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Interview with Ryan Axe—Part Four: About Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Let’s go through Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Can you tell us anything about the workflow?

I believe we are one of the first, if not the first, Hollywood film to do our offline edit at UHD resolution (3840x2160) using the DNxHR LB codec. This allowed Eddie complete flexibility and freedom to resize images and assess sharpness and focus, and helped us assistants a lot when doing VFX comps, as keying and roto is much smoother when working with a higher-quality image. Eddie also mixes in 5.1 in the Avid, as he likes the offline edit to look and sound as good as possible, which makes complete sense when you’re using it for screenings and previews where an audience is rating your film.

For that reason, we were also turning over reels to sound and music during the shoot, so that Eddie and Christopher McQuarrie could give feedback very early on. When the picture and sound evolve together as a process, it helps inform the cut and gives a theatrical experience straight from our offline edit.

Is your team using Avid solutions for MI6? If so, what advantages do you see?

Everyone in our team uses the latest version of Avid Media Composer, on both the old tower Mac Pro models and the new cylinder Mac Pros. We also use Avid hardware for improved performance. The Mojo DX, Nitris DX and DNxIQ boxes gave us smooth playback in UHD, even when working with VFX heavy timelines. Our shared storage was a 48TB NEXIS.

The main advantage Avid has over the competition is the ease of working in a shared environment with a team of assistants and editors who can all access the same project, media and bins at the same time, with little to no delay. That is essential in a fast-paced environment where everything is expected to be done quickly.

The media management is rock-solid, too, and it’s head and shoulders above the rest when working within the Avid MediaFiles structure. On both Kingsman and Mission, Eddie wanted a portable clone of the NEXIS that he could take with him anytime he was called to set, on location or to the director’s house. We’d use thunderbolt G-RAID and LACIE drives that we’d daisy chain together and partition to match the drive structure of the NEXIS, and use FreeFileSync every day to scan the NEXIS against the drives, and sync across any new data that was created each day. Then Eddie could take the drives, plug them into his laptop, open the project and everything would work flawlessly with no re-linking needed.

What you get with Avid is reliability and efficiency, an approach that has kept them at the top for years.

Is there time to edit a scene by yourself, is it allowed?

While there isn’t much time to edit, you can always make up the time at the end of your working day. During the shoot and towards the end of post-production it’s very busy, but the quiet period is normally the director’s cut, where the editor and director shut themselves away for several weeks and work quietly on the edit, so if anytime is a good time, it’s then.

As to whether it’s allowed, I would always check with the editor first before cutting anything, as they might not be comfortable with that. Hopefully, most editors would encourage it, and Eddie always did, but to be on the safe side I’d always check.

Most of us edit short films in our spare time to keep the creative juices flowing, as that way you have something to show and put out there in the world. Then you can start forming relationships with directors who may end up getting a big career break and taking you with them.

On another side note, I’d also check with editors before watching any of their cuts. Again, we were very lucky with Eddie as he’d let us watch everything and give feedback, but not all editors will be like that. Some editors will be precious with cuts and might not want you to watch a cut until the director has seen it, so don’t leave things to chance and get caught out. Always ask, if unsure of anything.

 

Continue the Interview with Ryan Axe: Advice for Future Editors

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