The editing team for the two-part miniseries Houdini, which was produced by Lionsgate/A&E Studios and debuted on History on Labor Day, relied on Avid Everywhere to bring the legendary illusionist and escape artist to life. With the Avid MediaCentral Platform powering a collaborative workflow, the team was able to focus on developing the creative look and feel of the miniseries while dealing with the challenges of working to short timescales and with a production team located thousands of miles away.
Faced with a tight editing schedule, editor Sabrina Plisco, ACE expanded the editorial team to include co-editor David Beatty, and assistant editors Jared Zalman and Paul Alderman. By establishing a collaborative editorial environment based on Avid Artist Suite and Avid shared storage systems at EPS-Cineworks in Studio City, Calif., the team was able to collaborate effectively both among themselves and with director Uli Edel, who was on location in Houdini’s birthplace, Budapest, during the 45-day shoot.
The team relied on Avid Media Composer, (part of the Avid Artist Suite). According to Plisco, Media Composer’s data management capabilities were critical to the success of this collaborative workflow.
While Houdini is a period piece, the network, producers and director wanted a contemporary feel to attract younger audiences. Edel gave the editors freedom to experiment with different cutting patterns. “This Houdini is more of a psychological thriller, so we used jump cutting, freeze frames and contemporary sound and music to give an edginess to a classic story,” explained Plisco. “I’ve used Media Composer since it first came out, as it gives you much more creative freedom. It allows you to store so many different versions, which is important when experimenting with different styles.”
Plisco and her team had to create a longer version of the miniseries for the international market, changing the sound, music and cutting style, while adding an additional 16 minutes of footage and visual effects that were then scored, mixed and conformed.
“I rely on Avid to offer the technical savvy needed to survive the challenge of complicated shows such as Houdini,” said Plisco. “In our industry we never know what obstacles will be thrown at us on any given day. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to worry about my equipment and software, but instead can spend my energy on the creative side of my job as an editor.”