Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
Final Cut Pro is commonly used for editing feature films both big and small, but it’s particularly well-suited to challenging situations, such as the one that film editor Bradly Buecker found himself in with the new Julia Roberts vehicle Eat Pray Love, which opens theatrically on Friday.
A unique film based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love finds Julia Roberts playing the author as she becomes frustrated with her life following a divorce and takes a journey that will famously turn it around. Taking place in four different locales ranging from New York to Bali, the film is directed by Ryan Murphy, the creator of such hit TV shows as Glee and Nip/Tuck. The four and a half month shoot translated to 422,000 feet of film, which equates to roughly 70 hours of footage.
All of that footage fell on the shoulders of editor Bradley Buecker, a veteran of Murphy’s television shows but who lacked feature experience -- especially for such a high-profile production with a major star. But the director had faith, leaving the editor behind in Los Angeles to pick up the pieces (literally!) with Final Cut Pro.
“Both Nip/Tuck and Glee were Final Cut shows, and Final Cut Pro has proven to be a great editing system,” Buecker reveals. “It’s my system of choice.” The editor and his two assistants are equipped with mirrored Mac Pro and MacBook Pro systems, both running the latest Final Cut Studio suite.
Eat Pray Love was post-produced as a digital intermediate, meaning it was actually shot on film, posted digitally and then again delivered on film. That proved a challenge given the far-off shooting locales, and the editors would often not see footage until seven to 10 days after it was actually shot.
“Technically, the editorial challenge was to maximize efficiency,” says Buecker. “We wanted to be able to see the highest quality image with the lowest possible file size, and be able to move files quickly from notebook to desktop and from room to room.”
The solution was Final Cut Pro 7’s ProRes 422 (Proxy), which assistant editor Doc Crotzer would transcode from the original ProRes 422 (HQ) files delivered by EFILM, then organize footage into bins and prepare the material for editing. Newer FCP features such as background exporting also came to the rescue. “That feature saved us many times,” reveals Crotzer.
“The ProRes codec was the foundation of our workflow and absolutely instrumental in our editing process,” Crotzer adds. “The quality and the small file sizes allow us flexibility we wouldn’t have using any other codec. We were able to cut in Proxy and in a few simple keystrokes be reconnected in ProRes 422 (HQ) to output for a screening.”
Likewise, it was important that the proxy images were sufficiently high resolution enough for editor Buecker to make accurate edits. “With Robert Richardson as director of photography, the lighting, compositions and quality of the footage were just unbelievable,” Buecker says. “So it was very important not to be getting surprises when we started up-resing [switching from lower to higher resolution images].”
The biggest challenge for the filmmakers was the distance between the production and the editing team. “There are pros and cons to being 8,000 miles away from the director,” notes Buecker. “The pressure is intense, but it’s also a great opportunity to take chances and try things you normally wouldn’t.”
Fortunately for the editing team, director Murphy was quite pleased -- and even occasionally surprised. “There was a big Indian wedding at which they’d just shot tons of footage,” Buecker explains. “And we cut it together to a song, as a montage. It’s about Liz Gilbert watching this other woman’s wedding and remembering her own. And Ryan just loved it, even though it was very different from what he might have done with the scene.”
It wasn’t just the director who was pleased with the editor’s work, either: Reaction from the studio and film critics has been equally positive. Buecker looks back on the challenge and reflects on how the experience changed his own life, as well as that of Julia Roberts’ character on screen.
“The story of Liz Gilbert is about going against the grain, doing something for yourself, and being a better person when you come out on the other side,” the editor concludes. “Editing this film has been that kind of experience for me.”
You can share in the experience yourself as Columbia Pictures opens Eat Pray Love in theatres this weekend.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter