new director as well, so managing a new director and a new editor on that team had its own set of challenges and it was definitely hard at first because I had to kind of cut the way I wanted to and the way the director wanted to but then also had to realize that at the end of the day it’s gonna go back to the producers and David Goyer, the showrunner, it’s gonna be his vision at the end of the the day.

So we definitely went through a lot of changes in that aspect and I think the difference between the editor’s cut and the final version was very different. We went in and we cut a lot. A lot of episode 204 was very dialogue-driven. It was more character-driven.

There weren’t any huge epic fight scenes. So it was much more character-driven, which was nice in a way, but also tricky because you have to figure out what to cut ‘cause it is mostly dialogue and then you don’t wanna cut something that is then gonna be important later in the season.

As we were talking about in the beginning of the conversation, when watching each other’s episodes, if you don’t know that something is important later on and then you cut it, it can create confusion. You kind of need to have that overall vision of it but still concentrate on your own scene.

So it was definitely tricky but I think overall we ended up getting there and it turned into a strong episode and it was a good one to develop some of these characters that we hadn’t seen in season one and give them a little more depth, which I think was nice to the overall season two.

Emily and Paul, would you care to speak into how Olivia was promoted to this position? Was it an attitude that you saw, a willingness to collaborate? Why is one assistant promoted to an editing position instead of another?

Greene’s editing setup

GREENE: Olivia was and continues to be an incredible asset, since the pilot. The pilot - as is the case in most shows - was an absolute bear. The pilot episode of season one of Foundation - you can imagine all the foundation that’s being laid. Olivia, you were assisting Skip and I don’t remember how everything all went.

At one point it went longer than had been anticipated. There was a shift of editors and you were there the entire time and essentially became the point person. You were also helping out with visual effects and I think you really proved yourself to everyone, especially David Goyer.

I think he saw how much you knew. You knew where all the bodies were buried. He saw that you were multi-skilled and I think he saw the potential and and also you were really giving it your all. David is wonderful in so many ways and one of those ways is that he really recognizes and and promotes within and I think that that was an opportunity for him to be say, “Okay, you’ve definitely proved yourself.”

TREJO: As editors. We go through a lot of assistants. I would have to say that for most of them, you’re not quite sure whether they’re capable. But when it comes to Olivia, I knew immediately that she had it. She had rhythm. She had collaboration. She had energy.

She is great with music, great with visual effects. She’s just the ultimate team player. If you have a question about something, she’s on it right away with an answer. Just a joy to work with on this team.

Paul Trejo’s editing setup

That’s so sweet. I love it. And now another assistant has been promoted. Olivia, what do you think it was about Phil? Could you tell that he might be the next one in line?

WYRICK: Yes, actually, because on season two he was Emily’s assistant and - like she mentioned - he cut a couple of teasers and I think he cut the blooper reel that we all watched and they were all phenomenal. Similarly, David recognized that he is a team player, always there.

He would pick up the slack of cutting things that maybe the editors couldn’t get to cutting ‘cause they don’t have time. Assistants are almost as busy, if not busier than the editors with dailies and sound and exports and turnovers, so to find the time to do additional work to prove how good he was, David recognizes that. So we’re all very excited to have him for season three.

Cards on a wall

What was happening with production and some of the complexities of dealing with such a large show.

WYRICK: We shoot everything at the same, all episodes kind of at once, which is very unique. Most shows will shoot per episode - 8-10 days of one episode. But we shoot by location, so we have to get all the scenes done from that location so you can get dailies for your episode one and you can get dailies for your episode nine at the same time. So it’s hard to balance.

TREJO: On season one they were in about five or six different countries. They were in Malta, Spain, they were in the Canaries. Everything germane to that location across all 10 episodes has to be covered while they’re in one location.

But it’s interesting on this show because some weeks you kind of have catch-up time. You have a rest time when you’re not seeing any film. But this week alone, I’ve got 301, 305 and 309 dailies just slamming me and hopefully I’m gonna get a week where I can catch up and take a breath.

GREENE: I’m a huge fan of cross-boarding. It’s exactly what Paul is saying and what Olivia’s saying: due to the nature of it being shot on location, you’re getting chunks from different episodes at the same time.

