Editor Kelly Lyon cuts Amazon's <I>Yearly Departed</I>
January 7, 2022

Editor Kelly Lyon cuts Amazon's Yearly Departed

Amazon Studios’ second Yearly Departed comedy special was presented by a cast of female comedians. Directed by Linda Mendoza, the roast bid adieu to the year 2021. Insecure’s Yvonne Orji hosted the special, which featured a lineup of emerging and all-star talent, including Jane Fonda, Megan Stalter, Aparna Nancherla, Dulcé Sloan, X Mayo and Chelsea Peretti. The raucous, celebratory farewell touched on a number of 2021 topics, including the ‘Hot Vaxx Summer’, Zoom and the ignoring of the climate crisis.

Kelly Lyon (pictured, left), ACE (kellylyonedit.com), edited the project and recently shared her experience with Post.

Tell us about how you got involved in Yearly Departed?

“When I entered the Zoom room to interview for Yearly Departed in the fall of 2020, I was shocked. As more and more tiny windows popped onto the screen, I realized every single square was occupied by an incredibly-talented and accomplished woman. In my 20-plus years of post, I’ve never been on a production where every major credit belonged to a female, and I knew I had to be a part of this team. 

“Done + Dusted reached out to me because of my previous work on stand-up specials like John Mulaney's Kid Gorgeous Live at Radio City and Amy Schumer's Growing. I usually edit stand-up specials by myself, but this project was different. Because production took place so early in the pandemic, all of the talent was shot separately and had to be comped together to feel as if they are in the same room later in post. Even though the show has the feel of a multicam stand-up special, the process felt more like editing a single-cam show.  

“The tight four-week post schedule and heavy VFX work required all hands on deck, so we brought in the incredibly talented Giselle Murillo to help oversee all of the VFX heavy scenes (like the intro and musical guest). Giselle and I collaborated seamlessly, handing scenes back and forth via Adobe Premiere Productions, run through the facility Sim (now Picture Shop). We all used Jump Desktop to remote into physical computers within Sim's facility in LA, where they were connected to our media via shared storage. This let us have editors and assistants scattered across the country collaborating together in realtime. It was actually a lot more painless than I thought it would be.”

Tell us about the assembly process?

“Giselle and I were able to easily pull and share reaction selects from the hours and hours of green-screen footage we received. Our assistant editor and After Effects wiz Josh DePew was able to comp backgrounds into the green-screen shots and add the pre-comped footage into our multicam clips. Our other AE, Kevin Purcell, was constantly updating our VFX shot list and prepping for Barnstorm to render out the final composites. After all of that visual work and a lot of sound design, we were able to achieve the illusion of a stand-up show with a live audience.

Did the 2021 show differ from the previous year’s?

“Luckily, thanks to vaccines and a lot of COVID safety protocols, Yearly Departed 2021 could be filmed in a more traditional way. We were able to have 40 audience members on-set to join our hilarious cast of talented women. Post was still conducted in a fully remote fashion. With the post team scattered from LA, to NYC, to Portland, OR, we used Adobe Premiere Productions and remote software through Picture Shop to seamlessly collaborate and share footage across the country. I was able to host live edit sessions through Evercast with EPs Bess Kalb and Rachel Brosnahan.  

“As labor intensive as it was to carefully stitch together every reaction in the 2020 episode, for 2021 we had the opposite issue. With a real audience in the room laughing at the riotous performances, I found it sometimes challenging to keep the off-kilter funeral feeling we created in 2020. Ultimately, we had to embrace that this year’s special would feel more like a party and less like a funeral. Host Yvonne Orji’s infectious energy had a lot to do with that, too.” 

Any final thoughts?

“Yearly Departed, while deceptively simple, was a challenge to put together. I love the challenge though, and I hope we get to keep making it for years to come!”