Here are my answers to the 5 questions that I read on PostFifthPictures.com. If there are more, just let me know. In some cases I should call the VIZ FX team…but I will give this a shot, first. If you have any questions about my answers, please let me know.
UPDATE 5MARCH2010: We are doing another Q&A with Lance Stubblefield, editorial crew member on LOST. Please visit this post to ask a question there. Thanks!)
1. Was Star Trek shot on Film? What did you edit on?
Yes, it was always shot on film. Only the last Trek series went HD. But all of the editing was done electronically. We edited the episodes on the MONTAGE. We were slow to switch to AVID, like most other Hollywood shows, because of costs…the producers did not care what we cut on…as long as we met the schedule. The editors took an early Final Cut Pro class when that first came out, but FCP could not print out a storyboard for our Viz Fx team. They were spoiled by the Montage’s storyboards that furnished all the detailed numbers & measurements they needed to composite the FX shots.
2. How were the FX composited?
I believe that all the FX were done on film in the beginning. Dan Curry was our FX producer. He’s a genius and very talented man. We used EDEN in Hollywood and CIS: Composite Imaging Systems.
3. Editing Schedules, Rules for Stock Shots, Gag Reels?
It took three to four weeks to make an show. Every episode took 7-9 days to shoot. So, we had 7-9 days of dailies coming in. Some scripts were written too long. The editor had 2 days to assemble the episode and the director had 3-4 days to deliver his cut to the producer. The producer got 3-4 days & them picture was locked. Then you start on your next episode. Inserts and 2nd unit footage came in after online most times, so we would stop cutting dailies to get those into the show.
Stock shots were fun to cut in. We had to know not to cut in a red or brown planet when we’re in orbit and the story called for us to be in a green forest or on a blue beach. Ship shots was up to us to choose. Warp speed? fast flyby? slow dramatic shot long enough for a Captain’s Log? The rule was to always show the ship traveling left to right, unless we were heading home to earth or back the other direction if the script calls for it.
I cut the Gag Reel the 1st two seasons. We had a gag reel for every Wrap Party. The second season’s reel was “copied” by an outsider and started showing up at Star Trek conventions. Ever since that…the gag reels were coded and guarded.
4. Do editors share 2-part episodes and were scripts ever in need of editorial help?
Editors did not share shows. We would ask fellow editors for their opinions on tricky scenes…but that was it. Who ever was assigned Part 2 of a 2-parter would try and watch a rough cut if possible to get a feel for the episode. But remember that when dailies start coming in…the last editor is still in assembly mode. Each of the two parts always had a different director at the helm. The assistant editor was in charge of cutting the teaser at the head of act. He or she would work with the editing team of part 1 to see about getting key material for the teaser. They were normally longer than regular episode teasers.
Yes, some scripts benefited from the extra time we took to rework a scene or story that was not translating well on film. I have saved both stories and acting performances, as well, in post. But on Star Trek, the writers were amazing and the scripts hardly ever needed to be reworked. If the episode was long and we had to lose a few scenes…then we may look at moving an act break. The studios like the shows to be evenly paced and not have a commercial fall on the half hour mark.
5. Is it possible to re master the series in HD?
All the film was vaulted. Including the dailies, with :10 second handles on them. I think Paramount is working on getting all the shows no HD.
We want to thank Daryl for taking the time to answer the questions and also thank those who contributed by asking these questions. We hope to do a few more of these in the future so keep an eye out.
Thanks again everyone,
Post Fifth Pictures