Category Archives: Editor

Editor Peter Hein digs into the emotion of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’

As an editor, Peter Hein does not begin his work until later in the process. He doesn’t figure out how it is shot, who will play what part, or what costumes they will where. He doesn’t stand behind the camera, looking for the right angles to frame a face. His role is much more nuanced. He does not write the story; he finds its heart and soul. During editing, he sees the emotion in each scene, and tweaks the storyline to truly hit home with its viewers. Whether it’s to make people laugh or cry, he gets every frame just right to connect with his audience. As an editor, he is responsible for the story coming together, and he is brilliant at it.

Hein is known in the United Kingdom for his exceptional work on many popular television programs. The Denmark native has worked on shows like X Factor and First Dates, as well as award ceremonies like The BAFTA Awards. He uses his extensive knowledge to glue audiences to their seats, ensuring they watch every moment of a show, feeling connected to the cast they see on screen.

This is perhaps most exemplified with his work on Britain’s Got Talent. The editor has been part of the show since its second season, and is consistently asked to come back due to his substantial contributions. Sophie Coen, the Senior Producer of the talent competition, says that Hein’s work is incredible, and he plays a large role in the editing team.

“Peter is a real team player and always goes the extra mile. He is a dream in the edit. He is creative, decisive, and hugely experienced. He is always positive and upbeat, even when presented with a very tricky story, and with incredibly tight deadlines he manages to make it work. He is a real joy to work with,” said Coen. “On Britain’s Got Talent, Peter would often be the editor that the show would depend on to make a story work. His passion drives his talent. He is one of the best editors I have worked with. He understands narrative, humor, and emotion. Peter is able to draw upon his varied experience to make the edit work. He is a lead editor – he can inspire, direct, and lead others. Peter thrives under pressure and always delivers amazing work.”

The Got Talent format has been extremely successful in many countries, and the United Kingdom is no different. Hein’s work is what makes auditions so captivating, and even those not living in the UK have been privy to his talents. Many of his videos from the show have gone viral, including the iconic Susan Boyle audition, which has tens of millions of views on YouTube alone. The video starts in a comical way, with the audience laughing at the unassuming singer. By the end, viewers are in tears by her talent and the judges’ reaction.

This is what Hein does with every scene he works on. During the audition process, he spends weeks sifting through footage for seven minutes of the show, but it is worth it. As the show progresses into live shows, he works to edit videos of the talents’ journeys prior to their performances. His work is what makes viewers root for different contestants.

Britain’s Got Talent is one of the two hardest shows I’ve ever worked on. The days were very long in the earlier series because the show was still finding its feet. But the teams on that show have always been great, and the success and team effort makes it worth working on it. You get given a story and you try and make it the best you can, bring something to it nobody thought of before, whether that be the style or music choices. Anything to make it ‘pop’,” said Hein.

With Hein’s work, the ratings have grown substantially each year, and now it is one of the most successful television formats in the world. Hein brought his own sense of comedy and emotion to the show, resulting in such a feat. The show’s third season final was the highest rated television show that year, when Susan Boyle won the show. It even won a BAFTA award.

Despite his accolades, Hein finds working on the show to be a team effort. He loves who he works alongside, and finds everyone pulls together to make the best show they possibly can.  The show has been on for eleven years and still entertains audiences with the same format, and that is because of the stories they are sharing with the world; stories that Hein plays a large hand in telling.

In the beginning, Hein wanted to work on Britain’s Got Talent because it was a new and growing format that would provide a different editing experience. At the time, he was extremely grateful for the opportunity. He still is today.

“I still find it incredible when people love what I do. It’s a real compliment to know that after all the years on the show I can still surprise and entertain people with how I edit. Britain’s Got Talent has a special warm feeling about it, it has always had that, and I feel like I done my part to give the show that well-loved feeling,” he concluded.

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Behind the Scenes of 24 Hours in A&E with James Ralph

When you think about your favorite television show, what comes to mind? Is it your favorite actor’s Emmy-worthy performance? Or is it perhaps set in a part of the world that you’ve been itching to explore for all of your life. Is it funny, or is it sad? Is it dramatic, or is it scary? No matter what comes to mind, each component that makes it the show you love and cherish is rooted in an editor’s ability to tie every element together seamlessly before your eyes. Without the help of a skilled editor, storylines would falter and viewers would lose interest. Films and television shows that dominate the industry require a seasoned editor, one with a keen ability to captivate an audience and ensure that only the best quality content makes a final cut. They require an editor like James Ralph.

