Editing: Amazon Prime Video's <I>The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel</I>
Issue: July/August 2020

Editing: Amazon Prime Video's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amazon Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returned for its third season last September and has received 20 Emmy nominations, including recognition for Production Design, Cinematography, Directing, Original Music & Lyrics, Music Supervision and Sound Mixing. The series is set in 1958, where Midge Maisel is leading a nice life with her husband and kinds on the Upper West Side of New York City, until she suddenly finds herself taking on a career as a stand-up comic. The show is written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, and stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam 'Midge' Maisel.

Editors Kate Sanford and Tim Streeto (pictured, above) have worked on the series since its first season, following the pilot episode, and share credit for “Episode 308 - A Jewish Girl Walks Into The Apollo…”, which is nominated for an Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Comedy Series.”

“Our show runner Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino direct most of the episodes,” explains Streeto. “Each season there will be a couple of guest directors, (but) this season there was only one, and they directed almost everything else… The workflow with them is challenging because they are doing a million other things: scouting, writing, directing. And then [we] will get them usually at the end of their day for a couple hours…It's not a typical director's cut, producer's cut, send-it-out scenario with them at all.”

The show is shot on Arri’s Alexa, and editorial receives dailies from Light Iron via Media Shuttle. At the same time, LTO files are created for the online conform later on in the post production process. Sanford and Streeto are both cutting on Avid systems at the show’s production space at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, NY.

“We're in a building, separate from the stages where we shoot,” says Streeto, “but…we're on the same floor as our art department, production office and the writer's room. And it's really great. We're all there together.”

For most of the season, the two editors are alternating episodes, which Sanford notes is typical of episodic TV.

“Just because dailies are coming in,” she explains. “One editor will assemble and continue with the director's cut, and as soon as they are finished shooting one episode, the other one will be able to start assembling. And we'll just keep alternating. It also means that as the season rolls forward, we're often assembling and doing director's cuts, and possibly even getting notes from producers and studios. So we're often juggling three or four episodes in different stages of completion and post.”

Episode 8 - the season finale - was expected to run long - 76 minutes with credits - so the team decided that they would work on it together, marking the first time they have approached the show in that fashion. Episode 308 is reflective of the series as a whole, but is also unique in several ways, including its longer run time.

“I think it contains within it, all the comedy and camera movement, the stand-up and the music that is so spectacular, especially about Season 3,” says Sanford of the Emmy-nominated episode. “But I also think it's a special episode. I think there is a lot more drama in this. There's always a balance to drama and comedy. I think this finale is more dramatic. A lot of things are coming to a head and a lot of characters are confronting each other. So it's an opportunity to do both comedy and just more straight-up, straight-on dramatic editing as well.”

After cutting earlier seasons at DNx36 resolution, the team stepped up to DNx115 for Season 3, which was, in part, a response to the VFX team, who use the better image quality to assess fixes for elements such as wigs, etc. 

Both Sanford and Streeto credit their assistants - Zana Bochar and Tricia Holmes - with making the editorial workflow so efficient. 

“They're really wonderful,” says Sanford of Bochar and Holmes. “And they also do a lot of sound work for us as we're assembling and getting ready for director’s cuts and producer’s cuts. They also help edit scenes as well. I'll give them notes (and) Tim will give them notes when we get behind.”

Once the offline edit is locked, the DI workflow begins by restoring all the source Alexa ProRes files from the LTO tapes. The conform is handled in an Autodesk Flame system. The timeline will be updated with final visual effects that come in from their repective vendors. Visual effects are delivered as 16-bit .EXR files in camera Log-C color space, which matches the rest of the camera-original media. The .DPX sequence then goes over to color, where grading is performed using Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve. The final color grade starts with an SDR pass, and once that is signed off on by the creatives, an HDR pass is created.  

Once color is signed off on, a UHD 3840x2160 12-bit .DPX sequence is rendered with the final conform and color. The HDR/DSM file has the soundtrack, which is used to create the Amazon deliverables. All deliverables are created in Blackmagic Design’s Resolve, except for the final HDR production master QT, which is created using Colorfront’s Transkoder. The final deliverable to Amazon is a ProRes 422 HQ for both HDR and SDR.