Tag Archives: Emmy

Michael Eames returns to Framestore as global director of animation

Framestore has hired animator Michael Eames as its global director of animation for film projects. While based in London, Eames will oversee Framestore’s animation teams in London and Montréal.

Eames has worked on VFX-intensive pictures, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Children of Men (2006), for which he was nominated for a BAFTA.  Most recently he has worked as animation supervisor on Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

He returns to Framestore after first arriving in 2000 as animation supervisor on Dinotopia, winning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects and a BAFTA nomination. Eames also worked on Where The Wild Things Are.

Cutting ‘Transparent’: A conversation with editor Catherine Haight

By Ellen Wixted

Amazon Studios’ original series Transparent has made history for its representation of the trans community, but it may be having an even bigger impact on the way the entertainment world does business. With 11 Emmy nominations — including for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for A Comedy Series — and five wins, Transparent validates the company’s original programming strategy as it goes head-to-head with the likes of HBO and Netflix. With Season 2 of Transparent set to “air” December 4, the show’s enthusiastic fan base (myself included) may be scheduling a weekend of pre-holiday binge watching.

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Using an approach that’s been described as very “un-Hollywood,” Amazon Studios is setting out to change both the relationship between the studio and the creators — the studio is touting an openness to developing great stories from visionary directors and outsiders alike — and with audiences, by using innovative approaches to invite audience feedback. When Jill Soloway sold the Transparent pilot to Amazon in 2013, the studio had yet to make waves. With Transparent, Amazon Studios is now squarely on Hollywood’s map.

I spoke with veteran editor Catherine Haight, a long-time collaborator of Transparent’s creator Soloway, about her path as an editor and the experience of working on the show.

After majoring in art with a concentration in film at Occidental College, Haight began her career as a production assistant, then spent time logging footage and learning how a cutting room works before becoming an assistant editor. Haight began working with Soloway when she edited her short film Una Hora Por Favora, and then edited Soloway’s independent film Afternoon Delight (which premiered at Sundance in 2013). The two continued collaborating on Seasons 1 and 2 of Transparent. “Jill and I communicate well, and because we have a long history of working together, I know what she’s looking for,” Haight notes.

While Haight believes that the role of editor is mysterious to many, it’s a job she loves. “Editors are the first ones to see the puzzle come together and are huge contributors to the storytelling process — the first cut is always the editor’s cut. While some of the feedback we get can be granular, it’s usually more along the lines of ‘make this less over-the-top’ or ‘I’m not tracking this character’s emotional state.’ As editors, we manipulate perception to make the audience feel emotions.”

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Cutting an Amazon Series
When I asked Haight about how working on an Amazon production differed from other projects, she noted that while the day-to-day was similar — the series was shot and cut at Paramount as a union project — the way Amazon engaged with Soloway was markedly different. “Amazon let us do our own thing. They definitely had thoughts and opinions and gave notes throughout the process, but overall they meddled less than I’ve seen with studios on other projects.”

With only five shooting days per episode, Soloway and the crew focused their attention on “bubble” scenes that were critical to moving the story forward. With more time to invest, the actors were encouraged to improvise more — if something in the script wasn’t working, it would be changed on the fly. Smaller scenes had more basic camera coverage, tended to stay closer to the original script and were shot with fewer takes. Because the show is shot documentary-style, no two takes are the same and blocking and dialogue frequently change from take to take, which can be a challenge in the edit room.

“We approached the project as a five-hour movie, not as 10 separate episodes” says Haight. “Because all of the episodes release at once, the writers structure the story so the audience wants to start the next episode right away.” Time limits per episode were less rigid than conventional shows — finished cuts could be anywhere between 22 and 30 minutes per episode — and the absence of ad breaks meant fewer constraints as well.

This approach offered new freedom for Haight as an editor. “We were able to move scenes from episode to episode to make the story track emotionally. For example, we were having difficulty getting Rita’s role in the family to be clear in Season 1. Josh goes to see her in the pilot episode, and in a later episode he confronts her to find out whether his parents knew about their sexual relationship. We were able to move scenes from three different episodes into one sequence — there were wardrobe changes all over the place, but it made sense emotionally, so it worked.”