Ralph’s versatility as an editor makes him difficult to define, but a mere glance at his work will tell you that his talents are profound. His ability to transform his skill set to meet the demands of the project before him allow him to ease into new premises, scripts, and storylines flawlessly. He brings a certain authenticity and creative edge to his work that makes him instrumental to every job he accepts and over a twenty-year career he has accepted many. His unique editorial style can be understood through a variety of different projects he has worked on, from British favorites like X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK, to hit reality television shows like Love Island and First Dates. He differentiates himself as an editor through his natural ability to transition between different genres without weakness. According to Ralph, he doesn’t have one specific style or technique that characterizes him, which makes him all the more suitable to work on a diverse array of projects.

“I wouldn’t say that I have a definite style as my work spans multiple genres. I think my work is always smooth in that you can watch it without ever being aware that there are edits – unless I’ve placed them there deliberately. Editorially, I am thoughtful, intelligent, visually creative, and musically dynamic, all of which are crucial to any story you’re trying to tell. I think that there is a certain energy in everything I do,” tells Ralph.

Over the last three years, Ralph has worked on a number of series for the well-known British television show, 24 Hours in A&E. 24 Hours in A&E is a medical documentary set in a busy hospital in London, England. The unique docuseries offers an inside look at one of Britain’s busiest Accident & Emergency departments. For the show, cameras roll for 24-hours straight over the span of a 28-day period.

With a reputation as unparalleled as Ralph’s, it is not uncommon for a production company to solicit his talents. When 24 Hours in A&E’s production company, The Garden, were looking for an editor to flavor their series with the perfect amount of suspense and truth, they demanded that Ralph come on board. In fact, the show’s Executive Producer, Spencer Kelly, had worked with Ralph in the past and knew he was the perfect fit for the job. For Ralph, the opportunity was too great to turn down and knowing The Garden’s respected reputation in the factual and documentary making world, he was eager to accept.

Despite Kelly’s experience working with Ralph, he never ceases to be amazed by the quality of Ralph’s editing skills. Ralph is a rarity in his field and production companies are extremely fortunate when they come across talent as remarkable as his.

“I have worked with James on prime-time series for BBC 1 and for the last three seasons of 24 Hours in A E. Throughout each, he has brought a unique combination of consistency and editorial clarity. His work is beautifully crafted and his editing delivers compelling, thoughtful and entertaining television,” states Kelly. He also points out that Ralph’s “good humor and hardworking, collaborative attitude make him a pleasure to work with. Most importantly, he is quick at what he does so he can quickly sift through material and implement changes to meet pressured deadlines.”

As an editor, speed is crucial; however, the true art of editing shows in an editor’s ability to produce content quickly without sacrificing quality. Ralph is well-versed in this skill and it makes him a true asset to the teams he works on. For 24 Hours in A&E, this skill is paramount to the show’s success. Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, it is important for Ralph to be able to accurately portray each situation with every aspect of authenticity and human nature possible. The show’s audience become privy to very intimate parts of people’s lives, ranging from birth to death and everything in between and as a result, Ralph has to thoroughly explore all of the footage, identifying any stories or themes that can be developed into an episode. On the surface, the show is about medicine but in reality, it is about people and the often fascinating stories of their lives. It is a challenge unlike any of Ralph’s other projects.

“It can be very challenging when you’re faced with the reality that people sometimes die or appear on the show with appalling injuries. As an editor, I have to work with this footage and find ways to tell these people’s stories without glorifying or reveling in the gruesomeness of the situations. It’s all about being sensitive and respectful to the people on the show and to your audience as you tell each story and ensure that you do them justice,” notes Ralph.

From an editing standpoint, 24 Hours in A&E was a thrilling job. With full creative reign, Ralph was trusted to make his own decisions in terms of which stories he followed and developed. He thrives in an autonomous environment, allowing his unrestricted creativity to reach the surface. He loves the responsibility that comes with being able to showcase such raw, human stories. There are moments of humor, as well as moments of grief. It can be touching, but also devastating. The show is characterized by a wide spectrum of emotions and Ralph gets to choose how he wishes to present each and every one. He has been instrumental to the show’s success and is without a doubt one of the main reasons that his viewers absorb the show in the way that they do.

