Frame of Reference: Special Edition with Editor Twain Richardson


A few months back I had the pleasure of participating in the Frame of Reference interview series created by Twain Richardson. The series has proven to be a tremendous learning tool, as well as a great way to get to know everyone better through their different approaches to editing. Finally the time has come to put Mr. Richardson in the hot seat. Below we get his insights on editing and his inspiration for the series.

My name is Twain Richardson and I am a Certified editor with over 6 years experience. I’ve worked on short films, documentaries, television series, corporate videos and promos for a wide variety of clients ranging from broadcast and cable networks, to corporate giants. I do what I do because I love it. When not in the cutting room I like to play video games and football.

Where did you get the idea for the Frame of Reference series?

I always wanted to do a blog but had no idea what to blog about. I wanted to do tutorials but when I took to the internet there were already a ton of other blogs doing that. I then thought of video interviews but after more consideration I realised that it wouldn’t make much sense because I would not be able to get video interviews from everyone. I then decided to do written interviews and I took to the amazing twitter community of editors and PostChat to formulate the questions. The name just came to me, it just popped out of nowhere really. I then asked a few editors to participate and the result is a bunch of amazing interviews.

Have the results of the series met your expectations? Any surprises?

The results have surpassed my expectations. There is a wealth of knowledge in each and everyone of these interviews. My favorite question to read is Give us a run through of your editing process. This I think is the core of each interview as every interviewee has a different process in which they attack their project. My biggest surprise is how everyone stresses organization.

What got you interested in editing?

A long time ago I was once a cameraman. I was encouraged to take a video production course and in a part of the course they teach you a bit about editing. It was love at first sight. The way how you could manipulate the footage amazed me. I then went to the Media Technology Institute to do an Editing Course.

How did you get started in editing?

While doing the editing course I won a competition to co-host a live show at Hype TV. At the show I met the Executive Producer for the station and I asked if he wanted a cameraman. He told me all camera positions were filled but he had a space for an editor. I told him I was finishing up a editing course and he said as soon as I finished I should contact him. Best believe the moment I finished my last class I called him and he offered me the job as a junior editor. I quit my job as a data entry clerk that Friday and the following Monday morning I started as a editor. They were using Premiere CS3 and I was taught how to use Final Cut Pro. I lied about knowing how to use premiere and jumped head first in learning it. I stayed at Hype TV a few years until I moved on to DSE Media to take on a Senior Editor position, I wanted more and so I left DSE and started freelancing.

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

I love me some FCP7. After leaving Hype TV I jumped back on the FCP train and to this day it’s what I use. I do know how to use Media Composer and Premiere but FCP7 is what I’m most comfortable and fastest with.

Give us a run through of your editing process.

So, on starting a new project I talk with the director to get his/her take/view on the project. I start to organize the project as the files come in. I like to have the time to go through all the footage but not all projects allow it. I then proceed to make a rough cut – Show director rough cut – Get notes – Pull a few hairs from my head – Make another cut – Show director – Drink coffee – Get notes or picture lock – Project complete.

What tips were you given that was really helpful?

You are not an editor until you learn when not to cut. Oh and always duplicate your sequence when you get changes and save a copy of your project at the end of each day AND regularly BACKUP and BACKUP some more.

How organized are you?

Very organized. I even created a Workflow Structure ( http://db.tt/wKabGV37 ) as organization, for me, is key.

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

To be honest I have only worked with a script 10 times over the 6 years I have been editing. So yeah I can work without a script.

What is your favorite film? Favorite TV show?

Guy Ritchie movies. I love the mixture of story and humour. I have a few tv shows that I like. Entourage/My Wife and Kids/Two and a Half Men/Game of Thrones/Hell on Wheels/The Office/ and anything from Nat Geo. I also just started watching Breaking Bad and The Newsroom.

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

I have done them all.

If you could meet any editor, who and why?

I would love to meet all the editors I have interviewed and have yet to interview. I would love to meet the editors of the amazing twitter community and PostChat. I would also like to meet Michael Kahn and Thelma Schoonmaker.

What advice can you offer to get through complex edits?

This might sound repetitive as a lot of the interviewees have said but it has worked for me, when you come up on a problem take a break, go for a walk, a run, anything. Just take a break and clear your mind.

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

PluralEyes is a God send. I use Colorista II/Magic Bullet Looks when I have to do some quick grades in the NLE.

How does the director-editor relationship work for you?

I love collaborating. Team Work makes the Dream Work so working with the director to achieve his dream is a process I enjoy.

How do you deal with problem clients/directors?

It’s important at the start of the project to have a lil chat with your director about anything but the project. That way you’ll see if you can get along because if you can’t get along then it’s gonna be a problem for the project. Be honest and remember that they are the client/customer. The customer is always right, well not always but you gotta let them know that you are the professional they hired. And if the problem persist knowing when to say no is a good thing.

What’s your overall philosophy about editing?

Tell the story.

Name one thing that you would tell an aspiring editor.

You are not an editor until you learn when not to cut.

Thanks Twain! Nice to finally have you on the other side of the interview. And thank you for creating and maintaining this great resource!

For more info on Twain you can find him on Twitter and his website.


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