Leanne Hayward (Young), Editor
Leanne Hayward (Young) is an Editor at Double Negative. Leanne spends her time managing the visual reference and cuts that arrive from the clients and our VFX shots within them.
Her role involves working closely both with the client side VFX editor and our internal production team as well as running dailies sessions to review latest work. Leanne’s Q&A originally ran just after completing work on Man of Steel. She’s most recently worked on Godzilla and Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Is there anything you wish you had done before you joined the industry which would have better prepared you for your career in VFX for Film?
Not really no, as I’d done a relevant degree in Bournemouth and then on my Post Grad I’d focused on VFX and Editing, so I was all set up for this sort of job really from the get go.
Is there any advice you would give to someone coming into the business?
Be prepared for a lot of setbacks to begin with. I think you have to be really focused on what you want to do and especially the company you want to work for. Before I got offered a job at Double Negative I’d thoroughly researched the company and I knew that this was the place I wanted to work more than anywhere. I was also certain that I wanted to move back to the UK from Canada to come to this company. I was very determined to work here and I think that determination and hard working attitude has paid off. Also be prepared for starting at the bottom, irrespective of age or experience (if you come from a non VFX background). Be prepared to start afresh and to learn anew, to work incredibly hard and long hours all while maintaining your enthusiasm. Sounds a lot but it will all pay off in the end!
What natural skills do you think lend themselves to doing your job?
I love to organise things and I’m very focused, methodical and can be a bit of a perfectionist, I suppose it’s these qualities that has got me to the position I am in now.
Are there any particular training / courses you’d recommend?
The best thing I feel I’ve ever done was to do my Post Grad in Canada, I learnt so much there, so many skills which I’m still using now. Apart from that I’ve learnt a lot on the job here, Dneg are excellent at training personnel in their various departments, so I’ve learnt a lot from my colleagues here, from their own experiences and training.
The worst and best thing about your job?
That’s hard to say, I think the best thing though is working with so many different people so closely, I’ve made some friends for life from this job and of course seeing your name up on screen is also a massive plus too.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
From Markus Hagemeier: On which system do you work? Avid, final cut, others?
Hi Markus, currently we work on a mix of platforms dependent on show requirements, whether it be Avid or Final Cut or Premiere Pro, however the bulk of our department here currently use Final Cut Pro. We also use Dneg proprietary editing and dailies software.
What other software do you have to work with?
On a general show basis we use a lot of Dneg’s own software (our review one in particular as mentioned above). We use this one for 2K reviews in our screening rooms. Other Dneg software we use is for things such as converting and bringing files into our pipeline and creating image sequences and resped plates etc. On a general public software basis we also use Photoshop, Compressor, DVD Studio Pro, Media Encoder, Encore, RV, Cinesync, QT Pro and Shake when needed. We also use Shotgun for our database management of the shots.
Do you still have to work with a linear editing system or is it all non-linear?
All of our systems are generally non-linear editing systems. But I have on occasion had to work with a flatbed film editing system when I’ve been working with the medium of film, as on the Christopher Nolan films I’ve worked on (The Dark Knight and Inception). In this case as the director is viewing all his material on film, we as a company have had to deliver our work and view our work on celluloid to match so that we are viewing on the same medium as the clients. In these cases, which are exceptionally rare now, (I think the last big film out project we worked on was Inception) I, as the VFX editor, had to not only deal with the digital side of things but also with 35mm. To prep for 35mm dailies, it would mean cutting the print material together from the lab on either a Steenbeck or the bench in various orders as requested, checking the densitometry and bath that the print would have gone through so as to determine the colour and then we would use a Loc Pro to run dailies of this material. In the past I’ve had to switch from running a 2K dailies review to running a scope 35mm on the Loc Pro and then a flat 35mm dailies straight after, all switching between and changing lenses in the dark with a room full of people waiting!
Do you get a project file from the production’s editing room or do you have to improvise with Quicktimes and other playouts?
At the moment we generally only work with playouts from the clients Avid, however there have been some instances in the past, such as on the Potters, where our clients were using FCP. In these cases we get sent project files to work with, although a lot of the time these are just project files of the playouts however, we still have to deliver media managed projects with our work cut in back to them.
Do you handle just references and cuts, or also plates from the lab and VFX finals for the DI?
As a VFX editor at Dneg it is our responsibility to look after anything that is shot and cut related, including checking and looking after all the plates, cuts and references which come from the client. In fact, and in general, the majority of things that come in from clients, which is related to a shot, comes through editorial, and this pattern is the same on the way back out to the client. This is true for all the work in progress, every version, right up untill finals. Indeed, anything shot related which goes to a client goes through editorial first and will have been checked by us in the edit and against the client requirements for that shot and show.
