Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey on Cutting Star Trek Into Darkness

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Striking a Balance for J.J. Abrams' Second Trek, the First Shot in IMAX and Converted to Stereo 3D

Editors Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon have come a long way with director/screenwriter/producer J.J. Abrams. The trio has been working together since Alias, and Markey has edited all of Abrams's television series, including Felicity and Lost, for which she won an Emmy. The pair subsequently co-edited Abrams's Mission: Impossible III, Super 8 and 2009's Star Trek. Their latest collaboration with the director, Star Trek Into Darkness, returned them to the U.S.S. Enterprise and a variety of effects-heavy locations. In this installment, the trademark humor, adventure and futuristic sets are still there, but so, too, are warm closeups and very human connections.

Star Trek Into Darkness, converted to stereo 3D in post, was shot predominantly in 35mm and 4-Perf and 6-Perf 65mm IMAX, though one scene, shot late in the game, was recorded on Red Epic with a skeletal crew. Several VFX plates, including the London city scenes, were shot on ARRI Alexa at the request of ILM VFX supervisor Roger Guyett. The film, like all of those the pair has cut for Abrams, was edited on an evolving set of Avid Media Composer versions, from Media Composer 5.5.3 through 6.5.1 (an unreleased patch at the time) up to the current version, 6.5.2, which will be followed by version 7 this summer. Julian Smirke, Brandon's assistant, and Rita DaSilva, Markey's assistant, organized dailies for the editors and were able to take the converted 3D, as a top layer of video, back into the Avid to let everyone view the result during the edit. Media was managed by a 64 TB Avid ISIS 5000 with about 12 Avid Media Composer systems connected to it.

In discussing how they balance Abrams's vision, the cast's performance and the elements of story with jolts of warp-speed action, Brandon and Markey reveal the secret to the director's pacing and the way they all work during production and post. They also have a few things to say about their larger-than-life next project with Abrams, Star Wars: Episode VII, coming in 2015. read more...

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