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When you return home, unpack all of the gear and catch up on missed sleep, the challenge becomes how to assemble all of this (hopefully) great footage shot on the road.
With the Muench and DeJolie pieces we had the added challenge that our producer lives in Los Angeles and couldn't be at our studios during the rough cut edits. But he pored over all of the footage and interview transcripts and made copious notes.
We then did what we call a paper edit. Basically, you organize the audio that you want to include on one side of the page and the proposed video on the other. On the Muench piece, Michael and I had numerous electronic communiques playing with the order and length of sound bites, exploring the most effective sequence organization, etc.
No matter how good the paper edit, you never know exactly how the video will play against the audio and how a sequence will flow until you actually lay it down. That's one reason why editing is such an exciting part of the process. Another reason (as Travis Johnson, the editor/videographer and I re-discovered on the DeJolie edit) is that delirium sets in after twelve hours in a cramped edit bay so that even your worst jokes feel Seinfeld-worthy.
After our first rough cut, the key production players review the piece, we make notes and create another rough cut, or a fine cut. (The fine cut is the final rough cut). We then online the piece, which essentially is the final edit of the segment.
Composing the Music
During this editing period, we bring the composer in the loop. In the case of the Dykinga piece, Gail Steiger, Lew's co-producer and twin brother, is also a composer so he was able to score his own segment. It's great to have these multi-talented people around ...
For the Muench and DeJolie pieces, we hired Craig Garfinkle, a composer who had scored several of our other Arizona Collection shows. Craig is another L.A. guy who gratefully takes breaks from his network shows to work the lowly fees of public television. We start by showing Craig the rough cuts. Let him percolate on ideas that the documentary suggests to him. We also share ideas from scores of feature films, CD's, etc. that suggest some of the tone or mood that we want. Michael and Craig would then screen the segments together and brainstorm further specifics.
Like editing the video, composing music is a process. We may hear a cue laid down against video and really like the music but not feel it captures the emotion we want to evoke for that sequence. So it's work and re-work until you're as happy as possible (in the allotted time and budget, of course). One of Craig's great lines that I've never forgotten is: "A work is never finished, it's just abandoned." When you need to get that show on the air, the work is "abandoned."