Netflix’s popular action/adventure/mystery teen drama Outer Banks returned for its third season in February. The show is set in a community in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and follows the conflict between two groups of teenagers in search of a lost treasure.
Nicole Vaskell edited Episodes 302, 303, 306 and 309 of the show, which employs a documentary-style shoot, involving three or four cameras, as well as improvised lines. According to the editor, no two takes are the same, which challenged her with putting it together, much like a puzzle. She used the series’ cinematic score and music choices, as well as her extensive documentary background to blend naturalism with a cinematic look.
Editor Nicole Vaskell
Here, she shares with Post, insight into how the show comes together.
How did you get involved in Outer Banks?
“Sunny Hodge, producer and supervising editor on Outer Banks, reached out to a female editor group I am a part of, looking for an editor. I emailed Sunny enthusiastically and later had a wonderful conversation with her on the phone. She was drawn to the fact that I had documentary experience on top of my narrative work. Since a lot of Outer Banks is shot hand-held, with naturalistic doc-style camera work and improvised dialogue, blocking and action, she thought I would be a good fit.
“Soon after, I had a Zoom meeting with two show creators, Josh and Jonas Pate, who were already in Barbados, prepping for Season 3. We immediately clicked over similar tastes in film and music. They talked to me about the show, their style of filmmaking, and how they like to work. They were also drawn to the fact that I had a diverse background and could handle getting a ton of dailies.
“Finally, I reached out to Tim Good, ACE, who I knew had worked with Jonas before, to see if he could put in a good word for me. The next day, I was offered the job, and I was ecstatic. I felt like the show would be a perfect match for me.”
What was your set up? Were you working remotely or in a studio?
“I cut the season entirely remotely out of my A-Frame in Northeast LA, where I have a Mac Pro with three monitors, speakers and a 60-inch playback monitor. It was a logical choice for Outer Banks to continue working remotely because my directors and producers were spread out across the country, and this season was shot in Barbados and South Carolina. We partnered with Pac Post and used their software, called PacPost.Live, to do live sessions with our team. Sunny would also come over every so often, and we would work on cuts together before presenting them to Josh and Shannon.”
What editing software were you using?
“I am currently cutting in Avid 2018.12.1, and the show is shot on several Sony Venices and DJI drones. Due to the volume of dailies, we decided to cut in 1080p DNx36. We had upwards of 80 hours of dailies per episode, so we chose speed and stability over higher image fidelity. In addition, because we were cutting remotely, and accessing Avid through Jump, working with smaller-sized dailies helped not to tax the remote machines and minimized lag in playback.”
You worked on several episodes. Does one episode or scene stand out editorially?
“Most scenes in Outer Banks were challenging to cut, merely based on the amount of footage filmed per scene and the exploratory nature of the camera. There is a lot of improvised dialogue, blocking and camera moves within each setup, and each take differs entirely from the last.
“That said, I can pinpoint a specific scene that was rewarding to cut. It was an ensemble scene in the penultimate episode, ‘Welcome to Kitty Hawk.’ The Pogues are waiting at the airstrip to leave for South America when Ward and Rafe show up unannounced. Editorially, this scene played out like a western showdown. With so much weight and tension bubbling up to the surface, we had to check in visually with each character constantly. Once Ward gets onto the plane, each set of characters has their own issues they are confronted with within the scene. So from an editorial stance, I had to cut five mini-scenes within one scene while continuing to build the tension of the police coming to catch the Pogues. It was challenging to interweave all those elements while continuing to ratchet up the pressure and emotions of the scene as it built towards the climax.
“Another sequence I was excited to edit was the entire arc of JJ and Kiara reuniting at the Kitty Hawk Wilderness Therapy Camp. The sequence had elements of suspense, romance and comedy throughout.
“Jonas Pate shot so much incredible coverage, and mining the footage for gold was especially rewarding here. Josh Pate also has a sharp ear for music and puts together playlists for us at the beginning of the season. I remembered listening to this Shannon and the Clams song, ‘Midnight Wine,’ and wanting to use it at some point in the show. When I read the script, I immediately knew Kiara's entrance to the Wilderness Camp was the perfect spot for the song.
“Jonas and I also put together a montage of Kiara getting locked into a room that wasn't scripted initially, but turned out psychologically compelling for what we tried to achieve. When JJ comes to rescue Kiara from the camp, I wanted to capture the situation’s absurdity, so I found this great Medeski, Martin and Wood song, ‘Sugarcraft.’ This song paired perfectly with the sequence because it had that OBX twang, but also lent a sense of levity, which I really wanted to embrace after watching the dailies.”