“I take a great deal of pride knowing that the show is so popular, not only with the public but also amongst my colleagues. The fact that it is repeatedly commissioned, as well as on repeat across many of Channel 4’s subsidiary channels, is a tribute to the hard work and dedication that goes into making it. It’s one of those shows that a lot of my friends in the industry always say, “I wish I worked on that,” concludes Ralph, and he is proud that he does.

From Trailers to Long-Form Projects, Editor Ge Zhai Draws Viewers in with her Work

Editor Ge Zhai
Editor Ge Zhai

After all the production meetings, castings and lengthy shoot days are finished is when the story we see in a film or series really begins to come together. Naturally the writers and director have a strong idea of how they want their project to play out, but nothing is ever fully set in stone until the project makes its way onto the editor’s desk. It’s there that the best footage is identified and methodically pieced together into the unfolding story we enjoy as viewers.

Editor Ge Zhai, who is originally from Beijing, China is one of those genius editors who manages to turn hours of footage into a seamless story that grabs the attention of viewers around the world and keeps them watching.

Since moving stateside six years ago, Zhai has made a huge impact in the industry with her work as an editor. She got her start working as an editor for KO Creative, an LA-based creative advertising and strategic marketing group that creates audio/visual and print campaigns for domestic & international theatrical motion pictures, television and more. As an editor at KO Creative Zhai served as the lead editor on over 30 film trailers.

As the editor of the theatrical trailers for films such as multi-award winning director Chris Mason Johnson’s (The New Twenty) dramatic film Test and Coury Deeb’s ( The New Sudan) documentary BBOY for LIFE, Zhai managed to streamline each story into a concise and intriguing snapshot that made audiences want to go out to watch the films; and her success in cutting each trailer needs little further proof than the international attention received by both films upon release.

She was also the lead editor for the online trailers for several films including those for the Dutch film Boys, a coming of age tale about a homosexual teen and his budding relationship with a fellow teammate on the track team, which won the Golden Calf and Dutch Critics Awards from the Nederlands Film Festival and was nominated for an International Emmy Award; and, the Image Award nominated film drama Life of  King starring Oscar Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Men of Honor, Selma).

Editor Ge Zhai
Editor Ge Zhai

In addition to sifting through hours of footage, selecting the most revealing and powerful moments, and creating a streamline story that would enthrall viewers, Zhai’s work cutting trailers at KO Creative meant she had to understand the divergent audiences each trailer catered to– something the value could be seen as no more integral than when it came to cutting sales trailers, as those are the visuals that actually sell the film to distributors and ensure the project actually reaches audiences. Without a strong and appealing sales trailer, a film may languish alone and unnoticed in a filmmaker’s library and never see the light of day. Thankfully for films such as Oscar Award nominee James Franco’s 2014 film The Sound and the Fury and Adam Levins’ horror film Estranged, Ge Zhai cut strong trailers that attracted the attention of distributors and helped each film make their way onto the big screen.

“I think in today’s world, there are so many choices as to video content, you got Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, with hundreds of thousands of films/tv/videos. So for an audience, why do they spend 2 hours on this specific film? The trailer is the first step to involve your audience visually following the poster. Trailers have to grasp their attention in 20 seconds and leave them wanting to see more,” explains Zhai.

“My strength is noticing details in a shot and maximizing them to convey the intimate emotion without relying on explanatory dialogue. I’m very good at telling the story of a film in a different way that is condensed, rhythmic, gripping, while remain true to the film. Plus, I have a good sense of music, which is super important to trailers.”

Though Zhai got her start as an editor in the industry cutting trailers for massively successful film projects, which is impressive enough in itself, she quickly moved on to cutting longer form projects, such as season 4 of the series Being featuring celebrities like three-time Grammy Award winner Erica Atkins Campbell and singer & movie star Tyrese, the comedy series According to Him + Her with Monica Collier (The Watermelon Heist), the poignant documentary Just Extensions and many more.

“Ge has the magic power to make ordinary materials look stunning. It was a blessing to have Ge on our team when we expanded from a trailer house into a full service post-production facility,” explains KO Creative CEO Kristi Kilday. “She was not constrained by her past experience when facing the challenge of editing long-form content like ‘Just Extensions’ and ‘Being.’ All the storylines and characters charged with emotion reflected her talent in editing.”

