NAB: 'Avatar' Editor Says New Editing Pipeline Will Be Used for the Sequels

Filmed Entertainment: BAD

Nathanson is bearish on the Fox film studio, home of "Avatar," based on DVD dips and lower profit margins. 

LAS VEGAS -- Stephen Rivkin, who edited Avatar with John Refoua and director James Cameron, said Wednesday at an editors panel at the NAB Show that a new editing pipeline is being developed for the sequels.

"After Avatar's release, we got together to discuss how to improve the process," he said. "We are developing a new pipeline that helps with what we were making up as we were going along."

Rivkin continuned, "Editorial is working very closely with Avid and Weta Digital. We are trying to develop a pipeline that will track metadata for each character as the virtual production proceeds."

"Jim is going to continue to push the envelope," he added. "We are working with higher resolution, which will enable a much easier hand off to Weta. Jim is also experimenting with high frame rates.“ 

Also during the session,  Iron Man director Jon Favreau's go-to editor Dan Lebental warned that mobile technology is going to change the way editors work. "We are starting to take editing away from fixed editing rooms," he said. "I think you will need them for specialty things. I adore my Avid, but it is drastic overkill [for certain uses]."

Because of that, Lebental himself developed TouchEdit, a new $50 editing app for the iPad, which he demonstrated at the NAB Post Pit. It is designed for use as a standalone tool or in conjunction with another editing system such as an Avid Media Composer. "What I'm looking for is a simpler way of doing things," Lebental said.

The editors on the panel said they are increasingly using Skype, video links and other such tools to communicate with many collaborators when they are not in the same location.

But William Goldenberg, the Oscar-winning editor of Argo, emphasized the importance of  being face to face with a director. "There is no substitute for being in the room with the director," he said, adding that he had some virtual collaboration with Michael Bay while cutting Transformers: Dark of the Moon, "but it's not the same as being able to look at someone in the eye."

Rivkin agreed, saying, "The editor and director is probably the closest relationship in the entire production."

Panelists also included Jay Cassidy (Silver Linings Playbook) and Heidi Scharfe (Red Shoe Diaries). Norman Hollyn (Wild Palms) moderated the discussion, which was presented by American Cinema Editors.