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September 2015

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PRIMETIME 13 POST SEPTEMBER 2015 clothes, and his dad throws him in the trash can. That was a scene that was teased earlier, at the end of the sec- ond act. We established the party and Cookie and Lucious in a flashback, and it played out as a straight scene with no music. But in looking at the scenes for 'Good Enough,' and also the scene where Jamal was thrown in the trash can, it seemed like an amazing oppor- tunity to try to put that into the song. In mashing those two things together, the song is working better and the trash can is working better. We figured that out in editorial — Lee Daniels and I in the room talked about it and worked through it. He gave me a night to work on it and then we'd lock it in." You mention a second scene? "There's another one, in the eighth episode, where Jamal comes out to his dad, and he's singing a song. He goes into flashback in the middle of a song... We are zooming in to Lucious and his disapproval, and to his brothers and their approval, and to Cookie and her ap- proval. And then we go into a flashback again, with the trash-can moment, which is so central to the whole thing. When we come out of the trash can, he's come out of the closet and he is free. And that was also created in post. I had to take the stems of the song… and use the percus- sion stem, and reverb it out, and push it into a more abstract space. I think there's a lot of creative opportunity as editor in pacing and performance and tone." How soon after they shoot are you editing? "The process is that they shoot for nine or ten days. As they are shooting, I am about a day behind them, because I get the dailies the next day. And I have three days after they wrap to get the editor's cut assembly together. Often it is more of an assembly because you are doing it so quickly. At that point the director comes in for four days. I spend four days with him and after the director's cut, we share it with the producers and the show runner. And the show runner comes in for a week, and then there's a about a week of studio notes and network notes." What type of feedback are you getting? "There's a good amount, but it's all really interesting. The directors that I got to work with — John Singleton, Mario Van Peebles Danny Strong and Lee Daniels — when you get their notes, it's really fun and interest- ing. Inevitably, they are thinking of things in a slightly different and creative way. And the show runner, Ilene Chaiken, is the head writer, so when she comes in, she is look- ing at it from the mindset of the storylines working or not working. Each thing adds a layer of sophistication that is often there but needs refinement." Are you working with finished music? "The performances that they are singing on-screen are finished when they shoot the scene, but the score is always a bit of a work in progress. We are always tem- ping in scores from previous episodes. A lot of the time I will use a percussion stem from a Timbaland song as the score, and that works really well. When Cookie enters the room, there is a hip- hop beat happening, and that's a stem. Out of desperation, we found it works really well for Cookie." Do you do any of the finishing? "It's going to a finishing artist. They do a really good job of coloring the dailies before we even get them — the guys at Magno that do the transcoding of the dai- lies. They set a LUT in-camera, so we get a pretty good approximation of what the DP liked. The color correction process is really the DP and colorist working togeth- er on the first pass, and then the show runner and producer signing off on it." How many episodes are there? "Season 1 only had 12 episodes. It was a mid-season replacement that started in January. Season 2 will have 18 — a front nine and a back nine after Christmas. I will be done next April." Is your workflow evolving? "There are two things that I have changed in the last five years: I set up my Avid at the back of the room and put a couch in front of it. I work behind them with two monitors on either side and I put a big screen at the end of the room, so it's a like a color suite. I think it's a more comfortable set up for the direc- tors and the producers. It also gives me a sense of how they are seeing it and they don't have to look over my shoulder. "I use a Euphonix Artist (Series) mix board, so I do a lot of live mixing, setting levels and doing mixing in the room. It's a 5.1 show, but I don't mix in 5.1. The mixers spread it out. "I use a standing desk and I have a giant white board where I write up all the scenes and notes. I'd say I am on my feet for 75 percent of the day. It feels healthi- er. It is not for everyone, but it does feel more active, especially when you are cutting music." Episodes shoot for nine or ten days and an initial editor's cut is quickly assembled.

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