I find it to be a delight because - yes, you get inundated at times with multiple episodes and you’re trying to figure it out - but at the same time you also get to play catch-up usually because then they’re shooting episode 204 and 208 and in the meantime you have time to really kind of wrap your head around things.

I don’t know how you all feel about it, but I like the cross-boarding because you really get time to hone things.

Does it make it difficult to assemble your story? When do you take a scene and attach it to another scene? Obviously with this kind of cross-boarding it could be months before you’re putting scene 12 against scene 13.

WRIGHT: Cards, lots of cards!

Lots of cards, totally.

GREENE: Just slug it.

WRIGHT: Just that. That’s how I keep my brain straight. I would have my assistant just “card” the entire show and I just fill it in as I go. I was doing three episodes, and you were trying to wrap your head around it. That was my crutch.

GREENE: Me too. ‘cause you could literally be jumping between three different episodes in one day of cutting depending on the scenes that are coming in, so the slugs were the key to everything.

What about things like sound? Were you trying to build out a world? With this show, you’re dealing with multiple worlds. Does one world sound different than another and are you trying to to do that while you’re cutting dailies or do you wait until much later?

WYRICK: Usually that’s the assistant’s job to take a scene that the editor cuts and basically do all the sound. Luckily for season two we had done season one already, so you could pull from that. For example, we went back to Terminus so you can kind of go back to scenes in season one and see how we mastered the sound and kind of imitate that for season two.

So the longer you have a show going on, I wouldn’t say the easier it is, but you can pull from previous seasons to kind of build the world. But it was - in terms of the final sound in season one - I was in the room for a lot of conversations with Sound Dogs - who was our final sound mixing company - and there were a ton of conversations with David and the guys at Sound Dogs about - for example - how the Vault was gonna sound when it’s emitting the null field and how certain creatures were gonna sound. 

So in season two we had Becky. She’s a “Bishop’s Claw.” There was a a lot of conversation about how her roar was gonna sound.

That is more in the final stages of sound, but then as an assistant editor, it’s your job to put that in before the final sound gets there because it’s very hard to watch something with no backgrounds, no Foley, no sound effects. That’s a very big part of being an assistant editor.

Olivia Wyrick’s editing set-up

How do you prep your assistants to do that work for you? Do you give them free reign or do you give ’em a few notes on what your thoughts are and then what do you do when you hear what they’ve cut for you?

WOLINSKY: I like to give my assistant free reign unless there’s something very specific and then you look at the scene with the assistant and you kind of give them notes. If you tell ’em what you exactly want, they’ll try to do exactly what you want and you kind of shut down the possibility of unexpected things that they come up with. 

So I like to hear what somebody comes up with and then say, “That’s great, and that’s great, and what about this? Could we do this slightly differently?” That’s my approach.

GREENE: I’ve been working with Phil Hamilton for about five years now and so we’ve definitely gotten into a rhythm. I pass off the scene and since the beginning he’s always been given free reign and I’m always delighted and surprised by what comes back to me because there’s so much creativity and so much potential in sound work and it is a moment for an assistant editor to shine because I do think half the scene is the sound. 

I’m a huge proponent of what a difference it can make. Phil would fill the timeline with beds and sound effects and unexpected Foley like a refrigerator humming or someone coughing in the background that you wouldn’t even think, but he’s thinking 360 degrees and I think that that really elevates it. 

It always elevates the scene but it definitely elevates the potential for the sounds and then it’s a guide for later on when Sound Dogs takes it and they did incredible work. All the episodes were already in great shape with the temp sound, but they really elevated it.

Does it change the pacing when you get really good sound work in? It either allows you to tighten or makes you want to open it up so the sound design has a chance to breathe?

Avid timeline screenshot Episode 207

TREJO: Coming from a film background, my starting point is always just dialogue and picture. If it works that way, then I know that I’m off to the races and I can anticipate the pauses and where an off screen sound is gonna occur or something like that. 