How did you start your career? as “regular” editor or something different?
I actually started my career in a slightly convoluted way as I was unsure of whether I wanted to work in 2D or Editing. I worked as a freelance effects editor, editor and assistant. My first job at a VFX facility was in client services. I started at Double Negative as a runner, then editorial runner, then assistant VFX editor and so on until 5 years later where I am today.
From Chris Heasman: Hi Leanne! Last year I visited the Dneg office and spoke to Stu from your editorial department about working with you, so I’m very interested to hear what you have to say about your first hand experience. Here’s a couple (or 3) questions for you:
1) How involved are you in the narrative construction of the films/sequences as a whole? Do you ever change the aesthetic of a sequence based on the possibilities you can see from your editing?
Hi Chris, this really depends on the show and the type of work involved in the show. In general – from a VFX editor point of view – we tend to not have too much of a part of the actual narrative. It is only if a sequence is particularly VFX heavy and full of full CG shots that we might play a part in building the narrative of that sequence. The other aspect we have where we contribute towards the narrative is when a show is previs’d at Dneg. In this case we work heavily with the previs artists and the supervisor to create previs edits of sequence which will later be filmed and then worked upon at Dneg.
2) I’ve seen the trailer for the new Super Man film, and I’m looking forward to the release. In your opinion which of the films you have worked on includes your own favourite work, and why would you say that sequence is your favourite?
To be honest I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of all of the films I’ve worked on. They each mean something different to me and have each been a completely difference experience. I think each of them has its own merits so I’d find it difficult to choose one over the other. I am immensely proud to have worked on a film such as Inception. I have always been a Superman fan so working on this recently was a bit of a dream come true. Similarly, I was fortunate enough to work on some of the Harry Potter films, as a massive Potter fan these experiences stick out to me in their own special way. Sequence wise I’d say it would either be the Armoured Chase in the Dark Knight, the Paris Bridge in Inception or the Pensive and Dragon work in the Potters.
3) Editing is very often if not always a very collaborative process, and I expect you have some close working relationships with the film Editors and Directors. Out of the Film Editors and Directors you have worked with, who would you say has inspired you the most in your work at Dneg? Thanks for your time!
As a VFX editor, although you develop a good relationship with the client side editorial, you more closely on a day-to-day basis work with the VFX supervisor and VFX Production team. It is these people that you have the most exposure to. With regards to who has inspired me more it’s difficult to say as I’ve worked on such various films with so many different directors and I’ve taken away inspiration from all of them!
From Tan Chee Kwang: What is the different between a film editor and a VFX editor?
An editor works closely with the director on the narrative story telling of a film. A VFX editor incorporates all required versions of visual effects shots (from start to finish) into the cut for review by the supervisor, producers and directors.
Is the editor process started by the film editor or VFX editor?
This really depends on the film, but 99% of the time the editorial process is started as a collaboration with the director and editor. The only time that a VFX editor may come before this process is when a film is in test and previs stages and an editor has not yet been hired.
When you pass shot to the VFX artist to work what format do you pass them?
Generally we deal with the cut which is QT format and we make a version of this available to the artists, rather than passing on individual shots. At Dneg we have a Studio department which processes and creates all the scans into Dneg exr, resolution dependent on the show, which the artists then work on rather than the plates coming through editorial to the artists. We in the edit department use these 2K’s of the plates as well as the QT proxies that we use in our edits.
With extra frames? Does the VFX artist see the previous shot ?
The scan is provided to the artist at the length, which we receive from the clients. However, the artists only work to the predetermined comp range as specified by the clients in the lineup paperwork we receive and check against the cut. As mentioned above, we deal with the cut and make this available to the artists so that they can see the shots they are working on in context, which is needed to make a sequence flow effectively.
From Bob MC Soit-il Lemains: Hi Leanne, I’d like to know if you had a dedicated VFX background? I am a “regular” editor and I wonder how to turn VFX editor.
Hi Bob, I actually first got into the post production industry while I was at college in Toronto studying for my Post Grad. The course I was on there was affiliated with various post production companies in the area and I so I started off by doing some work experience through the college. Through this I met some great people who were working in the industry and I was able to develop myself and gain work as a freelance effects editor, editor and assistant editor mostly working on TV and Docs. My first job in VFX came after this where I applied for a job in a facility within the client services department. While I was doing this I was constantly in contact with a lady I had met through my freelance work who was a partner in another VFX firm in Toronto. Through her I got offered a comp intern/ junior comp position, and then from there I managed, through a mixture of sheer luck, right time right place and perseverance to get a job at Dneg, originally as a runner, and I’ve worked my way up from there.