Films Resume


March-April 2007 : Volume 28, Number 2


Erik C. Andersen's 'Killer Pad'
by Michael Kunkes

Erik C. Andersen and his Avid in his home editing suite.
(Photo by Gregory Schwartz)

While Zodiac garners the headlines as the first Hollywood major feature using an all-tapeless workflow, another film is proving that a $2 million feature can use the same techniques as one costing $80 million more––and achieve the same success in the cutting room, if not at the box office. Killer Pad, a new indie movie directed by Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame) and produced by Wayne Allan Rice, is a teen horror-comedy about three friends who use a legal settlement to purchase a house in the Hollywood Hills and find out that it has a very checkered history. At press time, the film was negotiating a distribution deal.

Working under the IA’s low-budget agreement, the editor, Erik C. Andersen, came to the Thomson/ Grass Valley Viper camera through DP David Stump, ASC, who has a reputation for pushing digital technology. According to Andersen, the essentials of the Zodiac workflow were duplicated on Killer Pad, with some key differences necessitated by budget.

Andersen is no stranger to low-budget and independent films. In fact, because he’s done several of them, he bought himself an Avid and works at home in his garage-turned-editing suite. It is there that he cut the features Animal (2005) and You Did What? (2006). He also works on shorts for up-and-coming filmmakers and has been doing supplemental material for DVD releases.

Jim Garrett checks the out of sync sound on the Final Cut Pro editing system.

On Killer Pad, which Andersen did not cut at home, he had the services of only one assistant, Jim Garrett––who for half the show had to share the Final Cut Pro system with him. “I persuaded the producers to get a second system by convincing them that I could handle double the amount of work if my assistant had his own machine,” he says.

Andersen used the sound on the D.Mag (digital film magazine) as a work track, as opposed to the Cantar audio files used on David Fincher’s movie. “It was a huge problem because the sound was out of sync anywhere between one to three frames,” he recalls. “We waited to fix the problem until we locked picture––then Jim spent two weeks going through the entire show, analyzing each shot to see how far off it was and adjusting the sync accordingly. It was a pain, but we really had no choice than to do it that way.”

Script notes were sent to Andersen on old-fashioned Xerox copies, rather than embedded file-based metadata. Not much of a problem there, according to the editor. “Killer Pad only shot the equivalent of 120,000 feet of film, less than one-tenth the footage of Zodiac,” he says. “It was not an overwhelming amount of material to comb through.”

As was the Zodiac editorial team, Andersen was amazed at the time savings provided by the DPX file workflow. “If a D.Mag’s drives were filled during that morning’s shooting, they would be sent to editorial and I’d be cutting that material by the afternoon,” he reveals. “Making it easier was the fact that unlike film’s one-light dailies, the LUTs gave us a much closer representation of what the DP had in mind when he shot the material. I’m an editor, not a colorist, and this procedure allowed me to cut with the best-looking image.”

Andersen says he had always heard that the main reason to shoot in HD was to save money––and he heard right. “By going tapeless, you eliminate film stock, telecine, tape stock and other costly processes,” he acknowledges. “The only way left to save money now is to digitize directly into the editing system on the set.”

The best advice Andersen offers to editors thinking about working on a show with this kind of workflow is for them to rely on their knowledge and experience and ask the right questions beforehand. “You have to know what’s coming at you, especially if you’ve had past experience with HD,” says Andersen, who was first assistant editor on Universal’s first HD movie, How High, in 2001. “When you start a project, get in there during pre-production and ask questions of every department––‘How are we doing camera reports?’ ‘Who’s responsible for delivering the D.mags,’ etc.––so the workflow between departments is figured out by the time you start shooting.”

Before Andersen worked with the D.Mag, he was very hesitant about a tapeless workflow. “But now that I’ve seen first-hand how effective it is, and how fast I can get my material to cut, I know that this is here to stay,” he enthuses. “The biggest question now is how are the original dailies’ data going to be saved? We backed up the DPX files onto LTO-3, but technology is changing so quickly, this could soon be obsolete.

“I feel that film negative is still the best way to archive,” he continues, and adds after a pause, “But ask me in five years if my opinion has changed!”





Check out the trailer below!

Check out Erik on the Editors Guild Home Page.


Go To Erik's Resume









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