So I know it’s only gonna get better. I agree with Sidney, I really look forward to hearing what my assistant can bring to the scene to take it up 10 notches. Then with music that’s a whole other time-consuming process, but ultimately very rewarding.

WOLINSKY: The assistant gets my first cut on a scene and works on that and the sound may be great, but when I look at it, I’ll suddenly see, “Oh darn, I gotta do a whole bunch of stuff on the scene and I’ll often feel quite guilty ‘cause I gotta cut into all their effects. 

But it’s not really the sound that’s governing that. If there were no sounds there, I’d still look at the scene again and say, “Oh, I gotta tighten up all this dialogue or this action could go a lot faster.” That’s just sort of the nature of a cut evolving before you feel comfortable to show to a director.

I did an interview with someone where they were talking about muting all that sound work because it can affect you. For example, if there’s a ring out on a gunshot, you wouldn’t want to cut out in the middle of the ring out, but if you don’t hear the ring out, then you can cut. The sound can actually be preventing you from making the right visual edit.

WRIGHT: Especially with temp score.

WYRICK: Yeah, it can be distracting if there’s something like a hard cut or it’s supposed to be a ring out or the backgrounds don’t match. I find that that can take away from the visual aspect of it because there’s something wrong. 

You notice something’s wrong and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what that is. So sometimes it is easier to mute all of the temp sound so that you just have the dialogue track and then you know if something feels weird, it’s definitely a visual thing.

Timeline screenshot from Olivia Wyrick

Miklos, you mentioned temp score. What did you temp with? Were you temping with stuff from the composer you were gonna be dealing with? Or did you just temp with anything that you wanted to temp with?

WRIGHT: That’s riddle: what’s the music gonna be in season one versus season two. We knew it needed to be classic, but it needs to have a science fiction feel. So I remember getting good traction with anything that had significant percussion: give it a drive and hit things in a big way. 

I remember when I came on, I was doing my first episode and I was checking out a lot of the work and I thought, “Geez, it’s getting really dark so go hunting for some kind of music that maybe allows the audience a little bit of a respite from the heaviness. That’s a really big job we have is trying to figure out the tone of what the music’s gonna be.

I got a lot of traction out of the Fury Road soundtrack which was just this bombastic craziness, when someone starts a foot chase. I could always lean into that. We all have our favorite scores we’ve worked with over the years. 

We know we can rely on a certain kind of emotion coming from it. I’ve been watching a show or a feature and I’m hearing an original composer and I’m thinking, “You’ve been influenced by the, the end of Inception. You’ve got that famous Zimmer cue and now you’ve got a rip off of it. 

Temp score is really dangerous because you can convince yourself a scene is working because you’ve got this genius cue that someone wrote. That’s the first thing I mute when I’m checking my work: “What’s it like if I take this crutch away? Does it still stand up? How’s it work?”

When do you put in temp? Do you feel like you need to do it when you’re in dailies or are you waiting till you have a couple of scenes together?

WRIGHT: It’s kind of a scene-by-scene basis. If I’ve got a scene and I want to take it to another level emotionally so I can gauge the effectiveness of the decisions, I’ll start laying some scoring right away. Especially if I think of something good.

GREENE: If I can, I wait until I have all the scenes assembled. I like to cut dry, although you’ve heard my love for sound, but I like to cut everything dry. Then when I start wrapping my head around the arc of the episode, I go through and I track it and I add little locators: 

I wanna start feeling this and I add a little locator and the feeling that I wanna get from that scene and I go through and then I go through it again and I try and pull music because sometimes it’s easy to overscore - using music as a crutch. 

This was a different situation because of the cross-boarding and because sometimes we wouldn’t get the scenes until weeks, months later when I had a few scenes or a chunk of scenes together. That’s when I’d start laying down ideas.

Was there a scene that either you’re particularly proud of or that was a challenge?

WRIGHT: Episode seven of season one, David came to me and, and he wanted to mix it up at the end of seven. He wanted me to take the cards and shuffle the deck. He just wanted it to come at us. It’s a scenario where one character’s remembering a lot of things and so already in the script there was a built-in of flashbacks. 

