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HomeCraftsEditingTerminator 2: Judgement Day Editor Conrad Buff On Cutting Action

Terminator 2: Judgement Day Editor Conrad Buff On Cutting Action

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Terminator 2
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eddie Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgement Day

When audiences think of great action, there’s a good chance they’ll think of sequences constructed by editor Conrad Buff. The Academy Award winner, who recently worked on Equalizer 3, is behind several James Cameron classics: The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, and Titanic. Needless to say, he knows his way around crystal-clear spectacle.

In Equalizer 3, Buff again reunites with director Antoine Fuqua. The two have worked together several times since Training Day. While speaking with Buff about their latest and successful collaboration, we asked him what he always seeks to capture in cutting action.

“For me, it’s always about clarity,” he said. “What I really hate is over-cut stuff, where everything is just a blur, and any character can look tremendous in their efforts. I want to understand the individual details clearly. Traditionally, I think I’ve been successful with that. Also, it’s not just editorial, although the choices help contribute to clarity, for sure. Certainly, the directors are in sync with that idea, especially Jim and Antoine.”

Throughout Buff’s career, he’s brought an elegant simplicity to even the most chaotic action scenes. Terminator 2, of course, being one of the most inspiring examples, but look at the last half of Titanic. All those extras, all those moving pieces, and so much chaos, and it’s all abundantly clear.

“A lot of that is director choices,” Buff added. “Both Jim and Antoine are similar in that they shoot a lot of great material. It’s very subjective how one constructs it. The one thing I can say is, I think the clarity within the shots and takes is there, and it’s up to me to harness the pieces that clarify and tell the story. Certainly, some of Jim’s major sequences are very complex. He’s very good at storyboarding… not that we’re following the boards, per se, but Antoine does this as well, which clarifies the sequences for themselves with the storyboards. They’ve been programmed with the research and ideas and managed to harness the spontaneity on the day, which will bend the scene a bit. What I’m trying to say is, they do their homework.”

Check back next week for our full interview with editor Conrad Buff. 

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