Transparent tackles gender and sex in an explicit and direct way, but I asked Haight about her experience of gender in post production generally. “Jill’s work is all about creating the female gaze, so having a woman cutting makes sense. But I’ve had a range of experiences. Some men I’ve edited for have thought that women bring something different and unique to the table… it’s great working with men who are feminists. But almost 80 percent of the Editor’s Guild is male, so I make a point of mentoring younger women. It’s vital that we help each other.”

Talking with ‘House of Cards’ Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal

By Jennifer Walden

As the saying goes, “the third time’s the charm,” and that was certainly true for Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal. With two previous nominations for his score of Netflix’s House of Cards under his belt, this time Beal took home the statue for “Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.” The winning episode was “Chapter 32” (Season 3, Episode 6), in which President Frank Underwood and First Lady Claire visit Russian President Petrov to hash out a deal to release imprisoned American activist Michael Corrigan, who was arrested for advocating for LGBT rights in Russia.

Chapter 32 is a good example of how Beal has been able to grow his score alongside the show for the past three seasons. While his music still feels like it’s coming from the same musical world, the sonic palette has grown as the geography of the show has become wider. “Frank becomes president, and we go to Russia and there is a whole storyline about the Middle East,” explains Beal. “Each season we’ve had a lot of new themes that come in and help bring music into the storytelling and into those areas that we are exploring.”

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The Sound of Geography
Throughout the Russian scenes, Beal used a more Eastern European sense of melody and harmony, drawing inspiration from his favorite Russian composers, such as Igor Stravinsky, and Dmitri Shostakovich. “I always loved the way Russian composers wrote for orchestra. There’s a certain expressiveness to the way they write,” he says. When President Frank and First Lady Claire arrive at Moscow’s Red Square, Beal’s score is “almost this Shostakovich kind of march,” he explains. And for Russian president Petrov — whom Beal describes as a fictionalized version of Putin — he created several variations on Petrov’s theme using piano and strings.

But, Beal feels the real soul of the score was the scenes involving Michael Corrigan and Claire. “There is a wonderful scene where he talks to Claire about his relationship with his partner and he turns the tables on Claire about her relationship with Frank,” he explains. “Michael also talks about the hunger strike — that he failed to continue — and the Russian man who lasted to death’s door.” For those scenes, Beal wrote a simple duet for cello and viola. “It’s a very mournful tune and in that a little kernel of the theme eventually became the courage theme that we hear at the end of the show… when Michael makes the ultimate sacrifice and takes his own life rather than read the disparaging statement that is a condition of him being freed.”

Beal finds it’s always interesting to score the aftermath of an event. There is enough information on screen that he doesn’t need to nudge the audience toward one particular emotion. For example, during the tense news conference that follows Michael’s suicide, Claire speaks to reporters about what happened in the cell. Instead of reading the appropriate response that would maintain the relationship with Russia, Claire has a moment of courage and stands up for Michael and his cause. “I’m often interested in scenes where there are multiple layers going on, multiple emotional layers and story layers happening at the same time. I think music can help contain the complexities of those types of moments and bring it all together,” he says.

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All-Encompassing Workflow
From the first note to the final track, Beal always has his hands on his music. He writes it, orchestrates it, conducts it, records it and mixes it. “A lot of my workflow goes back to personality. I’m a classic introvert,” he admits. Coming from a music performance background, as a jazz trumpet player and pianist, Beal loves the music-making part of the job. “For me, music-making is a very proprietary and personal journey. It’s always been this way.”

In Beal’s approach, the compositional act doesn’t stop at music making; it involves orchestrating and conducting, because that ultimately affects the sound of the score. Beal likes being able to fine-tune every last little detail before it goes out the door. “It’s really hard to say that composing stops when we go into recording and even mixing. Those steps in the workflow allow me to have my hand on the creation, the creative aspects, to make sure I’m really getting across what I want to get across with the music,” he explains.

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Jeff Beal at his mixing board.