It wasn’t necessarily the old “do a flashback when you don’t know what else to do” scenario. That was already part of the whole process. It was really a great collaboration with David because it was a great example of how he was willing to let go of the material and reach for something more.

That’s when - if you go back and you take a look at it - you’ll start to see the way the dialogue is running in the scene and then make it connect with dialogue from past episodes and then with imagery and bring it all together.

It seemed impossible when we started. Whenever I see it, I think, “God, that was so satisfying to have that really come together and then also do what David needed it to do on a story level.” He really needed the Gale character for you to understand their process.

They’re making some difficult decisions, very difficult at the end of episode seven and we wanted to make sure the audience was on board and we all wanted to do it in a stylish way and that always sticks out for me as a particular unscripted task that was very satisfying as an editor to take on.

WOLINSKY: The beginning of nine was sort of the completion of this ritual that started at the end of eight and I thought that it needed more material there and that we could just get some more out of eight and maybe abbreviated eight. So I talked to David about it.

He liked the idea and I talked to Paul and he gave me some of that stuff from eight. We yanked some of that stuff outta there ‘cause the beginning of the episode was too brief to set up what was really going on in that scene. So we started the scene in the end of eight and then had more of the scene at the beginning of nine. I rarely move stuff from one show to another.

So your job was to cut down Miklos’ long episode and the first thing you suggested was to lengthen it? :-)

WOLINSKY: Well, it wasn’t the first thing. The lengthening wasn’t significant actually, but it just felt like it needed more meat to the scene at the beginning of the episode so the audience would know what the hell was going on.

WRIGHT: That’s a really little beautiful opening of nine. The whole backstory with her and Lee - it was really special.

GREENE: Episode three, King and Commoner, which is actually one that David Goyer directed and there’s this end scene of the Stone Eaters in there. They’re climbing up a big cliff and Gail and Salvo have discovered that Hari is actually on the hand of this giant statue that is saving him. But before that they were underground and they’re trying to escape the Stone Eaters.

It was just this endless battle. It was a very tricky scene because it was shot over a period of a few days. I was getting the material piecemeal. A lot of it was green screen. Some of it was previs with these Stone Eaters. It was obviously just a blank screen that would be added later, but some things they did as previs. So it felt like there were just a lot of moving parts for that particular scene.

It felt like - as I was watching all the pieces - I thought, “I don’t know how this is gonna all come together.” Slowly I built the pieces and there was a lot of conferring with the VFX team. It was a cool collaboration. Foundation has many scenes like this where there was a lot of work and collaboration with the VFX team and temping and previs and working on timing. It was a challenge, but I’m really pleased without how it came out.

TREJO: I had the good fortune of editing the episode where Gail comes back to Synex having been jettisoned from the mothership. It was a very emotional ending because she discovers that her home planet of Synex is completely underwater.

She discovers there’s a woman that claims to be her daughter. It was very emotional. It was a scene that we had to let breathe.

What about you, Olivia, having this be your first episode in the chair?

WYRICK: Luckily, it was a lot of dialogue scenes, which were just not as tricky as that giant visual effects scene at the end of three, but I did have a fight scene in the middle of my episode. Bell and Glee come down to this planet. It was kind of a mini excursion for them. 

They had to get a package and then deliver it back and they run into some locals and they get into a little scuffle. So it was kind of showing off their fight skills - that they’re well-trained and versed in combat against these local characters.

But it was tough because shooting by location, they only had that location for a few days and at the end of it, when they were done shooting the fight, I got an email from David saying that he was worried that they didn’t get all the footage - they didn’t cover it.

So they had me come in and cut the scene pretty quickly because they don’t know exactly if they have all the coverage until you get a full scene together. So I had to cut this fight scene in two days, send it back and say, “Oh yes. We’re missing the piece where this guy gets punched.

We don’t have a good angle of that. So it was tricky to say the least, to try to cut this thing very fast, then they did end up having to do some reshoots to get some more coverage of just little sections. But it was definitely a learning curve of my first fight scene and having to do it on short notice.

Congratulations to all of you. What an epic story to be able to tell. I really appreciate all of your time and good luck on season three.

THE GROUP: Thank you.