Zhai’s ability to breathe life into the characters we see on screen coupled with her ability to move each story forward with her natural (and virtually unnoticeable) cuts is one of the unique assets she brings to the table, and one of the driving forces behind her success that separates her from others in the industry. She doesn’t approach her work from a mechanical, step by step process devoid of emotion– instead she allows her creativity and emotional connection to the work and to the characters to guide the process. This is one of the reasons why the end products of those she’s lent her editor’s wand to have been so successful.

When it came time for the creation of season 4 of the series Being, Centric, the show’s network, which is a cable channel owned by BET,  wanted to appeal to a more specific audience and embody a different vibe than that of previous seasons– that is where editor Ge Zhai came in.

Zhai explains, “‘Being’ previously had three seasons, but in totally different tone. For the new season they wanted to shift styles to better fit the rebranded network, which was catered towards educated African American women. I had worked with the same producers on the series ‘According to Him+Her,’ so they were aware of my skills, and at the end of the day that led to hire me to edit their number one show.”

Being series
Poster for the series “Being”

Zhai’s storytelling skills as the editor of Being season 4 served as a massive asset in creating the season’s unfolding story in a way that touched audiences. Her ability to identify the tiny, but impactful moments that a lesser editor might miss, such as the expression of K.Michelle’s (Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta) eyes while sitting in church in season 4 episode 1 or six-time Grammy Award nominee Tyrese Gibson’s (Furious 7, Fast & Furious 6, Ride Along) joyful look as he revisited his childhood school in season 4 episode 4, were all tantamount to creating an emotionally touching story that drew audiences in and kept them engaged as the season played out.

Zhai’s work as an editor is proof enough itself, so much so that she’s climbed the ranks much quicker than the majority of her peers in Hollywood. Most recently she’s been working on the viral marketing video content for the sequel of the Chinese smash-hit Monster Hunt where her work has embraced millions of viewers.

 From beginning her career editing trailers that have been integral to drawing audiences and selling films to buyers, to serving as the editor on highly-watched long form projects that have aired on major networks, Ge Zhai’s seasoned skill as an editor combined with her unique power as a storyteller have been integral to the success of a great many projects. This is one editor we know we’ll be seeing a whole lot more from as time progresses, so keep your eyes out for her name as the credits roll.

 

Videographer Maria Aguado takes us back in time with Button Barcelona

Maria Aguado has always known she was meant to be a filmmaker. Since the age of seven, she wrote screenplays and made movies. At the time, just a small child in Barcelona, she filmed her dolls, editing the footage, unaware of what she was really doing. She grew up holding a camera, and to this day, nearly twenty years later, that remains true.

Aguado’s unique eye has greatly contributed to the success of many brands who seek her services. Just last year, the company Button Barcelona reached out to the videographer to make a promotional and informative video about the brand that would be played at a Button Barcelona event, as well as two other videos to be used to promote the brand on social media.

“I really liked the romanticism that creates Button Barcelona and I wanted to be a part of it. They emphasize how everything worked in the old times, enjoying every step with serenity and a slower rhythm. I was happy to express this through audio-visual,” said Aguado.

Button Barcelona is a company inspired by the way people used to live sixty years before the industrial revolution in a small village in Barcelona. They sell all type of products with one thing in common: bringing back the traditional methods of production and elaboration with hand-made products. As a videographer and editor, Aguado had to transmit this idea to the audience. She filmed and edited three videos for Button Barcelona. The first one was a series of interviews explaining the story of Button Barcelona. The second was the “making of” of the photo shoot. For the third video, she edited the previous two videos together, for the Button Barcelona event. All three were posted and used on social media as their marketing campaign.

“The shooting was really fun. We immediately became a good team from the start. The event was also amazing, my video was screened and we were all there, overwhelmed by the story the video shows and the whole experience,” Aguado described.

While shooting, Aguado filmed the models in different parts of the village doing antiquated activities, such as washing clothes in a bucket of water, going to an antique cinema, and sewing clothes. She truly shows really the audience how these people used to live, emphasizing the essence of the company.

“Button Barcelona is everything that defines us, differentiates us and reaffirms our personality. That’s why I decided to select every single piece that showed a narrative in order to create a story inside a fashion video,” said Aguado. “Through the shooting and the editing, I transformed models into characters. This is the nice and tricky thing about editing, with just one look, a movement, a step, you can create a story, a narrative structure. The tricky part is to know when you are cutting a video and why, it all has to end up making sense in order to touch the audience. Also, remembering all the material in order to be fluent and creative. The brand’s idea is the opposite of frenetic; it’s all about taking your time to produce with love. I showed this by carefully selecting pieces of music and mixing them together. The rhythm plays a very important part too, music and video have to dance together.”

The final video is eight minutes long. It begins documentary style, interviewing the various people at Button Barcelona, and explaining the story behind the company. The final five minutes feature the “making of” from the photoshoots. Aguado perfectly blends the shots to the music, editing the cuts to the exact beat of the song. It does not appear to be a promotional video, but instead an artistic music video, where the models are simply people enjoying their life rather than working. The result is outstanding.

“Maria was given full freedom to create both videos and the result was even better than what we had expected. She is a very hard worker with a positive attitude and creative mind! Her creativity and passion for what she does is what makes her so good at it,” said Candelaria Turrens, CEO and Founder of Button Barcelona.

The three videos were crucial in branding Button Barcelona. They explain the company’s idea, and introduce the world to the members of the brands Button distributes. Without Aguado, the event would not have been the success that it was, and the brand itself could not have achieved what it has today. She captured the company’s essence through the lens of her camera.

“It felt like we were teleported to another time; the times Button Barcelona tries to keep in our lives. The story was clearly shown to the audience, they could feel the essence of the brand and really enjoyed it. The video was repeated every half an hour, people kept asking to see it over and over again. It was amazing,” Aguado concluded. “I believe I showed the value of the simple way people used to live, the romanticism of the old times, enjoying every step with happiness, calm and serenity.”

JUN XIA MANIFEST THE VISION OF “SHE GIVES ME SIGHT”

In spite of what the tabloids would have you believe, filmmaking is a team effort. While directors and actors are the faces of this mode of entertainment, the success of each production owes just as much to the talented professionals who perform their feats of magic and ability behind the camera. Think of it like this; if you order a fantastic meal but it isn’t handled properly or delivered properly…then it’s no good to you. Those whom the public never sees are as responsible for the gripping and endearing stories that we all love just as much as the marquee names we all know. Jun Xia may not be a household name but this editor is widely known and respected in the film industry. His editing has enabled the stories of fright (as in “Emily” and “Inside Linda Vista Hospital”), the touching stories of love and love lost (in “The Good Memory”), and of perseverance and the human spirit in “She Gives Me Sight.” This story of a young blind boy who is given a gift stronger than that of sight by a loving family member is the type of inspirational film that simultaneously evokes tears and admiration. Honored with multiple awards (at the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival, Love Shorts Film Festival, LA underground Film Festival, and many others), “She Gives Me Sight” has a distinct pacing that is the result of Xia’s collaboration and planning with director Jiping Liu. When viewing the film, it is apparent that this approach is a major part of how the story is delivered and thus a result of its recognition in the film community.

“She Gives Me Sight” is a story about a little boy named Cecil whose life is full of bullying and darkness. Cecil was blinded in an accident and now lives with his grandmother in a small town. His only playground is the front yard of the old house in which they live. After little Cecil lost his sight, his grandmother decides to give Cecil love and light. Rather than treating him gently or with sympathy, she treats him more strictly than before. She continually asks him to help with simple housework. The neighborhood kids laugh at Cecil and taunt him. Although his grandmother is a witness to all of this, she doesn’t say anything about it. When a mishap occurs during these common house chores, Cecil breaks down. He is astonished that his grandmother does not take his situation into consideration and treat him differently than before he lost his sight. That night, she tells Cecil a bedtime story about a rose and a butterfly and how the rose promises to fight against the wind and keep blooming. Cecil dreams that night and understand that the story is about him and the rose’s story is his own. Three years later, Cecil became a successful author and writing a book named She Gives Me Sight about his childhood, and thanks his grandmother for teaching him to persevere and find his own way.

Because such a vast amount of the story is driven by narration and dialogue, Jun had copious discussions with the film’s director Jiping Liu in regards to how the editing might add to the story’s action. It was Xia’s contention that if the film were edited in exact correlation with the script, it would not achieve its full potential. In his mind, there was more happening in this story than what was directly stated. He explains his approach commenting, “I used the method of Parallel Montage in the film. I created it on the basis of a lot of dialogue and narration of the film, which made the overall movie more interesting. In this film, when the grandmother reads,  coaxing the blind boy to sleep, the imagination in the blind little boy’s mind, the imagination of him in childhood, and in the period of growing up were interspersed with editing. In addition, the things that occurred at different times and locations were edited together, which made the rhythm of this story more compact.”