Beal loves conducting because it gives him a connection to the music. He can guide the musicians’ performances with visual cues. For example, for Chapter 32, Beal notes there is a style of string playing that is unlike what they usually do for the show. “It’s much more romantic, with a big sound and a big vibrato,” he explains. “I remember when we were doing those cues for the solo cello and the viola with the orchestra coming in over them, I was gesticulating with my right hand over to the cello, giving him the big gestures that said, ‘Don’t hold back.’ That was helpful to do because usually we’re a little cooler and more reserved — it’s a more contemporary type of playing that we typically do on the show.”

Beal’s workflow also cuts down on inefficiency. By keeping every aspect of creating, recording and mixing the score in his studio — large enough to accommodate a 26-member string section — he’s not losing time on moving his session to another studio, or wasting time on setting up a different recording space to his tastes. “I have it all set up and ready to go. It’s miked just the way I like, and I’ve tuned the room.”

Early on in his career, Beal’s workflow was a factor of economics, but that process has helped to shape a sound that’s unique to Beal. “It’s now a factor of style and the way I like to produce my scores. I like to think that my scores don’t sound like everybody else’s. Producing in my own way has helped me get to that place.”

Emmy-winning audio pro Brian Beatrice joins Nutmeg Post

Emmy Award-winning sound designer and engineer Brian Beatrice has joined New York’s Nutmeg Post.

Before joining Nutmeg, Beatrice worked at audioEngine, Bionic and Tonic. He began his career in 1997 at National Video Center and Recording Studios in New York.

Beatrice is known for his short-form work for Nickelodeon, Food Network, USA Network, Syfy Channel and truTV, as well as commercials for Baron and Baron, Publicis, Anomaly and Consulate.

In addition, Beatrice’s work on long-form programs includes WNET/PBS’s Nature, Secrets of the Dead, Wide Angle and National Geographic Channel’s Secret Service series. Documentary credits include work for PBS, VH1, Lifetime and The History Channel. He has also worked on numerous independent films. He won an Emmy for his work on Christmas in Yellowstone, an hour-long documentary that airs seasonally on PBS.

“Nutmeg provides all of the services and resources that clients demand today. You can work here on any format, with an experienced and dedicated in-house support staff ready to help,” he says. “We make it easy for clients by offering mixing, editing, graphics and color grading all under one roof, while realizing significant cost savings along the way. This is a great time to be at Nutmeg.”

In his spare time, Beatrice is actively engaged in various exploratory studio projects, enjoys composing original music and tours with his acclaimed band.

Quick Chat: Editor Chris Peterson takes on ‘The Sixties’ for CNN

By Randi Altman

What do you think of when someone mentions the 1960s? Hippies protesting the Vietnam War? Woodstock? Putting a man on the moon? There is so much to reflect on when thinking of this pivotal time in history, and CNN agrees.

At the end of May, the news network launched a 10-part original series called The Sixties. It airs on Thursday nights. The series takes a closer look at the moments in a decade that brought the civil rights movement, the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X, the Vietnam War, the British Invasion and so much more.

The Sixties has some big-named Emmy Award-winning producers behind it: Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (HBO’s John Adams and The Pacific) of Playtone, and Mark Continue reading

GoPro gets Emmy for Hero3

San Mateo, California — GoPro has been recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a 2013 Technology and Engineering Emmy Award in the category of Inexpensive Small Rugged HD Camcorders.

GoPro (www.GoPro.com) was chosen for its Hero3 camera technology, which has enabled television production professionals to capture images that were difficult, if not impossible, to get previously.

GoPro founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman, accepted the Emmy on behalf of the company at a ceremony held in Las Vegas on January 9. At the awards, Woodman stated, “An idea is just an idea unless you have an incredibly talented team of engineers who can make it a reality.”

Speaking to the adoption of GoPro in television and filmmaking, Woodman’s acceptance speech reflected upon early signs that GoPro was going to make an impact. “In 2009, when GoPro was still a standard definition camera company, we were surprised to learn that the best selling retailer in the country was a Los Angeles Pep Boys store. When we reached out, we discovered that the store was located just down the street from Universal Studios, and that the production guys were coming in and buying GoPro cameras by the dozens to use as crash cams and to capture perspectives that were never before possible.”

Woodman added, “We then knew that once we launched our HD camera later that year the television industry was going to lose its mind.”