3. @frenchyfaith via Twitter: What was the toughest scene to edit in the finale?
JP: The toughest — and one of the most fun — was the opening scene where we integrated new footage shot in the DYAD parking garage with the footage we shot last year in the same location. We brought all the old Season 3 footage back, so I could also use some different angles and moments that weren’t used last year. It was actually such a kick to go back and re-edit the same scene I edited a year ago from a different perspective. So, the beginning of the scene (before Delphine is shot) wasn’t tough, but it was just incredibly fun. The tough part was after Delphine gets shot. There is so much going on in that scene, and my first cut of the scene was much slower and more clear in terms of what everyone’s doing. But, in working the scene, we found that the less clear we made it, the more effective it became. So, it was a constant process of speeding it up and confusing the geography around everything. For example, when people watch the scene now, they assume that Van Lier arrived in the van. But if you watch very carefully, you might notice that Van Lier is actually coming from a completely different direction. The original idea was that Van Lier arrived separately in his own car BEFORE the van got there and he did his own examination of Delphine alone. But we changed the order, so that everything is now happening at the same time. So, I could only use shots of the van arriving where you couldn’t see that Van Lier is already there, and I could only use shots of Van Lier where you couldn’t see that the van isn’t there (if that all makes sense! Makes my head hurt…) With the scene in its original form, it gave the audience too much time to think about everything that’s happening and to question it. So we wanted everyone just to be caught up in the action and enjoy the ride.
4. @CloneClubQuotes via Twitter: Was it difficult to shoot and edit the fight scene between Rachel and Sarah?
JP: The fight scene was very challenging to edit, but it was very fun too! I love fight scenes because they are so fast and action-packed. And it’s very satisfying to make punches, hits, and stabs feel as visceral as possible. One of the challenging aspects of this particular fight scene was trying to make sense of it all! Second unit helped out a lot on this scene, as more than half a day was dedicated to getting any additional shots that didn’t require seeing Tatiana’s face. (So, closeup inserts, or extra shots of Susan Duncan). So, after I viewed all the footage John Fawcett shot with Tatiana during main unit, I flagged all the holes or rough patches that we might want to clean up with additional footage. I sent the assembly to Grant Harvey (the director of Episode 406) who came in to shoot our second unit footage, and coordinated with him on everything we felt was missing, and how to clarify all the action that was going on in the scene. It was fantastic to have such a great director on the second unit shots, as Grant really goes above and beyond to really try to make the shots special. And he even grabbed a number of extra fight shots that we didn’t even talk about! So, in all, the fight portion of the scene is under two minutes and it took around a day and a half to film. At that rate, it would take 32 days to film an entire episode!
6. @GiParise via Twitter: What software do you guys use to edit? I’m an editor so I love the show’s amazing editing!
JP: Thank you! We edit the show on AVID Media Composer. Every professional job I’ve had in the past seven years has been on AVID. It’s generally the most trusted and established in terms of smooth integration with post sound and picture (color, VFX, etc.), so that’s why most productions still use AVID. AVID also has some great tools that we use on a pretty regular basis. It has some good down-and-dirty image stabilization filters that we use a ton in order to smooth out any shaky camera footage. It has good temp composite software (AniMatte) which allows us to do our clone composites pretty quickly and playback in realtime. It also has an awesome tool called FluidMorph which allows you to make a lift in the middle of the shot (to compress time) and morph the two ends together to appear continuous. It doesn’t work in every scenario, but if the actors and camera are pretty still, it can be a lifesaver! There is a single wide shot with Susan and Rachel at the end of Episode 403 that looks continuous but actually has three completely invisible edits in it. It would have been much harder to edit that scene without that tool.
JP: That scene was interesting to edit, mainly because they didn’t have enough time to shoot much coverage facing Evie! If you look at the scene again, you’ll notice that there are lots of wide shots and footage from behind Evie (facing towards the board members) and not all that much on the front of Evie and Van Lier’s faces. It really works, because it gives a lot of weight to the board and the architecture of the room, but it was actually edited that way out of necessity. But it was fun to edit since it was so different from a normal Orphan Black scene, which would generally have lots of face closeups, as it gave the scene a totally different vibe. And, for the bot taking over Evie’s face, I used a shot from behind Evie with her face in darkness. That often wouldn’t be the shot you would use, as you would usually want to be on the side of her face that’s lit so you can see what’s going on, but maybe that’s what helped make it feel so real!
8. Danielle @demo521: How did the production/editing of this episode differ from past season finales?
JP: The great thing about this finale, I think, is the narrow focus on just a few clone characters. It is mainly a Sarah/Rachel/Cosima story with a strong supporting turn from Krystal and almost cameo roles from Helena and Alison. I know fans always want to see their favorite characters heavily featured in every episode, but when we looked back at our Season 3 finale, we felt strongly that we wanted to tell a more focused story this year. The episode has a very linear progression from the top of Act 1 until the end, and I think that helps make it more involving and cohesive. So, we didn’t have the same challenge that we had in all the other finales of trying to tie so many separate stories together.
9. Naomi M. via Facebook: What clone vs. clone fight was more difficult to create for everyone involved (editing/directing/production and acting-wise), the Sarah vs. Helena one back in season 1 or this one from the recent season finale between Sarah and Rachel?
JP: The clone fight in the Season 4 finale is definitely the most complex clone fight the show has ever attempted. I believe it also breaks the record for number of individual Technodolly clone shots in a single scene. John Fawcett, the director of this episode, shot four individual clone shots (which were then cut up to make even more shots in the final edit). The first shot is Rachel beating Sarah against the table. The second is Rachel stabbing Sarah, dragging her along the floor, and Rachel standing up and pressing the cane into the knife in Sarah’s leg. The third shot is the wide shot of Rachel pressing the cane into Sarah’s leg. And then the final shot is Rachel turning into a close-up (with Sarah in the background) when she sees Susan with the gun. We have definitely never had such a prolonged clone fight with so much interaction where you can clearly see that Tatiana is playing both roles, instead of playing off a double. The fight goes on for almost two minutes, and just that section of the scene took well over a day to film (including main and second unit). If you look at the Helena/Sarah fight in Episode 110, or the Sarah/Rachel fight in Episode 201, there are much fewer moments of clone interaction where you can see both of the clones faces at the same time compared to the Season 4 finale fight. We knew going into this episode that we weren’t going to have a four-clone scene like the ones that ended Season 2 and 3, so John Fawcett knew that this had to be the biggest and most involved clone fight ever attempted on the show. Even from a VFX perspective, the Season 4 fight has around 35 or 40 VFX shots, while the Sarah/Helena fight only has a few.