Robert Bramwell on the Most Important (and Ignored) Method of Editing

Editor Robert Bramwell is not using hyperbole when he says that a large majority of editors have been stuck in an archaic, inefficient approach to their projects that cost time, money and possibly their reputations, namely bin-editing. But change is on the horizon says Bramwell now that the release of Avid’s ScriptSync is opening narrow eyes to the process of script-based editing.
Bramwell has begun putting ScriptSync to the test on this season of the FX show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but has been a convert of script-based editing for eight years. A veteran of cutting episodic television shows (The Loop, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Arrested Development, Cheers), Bramwell recalls when he first discovered the glory of script-based editing, a process of linking takes to their appropriate line of dialogue on the script, when it was released Avid Media Composer version 7.2.

Click here to Watch an Exclusive Demo of ScriptSync

“In the past when I was working with producers and directors who wanted to see the line readings you’d have to hunt and peck though a bin and try to call up all the different line readings and hope you didn’t miss one,” recounts Bramwell. “With the Script, next to every line of dialogue is a set of markers and I can just click through left to right and show the producers and directors every reading of the line or scene they want to see. That’s huge. I can do it with a couple clicks within seconds. These guys don’t have time to wait and if you can call it all up right away you look like a genius. Once you edit to the script you never want to go back to bin-style editing, which is just ridiculously inefficient.”

With the Script, when the footage from a show came in, the assistant editors would go through and manually assign different points in each take to the appropriate line of dialogue. A somewhat tedious process, but one that still saved the editor a lot of time and headaches.

Well now with ScriptSync, with a backbone of voice recognition software developed originally by the U.S government, much of that manual process is automated. The assistant editors can now simply select all the takes for a particular scene and drag them onto the script and within seconds each line of dialogue in the scene is lined and marked with all the takes containing that dialogue. The editor then can simply click the line in the script to see every take with that line of dialogue. The takes can then be color coded to identify the best takes.

But what if there are ad-libs?

“If they go off-script I pop up a text editor, type in the ad lib and cut and paste that into the script and then click on the take again, click Overwrite and it gives me a new set of location markers for the ad lib lines,” explains Bramwell.

While Bramwell has been beating the script-based editing drum years, he is finally seeing others begin to move over.

“Avid had the technology since version 7.1 of Media Composer, but not many people have adopted it because they just didn’t know how to use it or didn’t see the point. Once people are shown how to use it, they never go back to bins,” notes Bramwell. “I used it on Arrested Development and (creator) Mitch Hurwitz is good friends with the creators of Desperate Housewives so now they are using it on that show. I wouldn’t edit any other way. I’m not looking in bins. I want it all right in front of my face, see the line of dialogue and just hit play and see it all. It’s a revolution for editing and managing large amounts of footage. Any other way is just a waste of time.”

Click here to Watch an Exclusive Demo of ScriptSync