Making of a PSA: Interviews with Editor Oscar Luna and Colorist Tim Ziegler

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(Left to right) Director Aubrey Smyth, DP Bryant Fisher, and Colorist Tim Ziegler work on Little Leading Ladies in the editing studio. Image courtesy of Adorama Rentals.

This is part one of the fifth installment of a five-part series co-presented by New York Women in Film & Television and Adorama Rentals. Part two will post at 1pm EST today, featuring an exclusive premiere release of Little Leading Ladies. Make sure to tune it and #BeTheBoss.

ARC Blog Editor Kelly M. La Rosa interviews Little Leading Ladies Editor Oscar Luna and Colorist Tim Ziegler.

How and where do you start? Give us a general idea of how you organize your files (and yourself) when you first start working on a project in the editing room.
TIM: Proper preparation is a key step in ensuring the finishing process happens smoothly. I also want to make sure that I have access to all of the information I can use while grading an image. While the offline process usually entails cutting with a proxy media with lower bit-rates and a higher compression, we want to be working in the format that best represents the camera’s capturing abilities, in this case the Sony F55. Before coming to me, Oscar’s timeline was simplified to have only the clips that we would need for finishing, and we then connected to the camera’s native 16-bit RAW files at 4K.

OSCAR: For Little Leading Ladies I made bins for every girl as well as timelines for every one of their scenes and within those timelines a color system that labeled each clip’s usability. It takes some time to have everything ready, but once it’s done the client can easily request a different take and I can quickly show them all the options. Again, it all depends on the project and timeline, but it’s always better to plan ahead for revisions and sending to other departments for either FX, sound or color.

What is the best way to sync sound?
OSCAR: Plural Eyes is a great program that automatically does this for you. I found that it works quite well. I would say once you have all your sound sync, make a duplicate timeline and be careful as you edit because you could easily un-sync your sound as you move things around.

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Colorist Tim Ziegler works on Little Leading Ladies. Image courtesy of Adorama Rentals.

Are there any custom shortcuts you use that you would recommend to others? Why do they work for you?
TIM: Color grading can be a very expensive node in the post-production pipeline due to the expensive hardware, the specialized space and the talent of the operator. Every hour spent chews up the budget, so finding the fastest way to work while maintaining the quality of the work is important. For professional grading, a control panel is absolutely essential. Have dedicated balls and wheels to control the RGB values and lift/gamma/gain allow for making adjustments quickly and simultaneously. This is something that grading with a mouse and keyboard simply cannot do. The panel that Blackmagic Design sells specifically for the software is the best option when grading in Resolve.

What LUTs or effects were used in the LLL video, if any?
TIM: We tried a log-to-linear LUT on all of the footage. I opted to set a baseline primary grade with a power-curve that that I put on all of the footage to set a good starting place.

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Before (top) and After (bottom) Ziegler’s Little Leading Ladies color correction. Image courtesy of Adorama Rentals.

Tell us about your experience with DaVinci Resolve. What are the pros and cons compared to other editing software applications?
OSCAR: I absolutely love DaVinci Resolve. As of right now, I have found no cons with the program. Its interface is simple and easy to assimilate if you’re coming from After Effects.

TIM: What Blackmagic Design has done since obtaining it has been incredible. They are constantly updating the software with new tools. There are several fantastic color-grading options out there, but the power for the price of the Resolve software cannot be beat, in my opinion. Having power-curves, vignettes, excellent tracking and other great tools that are quickly accessible on a control panel and executed in real time is invaluable.

Many editors overlook the importance of proper export methods—what advice would you give a novice post-production editor on the subject of exporting their film for the web?
TIM: Workflow is so very important in post-production. From camera to delivery, a workflow plan must be established before production even starts. Knowing the capabilities of your camera’s recording format(s), the ability of your offline editing hardware, budgeting for storage space (and backup storage space), and your proposed delivery formats (though these often change) are important discussions. For web deliveries, I feel like it’s very important to test your video compressions. Video-delivery sites can often add yet another layer of compression on top of what you’ve uploaded, so creating a private “dummy” site to upload tests is often a good idea.

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Editor Oscar Luna (back row, second from left) with crew for Little Leading Ladies wrap. Photo courtesy of Gingersnap.

Please join us at 1pm EST today when the series completes with an exclusive premiere release of Little Leading Ladies.

And catch up on Monday’s post, Interview with Little Leading Ladies Writer/Director Aubrey Smyth; Tuesday’s post, Making of a PSA: Interview with Casting Director Jessica Daniels Wednesday’s post, Interview with DP Bryant Fisher & Gaffer Jerred Sanusi; and Thursday’s post, Interviews with Production & Costume Designer Deborah Zawol Smyth and Makeup Artist Jennifer Snowdon.

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