<I>Foundation</I>: Editing the Apple TV+ sci-fi-drama
June 14, 2024

Foundation: Editing the Apple TV+ sci-fi-drama

Foundation is an Apple TV+ sci-fi-drama that’s based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov. The series chronicles a band of exiles on their journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire. Foundation stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace, Lou Llobell, Leah Harvey, Laura Birn, Terrence Mann, Cassian Bilton and Alfred Enoch.

Paul Trejo, ACE, edited episodes 201, 205 and 208 of Season 2.

“We utilized Avid Media Composer 2018 for the first two seasons of Foundation,” he notes. “Because this was a vast international shoot - locations such as Ireland, Malta, Czech Republic, Germany and Iceland - it was imperative that the media be processed from the camera department to the transfer house and uploaded via a secure link to our cutting rooms in LA. Naturally because of the time zones, we usually had our dailies ready to cut by lunchtime the day after shooting. The assistants were exceptional in running this workflow without any major hitches.”

Emily E. Greene, ACE, worked on two episodes for Season 1 and then cut three episodes for Season 2: Episode 3 (King and Commoner), Episode 7 (A Necessary Death), and the finale, Episode 10 (Creation Myths). 

“I worked remotely for both seasons of Foundation, although I did go into the office occasionally, as there was a dedicated screening room built for high resolution VFX reviews and for the final mix playback,” she explains. “Additionally, I did work in-person with (showrunner) David Goyer for part of Season 2 when he had a break between shooting, and we worked together during his director days, as he directed Episode 3.” 

Greene cut on an Avid Media Composer, using Jump Desktop, as the NEXIS storage was based in the Hollywood office space, where the rest of the team was working.

“I think one of the main challenges of this show was making sure everyone was on the same page and keeping track of all of the moving parts as the material came in to post,” she notes. “This show was cross boarded, meaning all ten episodes were shot simultaneously depending on location. Given the scope of the show, nearly every scene in the series had some visual effect aspect to it. Therefore, the scene needed to be cut in a timely manner so as to be passed on to the proper VFX vendor to work on.”

Some shots took days, while others took months. 

“It was a constant communication with our VFX team as we worked with previs sequences, postvis sequences, and temp VFX so as to carry out the intention of the script (and) stay within budget, but also tell the best version of the story. The VFX team and my assistant editor, Phil Hamilton, were in constant communication as versions of the scene were updated.”

Greene says that watching the final mix was incredibly impactful.

“Everything we had worked so hard to put together was finally there in its stunning glory,” she observes. “Obviously, this feeling of elation at playback is applicable on any show that I’ve worked on, but with Foundation it was especially satisfying, as many of the shots had temp effects until far into the process, given the complexity of the show. At playback the show popped in a way that floored me - color, sound, music, visuals, everything. I am truly proud of the work that our team produced, and hope it gets its merited recognition.”

Editor Olivia Wyrick cut Episode 4 (Where the Stars are Scattered Thinly).” 

“We used Avid Media Composer to cut on Foundation,” she adds. “Avid is the industry standard for shows due in large part to its ability to have a shared workflow among multiple editors and assistants.”

Editing for Season 2 of Foundation was both challenging and rewarding, says Wyrick.

“It's always a challenge when editing a heavy VFX show, as it is oftentimes difficult to know how the finished project will turn out. We used a lot of cards and previs as place holders for fully-CG shots. This can sometimes make it difficult to find the right pacing for a scene. Foundation also has a lot of different filming locations, which created a unique shooting schedule. All of the episodes were shot at once instead of one at a time. This meant there were long periods of time where you wouldn't have a completed episode. Season 2 of Foundation had a phenomenal cast and crew, which made it a really fun and exciting show to work on.”