In all productions whether drama, documentary or reality television, the Assistant Editor is a key and crucial role in keeping the post-production workflow flowing. Assistants are the manager of rushes, the technical support team and are there to do whatever is required to make the post-production process as smooth as possible.

Every production is different which means every post workflow will have its own set of challenges and unique set-up. Here I will touch on assisting editing in reality television. Assisting editing for reality programs can be repetitive, but it is technical in the prep of multicam sequences, which is one of the main responsibilities of the Assistant.

At the beginning of each day the Assistant Editor will receive rushes from the field, which are then copied to the server.  The main camera captures the actuality of the day and there is sometimes additional footage from GoPro, drones and other such cameras. Depending on what was shot on the day and how many cameras were used, the amount footage captured could range from 8-10 hours. After everything is copied, the AMA linking process is commenced to start transcoding proxies.

External audio is also then imported and then each track is renamed to the talent’s mic. Renaming software is used to help change the names. Different audio devices record multiple mics at once. To make it easy to view, each take from the recorders are grouped for the compiles. The producers and Editors can then switch the group to whoever they would like to listen to.

The next part of the process is to lay up the footage and external audio on a timeline by laying down the camera and audio device’s clips by timecode. While the cameras and audio devices are rolling, the time of day is imbedded in the clips, which then assists in the lay-up for the sequence of the day. This provides us with a map of what was filmed and what to sub out as separate sequences (scenes) for the Editors and post producers to work with. Below is what a completed laid-up sequence will look like.

After everything has been subbed out, the Assistants start syncing and grouping the sequences. When syncing it is normal to nudge clips back and forward a frame or so using the external audio as an anchor point. Without going into the full detail on how grouping is done, it is a tricky process that requires subbing out sections when the camera starts and stops recording and adding in points on the clips to anchor them in a group. This then allows the sequences to be viewed in multicam mode.

The above is a broad outline of some of the responsibilities that Assistants undertake when working in large form reality television. Other responsibilities can include assisting Editors and/or producers to search or mark-up footage, exporting or upresing edits to its original media. These are some of the important skills needed by most reality television productions.

Luke Richards

(From eNews #85 - April 2018)