Headshot.jpg

Jiping concedes, “Jun is a very smart when it comes to filmmaking, especially for editing. His approach is always well thought out and is about serving the message of the film. It was a great experience to work with such a fantastic film editor. Jun agrees noting, “I can’t overstate how important I feel that it is to be a modest filmmaker and editor. Receiving advice from others whom I respect about my own editing methods will only lead to increasing the integrity of the film.”

While a plethora of awards, nominations, and “official selection” accolades point to the widespread recognition of “She Gives Me Sight” by the film community, it’s the power that the film has on the individual when viewed that reveals its true impact. The film’s tone creates such a strong connection between the audience and young Cecil that it is almost unfathomable to think of its presentation as any other way. What Jun Xia and Jiping Liu created together is a moving and epic story of love overcoming life’s harsh blows. The rose that defies the wind can be found inside any of us; Jun Xia made certain that all viewers understand this lesson.

Editor Minghao Shen talks impactful new film ‘Cartoon Book’

Only someone that truly loves what they do can enjoy it the way that Minghao Shen enjoys film editing. His understanding of his craft and his commitment to the artistic elements of it allow him to excel at what he does. Not many people are lucky enough to be so talented and so passionate about their work. Shen is one of those fortunate few, and on top of this, he is considered one of the best Chinese film editors right now.

While working on award-winning films such as Red String, Emily, Inside Linda Vista Hospital, and Stay, Shen’s editing skills were extremely evident for both audiences and critics.

“I am a creative minded person, so I love the re-creative part of editing a lot. There are many ways to make a film, and I feel editing is one of the best ways to engage in the filmmaking production,” said Shen.

Shen engaged in both the filmmaking production and with audiences with his work on the film Cartoon Book. Cartoon Book is about a little boy who tries to go against the school and teacher under severe rules. Afterwards, it seems that the teacher gradually controls the boy by using his vulnerability and letting the rebel boy become a tool to manage other students. The boy draws cartoons, but he feels it is hard to choose between his desire or his morals when the teacher bribes him to be her spy who needs to betray his friends.

“It is a kind of classic tone film, so rather than edit it ‘correctly’, director more like to keep the smooth and stressful feeling by editing. That is why I, as the editor, needed to understand the story indeed,” said Shen. “We had a lot of footage, so it was quite a lot of work at the beginning. But, all the effort and hard work was worth it.
The director had her own style for the entire pace of the film, and the film had really good results.”

The film went on the be an Official Selection at the prestigious Cannes Short Film Corner where it premiered last year, as well as the Berlin Student Film Festival, the Goa Shots International Short Film Festival, and the Accolade Global Film Festival Competition.

“I had a feeling that the film would see a lot of success in festivals, so when I found out the film got some awards I was not surprised, and I think it deserves even more and bigger awards,” said Shen. “The director is good at screenwriting. The first time I read the story I was so intrigued and really connected with the story. I was really looking forward to work with the director and making great film, which we did. It was not the first time we worked together. We know and understand each other very well. She is natural born storyteller and I always looking forward to work with her.”

The film was written and directed by Shuhe Wang, who had previously worked with Shen on her film The Regret, and was immediately impressed by his talents. Knowing they work well together, and that she needed the best to make her new film a success, she reached out to Wang to join her on Cartoon Book.

“I worked with Minghao on my award-winning short film Cartoon Book. I was the director and he was the editor. We worked together really well. He was so full of thoughts and understood the story deeply. When we were on set, Minghao watched the footage carefully on each shooting day. His did the rough cuts very quickly and helped me to get the overall storyline,” said Wang.

Shen was vital to the successful of the film. He says working on Cartoon Book was unlike any project he had worked on in the past. He read a lot of the director’s notes and talked about the story more than just the editing technique with the director. He would meet the cinematographer and communicate about the shot, knowing they all needed to be on the same page for the overall tone of the film. This understanding of not just his role, but the entire filmmaking process, is outstanding.

“The most exciting part of making this film was the journey of the main character. There were many twists and turns in it. It is a bit challenging for editing because the complex storyline, but on another hand, it offered a variety options for editing, and that is what makes my job fun,” Shen concluded.

Editor/Colorist Liang Xia Expertly Combines Technical Precision and Nuanced Emotion

The film industry is home to an army of specialty craftspeople and technicians, each working in distinct specialized niche disciplines. These widely varying duties abound in the post-production field and while many seem almost esoteric in their limited scope, some actually have a critical impact on the finished films emotional appeal and ability to directly reach an audience.

Chinese born Editor/Colorist Liang Xia is a prime example of this. His is a uniquely demanding position, one that requires a masterful sense of nuance and subtlety, balancing the aesthetics’ which a production’s setting and style requires while subtly enhancing the film’s overall mood and emotional appeal. Xia achieves this with a both comprehensive attention to minute detail and an overarching perspective on the sweep of the entire film.

“There are three different things that a colorist does,” Xia said. “First, I adjust the exposures of the footage. A lot of things, such as lighting issues, weather, location and cause the cinematographer to get incorrect exposures. In most films, there will be several shots under or over exposed and colorists fix those issues in post-production, making sure each shot is the correct exposure and matches other shots.”

“Second, Colorists need to correct unnatural colors or unwanted colors. Sometimes, color temperature of the lighting is not accurate, or if the camera setting isn’t right, the color in footage will not be correct. Even when every setting is right, the camera sensor will receive more light and colors than we can see, and there will be some unwanted colors, or the contrast will change. Colorists fix all these problems during the process of color correction. And after this process, the color will become very accurate and satisfying to audience.”

The third aspect of the colorist’s job is the most important, and also where Xia excels.

“Color can also express emotion,” he said. “As we know, red means passion or blood, blue means cold or peace. Colorists can also use color theories to emphasize emotions in scenes, chapters or even whole films. A subtle change of color tone is not very obvious to audiences, but when they watch the film and see the color, they will have a natural, almost subconscious reaction to the color tone. In this way, a colorist enhances the film, allows it to further express subtexts and emotions.”

His work on the recent feature film Strawman exemplifies Xia’s perfected mix of vision and expression. A gritty look at a youth forced into a life of petty crime to support his siblings after their parents abandon them, Xia’s atmospheric approach and attention to detail further burnished director Tian Xie’s impactful drama.

Xia is driven by a fascination with the human condition and the inescapable drama of common life. It’s a combination of sensitivity, aesthetics and technique striking an unusual balance between meticulous technical precision and broad emotional strokes. For Xia it’s almost therapeutic and this unusual artistic perspective enhances every project undertaken and has, in a few short years distinguished him as a professional force to be reckoned with.

Strawman was the first time I worked with Liang,” director Tian Xie said. “Besides his editing concepts and skill, Liang has very good vision and a feeling for color, so his color correction is excellent. Liang had a five-year experience in studying paintings, including traditional Chinese painting and watercolor. I think that’s an important reason for his excellent sense on color. When we worked on Strawman, I told him the story takes place in summer, a hot summer. Liang did some adjustments on his color panel and created an ideal overall look, immediately. That color tone was what exactly I want, and I said, ‘that is the one.’”

Xia’s lifelong affinity for both art and film created the perfect combination for his profession. “I’ve loved film since my childhood,” he said. ”After high school, I studied TV and film directing in college. After I came to U.S. to study film, I found my logic and patience gave me a strong advantage and decided to work on editing. Then, during my post-production study, I found I am sensitive to color, so I started to study color theories on my own and also took some class about film color grading.”

And it’s working. Strawman took Best Foreign Feature at 2016 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and Best Feature Film Diamond for director and editor at the 2017 NYC Indie Film Awards, and led to an on-going collaboration with he and director Tian Xie, most recently on the short Promise. In fact, Strawman and Promise each won a Gold Remi Award at 50th WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. Additionally Strawman officially selected in the 19th San Francisco Indie Film Festival, the 6th Richmond International Film Festival and 23rd New Jersey Film Festival.

“I love editing and doing color,” Xia said. “My goal is to keep working on indie films. In my opinion, indie films more focus on humanities and society. I want to have more chances to edit more indie films. It not only provides me editing or color jobs, but also makes me connect to the real world.”

*I like dramas that focus on people who are often ignored or marginalized by society, and these give me the chance to using my post-production skills to build complete characters—and to build a complete me.”